On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

And just like that... I'm training again

Yesterday I had a crazy evening meeting at work that left me completely wiped. I've been running on empty sleep-wise lately, so when I got home from work, I was done. I could have gone to the gym, but I'd gotten four hours of sleep the night before so I said NO THANK YOU and curled up on the couch with my laptop.

But, laptop on lap, I did do something running related. I worked out my training schedule for the next few weeks! Because that pesky Yonkers Marathon is now only 18 weeks away, it's time to start training.

You can run it, too. If you're not weird, you can even sleep on my couch before the race.
But how to train?

Here's the deal: I'm not ready for the high mileage of Pfitzinger. But I'm ready for something a little less cookie cutter than Hal's programs.* In consultation with my friend Angry Runner (who is being incredibly gracious and surprisingly not angry in giving me advice - don't let the secret out that she's not always angry), I'm going to try to be a little more flexible with my training.

Yonkers will be my 9th marathon, so I have the basics down of how to get to the start line healthy and how to get to the finish line, period. I know what works for me in terms of rest and recovery, and I know what training my body can handle. I need some flexibility - not only is my schedule irregular, but I'm of the "oh, well, I may as well just give up" school of training, meaning that when I have an overly prescriptive schedule, the minute something doesn't go as planned I throw my hands in the air and let the rest of the week's plan go to hell.

For starters, I've divided the next 18 weeks into four 4-week phases followed by a 2-week taper. For each phase, I've given myself a goal (and these goals are cumulative). So, in the first phase, I'm going to work on building my base to running five times a week and working with weights at least once a week. During the next phase, I'll add some targeted speedwork/strides once a week and a few miles at marathon pace during my long run. Phase three will see more work with weights and at least one run incorporating hill work. My phase four goal, so far, is just to increase my mileage - but the beauty of a flexible plan is that I can change this if I want depending on how the first weeks of training go.

So essentially I'm laying out my weeks as they come, but with forethought. I know what I have to do, and each week or two weeks or month I'll work around my schedule to get my targeted workouts in. And then I'll reassess every couple of weeks. Frankly the hardest part, and I know I'm not alone here, is going to be making training a priority. And maybe avoiding shin splints, because those last year were miserable.

I feel like I just said an awful lot without saying anything at all!

The video is unrelated to anything I've said, but it made me laugh.
*True story: Hal Higdon is my cousin. Or rather, his wife is my first cousin, twice removed. She and my grandfather were cousins.
**Totally unrelated to any of this (and there's actually no referent for this pseudo-footnote): want to read something written by a jackass? Read Ben Stein's ridiculous defense of the head of the IMF. And try not to get angry. Yes, the year is 2011 and not 1950.


  1. Flexibility is something that I'm learning right now. So far, it's working and I'm getting faster and stronger. We'll see what happens in New York.

    I want to slap Ben Stein. Seriously.

  2. I love Hal's Intermediate II program...and thought that was okay mileage wise (averaging 46-50 mile weeks)... :( I guess I'll have to find out about Pfitzinger then... :(

    Oh, and that Bear is funny. :)

  3. Yay for super cool new training programs!!

  4. Well, what was she expecting, wearing that cleaning-woman uniform? She was asking for it!

    My mom grew up in Yonkers. So anything related to Yonkers automatically smells like my grandfather's house.

  5. that sounds like such a good plan! Angry Runner knows what she is talking about. I like developing my own plans rather than following anything - it's more fun that way.

  6. Tracy-What about NYC training after Yonkers? I am a little intimidated by two in a short time. MealsforMiles-I agree, following a cookie cutter training never appealed to me.

  7. I don't know, Aron, but they're not really in a short time as far as training, and I think that's what makes it tricky. If they were three or four weeks apart, that wouldn't be a big deal, but 7 weeks means that you still have to continue to train through Yonkers for NYCM. I don't have a firm plan yet (kind of the point of this post!). Well, not entirely true. In my grand scheme of things, I'm doing one week of recovery, two weeks of taper, and one four-week training build in between.

  8. and Sarah - better to smell like Yonkers than Jersey, right?
    and GG- I want to worse than slap him. But then when I think about what I actually want to do, it's all so terrifically mean and I'm just not that vindictive and mean of a person.

  9. It sounds like you've given your plan a lot of thought. Have you looked at all of Pfitzinger's plans? They are not all high mileage. Yeah, its more mileage than Hal would have you run, but its less intense so it all comes out in the wash. The only reason I say this is because the phases you have planned sound a lot like Pfitz's "periodization", so you may be able to borrow something from him even if you don't follow one of his plans to the letter. That and he's got a pfunny name.

  10. I'll have to take another look at Pfitzinger. You're right, and I should at least be able to bring some of his concepts into it. That's a really good idea. One of these days I'd like to full-on use his training programs, but I remember last year being pretty intimidated by it. I'll read the book again.

  11. I think he has a total of 9 plans--12, 18, and 24 weeks, maybe (?), each for beginner, intermediate and advanced. I did the month intermediate, but certainly there were lower mileage plans than even you're currently doing.

    The only thing I remember is that there seemed to be a LOT more speed work type runs that I had ever done before, while at the same time way more mileage than I had ever done before. Probably I was verging on over-training the entire time, so taking it more conservatively is probably a better approach.

    Anyway, sleeping on your couch would probably be a blast; thanks for the offer! However, if I ever run another marathon, my hips are going to move out of the house. :(


  12. And, next time, I shall edit (and maybe sleep) before posting. :(

  13. That sounds so good! I love the planning phases. I get all excited. If only I was as good at the execution...