So, I decided to document my training plan for my next race in the hopes of a) sticking to the plan/holding myself accountable and b) helping others like me who want to get better at running but are too overwhelmed or lazy to read a book or join a running group. I am not really sure if this plan will work but I consider myself a fairly intelligent person. Well actually, I think I am extremely intelligent, as do all Duke graduates. Anyway, I am familiar with the basic tenets behind training for aerobic sports, so I figure the stuff I am doing should benefit me somehow. Plus, I know a guy training for an Ironman and his running workouts, which come from legit coaches, look a lot like mine. I swear, I didn’t steal them from him/them!
My basic running/athletic profile is better placed in this first post than the “About Me” section, because no one really cares about that section and my background is important to understanding why I felt compelled to blog about a 30-year-old mom who had the light bulb idea of actually devising a plan for becoming a faster runner. So here goes…
I ran a half dozen half marathons and a few less marathons from the age of 24-28, with PR’s of 1:38 and 3:43 respectively. Frankly though, there was nothing respectable about the way I trained for most of those “races” or dragged my lifeless carcass across the finish line. Although I was all too familiar with the term “negative split” from my days as a college swimmer and even crazier club swimmer in middle and high school, that term never played into my post collegiate running “strategy,” if you will. That 3:43 I mentioned above… well let’s just say, I went out in 1:42, so you can do the math. Brutal.
But getting back to the point of this blog. I wanted to stay active during my pregnancy so that I could indulge in… you got it, biscuits. Sure I could have used the “I’m eating for two” excuse but let’s face it- everyone knows you are eating for an 8 oz guava that doesn’t need those 800 calorie Bojangles biscuits. So I kept running. Yep, I was that crazy woman running (waddling) 3 miles around the track while 38 weeks pregnant. Shortly after giving birth, although I liked the idea of a tiny creature helping me burn calories eight times a day, I knew I would not have the energy to do anything other than have my body mold itself to the couch of I continued on with my diet of trail mix and virgin Egg Nog left over from the holidays. I did not have the time or will to drive to Bojangles. So I started easing my way back into jogging, then in August, started running with my friends Griff and Erin. I strong-armed them into signing up for their first marathons. We all had the goal of breaking 4 hours. Griff begrudgingly met us at 8am every Saturday (seriously though Griff, that’s really late in runner time) and we worked our way up to a 20 and 22 miler. I sprinkled in a very painful and hilly half marathon a month before the marathon, and finished in 1:44.59, nothing to scoff at when you were super pregnant at that time a year earlier.
When race day came, I felt better prepared than I had felt for any race in my life. I went out in a 1:53 and came back in 1:52- my first running negative split. Hallelujah! I crossed the finish line with a lot of blisters but no overwhelming urge to barf. A definite first time experience, or lack thereof. And thus, I was bit by the running bug again. I set my sights on running another marathon in just 14 weeks, and a half in about 10 weeks. I wanted to break 1:37 in the half to gain automatic entry into to 2012 NYC Marathon. I don’t have the patience to deal with their lottery system, and I have called in far too many favors for charity runs in the past. I also wanted to qualify for Boston (under 3:40) in March at the Shamrock Marathon. Oh silly girl, you really thought your body could handle a marathon, billing almost 180 hours, Christmas, New Years, SuperBaby’s first birthday, and running 50 miles a week? Wrong.
My training plan was derailed due to IT band problems almost as soon as I started. I have had to reevaluate and now, the plan is to do a half on March 20 in Wilmington (read: flat course). I still want to break 1:37, and think I can, provided I stick to the last six weeks of this plan.
Last week was a recovery week where I did 30 miles total with a 10 mile effort at goal race pace plus 10% to cap off the week. I also did some half marathon pace shorter runs and hill work, which you will see is a foundation of my plan. I have read that hill work is really all the strength work a runner (well, obviously not a sprinter) needs, as it really targets all the running-specific muscles. This prevents injury, and I think the hill work, along with my foam roller, Asian icy hot patches, compression gear, and massages (yesssss) have helped me recover from the IT band and subsequent shin splints beautifully.
This week, which has started off with a nasty stomach bug that has derailed my work goals and first workout of the week, is targeted for 36-38 miles. Instead of my 6 miles recovery followed by 10×10 second hill sprints, I could only muster 3 walk/jog miles with our dog pack. So tomorrow I will do the 6 miles plus sprints, and just count today as an of day. You will see that I take one to two rest days per week. Sometimes a rest day consists of a 3-4 mile jog, sometimes it is no activity at all. I just listen to my body, but not too much, because it’s usually begging for a nap, hot bath, and at least three chicken biscuits a week!