So Here’s the Plan

Coming up with a marathon training plan for a marathon I’m still not fully convinced I’ll be able to do has been an exercise in humility. Back in November, I figured I’d be coming out of Wildflower with a base of 10-15 miles per week plus a wacky amount of fitness from other sports, would have a month to get up to 20, then would start “real” training. Of course, what actually happened was two weeks of nothing, four weeks of no running, and a severe fear of doing too much.

I’m not running Berlin for time, and I never planned to, even before getting injured. I’ve always assumed my first marathon would be a train-to-finish-and-take-it-all-in kind of deal, and that’s part of why I chose something as audacious as flying to another continent — it’s not just about the race for me. That said, I want to finish respectably; I have a couple of ideas in my head of what “respectably” means, and yes, that time range got less ambitious post-injury, but the bottom line is that I won’t do the race if I don’t think I can be be proud of how I’m doing it.

If I’d had my ideal spring, I would have loved to follow Run Less, Run Faster. But that plan requires volume, maybe even more volume than I would have had in the best case. I hope to use that plan someday, but it’s clearly not right for now. I liked the mid-week mileage and overall build of the Marathon Rookie plan, but I wanted two 20-milers. I liked some of what Hal lays down, but I’m afraid to run that many days per week…ever, probably. Eventually I dumped a bunch of numbers into Excel and started playing with weekly totals and percent change and allowances for the 7,205 weddings I’m going to this year.

The actual plan is probably deadly boring to someone who is not me. If anyone cares, let me know and I’ll happily share it. But here are the general principles:

  • I’m walk-running conservatively right now. My physical therapist has a favorite return-to-running schedule, and since his is the only opinion that I trust without reservation at this point, I’m going to follow it, even though the eight-step plan makes me want to throw a running shoe through the window. I accidentally started with more distance than the plan called for, though, and he’s not having me step it back down, so when I hit the fifth of the eight milestones, I’ll have “graduated.”
  • I’m trying to be faithful to the 10% rule. I’m also breaking it early; I just don’t have time to go from 10 miles to 11 to 12.1 forever. If my body requires increases that slow, I’m clearly not running a marathon in September. I’m never adding more than two total miles per week, though, until beyond the threshold where such an increase is less than 10%.
  • I’m running three days a week and peaking at 33-35 miles, depending on whether I do my longest run as 20 or 22. I’m also doing one additional “run” most weeks in the pool. I took the Thursday run in the Marathon Rookie plan, a shorter midweek run, and made it a water run. On the shorter pool run days in the early weeks, I’ll probably also swim.
  • The other three days are one total rest day and two of the following three activities: a swim, a ride, a climb.
  • I’ve found a Tuesday-night yoga class that I really like; it’s vinyasa flow, technically, but it’s also one of the more relaxing classes I’ve ever taken, with plenty of core work slipped in. So that’s on the schedule, usually paired with an easy ride or swim.
  • OH: that’s another thing. Almost all of these miles are easy. For the first two months, it’s all easy. In the latter two months, I’d like to be doing some miles at marathon pace, whatever that may be. There’s no track. I’ll miss track, especially because this schedule could accommodate my tri club’s track night, but there will be plenty of time for track in my life.
  • I don’t want to lose strength training, but it’s the part of this schedule that’s giving me fits. PT exercises are non-negotiable at least twice a week, but three times would be better, and I also want at least one regular lifting session. This is complicated by the fact that my PT exercises are all done barefoot, which doesn’t exactly fly in a gym. I have some weights and Jillian Michaels DVDs, so maybe this all happens at home?

My milestone check-in is the San Francisco half at the end of July — the longest long run I’ll have done to that point. If I get there, and things go well, I’ll keep pushing for Berlin. If I can’t get up to half-marathon distance comfortably and healthily in eight weeks, well, I’m done. I have a secret unsecret plan of picking another Olympic tri sometime in the fall if Berlin doesn’t happen, and that’s why I want to be careful about keeping biking and swimming in the plan. I know I can run a 10K, and knowing I could train for something else might help dampen the sting if I have to skip the marathon. But plan A is Berlin, and as of this week, I’m officially working toward it.

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10 thoughts on “So Here’s the Plan

  1. Beth says:

    You’ll get there! For my first marathon I ONLY ran 3 days a week, peaking at 38 miles per week. For cross training all I did was yoga dvd’s and the marathon went REALLY well. With all your cross training and strength you’ll be fine. Have fun!!

  2. Naomi says:

    I love how you are still incorporating cross-training. I followed the Hal beginning plan and cut back on cross training which I regretted. Being someone who is injury-prone, I think the cross training helps keep my body in check and balanced. I think you are wisely thinking through all your options and managing your expectations well! I’m looking forward to following your training cycle for Berlin!

    • kimretta says:

      Thank you! Now I think the trick is going to be not totally slacking off on the cross-training because I’m “still getting the runs in” or something like that.

  3. Kristina says:

    This sounds like a great plan. I realize that there is a reason for the 10% rule but I also think that it’s okay to break it (I do it – often!). Maybe you can throw in an Olympic tri even if Berlin happens?

    • kimretta says:

      I would love to! The next big chunk of tris in the area is in September (the Month of a Thousand Weddings), but I may do one in November regardless of what happens, or search for August depending on how things are going.

      • Kristina says:

        I know that there is a late-season tri in Palm Springs – part of the HITS series. It is supposed to be pricey, but I don’t know what that means in comparison to Wildflower. Sounds as though you have plenty going on, but just in case you want an end-of-the-year challenge…

  4. katie says:

    sounds like a good plan! you’ll get there 🙂

  5. Kelly says:

    love the plan! it sounds very diverse, which can definitely help you come back from injury and prevent any more injury. Berlin sounds like such a fun race – excited to follow your training!

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