Thursday, January 28, 2010

Adjusting to Adjustments

Five weeks in, I finally feel in sync with my training plan. Making changes to my established marathon plan was difficult in a number of ways, but I’m convinced it will ultimately pay off.

For the last two marathons I’ve run, I followed Matt Fitzgerald’s (Brain Training) Plans. I used his Intermediate Plan for Buffalo, then moved up to the Advanced Plan for Charlotte. Both plans were 24 weeks long, with step back weeks culminating in a race every 4 weeks. Each of these training cycles produced PR’s for me in the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Marathon distances. That’s pretty successful by anyone’s standards. So, why change?

First, in both training cycles, I felt like I peaked too soon. I felt as if I’d peaked 4 weeks too early in the Buffalo Marathon. For Charlotte’s Thunder Road last month, it was even worse. I felt like I had peaked right after my 10K race in October- nearly 2 months before the marathon! Also, my experience in Charlotte suggested that I need either 1) more miles at tempo and marathon pace, or 2) the same amount, but to reduce the amount of speed work I’m doing at the point where I feel the quality of the longer marathon pace workouts slipping.

My new plan is a Brad Hudson hybrid plan. Originally, 12 weeks long, I’ve extended it to 16 weeks by repeating the first 4 weeks. Running Drills have been added and 10 x 100 Striders replace the Mixed Interval sessions. There are other differences, too.

Instead of running easy following a key workout, you run at steady training pace. (The idea being that Tempo and MP runs shouldn’t feel so hard that you need drastic amounts of recovery from a few miles of it).

As the workouts get easier to do, you increase the pace of the recovery effort, not the pace of the MP sections.

As the hard days get harder and longer, you ease back on the pace of your other runs.

So basically, my running week now looks like this:

Sunday - Long Run (Progression, MP, or Steady)
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - Strength Training (a.m.)/ Drills + EZ Run 20-50 min. (p.m.)
Wednesday - Base Run (6-10 mi.)
Thursday - Intervals or Tempo Run (HM pace or M pace)
Friday - Strength Training (a.m.)/ Base Run (6-10 mi.) p.m.+ 10 x 100 Striders
Saturday - EZ Run (walk-run with kids training for the HM)

I may further tweak this Plan and use it for either the next marathon or my attempt at 50K. I would somehow like to re-incorporate (is that even a word?) the 4-week cycles that culminate in a step-down week and race: Running shorter races that you feel you've peaked for is just too much fun to give up.

[ORN: Obligatory Running Note] 6 mile base pace run last night in 57:00 (9:31 pace). I felt especially strong last night. Not so much "strong" as efficient- running faster using less effort. It was very enjoyable. I left the iPod at home, and I noticed how much more I tuned in to my running. I felt like I was making constant small adjustments to pace and body carriage yesterday. (Perhaps the iPod prevents making these constant refinements..?)


  1. I still to this day have never run with an ipod! I like being able to hear whats going on around me and not having one keeps me in tune with my surroundings. That being said, I am thinking that an ipod would of helped me in the last few miles of my half marathon:) Maybe it would of added a little pep to my stride! Your training plan looks impressive. It will be interesting to hear what you think of it after your marathon.

  2. iPods are such a hot button, aren't they? I'm weaning myself I am only going to turn it on during the "steady 1/2 mile" in between "3 x 2 miles @ MP".

  3. Actually, I totally enjoyed your previous post in relation to age...yay! I just started running 6 months ago (I'm 50).
    I'm an on again off again ipod user...if the run is long(ish) and I'm alone, I'll usually bring it along. But if I forget, I'm good with that too. I'll definitely be following you along your journey...