Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Things: New Training Plan

I've decided to put together a little mini-series to highlight some of the new changes in my life. It quickly became obvious that all of the new things we've been doing lately just wouldn't fit into one post, so I thought it would be better to break them into separate posts so I can dive a little deeper into each topic. Who knows, this might just become a regular thing around here.

For a long time, I didn't know how to properly use -- nor did I understand the importance of -- a training plan to prepare for a race.

Then back during the 2012 spring racing season it finally clicked.

Call me dense, but I didn't understand the differences between easy runs, long runs, tempo runs, and speedwork. In some cases, I didn't really understand what the numbers meant (3x1600 @ 8:00 w/800 jogs, for instance); other times I didn't have the energy or desire to even be running, so I would just go out and do whatever would get me to the mileage listed.

It's no wonder that I kept getting injured -- I wasn't giving my body a chance to properly recover, and I wasn't properly trained!

I did a lot of things differently back in 2012, and in a lot of ways my proverbial stars aligned. I was cross-training since I decided to try doing a couple of small triathlons, and I was actually following my training plans as they were written. It's no wonder I smashed every single one of my PRs.
For those reading who were like me and have no idea what those numbers I gave earlier mean, it breaks down like this:

3x1600 - 1,600 meters is roughly a mile, so that says to run 3 miles
@ 8:00 - each mile should be at an 8 minutes per mile average pace
w/800 jogs - after each mile, recover by jogging for half a mile

This kind of a run is an interval run, or speedwork, which is designed to help you run faster.

Here's a pretty good overview on eight (yes, eight) different types of runs.
In the past, I've always used the Runner's World SmartCoach tool to generate my plans for me. But one of the bonuses for buying the new No Meat Athlete book early (which I did when I gave it to Jennifer for her birthday) was a free marathon training plan. Since Matt Frazier (THE No Meat Athlete) has run multiple marathons, and has recently completed a 100 mile ultramarathon (I can't even fathom...), I'm curious to give his plan a shot.

Oh, did I mention he's a Boston marathon qualifier? Not only has he run multiple marathons, he's finished in under 3:10:59! (That's an average pace of less than 7:17 per mile for 26 miles!)

There are a couple big differences between this plan and plans I've used in the past:

  • This one is 24 weeks, which is longer than my last marathon training plan by 4 weeks
  • The first 6 weeks have four runs per week, and all of them are easy runs
    • This was a big draw for me since I've been out of running for a while; I knew it would help me rebuild my foundation.
  • The mileage in this plan starts small (12 miles in the first week) and gradually builds as you go. My plan from Runner's World started at 16 miles for the first week, but by week 6 I was already doing a 14 mile long run!
    • For comparison, this new plan doesn't hit a 14 mile long run until week 15.
    • Also, the mileage is broken up among 5 runs per week, as opposed to 3.
  • The new plan includes intervals, tempos, and hills. Intervals are done every week, while tempos and hills alternate weeks.
    • In my old plan, there was only one "specialty" run each week, which alternated between intervals and tempos.
  • The "specialty" workouts in the new plan are all based on time, not distance.
There's just something about this new plan that makes it so much less-intimidating.
If you're looking for a good training plan, you can pick up the No Meat Athlete Marathon Roadmap here.
I'm officially four weeks into the program (I skipped weeks one and two because of my race date), and I'm feeling pretty good about it. I can tell that my running endurance has finally returned, and I'm ready to get into the real training next week!


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