During this particular "off season" I focused on strengthening my glutes/legs in addition to building easy mileage to prepare me for the upcoming running season.
Glutes: As I mentioned, I used an outline of the Strong Curves program and tailored it to fit me. I have noticed results in not just aesthetics but in overall strength and that's great. I can't say that I'm extremely wowed by the transformation, but I think I just need more time to work on it. From where I started to now? Thumbs up.
Mileage building: I used my heart rate monitor to stay in the "easy" zone and keep things slow and easy while running 3-4x per week. I have totally changed my mind about heart rate training this year. I'll get into it more in my 2014 wrapup which will post tomorrow. I ran long runs of 8-12 miles on the weekends and the runs during the week gradually increased in mileage as well. I recovered very well between runs (I thank the HRM for this) and was able to build back up to 25-30 mpw during the last month as planned. I feel very prepared going into my training plan for marathon #2.
That said -- TODAY was my first run of my training plan for marathon #2! I'm happy to say that it went really well! I ran an easy (via hr) 2 mile warmup, then did a 4 mile tempo run followed by a 2 mile cooldown (also via hr). I was thrilled when I saw I ran the tempo run faster than intended even though I felt like I was going slow. Good sign? I hope!
So, here's the deal with this next marathon: I'd love to PR, and I'm training for a PR. But I'm not going to be all crazy butthurt if I don't. A couple reasons why - 1) This is a different course. Here's an honest confession for you: Pittsburgh's marathon course scares the hell out of me. Not the first half, but the half I've not run yet. I believe it to be a tougher course than MCM. That said, I also am a scientific/numbers person and trying to compare performances on different courses/different seasons/etc is just so crazy.. Given fitness level vs course, I think someone capable of running a 4:00 in one place could run a 3:55 somewhere else and a 4:10 on another course, etc and still have "given their all". There's just too much variable in the marathon as a whole and I'm not going to go psychotic over it. 2) I'm aware that having to train over the winter means that weather is going to dictate a lot. Training over the summer/fall is ezmode: heat and rain. Both you can just deal with and run through. Heavy snow/Ice/subzero temps? Not so much... Runs for this cycle may need to be moved indoors if I have to and am able to, or the schedule shuffled around, or *gulp* skipped as an absolute last resort. We'll see what Mother Nature brings over the next few months...
I'm also going to do things a bit differently than I did for MCM. First, I'm going to run more mileage. Last training plan I peaked at 46 mpw. This time around will be 55. I'll also be going with the theory of "slow down to get faster", which has thus far proven itself to me. I'm going to be utilizing my heart rate monitor for the majority - if not all - of my runs. A common running error for a lot of runners, and I know this to be true especially for myself is the tendency to run faster than you should for general purposes. The heart rate monitor has kept me honest with this lately, and I've learned to embrace it rather than pooh pooh it. So, prepare for me to slow down... way down in some cases! Don't worry - it's all for a purpose. My hard/workout runs will be intense (and I'll be doing a bit more of those this time around too), but the others will be super easy.
Secondly, I'm going to continue with workouts from Strong Curves. I won't be doing the plan as written, but I will be doing 1 or 2 workouts per week as part of my plan in place of the strength circuit I used last time around. That circuit got so freaking boring, and even though I stuck it out, I can't see myself doing it for another 18 weeks.
Yoga will be an important part of my plan, especially through the month of January. I've signed up for 30 Days of Yoga with Yoga with Adriene and I'm really excited about it. Flexibility has become really important to me post-injury and I am hoping to deepen my yoga practice with this program. It's going to be a challenge for me because I don't think I've ever stuck with a yoga practice for 30 days straight. The closest I've come was when I was pregnant and doing it about 3-4 times a week. So, this will be interesting.
Here's to a successful, healthy, and FUN adventure ahead!