Friday, June 19, 2015

Running, Where to From Here?

As you can probably guess, from the last 8 weeks being crazy - taking my first (and second) DNS in a row, feeling sorry for myself, snapping out of it and then letting myself heal and tackle a new challenge while I waited to run again - now that I've been running (or run/walking if you demand that I differentiate) I'm in a "hmm.. what do I do now?" state of mind.

First things first - apologies for this post being mere rambling.  I really don't know how else to be honest about what's rolling around the old brain.

Today is 18 weeks and 2 days until the Marine Corps Marathon.  This year I find myself in a vastly different position than last.  Last year I was able to do a nice slow (most runs at low heart rate) buildup of mileage post Pittsburgh Half and went comfortably into an 18 week training plan with a 25-30 mile per week base.  That training plan was my own creation, doing a hybrid of Hal Higdon's Intermediate plan with Pfitzinger's speedwork workouts on a lighter scale.  That plan worked... yes, I hit the wall during the last couple of miles and walked a bit, but that was more to blame on race execution than the plan (I ran the first half too fast, especially with the weather being warm, and just didn't have enough gas in the tank for mile 25 on that I did previously).  I do not feel confident in tackling that plan this year... especially since I'm not even straight running yet - I'm still run/walking.  This week if all goes well I should have 15 or 16 miles of running in.  So, I'm pretty much at half at where I was this time last year.

Good things:  I don't think my endurance has went down much.  I've been monitoring my heart rate this week since I'm off the preworkout and at least my "easy" and "recovery" paces for heart rate aren't too far off of what they were - at least at first glance.  I feel like I can keep going and that I'm not nearly tired enough to have to stop, but I'm utilizing a ton of self control here.  I really owe this to pushing myself to the max at the gym this month and not letting myself wallow in self pity and bullshit.

So, what do I do?  I've been browsing around at plans, while keeping tabs on my personal recovery, and what I would like to do vs what I could do vs what potential lies there after I fully return, so to speak.  Of course goal Numero Uno is to get to the starting line healthy.  No matter what that takes!  I'd rather be undertrained and hit the wall immediately after the bridge than to get injured before the race.  Finishing is Goal #2.. which as far as MCM goes means maintaining a 14 minute per mile pace to "Beat the Bridge" at mile 20 after which you can walk the rest of the way.  Now, I know me and you all kinda know me and with that being said Goal #3 has to be a number - even if it's just put in my head to give me something to go on while training.  I find it near impossible to stay motivated without a number out there... that number could even be a heart rate number - say, run the whole thing at sub-157 bpm.  I don't know.  This goal has time still to be determined and a lot of thought that needs to go into it.  No, I don't believe I can break 4 hours again this year.  It's just not there without pushing myself too hard, which I want to avoid.  I don't know what I can do just yet.. I need to see how I can build up and get some long runs in before making that call.

I really don't want to do the same old type of plan I've always done.  I tried to do something a little different for Pittsburgh this year, but that didn't end well and I'm not going to sit here and beat myself up yet again over it.  That plan was fun, but I know I am in no where near the condition to pick that one up again.

I will say that I don't think I've ever done a plan as written.  I always mess with things to make it my own, whether it's adding or deleting speed training or adding or deleting miles or running by heart rate instead of a specific pace, etc.  And I do believe everyone should.  Following a plan straight out of a book or on the internet is kind of like following a diet word for word calorie for calorie and assuming that everyone is the same.  We aren't all the same.

I looked into FIRST again, but all that speedwork would do me in, even if it is only 3 days of running.  I'm not naive enough to think that it wouldn't.

I also looked into the straightforward Galloway plan, but honestly going past the 26 mile point in training intimidates me and I don't know that I will utilize run/walk through the entirety of training and/or the race.  In the past, I've gotten pretty frustrated with walk breaks once the runs start getting longer (I know that sounds completely opposite of what it should be).

I gave the training plans from the book Marathoning for Mortals by John Bingham a look, but I really wasn't feeling any of them but the run/walk one and the walk intervals are too long... But I guess I could fiddle with them to suit.

After much reading, researching, talking out of my ass and driving my husband nuts (as well as trying to get his input), I do have a plan.  Given my most recent high volume training cycle this might shock you - but I'm only scheduling 4 running days per week and adding more crosstraining in the form of the bike or maybe crossramp or even just walking.  If I feel strong and healthy enough as the cycle moves along I may do a very short easy run on a crosstraining day.  But right now that's a no.  I will also be strength training 3 days per week.  2 days will be heavier.  I don't want to go back to the light weights 1-2 days a week again.  I want to find a nice medium point that will keep my strength moving in the right direction but without impeding my running.  The third day of strength training will either be bodyweight or just a core workout.  I've really been better off for doing all this lifting and I'm going to stick with it.  People always say you can't run and lift - you can be really good at one and suck at the other or just be medicore at both... Well fine, then, I'm happy with being mediocre at both if that's what makes me feel good physically and mentally.  I don't want to be "just a runner" any more than I want to "just lift".  I don't know why you have to choose...

This is also a 16 week plan - so I still have 2 weeks to gear up.  I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing.  I'm excited to add the weights back in next week, though - it's only been a few days and I'm already missing the pump!  What I think I'm going to do is sort of model the outline of the upcoming plan with regards to days running and other training, just at a lesser volume of course over these 2 weeks.

Other differences: I redid my heart rate zones.  Last cycle I was running my long runs at a higher HrMax% than is typical.  I'm going to scale back on that - due to the fact I'm still in recovery mode, and the summer heat.  My recovery runs will also probably be a LOT slower again and I'll probably have to do a bit of walk/running even to keep my heart rate that low.  My long run day is switched as well... For years I've been a "Sunday Runday" girl, but for this cycle I'm switching it up to Saturday and taking Sunday as my total rest day.  This will give me a chance to run more with SCRR if I choose to, and also - this is a family decision.  Last summer our weekends pretty much revolved around Saturday pace runs and then Sunday long distance running.  When the weeks got intense I felt guilty about this because it was kind of comsuming.  So I think it will be a good thing to have a weekend day (and Sunday in particular) to be free from the training and spend the whole day together not worrying about being tired or sore or voraciously eating like T-Rex (btw - I saw Jurassic World the day it came out and it is freaking amazing).

I'm sure things will keep evolving as time gets nearer, but this is where I'm at right now.  I've had three good runs three days in a row now and I'm feeling cautiously optimistic.

I am getting excited about MCM, though! I'm a member of a large community online of people that are multiple MCMers and even some first timers and the energy is just off the charts right now!  It's truly amazing and something I really missed over the Spring.

Here's to keeping my fingers crossed and my mind and body strong for the journey ahead.


  1. Happy to hear that you're healthy and able to train! I think it's a good idea to scale down your training and add more cross training in. Hope you stay healthy girl!

  2. You've put so much thought into your training plan, I know it will work great for you. Funny, when I first started reading this post, I was going to ask if you considered the FIRST program since its only 3 runs a week & is supposed to be good for those prone to injuries. But those runs seem so intense & hard! I have no doubt you could do them, but I would worry about injuries because they seem so intense, even though many people have had success with that plan. I think 4 runs with cross training & strength is a great combo for you. I can't wait to follow along! I definitely want to do more strength in my next plan too. I think reducing strength is part of what contributed to weight gain last training cycle.

    1. FIRST was actually the first (haha) plan I thought of.. but those runs are hard. There are no easy or recovery runs in FIRST... it's all speedwork, tempo, or long runs done between 30-45 slower than your goal pace. I really give credit to anyone who can complete that! My problem with it honestly is my own self control.. once I get going fast I want to keep pushing and I tend to ignore pain and other warning signs to back off. That being said, the cross training workouts in the book are wonderful and I do think I'm going to use them as my cross training on the bike or rower. See, I'm a total cafeteria training plan maker... little bit of this, little bit of that lol