Not Marathon Training

I was just gchatting with Aron and I mentioned that I feel like my training isn’t very interesting now that I’m not training for a full marathon and don’t intend to until at least November 2010 or maybe even later. I think many people confuse marathon training with working hard. It’s true that training to complete a marathon  requires a commitment and dedication that completing short races does not, but to truly race your best and improve across other distances requires just as much discipline and strategy. Especially if you have already improved a ton and have to take your improvement in terms of seconds rather than minutes.

So what in the world am I doing now that I’m  not marathon training? I hate to say it, but the answer is pretty standard. Here’s what my week looks like:

Monday: Rest or cross train. I have to have one day of non-running per week. Mentally and physically I just need it. If I really need to move my body, I’ll bike.
Tuesday: Track workout. Depending on what’s going on I do repeats between 200m and 1 mile. With warm up, strides and cool down this is usually about 9 miles when all is said and done
Wednesday: 4-8 miles easy + hill sprints/strides
Thursday: Tempo run or fartlek. This is generally 7-9 miles
Friday: 4-8 miles easy
Saturday: 10-16 miles easy depending on how I feel, how much time I have, the weather and mood 🙂 Sometimes there’s strides and tough miles in the middle sometimes goal pace runs… just depends
Sunday: 6-9 miles easy

As you can see, this schedule is hardly easy. In fact, in some ways, it is more difficult than my marathon schedule. I’m doing a lot more work above my lactate threshold (as opposed to just at it like marathon training) and incorporating 2 days of speed work per week and strides/hills on other days. And although I’ve really only been back at it hard for 3 weeks I can already tell that it’s paying off. I’m sore (in a good way) all the time and I feel like I’m pushing myself. That’s a good feeling.

I’ve mentioned before that physiologically I’m much better suited to the short stuff. In fact, I actually think that had I taken track more seriously as a kid I could have been a really decent 800 runner but oh well. Because this plan is more tailored to my strengths (speed) and still works on my weakness (endurance) I’m enjoying it a lot more. It is fun to run repeats fast!

Couple of key things to remember:
1. If you’re going to do hard track workouts and tempo runs you need to run your easy days easy. Don’t race them. Just run easy. Running hard all the time is a surefire way to get yourself hurt and doesn’t pay off physiologically. You cannot run hard all the time. It’s not smart.
2. Pay attention to the little things. Core work, ice, stretching, form, posture, food… it all matters. The sum of these small parts can be the difference between a PR or a bad race so don’t slack!
3. Push yourself. Track workouts and tempo runs are not supposed to be easy. If you don’t have a hard time during your cool down miles and feel awful at the end, you are doing it wrong. Don’t be afraid to go to a dark, difficult place. The more you go there the easier it will be to deal with it in a race.
4. Have a purpose every day. Remind yourself what the purpose is behind your workout. Is it recovery? VO2 max improvement? Lactate threshold training? To keep my easy runs interesting I like to spend that time focusing on my form or visualizing races. Sometimes I just like to zone out and relax, too. I find that NOT wearing my watch on easy runs is really effective- I don’t get annoyed seeing slower paces and it gives me the freedom to just cruise.
5. Mix it up. If you’re in a rut find a new friend to run with, join a club or consult with a more experienced runner for training tips. Your body can’t do the same training plan over and over again– it needs new challenges in order to continue adapting and improving.

So that’s it! That’s what I’m up to! Let me know if you have questions. I, obviously, do not have all the answers but I do have access to many, many runners who do! Happy running.


5 responses to “Not Marathon Training

  1. I’m pretty sure your “not” marathon training schedule is harder than my marathon training schedule that I WILL be following come June!

  2. great post and definitely interesting 🙂 i love hearing about what you are doing so keep on posting it!! even though i already know it from gchatting 😉

  3. I usually don’t bother with speedwork unless I have a race coming up, but it’s probably a good idea to stay in the habit.

  4. Love your list! I think you made some great points, especially with the keeping slow runs slow and fast runs fast advice! In many ways, training for a 10K/half marathon PR is just as hard as training for a marathon. It’s very admirable in my book!

  5. like your list a lot – I always do don’t I? – and it makes a lot of sense. You’ll reap the benefits as well.

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