I’m finally settled back into the summer rhythm after my adventures out west. In the week following the Mayor’s Marathon in Anchorage, I “rested” by hiking all over Denali National Park and running a few miles. Once I came home, I got back on my yoga mat to heal my body from the stress of traveling and running marathons. I also jumped into preparations for the upcoming Steelman Olympic Distance Triathlon in August that I somehow managed to sign myself up for. I had about a week until I would begin preparing for my fall race schedule. I took the training plan I’m following and repeated the first week twice, giving myself the opportunity to build up some solid base mileage. I kept all of my running fairly easy and relaxed. So technically, I started training for the fall last week, and now I’m in week #2.
This time around, I’m following a plan from the book “Advanced Marathoning” by Pete Pfitzinger. It’s a relatively well known tool among runners, but I was generally happy with the training plans I’ve used in the past. Since running my first Boston, I’ve always been intrigued by the “Pfitz” and finally decided to jump on the bandwagon. I purchased the book while I was sidelined, and started using one of his plans after I ran in Buffalo, to prepare me for Vancouver USA. I followed his four week “multi-marathoning” plan, and but cut out one of the weeks since I didn’t exactly have four weeks in between races. It got me to the starting line, and helped me run a PR. I don’t think three weeks on the Pfitzinger plan is the only reason that I had a good day in Vancouver, but I think it boosted my confidence. I see the value in his methods and decided to give it a shot for the fall.
What I like most about his training plans is he recognizes that people run multiple marathons each season, and addresses how to approach and train for them. However, he doesn’t recommend less than four weeks between each race – something I disregarded twice during the spring when I ran back to back weekends. As a matter of fact, my fall race schedule is shaping up and it presents a new challenge that I’ve hesitated to try in the past. A double marathon weekend. That means two marathons, one weekend. 52.4 miles in two days. I realize there are people out there who run ultra marathons and cover this distance in one day, but I’m not one of those people. So yeah, I’m feeling like this is going to be one tough weekend and my toughest challenge to date. I’m up for it.
To prepare, I’m following Pfitzinger’s plan of running 55-70 miles per week. I usually run 50+ miles per week at my peak of my marathon training. I’m kicking things up a little, but not excessively. I could have chosen one of his plans with more miles (70-85 miles per week), but I really want to make it to the starting lines of both races. I don’t think running more miles than what I’ve settled on would be beneficial because I don’t have the base to begin running 70 miles a week right out of the starting gates. I did, however, feel it was necessary to moderately increase the amount of miles per week that I’m running specifically because of the nature of my goal. As far as pace goals go for these races, I have none. Just to run both races, and live to tell about it. Well, and knock two states off of my list in the process. I’ll be hitting up New Hampshire for the Saturday race, and Maine for the Sunday race.
The other interesting principle that Pfitzinger builds his training plans on are the “medium-long runs”. He considers a medium long run to be anything in the 11-15 mile range. So, not only are you doing your “long run” each week, but a medium-long run is included. For example, in the week where I run 70 miles, I have a 22 mile long run but also a 15 mile medium long run earlier in the week. Since I’m preparing for two days of long mileage, I feel as though this would be another worthwhile training principle to incorporate. It also falls in line with my personal philosophy: if you want to get faster and stronger, run more miles. Sure, speed work and hills will help but it’s no substitute for endurance and a strong base. Any intelligent marathon training plan spends the first few weeks (or more) focusing on building mileage. Speed and intensity are incorporated later, when the body is used to the distance.
I ran the Quadzilla 15K at the Trexler Game Preserve on Sunday, and my time was a few minutes slower than last year. I’m not bummed because I’d already ran 54 miles for the week and biked 50 miles the day before. I didn’t taper for that race and it wasn’t one of my target races, so I just went out and ran as hard as I could that day. The humidity was almost unbearable but I still felt pretty strong and was the 7th female to cross the finish line. It wasn’t a PR and I didn’t win any awards, but I still consider it to be a successful day. It also made me realize how much I want to get out and run the game preserve trail more often, because that’s some badass hill training to incorporate in my schedule.
Besides the double weekend, my fall schedule is full of some great races. As Pfitzinger reinforces in his book, you can’t race them all. Meaning it’s a good idea to have different goals for different races. My goal for the double weekend completing is to come away relatively unscathed. In November, I’m heading down to West Virginia for the Marshall Marathon, and in December I’m off to Alabama to run the Rocket City Marathon. Both are potential PR courses. I’m currently targeting Marshall as my potential PR race, but I wouldn’t be opposed to racing Rocket City, either. I also have a number of shorter distance races in my schedule, so I have to be realistic and smart about which ones I race, and which ones I run for fun. Alabama could end up being a fun run with no goal except to check the state off my list. I’m okay with that, because I’m okay with signing up for races without the intention to actually race them.
For the current moment, the countdown is on for the Steelman Triathlon on August 11th. I’m following my marathon training, biking often, swimming a little , and getting on my yoga mat daily to prepare. My first goal is to just have fun with it. My secondary goal is to beat my time from when I did the race in 2009. I’m swimming less, but biking and running much more. And finally, my most challenging goal is to break three hours. Ultimately, I’m going out there to have fun and be among my friends, which I’ve already been able to do throughout the training. So really, I’d say I already achieved my first goal.