I’m the kind of person who likes to research so I have been doing a lot of reading about marathon training schedules. One has to wonder how something so simple as running can be so complex. The theories as to how one can successfully complete this distance are diverse and often contradictory. So if you have never run a marathon, how do you choose a training program?
The two programs I have ended up focussing on are the Running Room schedule and Hal Higdon’s Novice II program. I more or less followed the Running Room program for my half marathons and it seemed to work well for me. But I really like the simplicity of Higdon’s schedule. Even more, I like the fact that his program calls for only 4 runs a week while the R.R calls for 5. For me, 4 runs feel good, 5 starts to feel like a chore. If I fit in a fifth run in a week I want it to be because I feel like it, not because I have to.
So in the end, wisely or foolishly, I have combined the programs, hopefully taking the best from both. I have either created a masterpiece of a schedule or recipe for injury and fatigue. I also had to be creative for the summer months. I have no interest in doing long runs on summer weekends during family time and would rather take advantage of the long evenings to complete those particular runs. The advantage of being a teacher is I don’t have to be up and at work on summer mornings, so having a late evening run is not a problem. And, as someone who really doesn’t do well running in heat, the evening run will allow me to finish those long runs as the temperature is cooling.
My general pattern for the summer will be as follows:
Monday: tempo run – later in training this will be hill run or fartlek run nights
Tuesday: yoga and tempo run
Wed: long slow distance
Thur: boot camp and yoga
Sat: steady run
And here are the paces I will be using. These are taken from the Running Room “Marathon to Complete in 4:15”. I actually have no plans to finish in 4:15 and would in fact be thrilled to finish somewhere around the 4:30 mark. But at the moment I am comfortable with these paces and am completely willing to slow things down if necessary as training progresses.
Tempo/Fartlek/Hills = 6:05
Steady = 6:45
Speed = 5:19
Race pace = 6:03
Walk adjusted pace = 5:47
My biggest question in all this planning? When to take walk breaks. In a half marathon I don’t take any breaks and enjoy maintaining a fairly steady pace. But I know for me to be successful in the marathon I will need to plan breaks. The question is do I use Running Room’s 10/1 run/walk program, or do I use Higdon’s advice of walking at water stations? The latter would mean a walk break every 2 – 3km. I can find numerous examples in blogs and articles of both being successful but have no idea what will work best for me. On my 14k run this week I did walk breaks every three km and that seemed comfortable. I guess the next step is to try the 10 and ones and see how they feel. This truly is one big experiment!