Thursday, August 6, 2009

What's Next: Philly Marathon

Even before the triathlon, I got to thinking what's next. The tri training was great. It's refreshing to do several different sports, rather than just one. No matter what, it got me to believe in the power of cross-training, something that probably could've saved me from injuries. A few friends are running the Philly Marathon in November, so I decided to aim for that. The timing is perfect: it's in about 16 weeks. My fittness base is pretty good right now. The main concern is how much I can ramp up the running safely. That's why I decided to take an unusual approach to my training.

Unlike last summer, I'm not going to do a high-mileage training program. I'm still a believer in the idea that if you want to run well you need to run lots. I'm also a realist. I can't start doing 60-mile weeks. And I'm not sure I want to. Instead, I'm crafting a training program around Pfitzinger's 55-mile plan with some important caveats. One is I'll only run four times a week. Just a year ago, this would be blasphemy for me. A couple years ago, I'd probably sneer at runners who prepared for marathons with so few workouts. Times change. The big difference is I'm not going to work out less. Instead, I'll ride once a week and swim two times per week. What I hope is this will mean a comparable fittness level and more quality runs. I want to eliminate junk miles and workouts where I'm going through the motions. Another change that will be tougher: run half my miles on soft surfaces. I'm committed to avoiding injuries this time around, even if it means sacrificing performance.

All these changes mean my goals for the race are different. I doubt I'll come anywhere close to three hours in the marathon. Right now, my guess is 3:20 is a much more doable goal, although I'm going to see where this new training regimen will take me. So far, so good. I've had some great workout this week and felt remarkably fresh. We'll see how the 45-mile bike ride in the morning goes.


Merrill said...

Have you heard of the marathon training approach where you don't do any long runs over 16 miles - premise being you should not do 40% or more of weekly workouts (assuming 50 miles or less a week) in one run. Instead do 16 miler and then 8-10 miler the next day to mimic how tired your legs will feel in last 10 of race. I'll do anything to rationalize not doing 20 milers.

briang said...

I recommend looking at the Furman training program. While you won't follow it, you may incorporate some of the principles into your training plan.

It completely eliminates junk miles and only has 3 runs per week: track, tempo and long. I'm not at your level, but I did do a 3:34 on a hilly course using it.

I later did the Pfitz 55 mile plan (with my long midweek runs done late at night to avoid the heat in socal) and was able to go 3:30. So for me, it seems additional gains require much more mileage with the increased risk of injury.

I've always felt swimming was rehabilitative for my lower legs. I have no actual studies to back this up. But the combination of water resistance and trying to relax my ankles so my feet are floppy seems to help with any achilles or foot pain. So the 2x week swimming should be great for both fitness and run recovery.

You had an earlier post about your poor bike technique. I used to race bikes and can attest that skill development will make you faster and be safer and more productive for training. If you could find a group of cat 5/4 racers to ride with, you could start learning.

Good luck.

Brian Morrissey said...

Thanks for the advice, Merrill and Brian. I still believe in long runs. Maybe more important, I like long runs. Going out for 20 at a nice pace is pretty enjoyable, even if the last few miles can be uncomfortable. As for Furman, I remember reading about that plan w some skepticism. But maybe a mix of Furman and Pfitz would do the trick, along with biking and swimming. I've been pleasantly surprised how well my runs have gone this week without much in the way of a running base.

The Laminator said...

I think you've got the right approach. A mix of Pfitz/Furman would probably be alright. The key is not getting injured so to maximize your quality runs as much as possible.

Good luck to you in your training.

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