My first week of marathon training is in the books, and I’ve had many people ask about training programs and such lately, so here’s my brief take on mileage, speed work, and rest for training.
Please note I am not an expert – I just like to research and experiment, and I know what has worked for me.
Last year, for my first marathon, I used one of Hal Higdon’s programs as a template and altered it to fit my schedule… see his programs HERE
This was what I used and I LOVED IT
2 short, easy days, two medium days, one long run, two rest days, and some cross training and paced runs.
I believe the most important thing with mileage is gradual increase, and a cut back every 3-5 weeks to allow the body to recover. Increasing to quickly will increase your risk for injuries, and when you have races and goals… ain’t nobody got time fo’ that.
I also incorporated a little bit of cross training on my short run day. I used light weights and would do a quick full body HIIT session just to get my heart rate up and give my muscles some attention – not enough weight to make me incredibly sore or unable to run the next day (we all know the feeling of not being able to walk after leg day… training season is not the time for that!).
Note: I’m a big believer in strength training to improve running, decrease risk of injury, and improved overall health. If you’re interested in why, check out this study on compatibility of high-intensity strength and endurance training on hormonal and skeletal muscle adaptations https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7775344
- Speed work
Incorporating speed work is not only a great way to increase speed and aerobic capacity, but it also provides a way to switch up your runs to combat the same boring run every day. Here are the 4 workouts that I incorporate into my plan:
- Intervals: These are probably my favorite, and they come into play when the winter months chain us to a treadmill indoors. Set an easy pace and a difficult pace and switch off – try doing 400 meters (.25 miles) of each, or 1 minute hard, 2 minutes easy. Adjust the times to match your level and don’t forget a good warm up and cool down J
- Progression: Coming in second-favorite, again making the winter months more bearable. Progressions start at an easy pace and end at goal pace. Start off at an easy pace and increase speed by 0.1 or 0.2 every mile/10 minutes/etc. Again, customize to fit you!
- Hills: Whether you’re running hills outdoors or using treadmill settings, running hills can also improve speed. If you have the luxury of the outdoors, find a nice hill and sprint to the top, then jog back down to the bottom and repeat. If you’re on the treadmill, use the incline settings – run at an incline for X minutes, then switch back to 0% for X minutes.
- Paced or tempo: After a good warm up, run your miles at your goal pace. I wont lie, these runs are hard, but after, there is always a great feeling of accomplishment.
Rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest rest
Need I say more?
Fact of the matter is – we. are. human. We can’t do everything, and that’s ok. If my body could handle being in the gym or on the road all day every day, believe me I would, but it’s not realistic. Aside from the overuse injuries that can develop, constantly going can take a mental and emotional toll on the body. Set rest days and follow them.
I always know when I’ve worked myself too much – it’s not so much that my body is hurt or tired, it’s when I wake up for my run and don’t want to go. It’s the mental exhaustion that gets me before my body tells me to stop.
Listen to yourself. It’s ok to take a break.
My training season has officially begun, and these concepts are what I used to create my program for the year. I’m experimenting with some higher mileage and more spadework than I did last year, I’ll letchya’ll know how it goes if I survive 😉
I hope that these can help you in whatever your goal might be, and please let me know if you have any questions! Again, I’m no expert, but I am a young, curious person with a passion.
One last thought on training…
IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!
If your routine seems overwhelming, exhausting, or chases away your love for running, change it. Switch things up. Take a break. Try something new. Never outrun your love for running.