My Muscle Memory Marathon Training Plan…

“Respect The Distance” – Every Marathon Coach Everywhere

“Trust In Your Training” – Yoda

“As A Runner, You Will Do Some Dumb Things. But Try Not To Do Anything That Is Really Incredibly Stupid” – Me

“Whoops! I don’t know how it happened, but I accidentally signed up for another ¬†marathon…” – Facebook Meme

Welcome to my “Incredibly Stupid” race preview…Fargo Marathon Edition.

Last season, I ran 5 marathons and one ultramarathon. I finished the year in October with 2 marathons in 2 days…and I was completely burnt out on running. My plan for this season was a much lighter racing schedule, less half-marathons and absolutely no full marathons. In fact, I ended last season wondering if I would ever run another full again.

As the off-season progressed, I came to a conclusion. My marathon running days were behind me. I had a lot of marathons left on my “to do” list and came to the conclusion that (baring a return to running several years from now and tackling a really big race like New York, Chicago, or MCM) the marathons on my dream list would stay there. Running long distances just too too much of a physical toll on my body and I wasn’t having fun anymore.

So, this season had a modest 4 half marathons on the schedule. Two were Disney races, one was part of a local series that has always been on my schedule, and the last one was Fargo.

Fargo Marathon would have been a race that I would have run sooner or later. It is a 3 hour drive down I-94, is a pancake flat course, and has a really good reputation. It offers a full and a half and I signed up for the half since I could get the experience without putting my body through the full marathon training.

Winter training went poorly. Lack of motivation and a 7 week bout with bronchitis left me on the couch for most of the winter. I struggled with completing my Disney Half Marathons.

That said, part of my brain (the emotional half) was not yet ready to let go of the full marathon distance. I think it was ok with it in theory, but wanted to have one final farewell race. My rational side told me that my longest training run since October was 10k. My three long races (a 10 miler and the two Disney halfs) were painful and I struggled to finish. My rational side told me that I had absolutely no business transferring to a full.

My emotional side waxed nostalgically about one final marathon. My rational sided countered that it could only end with a DNF and possible injury. The emotional side countered that there was a 7 hour cutoff time…I could walk most of it if need be.

Eventually, (with just three weeks to go before race day) I checked online “just to see” if a transfer was even possible. It was. And a few ill-advised clicks later, the transfer was complete.

What the hell had I just done?

I quickly scrambled for a training plan online.

Shockingly, there are no THREE WEEK marathon training plans.

Who knew?

So, about the only training plan I could come up with is what I am calling the “Muscle Memory Marathon Training Plan” (or 3M plan for short). Basically push myself out the door and see what I can do, see how fast I can ramp up, and hope the legs remember the rest.

Kids, do NOT try this at home…

So, last week, I went out 3 days in a row. One lap around the neighborhood is about 3 miles.

Day one, I managed one lap.

Crap, I may not last long enough to get to the first aid station to register my DNF. Wonderful…

Day two, I managed three laps (9 miles). So much for Muscle Memory…

Day three, I was shooting for five laps, I gutted out four.

When I started this process, I honestly had no idea at all what my legs would be able to do.

The answer, apparently, was “not much”.

Thursday, I tried again. Three laps….

I was in trouble…big time.

The marathon is now two weeks away. I need to complete some kind of long run, even if it is just to boost my confidence (and hopefully build my stamina and endurance). After this weekend, it would be too close to race day to try.

I went out the door today with the plan to go as slow and as far as I could. The weather was cooperating. By the end of the morning, I had completed 6 laps (18 miles) in four hours. Finally!

Of course, this is still far less training then I usually do heading into race day. Often, I get 3-4 training runs that are over 20 miles. Not this time, but 18 miles will likely be enough to help get me to the finish on race day.

My remaining training schedule will be a few short runs…likely just some 5k and perhaps a 10k as I taper.

Race day plan is to join one of the slower pace groups (likely 5:30) and hang with them as long as I can. I did something similar in Des Moines (the second leg of my back-to-back marathon challenge) and it worked nicely. The pace was slow enough that it allowed a lot of chatting…which distracted me from the pain and suffering. Hoping that works again.

We will find out in two weeks.

“May Fortune Favor The Foolish” – Captain Kirk

 

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