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Friday, July 8, 2011

Marathon Training: Running Schedule

When I started training last year, I was no expert. I'd only been running for 3 or 4 months but wanted to reach a goal. The Internet was the tool I used to give myself more information. I even found a 6-month beginners marathon training program. It was a great place to start. Currently, I'm only using parts of it. I prefer to listen to my body and go from there.

There are 4 components in this program:
  • Long runs
  • Short runs
  • Fartlek
  • Cross training

I incorporate only ONE long run a week into my running schedule. From a scale of 1 (walking) and 10 (very fast run) I do it at about a 5. The aim is just to finish so I don't necessarily focus on completing it in a set time. Although I do maintain a fairly constant pace so I tend to run miles at the same time.

These are split up into 20-45 minute sessions depending on the week. If I run a longer run one week I might shorten it and vice versa. From a scale of 1-10 I run this at a 6 or 7.
These are basically cycles of sprints. They are useful for runners because it helps to break up the monotony of training and build up endurance. It helps to make you a stronger and faster runner. Typically I will run at a 7 or 8 (on the 1-10 scale) for 4 minutes and then jog slowly for 1 minute. This is one cycle. The cycles build up as the weeks progress.  I start at 20 minutes (so 5 complete cycles) and work up to 45 minutes ( 9 complete cycles).
Also called recovery sessions. Placed after a long run to aid in recovery. You can do any form of light cardio at a 6 or 7 on the scale, except running of course! I typically use the static bike or go for a walk and STRETCH a lot!
My body likes running 3 days a week including 2 rest days. Hopefully when I get stronger and more experienced I can incorporate a fourth day. The previous program had a long run on Sunday, recovery Monday, rest day Tuesday, short run Wednesday and Friday, Fartlek Thursday and rest day Saturday. 
I find that I like to have a day of "rest" between running. So this is how I organize my running:
  • Long run Sundays
  • Recovery Monday including weight training (arms and back)
  • Short run Tuesday with ab exercises
  • Rest day Wednesday
  • Short run Thursday with ab exercises
  • Weight training Friday (legs)
This is my first week and my body feels great. I will go through the six months tweaking my schedule based on how my body feels. Next week, for example, instead of the short run on Tuesday and Thursday I will incorporate 20 minutes of Fartlek instead.
I've found it's important NOT to do intense weeks every week. I plan to do 2 intense weeks followed by an easier week. I like to vary the intensity. Of course I will listen to how my body feels and adapt my schedule accordingly. 
The same holds true for my long runs. I ran 16 miles last week and so will run 8 miles this week, 10 the following week, then back down to 8 again. I will run the 16 miles again at some point but I won't go pass 20 miles.
I want to challenge myself. Yet, I know that going too hard too fast simply leads to injury and burn out. My main goal is to avoid that this time around. Only until August do I have the schedule planned. Based on my body I will continue to build my schedule as I go along. 
I also plan to run some shorter races during the course of my training. There's a 5K (this will be my second) the beginning of August. I'd like to run a 10K and another half marathon before finally running the marathon in February 2012.
If interested, be sure to check out this link for ideas. It has beginner, intermediate and advanced programs. There is tons of information out there, as you can imagine, so just do some trial and error research. That's the best way.
Stay tuned for posts on how I prepare for the 5K, 10K, and half marathon, and for monthly updates on my progress. 

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