I thought I'd do something bold this year... maybe not as bold as doing a five-month-long hike, but something that's not quite easy.
Since my running's going pretty well, I'd like to ramp that up and finish a marathon this year. But where do I start?
I dug around a couple of nights ago, just some simple Google searches for 'marathon training plans', and started going down the rabbit hole. I know that these days (unlike my high school days in the 1980s!) that you don't need to run a marathon to complete it, but you can walk one, or run-walk.
I ran across a training plan at www.rundisney.com that seemed interesting, which had some good points. I then bought a few Kindle books, one by Jeff Galloway (who did the Disney program) that was a bit scattered, and a bit more focused one called "Marathoning for Mortals" that I liked. But both of them really were more oriented towards folks that haven't ever run or had run for a short time. I've been running off and on for over 35 years, so a lot of the rah-rah you can do it felt a little earnest.
Galloway's book had some strange formula that I couldn't quite follow about doing a mile run to predict your finish time based on a multiplier plus some other tables on maximum heart rate and all that. It seemed too complicated. The other book had four different training plans, from walking to mostly walking to mostly running to full running, pick one! Uh, I don't know which one, but thought the run-walk method is intriguing. You run moderately two or three times a week, then do a long run every weekend, slowly building long miles up. Three weeks before the marathon day you start tapering off the long miles, then you run. Sounds fair.
And given that it was hard to copy-paste the table from the Kindle book, I just ended up using this PDF from the Disney site: Experience Runners - To Finish In The Upright Position. It's good enough, really, and easy enough to follow.
One thing I really like about these training plans is there's lots of rest. In 2014 I really got into running, and I did it by just taking my time. I set a goal of 20 to 25 miles a week, and told myself I had all year to get there. In January and February I ran three miles, maybe four, some four times a week... sometimes less if it was wet or cold out... and I didn't care if I walked. I was doing this as a mood-enhancer really. Then I noticed that four miles was easy, so I did five, and walked a fair bit, though usually not in the first three miles. Then five turned into six, then seven, but I really didn't run more than two days in a row. I ended up feeling great and strong.
These training plans look like that year--though this Disney plan is a bit too long at 28 weeks. I'd like to do a marathon sometime in July or August, which is some 25 weeks away. I might go for the big San Diego marathon on June 4, but I want to do a long hike sometime in June, and that conflicts... so we'll make it mid-summer, somewhere that's cool and cloudy along the coast. So I'll start this program around week 4 to 6.
I'd already decided that I'd like a 5 mile running day, but this run/walk thing is weird. I usually run at a 10 minute pace--how does that work? The training program suggests a 3 minute run followed by a 1 minute walk. That seems... too aggressively slow. I set my watch alarm to a run/walk ratio of minute run, 1 minute walk and headed out around noon.
The first three miles were weird, just stopping and walking, but I felt fine. The fourth mile was a bit congested with people in the park, so I walked more, and it was getting fairly warm out (75F/24C), but dry, with the bright sun beating down. That fifth mile I was starting to feel somewhat fatigued, though... and felt I could cut back the run/walk ratio to 4:1. And then I realized I had taken a slightly different route and I'd end up with a 6 mile run today. Oh well. Next time, I also need to start out slower in that first mile.
But comparing the same run to the last time I ran this on Oct 14, 2016, something popped out: I ran it somewhat faster. My splits at the miles today were 11:22, 10:35, 10:24, 11:17, 13:33, and 12:42. In October those splits were 11:25, 10:54, 10:37, 12:01, 14:37, and 13:18... and I attempted to run the whole way in October. Interesting.
Anyways, that's about it for now. I'm happy to be on a training path; it helps me focus on something. This week will be raining off and on--I'll do shorter 30 to 45 minute runs on Tuesday and Thursday, then a long run again next weekend... and I'll see what summer marathons might be worth targeting.