The New Workout Plan

WARNING: Total run-nerd post ahead.

I have yet to line up for a marathon with the goal of qualifying for Boston feeling confident that I can do it.

I’ve followed the training plans to the letter. I’ve done the tempo runs, the long runs, the hill workouts, the mile repeats, and the Yasso 800s. Even so, even on perfect-weather days, it’s been hard for me to believe that I’m actually capable of maintaining 8:10 pace for a marathon.

Why? Because that pace still seems crazy-fast.

And why does it seem crazy-fast? Because said training plans suggest only doing up to eight miles at MP. That’s 18.2 miles fewer than I need to run on race day.

UGH. I feel so betrayed by conventional training wisdom.

Why this wasn’t obvious to me sooner, I’m not sure. It wasn’t until Disney, where I met Runner’s World Challenger Olga, that this clicked for me. She was a first-time marathoner chasing a BQ and totally rocked it with a 3:28. Afterwards, I asked, “How fast do you do your long runs?” She replied, “Oh, like 7:50 pace.”

Oh. Of course.

I understand the advice to do long runs a minute or two slower per mile than goal pace. You’re less likely to end up hurt that way.

But if you want to maintain a certain speed for a marathon, you should practice going close to that fast (or faster) on at least some of your long runs. They’ll build confidence as well as endurance.

I should be as tired as this adorable bulldog after my long runs, yeah?

I should be as tired as this adorable bulldog after my long runs, yeah?

And I’m at the point where I can coast through my easy-paced long run and then go about my day like nothing has happened. Don’t I need to challenge myself a bit more? Shouldn’t I be aching for a nap?

I sure was on Saturday, after my first hard long run. I ran 12, intending to average somewhere between 8:10 and 8:30 pace. Instead, I averaged 7:50. Oops! I started faster than intended, trying to warm up (it was 14 degrees), then couldn’t slow down without feeling like I was slowing too much. It was hard, but that’s the point.

I’m hoping to take it down a notch for my 15 this weekend—start slower, then pick it up, to average 8:10 to 8:20—and to go slower on my longest long runs.

Meanwhile, I’ll be strength training religiously, and doing only one other hard running day each week (hills or intervals). I’m hoping this, plus a single weekly cross-training cardio session, will help me dodge aches and pains.

Has anyone else ever tried this kind of plan? Thoughts? Tips? Suggestions?


About Meghan Loftus
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2 Responses to The New Workout Plan

  1. I agree with your change of strategy but just be careful, don’t bump up number of long run miles at MP too quickly. Good luck

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