So, I did it yesterday.
I signed up for my second fall marathon — the Maine Marathon, the first one I ever did last year.
I knew it was what I wanted to do, but I put off making the decision. I was oscillating between working hard at a better time or working hard at a better volume. And that’s what I picked.
I feel good about it — but with it, I feel the pressure of training *right*. Of not getting hung up with what pace I’m at, or how much faster I think I should be after two years or running. This is a commitment to distance and recovery, not to performance, and I need to take it seriously as such.
So, here’s my plan for training for two marathons, two weeks apart:
1. I am sticking to the Novice 2 marathon training plan from Hal Higdon. With the first and second marathons I tried to run Intermediate 1 and both times I walked back down to Novice 2 at about this time. I just know that a 5-day-per-week running plan is not something I’m ready to commit to.
And part of sticking to a fitness plan is knowing your limits. Getting comfortable with them. And then pushing them, ever so slightly, until you have new limits.
So, 4 days of running per week is my limit. I need variety.
I just stuck with Novice 2, with a 4-day week, from the get-go. No guilt about missing that second weekend run. And I’ve been a better athlete because of it, because I can embrace my love of cycling, weight training and swimming without feeling guilty about the runs I’ve been missing.
2. Cross training like a mo-fo. I’ve done doubles like, two days a week and trying to cycle more and more. I love cycling. It is a great way to get that cardio exercise without the impact of running. And variety! Cross training gives you the volume without the strain of high mileage.
Plus, my friends have gotten into cycling, so that helps.
And, its really, really fun.
3. Slow down.
I used to think there was some sort of shame in walking in the middle of a workout. Like, I couldn’t really say that I ran 15 miles if I walked any part of that.
That was stupid. I think it came from this fear of … I don’t know. Not pushing hard enough. But what I do know is that I have had events where I’ve walked — long distances! — that averaged to a better time where events that I did not walk at all. Say, the first marathon (no walking) compared to the second marathon (mostly walking after mile 20 … not that that’s how I’d recommend doing it.)
What I do know is I can’t get daunted by the distance. I HAVE to do all these long runs. So I will do whatever it takes to get them done, and if that means occasional walking, then that’s what I’ll do.
The way I need to look at this challenge is not one marathon, and then another marathon in two weeks, but “two marathons in two weeks.”
The first one needs to be COMFORTABLE. Because if it is not I will not be able to do the second one well.
So I can’t have any goals for the first one about beating my time of last year (or two months ago).
Which will be hard to give up.
But 4. Have a good time. And I think I’ve been doing that so far.