Running/Training Plan – 2012

If you’ve been reading the blog, you may remember a statement of mine in an earlier posting that went something like this:

I am delightfully looking forward to NEVER EVER EVER running a marathon again…

Let me tell you, training for the Mount Desert Island Marathon has been a pain in the butt for several reasons. I will enumerate them for you:

  1. The MDI Marathon is on October 16th. October is in the Fall. Summer comes before Fall. Marathon training comes before the marathon, which is in the fall. Do you see where I’m going here? Marathon training in the Summer, in Atlanta, is torturous. It’s not so much the running in the summer—we do that all the time—it’s the weekend long runs that end up being such a burden. The only time we can do the 2 and 3 and 4 hour runs is on a weekend, in the early morning. This means being very careful about activities the previous evening. Yes, running can and will impact your social life.
  2. I have been fighting a recurrent calf injury for a while. I’m happy to say that it’s been doing well the last few months, but given the condition of my leg, I very gingerly entered into this marathon training schedule. I have been doing nothing1 in running besides this marathon. No 5ks. No 10ks. Nothing. I’ve been afraid of overstressing the leg and having to drop out of the marathon. That is no fun whatsoever and I didn’t get into running for it to be no fun.
  3. An add-on to item #2, because of my calf, I’ve been training for this marathon with one goal only: finish. It’s going to be slow and I don’t like to run slowly. I haven’t been doing any training that would increase my race pace beyond the approximate 5:00 completion mark. While that is in line with my goals, and I’m happy that I’m meeting my training goals, I’m still not happy about the particular goals, if you get my drift.

I am not swearing off marathons forever. Jennifer likes running them, and I like running with her, so I’m sure I’ll do another one sometime. Her 40th birthday present to herself will be to run the Marathon in Greece, and I suppose I could be convinced to sign up for that one. For the time being, I’m going to concentrate on other things, rather than marathons, because I feel that the 26.2 mile distance was occupying too much space in my life.

For edification and enlightenment, here are my 2012 training and racing goals, in no particular order:

  • Maintain the ability to get up on weekends and run 13-15 miles, as a matter of course. This will serve two purposes: it will keep my base miles high, and it will let me run half marathons without too much trouble or training
  • Break 50:00 in a 10k. The Charles Harris 10k will be my race for this goal.
  • Work toward a PR in the Peachtree City Sprint Triathlon. This will be my “A” race for the year and I’d be delighted if I can come close to matching (or exceed) the performance I turned in during my ironman training year
  • Improve my 5k time from the first race of the year to the last by 8%, or beating 23:00, whichever is better2.
  • Regularly do my mile-run-for-time to benchmark myself. “Regularly” is going to be “every 6 weeks” or so
  • Emphasize abdominal and hip exercises for flexibility and stabilization

One of the reasons for the first bullet is because if you want to do long runs, you have to do long runs. One of my issues with marathon training is that I’ve always been starting from a base of near zero. Given enough time3, that isn’t a problem, but for the next time I sign up for a marathon, I want to start with a running base that lets me train like I want to race, not just finish. So, after recovering from the MDI Marathon, I’ll be back at weekend long runs of 13 miles or so.

A strong base also allows you to add intensity to other workouts; workouts directed at (say) improving my 5k time by 8%. The better your base training is, the better your race-specific training can be, and it also helps prevent injuries.

Of course, part of that strong base is training that concentrates on weaknesses. My back has been a continuous problem, and part of that problem surrounds flexibility, not just strength. I will be doing a better job this year of maintaining a program of both core strength and flexibility. Remember, it’s the exercises you hate most that you should be doing most often4.

Races that I’m looking forward to next year, and have become tradition for me include:

  • Atlanta Track Club cross country 5k at Milton High School
  • Atlanta Track Club Peachtree City 5k/10k
  • Charles Harris 10k
  • Georgia Marathon (Half Marathon! Although I’m thinking about volunteering for the bike escorts this year)
  • Chattanooga Riverfront Triathlon (olympic distance)
  • Peachtree Road Race (10k)
  • Peachtree City Sprint Triathlon
  • Kaiser Permanente Corporate Challenge (5k)

Also, with the exception of preparation for the Peachtree City Sprint Triathlon, which is my one “A” race this year, I want to be able to go out on a Saturday or Sunday and run a race just because the whim strikes me, and not worry about screwing up my marathon training. It’s a lot less important if I downgrade or drop out of a local 5k than if I have to cancel a trip we’ve been planning for over a year.

That’s my plan. Of course, it’s only September and 2011 isn’t even over yet, but the end of my training year is nigh and I will be on the 2012 rotation at the beginning of November.

  1. Almost nothing. See here. []
  2. This may seem excessive to people in the know. I’m basing the 8% off a 2:00 improvement from 25:00 to 23:00. The reason I don’t consider it excessive is because I think my first 5k of the season is going to suck, time-wise, but I have a lot of latent speed inside these legs which probably just needs to be reawakened. []
  3. Most anyone can run a marathon with 6 months lead time and a committment to the training program. []
  4. At least, that’s the way it feels to me. Single leg squats, single leg stands, plank and other core work is so mentally exhausting to me, as opposed to standard squats and bench press and the like which are physically hard, but not mentally hard. To me. Your mileage may vary. []
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