It must be that the cramped up mid-winter crazies are getting to me because it is the only explanation I have for wanting to do another marathon.
I ran my first marathon in 2008. It was in Chicago and the heat that day was insane. Needless to say, my finish time was far longer than I had anticipated and it left me wanting a redemption. I didn't feel too horrible because all I wanted to do was finish and besides, every other runner that day suffered similarly. But still...
I always knew that someday I would redeem myself. Imagine my surprise when 2013 had rolled around and I realized that it had been FIVE YEARS. Holy crap, where had the time gone? I decided right then and there that I wasn't getting any younger and there's never really ever a convenient time to train, so why not now?
Now let me preface this with: I Am Not an Expert. But I do know a thing or two about running. I've been doing it for nearly my whole life. So when I present you with my own marathon training plan, know that I put a whole lot of thought into it and I've personally tested it. My plan successfully got me across the finish line.
This is perfect for someone who wants to try a marathon for the first time, and has recently done a 5K or two. You should be running three to four times a week, but you don't have to be breaking any time records. Most marathon plans start you from three to four months out from your race date, but because I made a decision to commit to a race in the winter, I decided to make my plan a little longer so that I could start about now. The first 20 weeks are really just the build up to the latter half of the training, and you can kind of see where the amp up begins.
I tried to make a plan that steadily builds you up all week long (to your one long run), and then those weeks put together build up to your race day. You can also see that there are rest weeks worked in. Don't even think about cutting those out! It might not seem like much now, but your body will want and need those easier periods. Trust me on this one.
The yellow days are for tempo runs. If you have never heard of that, it basically means is that you do your run at a race pace. Put your game face on and try to imagine it's race day, not the lonely sidewalk or treadmill. For cross training, I worked really hard on building my overall strength. When I was young and reckless, I did quite a number on my knees from a skiing incident. Therefore, I really tried to make my core stronger to help take the burden of high mileage off the rest of my body, and I targeted my knees with special strength building exercises. I also used my cross-training days for yoga, pilates, swimming and biking. Variety is the spice of life, and it kept my body and mind a whole lot happier.
Training for a marathon isn't too complicated. What it really boils down to, is you need to get your body used to being out and about for a really long period of time - it's in the miles, baby. I've made my plan downloadable for anyone to use, and under the week numbers you can add your own dates. Start from your race day and work backwards to fill them in. Then print that bad boy out (I just cut and taped the pages together) and hang it where you can shame yourself into not skipping a day by looking at it. I kept a copy at home and at work. I found that I liked to pencil in what my runs were like when I crossed them off every day. It was extremely gratifying to look at all that time and hard work when I finally came home from the marathon.
Remember while you train: Drink LOTS of water. Always try to get at least 8 hours of sleep. Eat healthy and take your vitamins. All of this combined should make your race-ready with no problem. If by chance you do injure yourself, it is completely okay to back off. Evaluate your injury realistically because most people have a tendency to push themselves too hard. One of my knees had a bad flare up about three months from the race. It hurt worse each time I tried to run so I quit running completely. I had a good rest for a couple of days, and then replaced normal running days with aggressive swimming and biking. After about 4 weeks of this, my knee was good as new and I was able to drop back into running seamlessly. You can read more about how I did it here.
So who is in this thing with me? I think I'm going to aim for doing the Detroit marathon this October. Let's go running people!