Sep 28

A Different Approach To Marathon Training

With the Grand Rapids Marathon less than 3 weeks away, I began to think about how little I have actually trained for this race.  Yet, I feel like I am more prepared than ever.  Don’t get me wrong, I have trained like crazy, just not in the way I have trained for a marathon in the past.

Take for example my training for my last marathon, The Martian Marathon in April.  In the months leading up to that race, all I did was run.  Sure, I did some rides on the trainer and swam some laps at the pool, but running was the focus.  I ran at least 5 times a week; usually 6 or even 7 times.  I ran to log the miles.  Almost all of my weeks were 35+ miles with plenty of 40+ mile weeks through in for good measure.

Now, however, I am lucky to get in 4 runs a week with most of my weeks being only 3 solid runs.  With less runs per week, my mileage has obviously gone down.  But, with less mileage per week, my speed has gone up.  What?!?  I was always taught in cross country to “get the mileage on your legs.”  Have I been doing it wrong all along?

Instead of running everyday, I have been mixing it up with extra biking, swimming, and even some core training.  Days when I don’t run will usually involve some speed work on the bike or even a long bike ride if time allows.  Then, when I do go out for a run, my legs feel fresh and ready to go.  The biking does leave my legs a bit tired, but they aren’t sore from pounding the pavement day in and day out.  The fresh legs have allowed me to focus on quality runs.  I can’t even count the times that I have gone out for “an easy 6” and found myself doing a tempo 8 because it just felt good.  Whereas in the past, I did hardly any speed work because my legs felt perpetually tired from running every day.

So, my new marathon training strategy – Quality over quantity.  So far, so good.  We’ll see how it works on October 17th.

On a semi-disturbing note, I saw some kids rocking to Teenage Dream on my run today.  They were probably in 4th or 5th grade.  If my parents had caught me listening to music like that at their age, they would have taken my iPod Sony Discman away faster than Lindsay Lohen can get her self arrested… again.

And finally, inspired by Matty-O’s Garmin Scripts, I took Jennie up to a field on our run this afternoon to spell out her name.  She followed me with her iPhone (using Map My Run), but the GPS in the phone isn’t nearly as accurate and was illegible.  The Garmin did pretty good though – still kinda hard to dot the “i”.

Coaching 9-28-2010

After the scripting and a little bit more running, and then ended back up the playground for a slight detour on the swings.

photo 3

Thanks for reading!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2010/09/28/a-different-approach-to-marathon-training


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  1. Jeff

    Love the Garmin spelling! We should all have some big blogger gps spell off ..haha!

    Don’t think too much into the running. The fact is that you are training on a damn good base — probably a much better base than you started with before the last mary.

  2. Aimee (I Tri To Be Me)

    I think there is definitely something to be said about quality over quantity! I’m glad your training is going so well!
    That Garmin script is awesome! How fun!

  3. Jon

    You think your season of Tri is giving you that better edge now that you have an incredible base vs your conditioning in April? I think you have that base and you are just using it to put nothing but quality in. I forsee a new Marathon PR!!!

  4. Maria

    Wow, you totally just wore me out just by reading this…alright, back to bed for me.
    Smart move for the swings!

  5. Krista@CommitmentisLiberating

    Love the idea of spelling with the Garmin! This is very similar to the FIRST marathon plan that I have been/was following. There are only 3 runs per week – 1 speed, 1 tempo and 1 long, but you are also supposed to have 2 days of serious cross-training, not just ellipitical for 30 minutes but a solid swim or bike. It was working great as a way to incorporate marathon training into the tri season.

  6. Kristin

    If I ever do another stand-alone marathon I won’t run more than 4 days a week. I was able to cut time from Lake Placid to Wisconsin with minimal run training but significant bike work. I think the fitness translated nicely and I wasn’t as beat up. Hope the approach pays off for you!

  7. Mandy

    I am loving the garmin spelling….

    Have you seen the FIRST training plan? It basically says to do what you are doing and you will rock your marathon…OK something like that. Anyway, your approach seems sound to me!

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