Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mondays are for Hills (and the Rest of the Training Program)

There are 23 weeks to go to this year's Savannah Rock 'n' Roll marathon and my training is well underway. Last week was the second full week of training and I logged 31 miles over five sessions, including a seven mile long run on Saturday morning. My training week starts with hill workouts on Mondays. With Monday being a holiday this week it was nice for once to be able to head out after sunrise.

Hill workouts are essential for getting stronger, faster, and staying injury-free during training. I'm fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood that has ample hills and this six-mile course features 891 feet of climb over nine different hills. My goal is to keep my heart rate in/above Zone 3 (143 - 157 bpm) throughout the session. Once I get to the top of any hill, I begin walking until my heart rate drops below Zone 3. Then, it's off to the next hill. This hill workout kicks off every week of training.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are for moderately paced runs, also in Zone 3. Sometimes, I'll simply do laps around the Spec Towns Track at the University of Georgia. Other days, I'll do one-mile laps around the larger Vince Dooley Athletic Complex. I am a big believer in Jeff Galloway's Run Walk Run method as I have found that it speeds recovery and improves overall running times. So, during each of these sessions I run for three minutes and then walk for one minute. The past two weeks I've run six miles during each session, but for the next four weeks I'm increasing the total distance by a mile a week until these sessions cover eight miles each. Once I'm at that distance, I'll gradually increase my Run Walk Run interval from 3/1 to 4/1 over four weeks. This longer interval will match what I plan to use for the Savannah marathon.

Wednesdays are for speed work, and I've joined the Athens Road Runners for their weekly sprints at Spec Towns Track. During these workouts, we typically complete multiple 800m or 1m intervals at a 5k pace. Including warmup and recovery runs, I typically log between five and six miles during these sessions. I really enjoy these workouts and I have found that I tend to push myself harder when training with friends.

Fridays and Sundays are days off and it's nice to be able to sleep late (until 6am or so). On training days the alarm goes off at 3:30am. In order to get enough sleep I usually head to bed around 8:30 the previous night.

Saturdays are for long, endurance paced runs. My wife Gail and I do these together and we are following a training regime that comes from The Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training. We started with 5 miles on Saturday, May 17th and then ran 7 miles this past weekend. Coming up we'll increase our mileage to 9 and then we'll follow this weekly progression: 7, 10, 12, 15, 12, 16, 12, 16, 18, 20, 14, 20, 14, 8, 20, 14, 16, 18, 18, 12, 18, 18, 20, 14, 20, 14, 20, 13.1 (Athens Half Marathon), 10. Our goal for long runs is to keep our heart rate in Zone 2 (130 - 143 bpm) while we increase our stamina both physically and mentally.

One observation I'll make as I close, this training regime is much more intense on Tuesdays and Thursdays compared to my last program. In preparing for the Chick-fil-a Half Marathon, I only ran 4 miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And, the Thursday run was in Zone 2 and not Zone 3. I have purposefully increased both the distance and tempo for these runs, as I never, ever want to run out of gas like I did for that last race.

I've been training for marathons for just eight months and the Savannah race will be my fifth event, but my first full marathon. The regime I've laid out above should help develop the physical and mental stamina necessary to complete a full marathon while also further developing my cardiovascular system. It's based on a lot of reading, so I encourage those interested to check out the links to training material's I've embedded in the narrative above.

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