The Road to Athens…

The Athens Marathon, that is. The one in Ohio, not Greece. That’s right – in 14 weeks, I will run my second marathon… and I will ROCK it.

I’ve shared my first marathon experience, and although my performance in my first 26.2 was less than stellar, I walked away knowing so much more about the beast that is the marathon. My training plan for Marathon #2 reflects as many of those lessons learned as I could squeeze in there – speedwork, hills, cross training. It’s all there!

I created my own plan based loosely on a combo of Hal Higdon’s marathon plans, especially the Intermediate 1 plan, Runner’s World SmartCoach, the McMillan training calculator, and the lessons I’ve learned about how my body and mind react to training over the past year.

Build-Up & Step-Down Weeks: 3 weeks of build-up, 1 week of step-down

When I recommitted to training for Marathon #1 in June, I was running out of time to adequately train – there just weren’t enough weeks left for me to include step-down weeks in my training plan and still top out at a long run I was comfortable with. So, I skipped ’em. I made it out of the race alive, but after a few months of fairly intense training for 3 half marathons in the months after Marathon #1, I realized that I desperately needed some weeks of lower mileage and intensity. So, the plan is to build up weekly mileage for about 3 weeks, following the 10% rule, and then drop down the distance and intensity for a week before continuing to build. Step-down weeks have lower total weekly mileage and no intervals, tempos or other shenanigans – easy runs only to give my body the time it needs to adjust to higher miles and intensity.

Speedwork: 1-2 tempo runs/week, 800s every other week (during build-up weeks)

For Marathon #1, I focused on getting through the distance, regardless of speed. No speed work for me the first time around! I’ve discovered that I am most definitely a distance runner – my body handles new distances with ease, but speed tends to make me hurt. Now, I realize that this “hurt” is the good kind – my body is breaking down only to rebuild itself stronger and faster. My speed made a HUGE leap after Marathon #1 and a few other bigger races, without any speed work at all. I’m looking forward to adding in speed work in the form of Yasso 800s and tempo runs. As long as I give my body the time it needs to recover, I’m confident that speed work will give me some major rewards!

Hill Repeats: 1 every 2 weeks (during build-up weeks)

Although the Athens Marathon is relatively flat, I’m also planning on running the Flying Pig Marathon a month later. The Pig is notoriously hilly for the first half, and I take sick pleasure in running hills. Besides making me a stronger, and more well-rounded runner, I’ll get to brag on Twitter about how badass I am after intense hill training workouts…

Cross Training & Strength Training: 1-2 days/week

Although I did a pretty good job of cross and strength training while training for my first half, I didn’t do such a great job of it while training for Marathon #1. And by “not a great job” I mean that I did none. Nada. Zilch. Ummm, yeah. We’re gonna fix that this time around. I have two related mini-goals for January: One is to find an affordable yoga studio/class that I can enjoy once a week. Another is to reacquaint myself with the gym where I first learned to climb 8 years ago. Climbing is something that I’ve been yearning to get back into for awhile now, and I’m sure that I’ll see some amazing aerobic and strength benefits while reconnecting with a part of myself I’ve lost touch with.

a throwback from 2005 - leading 5.10 route in the Red River Gorge

Recovery Runs & Easy Days: 1 of each/week

Other crucial pieces of the puzzle are recovery and rest days, one of each per week during build-up weeks. Just like I’ll be running weeks of lower mileage and intensity every 4th week, each week of running will also have 2 days of less intense workouts – recovery runs, typically the day after a long run to shake out the legs, and an easy day in the middle of the week to allow for some easier running.

REST: 1-2 days of COMPLETE rest/week

I’ve noticed lately that my body recovers much more quickly than it did a year ago. Now, I can run back to back days, or even 3 in a row if I’m mindful of speed and distance – something I never thought I’d be able to do. That being said, I’ve also learned that the real magic happens while you rest.

THIS PLAN IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

This is quite possibly the most important element of all. As it stands, long runs top out at 22 miles – this may be bumped down to a 20, we’ll just wait and see. Weekly mileage tops out at 62. Again, this is subject to change… VERY subject to change! Being flexible is the key to staying healthy and injury-free – and although I have set a time goal for Marathon #2, ultimately my goal is to continue running for as long as possible, and that means listening to my body. Right now, this plan seems and sounds overwhelming, but that’s why it’s a plan, not set in stone. I’m entering entirely new territory in terms of intensity and weekly training load. While I’m cautiously optimistic that my body will be able to withstand this kind of training, I will be paying close attention to the signals my body sends me and adjusting accordingly.

So here it is, all put together…

I’m incredibly excited to see what training for Marathon #2 has in store for me! Any other sage advice?!

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5 thoughts on “The Road to Athens…

    • Nope, I don’t think registration is open yet. It’s a pretty small race, so it may be a few more weeks til registration opens!

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