Putting together Training Plans

Prior to the Disney Marathon Weekend, I had a very defined training schedule laid out, showing which days I was running or working out, and what to do on that day (strength training, speed work, easy runs, tempo runs, Long Runs, etc). Since Disney, I have been pretty casual about following a weekly training schedule. I would go out twice a week for maintenance runs and do a Long Run on the weekend. I have been rotating my Long Run distances between 8, 10, and 12 miles in order to maintain my Half Marathon fitness/endurance level.

This has been working for me up until now, but I know that I have to make some adjustments to include more 'walking time' between now and June, and then later, I will need to start progressively increasing mileage to prepare for the Chicago Marathon. So how do I accomplish this? I figured I would have to create two training plans -- one that will prepare me for the AVON Walk for Breast Cancer while also making sure I am ready for the Illinois Half Marathon, and a second to prepare me for the Chicago Marathon.

AVON Walk / Illinois Half Marathon Training Plan

Starting in April, my training week will look like this:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 30-45 Minute Run (interval/speed work)
  • Wednesday: 4-6 Mile Walk
  • Thursday: 30-45 Minute Run (easy/tempo run, Hill work)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Long Slow Run
  • Sunday: Long Walk

In the middle of April, I will reduce the Long Run distances as I 'taper' for the Illinois Half. I will continue to do the Walks throughout the month until the week of April 22 because that is race week and I will be in full 'taper mode', resting my body before the race weekend.

My May training schedule will change to place more focus upon Walking. And since the AVON Walk is a 26.2 day followed by a 13.1 day, I will be training that way during the weekends this month. Running will be reduced to just one day a week since I only have the Soldier Field 10-Miler scheduled for this month. May will look like this:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Cross Training
  • Wednesday: 6 Mile Walk
  • Thursday: 6 Mile Easy Run
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Long Walk (between 13-18 miles)
  • Sunday: 10 Mile Walk

I will walk over 90 miles during the month of May, while still allowing two full weeks for tapering prior to the AVON Walk. Only 31 running miles will be logged in May (which includes the 10-Mile race). This will be the highest mileage month I have ever logged, which is why I am scheduling plenty of Rest Days to give myself time to recover from each week's Long Walks.

Chicago Marathon Training Plan

Marathon Training will begin in mid-June, after the AVON Walk and the North Shore Half Marathon have been completed. Because I will already be at a 13.1 distance fitness level, I will begin my Long Runs at 13 miles rather than something shorter. My intention is to follow a 16-week training schedule. In general, the weekly schedule will look like this:

  • Monday: 30-45 Minute Run (interval/speed work)
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 30-45 Minute Run (easy/tempo run, Hill work)
  • Thursday: Cross Training
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Long Slow Run
  • Sunday: Rest

I am probably going to join the LifeTime Fitness Marathon Training Program. The benefits of which will be working with a Certified Personal Trainer and Run Coach (through NASM and RRCA) who will help me craft a personalized training schedule, train with a group of like-minded people, and be held accountable to the plan. The program also offers weekly sessions on topics like Hydration, Nutrition, Safety, Stretching, Physiology, Injury Prevention, Equipment, and race day preparation. The coach has run 20+ marathons, 20+ ultras, and an Ironman. And he is a member of our Run Club at LifeTime.

The Long Runs will be progressively longer as the weeks fly by, with 'cutback' weeks to allow the body to adapt and recover. The last Long Run will be in mid-September, leaving 3 weeks for tapering prior to the Marathon in October.

I am really looking forward to getting serious about this race, although I admit to still being intimidated by the 26.2 distance and the fact that most of the training (and perhaps the race itself) will be during the hottest months of the Midwest. Special care will be needed to avoid injury, dehydration, and heatstroke. On the good side of that, if I can form a good strategy for avoiding those problems during training, then I shouldn't have a problem during the race itself.

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