I’ve never been one to follow a certain training plan, and that holds true for marathon training. I don’t like saying that I’m going to run a certain pace or distance weeks or months from now without knowing what I’m going to feel like. I progress in a way which feels natural to me, which is fine at this point since I don’t have super solid, specific goals. I just want to get faster, and what I’m doing now works for me. I do have a very specific goal for the Philadelphia Marathon though: <3:35:00, aka a Boston qualifying time.
Training plans online seem to last a minimum of 12 weeks, with some stretching to 16 or 18, but the time I got back from China (August 25) to the Philadelphia Marathon (November 17) was only 11 weeks. Since I essentially took two weeks off in China, and classes/homework/stress would be starting as soon as I got back to Penn, I was prepared for training to have a slow start.
Three weeks after getting back from China, I unexpectedly PRed by 1 minute 17 seconds at the Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. (I truly believe I haven’t raced enough to know how fast I can really run.) This was a huge confidence booster.
In the time since the beginning of the semester (in this sense, “marathon training”), I’ve done:
- High-mileage (for me) weeks consistently at ~40 mpw, peaking at 49 and 53 miles.
- 4 cross country 6k races (including a PR of 27:51)
- Many double days (run in the morning and again in the afternoon)
- 5 hard track sessions, many as the second run of the day
- A handful of long runs – sometimes the day after XC races, meaning very tired legs
- One straight up 20 miler, solo, with the last 3.5 miles slightly faster than marathon goal pace (8:12 min/mile)
- One split 21 miler – 13.7 in the morning, 7.3 in the evening
- CrossFit workouts 1-2 times a week including lots of deadlifts and squats
- Miles of walking to classes/errands everyday
- Foam rolling & icing to keep my plantar fasciitis in check
Although my “training” isn’t what you’d typically think of with regards to marathon training, I feel pretty good about it. I’ve done well in races and my mental discipline is strong. I know online race prediction calculators aren’t perfectly accurate, but it’s reassuring to me that all the ones I’ve seen suggest I am capable of running <3:35. Regardless of the time I run, I’ll be happy to finish, but it would be really sweet to meet that goal.
Today is about 2.5 weeks out from the marathon. I plan to do about 40 miles this week and then cut back to 20-25 next week. The week of the marathon I’ll probably just run once or twice, then run the NIRCA Nationals XC meet very very slowly on Saturday, and finally marathon Sunday. It’s coming fast.