What's that in the air?

It's that time of year.

The time of year when get an extra spring in my stride. The time of year when I consume food by the shovel. The time of year so exciting that the jasmine trees in Astoria Park burst with their sweet smell (it's true!). Why, what time of year is it? Fall Marathon Training Season, of course!

As is no surprise my fall marathon this year is none other than the Grand Dame of Road Races--the NYC Marathon. I've wanted to run this race pretty much since I learned that I could run for more than five minutes, and after two unsuccessful lottery bids I'm finally in.

Ever since I got my email confirming my entry, I've been researching training plans, analyzing what was weak in my last training schedule and what worked really well. After lots of back and forth, I think I've nailed down what will help me avoid stitches on race day yet hold on to the green shoots of speediness I've found. Now that we are 18 weeks away it's time to start the slow/painful/delirious/sleep-depriving experience of preparing for the 26.2 mile jaunt through the five boroughs.

Here are the changes I've made to plans to help ensure success on November 1. Some are minor and some are quite drastic, starting with:
  • No gym. That's right, the guy who brings you Gym Carnies will not be going to the gym for the next 4.5 months. That Hatsumomo post was 100% timed. Why? My gym is damn expensive. Almost $80 a month (plus another $80 for Wifey) to use a treadmill and sometimes the weight equipment--this was actually long overdue. What do I want this to achieve? I'm hoping to see gains in overall running performance since I'll be working 100% for all my runs now.
  • Combining cross training with an easy run. Why? I introduced a day of cross training into my schedule for Flying Pig training. It definitely helped in the overall fitness department, but I didn't notice any running benefits. So I'm stripping it down to push-ups, pull-ups, dips, etc. and using the rest of that day to do an easy run, bringing my weekly run total up to five for the first time ever. What do I want this to achieve? Allows me to focus on slowing things down with an easy run without completely neglecting cross training.
  • Speeding up tempo runs. Why? Because I'm good at them. I'm starting with 5 miles at 8:00 pace and will end at 8 miles at 7:30 pace (ouch!). What do I want this to achieve? This is specifically to help carry speed into the later miles of the race and get a 3:40 PR (there, I'm calling it!).
  • Adding in Yasso 800s. Why? They seem to be all the rage, but I'm really just curious to see if they work. What do I want this to achieve? Help improve speed and temper my expectations for race day.
  • Adding in Marathon pace runs. Why? The night before the Pig I was going over my race strategy and noticed that I'd have to run a 8:24 pace for a 3:40 Marathon. I had no idea what the hell an 8:24 pace was. All my runs were either faster or slower than that. This was a huge flaw that I never realized while training for any of my other races. What do I want this to achieve? Teach my body what the appropriate race pace is before the race.
  • Slowing down the long runs. Why? Because I know I should do it and because I never have actually done it. I always get suckered into some super happy sprint halfway through long runs and then end up burning out 3/4 of the way through. I think I've been stuck thinking that long runs are supposed to be race day simulations--which I realize now is not true. They are just a different type of work out targeting a different set of muscles/skills that you will need on race day, much like a tempo run or hill run. What do I want this to achieve? Not burn out on long runs so that I can actually benefit from them and better prepare against stitches on race day.

So that's my plan. And it's laid out in the sweetest Excel spreadsheet you could image--it's all color-coded and formularific. I would post it here for you to see if I could figure out how to do that. Although I probably shouldn't, because I don't think people should be exposed to that much Excel awesomness at once. (Can you tell that Excel is my video game?)


Jess said...

Sounds like a good plan!

Adam said...

Dude – post the xls! I live live LIVE in excel. I’ll do it if you do  Of course, mine is just a rip off of Hal Higdon’s Advanced I table with some calculations on how far each of the advanced runs (hills, timed tempo, etc) are.

Of course, now that I think about it – I’m really not sure where I would post it either. EDIT! (I’m typing this offline while on a flight…) You could change the extension of the file from xls to jpg and upload to picasa or something. But, there has to be a better way than that.

Oh, I think your plan is really really good. In fact, I’m trying to work in bullets #3, 5, and 6 as well.

The Laminator said...

Sounds like you've thought quite a bit about your plan. I think all your adjustments are really good. My only bit of advice is to work on hills, especially in the long training runs. Make use of the 59th St bridge especially...

Best of luck in your training, SRod!

RunToFinish said...

wow way to go on the planning. once I get healthy again I think I'll be looking at something very similar. it took me such a long time to realize the value of a slow long run and ick still working on my love for yasso's

Kevin said...

80$ a month! Ouch

sounds like you have a very solid plan.

Steve Stenzel said...

I like the tempo runs! And the 800s! Good luck!!

Nitmos said...

You sound like just as much of a Running Organizer Nerd as me. Good luck!

Irish Cream said...

This is a SOLID plan. Love it! And I hear ya on the gym membership--I've been contemplating dropping mine for a WHILE now because it's just way too expensive. If only I could get the morning run thing down, I think I could finally do it . . . Anyway, best of luck to you! I'm so excited you're finally going to be running NYC! :)