New York City Marathon Training Recap: Weeks 1-5

My marathon training plan began on July 4th, and as such, I say I’ve finished five “official” weeks of marathon training. But I started what I call “marathon build-up” six weeks before the official start date on May 23rd, and I kind of count those too. 11 weeks conquered so far! Conquered sounds like a bit of an exaggeration but it really does feel that good (after the work is done). The half marathon training plans I’ve followed in the past have only been 12 weeks long – meaning I’d be just one week away from my goal race at this point in time. Instead – I have about 13 more weeks of training ahead of me.

If you’re still following, that means 24 weeks in 2016 will have been dedicated to training for the New York City Marathon. 6 whole months! On a day-to-day basis, I try not to linger too long on what the upcoming weeks have in store for me. There’s a PDF tucked away in my email and a printed document on my desk that outlines every day’s plan from July 4th to race day on November 6th, but I like to focus on what I need to do this week. The exception to that rule is when I’d like to be prepared for the number of miles I’ll be running on a special weekend – like my 25th birthday, my bachelorette, or you know, wedding weekend. In cases like that, I want to know how big a chunk of a time I might need on a Saturday or Sunday morning to finish my longest run of the week.

Favorite long run to date: 8 hilly miles in a new metropark in Columbus before my family bridal shower AKA the time I discovered this gel tasts like chocolate chia pudding.

Training Plans

If you’re new to the idea of using a training plan to prepare for a race, they outline the work needed across a specified number of weeks to prepare you for the desired distance you’d like to race. You can find and follow one for any kind of race you’d like, including a 5K or a 100-miler ultra. They vary widely depending on a runner’s experience and other factors – is this your first time running this distance? How long have you been running? What’s your weekly mileage look like? 12 miles? 40? 80? Are your looking to improve on a previous time or simply finish the race? Do you want to walk/run the distance? Run the whole thing? You see what I mean.

I still consider myself a fairly new runner, semi-injury prone (since I’ve had difficulty in the past increasing my mileage), and most definitely a novice in the realm of marathon training. I’ve never run 26.2 miles before so my #1 goal is to simply cover the distance. Perhaps one day I’ll train to beat that time. My training plan reflects that – there isn’t a lot of complicated speed or track work. I run 4x a week – not 5 or 6. My highest weekly mileage peaks at 38 miles, and I only run the my longest training run once (20 miles). Oh yes friends and family, it’s actually very normal to never run the whole 26.2 mile distance until race day. For a newbie like myself, it’s done to lessen the risk I’ll strain myself before race day, and I must simply trust in my training (and a heavy dose of adrenaline from NYC’s sideline energy) to pull me through. The longest run I did before both of my half marathons (13.1 miles long) was 10 miles, and they went just fine, so I think that fuels my trust a little bit too.

That one Sunday I only had to run 4 miles, but Alex decided to bike 40.

My Marathon Training Plan

I’m following a novice training plan provided by a coach from Team Every Mother Counts. Typically the plan prescribes Monday as an “active” or full rest day. Tuesday is an easy run. Wednesday calls for 30 minutes – 1 hour of cross training (anything that isn’t running and preferably doesn’t mimic the same strains as running, such as yoga, biking or swimming). Thursday‘s run begins with a warm-up mile(s), moves in to mileage at the pace (speed) I’d like to run on race day (AKA Marathon Race Pace), and ends with a cool-down mile(s). Friday is another 30 minutes – 1 hour of cross training. Saturday calls for 3 “easy” miles or more cross training if I’m tired (“easy” = a pace you should be able to hold and still simultaneously chat with a friend). Sunday is Long Run Day. It is not to be missed or cheated (if you can help it) because it is the pinnacle of long distance training. It gets your body used to being on your feet for a long period of time and on race day, that long run will be the whole 26.2 enchilada. Mileage typically increases slowly every week, but it does drop down from time to time to ease up on the body and will “taper” at the end so my legs are nice and fresh on race day.

Marathon Training Weeks 1-5

Here’s a quick run down of the the last 5 week’s of “official” training for a quick catch-up. I’ve excluded the extras (PT exercises, strength work) for now and will begin to include it in the recap in coming weeks. I’ll return to posting each week’s training every Monday.

*I allowed myself an easier first week of training due to a little hip pain action
Week 1, Monday: Rest day
Week 1, Tuesday: Rest day
Week 1, Wednesday: 3.0 elliptical miles + 20 minute swim
Week 1, Thursday: 3.3 elliptical miles
Week 1, Friday: Rest day
Week 1, Saturday: 3 mile run
Week 1, Sunday: 4.0 mile run
Total Mileage: 7 run miles; 6.6 elliptical miles
Week 2, Monday: Rest day
Week 2, Tuesday: 3 mile run
Week 2, Wednesday: 7.0 mile bike
Week 2, Thursday: 3.1 mile run
Week 2, Friday: 6.5 mile bike
Week 2, Saturday: 2.0 mile run
Week 2, Sunday: 6.1 mile run
Total Mileage: 14.2 run miles; 13.5 bike miles
Week 3, Monday: 1.5 hours of ballet class (yes way)
Week 3, Tuesday: 3.0 mile run
Week 3, Wednesday: 6.1 bike miles
Week 3, Thursday: 3.1 mile run
Week 3, Friday: Rest day
Week 3, Saturday: 2.5 mile run
Week 3, Sunday: 8 run mile run
Total Mileage: 16.6 run miles; 6.1 miles miles
Week 4, Monday: 1.5 hours of ballet class
Week 4, Tuesday: 3.0 mile run
Week 4, Wednesday: 8.0 bike miles
Week 4, Thursday: 3.0 mile run
Week 4, Friday: Rest Day
Week 4, Saturday: 3.0 mile run
Week 4, Sunday: 4.0 mile run
Total Mileage: 13 run miles; 8.0 bike miles
Week 5, Monday: Rest day 
Week 5, Tuesday: 4.0 mile run 
Week 5, Wednesday: 30 minutes yoga 
Week 5, Thursday: 5.0 mile run 
Week 5, Friday: Rest day 
Week 5, Saturday: 3.0 mile run 
Week 5, Sunday: 8.0 mile run 
Total Mileage: 20.0 run miles

In quick summary – I feel good! I am really, really proud of the work I’ve been putting into this marathon training. There have been more than a handful of times that I have doubted my ability to even get to the starting line of this race, but I am chugging along – getting it done to the best of my ability.

I’d like to share a little more about why I’m running for Every Mother Counts and what it’s like fundraising for a cause and training for a race, but until then, as always, it would be be tremendous if you’d consider supporting my running and Every Mother Counts over on my Crowdrise page. Check it out!

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