What I’m Doing Differently for Marathon #2

I started training for my next MARATHON this week, officially!

It has been a year since my first marathon, the Ottawa Marathon, where I BQ’d with a time of 3:32:54. Let me catch you up on what I’ve been up to since then:

Summer 2018 – Lots of ‘fun running’, 5peaks trail races, no official training plan, but hitting track workouts 1 day a week with the Guelph Victors (local running group).

Fall 2018 – I half-heartedly trained for the Road2Hope half marathon, where I set a PB of 1:36:32. I felt that this PB was so close to my last PB that I don’t really see it as a progression – I simply knew the course better and had a bit more experience.

Winter 2018/2019 – Mostly laid out with an insanely frustrating knee injury – which I tried e v e r y t h i n g to remedy.

Spring 2019 – Got the knee business under control, and trained for the Cabot Trail relay, which I ran with a group of AMAZING women. (spoiler alert: We came second in the all women’s division!)

Improving My Marathon Training

So where are we now? Real talk: I’m 5 lbs above my race weight (that’s a lot on a 5’0” frame). The BQ standards have dropped by 5 minutes. If I want to do this again, I’m going to have to work just as hard as I did for my first. Most people are able to shave off a generous amount of time from their first marathon, but I really… REALLY… trained hard for my first. It is going to take some hard work to do better.

What am I going to do different this time?

Get a Coach!

I have been debating about this for a long time. I do a LOT of reading about running and marathon training methodology, so I have been able to make some good progress in my 3 years of running with templated plans and my own troubleshooting. But, a string of injuries has made me realize I have a lot to learn. I’ve picked a super talented run coach that works with a few lovely runners I know, and they are constantly crushing their races… so here goes nothing!

Don’t Overdo the Training

In my first cycle, I adhered pretty stubbornly to the marathon training program – even when it wasn’t feeling good. I remember getting to work in the morning and absolutely dreading the three flights of stairs up to my desk. Looking back, I don’t think I was recovering as well as I should. This was proven by the ankle injury I sustained mid-cycle. And the near-constant eye twitch I developed. And the amenorrhea. And the low iron. Yeah.., looking back, I was in some serious denial about these signs!

Run Easy Runs EASY

I’ve been reading about MAF and McMillan heart rate training lately. Although there are debates out there about how effective it is, I think there is one lesson from it that pretty much EVERY seasoned runner would agree with, no matter what training method they ascribe to: Easy runs should be EASY.

In my first marathon training cycle, I’d be running a lot of runs at this weird 5:00-5:20min/km pace, where my heart rate was at 80% of max. I’m now thinking that this medium pace, although it FEELS AMAZING, is not really helping me much.

Strength Train

Before I started running, I was in the gym… A LOT. I’ve been able to maintain a good strength training program while half marathon training, but it has been hard to be consistent when my mileage increases. This time, I’m committing to 2-3x a week resistance training. I’m focusing on glutes, core, and upper body. I’m using a lot of exercises from Running Rewired.

Running Rewired

I think I failed in maintaining this schedule in the past because I was trying to lift too heavy, or do too much. 40minutes 2x a week is doable. I bike to the gym on my lunch break on Tuesday and Thursday. Lunch break workouts are great: by the time I get home, its like they never happened.

To Conclude…

I can’t wait to dig into this training cycle. Racing for me is the driver for the training, but the training is really what I enjoy most.