When it comes to training for races, I have taken a very low key approach in the last year. In the first 5 or so years of my running life, I always utilized training plans that specified the number of miles to run on each day and at what pace. Paces were broken down into very specific ranges based on past race times. I’ve never been tested for my VO2 max or determined my lactate threshold so not that specific but pretty dialed in. Side note: I do have some interest in figuring out what those aforementioned very specific data sets are but the other part of my just wants to run and be happy and live my life with no conception of those numbers. Anyway, I trained according to my plan and things went well. My plans were usually fairly cookie cutter. I obtained them from the internet for free and found my paces with the Macmillan Running Calculator. I didn’t put a whole lot of stock into sticking to those paces if it didn’t feel right (that is my run and be happy side) but I usually got my miles in.
Well fast forward to 2015. I trained for the Cleveland Marathon in my standard cookie cutter way but at the last minute, decided to scrap the plan to PR and instead use the race as a long training run for the Buckeye Buster 50k which is a trail race in central Ohio. While the marathon went well, the 50k did not and it left me really questioning my training. I waffled for a few months as to what to do next. Earlier in 2015 my husband that I would run one marathon and one 50k in 2015 and then no more big races until the following year. Afterall, we had a 1 1/2 year old and it didn’t really work (for either of us) for me to spend 6 hours running on a Saturday. I really wanted to stick to my word as he is so incredibly supportive and flexible with the time away from home while training for long races. However I felt like I had this monkey on my back. I couldn’t escape the thoughts of a race do over. I found a 50k that is 10 minutes from home, a looped course, and incredibly spectator friendly. I justified that because of all those reasons, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal for my husband and I should just run it. By the time I made this decision, we were 5 weeks out and my long run was hovering around 12-13 miles. I had done some trail running but was sticking to mainly roads and probably 25 miles per week. So basically a lot of aimless running with no real plan. I needed to change that real quick.
After signing up for this race, I had 4 weeks to train, one week to taper and then race day. I did not look at a 50k training plan once. I didn’t look up any sort of guidance for how to train quickly and with a minimal base. I instead chose to train by feel. I followed the basic tenet of increasing time on my feet and attempted to approximate how long I’d be out on the course. I even trained on the course itself which was nice. So basically I ran a lot with some goals of being able to finish this race feeling good. Race day arrived and it was probably the best 31ish miles I have ever run. I felt good. I felt prepared. Nutrition was on point. No issues. And I didn’t feel burnt out from weeks and weeks of training. Following a plan can be arduous at times and I really appreciated the freedom my non plan plan allowed.
Now, I know that had I had more time to train, I likely would have utilized a plan. But because this worked out so well, I figured what the hey, let’s do it again. And by the time 2016 rolled around and I came out of recovery from 2 herniated discs, it was once again time to employ the non plan plan. Having 2 months of down time really alters one’s plans. Which leads me to today. I am training for the Columbus Marathon and I have no idea of where I should be on a conventional training plan. Now that we are getting closer to the race, I can say the number of week out we are but back when those weeks were in the double digits-I really had no clue. I have a friend who is training for this race. It’s her first marathon so she is super in to her training plan and I recently asked her what week she is on and ummm by the way how many miles was she running this weekend. I can say that based on my previous marathon runnng experiences, I feel pretty good. I have several fantastic long runs under my belt so that’s a good sign. My mileage is pretty high (for me) and I’ll peak out at about 50ish miles so I definitely am on the right track.
I truly believe that come race day, I’ll be in a better, more relaxed head space having spent the previous who know’s how many weeks just letting my body guide me. They say “trust your training” all the time and I think that the more I run, the more I am really able to do this. We will see how crazy I get come taper time (which I think starts soon-ish) but I think this is it….I think this is finally the marathon where everything comes together, and dare I speak it out loud; a PR could happen. To be continued……