Marathon Training Update, 2021

It will be three years since my last marathon when I step up to the (crowded) start in Staten Island for the 50th running of the New York City Marathon in November.

Three years and an Achilles surgery.

This will be, for me, Marathon Number 22 in all. It’ll be my eighth New York.

I love New York. And I love this race.

***

My first marathon was NYC in 2002. I ran it in 4:20:47 that year. Not bad for a start.

My fastest NYC was 2005. I crushed it that year setting a PR (at the time) by running 3:50:59. (I’d later set my all-time PR in Chicago with a 3:25:16.)

My last NYC, run in 2018, with the Achilles tears was 4:47:47. That was the slowest marathon of my life.

I don’t plan to be that slow again.

***

In my training life, I have set up all sorts of running plans and marathon training programs. They’ve all worked, some better than others.

My best years were when I averaged 40+ mile weeks for 16 weeks and did solid long runs, steady weeks, and speed work. Yeah, the tried and true methods work. This is because they are… tried and true.

My marathon training plans are developed before the 16 weeks and are usually quite specific. I spell out the days I’ll run and the distances. I mark what speed work I’ll do and how fast I’ll do it.

Those were good plans. They’ve worked well.

They worked until I was hurt and I couldn’t follow the plans because my body wouldn’t let me.

I’m just about at 100% again.

I’ll be 53-year-old on race day (I turn 53 in a few weeks), but I feel stronger and better than I have in years.

And this year, even though my other plans worked, I will train a lot differently.

I’m not going to spell it all out. This year I’m going to go, primarily by feel. I’m going to listen to my body.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m going to push, and push hard, but I’m going to listen to my body.

My plan outlines only the distances of my long run goals in broad general terms. I’m not going to be a slave to a plan I develop. As long as I hit my long-term distance goals, the other runs will come when they come. The speed work too…

***

My 16-week program begins on Sunday, July 18, but I’ve been gearing up. I outlined on these pages how my running progressed in the first year after my surgery.

This is the update to those posts which ended in January 2021.

As I have worked to get stronger, I have been aiming for 20-mile weeks. I routinely hit that mark a few times a month. I’ve enjoyed 20+ mile weeks ten times this year. (This week I ran 21.45 miles.) It’s good and solid and reasonable.

I had my first 7 mile run on January 24.

I hit eight miles on February 7.

Ten miles came on June 12. That’s my long run to date (though on Monday I plan to do 13.1 just to get to that threshold.)

I’m also getting faster. For example, my fastest 5-mile runs have progressed from 47:41 (February 13) to 46:46 (March 3) to 43:46 on May 14.

My four miles have been better still going from 37:47 in March to 34:11 earlier this month.

Earlier today I ran my first sub-8:00 three miler clocking in at 23:44.

If you saw a bolt of lighting earlier, that was me.

***

Here, then is the entirety of my marathon training plan:

June 28 = 13.1 miles

July 4 = 16 miles (I have a special long run planned with my oldest son)

Those are the pre-16-week “get strong runs.”

July 17 = 10 miles

August 7 = 12 miles

August 21 = 15 miles

September 4 = 18 miles

September 18 = 20 miles

October 2 = 20 miles

October 16 = 20 miles

October 23 = 18 miles

November 7 = Marathon

And that’s it.

***

I never had such an open plan before. If I don’t hit those goals in a specific week, I usually have a one-week cushion to get it done.

Besides those runs, these rest will go by feel. I’ll listen to my body. When it feels ready to go fast (as it did today), I’ll go fast.

When I need a rest, I’ll rest. (I workout every day, but if I need a break from running, I’ll take the break.) I may rest for a day, maybe two. Maybe even three.

I’ll do Yasso 800’s and Semmer 400’s (I invented the Semmer 400. I’ll tell about them one day soon.)

The goal is to get to the starting line strong and healthy.

My last few marathons were struggles because I was hurt.

I’m hurt no longer.

I’m going to crush this race.

I can’t wait!

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