The past couple of months, I’ve felt myself in a bit of a rut. That may have been noticeable with my lack of blog posts, especially in the last couple of weeks. Once I finished university for the summer, I was at the highest peak my running had ever been, and I was doing more at the gym than ever. But I didn’t know where to go from there, how to keep improving, and even how to have the motivation to continue at home and after moving to Santiago.
And so, I took some down-time. Not a break exactly, as I kept my running going and my miles at 20-25 miles per week, but definitely a lot less than I had been doing. Principally because it’s not sustainable to keep running 45-mile weeks without a break, especially not for me. But, also, because I wanted to take some time away from intensive running, so that I would appreciate it even more when I came back.
As I titled my last weekly round-up, I think I’M BACK. Spring is springing here in Santiago, and with it is my love of crisp mornings and the cold air in my lungs as I run run run down the river or through the quiet streets. However, I decided that this time, I needed a plan. A plan that would see me having structure with my workouts and that would push me further than I have trained before. And because I wanted to have a plan, I decided to set a goal.
I HAVE SIGNED UP TO RUN A MARATHON ON DECEMBER 3RD.
That gives me 12 weeks to train, up my mileage and then taper back down.
Looking online for marathon training regimes was difficult, as although there were many plans, they were all longer than 12 weeks and seemed to start from a very low level of running. As I have never stopped running, and am used to training hard, I didn’t want to stick to a plan whose only aim was to get me over the finish line – I wanted to be pushed.
And then I stumbled upon Runner’s World’s Break 4:00 or Bust training plan, a 16-week schedule which sees the runner doing 5 days running a week, with one long run, 1 hills day, 1 tempo day, and 2 “easier” runs. That is pretty much how I like to split up my running, and it looked perfect! What is even better is that I’ve already accidentally done the first 4 weeks of the plan, as if my subconscious had already predicted what my active mind would decide to do.
However, I’m not following the plan blindly. I know how my body likes to run, and how my mind likes to split up the week. On the original plan, Mondays and Thursdays were rest days, with Wednesday as a hills day, Tuesday and Saturday as easy run days, Fridays as tempo days, and Sunday as a long run day.
I have never liked starting the week with a rest day, especially after a long run. I like running slowly on my tired legs, stretching them out for a few easy miles, and then knowing I have a running rest day on Tuesday. I love having a full rest day on Saturday, where I do no strength, no running, no nothing, and so I have my energy fully recovered for whatever distance I decide to tackle on a Sunday.
So, although I am following the plan, in terms of weekly mileage and how the workouts are split, I have changed the days to fit my own schedule. This will make following the plan easier for me, as I will be sure to be available and ready for the workouts it suggests!
This week, I’m following WEEK 5 of the plan. This will see me run 32 miles, split between three 4-mile runs (two easy paced, one at MP), one 7-mile hilly run, and then a 13-mile long run (although who runs 13 miles without tacking on that extra 0.1 miles, just to say they have run a half?). Tuesday, today, I had as a running rest day, but I have been climbing and have been walking around the city. I will also fit in 2 strength sessions with barbell workouts, as strength is almost as crucial for running as the cardio itself.
It’s nice to finally have structure again, to have a calendar written out and stuck to the back of my door which takes away the decision-making problems I often have – what should I do at the gym today? How hard should I push myself? When should I do that hilly workout that I dread SO MUCH? I don’t need to think, just follow the programme.
Hopefully, this will see me crossing the finish line in just under 12 weeks, with a respectable time under my belt. Although the plan is called BREAK 4:00 OR BUST, and in an ideal world yes, breaking 4 hours for my first official marathon would be amazing, I don’t want to go in with unreasonable hopes. I know I can run a half marathon in 1:50ish, and so perhaps 4 hours is not too far out of reach. My main goal will be to run closer to 4 hours than 4:30, and, you know, to actually finish the damn thing!
How do you like to structure your training? Do you work best when you have a goal in mind? Are you always trying to increase your training time and efficiency?
Let me know below in the comments or follow me on Instagram and send me a DM. I’d love to hear from you!