Monday, August 5, 2013

STWM Marathon Training: a different plan

Wearing last year's STWM shirt to inspire me to keep on trucking during an uninspired workout last week  

Warning boring post talking about training plans to follow...likely only interesting if your a running geek :)  

I'm 5 weeks into training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and I'm feeling very hopeful that this Marathon will be a good one (provided I stay off the injured list).  I started week one, on the Run Less Run Farther (FIRST) plan that I used for the Ottawa Race Weekend Half.  I loved the FIRST plan for the half, it was intense and hard and helped me PR with a 1:50:36 but the idea of FIVE, (F-I-V-E) 32km training runs for a full marathon had me scared!  I had only ever run 3 for my first Marathon, a year and half ago and that just about did my body in (also my best time at 4:17).  I then ran two more Marathon's close together and not knowing how to train or recover in between invented my own plan.  I ran ZERO 32km training runs for Toronto last year, as I was hurt and I ran one on my birthday training for Disney.  Looking back I see that I was not prepared for Disney and that is likely why I limped the last 7 miles in pain (hey but I still finished under 5hrs at 4:48, proud of that).

I've learned a lot (I think) about what I need to do this time around.  Number one being focusing on staying injury free with resting, foam rolling, stretching, and paying attention to my body.  But I'm also training differently, much differently.  I signed up for the K2J Fitness Marathon Clinic and along with the weekly track practice (or as I like to call it barf get together) I got a training plan.  This plan is very different for me.  For starters it has 4 runs a week.  I've always trained with 3 runs a week, maybe a 4th for fun or social.  The plan also has HILLS, TRACK, a MODERATE run (which varies from 6-16km my lord that's long!) and the LSD.  The good news is the plan has only THREE 32km runs in it. Thank-you :)  The 'other' news is it has me running more weekly and with more intensity then I ever have.

Hills:  The FIRST plan does not have hill work in it.  I like hills and actually missed them training for the May Half.  Before the FIRST plan I had actually done a hill and a speed workout most weeks. However, my idea of hills back then was setting the dreadmill to the hill interval program and running 1 min hill intervals for 6-8km at a level 6-7.  Now I am aiming at 400-600m at 7-10% incline x6-8.  This takes me much longer then 1 min!

Track Work:  The track workouts in the K2J clinic are harder for me then the FIRST program.  3x 1600 meters for example in the FIRST program vs. 4x1600m and 4x800m in the K2J clinic.  Prior to both of these programs my idea of speed work was on the treadmill running 1-4 min speed intervals.

Moderate Run:  the K2J plan has a '4th' run in it called a moderate run. It varies from 6-16km in length.  The 16km being the same week as a 32km run!  I remember when 16km was my long run not my moderate one.  This run is actually the one that is giving me the most grief.  It's hard fitting it in, as I don't like running back to back.  I'm having issues with foot pain and tend to need that day off running/impact to rest my foot.  Doing a 'longer' moderate run after a hard track workout (where my feet ache from the pounding) is challenging.  I've started using ice baths after my runs on my feet and that is helping immensely.  I also had an appointment at Solefit last week and am trying out a new support that will hopefully help.  I like that the coaches have said that this is the least important run, and that if I need to drop one, one week this would be it.  I also find their 'idea' of the moderate run interesting.  If I understand correctly you run what 'feels like a moderate run on that day'.  To me it's an organic type of run, maybe its faster, maybe its slower because of a killer track workout.  But you run a 'moderate' run on that day.  I kind of sort of love this idea.  For me it means forget the Garmin and pace and just run what feels like a moderate run for your body.

What's for lunch? Feet soup of course!  My Ice pot :) 

LSD:  LSD (long slow distance) this always has me giggling.  LSD the runner's drug of choice, to be enjoyed every weekend (sorry couldn't help it).  I like that the SLOW part of the LSD is emphasized here.  That the idea is to put TIME on the road where your body is under stress.  Again, if I understand correctly my 32km run should take as long as the Marathon will on race day.  I like this much better then the FIRST training which in my mind always had me pushing pace on my long runs.  Yes it was slower then race pace but still pushing.

Cross Training:   The FIRST plan was very specific about cross training, you did 2 sessions a week with intensity (biking, rowing or swimming) and it recommended strength training as well.  I tended to do one bike session and two really good strength sessions that involved the TRX, Heavy Weights, and HIIT.  Right now I have really eased back on my cross training.  I'm doing 2-3 shorter TRX strength sessions of moderate intensity.  I'm not touching heavy weights.  I'm trying to get a bike ride in each week.  Truthfully, I have found myself tired on my non running days.  I'm trying to figure out a balance and trusting that shifting to a more run heavy program will pay off.

Doing more of this in my cross training now, lots of stretching especially focusing on my IT bands and hips. 

So all that being said last week was EPIC for me,  I ran the most I ever have in a week!  I ran 61km last week. This week I am due to run even more if I make it.  Last week was a tough week.  The hills were tough, the track workout left me ill that night (will never eat dinner before track again), and the moderate 15km the morning after on a trail were hard.  I spent my rest day at La Ronde on my feet all day.  By the end of the day Saturday my feet and hips hurt and I went to bed late.  Sunday when my LSD came up, I did not expect much.  But to my surprise I had a great run.  The kind of LSD that reminds you why you love running so much.  I ran what felt good for my body that day.  I likely ran too fast, if the goal is to spend time on the road, but I felt so good and so fluid I just wanted to run what felt natural that day.  I did 29km in 2:50, at an average pace of 9:24 min/mile (about 5:55min/km).  I was even able to bend over and untie my own shoes after (trust me this is huge!)  I even had enough energy left over to go spend an hour doing SUP (Stand Up Paddle Boarding) that night.  Last night when I went to bed, I was in awe of running that far, it's been awhile since I've run that kind of distance.  I had forgotten why it's so addictive, you feel really accomplished after.  I admit my knees and ankles are tender today, so I am resting and stretching.

I"m excited to see what happens in October.  My goal is to train to the best of my ability, to simply do my best.  To listen to my body's needs.  This will shock you but I don't have an official time goal.  I am tired of crossing the finish line in tears.  I want to cross with a huge smile of accomplishment on my face.  I am trying to let go of the pressure I put on myself.  I was begenning to feel like I was suffocating from it.  I want to celebrate my body and mind's ability to do this.  I trust that the work that I am putting into this will pay off.  I am also praying for strong knees, flexible IT bands, and happy feet.



  1. I needed to read this-for SO many reasons....Im actually in tears. Suffocating, pressure, training....and doing my best. Thanks Katie. As always, you bring me sanity and inspiration.

    1. I was...and doing it to myself. Race weekend I saw all these happy finish photos on FB, and all I remember was crossing in tears and sitting on the grass shaking till Ryan came in. I ran my fastest race and that was my reaction. It was a wake up call. Perhaps I should have mentioned in this post that that FIRST program was so PACE PACE PACE focused and it did my head in. Right now I'm doing more of a listen to my body on a given day and pushing to my best ability on that day. I feel much much better. Hang in there Tracey I hope you get your happy runs back really soon. TRAIN!!! CHOO CHOOO

  2. Great post - sounds like this new plan is a good fit for you. I'm following the Train Like a Mother 10K Finish it plan and am definitely not doing all the runs that are listed, since I also don't like to go back to back (can't yet seem to make the time). But my three runs a week are already making me feel good and it sounds like you are on track for an amazing race in October. Stay strong and healthy!

    1. Thank-you Annet, I love 3 runs a week, its worked well for me over the years your going to do great :)

  3. Thanks for all the details, Katie. As for back-to-back runs, I was told that it's good to learn to run on tired legs. If your feet are sore, though, skipping them makes more sense.

    1. good point...I'm going to do my best to stick to the plan and the ice baths are helping a lot.