There are 7 weeks until the Surf City Marathon (and Super Bowl Sunday if you’re counting)! This is my second round of marathon training and it’s very different from the first. Asia and I ran 18.5 miles together through Mission Bay on Saturday and at about mile 16.5 we spotted our former running coaches from our Vavi Running Group. Vavi is currently training for the Carlsbad half marathon, and on Saturday after their 11 mile run, they had a potluck. We stopped to say hello, although nearly everyone had gone home already. It was nice to catch up with our old coaches (and see their shock when we told them that we were training for an Ironman). Seeing the old group really made me miss our group runs, running topic clinics and potlucks.
It has definitely been a bit more mentally challenging to train for a marathon without the support of a training group. Although we have Team WODS to support us in our Ironman journey, Asia and I are training for the marathon pretty much on our own. Jeremy isn’t going to run the marathon due to the fact that he injured his hip running the last one and doesn’t want to risk aggravating it before the Ironman, and Mike has kind of been on his own marathon training schedule since he got sick a few times since we started.
Here’s a list of differences between the first time I trained for a marathon and this time:
- Supported Group Long Runs vs. Unsupported Couple Runs. Being a part of a running group not only provided plenty of people to chat with before, during and after Saturday long runs, but Vavi also provided aid stations throughout the course with both water and sports drink. During marathon training round 1, we’d run with a group of 4-6 girls and swap stories and chit-chat. During marathon training round 2, Asia and I swap stories and chit-chat while we carry our water bottles and fill them up at public restrooms along the way.
- P90X vs. Triathlon While Marathon Training.Last time we trained for a marathon, we also completed our first round of P90X. This time, we’re training for an Ironman. The first half of marathon training actually also included the tail end of Insanity. So basically the first time I trained for a marathon I supplemented with weight lifting and the second time I’m supplementing with more cardio. Apparently I can’t just run. I need more to occupy me.
- Saturday Morning 7:30 a.m. Long Runs vs. When It Works. Last time I trained for a marathon, I took the long runs much more seriously. Mike and I typically would have a quiet night on Friday nights, eat a low-fiber, high carbohydrate dinner, and be in bed early. We usually had to drive about 30 minutes to the start of the run, so we typically had a 6:30 wake-up call. Now, Asia and I kind of squeeze in the long run when we can. Although, as of late, we’ve moved our long runs to Saturday, in the beginning of training we were running 10-15 miles on Sundays, sometimes even in the afternoon, to accommodate our social lives. We go to dinner parties, Thanksgiving/Christmas parties and birthday parties the night before long runs. We usually have a few drinks and we don’t really regulate if our dinner has a low fiber and fat content. Needless to say, this discretion has led to a few quite uncomfortable long runs, notably our 15 miler which we ran late Sunday morning after a 45 mile challenging bike ride and also after a dinner party with plenty of imbibing the previous day. It was a pretty miserable run. After that long run we learned our lesson and shifted all future long runs to Saturday mornings and have cut back on the booze the night before. Things have been going better for us on our runs since the switch.
- Sporadic Group Speedwork vs. Scheduled Yasso 800s. I didn’t put a lot of emphasis on a speed work plan during our first round of marathon training. It was incorporated into our Vavi running group’s Tuesday night workouts on occasion and I would usually participate. Vavi is actually where I learned about the Yasso 800s, but we only did them for one week. This round, I’ve been diligently completing my Yasso 800s each week, starting with 4 sets back in October and working my way up to the 8 sets I have scheduled this week. By January I’ll be up to 10 sets of these intense intervals. Hopefully they will help me achieve my A goal of a sub 4 hour marathon.
- Coach-Prepared Training Plan vs. Self-Made Training Plan. For my first two half marathons, I followed Hal Higdon’s online training plans. For my second and third half and my first full marathon, I followed my Vavi Running Club training plan. For my fourth half marathon, I winged it, and for this marathon, I’ve created my own plan. So far, I’ve PRed in every race I’ve run which is most likely because I have been a fairly novice runner with plenty of room for improvement. I hope that despite my self created plan, the same holds true for the marathon on February 5! I basically made by plan using 4 week blocks – 3 weeks on, 1 week of recovery. I increased mileage for long runs by 1-2 miles per week and backed off in the 4th week. I only complete my Yassos in the build weeks and try to get at least 2 other runs in on top of the long run and speed work. Oftentimes, the 4th run of the week is part of a brick session and I’m running only 3-4 miles off the bike. One good thing about biking is that is has been proved to improve your run economy. Unfortunately, the reverse is not true and running won’t improve your cycling speed.
I wouldn’t say that I’m not taking this second marathon as seriously, but rather I think that I just have a better idea of what I’m doing. The first marathon was scary because I didn’t know if I could do it. Each time we ramped up our long run mileage, I’d be nervous. I always erred on the side of caution. Now, I’ve run 16, 18 and even 20 miles more than once and it’s not as daunting. I think I probably didn’t quite respect the long run quite enough in the beginning of training by allowing my social calendar to rule by long run schedule, but in the end I think it’ll be OK. I can’t let marathon training rule my life completely, especially during the happiest month of the year.
Next week we’re already up to 20 miles. Marathon #2 will be here before we know it!
Did you make any big changes in training strategy after your first marathon? Did you improve on your second attempt?