I have mentioned this here and there on the blog, but I haven’t made an “official” announcement yet. I am going to do that now. This November I will be running my first full marathon, the Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte, NC.
I signed up way back in February during early bird registration. Not ten minutes after clicking “register” my happy little Type A brain got down to making a training plan. I wrote my own plan using guidance from Hal Higdon, Team in Training, and mirroring it after what has worked for me for half marathons (running Tues-Thurs with a long run on Saturdays). It’s 19 weeks long, and it resides in an Excel spreadsheet with the Charlotte Thunder Road logo on it. Type A to the max. But now I’m conflicted and this is where I need you.
I was all set with my training plan, which was going to start on July 13. But now I have come across a “Foolproof Marathon Training Plan” written by Amby Burfoot in the July issue of Runner’s World (page 54 if you have a copy of the issue). Note: If you don’t have a copy, go pick one up. The special Boston issue has amazing stories of survival and is very moving.
So now I have two training plans that both look pretty good. One is written by me, and I have never run a marathon, and the other by Amby Burfoot, a former Boston Marathon champion (among other things). I know the style of my training plan has worked for me in the past: 4 days of running with a rest day on either side of my long run. But I am intrigued by the RW training plan. It has you running 4 days a week for the first and last four weeks of the training plan, but the middle 12 weeks have you running 5 days a week, with runs on either side of the long run.
Often I hear that if something works for you, then you should stick with it… you know, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. But what if something else works better? As in “if it ain’t broke, break it and make it better”. I wish I could put both plans on here as pictures, but I don’t think they’d be clear enough to read, so I will compare and contrast.
Similarities: Both are relatively the same length (RW is 20 weeks, mine is 19 weeks); Both gradually build up to a 20 mile long run and have cut back weeks; Both have the same mileage planned for the final week leading up to race day;
Differences: My plan sticks with running 4 days per week for the whole plan, RW plan uses 5 during the middle 12 weeks; My plan has a peak weekly mileage of 40 miles, RW plan has peak of 44 (which you do twice); My plan has me doing one 20 mile run three weeks from race day, RW plan has two 20 mile runs, three weeks out and five weeks out from race day; My plan has Fridays and Sundays as rest days, RW plan has Tuesdays and Thursdays as rest days throughout the plan.
So they’re pretty much the same length and the biggest difference is that the RW plan would have me doing two 20 mile long runs. I know it’s not necessary to do two of them, but could it be detrimental? Both plans have a gradual increase in weekly mileage that I think I am ready to handle. I have been running four (or sometimes more) days a week for the past 2 years or so, with an average weekly mileage of 20 miles. When I train for a half I usually peak at 28-30 miles.
I like how the RW plan has you doing shorter runs on the day before and the day after your long run. That will help me adjust to running on tired legs and teach my body to not only rely on glycogen stores. But at the same time, I’m hesitant to leave my “tried and true” structure for training.
**Edited to add: My main goals for my first full are to make it to the start line healthy and finish the race. I do not have a specific time goal. Amy’s comment made me realize I should have included what my goals for this race are.
Which training plan would you go with if you were in my (running) shoes?
Did anyone go see the Spirit of the Marathon II last night?? How was it!?