Training Season has begun: How to get started

marathon starting

Have you chosen which races you are going to run for the year?

January is the perfect time to start looking at the race schedule and deciding which races you want to conquer for 2015. For those in the northern hemisphere it is cold and dreary outside, having something to look forward to can keep your spirits up when many are fighting seasonal depression.

If you are planning to run a spring marathon say in April or May, your training starts during January. Marathon training programs are sixteen to twenty weeks long. The length depends upon the experience and fitness of the runner.

My runners who are going from couch to marathon get my twenty-week training program and my recommended goal is to just finish the race without injury.

My runners who are active will get the sixteen week program which I adjust depending on their running experience and goals.

There are many free training programs on the internet, but before you decide which one is right for you, you need to be completely honest with yourself about your current fitness level.

If you are not active, but have decided that 2015 is the year of the marathon, pick a fall marathon so you have enough time to build your miles and fitness without being injured. If you are hell bent on running a spring marathon to commemorate something, find a run/walk program and set your goal to finish the race before the course is closed. Twenty-six point two miles is no joke, even if it takes you six hours to finish.

If you are someone who is active, but are injury prone or who doesn’t do any impact sports/activities, you should consider a less strenuous program. Look for something that starts with low miles 2-3 during week one and has only two quality workouts (speed and long run) a week or even better on a ten day rotation.

If you have done marathons before and really want to bring your time down, you should pick up a sixteen week program with up to three quality runs in a week to ten day cycle, but listen to your body and don’t over train.

You cannot cheat the marathon.

The 5k, 10k, even a half marathon you can get through if you do “most” of your training. The marathon is different. If you don’t do the training, you will not finish the race in a good place physically.

I have a marathon training program on my pages Here. It is for runners who have been running about twenty miles a week as a base.

I am more than happy to post something for beginning runners and or injury prone runners. Just leave me a message in the comments or email me at I’d be happy to send you something.

DVP is back

My relay team calls me the Dark Voodoo Princess. I earned the name the first relay we completed together because one of my runners was injured and I picked up the rest of her miles. I ended with 31 miles, and my first ultra. My straight forward, no whining attitude also contributed greatly to the name. I’m not very princess like. I’m more anti-princess. In fact, I believe that at least one of my team members is terrified of complaining at all because I would roll my eyes and tell him to “nut up.”

I headed to the gym for the first time since the 100 this morning for a short general strength training session. It felt good to be back. I have been fighting the urge to get out and do something, anything for days. I can tell it is time to get back to it when my leg starts bouncing while I’m at rest, too much pent up energy. And when I start waking up without the alarm at my normal run time.

Today I’ve spent some time constructing my training program for my next 100, which is approximately six months away, Pony Express 100. I’ll attach it to the end. I really want to build more strength overall and in my running muscles. Lean muscle not bulk, of course. Strength training increases your running efficiency by about 4%, reduces injury risk, and increases your speed. Research also shows that strengthening your hips virtually eliminates the onset of IT band syndrome and Runner’s Knee.

Most marathon training programs include speed work, easy days, and a long run each week. Some will throw in hills or alternate speed with hills each week. Ultra running is a little different. There are runners who don’t do any speed work at all because your focus is distance rather than being especially fast. Ultra runners also have to balance out the injury risk of doing the back to back long runs and adding speed on top of that. If you are a more injury prone runner, I recommend cutting out the speed or doing it every other week.

Where to put each type of workout, is determined by how long it takes to recover/benefit from a particular type of workout and your specific goals. Each type of workout focuses on strengthening a different physiological system that contributes to your running ability.

Speed workouts like explosive hills, 200 m repeats with full recovery, and the like train your nervous system, the communication between your brain and your body.  The average runner benefits from these workouts within two days.  VO2max training (anaerobic capacity) such as hill runs and mile repeats, take about ten to fourteen days to benefit the average runner. Tempo runs or marathon pace runs train your body to convert lactate back into energy. They don’t take quiet as long as VO2max, but are still at the seven to ten day mark. Long runs build your aerobic capacity and the benefits from them take the longest to develop, four to six weeks for the average runner.

These numbers can give you a good idea about how to taper for a race. If you know you won’t see the benefits before race day, why tax yourself with a VO2 max run a week before your race and risk being sore or tired.

My training plan includes four running days, but I actually run five because I have running group on Wednesday afternoons. We typically only run three or four miles, so I don’t count it. I don’t really have a rest day, but Mondays and Fridays are my easiest days which is why they bookend my long runs. I also make a couple of big jumps in my miles, which is not something you should do if you are a beginning runner or tackling a distance for the first time. You want to build 10% each week. My miles drop significantly every fourth week to allow for a rest/recovery week. My strength training/hips/ab workouts are posted on other pages of my blog, so check them out if you’d like. Continue reading