Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Running for Time vs. Running for Mileage

I guess I am going to start by saying that while training has officially (and belatedly) kicked off for the 7 Bridges Marathon I REALLY need to get my a** in gear. This would mark week #3 in a 14 week plan and while generally things have gone according to "plan", that "plan" really only exists in my mind (also why it's not a traditional 18 week plan). I keep going back to last years training plan and making sure I am generally "where I should be" mileage and workout-wise but I am the type who loves to analyze/mix and match various training plans, create detailed logs of planned/actual, so this "wing it" mentality is not sitting well with me.

I know, I know, Melissa...just sit down with Excel and prior training notes (and the 3 books on marathon training that you checked out from the library 2+ weeks ago) and DO IT already. For some reason, I'm just finding myself zapped when I get home and not wanting to focus on this. I'm not sure if it's a motivation issue or the heat, or what though I suspect it's the latter feeding a bunch of negative thoughts. I'm not having any problems getting out there and getting my workouts done but I am feeling SO UNinspired by my pacing right now. The heat and humidity (which I should be used to, right?) just seem to be sucking the life out of me and I feel like any progress I had previously made on my already slow (to me) pace has been reversed. I'm sure if I could manage to get my weight under control (read: lose the 15 pounds that I have been talking about for a year now) it would certainly help, but I'm pretty much nailing my treadmill work/"speed" and have been more consistently active during the off season that prior years (with both running and cross training) so I know I'm not totally out of shape. I probably just need to not pay super close attention to pacing right now but it's really hard when you feel like you're the only one suffering.

That being said, the point of this is to discuss a potential long run strategy  that gets me more focused on time on my feet and less on true mileage at least during the excruciatingly hot and humid month of August...and that is to run my long run based on "time" versus distance. It's something I did a bit of last fall when I was trying to juggle road trips to Auburn/early kick off times/return trips to Bham on Sundays which often left me time crunched. Sometimes my plan would call for 13+ but I would really only have time for "2 hours" (I don't run a sub-2 HM, closer to 2:20 when all things are firing) so I would get out there and run for an hour one way and then turn around and run back. Sounds pretty simple though purists might argue that I am selling myself and my training short. However, I managed to run nearly 30 minutes faster than my 1st marathon (though it would have been harder to be much slower!) so doing "something" rather than beating myself up for a variety of other reasons was probably better than setting myself up for failure, which is kind of how I'm feeling right now.

I don't think I want to build a plan with only time-focused LRs though...I think for me it's key to hit a 13.1, 15, 18 and 20, at least mentally, knowing that I have covered the full distance before. Does anyone reading have any additional experience with running on a time-focused plan? My M-F workouts ARE distance based, just for the record. (And yes, I ran 90 minutes for my LR on week #1 and 1hr 50 mins last week...the plan was 2 but I was back at my car...woo hoo massive negative split!...and I was just spent)

I am challenging myself to get my training plan up and "out there" (here) this week. I know training logs are not the most interesting read, BUT they are one of the things that people have searched and spend time looking at so if my training for "xyz" marathon can be of help to someone down the road then I am happy to at least put the info out there!


  1. I've never sat down and developed a training plan so I probably don't have anything good to add but have you thought about splitting up your runs on the days when you are crunched for time and run in the morning and evening? I don't know if that's even a possibility but I thought I'd offer it up as a suggestion.

  2. It's more the one long run where I have felt (and could feel potentially) time crunched. I've thought about splitting the runs into a.m./p.m. but then wonder if I get the same benefit of the consecutive time on my feet, the long slower burn of the LR, etc. I honestly have no idea if it makes a difference b/c that could definitely be a viable solution. (for example, it would def. be easy to add 30 min the evening after doing 2hrs in the morning where the 2:30 all at once just might not be possible)

  3. I'd like to try time based running sometime. I agree that you break down a mental barrier by running a 20-miler. That's why I picked a plan with that mileage in it. My last plan only went to 16 (Hanson plan).