Thursday, August 13, 2009

Running For Ken / Training Plan-less

Running For Ken

I cannot believe the NYC Half Marathon is only 2 days away. I have never participated in a race of this size (more than 10,000 runners) and I never would have gone for this, had Ken not been so enthusiastic about it. I got caught up in the excitement. The fact is, I've had no strong emotion about this race at all.

I'll tell you why...

I'm not too keen on
...Schlepping over to the city on Saturday to get my race packet
...Dragging poor, sleepy DH all the way to NYC early Sunday morning (he insists on being there at all my races...I've tried to convince him I can do this on my own)
...Being lost in the midst of a sea of runners (I am mildly claustrophobic)
...No likelihood of a PR (in the middle of August, on the 'hills' of Central Park...are you kidding me???)

Well, I've stopped all the whining now and I am really looking forward to the experience....and here's why.

First, Glenn is lugging himself out of bed at 4 am, and coming all the way to cheer me on. Now, he can't cheer me if I'm not running, can he?

Secondly, this race is practically a runners' red carpet...Paula Radcliffe is going to be there, and so are Deena Kastor, Ryan Hall, Abdi Abdirahman, Catherine Ndereba...you name it! Sigh! I am going to follow Deena Kastor's footsteps...literally!

The third and most important reason is, I am running for Ken. After the excitement of registering for the race, Ken unfortunately had to drop out of the race due to a knee injury. His running record is remarkable. He has been running and racing for several years and has logged in more than 41,000 miles. Practically anything you say to him will spark the narration of a running-related anecdote. This race was going to be his first after a 3-year inury break and having to drop out of it was a big disappointment, but he is taking it like he always does...in the most grown-up and pragmatic way possible. Ken my friend, I know there are still years and years of running and racing in you. But for now, indulge my corniness: let me be your legs and run this race for you.

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Training Plan-less

Today's TiaRT topic on Runners' Lounge speaks directly to me. I have never followed a training plan. Don't get me wrong...I have nothing against training plans. I love looking at training plans other people follow. They just don't work for me. For shorter races (5K to half-marathon), I just keep running the same distances I am used to. For the marathon, my previous attempts at following a specific plan have ended either in injury or in a desire to shoot myself in the foot, so I never have to run again!

One thing I have learned about myself in the process is I am NOT a creature of habit. Though I have painstakingly trained myself to run 5 days a week, I need the flexibility of planning these days as I go along. I cannot awake every morning, knowing I am going to run the same distance as I did the previous day or a distance that has been predetermined. Heck, I cannot even wake up the same time every morning for a run!

I have only run one marathon so far, but this is the structure that has worked for me in the past, and what I feel most comfortable with:

- Pick a goal marathon sometime in the distant future...it could be 6 months from now.
- Set a target weekly mileage to work my way toward.
- Study different marathon training plans, depending on what level I am at, especially paying attention to long runs and speedwork.
- After that, plan each week planned loosely, and modify extensively as I go along.
- At any point in the year, I am either training for a race or building up to it.

The constants are:

- Each week will contain a long run (in my definition, anything above 11 miles).
- Never run more than 3 days in a row.
- Never flout the 10% rule.
- Try my damnedest to listen to every little thing my body tells me, and never push myself beyond what I deem my limits (I strongly believe no one can know your body like you do).

Recently, my running weeks have alternated between one high mileage week (in the mid to high 40s) and one low mileage week (high 20s to high 30s), more out of convenience than effectiveness. But I have noticed my body is responding well to this routine, providing me a fresh pair of legs for every high mileage week.

A typical week looks like this:

Monday: 9-11 miles (medium long run)...substitute with 5-6 miles on low-mileage weeks
Tuesday: 5-6 miles
Wednesday: 12-16 miles (long run)
Friday: 5-8 miles
Saturday: 5-8 miles

By quite frankly, there is no typical week! I switch runs to different days of the week (though I try not to move the long run day, and if I do, I give myself atleast 6 days between each long run). Tempo runs are thrown in the mix, whenever I feel up to them. I try to get trail runs in on weekends, to mix things up a bit. Spinning, swimming, core work and hiking are added whenever possible. I aim for at least 2 cross-training workouts every week. And I wake up every morning with a delicious feeling of uncertainty...how many miles will I run today?

I know this plan may look too random to a more organized runner, but it is a plan that keeps me serious about my running, while having loads of fun. Though I love setting PRs and being the fastest runner I can be, the bottomline is "I Run For Fun"!

14 comments:

Hi! I'm Erin said...

I think one of my goals needs to be as flexible as you! Thanks for the tips!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

Good luck Sunday!!! I think you'll do great :) Flexibility is so so important, great job!

Beth said...

Have a great race on Sunday! It will be so much fun. Can't wait to hear all about it!

Sarah said...

Good luck with your race on Sunday! Can't wait to hear all about it!!

chris mcpeake said...

Have a great race on sunday. Sounds like you are actually following a plan ... Your plan and there is nothing wrong with that

Marlene said...

Good luck at the race this weekend! So cool that so many celebrities are going to be there.

Mica said...

Best of luck with your race this weekend!

I love your flexibility in training. That's really awesome that you have such dedication!

X-Country2 said...

Good luck this weekend. Your heart sounds like it's in just the right place.

Heather said...

Good luck this weekend! I like your flexible training "plan" -- whatever keeps you running!

Irene said...

It will be just fine. Enjoy the ride. ;)

joyRuN said...

Can't wait to hear how it went :)

I need a plan - I'm lost without a piece of paper telling how much/how fast/how far!

lindsay said...

good luck in the half tomorrow!

i have to have at least a basic plan (weekly mileage goal) or else i will probably sit on the couch all week! :)

cami said...

Good luck today and enjoy the race!

The Happy Runner said...

Wish I had been able to send you good thoughts before the race! I hope it went well. It was so hot -- hope you were able to keep your cool :-)