Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Letting go of the what-ifs and trusting in the plan

When I trained for my first marathon in 2010, I was largely unprepared.  I loosely did the training plan...and by loosely I mean I relied solely on the long runs to get me through the marathon.  I didn't keep up with the mid week runs very well and figured as long as I could get through the long runs, I would be fine.  And I was, really, I did complete the marathon.  It took me 4:43:andsomechange and I was happy with that.  I was ecstatic to be a marathoner.  I most definitely hit the wall at around mile 20 and it was a very difficult run.  I know that marathons are not supposed to be easy, but that one was HARD.  I think my experience would have been very different had I followed the plan even a little bit better.

Fast forward to this year.  I hadn't really considered running another full marathon at this time in my life.  I ran a few halves last year and had chosen my next half marathon.  I was going to run the Colfax half marathon in May.  When I went to their website to register back in January, I saw that the full marathon was only $10 more.  I love a bargain.  I can get twice as much running for only $10 more?  It sounded like a good deal to me.  If a good bargain isn't a good reason to run a marathon, I don't know what is.  After some thinking, consulting with my husband, friends, and even my doctor, I decided to go ahead and go for it.  I was very excited when I realized I had exactly enough time to complete one of the marathon training plans I had my eyes on.

I chose a 18 week plan and had decided that since I was already running more miles than the first few weeks of the plan, I would jump in a few weeks later when my current mileage met up with the plan's mileage.  And then, it was on.  I stuck to that plan religiously. The only modification I did to 'the plan' was to make one of the midweek runs a tempo run.  I became a creature of habit and relied on this plan maybe a little too heavily.  I did miss one run once when I was sick and I had to switch one week with another when we were going on vacation and it made sense to make the vacation week the stepback week instead of the week before.  But otherwise, I didn't miss a mile on that plan (training in the winter in CO is insane!).  And it paid off.

My marathon was a huge success.  I was worried during certain points during training (why are my long runs getting slower?  Why is my tempo pace slowing down? and the taper had me going crazy with what-ifs), but as a whole I had to just trust in it...and it paid off.  I didn't hit the wall this time.  In fact, it was a great race!  I came in 19 minutes under my goal time and ended up taking over an hour total off of my previous marathon.  The training plan worked!

When Melanie and I decided to sign up for Portland, we did a lot of discussion about how we wanted to train. Melanie had had HUGE success in the past with the Hanson method (she used it to qualify for and run Boston) but the plan looked a bit overwhelming to me.  I was happy with the plan I had just used (Hal Higdon's Intermediate 1 in case you were wondering) and figured if it worked well once, it would work well again.  We compared several plans and ended up deciding on a hybrid of the two.  We would stick to the basic Hal Higdon schedule, but replace midweek long run with Hanson's speed work and the other with tempo runs.  Except sometimes we would replace speed work with hills.  And which runs we did which days would be all over the place (it took us a few weeks to get this rhythm down).

This has been hard for me.  Melanie and I discussed this on our morning run today.  She is used to Hanson and is struggling a bit with how little mileage we are covering in comparison to what she's used to.  I, on the other hand, had used a fairly easy plan and am feeling like maybe adding in both speed and tempo runs may be a bit too much for me.  We are both stuck in the what-ifs.  For me it's what if I'm overtraining myself and end up burning out.  Or what if I'm overtraining and don't have anything left come race day.  Then there's the way we moved the days.  We replaced a midweek long run with speed.  That meant yesterday our mileage total was 7 but it was only supposed to be 5.  Today was supposed to be 4 miles but we only did 3.5.  We ran a hard 1/3 marathon last weekend which put us at a little over 8.5 miles but our run was supposed to be 12 miles.  I know in the scope of things these little adjustments won't make or break our marathon performance, but I feel a little off kilter with it all.  That said, I think on paper at least, our plan looks great.  I think (hope!) the speed work is enough to take that minute and four seconds off my time to get me a BQ.  I feel like upping the intensity a little but not the mileage should help me achieve that.  But it's different and change is always hard.

Therefore today, I have declared to (in the words of Elsa) let it go.

I'm going to trust in the plan.  I tend to be a very structured person and deviating from 'the plan' is hard for me.  I start doubting myself.  But I know this.  I'm a good runner.  I know how to listen to my body.  I can recognize if I'm getting burned out.  I know what marathon training is supposed to feel like.  I know what to expect for the most part.  I'm going to trust Melanie's experience as well as my own.  I'm trusting the plan.

Today I got in 3.73 miles instead of 4.  My pace was 8:48 which is slower than I would have liked.  But I'm ok with it.  I ran.  On the other hand,  if I don't qualify for Boston, I'm going to blame it on being .27 miles short today.

Question:  How do you decide what plan to use or how you will train for your upcoming marathon or half marathon?  How strictly do you stick to it?

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