Now the Real Training Begins

First off, let me apologize to anyone who might actually (1) read these weekly blogs, and (2) wondered what became of the one from last week. Regrettably, I was out of commission for several days--something that I hope won’t happen to you as your training progresses--and simply was unable to find the energy to put my thoughts into a coherent form (or what I hope passes for coherent).

To the task at hand: In looking at the calendar, by my count, May 3 is now 24 weeks away! And that means, if you’re planning on running the marathon (and following a 24-week training schedule), this is the week to get started for real!

If you look carefully at the training schedule posted on the LFF website, you’ll notice that it has the 24 weeks divided into 4-week blocks (every fourth week is an easy week). The first block (and the second, as well) is part of the base-building phase. Base-building provides your body the time and training it’ll need to do the more serious training that comes later. It might sound odd, but you have to do the training needed to handle the hard training. Does that make sense? I hope so.

At the beginning of this period, you should be able to do at least 4-mile run (short walking breaks are permitted), but it would be better if you can handle a 5- or 6-mile run. The first week calls for at least 4 days of running, with a minimum of 18 miles for the week (and a maximum of 24--unless you’re already a fairly experienced runner, you do not want to overdo it early and wind up with an overuse injury). I’m sure there must be 50 ways to piece together a schedule that meets these two targets: For example, 5 miles Sunday, 4 miles Tuesday, 4 miles Thursday, 5 miles Saturday. Or, 4 miles Monday, 4 miles Tuesday, 4 miles Wednesday, 4 miles Thursday, 4 miles Saturday would do it too (but this probably isn’t a wise plan--five consecutive days of running, followed by two off days.)

Here’s my suggestion on putting together a personal schedule, along with something to keep you on it: Get a calendar that has an adequate amount of space for brief notes for each day. Use this calendar exclusively for your training (i.e., don’t use it to mark appointments with the dentist, lunch dates, or whatever). If you can’t find one that you like, you can easily make up one for yourself from a simple spiral notebook. For the upcoming week (or two or three weeks, if you prefer) decide which days fit your schedule for running and, if you like, indicate if it’s to be a morning, mid-day, or evening run. Then write down your intended mileage for each day, and whatever else might be relevant to you.

For example, for Tuesday you might enter: 4 miles/lunch hour/with Michelle. Put the schedule where you’ll see it the night before. Each evening, record what you actually did that day. So, the example for Tuesday at the end of the day might read: did 5 miles easy/ran at noon/Michelle pushed me today.

At the end of a week, make an honest assessment of how the week’s training went compared to your intentions. Use this as a basis for making the next week’s schedule. If you’ve never used this sort of a day-by-day training schedule, you’ll be surprised at how much impetus it will give you to keep to your plan (and keeping to a plan is the key to getting to your desired fitness level). I still recall those mornings many years ago when I’d look at the refrigerator door at 5:00 a.m. (I was doing morning workouts then) and mumble to myself, “Oh my! The fridge says I’m supposed to do 8 miles today. Better get my shoes on.”

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