June 2009 (pre Baystate training) 96.4 miles
December 2009 (pre-Boston marathon training): 99.3 miles
June 2010 (pre-Baystate training): 151.4 miles
December 2011: 82.9 miles and counting...guessing I'll end up around ~175, with November and October both hitting the mid 160s.
So Sunday marks the 16 weeks out point from Boston. There are not enough emoticons or adjectives in the world to describe my apprehension/excitement about this life development. Especially because I may or may not (hint: not) have actually come up with anything remotely resembling a plan yet. But I think I have the general framework and I think for the most part it is this: just run. And apparently, I have the best base going into this training program that I ever have had...what the hell? This is unexpected. I have just been...running. Just kind of doing whatever. So I have to say I'm happy that "doing whatever" has returned to along the lines of 40 miles a week, and not 25 like it was over the summer.
I was looking at my training for Baystate 2010, a race where I PR'd by 17 minutes. With that sort of a drop in time, you would think that I did something drastically different in terms of training, right? More speedwork, long runs, something? Er...not so much. In fact, looking back at my training for that race, I can't BELIEVE that I PR'd. I mean, the vast majority of my weeks were 50 miles or less (yet in my mind I really thought I was running a TON of miles.) Compare that to my Boston 2010 training, where I was doing a regimented program, diligently completing workouts as directed, gradually taking my mileage from 45 to 55 to 65....and I bombed the race.
So what does this mean for marathon training cycle number 4? Well, I think I'm going to need to hit a good balance between meaningful training and just getting the miles in. In the past "just run miles" has worked as a strategy but I have the feeling that if I want to come close to a PR at Boston that there is going to have to be SOME higher level of effort being put in - I just don't think it has to be to the level of compulsiveness that I stuck to the last time I was training for this race. So in essence, here's my general plan for marathon training. It allows for quite a bit of freedom while I think staying true to the things that I know work for me.
1) GBTC practice. Ever. Single. Week
The times I have been in the best shape of my life have consistently coincided with being a part of a team and doing track workouts. I have an incredible opportunity to train with a whole lot of fast ladies that I have NOT taken advantage as much as I should have over the past couple of years, and I think now is as good of a time as any to start.
2) Long runs, preferably on the course, with at least a few GMP miles (only because I know I'll hammer the whole thing otherwise)
I think I've got my long run thing down pretty well...it's just something you DO on Sundays. However, one enormous problem that I run into when training alone is I run too fast. All the time. Case in point: my "easy, let's run 8:30s" 12 miler on Sunday quickly progressed into a 7:38 paced hammerfest that was completely out of my control. I'm hoping that my request to Santa (a Garmin...I'm giving in...finally...) will help me with this.
There's also the fact that I live a half mile off the Boston course, so I really don't see any reason NOT to do my long runs there every Sunday. The only reason to change things up would be boredom, and quite frankly the Newton Hills has always been one of my favorite running routes especially during marathon season, so I don't really see that happening.
3) Keep the weekly mileage above 50, ideally peak around 70.
And I don't mean 70 in the completely cheater way that I ran 80 miles last year (2 20+ milers on a Monday and a Sunday because I skipped the first Sunday's long run due to being hungover, aka, I suck.) I would love to be a person who can run 70-80 miles every week, but realistically, I would have to sacrifice more than I'm willing to do so. Topping out at 70ish with several weeks in the 60s seems like a good step up without being crazy.
4) Don't do key workouts on the treadmill unless ABSOLUTELY necessary
I think this was a MASSIVE downfall of my 2010 Boston training that I never considered because I didn't get that running on a TM and running on a road are NOT the same. I would do these great speed workouts on the TM which were certainly confidence boosting, but I get the feeling that the transfer wasn't there because I didn't do enough work on the roads. With not one but two indoor tracks to choose from, I don't think this should be a problem even in the worst weather conditions.
I think doing 2 long distance (25K and 30K) races leading up to Baystate was a HUGE factor in improving my mental toughness. I have a few possibilities on the schedule for this spring, including a half marathon (a PR that really, really needs to go down) so we will see how that goes.
6) Make running my priority.
Now obviously, school comes first, but if I'm being honest with myself? This semester, I have SUCKED at getting it done when I wasn't in the mood. I think after the train wreck that was this summer, I was pretty much like...you know...I just want to have FUN this semester! And so when fun has come my way, I have accepted it, running/studying/relaxing be damned. But if I want to train to run a PR marathon in April, that shit isn't going to fly. Not to say that I won't be going out drinking on occasion...but running needs to trump going out. Along those same lines, I need to get back to racing weight. This being a running blog, not a healthy living blog, and me being blessed with a combination of an active lifestyle and a good metabolism, this is not something that I discuss much on here, if ever. But unfortunately when my thyroid decided to crap out on me over the summer, it brought with it about 12 pounds of unnecessary...extra baggage. Don't get me wrong - I'm not fat, I know I'm not fat, and I know if any of my non-runner friends read this they would shoot me on sight. But I know what I weighed the last time I PR'ed, I think that was a good racing weight for me, and I would like to get back there. Which primarily involves not spending every Saturday for 3 months drinking heavily and eating fried food/cheese balls (aka, college football season).
I think it's hard to make the choice to commit yourself to this kind of true training when you don't have any friends who understand. But I have to ask myself the question - what do I want most? And truth be told, what I want most after the bullshit of 2011 is a big, fat, glorious marathon PR in 2012. Preferably with a half marathon PR being brought down along the way.
So there it is - that's what I want. Time to go get it.