Sunday, July 28, 2013

14 Weeks Until Monumental Marathon

It sure did the past 2 weeks.

I have started my training for the Monumental Marathon in Indy the past 2 weeks and honestly, it hasn't been too great.  Basically, I was able to get in my interval training, my paced run, and my long run in each of the last 2 weeks but my cross training/easy runs have been non-existent.  I was however, able to make those important runs during those two weeks so I am still on track.

What happened?  Plain and simple - Life!

  • A golf scramble (Always kills the good eating habits)
  • Late nights working (Makes it hard to get up in the morning)
  • My youngest son's 1st birthday (Planning for the party, bad eating
  • My mother in-law's 60th surprise birthday party (Ditto as above)
  • 2 deaths in the family (crazy huh?)

So here is hoping the next few weeks are uneventful and I can get back on schedule!

In regards to my schedule, I wanted to lay out a few of the changes that I am making for my training this year.  I have done some research (what would we do without Google?) and decided to change a few of my running habits.
  1. Change my running form and habits to strive for "injury free" running.
  2. Take better care of my muscles.
  3. Change up my weekly training schedule to include more intervals and paced running.
To start off, I know I didn't have good form when running.  I could tell that by the way my heels would wear on my shoes before anything else (heel striker!).  I had always followed the philosophy of run comfortably and if you don't have any injuries don't worry about it.  Well, I decided to change that when I decided to strive for Boston qualifying.

The first thing I did was read up about "injury free" running and I found a few things that really seem to help.

Chi Running basically adjusts your running posture to land more mid-foot with a slight lean forward from your ankles (not from your waist).  What this does is allows your feet to work with the ground instead of against it.  Let's put it this way.  If you are running and hitting your heel first every step, you are actually stopping yourself every step and then pushing off again.  When you hit the ground with your mid-foot, your legs are already propelling yourself forward when they hit the ground so there is no slowing down before you push off.  Here is a good video on it.

The next step in trying to stay injury free is to take care of my muscles.  Here are a few things I am doing to help with that.
  • Stretching - One thing I make sure that I do before every run is stretch.  I stretch my calves, thighs, back, and quads before every run.  
  • Warm-up and Cool-down - I try to have a warm-up and cool-down segment to every run.  Basically just a mile or 2 of easy running before I really dig into the meat of my run.  This and stretching help to keep from "shocking" your muscles and causing an injury.  
  • Strengthening Core Muscles - These muscles are mostly located in the center of your body (abs, gluts, etc.).  They really come into play during long distance running (and just running in general).  I won't go into too much detail on the exact exercises but there are some good ones that are somewhat easy to do - Lolo Jones' core workout.  
  • Foam Rolling - My wife laughs at me every time I use it but I am really starting to see the benefits of it.  You can pick up one of these foam rollers at a store like Target for around $20-25. What this cylinder of foam does is allow you to roll different muscles which has an effect like a deep massage.  It basically loosens the muscles so that they are more pliable when you go to put them to use.  Don't get me wrong, this hurt like HELL the first few weeks that I tried it.  I knew it was working when it stopped hurting as much.  Another benefit to this is it helps your muscles recover faster so you can get out and run more.  Most of the rollers come with a DVD with some instructions and various techniques but here are a few more exercises on a very informative website that I read - Foam Rolling for A**holes!   
I can definitely tell that healing/recover time has diminished by putting the above steps into place.  I also am not as sore after my training runs.  So far so good.

Finally, I am attempting a new training schedule that includes interval runs.  I had seen the interval options in the Endomondo running app I use but had never tried them.  I looked at a few options out there and decided on the FIRST Marathon Plan (The Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training).  I actually used the above link and THIS to come up with my plan.  It is a 16-18 week training plan that focuses on pace and resting so that you are ready to achieve peak performance on main training days.  You have 2 important runs during the week and then a long run on the weekend all based on a certain pace.  The days in between you either cross train or do an easy run.  If you are more interested in the program the links above go more in depth.

The interesting part of this training plan is that you have to figure out the paces based on a past race.  Can you see why I like this training program?  Numbers and science built into a specific plan to get faster; does it get any better?  Luckily, I found a website that helps you calculate all of it - VDOT Calculator.  So I basically put in my last 5k time and let it calculate the paces for me.  I then put them into the training plan.

For an example, here are the first 2 weeks of my schedule:

I can honestly say that interval training is a humbling experience for me.  I can run 26.2 miles under 4 hours but I am having a hard time running 2 miles as a warm-up, running 1 mile hard and 10 seconds easy (3 times) and then 2 miles cool-down.  I can get through the first 2 hard miles but the next definitely drops off in time.  I am assuming it gets easier the more I do it, or at least I am hoping so!
So far these changes do seem to be working.  I have noticed that my speed in shorter distances has improved but since I am using different muscles (more calf) it is taking some time to train those muscles for distance.  I guess I will find out as I work through the 16 week training for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in November.  Wish me luck!