Over the past three years, many people have asked me about what is involved in marathon training. For some, their inquiries are for the purpose of making a judgement on whether they could or couldn't train themselves, and for others, it's just so they can mock me and laugh at how ridiculous it is to work out so much. ;-)
Typically, my marathon training program starts in January with a base mileage of around 25 miles per week and will build to about 40 miles per week at the peak of training in March. Additionally, I do a couple different forms of cross-training each week to help build my aerobic capacity and muscular strength in order to be optimally prepared for the race. I thought I'd go through my training schedule to give you an idea of what it's all about
Monday: My training program consists of 2 short weekday runs, 1 long weekday run, 1 long weekend run, and 1 short weekend recovery run. From now until the March, Mondays are going to be my long weekday run day, with runs being 5-6 miles long. After running on Mondays, I'll do an hour of weight training. The class I take is called Group Power, but it is similar to BodyPump if you're more familiar with that program. In March, I'll be switching the long run day to Wednesdays to make it a little easier on me once the weekday long run mileage increases to 7-8 miles. Currently, I'm doing the long weekday run on the treadmill, but once it gets warmer (and less snowy), these will be outdoor runs. Tuesday: I teach Zumba in the Circuit, which consists of two 28-minute low-impact aerobic classes, back to back. After Zumba, I do my shortest treadmill run of the week, 3-4 miles. Tuesdays are one of the toughest days for me because I'm super-duper sore after Monday's long run and weight training. Wednesday: Wednesdays are currently my non-running day. I am teaching a one-hour high-impact Zumba class until the end of February. Once the Zumba session is over, I'll be switching my long weekday run to Wednesdays. Thursday: On Thursdays I teach my Zumba in the Circuit classes again, followed by a 4-5 mile treadmill run. Friday: Friday is my rest day. While I sometimes like to take a brisk walk on Fridays just to get a little exercise, I don't do any running or aerobic cross-training. The goal for Fridays is to take it easy and rest my muscles for my Saturday long runs. I firmly believe that the Friday rest day helps to minimize the risk of injury and make me better prepared for the long Saturday runs. Saturday: Saturdays are the long run day with my Running Spot group. We meet up early in the morning, usually at 7 a.m. or so. Why so early, you may ask? Well, I think the main reason is because it's safer to run outside when there is less vehicular traffic, but I also think most people just like to get the run out of the way early and enjoy the rest of the weekend.
Currently, we are building from about 8 miles this Saturday to 20 miles in mid-April. We have two "up" weeks, followed by one "down" week. We increase mileage by 1-2 miles each "up" week, then on the third week, we decrease mileage significantly to give our bodies a break and prepare us for the next two "up" weeks. In the weeks following the 20-miler, we will do what's called "tapering," where we dial back the mileage, allowing our bodies to be sufficiently rested before race day.
I am following my long runs right now with a Yoga Fusion class. The benefit of yoga after a long run is that it stretches out all my aches and pains and warms my muscles after I've just pushed them to their limits. I find it's really relaxing and (along with lots of wine) helps with the soreness that I experience on Saturday nights. The class is at 10:30 a.m., so I'll be able to attend up until the point where the runs take more than 3 hours (sometime in March). At that point I'll try to find a yoga class that starts later (say 11:30?). Anyone have any ideas? Sunday: Sunday, much like the Friday rest day, is less about performance than it is about injury prevention. On Sundays, I do short 3-5 mile recovery run, which is mostly meant to just work out the lactic acid that builds up, particularly in the thighs and calves, from the long run the previous day.
Then, on Monday, I start the process all over again. And that's marathon training, folks!