During an empowering, long, hot training run in July for the NYC Marathon I decided I didn’t want my marathon training to end after November. I couldn’t imagine just stopping after I finished my first marathon. All this hard-work to achieve marathon status; how could I quit? I wanted to keep going. I needed another goal, another marathon. I signed-up for the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando, FL for January 13.
How do you train to run a second marathon 8 weeks post your first marathon? I looked at Hal Higdon’s Training Plan and it included a whopping 20miler in at the midway point of training. After reviewing with my coach he modified my plan so that I focused on the quality of my runs and less on the LSD (Long Slow Distance) training runs. Highest Sunday long run mileage was 16miles. And my Saturday runs were 10miles at a quick pace.
The strategy behind this plan was to get me ready for the last 6.2 miles. My legs would remember 20 miles. It is those last 6.2 miles that are the hardest part of a marathon.
The first two weeks after the Philadelphia Marathon I tried to relax my mind and body and live like a runner without a cause. I went for runs but only for fun and with little structure or training in mind. I didn’t wake-up each morning with a determined amount of mileage or pace to hit. I just enjoyed running to my daily mood.
After two weeks, I began my training and got down to business. This is the plan I followed. It included spin classes and weight/core training at my gym.
Week 6 – Mon spin/weights, Tues 4m, Wed 4x 1m intervals/ 1/2m jogs (6m), Th spin/ core, Fri 4m, Sat 6m ascending tempo, Sun 16m = 36total
Week 5– Mon spin/weights, Tues 4m, Wed Tempo 2 easy/2 5k pace/2 easy (6m), Th spin/ core, Fri 4m, Sat 10m @ 10:00 16m @10:40 = 40total
Week 4- Mon spin/weights, Tues 4m, Wed 4x 1m intervals/ 1/2m jogs (6m), Th spin/ core, Fri 4m, Sat 10m @10:00, Sun 12m@10:40 = 36total
Week 3 – Mon spin/weights, Tues 4m, Wed Tempo 2 easy/2 5k pace/2 easy (6m), Th spin/ core, Fri 4m, Sat 10m @ 10:00 16m @10:40 = 40total
Week 2 – Mon spin/weights, Tues 4m, Wed 4x 1m intervals/ 1/2m jogs (6m), Th spin/ core, Fri OFF, Sat 8m @10:00, Sun 10m@10:40 = 28total
Week 1- Mon rest, Tues 2m, Wed 3m, Th and Fri, Sat 2m, Sun Marathon
Training was tough. I felt fatigued and like I had lost my mojo. I followed the plan but at times took an extra rest day or pulled back a mile on an easy run. I would never give myself a break while training for my first marathon and here I was giving myself subtle liberties off the training plan. It felt like I was trying to cheat.
I was reminded of my weight loss journey on Weight Watchers and how the first phase is known as the “honeymoon phase”. Everything is wonderful and going the way you want. You’re motivated and focused and seeing results. The next thing you know you’re trying to cheat and cut corners and then you hit a wall.
I was still nursing an injured left hip sprain. After the dust had settled from the Philadelphia Marathon my left hip started aching again. I did not want to take chances and went back to PT for a few weeks of sessions. The holiday season was buzzing with after-work parties and cocktails. I tried to resist as much as I could but also felt I deserved and even needed to relax a little.
By mid-December I was hitting my 16 mile long runs again. The first 16 miler I did was all alone on a freezing cold day. I didn’t pass a single runner or walker. Not seeing any runners I realized December is an off-season and probably intended for rest. Marathon training starts again in January, for those May marathons. It was very hard to keep my legs moving on those long runs but I still got the job done.
I kept on chugging along with my training plan even though my mind wasn’t focused and my heart was trying to hibernate. I had no choice but to just keep on pushing myself. The Disney Marathon was coming Jan 13 and not finishing was NOT an option. Like it or not, I had to do my training runs.
With just 5 weeks to Disney, I needed to find a way to ignite my mojo engine.
PUSH = Persist Until Something Happens. SOMETHING.
Okay. I will keep on pushing, persisting. Something is bound to happen. I tried to mix things up. I enjoyed a few long Sunday runs with a running partner. That camaraderie helped motivate me. I took more spin classes to activate different leg muscles. I updated my iPod playlist. I bought a really cute new running jacket. I tried running at a different time of day.
I told myself be happy you signed-up for Disney Marathon. It allows you the chance to stay in shape over the holidaze. I tried to convince myself that by training in the off-season, when most others were home resting, would give me a competitive edge. Like all those folks who join the gym in June expecting to prepare for swimsuit season once it is already upon them.
I had moments of doubt that peaking my training with just 16m long runs instead of going up to 20miles wouldn’t get me across the finish. And then I had moments of enlightenment that it was all about the quality. I ran hard with my legs but even harder with my mind. I kept telling myself that this kind of training is part of how I will fight through those last 6 miles. You want to stop, you want to take a break, a long rest, but you must keep on moving forward in order to get across the finish line.
I don’t know how to give up. I do know how to be positive. I reflected on my accomplishments. The fact that I can smack a snooze button off and get out for a run is a big deal! I looked for the J-O-Y in JOURNEY and realized I will still smile across the finish.