Thursday, January 17, 2013

Marathon Training - Less Is More?

LESS IS MORE OR LESS from Fifty Five Hi's
Before any of you purist marathoners go H.A.M. on me - hear me out. The training plan I used for my last marathon was pretty rigorous - and I loved it for being so ridiculously demanding. I planned to just keep using that same plan for Boston, until I reread the article from Runner's World, "The Less-Is-More Marathon Plan." Thanks to @rUnladylike for posting it HERE.

In order to be able to masterfully conquer the 26.2 distance, you have to put in a billion trillion miles. That means that you are hitting the pavement daily, gradually increasing distance and intensity of your runs. This is logical and linear. My Virgo brain likes things that work this way. (Obviously - this is a gross over-simplification of any effective training plan. Calm down.) This all takes a ton of time and planning, thus throwing your life into a total tailspin - but you're a dedicated runner and you do what the plan says. Runners like rules.

All of that sounds wonderful, so why would anyone stray from a traditional marathon training plan? I cannot speak for anyone else, but there are several reasons why I found RW's article to be interesting. The basic idea is that you put in fewer "junk miles" - really focusing on three quality workouts a week (speed work, tempo, distance.) Quality over quanitity! This does not mean that you have 4 days of total rest; you have 4 days to focus on recovery, cross training, strength and did I say recovery? I would like to stay injury free before and after this race.

I know what you're thinking: this sounds like the lazy man's plan. I assure you, it isn't. Here are the reasons why I am thinking about trying a modified version of this Less-Is-More plan:
  • My 31 year old joints get really angry once my mileage approaches 60 mpw
  • I live in Wisconsin, where it is quite cold and unpredictable throughout the winter
  • I am a teacher by day. My days are LONG and unpredictable. This means I am running in the dark whether it is a morning run or a night run.
  • I am a stationery designer by night. Again - long days. Not enough hours in them. 
  • I make all of my food from scratch in the evening (though I try to make if for multiple dinners at a time) - again - NO TIME
  • I get bored and variety is a necessity in my life - otherwise I will go legit insane
  • I do believe that being a complete athlete means lots of cross-training, strength training along with running
  • I already have a really solid fitness base, so I'm not starting without the endurance
Realistically, I try to do what the Runner's World plan calls for already - but they have it laid out in a pretty and organized way. (Virgo - I like plans.) I think there is a certain amount of mental freedom with a plan like this too. Someone as reputable as Runner's World is telling me that I don't have to poke along endlessly logging dopey miles, because that's what "marathoners" do? That's fantastic, because I'd rather work on kicking ass. I'm considering this flexible, but intense option heavily.


Quality Over Quantity from powerandlight

 What do you think? This seems pretty reasonable, doesn't it?




8 comments:

  1. The training plan that I follow is like this. I still get in key speed/distance workouts and focus on high quality lifting and classes too.

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    1. Right and that's what I am aiming for. It is awesome to be a good runner, but you also want to be a STRONG body as well. Makes sense to me.

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  2. I just commented on Jesica's post! I said I have used the FIRST plan 3 times before and took 26 min off my marathon time by focusing on quality workouts. I am using a different plan for the first time in a couple of years! So we'll see how it compares in May :)

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    1. 26 minutes is awesome!! Good luck with your new plan!

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  3. This is really interesting! I haven't trained for a full marathon yet, but when I do, I'm not sure what training plan I'll be using. The 3 runs a week plan appeals to me since I'll be studying for the Bar exam, so I'll be really interested to see how it works for you!

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    1. I don't know how well I'll be able to stick to the plan, because I have this mental thing that says "MUST RUN LOTS OF MILES" but - I like taking some of that pressure off of myself. We'll see how it goes!

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  4. I think it's defiantly doable- I think some people do better with running less miles, some better with running more. I did the run less run faster plan for Boston in 2009... had a bad race but that was because I didn't train on hills hardly at all and the downhill absolutely killed my legs. If I had any advice to give - it's make sure you get some hills in your long runs. Good luck with it- always fun to try out new ways to train! :)

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    1. Thanks! That's really great advice. I have a hills workout planned for this week.

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