Goofy Race and a Half Marathon Plan

Triathlon season ended for me with the Naperville Tri. I had a great summer experimenting with triathlons and pushing myself in ways I never thought possible (hello 3,000 meter swim!). I am fairly positive that I will spend future summers triathloning and I have dreams of attempting some longer distance tris.

But right now I miss running bad. Like really bad.

Fortunately, I have the Goofy Race and a Half to prepare for and I’m diving into training HUNGRY to run :).

The Goofy Race and a Half is exactly how it sounds, you run a half-marathon on Saturday and then a full marathon on Sunday. Now I know many of you will read that and think I’m crazy (maybe I am?) but I’m not running either the half or the full for time, just for the experience. Some of you may think I’m even crazier now: why bother training for a marathon if you’re not going to race it? Well, my answer is this, with Boston coming up in April, I figured the Goofy Race would be the perfect venue to try out a new training plan. As I’m not running it for time, I’m completely okay with bailing on the plan half way through and creating my own version. I would not be okay doing that for Boston.

So now the question is what training plan am I using. I have decided to try Pete Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning. I was torn between doing the Up to 55 Miles per Week or the 55 to 70 Miles per Week but decided to be conservative and do the less intensive plan first (I tweaked it to bulk up the miles on occasion), I may do the 55-70 plan for Boston.

For anyone who is a runnerd like me, I highly suggest reading Pfitzinger and Douglas’s book Advanced Marathoning. Not only does the book go over the running plans in detail (including how to adapt them for various circumstances) but it goes into the science behind the training plan. The authors explain why the plans include certain types of runs, what is the benefit to the runner, and why certain runs follow others (i.e. recovery after lactate threshold). I loved to hear the “why” behind the training plans.

The book also goes into pre-race rituals and nutrition but these sections didn’t provide me with any new information. I’m sure they would be extremely helpful to a newbie runner or someone whose previous routines no longer worked.

The book offers two plans for each intensity level (there are 3), a 12 week and an 18 week. I decided to do the 18 week but tacked on three extra weeks to get myself acclimated to running almost every day (it’s been a few weeks) and to spot any lingering injuries from tri season. If something hurts, I can take time off without hurting my training. The plans are split into 5 mesocycles. The first is endurance, the second lactate threshold + endurance, the third is race preparation, the fourth is taper and race, and the final is recovery. Each week in each cycle is different so there is lots of variety. No two weeks are the same!

The runs included in the plan are long runs, medium-long runs, marathon-pace runs, general aerobic runs, lactate-threshold runs, recovery runs, V02 max intervals, and speed training. People who choose to do the 55-70 mile/week plan or the 70+ mile/week plan will also do two-a-days. An entire chapter is devoted to the different types of runs and the authors go into great detail about how to complete each run. Usually a percentage of heart rate and/or similar race pace is given to estimate how hard to do each run.

I am actually really excited to try this plan. My marathon training has consisted of running between 40-50 miles/week at goal pace. I have never done intervals/sprints/tempo runs and I am anxious to see if this plan helps. I also like that the plan includes recovery runs. I’m never very good at running slow on purpose and I’m hoping that adding slower runs into the mix will keep me injury free. Fingers crossed!

Yesterday, I ran 8 miles with a 4 mile tempo run squished in the middle. I believe I ran a 7:34, 7:19, 7:20, and 7:24. The run was definitely challenging but I felt good doing it! Then today I headed our for a 4 mile recovery run. The book urges you to run slow enough during recovery that you feel like you’re storing up energy. This translated to about an 8:30 min/mile for me today. So far I’m liking the plan but I am only two days in :P.

Have you ever tried Pfitzinger’s plan? If not, do you use a plan for training? Which one do you use?