Monday, 24 January 2011

I love a good training plan

‘How many miles do you run a week?’ is a question I am asked literally no times a day, though I am prepared for it as if Her Majesty's Secret Service might one day bundle me in to a van and demand a breakdown of my weekly mileage. The short answer for last year was ’20-25’, cheerfully ignoring the many weeks in which I did much less that. The long answer is that it varies, hugely, and hopefully in 2011 will be a lot, lot higher.

The main thing that affects my mileage is whether or not I'm building up to a big race – when I’ve got a marathon in the pipeline I become a slave to the spreadsheet, carefully planning how many miles I should cover in particular weeks, what distance my long run should be, and the frequency and variation of my other runs. 

Right now I’m in week three of a monster 29-week plan leading up to the San Francisco marathon. Most marathon training plans are 12 or 16 weeks, and are designed by professionals. This one covers seven months, and was designed by Dave. 

The weekly mileage projection peaks and troughs due to the short tapering sessions I’ve allowed myself for my other planned races in the period, but basically started two weeks ago with a 22 mile week, dictates that I should run 29 in this current week, and tops out at the start of July with a frankly terrifying 50-mile week, including a 22-mile long run. It covers a total of well over a thousand miles, and suggests that I’ll beat last year’s total distance by the third week of June this year. When completed I'll have thighs of steel, chiselled calves, wrecked feet, five more medals and hopefully a couple of new PBs. It - will - be - awesome.


Like all runners - from first time 5k-plodders to elite and extreme superhumans, my training won't go entirely to plan. I'll get ill, I'll get injured. I'll be grumpy or fed up or busy. I'll decide not to enter one or two races, and training will change accordingly. I'll probably have to write off a few days after Nick's stag-do, and doubtless there'll be other weekends when I have a few too many glasses of wine. Basically, it will go wrong one way or another, to a greater or lesser extent, and for once I've accepted that from the get-go. Hopefully this means I'll be able to deal with setbacks better than in previous years...

Tony before his world record run
And if I thought I had made my plans with a hefty dose of realism and a side of pessimism, try this for size - on a recent Marathon Talk podcast, Tony Audenshaw (an Emmerdale actor who also holds the Guinness World Record for fastest marathon dressed as a baby - 3:13:30 at London 2010) divided his marathon training schedule into four distinct phases: 
"Running when I feel unfit, then running when I feel relatively fit, then getting sick of running with my fitness hitting a plateau, and finally getting ill, injured, or going on holiday at the wrong time, leading to a below par race." 
This from a 47 year-old bloke who regularly runs sub-3:20 marathons! What hope do the rest of us have?

What all this boils down to is that I'm going to aim to run an awful lot of miles, and if I manage even the majority of them I'll count myself lucky and in good shape to tackle SF. I'll let you know how I get on.

Happy training!


P.S. Haven't had a guest blogpost in a while - any takers?

No comments:

Post a Comment