Planning Out My Training for Jersey City

My first big race of the year is the Jersey City Marathon in April.

After running the Erie Marathon in September, I took a few weeks to recover. Then, I shifted my focus to shorter races for the late fall and the early winter. That culminated in the Rutgers Big Chill.

After a couple weeks recovering, it’s time to set my sights on Jersey City and get to training. So today, I wanted to take a little time to reflect on the past year, set some goals for this spring, and lay out my training plan.

Reflections on the Past Year

Before I set out some goals for this season and establish an actual plan, it’s important to reflect on where I’ve been. My current training needs to be informed by what I’ve previously done.

Last year, I ran two goal marathons: Jersey City (April) and Erie (September).

I didn’t have a great day at Jersey City, and I finished in a disappointing 3:26. In part, I may have overestimated my fitness and pushed beyond my capabilities at the time.

At Erie, on the other hand, I finished in new personal best of 3:10. After a successful training block, I went into the race with a conservative pacing plan to compensate for warmer than expected weather.

Throughout the year, I ran a total of 3,244 miles – an average of just over 62 miles per week. In both training cycles, I ran over 70 miles per week and peaked for at least a couple of weeks at 85.

For long runs, each training cycle included one twenty mile run. In the spring, I only hit 9 total runs over 14 miles, including 1 at 2×17 and 1×18. In the fall, I hit 17 total runs over 14 miles, with 1x 19, 4×18, 1×17, and 2×16.

Because I rolled straight from one marathon training cycle to another, I spent most of the year focused on longer races and threshold efforts. I ran one 10k in April and one 5k in June. Otherwise, the bulk of the year consisted of long threshold efforts and a lot of easy mileage.

My Goals For This Training Cycle

My ultimate goal is to lay down a time that is a solid qualifier for Boston 2025 – which would require 3:00 or so.

At Erie, I managed to run a qualifying time of 3:09:47 – but it was only 13 seconds under the standard. With the record breaking number of qualified applicants, that was nowhere near good enough to actually get in. I wouldn’t expect next year to be easier – so the cut-off time could easily be 5, 6, 7 minutes or more again.

With a solid training cycle and decent weather, I think that’s a very realistic goal.

In terms of mileage, I think I’ve reached the limit of easily achievable increases for now. I can handle 85 miles per week, but it’s 12 to 13 hours of training. I don’t want to train more than that, so I’ll probably stick with a peak of around 85 until and unless my easy pace comes down a little more.

In terms of long runs, I’m not a fan of going overly long. At this point, a 20 mile run takes me around 2:45 – which I think is fine. I’m not going to push up to 21 or 22 mile long runs until I can comfortably complete them in less time. But I do want to add at least one extra 20 miler, and I want to continue to place an emphasis on 16-18 mile long runs.

I want to race more this year, so I picked out two tune up races to complete along the way. I’ll be running the Super Saturday 10 Miler in February and the Spring Distance Classic (15k) in March. These are spaced out enough to provide some good break points in my training. They’re also long enough to provide some useful feedback for the marathon, but not quite as long and strenuous as a half. I’ll run some other short stuff over the summer and in the fall.

Finally, I want to focus more on speed and shorter distance work. I think with so much previous focus on threshold efforts and the marathon, I’ve seen a lot of those potential gains. But I’m set up to improve on my baseline speed (mile to 5k pace) – and that could then open up more room for me to improve on my threshold and marathon pace.

Translating This Into a Training Plan

In terms of general structure, I’m drawing inspiration from Jack Daniels 5k/10k plan. I used this in 2022 while training for a half marathon, and I liked it. I think with a few modifications to overall mileage and the long runs, the general workout structure will help me improve my speed while also setting me up for success in the marathon.

Although I’ve spent the last two weeks running 70 miles, it’s been all easy running with some strides. I’ll officially start my training block tomorrow. This gives me 14 weeks until the race.

I have to schedule around the two races as well as some anticipated travel. The February 10 miler is at the end of the 5th week, and the March 15k is at the beginning of week 12. I’ll be in Florida during week 8, and while I’ll be able to put in the miles I don’t anticipate doing any workouts.

The weekly mileage I came up with is: 70, 75, 78, 80, 70 (ending with 10 Mile race), 70 (recovery), 70 (Florida), 80, 85, 85, 70, 70 (starting with 15k race), 60 (begin taper), 45 – and then Race Day.

This gets me a couple weeks at or above 80, an average of 75 miles per week (pre-taper), and it provides some time in the plan to deload and recover.

For long runs, I’ve planned 2×20, 4×18, 4×16, and 2×14.

For the 4 weeks leading up to the 10 miler, I’m going to focus on R workouts (in Jack Daniels Running Formula parlance). This is stuff like 200m and 400m repeats at mile pace. For the four weeks leading up to the 15k, I’m going to focus on I workouts. This means things like 1k and 1200m repeats at around 5k pace. Each week, I’ll also do a T workout that includes around 40 minutes at threshold effort broken up into 10-15 minute intervals.

Here’s to Hoping New Things Work

In the past, I’ve pretty strictly followed pre-fab plans. I used Jack Daniels 2Q for most of my races, and I used Pfitz 18/85 for one of them.

This time around, I’m taking some inspiration from Jack Daniels, but I feel like this plan is more of my own making. So here’s to hoping that new things work well.

I’ll be back with an update in the days before the 10 mile race to share how things are going – and set a goal for that race.

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