Planning Out My Summer Racing (and Training) Season

Last year, I focused heavily on marathons. I ran Philly (Nov 22), followed by Jersey City (April 23), followed by Erie (September 24).

After Erie, I was able to work in a bit of training towards shorter, faster races. But I was only able to squeeze in about two months before it was time to start training for Jersey City this spring.

Although I made some progress at those shorter distances, I have a feeling that I still have plenty of room for improvement – even moreso after another solid marathon training cycle this spring. So before I pivot back to marathon training for Chicago, I’m going to squeeze in another 6 to 8 weeks of shorter stuff.

Let’s Start with the Big Picture

The first thing to plan out is the calendar constraints.

I’m coming off the RBC Brooklyn Half last month, and I needed some recovery time after that. If I pencil in an easy week without any workouts after that race, this summer season can start the week of May 26.

The other end of things is the Chicago Marathon in the fall. That race is on October 13, and I’ll want 10 to 12 weeks to focus more on the marathon. So this season will have to draw to a close around July 21 – which is 12 weeks from Chicago.

That leaves about eight weeks to focus on speed. Perfect.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Now, Let’s Pencil In the Races

The next question is – what races will I focus on?

I recently joined up with a local running group (Essex Running Club). So one priority is going to be the team local team races that are part of the statewide racing circuit.

Two of these, I’ve run in the past: the Fitzgerald’s 5k Lager Run (June 9) and the Tom Fleming Sunset Classic 5 Miler (June 27). Neither race was a solid performance for me, so I’m happy to have a chance to come back and improve. Plus, the top 100 finishers at the Lager Run get memorial pint glass which will make a nice addition to my collection.

The third race – the Big Bang Mile (July 13) – is one that I haven’t run before. In fact, I haven’t run a mile race (other than some solo time trials) since high school. So I’m looking forward to this one as an opportunity to really test out my speed. I’ve run 5:55 as a solo time trial (a year or two ago), and I’m sure I could improve on that significantly with some competition.

There was another 5k I was interested in, but it’s Monday, June 24. I didn’t want to stack two races in the same week (the Sunset Classic is that Thursday).

However, I was also eying a local cross country series – the Raritan Valley Road Runner’s XC Summer Series. This is four 5k races, every other week, on June 11, June 25, July 9, and July 23.

The first two are the same week as other races, so I figure I’ll take those a little easier and approach them more as tempo runs. July 9 is the Tuesday before the Big Bang Mile (Saturday), so I can approach that more like a race – but maybe not quite 100%.

The final race – July 23 – doesn’t back up to any other races so I’ll give that one the hardest effort.

Finally, Let’s Sketch Out the Training

With those races penciled in, I can determine the broad strokes for what training will look like and then sketch out a basic weekly plan.

In the past, I’ve found that trying to continue with higher mileage (80+ mpw) and two workouts is a bit too much. So throughout this block, I’ll stick with 60-70 miles per week – with a typical target of 70.

In terms of workouts, the focus will be on I and R running. If you’re unfamiliar with those terms, read more about Jack Daniels Running Formula here. I’ve had plenty of focus on T throughout the previous marathon training block, and I’ll be focusing on that again as I get closer to Chicago.

In terms of long runs, I’ll stick with a standard 16 mile long run each week (unless there’s a Sunday race). In the past, I’ve done these at an easy-ish pace for the first ten miles or so and then picked it up in the final six. But to keep things a little easier, and leave something in the tank for the workouts, I’m going to keep things easy and only pick it up in the final three miles or so. It’s also summer, so ‘slow’ is relative – and I may take these even slower than usual.

Weekly Breakdown

Here’s the basic outline of what each week will look like. I’ll translate this into daily specifics and pad out the easy mileage later to insert into my run tracking spreadsheet.

  • May 26: Long run, I workout, R workout
  • June 2: Long run, I workout
  • June 9: Lager Run 5k (no long run Sunday), XC 5k (Tempo), R workout
  • June 16: Long run, I workout, R workout
  • June 23: Long run, XC (Tempo), Sunset Classic 5 Miler
  • June 30: Long run, I workout, R workout
  • July 7: Long run, XC 5k (Tempo), Big Bang Mile
  • July 14: Long run, I workout, R workout
  • July 21: Long run, XC 5k (Race!), Medium Long Run (transition to marathon focus)

That last week, I’ll stick with 70 miles. But I’ll add in a medium long run (14 miles or so) later in the week. Once I transition to marathon training, I’ll be following a 2Q approach – with a long run (18-20 miles) on Sunday and a medium long run (15-16 miles) on Thursday.

When I get closer to that transition point – July 21 – I’ll come back and sketch out what the last 11 weeks look like leading up to Chicago.

My first race for the summer – the Lager 5k – is on Sunday … so wish me luck!

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