Training Update: Four Weeks Into the New Year and So Far, So Good

After running the Philly marathon in November, my recovery has been going fairly well.

Over the course of the first four weeks, I slowly eased back in. My mileage increased and the soreness went away, but my hip flexor wasn’t 100% and I bailed on my first attempt at a long run. Over the next two weeks, I took it easy and incorporated some core work. My hip improved, and my mileage was back in the 50’s.

I had been doing a decent amount of doubles, and I still hadn’t done a legit long run. But I felt ready for some light workouts, and I planned to take the next four weeks to ease into marathon training. Here’s how it went.

First, The Plan

Day one of training for the Jersey City Marathon is Monday, January 30. This left me four weeks to do some light workouts and prep work.

The plan was to run 60+ mpw, with a possible ramp up to 70. Tentatively, I planned 60, 65, 70, and then a down week with 60.

For workouts, I planned on a track workout on Tuesday and a tempo workout on Friday. For the track workout, I’d do sets of 200m, 200m, 400m, with equal recovery, at around mile pace. The goal was to work up to 5 or 6 sets. For the tempo work, I planned on 5 minute cruise intervals, similar to Daniel’s T workouts. The goal was the work up to 7 or 8 reps.

I didn’t have any time goals in particular, and I wanted to run all of the reps by feel. I was hoping to improve over the course of the month. In the last week, I’d take the temperature of how things felt, and possibly do some time trials (mile and/or 5k).

This should, hopefully, allow me to ease into training and regain some of the speed that I’ve lost while recovering.

How It Went

Mileage wise, things went pretty well, but not quite as planned.

The first week, I hit 60 miles as planned. This included four days with doubles, with most individual runs between 4 and 6 miles. Week two, I hit 63 miles. This included three days with doubles, and three of the individual runs were around 10 miles. Weeks 3 and 4, I had to scale back a little bit and I just stayed with 60 miles, with around four days of doubles. I could have pushed the mileage, but my schedule got in the way a few times and I figured it was better to err on the easy side than try to cram in extra doubles.

The track workouts went well. The first week, it was raining so I ended up bailing after two sets. I was pretty slow – 45s for the 200’s and 93s for the 400’s. The next week, I finished five sets at a faster clip – 44-45s and 90-91s. The third week, I again finished five sets and improved my pace. I averaged 42-44 seconds for the 200s and 87 to 89 seconds for the 400s. By the third week, I was in the groove and I feel a lot faster.

The tempo workouts also went pretty well. The first week, I did 6 reps averaging 6:58/mi. I started off strong but flagged at the end. The next week, I did 7 reps at 7:03/mi. I started off a little slower, but I picked up the pace towards the end and felt much stronger. The third week, I scaled back to six reps and averaged 7:02/mi. In the final week, I did 6 reps in 6:54/mi. It took me one or two reps to warm up, but the rest of the workout I was feeling good.

As for the long run, I was able to ramp up from a 10 mile to a 12 mile to a 14 mile. I also had a couple workout days that were 8 to 10 miles. Overall, I feel much stronger than I did a month ago. I’m a tiny bit worried about the longer runs in marathon training, but I’m optimistic that I can manage. After today’s 14 mile run, I feel like I’m ready.

What’s Up Next

At this point, it’s time to start marathon training.

I’ve decided to follow the Pfitz 12/85 plan (found in Advanced Marathoning). I like the Jack Daniels 2Q plans, and they’ve worked pretty well for me in the last two marathons. But they are intense, and in the last marathon I almost didn’t make it to the finish line healthy.

Although the Pfitz plan will be higher mileage (peak 85 miles versus a previous peak of 75 miles), there is a lot less intensity in the plan. There’s usually one workout, they’re not too heavy, and occasionally there’s a long run with some marathon pace built in.

At some point, I want to write up a comparison between Pfitz and JD to illustrate the difference in their intensities. But I’ll save that for another day. In the meantime, you can read my thoughts on Pfitz here.

I think this will give me a chance to continue to progress, but without pushing quite as hard. If this goes well, I’ll probably switch back to JD for my next marathon and keep the peak at 85.

I put the whole plan into my calendar for the next twelve weeks, and I had to shuffle a few of the days around to accommodate my work schedule. I’ll probably also split some of the longer runs into doubles for the sake of scheduling, possibly capping the midweek long run at 2 hours.

The plan includes some 15 mile MLRs. If I pushed the pace, I could keep them just under 2 hours, but if I’m not feeling it on a given day I might cut them down to 12 to 13 miles and make up some miles elsewhere.

The other adjustment I’ll make will be to convert the threshold workouts into cruise intervals. I really like the brief walking breaks, and it seems to limit the stress on my hips. Although I’m feeling pretty healthy, I want to avoid a relapse with my hip flexors – and I think sustained hard efforts might lead to that.

So that’s the plan.

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