What are you training for?
Your answer doesn’t have to be a marquis event or impressive challenge. Spartan races and Ironman triathlons are great, unless they’re not your thing. You could be training to be able to do your job without pain or injury. You could be training to be able to keep up with your kids at play. You could be training to be able to walk a lot on an upcoming vacation or trip. Goals can be motivating, and the more immediate they are, the more we can grasp what we need to do to set ourselves to the task. Did you know that people who exercise because it makes them feel great stick to their fitness efforts more than people who work out for weight loss, general health or longevity? Although the latter goals are laudable, they don’t work to get people exercising, says Michelle Segar, Ph.D., motivation scientist and author of No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring you a Lifetime of Fitness.
“My interdisciplinary research challenges the status quo within the health promotion and healthcare industries by showing that logical rewards like ‘health’ and ‘weight loss’ do not motivate people to sustain health-related behavior as well as immediate and emotional rewards such as ‘well-being.” Michelle Segar
I can definitely get behind the notion that exercise makes me feel great now, and that is reason enough to partake, but training for a goal or challenge is a good way to give structure and direction to the training.
Right now, I am training for the Philadelphia Marathon, taking place on November 20 of this year. I have completed one prior marathon (New York City, 2009, time: 3:41:16), and the pain of that experience has finally waned to the point at which I’m ready to try a second. This time, I would like to run a Boston Marathon qualifying time. My goal finish time range is from 2:50:18 to 3:02:58.
This is week one of my training, and I’d like to share my training plans with you. You may notice that the Philadelphia marathon is 11 weeks from Sunday. Shouldn’t any sensible person, especially a physician, allow more than 12 weeks to train for a marathon? Yes, absolutely. But I had the opportunity to go on an incredible (and incredibly intense) cycling trip last month, so I spent much of the spring and summer on the bike. Although most of my summer training was not running, the time on the bike should give me a good fitness base.
In 2021, I ran an average of 10.8 miles per week and biked an average of 20 miles per week. So far in 2022, I have averaged 14 miles of running and 35 miles of biking per week. So let me be clear that what I am proposing (both in volume and goal pace), strictly speaking, would NOT be recommended for marathon preparation. So I might have to David Goggins my way through some of this, but I’m up for it. (I’m not sure if David Goggins’ name has been used as a verb before, but there you have it.)
I plan to train with just three runs per week, according to the plan laid forth by the authors of Run Less, Run Faster.
My cross training will be cycling. I LOVE the benefits of barbell training, but I think it’s too close to the race to make gains without deadening my legs for running. So the first month I will do kettlebell training, the second month, I will do Peloton’s ‘Strength for Runners’ programming, and the third month will be body weight only, up to the last two weeks, where I will do no resistance training. This past month I’ve also thrown in some push ups and pull ups. Starting with 10 each per day and adding one per week. This week I’m up to 12 of each daily.
So the weekly schedule will look like this:
3 runs, never on consecutive days
2 bike rides
2 resistance training workouts
2 recovery workouts (on their own days, meaning resistance workouts will double onto cardio days)
I will also bicycle commute whenever possible to add to my cardiovascular training base.
I’m going to try to divide the intensity of effort as follows:
10 percent: red-lining hard effort
20-30 percent: threshold/tempo
60-70 percent: Zone 2 easy
I will look at heart rate to track this but will give rate of perceived exertion primacy over the hard data metrics. I can adjust the intensity of my biking to fit the overall intensity load without compromising on the running workouts.
For example this week, I didn’t get above a heart rate of 159, even when I felt like I was red-lining on my interval and tempo runs. So I will count about 40 minutes of that as hard effort along with 20 minutes of a 30 minute HIIT and Hills ride on the Peloton. I’ll estimate maybe 30 minutes of threshold between running, biking and a Strength for Runners workout. This means the remainder of the week should tilt towards easy and tempo, which should work out with a long run and an easier bike ride on the docket.
That’s the training plan and ethos for now. Of critical importance when training is the ability/willingness to adapt the plan to fit one’s life and one’s body. So this is subject to change, but it’s a start – stay tuned! Happy training.