I am training for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 6, 2015, and I am 6 weeks into the program. It feels wonderful to be pushing myself for the first time since becoming pregnant with the baby (who is now almost 14 months). I picked Hal Higdon's Advanced 1 training program since I've used it before with good results.
I found it hard to select a time goal. I paced a 4:10 group last December for the Rocket City Marathon which felt very hard at the time. Before that, I had run the 2013 Monumental Marathon at 7.5 weeks pregnant in 3:32. It seemed more logical to go with that time even though the 4:10 was more recent. So based on my time in this race 2 years ago, I plan to train for a 3:30 time this year. This time is still nearly 20 minutes off of my PR, but I feel that it will be a realistic time goal given my current physical state.
I finished Week 6 this week with a few challenges. Fitting in the early morning runs before getting my shower, nursing the baby, and now walking the big kids to school at 7:20 a.m. (they started back on August 5--so early!) is tricky. Plus my husband, Rick, is also training, so I have to fit my runs around his. Some days I have only exactly enough time to run my distance, so we pass each other at our garage door, he heading in and me heading out. Some days when he's out running, I run laps around the front of my house (these are usually my 3-4 mile runs). I've also started waking up much earlier (as early as 3:30 a.m.), but I anticipate I may have to get up even earlier as the weeks go on in order to fit in the long runs. I'm sure these things aren't really anything new to most of you too. It's just an adjustment for me to be taking training more seriously now.
Another challenge is trying to fit in group long runs (which I enjoy) with my solo pace runs. Hal frequently calls for a pace run before the long run. The purpose of the pace runs is to get used to running the pace you will be maintaining race day--holding the pace consistently through a series of miles. These runs start at 5 miles and go up to 10 miles. The long run follows the next day so that you are running on somewhat fatigued legs. The long run is 30-90 seconds off of your goal pace time. It starts at 10 miles and builds to 3 20-mile runs during the 18 weeks of training. I normally complete these on Thursday (pace) and Friday (long).
This week it worked best for me to do my long run with my group on Thursday, meaning Friday (today) was left for a pace run. The group did 13 miles yesterday. My plan only called for 10 miles, but I ran the whole distance with them at just under a 9:00 pace. Today I had to run 7 miles at an 8:00 pace (my goal pace for a 3:30 marathon). I struggled through these miles and saw the reason for the order of these 2 runs! Trying to hold the challenging 8:00 pace was much harder with my tired legs from yesterday's long run! Remember, I am still getting back from pregnancy. I feel much weaker where I once felt strength. Today's run reminded me that I am not back yet.
Something that helped me today was the Apollo 13 quote, "Failure is not an option." I don't know why I thought of it today, but thankfully I did. I had started my run with an 8:26 mile, feeling so tired and needing a warm up (but not having left time in my morning for a proper one). I played a mental game of trying to "make back" the extra 26 seconds over the next 6 miles. I don't have my data in front of me, but I think the rest of the miles were 8:00, 7:58, 7:59, 7:48, 8:00, and 7:34, so I easily made up for the slower first mile to finish under 8:00 for the entire run. Thinking that "failure is not an option" pushed me to keep each mile on pace even though I was so tired. You might think that one run in an 18 week plan doesn't matter, but I beg to differ. Once you start letting yourself "cheat," you are only really cheating yourself! I also learned this week to really trust the training plan. There is a reason for the specific order of each run. Do your best to stick with that order if possible.