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Training for my 6th Marathon: A Recap

Here we are. I can’t believe it – tomorrow I will be running my 6th marathon. 20+ weeks of training for this grand finale.

I set a lot of goals for my social media in 2021, thinking that this year would have to be a lot better than 2020. In a lot of ways, it was, but in one big giant way it isn’t. Just over a quarter way into the new year, I lost my mom. Many people in my life told me, “Don’t stop running.” The thought never even crossed my mind. My mom was always so proud of my running. She didn’t care what my time was, she just cared that I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. She was only able to be there in person for one of my marathons, but she was with me in spirit for all the rest. She would send me text messages or post about me on Facebook.

This marathon will be different. No texts or posts from mom. Yesterday I got a message from the priest from the parish where I was baptized in 2015. Although I don’t attend church anymore, he has remained a friend through social media, following my running journey in particular. His message read: “Good luck on your marathon this weekend. Your mom will be with you the whole way. That will be something very special to celebrate.” I’m not sure what I believe about what happens to us when we die, but his message brought me comfort, and I will be hanging on to the idea that while I won’t get a text or see a Facebook message from my mom, this is the first time she can be with me the whole entire race.

Okay, okay, enough of the sappy stuff (although I love it and I know most of my readers do, too). Since I haven’t been doing regular training recaps, let me try to sum up all of these months of training.

What Plan Did I Use?

I created a spreadsheet where I input 5 different training plans. My idea behind this was so that I would have options in case I was struggling with one plan or another, in case of injury, and also to see what plans fit best with other races I was considering doing as part of training for the marathon. Each week I would input the workouts I actually did and would color code the training plans – green meant I did the workout 100% or more, yellow meant I came pretty close to meeting the workout, and red meant I did not do the workout at all.

The training plans I had in my spreadsheet were: Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 and Novice 2, Jenny Hadfield’s Beginner and Intermediate, and Marathon Rookie’s marathon training plans. I started by following the Hal Higdon plans, but as the mileage during the week increased, I found the Jenny Hadfield plans to work better with my current physical and mental abilities, as well as to fit in with my work, social life and sleep schedule. Jenny Hadfield’s plans are time based with the exception of the long run. There’s 2 or 3 weekly runs plus the long run. The plans call for 2 days of cross/strength training and 1-2 days of rest. I used her beginner plan to train for my last marathon after I stopped working with a coach.

When Did I Start Training?

2020 really messed with my motivation to train for anything. I had started and stopped so many plans that year, that eventually I just stopped trying to train. This combined with reaching my breaking point with mental health in February 2021 is why I decided to do a base training plan before I started an actual marathon training plan. I started Hal Higdon’s Novice Base Training plan mid-March. The marathon training plans I used varied in length from 18-20 weeks, so you could say that marathon training officially began the first week of June.

What Were My Workouts Like?

I averaged 3-4 days per week of running, and I was doing cross training anywhere from once a week (during weeks where I needed more rest days) to 5 or 6 days a week! The typical pattern of my runs was two shorter runs during the week and one longer one (the last few months of training the longer run turned into speedwork) plus my weekly long run. For cross training I did mostly Beachbody workouts. I used workouts from the Beachbody Yoga Studio, 21 Day Fix, MBF and MBFA, 30 Day Breakaway, and my current favorite Morning Meltdown 100.

What Was My Mileage Like?

Total miles run per month looked like this:

  • June 2021: 70 miles – averaging 17.5 miles per week
  • July 2021: 68.5 miles – averaging 17.1 miles per week
  • August 2021: 105.5 miles – averaging 26.4 miles per week (woah, what a jump!)
  • September 2021: 104.8 miles – averaging 26.2 miles per week (I like that – a marathon a week!)
  • October 2021: 31.5 miles – averaging 7.9 miles per week (welcome to taper time)

What Paces Was I Running?

Just looking at long runs (because my pace varied so much on other runs, plus there’s just too many to look at!) my pace ranged from 12:44 per mile at the Crim 10 mile race where I wasn’t pushing TOO hard, but I was running with my faster-than-me friend, to 13:55 per mile for my 20 mile run. Most of my long runs averaged around 13:30 per mile.

How Do I Feel About My Goals?

In my last post, I set an A, B, C and D goal for the race tomorrow. After reviewing my training in this post, I still don’t see myself getting my A goal (personal best of 5:26:03 or better) but I feel more confident that I may come closer than I thought. My B goal is to average a 13 minute pace and I do feel fairly confident that I could do that. My C goal is to finish under 6 hours, feeling very confident in that, and my D goal is to just finish the dang thing without getting hurt – extremely confident that the combination of good race weather predictions for tomorrow and my training will allow this to happen!

The countdown is officially down to less than 24 hours before race start, so it is time for me to finish packing, keep hydrating and nom on yummy carbs before I meet up with my friends to begin this next adventure. I am looking forward to finally being on Fort Street again tomorrow morning, and again in the afternoon when I cross the finish line of my 6th full marathon!

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