Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Long run retooling

The Pittsburgh Half Marathon is my primary training focus this spring. However, I've got some adjustments to make after adding the Rock N Roll DC Half Marathon to my race schedule next month. I don't plan to change the weekday workouts, but I do want to reconfigure my weekend long run schedule.

In the spirit of vastly overthinking things and driving myself bananas, I've put together three revised long run schedule versions: basic, intermediate, and challenge.
I am currently planning to default to the intermediate plan, but we will see how things are feeling on a week-to-week basis. It's always a delicate balance between training ambitiously versus red-lining.

Ready for massive data overload? Here are the three plans:
The immovable factors are obviously the races, and also being on vacation during Week 5. I prefer to NOT have to slug out a long run while on a cruise ship!

Notes:
  • Xaarlin suggested using Hal Higdon's Intermediate Half Marathon training plan as a guideline for the long runs. Under that plan, you increase your mileage for two weeks at a time, then take a stepback week. That was my general thought process here, but race/vacation timing dictates stepping back slightly more frequently in all three plans.
  • A "stepback exception" occurs with the challenge plan, where the first stepback occurs in Week 5. I believe I can handle an initial four consecutive weeks of build-up, but this is a "challenge" plan for a reason.
  • I wasn't entirely sure what to do with Week 9 in "basic" and "intermediate." I elected to err on the side of being conservative, but who knows?
  • Historically, I have trained up to a max of 11 or 12 miles going into a half marathon. Kim mentioned training above the race distance. I've never tried that before but I am considering it this time around. In the "challenge plan" I ambitiously go up to 15 - and this will indeed be a challenge!
  • This was not my original intention, but I may even be up for throwing some hill work into my stepback weeks. (!!!)
  • Not to further overcomplicate things, but there IS room for an "intermediate plus" plan in between "intermediate" and "challenge." I won't get into that today.
Any thoughts, suggestions, words of wisdom? Tell me about anything you might have overthought throughout your lifetime?

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Linking up with MarciaPatti, and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run.

24 comments:

  1. Good luck! Whatever you do, be careful of overtraining! Make sure you take time to stretch, do cross training, whatever your body needs to stay healthy!

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    1. Thank you, Natalie! YES on taking the time to stretch and cross-train. There's no point in training hard if you get hurt before you can even get to the starting line, right? I am sorry to hear that you had a poopy start to the month - I hope things get better for you quickly. BIG HUGS!!!

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    2. Thanks for the support. I didn't want to post on my blog yet, but I found out I have gestational diabetes. After trying so hard to dig myself out of that genetic hole (my dad has type 2), I was kind of crushed to find out. After having a day to process, and a chance to test my blood sugars after eating, so far things look good. I'm meeting with a nutritionist tomorrow to go over how to manage it - here's to hoping for the best, that I can manage it with diet only, and have a healthy delivery come late April!

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    3. I am really sorry to hear, Natalie. =( Genetics are a tough one to battle - and I can completely relate, having diabetes and high blood pressure on both sides of my family, as well. Prayers for you and more big hugs! You WILL be able to manage with diet only, and you WILL have a healthy delivery in April! I know it!!!

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  2. This is quite well thought out! Are you feeling right now that you'd go basic/intermediate, or challenge? Big decision seems like it's this weekend when you have to run either 5 or 9! You are doing a lot more strength work than I think you have before, so you might be surprised at how you feel! Good luck!

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    1. Thanks Lauren! Right now I am thinking I would default to intermediate. You are so right about this weekend being a big decision! I am really torn because I have Monday off for President's Day, and it seems like a waste to do a stepback on a 3-day weekend. So I may start out with challenge and then drop down later, if needed. Decisions, decisions!

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  3. I've always used Hal for my long run progression, and for me the 2 weeks long, 1 week ease up really lends well to keeping me injury free! Good luck!!!!

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    1. Hal's programs are fantastic, aren't they? So glad to hear the 2 weeks long, 1 week stepback worked so well for you! That is the best vote of confidence anyone can ever ask for. Thanks Michelle!

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  4. Well, I overthink pretty much everything, so this is right up my alley :)

    I followed Hal Higdon's beginner plan pretty closely for my first half, and used the intermediate as a guide for Wisconsin in 2014 (where I got a massive PR). In generally, I really like his training plans. 12 miles is the longest run I did for HM training, and that felt like enough for me to be ready for the race, especially when you consider how many miles are logged in a 12 week cycle (I think I was at about 150), much less a 14 week cycle!

    I'd say start out at the intermediate level, since you do have plenty of running and races under your belt. Then if you feel particularly good one week, maybe bump up to the challenge long run. As Erin (Ruminator) likes to say, these plans are written in spreadsheet :) So you can change it up each week depending on how you're feeling and how things are going.

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    1. I like Hal's programs a lot, too! Yay for all the successes you achieved by using his plans! I agree - 12 miles always felt like adequate preparation for me, too. I was even comfortable with just 11. And it is definitely a grind over several months.

      I love the saying of "these plans are written in spreadsheet" - that is SO CLEVER! Thank you so much for your thoughts, Anne - I really appreciate it!

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  5. I know I said to train over the distance, but with all you have going on, the challenge plan seems like way too much. I'd stick with the intermediate or other one. All these races are for fun, not PRs, right?

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    1. Appreciate the thoughts, Kim! Yes, all of these races are for fun, although I'm excited to see what I can do at Perfect 10. But in terms of half marathons, I don't have any target races in mind yet. Fall races are usually the best for me, especially with good company (hint hint). =)

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    2. Gotcha! And got the hint :)

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  6. I haven't heard of that Chicago's Perfect 10. I may have to do that one! I have 12 on the plan that weekend, but I could run an extra 2 miles, right? I'll let you know if I decide to do it.

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    1. Oooh, yes! Would love if you joined me for Chicago's Perfect 10! I've heard good things about the race in the past and this is the first time they are hosting in the spring as opposed to November. Please keep me posted on your thoughts!

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  7. This is quite the analysis! Honestly I think you'll be more than fine with the intermediate plan. I've had 15 on half plans before but I don't think I've ever done over 13 when training for a half, unless I had a full on the horizon. What cruise will you be on?

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    1. Thanks Marcia! That makes really good sense to train over 13 only when there is a full on the horizon. The cruise is a Pittsburgh sports-themed event for Adam, and it's going to be on Carnival. I'm really excited!

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  8. I've trained up to 11 for my first half, and I felt the last 2.1 on the course were easier. I trained to 10 on my others and felt the last miles dragged on and on. I don't know about training above the mileage, but my experience showed me getting as close to the distance helped in the last couple miles.

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    1. I agree - I think there is a really big psychological difference between training up to 10 versus training up to 11! Those last few miles are the toughest ones, yes?

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  9. I think if you've done quite a few half marathons, have a good base, the time to train, and are not injured (did I give enough disclaimers?) it is a good idea to go over 13 miles. What confidence you'll have if you can go into the half saying "it's only 13 miles".

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    1. Appreciate the thoughts, HoHo! As a runner, it seems almost everything we do is subject to disclaimer, no? =D Ahhhh, yes, I've never gone into a half marathon thinking "it's only 13 miles" - maybe someday!!! =D

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