Today I start training for the 2011 Pittsburgh Marathon. It’s 18 weeks away. That’s more than four months of running five or six days a week. All to prepare for (hopefully) just under four hours of running on May 15th. That’s a lot of training.
I’ve been looking forward to it, though. The discipline of it is attractive to me. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why I chose an 18 week training plan rather than the more standard 16 week plans. I’m using the “Less-is-More Plan” created by Keith and Kevin Hanson and featured in this article from the January 2011 issue of Runner’s World. The runs don’t get as long as conventional marathon training plans, but there are more runs and more intense speed work, training the body to run even when it’s tired.
Some particular things I’m looking forward to: (1) On Thursdays, I’m supposed to run at my marathon goal pace. I said I want to finish the marathon in 3:45, so it gave me a goal pace of 8:35/mile. My long runs are supposed to be 45 to 60 seconds/mile slower, so I’m going to shoot for 9:15 on those. I’m already comfortable at these paces, but for much shorter distances than a marathon. Keeping that speed up for 26 miles will be tough. (2) A few friends and I are raising support for Team World Vision, running the race to raise money for clean water in Kenya and Ethiopia. It gives me joy to know that there’s a purpose behind all this running. (3) Taking advantage of the gym that Eileen and I joined a few weeks ago for running indoors on cold, slippery, snowy winter days.
Some things I’m not looking forward to: (1) Running during Holy Week: 9 miles on Maundy Thursday, 6 on Good Friday, 8 on Holy Saturday, and 16 miles on Easter Day. (2) My long runs will be on Sundays, effectively filling most afternoons after finishing worship at Upper Room. I thought about adjusting the schedule and pushing them to Mondays, but it will be hard enough to regularly run 6 to 8 miles on Monday afternoons after opening at the cafe. If I’m running double that distance, I’d rather do it on a Sunday afternoon. (3) Disappearing free time. It appears that training for a marathon is a bit like a part-time job. I’m going to be running for at least 5 hours a week at first, then almost 10 hours per week in the higher mileage weeks. I should remind myself not to take on much extra during these months.
Today: 4 miles. Here we go!