January 29, 2013

Sub-4 Plan of Attack

Marathon #1: 4:08
Marathon #2: 4:03
Marathon #3: 4:27
Marathon #4: 4:24
Marathon #5: 4:01:05

My 3rd marathon was one that I wasn't planning on running until I got to Mile 22. My 4th marathon, I totally bonked.

I have run 5 marathons. 3 of them with the goal of going sub-4. It kills me that I still haven't seen a 3 as the first number on the clock. Yet, every time, I've somehow crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face.

I don't know how many more times I can do that. Yes, every marathon is an accomplishment, but frankly, this shit is getting old.

I started my running career in 2010. In the span of those short 3 years, I've poured over countless spreadsheets checking off workouts, analyzing every workout before, during and after...and for weeks to come. "I didn't missed my target pace on the 2nd mile of my tempo workout last week...what does that mean for Race Day."

This time around, there's no spreadsheet. I'm taking things back to the basics. For starters, I'm running a very small marathon. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love big races and Marine Corps is my favorite marathon, but I think that running a small race will be good for me.

No distractions. Just me and the road. The fact that the course is an out and back means, I'll have plenty of support along the way but the fact that it's capped at 350 runners means I'll have plenty of time to think about race strategy without being distracted by yet another, "Worst Parade Ever" sign.

Right now, I'm glued to the treadmill until it starts getting light earlier and staying light later, but you better believe I'm using the treadmill to it's absolute full advantage and running intervals, hills and sprints. I think I'm getting better workouts on the treadmills than I do on my normal "easy" runs outside.

I think that by not having a training plan, and just focusing on 2-3 key workouts per week (hill repeats, tempo runs, interval training, track work), running longer every week and basing my weekly mileage off of what I did the week before, I'll be in great shape to run a successful training cycle without overanalyzing anything and without risk of overtraining.

I'm still following a 16 week training cycle and this is Week 3, but I'm not following a strict plan. I'm just running.

I'm training smart. I'm actually strength training. I'm actually doing yoga. I'm actually going to stick to these regiments. I'm eating better. I'm getting more sleep. I'm taking vitamins and I'm feeling great. After all, marathon training is about so much more than running. 

Fast friends. Positive friends. I'm living in DC now and planning to fully take advantage of the fact that everyone I know here runs faster than I do. There are a plethora of running groups and it's just a matter of sucking it up and joining them to get more of those weekday workouts outside, rather than inside. I just need to find one that's right for me. Emily is just one of those friends that is both fast AND positive and is not only encouraging me about my goal daily, but helping me figure out my plan of attack.

I hated running in New York. Absolutely despised it. I hated taking the subway to Central Park. I hated running through the city to the East River Path or the West Side Highway. I dreaded almost every single run because it wasn't convenient. There was no such thing as just running. It was always an ordeal to get there. Even when I did get to Central Park, I always had to make the trek back home - cold, sweaty and sore on the subway.

This time around, I can just run. I step out my front door it's a straight shot to one of the most gorgeous running trails I've ever run. I look forward to my weekend runs every week and I can't wait until I can start running that trail every morning. It's going to make a huge difference that I'm not dreading every run.
The single most important take away of this post - my big plan of attack - is that I really don't have a plan. I'm just.going.to.run. I know with every fiber of my being that this is possible. I don't need to do much to finally make this happen, I just need to trust that it will. 


  1. I live only a block from Central Park and I'm always saying how I don't know how I could run if I weren't so close. But I've heard DC is a wonderful running town (I never ran when I lived there while interning) and am excited to run two races there in April!!!

    Good luck with the sub-4:00. It sounds like you're well on your way to making it happen!!

  2. We all know you have this in you girl, you don't need to convince us! Just remember you can have a perfect training cycle or a complete shit show of one and still not be able to control a single thing on race day. Just keep the faith and know that you are DUE!!!

  3. Sounds like a good idea to get back to basics and focus on key workouts. Good luck with this training cycle!

  4. Perfec plan! The most important thing is your mind and with your plan, I know you will be ready and pumped and you will kill it on race day!!! A friend of mine tried to PR and was kind of stuck, he started to do core workouts and ran a huge PR! Strength training is huge for running a marathon, it makes you stronger but also helps to prevent injuries!!

  5. I don't know much about training plans, but I never understood why they had to be so complicated. So, I'm totally digging your "just running" / back to basics approach! I hope it helps make a difference!

  6. You do have great places to run. Enjoy your training.

  7. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Your plan sounds great. I don't like running in the dark either, but its not so bad if you go with a group. I credit some of my gained speed to running with faster people, which those running groups are full of. ;)

  8. You got this! I am so looking forward to following along on your training adventure! Go, Christy, go!


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