Tobacco Road Marathon Training Plan

When I last checked in, I had narrowed down my training plan search to two: the "Run Less, Run Faster" (FIRST) plan, and another from Jack Daniels.

I'll cut to the chase: After reading both books, I realize the FIRST plan is a far better fit for what I'm looking for. Jack Daniels really wants me to be running 50-60 miles per week, which is just too much/not going to happen this time around. I felt a sense of dread while reading that book; in contrast, the FIRST plan seems totally do-able and fun. I buy the research behind it and it has Jenny's endorsement, which counts for a lot in my book! I'm going to just place my training in the hopefully capable hands of the authors of this book and hope for the best.*

*Just kidding, I did something totally nuts to collect data on myself. More on that later!

So, the deal with the FIRST plan is this: Three "quality" runs per week plus two cross-training workouts. Three quality runs breaks down as: One speedwork session, one tempo run, and one long run. The two cross-training sessions also have little workouts, and can be done either on a bike or in the pool. Bike >> pool IMO, so that's what I'll be doing. The second edition really drives home the fact that the cross-training workouts are providing the aerobic training that easy runs would, without the impact. No Meat Athlete subbed out the cross-training for easy runs with a great outcome, but the authors caution against it. 

I'm one week into the plan so far and I've noticed a few things:

  1. The plan is demanding. Even though there isn't a lot of running, every run has a purpose and goals. I can't absentmindedly lace up my shoes after work each day because I have to really do work every time I'm running.
  2. One criticism: The speedwork paces don't adjust as the plan progresses. (Week 1 had me doing 3x1600 in 7:24 with a 400m RI, and again in Week 5 and Week 12. Shouldn't I be getting faster, or maybe doing more of them?)

Here's a link to my plan if you're curious to see more.

Other things related to training:

  • I may not have mentioned this here, but I've been taking an iron supplement since summertime. I've noticed a difference in feeling less fatigued, and needing less sleep than I used to. I feel like a Responsible Vegetarian now.
  • Eating real food: Thanks to the junk food culture at my office, it is very easy to get lazy about bringing lunch to work and just eat what's sitting out: a handful of M&Ms, 4-5 cookies from the free office cafe, a few cups of coffee, donuts, whatever. For a few months, that was a typical lunch for me. Lately we've been making an effort to cook more, and it's been so great to have a good meal at lunch again like a regular person.
  • I would also really like to keep a little strength training routine going, but I haven't been very regular about doing that, um, ever. 
  • Gear shopping: It isn't a new marathon cycle without some running related indulgences..

Has anyone else started training for an early spring marathon? I feel like I'm the only one!