8 miles down, 635 to go

Hey guys, guess what? Yesterday, I completed the first run of marathon training cycle #2! I can’t believe that I’ve started the 18 week journey towards the Marine Corps Marathon on October 27th. Woohoo!

For my first marathon (CIM), I worked off of Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 training plan along with some tweaks (recap). It worked fairly well, so for MCM, I’m going back to good ol’ Hal, but this time I’m upping the ante to the Intermediate 2 plan. The main differences between Novice 2 and Intermediate 2 are:

  • Volume. For CIM, my biggest week was 34 miles, whereas the Intermediate 2 plan will peak at 50 miles.
  • Longer midweek runs. For CIM, I moved the Wednesday runs to Friday, but I never did the prescribed distance (up to 8 miles). One thing I wanted to do in this 2nd training cycle was to increase my endurance by doing midweek 8-10 mile runs, which is what the Intermediate 2 plan calls for.
  • Back-to-back long runs on weekends. There are THREE 30 mile weekends (10 miles on Sat, 20 miles on Sun). This sounds intimidating, but again, I think that running on tired legs will help me in the end.
  • More running days. The Novice 2 plan has 4 days of running, 2 days of rest, and 1 cross-training day vs. the Intermediate 2 plan with 5 running days, 1 day of rest, and 1 cross-training day.

I trained 17 weeks for CIM, and my MCM training plan is 18 weeks long. One very intimidating factor is the difference in total mileage. For CIM, I ran a total of almost 414 miles, whereas this new cycle has a grand total of 643 miles. Now, you may be thinking: “Sounds like a big jump, Jen. Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Well, yes, you’re right, it’s a huge leap, but here’s what I’m thinking:

  • I’m going into this training cycle with a solid base, unlike last year, when I had just come back from a 3+ week vacation with no running, and spent the first few weeks gradually getting up to 20+ miles.
  • I’m not going to follow the plan to a T if it doesn’t suit me… whether that means switching runs around (which I’m already doing in week 1), or if I’m feeling burnt out or injured. I’m definitely willing to take a rest day or cut back… mostly because I *know* I can finish a marathon with 400 miles of training. The extra 240 will just be icing on the cake.
  • I’m not making any time goals until closer to MCM. This means a lot of low intensity miles for a majority of my runs. I’m tinkering with the idea of heart rate training to keep my easy runs truly easy. More on that later.

As I start a new marathon training cycle, there are a lot of things I’m looking forward to. For one thing, I’ve already planned some long runs with friends, which is always more fun than going it alone. Second, I’m looking forward to the challenge of back-to-back runs and pushing/testing my training volume. Finally, I hope to use my long runs to explore new trails and running paths.

Then, of course, there are the things I’m sorta dreading — the negative impact on my social life, being consistently vigilant about what I’m eating/drinking, and the never-ending pile of laundry. But, hopefully, it’ll all be worth it come October 27th!


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in MCM, Training
14 comments on “8 miles down, 635 to go
  1. Sounds like a great plan! I love Hal Higdon’s training plans and his running advice. I’m sure your sacrifices will be well worth it!

  2. 278toBoston says:

    Great post. I would love running MCM one day. My dad ran it 17 times before he had to stop at age 74. Congratulations on your training. On October 28th you can rest. 🙂

    • Jen says:

      That’s awesome that your dad ran 17 (!!) MCM’s. I’ve heard it’s a great race and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to run it.

  3. Holy Moly! I cap at like 580 miles – you’re such a baller. I couldn’t bring myself to go up to intermediate.

  4. Cathryn says:

    That’s a lot of miles! You’re going to rock it!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks Cathryn! It IS a lot of miles – it will bring me over 1000 miles for 2013 by the end of it. I’ll actually be pretty happy if I can run 90% of the mileage without injury or burnout.

  5. Angela says:

    So excited for you! I definitely want to run this race some day. Good luck with your training!

  6. Dominick S. says:

    Oh man, I am teetering between the two programs. Summer heat is making me thinking I may stick with the novice program and tweak it a bit to make a hybrid version of Hal’s very strict Intermediate 2. I need my rest days! Ughhh…my training starts today either way. Congrats on taking on the challenge, either way, you are going to be ready for a PR come October!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Dominick! I think the most important thing is to make the plan fit your personality and your lifestyle. If you want 2 rest days, go for it!!

  7. Amy says:

    I’m a big fan of those 30 mile weekends. A lot of people will tell you that you’re crazy (and you will feel crazy and sometimes murderous), but I really think they helped me build up endurance.

    • Jen says:

      I actually thought of you when I saw the 30 mile weekends! If it wasn’t for your experience, I probably would think they were super crazy too. (though maybe I should wait until after I run one to make any statements)

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