Training for the Training

I know I said I’d write about non-running stuff – and I will! But first, a little training update. CIM is just under 13 weeks away, which means I’m only a week away from the start of official marathon training. In the past, I’ve followed training plans in the 16-18 week range, but I decided to go with a shorter 12-week cycle this time. Why? For one thing, I was really close to burn out at the end of Summer Breeze Half training. It turns out that continuously training throughout the year, with only 1-2 week breaks between goal races isn’t a great idea. (DUH.) So, I really needed these past 4 weeks to get out of training mode, sleep in a little, and *not* follow a plan.

Secondly, because I’ve been training all year, my mental and physical fitness entering marathon training probably exceeds any previous cycle by a long shot – maybe with the exception of Santa Rosa. Here’s a snapshot of what I can remember from past road marathons:

  • CIM (2012): Started running seriously that year, and entered training with my longest runs at 13 miles. I remember having back pain from my first 10-miler of the training cycle just because my core wasn’t used to regular long runs.
  • MCM (2013): Raced A LOT that year, but probably did too many of my runs too slowly and on trails. Hit the mileage goals in my training plan, but with little or no quality. Not enough race specific training.
  • Oakland Marathon (2014): This wasn’t a goal race – I got to run it for free and I thought I’d use it for a training run for Big Sur. Big mistake. I went out too fast and bonked pretty badly in the last 10 miles, then I had to take extra time off afterwards to recover.
  • Big Sur (2014): This was the weirdest training cycle. I got really fast, PR’ing at the half marathon distance 2 months before, but didn’t have a very strong aerobic base. I managed to do OK – not a personal worst, but it’s a tough course.
  • Santa Rosa (2015): I PR’d by 11 minutes with no road-specific training. All of my fitness came from training for the Big Basin 50K. It helped that I signed up only a month in advance and had no pressure going into the race.

Having trained and raced a 5K, 10K, and half marathon this year and PR’ing in all of those distances has built up my fitness and speed gradually over the course of 2016. I’m taking the lessons that I’ve learned about what kind of training best suits me into CIM training too.

Anyway, so the title of this post – “Training for the training” – comes from Greg McMillan. The idea is that you have to train your body for the training. Don’t go in cold turkey; e.g., doing Yasso 800’s in week 1 when you haven’t done *any* speedwork for weeks is probably a terrible idea (for most people). Most of my runs over the past two weeks have been in the easy/aerobic range; I wanted to keep my heart rate low as I recovered from a head cold. I was also back in base-building mode and wanted to increase my mileage gradually over a few weeks, going from 17 weekly miles (when I was still sick) to 25 miles last week to 30 miles this past week. This is so I don’t shock my system when I start doing 40 miles/week two weeks into my training plan. Also, this past week, I started to add a bit of speed, so as to get my neuromuscular system used to running faster again. I added short doses of speed with plenty of rest between intervals — strides to my run on Tuesday, and a set of 10 fartleks on Thursday.

The other part of my running “reset” has been seeking out new places to run and arranging for running dates. Last week, I ran 10+ miles with Cathryn in Foster City. Today, I ran almost 13 with Layla and Kristen in Pleasanton. Both times, the miles flew by and were so much more enjoyable than my usual solo slog at the Hayward shoreline. Plus, there was brunch after – always a good motivator!


Kristen and Layla running it in to complete 13 miles (after I was lazy and threw in the towel at 12.7)

One last week “off” before CIM training begins. Then it’s time to get serious! 😉 Hope you’re all having a fantastic holiday weekend!


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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On the docket…

9/2/18: Race to the End of the Summer 5K
4/28/19: London Marathon

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