I ran more miles during that training than I ever have, with my two highest mileage months ever leading up to the race. The high mileage worked and I'm sticking with it for my December and January marathons.
I just finished writing my training plan and I'm both excited and slightly terrified of it. It will require constant, unrelenting running (imagine that), consistent strength training, a super strong core, and throughout all this I need to NOT GET INJURED. Hence the consistent strength training and super strong core. I've been running marathons for 8+ years...time to stop beating around the bush and instead throw myself into a training cycle that will seriously push my boundaries.
So how am I approaching this training cycle?
The plan starts in mid-July. The first marathon, Mississippi Gulf Coast, hits at the end of Week 21. Then five weeks later I run the second marathon, Louisiana. I don't necessarily need six months of training, but writing out those early weeks to ensure I get proper base mileage works well for me. When the harder weeks of actual training hit in August and September I will know I am ready.
Because it's peak of summer during those first weeks, there will be crosstraining in the form of cycling and (hopefully) swimming. I say "hopefully" because I am the world's most pathetic triathlete and I haven't even gotten in the pool. I actually got back on my bike this week and mostly enjoyed it, so that needs to continue. Ideally I want to be on my bike two times per week. Not exactly hardcore triathlon training but good for marathon training, and especially good for injury prevention. Somewhere in here a sprint triathlon would be so great.
The plan builds in mileage until I am consistently running 40+ mile weeks. I peak at 50 miles three weeks before Mississippi. At 180 miles, November will be my highest mileage month ever. Between October and November I will run 355 miles. I WILL WEAR OUT A PAIR OF RUNNING SHOES IN ONLY TWO MONTHS (Sorry, husband). In the 15 days leading up to and including my 22 mile run, I will run 117 miles. I'm going to need more tacos.
Faster runners run more than I will be running, but I am not fast (yet). I will be on my feet for hours upon hours every week, so 50 miles in my peak week sounds about right to me. For Louisiana I ran 42 miles peak week, and about 100 in the 15 days or so leading up to and including my 22-miler. I do anticipate being a bit faster for this training cycle (and if everything comes together like I hope, I will be quite a bit faster). We are upping the game this time around. For my last few marathons I've run three 20-22 milers and I will stick to that formula as it's worked very well for me, much better than those early marathons when I ran only one 20-21 miler. Probably going to also need more bacon.
I'm running five days per week. For years I ran 4 days per week, but enough with that nonsense. The back to back running days for Louisiana training did wonders for my mental strength. While the high mileage weeks were hard, they got easier as the training progressed and I got better and better on fatigued legs. I still remember finishing my 22 miler in that training cycle and feeling relief at a job well done. I had pushed through the the hardest part of my plan, and the 22 miler fell on the worst weather day all week, 100% humidity and topping out at 75 degrees when I was finished....which pretty much saved my ass when Louisiana's weather was identical on race day. Not only had I prepared my legs, but my head told me I could do it and that is half the battle on race day.
There is no way I will be able to accomplish this kind of training if I don't continue clean up other parts of my life. I completely changed how I fueled last year and it worked very well. My health improved dramatically. I will continue on that path, and continue to improve it further. Consistent hydration will be key, especially in those earlier summer months. The heat really won't leave the area until October so I'll have plenty of long runs in less-than-ideal temps. I can't screw up my hydration.
I am not overweight at all, but I will need to be leaner. I want to be faster and at my very fastest a few years ago I was quite lean and strong and I plan to get back to that. I felt great and running faster was much more effortless and I seriously miss that. I do need to remind myself that I wasn't even 40 then and I'm 43 now (turning 44 when I run Louisiana). Age might play a factor but I'm going to fight it as best as I can. I've already started the changes I need to make and I'm feeling great about them. I've had some really good gym sessions in the weeks since my March relay, and it's starting to show. My weight has dropped while my strength has increased. Planning ahead will be key but I'm not super consistent with that. Always room for improvement!
Sleep. I need to sleep. So much sleep. Naps are great.
RECOVERY IS SO IMPORTANT. I need to keep repeating that to myself. RECOVERY RECOVERY RECOVERY. Rest days need to remain rest days. Post-run fueling, foam rolling, stretching can't be skipped. I must remain injury free. My imbalances have really pissed me off in recent years but through every training cycle I understand them more and more. I have learned so much on what to apply to my strength and core training to fight these imbalances and keep my body running well. Did I mention there needs to be consistency? I might be a broken record but I have to keep telling myself this.
It's daunting to think of running through the Texas summer and yet trying to get faster. I might not see gains right away or very consistently, but with added lean muscle and (hopefully) fewer pounds on my frame I know those gains will show in spades as the cooler weather comes in the fall.
Writing all of this out is helping me to see the big picture. I'm still slightly terrified of the work ahead of me, but strangely excited. It will forever be so weird to me that this girl who never really did any sports growing up (well, I tried and I kind of sucked) is talking about running 800 miles in the second half of the year and tackling two more marathons by the time I hit my next birthday. Pretty damn cool.
Bring on the tacos.