My 3 Phase Inline Marathon Training Plan
In an earlier blog post, I talked about my previous half-baked inline half marathon plan. I learned the hard way that I need a solid training plan to reach my goals. This time around, here is my three-phase training plan to achieve my inline skating marathon related goals:
Phase II: Increasing Endurance Through Cardio
Once I increased my overall level of activity, it was time to work on my endurance. I went in with the following high-level goals:
The Running (Wo)man
I started out thinking I would totally do three different things in this phase of training. It really ended up being all about the running. For 12 weeks, 3-4 times per week, 30-60 minutes a shot, I focused on running. I used the foam roller, yoga, and walking to recover, and a wee bit of inline skating as cross training, but otherwise, I ran intervals, and then longer distances.
Running a 5K
In order to get myself to focus on running, I committed to running a 5K run at the end of April. I knew I would have to work up to being able to run that long and that far.
To give my training structure, I used RunBet. Like StepBet (which I used in Phase I of my plan), RunBet is and app that organizes 6-week challenges to help individuals improve their running. The starter RunBets focus on getting participants to run 3-4 times per week at a pace of 18 minutes per mile or faster. I used two separate challenges to create a regular running habit and increase my distance. Each RunBet challenge costs $40.00 to enter. As long as you complete the RunBet challenge by meeting your goals for each week, you're guaranteed to earn back your $40.00 and usually a bit more. Holding my $40 hostage pending me completing tasks is enough to motivate me to get the job done.
Building The Running Habit
My first RunBet was a 5K challenge. This involved running 3-4 times per week and increasing mileage systematically to get up to the full 5K (3.2ish) mile distance. I walked a good chunk of this, then, as time went on, alternated running and walking. Since it was still cold and/or rainy during much of this time, I was doing nearly all of my running on a treadmill at the gym. The biggest takeaway from this was running/walking consistently.
My second RunBet was a Weight Loss Challenge. My goal, though, wasn’t weight loss. It was to continue the momentum from my first RunBet so that I would continue to run the 3-4 times per week to do more actual running. (I’m at the point in life where I’m not focusing on weight loss, but overall health and wellness.) This challenge was a little different because it focused on running time rather than mileage. I still needed to hit an 18 minutes or less per mile pace, and each day included 30 minutes of running, but no distance requirement.
RunBet and Couch to 5K
While I had the going-to-the-gym habit down, I needed to get more running into my running. However, my goal was to run—not just walk—3.2 miles without stopping. This meant I needed to have some kind of a system for running. I used the legit Couch to 5K app. (Please note—there are several versions of couch to 5K, and some of them assume you have a way higher fitness level than what I would consider “couch.”)
While the RunBet app got me to the gym and on the treadmill, Couch to 5K helped me use the time when I was there well. The app basically systematically times out intervals of running and walking. This helped me build up my endurance in a systematic way.
Running Mindset: Stop Trying to Go Fast
As I was getting closer to the end of my second RunBet, I started reading the book 80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster By Training Slower. This was excellent timing. As I was working on running longer intervals, I found that it was really hard for me to run for very long. I learned that I was making a common mistake that many recreational runners make--I was trying to run too fast and trying to increase my ability to go a longer distance at the same time.
This book gave me permission to slow down and stop trying to run fast right away. Instead, I now know that it is better (because science) to run slow for about 80% of the time I train, and faster for only 20% of my workouts. By finding a running pace that was sustainable for longer, I was able to run for extended periods of time without burning out. It also helped correct my general mindset about exercise. I think I always need to push myself to work harder and stretch myself each and every time I work out. This book reinforced the value of being deliberate and planful rather than always pushing. Had I not read this book, I do not think I would have been able to run the whole 5K.
After my second RunBet was complete, I had one week until my 5K. I was a little concerned because I had not run the full 3.2 miles. In short, I did pretty much all of my running inside, and, well, running on a treadmill is REALLY BORING for going more than about a half hour at a shot. I ran outside to make sure that I was able to run 5K. I went at a reasonable pace and was able to run the entire distance. I also spent most of my time the week before the event taking it slow. I ran one day, walked 3.2 miles another day, did some yoga, and rested. This recovery helped me to do well the day of the event.
I Ran 5K!
The day of the event, my husband and I ran together. He is a big advocate of long slow distance when it comes to running, so I went at his pace. Running with him helped me slow down and find a pace that was sustainable for the whole distance. He and I even had a good conversation during the event, and I enjoyed the crowd, the other runners, and seeing people achieve a their goals whether it was beating a personal record, running a race, or walking with family members. At the end, I got my very first finisher medal. It was a nice milestone to end this part of the training.
What Do You Think?
How have you prepared for a 5K or other athletic event? Share your thoughts in the comments.
I learn for a living. I distill my research into useful blog entries. Geek, parent, knitter, yogi, writer, educator, businessperson, health advocate, & skating nerd.