I am getting stronger

I am near the end of week 7 of marathon training, and I haven’t been writing too much about how the training itself is going.

Why is that? Well, because it seems as if marathon training is easier than my running schedule was prior to this.

The week before training began I ran 47 miles. The first week of training I ran 24 miles (and that was more than I was supposed to run, per the training schedule. In July (before training) I covered 202.5 miles. In September I’ve run 69 miles so far.

Why am I following this schedule, then, if it’s making me run less?

At the beginning of training I spoke to my brother-in-law, Chuck. He and Jenny ran their first marathon in December. They are both way more active than I am – Jenny’s life has been built around her sports. I could go on and on about how strong she is and how accomplished she is with softball, basketball,  running, coaching, getting someone to pay her to go to school based on her athletic ability, etc. – but that would take an entire blog post.

Anyway, Chuck said something that really spoke to me – he said that he and Jenny had done an intermediate training program, and that was a mistake: Jenny’s knees started hurting several weeks before the marathon, and he thinks she pushed it too hard. She pushed it too hard.

Nevermind that her knees also started hurting around the time she became pregnant, or that she was a month pregnant when she ran the marathon, or that Chuck said if they had run the marathon the month before it would have been perfect, and the month before she happened not to be pregnant.

Even if that could be explained away by pregnancy, what I heard was: Better safe than sorry.

And everything I’ve read about marathon training for a beginner is: Take it easy. Don’t get hurt. Better to be undertrained at the start line than overtrained and injured. Seeing as how before training even started I was dealing with a hurt ankle, I am listening.

And so I’m sticking to my Hal Hidgon novice training schedule, running exactly as long as it tells me to. Trying not to deviate much, or at all. Hanging in there.

The first few weeks were way too easy. Things started getting interesting around week 4, with a 9-mile run. The program I’m following uses a 2-steps-forward-one-step-back approach. Push the mileage up, then dial it back down. Turn it up again, then ease back down. This is all designed to prevent injury.

Other marathon trainers are running 30-40 miles a week on the low end. Some run as many as 100 miles a week (these are what you call “marathon winners.”) Even this week, week 7, will only have me running 24 miles.

I am impatient. Part of why I want to run a marathon is I want to lose weight. How can I lose weight if I’m running 1/2 what I was running before training started? I have not lost a single pound. But, I am weight training and I do realize it’s not all about a number on a scale. And I have noticed changes.

Subtle changes, but they are there. My stomach is getting flatter. My thighs are becoming less jiggle and more toned. My calves impress me, I will say. I look at my legs and I can’t believe they belong to me. My arms are slimming down. This is all in addition to the regular workouts I was doing before training started.

And I have more energy in the day. I can actually wake up before 5 a.m., and I do. Sometimes 4 days a week I do.

For more than a week now, I have not needed to take walk breaks during the run. This is huge for me, as before it was hard for me to even go 3 miles without feeling the need to break. Last Saturday I ran 7 without stopping.

I want to focus on pace – get faster, faster – but I’m reading that it’s not a good idea for first-time marathoners to do. The distance in and of itself is huge, so I need to focus on that. The pace improvements can come during my second marathon training – after I cross the finish line of the first one uninjured.

Tomorrow I will run 12 miles. I have run 12 miles before, 13.1 actually, on a run with Kevin several months ago. I look forward to doing it again – this time with fewer walk breaks (would be awesome if I could take no walk breaks, but it is 12 miles …)

I have 11 weeks to go. I can’t believe training has flown by so quickly. Makes me want to cross the finish line and look at that race calendar and pick my next marathon, pronto. Because surprisingly? This is fun.

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P.S. If you work out and you are not on the Daily Mile, get on there and friend me now. This site is awesome.