Picking a Plan

MyAsics - Get Your Plan

Somehow I went to sleep sometime in January and woke up in July!  Does it feel like the summer is just flying by to anyone else?!

I took a minute to figure out how long I have until my next big event – and was shocked to find out that the Philadelphia Marathon (November 17th) is 4 months and 10 days from this Sunday!

That’s 19 weeks.

133 days.

3192 hours.

191,520 minutes.

OK, you get the idea.  It’s soon.  And I haven’t picked a training plan yet!

I always feel a little stuck when it comes to deciding on a plan for marathon training.  It seems like I’m always somewhere between beginner and intermediate – but there aren’t many plans that cater to that.  I think I have a good cardio fitness base right now, which makes the first weeks of many beginner plans kind of superfluous.  At the same time, I definitely am not an intermediate, nor do I have the time to commit to the hours of training that many intermediate plans require.

I know that Hal Higdon’s beginner plans are really popular for people who are starting to train for a marathon.  I’ve checked out his other free training plans and am strongly considering the Novice 2 or Intermediate 1 plans.  Realistically, I don’t see myself having time to run both weekend days as proposed in the Intermediate 1 plan, so I might end up defaulting to the Novice 2 schedule.

I’ve also investigated the MyAsics training program after reading about it on Run, Hemingway, Run!  (Thanks, Marc!)  It is similar to Hal’s but is customizable based on age, gender, current race times, goal times, event dates, etc.  Pretty cool.  The only downside I see to it so far is that it doesn’t seem to be too flexible once you put in a current race time.  (It seems to presume that your mile split time for the entered race length is the fastest you can run for any length.  I would assume most people are like me in that they can run a 5k at a faster pace than their half-marathon pace, but the MyAsics plan seems to stick to the slower half-marathon pace if that’s the current race time you enter.)

Anyway, I haven’t been great about picking and sticking with plans in the past, which means I’ve never actually “trained” for a marathon, although I’ve run several.  Having a plan this time around would make the post-marathon weeks much more pleasant, I’m sure!   I’d love to hear what everyone recommends and what factors you think are important in picking a plan.  My legs will thank you on November 18th.  😉

Happy Fitness Friday!

BETT

Time for a Little R&R

No, not rest & relaxation, although I’m sure we all wish we had a little bit of that!

Instead, I’m talking about Reset & Rededication.

When I started this blog, I was swept up in the spirit of starting to train for my first triathlon.  I was participating in my gym’s “Lazyman Triathlon,” which kept me swimming, biking, and running nearly every day.  Then, the weather got better, the lazy triathlon ended, school got really busy and end-of-semester testing took off.  All of a sudden the gym held less allure but I didn’t necessarily get outside and get moving on the trails with biking or running either.  I allowed myself to get caught up in the stress and let many of the healthy habits I love fall by the wayside.  I focused on the energy and time it took to workout and eat healthy, rather than on the benefit of that time investment in the form of energy, stamina, and a positive mindset.  For a few weeks now, I’ve been surviving instead of thriving.

Luckily, there’s always another chance to start fresh, and that’s what I’m doing this weekend.  I still have some big events looming on the horizon (one final and really important test plus three or four very busy months of on-the-job-training of sorts) but I’m not going to let them get me off course.  I have no doubt it will be difficult to balance real life and training, but I’m ready to rededicate myself to the goals I had when I started this thing.  Thanks for sticking with me through the weeks of minimal motivation.  Here’s to more positive energy from this point forward!

Never Give Up On A Dream

(Courtesy RunningQuotes)

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to go workout!

BETT

To Monitor or Not To Monitor?

I read this article on RunnersWorld today called “Heart Rate Training – Is It Right for You?”  I have been considering heart rate/GPS training for a while now, but I’m still undecided.

(Don’t be shocked, all of you super-runners out there, but I’ve never gotten into the data dependence thing…)

I almost always run with my trusty basic sports watch.  It’s so basic that I don’t think it even has a lap function!  It’s small, comfy, and easy to use.  Plus, I don’t worry about it getting banged up when I workout because I’m pretty sure it cost less than $15.

With all this training for the upcoming triathlon, however, I’ve been really considering using a heart rate monitor/GPS/combination of the two.  There are a few reasons I haven’t taken the plunge yet.

First, these things can be a pricey for something you don’t know if you’ll like or not.  I’ve found near-new ones on craigslist, though, so that might not be such a hurdle.

Second, I’m unfamiliar with the options, so it’s hard to pick which one would be good.  Do I go for basic?  Should I get a watch that has both GPS functions and heart rate monitoring?  How about multi-sport use?  If I’m going to make the investment, should I get all the bells and whistles, or should I just get something easy to use so it will actually be worth purchasing?

And finally, I have to admit that I have a healthy fear of developing an addiction to split times, exact distances, heart rate zones, etc. that could be helpful at best but distracting and/or discouraging at worst.

What do you think?  Is it worth going for it?  If you use some kind of technology to track your workouts, is there anything you recommend getting or avoiding?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  🙂

BETT

Harvey’s Lake Run – 8.2 Miler

Last Saturday I ran in a fun race in Harvey’s Lake, PA.  It was a very random distance – 8.2 miles – because the course went the whole way around the lake.

Harvey's Lake with Dock

I got to the race with plenty of time to spare since it was a very unfamiliar area for me.  Packet pick-up was a little chaotic, but the volunteers were doing a good job dealing with the crowds.  Luckily for those runners who got there on the later side, there were enough people on hand to pass out t-shirts and bib numbers, there were lots of port-a-johns, and the race officials even held the start for a few minutes to allow everyone to finish registering and get ready to run.  That’s the beauty of running a smaller race, I think!

After a lovely rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner with the local color guard, the race got right underway.

Harvey's Lake - At The Beginning

Once again, I started at the near-back of the pack.  (Must remember to move up a bit at the start…)  I cruised along, listening to my music and enjoying the scenery.  The aid stations were before miles 2, 4, and 6, which was a good way to mentally break up the run.  This clown (yes, an actual clown) was at one of them.

Harvey's Lake - Clown

I know there was a story here.  I just don’t know what it was!  But she was cheering everyone on and giving out high fives, which was great!

At another point I spotted this shirt on a fellow runner and told him how much I liked it.  Enough that I kind-of-creepily took a picture of it.  Oh, well.

Harvey's Lake - Never Gets Easier

“It never gets easier, you just get better.”

I was pretty happy to just run along, focusing on how I felt rather than how on my pace or how I was matching up compared to anyone else.  Between mile 6 and 7, though, I decided that I could definitely finish faster than a few of the people ahead of me.  I passed them one at a time and kept on going, only to have one of them pass me shortly after that.

I ran behind this similarly-paced runner until around mile 7.5, which is when I decided to just go for it.  I don’t often compare my running to anyone else’s but I thought pushing myself to go a little faster would be really beneficial mentally and physically, whether I ended up finishing before the other runner or not.  I surprised myself by hanging on with (what felt like) a much faster pace for the last 1/2-mile plus.  I finished the run quicker than I thought I would – my per mile pace was more than half-a-minute faster than it was for my half-marathon the week before.  Guess pushing myself was worth it!  🙂

To top it all off, there were pancakes for everyone at the end.  It was a nice way to end a great run.

Harvey's Lake - Finish Line Pancakes

BETT

What I Was So Excited About on Thursday

I know I posted a rather cryptic message on Thursday night.  Here’s the explanation.

When I decided to get in gear and register/train for this triathlon, I knew I needed to join a gym that had a pool and good hours.  There was really only one in my area that fit the bill.

Conveniently enough, I found out that the gym had just started a “lazyman triathlon” event right around the time I joined.  Everyone who registered had about a month to complete specified amounts of swimming, biking, and running.  Participants could choose the “Olympic” or “Ironman” distances and were on the honor system to track their own progress.

I thought this would be the perfect project to get me started with a good balance of training in the three different sports AND keep me motivated to go to the gym.  I chose the Ironman category and easily completed the swimming and running distances, but was lagging a bit behind on the cycling.  Not to worry.  You might remember that I did back-to-back bike workouts on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

As you have probably guessed, I finished my lazy Ironman on Thursday afternoon!  You already know about all these workouts from my posts, but here’s the summary:

Lazyman Triathlon Cropped 2

I’m especially happy with the progress I’ve made.  My total exercise for 2013 before March 23rd was probably less than 20 miles of running.  Since March 23rd, I’ve only missed 8 days of swim/bike/run training – and on some of those days I’ve done strength training or Pilates.  Quite the turnaround, I think.  It is great to get into the other disciplines and improve in motivation and endurance in running.  Now I need to find the next thing to keep me motivated and accountable as far as the gym goes.  Suggestions?  😉

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

BETT