Monday, June 7, 2010

Back-to-Back Run Days: Opinions?

Ok so I'm looking at Higdon's Novice 2 program or his Intermediate 1 program.

Novice 2 looks good because it has 4 run days a week which is what I'm used to and 4 days a week keeps me from getting burned out.  It allows me time to rest in between and leaves time for work.  But doing "what I'm used to" isn't necessarily my goal here.  I'm looking to raise my mileage and get more fit.  Also this summer I have a fellowship so don't have to physically appear anywhere during each week--I'll just be working from home.  So I have more flexibility than usual.

Intermediate 1 looks good except there's one thing that concerns me:  he has you doing runs at race pace the day before a long run.  Am I seriously going to be able to, for instance, in week 7, run 7 miles at race pace and then the very next day do a 14 miler??  Holy crikes.  Anytime I do a race-pace run I always have a rest or cross day after that.  I'm afraid I might not be able to *DO* this one... and how demoralizing would it be to start my first marathon training program and feel like I'm failing the whole time from not being able to keep up with the program?  I have to say that as a runner feelings of failure are the biggest thing I battle--more than any kind of physical limit, I know I'm really held back by demoralizing thoughts and negativity.  I should post about that sometime.

But Novice 2 looks easy.  It's very much what I'm used to and thus maybe too easy?  Except that it has 3 runs back to back mid-week and higher mileage, of course (I usually run Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sun... this is getting mixed up a little now that I've been doing Saturday long runs, though...but as you see I'm used to having rest days or cross training between run days).

So should I "man up" and try the more challenging program and see if I can do it?  If I *can* do Intermediate 1, I'd feel a lot more prepared for the race than I would doing Novice 1, I think.

I'm also going to continue my swimming lessons this summer so there will be some swimming mixed in with the program, as long as I can handle it.
Also, I have to confess that I've made a running splurge.  I've been eyeing Vibram Fivefingers literally for a year and a half, and couldn't afford them/didn't want to spend the money, but I promised myself that I could get some if I wanted them when I finished the first bit of my dissertation.  And it's not quite done yet, but it almost is, and these were backordered until mid-June, so it all seems like perfect timing.  And after my brother and 2 other friends have gotten some, I can hardly stand it I'm so green with envy.   So I'll be needing some low-mileage runs as I ease into the barefooting for awhile my midweek runs will have to involve running a loop around my apartment for a shoe-change, or some other sort of plan that injects short runs (and we mean really short here... like you start running 0.5 miles because you have to strengthen your feet and calves.)  This is largely going to be an experiment and I do not have the goal of barefooting this marathon AT ALL... just hopefully working with barefooting to improve my form and correct my overpronation, if possible.  But, more on that later.

Opinions on the training program?  Can a runner like me who's used to putting in only about 25 miles a week seriously adapt to doing a run at pace followed by a long run the very next day?

Really surprising how timid it's making me feel to step out of my half-marathon comfort zone...


  1. I'm sorry that I'm not totally up to date on your running background, but you've been running for a couple years, right? You've been doing half marathons, in addition to shorter distances. I say, go for the intermediate program, because that's really what you are, even though this is your first marathon.

    Also, remember, first of all, that your first race pace run is probably not seven miles and the long run the next day is not 14 miles. (is it?) You will be working up to that. Also remember, that we're talking marathon race pace. Not 5k pace. It's an important distinction and it will be important to run at that pace when race pace runs are scheduled (we tend to run, or try to run, too fast).

    One of the training benefits of running those types of runs back to back is that it teaches you to run tired. That is important when you run 26.2. Pay extra attention to your form when you are tired. You'll be fine. You'll be great!

    Go for it!

  2. Hey! In regards to your post, I'm going to say go for the Novice program. Also, pick up the book Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide (by Hal Higdon) because he will explain this better than I can: Basically too many people are starting their first marathon training program by going too far out of their comfort zones, leading to burn out. Since this is your first time marathoning, how do you even know what your race pace is? You've never raced one, so that part of the Intermediate program shouldn't even factor in at this point. You'll have a "race pace" after you get one under your belt. A marathon race pace is way different than say a 5k or a 10k pace, and you won't know what it is until you've done it.

    Also, thanks again for your kind comments on my blog! I totally wish I could have hooked up with your friend -- perhaps I did see her! Everyone who finished around the same time I did, we all sort of adopted that run/walk technique so we saw a lot of each other and even talked to each quite a bit. :)

    Believe it or not, I'm running another marathon very shortly. It is totally insane and I haven't mentioned it for a specific reason ... I'll get to that later. :) So I have one more than I need to heal up for, then I'm not sure I'll ever do it again. Really, that distance was far too grueling and I'd rather stick with 10-milers and half marathons. Those are so much more "me" & they don't require the huge time and recovery commitments this marathon did!

    On my hands, I wrote things like "Enjoy!" "Smile", "Dig Deep" (what I tell myself when I'm hurting) and "It's only 26.2" (in reference to the people I know who do 50-mile or 100-mile runs -- they make my distance seem puny! It was a fun reminder every time I looked down. :)

    Wow, Vibran Fivefinger running ... you are BRAVE!!

  3. My thought is this: this is your first marathon. Hopefully, you will enjoy it so much that there will be other marathons to come, for which you could train using the Intermediate program. That said, it's not that I don't think you could do the Intermediate program - as the first commenter said, technically I feel like you're an "Intermediate" runner (at least)given your experience. I wouldn't worry about giving either program a try and then deciding based on whether it feels too easy/too hard to switch to the other program. Whenever you feel like a big wuss for not being able to do something related to this, just remember - you're TRAINING FOR A MARATHON. That in itself is awesome!