Chasing Boston – The Plan

As many of my readers are already aware, I’m currently training for the Pocono Marathon coming up May 20th of this year.  My number one objective for the race is to qualify for Boston.  Based on my age, the cutoff time for me is 3 hours, 10 minutes.  I am shooting for a time much below this cutoff, but if things go south out on the course, this qualifying time will continue to lurk in the back of my mind, providing the baseline through which success or failure will ultimately be determined.

I don’t plan on just showing up for the race, and hoping for the best.  Even the most talented runners approach the marathon with a healthy respect, and a well formulated plan.  I could have acquired a training plan from among the many thousands likely floating around the internet.  I could have chosen to Run Less, Run Faster, or committed myself to dedicated heart rate training.  I could have supplied Runner’s World with my recent race times, mileage, and preferred long run day and received a comprehensive weekly plan.

But, seeing as I’m a health and physical education teacher, having taken and passed courses in biomechanics, kineseology, concepts of conditioning, and excise physiology, to name a few.  I decided to make my own plan.  Plus, writing out a training plan is just plain fun; considering variables like mileage, intensity, race goals, and training time constraints, is one type of puzzle I really enjoy.

In reality, it need not be all that complicated, as there are only 7 days available per week, it really just boils down to running…A LOT.  In fact, more then I’ve ever ran before.

Can I stay healthy, and motivated?  Will my legs respond or will they slowly descend into a fatigued funk comprised of lactic acid and constant muscle soreness?

Or will I respond, as increased training makes me feel stronger, motivation increases, and the legs become hardened to the task, creating an insatiable desire for MORE?

These are questions that can only be answered by the process and by the results achieved on race day.

The Plan – HuskyRun

Seeing as nearly everyone attempts to create a catchy name for the training programs that they develop, and since I wrote a sparsely read article called Be an Animal, I’ve decided my training plan will be named HuskyRun as I can think of no other animal that seems to get as much pure joy out of running then the Husky.

My plan is built on three pillars which are; high mileage through multiple runs per day, undulating periodization allowing each week to focus on a different training component which includes aerobic base, threshold, and interval training.  Finally, the 3rd pillar is an area often overlooked by runners, which is a focus on bodyweight strength and plyometric exercises.

High Frequency – when writing out my schedule for each week, I list one run on both Saturday and Sunday, and two runs for each weekday.  This provides me with up to 12 runs per week.  Seeing as I’m not a professional, and I have kids, a wife, and a job, I don’t expect to actually run that many times every week.  I’ve intentionally built some slack into the system so that a missed workout doesn’t sink the entire week or cycle.  Out of those 12 potential runs, I need to run at least 9 times.  By setting the bar high with 12 opportunities, I allow each run to be a bit shorter, and if I miss one or two, I can simply lengthen a different run in order to still achieve my weekly volume goals.

Undulating Periodization – Using this method, each week will focus specifically on one of three areas.  Aerobic base training (1), Threshold training(2), and Interval Training(3).  Each week I focus on a different component, while the volume for each week also increases.  However, the volume for Threshold, and Interval weeks is less then the Aerobic base weeks, allowing me to take one step forward, then a smaller step back, before stepping forward again.  Here is an example of the pattern.  1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 2, 1, 3 and so on.

Bodyweight and Plyometrics – As I mentioned previously in my post HuskyRun, A strength training program for runners, I am including strength and plyometrics work on a daily basis.  I have two other variations of the program that I’ve already shared and I adjust them daily.  The goal is to develop both strength and power without adding bodyweight.  This added strength should help me maintain good running form, increase power through a stronger core and lower back and improve running economy.

Weekly Outline – Race Day May 20th

January 1 – 27 – Focused Aerobic Base training

Currently, my long run pace has been just over 7 min per mile so if the minutes drive you nuts, you can calculate approximate distance.  At this pace, my longest run occurs 4 weeks from race day and will be 20 miles or just over, as my training pace should decrease as the weeks go by.  I’m also considering a half marathon on May 5th, this would be a training race.

Jan 28 – 16 Weeks until race day

  1. Jan. 28 – Feb. 3 – Intervals, 50 – 70 min per day, 75 min Long Run, Saturday Fartlek 10×2 min with 2 min RI.
  2. Feb. 4 – 10 – Base, 70-90 min per day, 100 min Long Run, Saturday Fartlek 3×10 min with 3 min RI.
  3. Feb. 11 – 17 – Threshold, 60-80 min per day, 85 min Long Run, Saturday Fartlek 3×12 with 3 min RI.
  4. Feb. 18-24 – Base, 70-90 min per day, 110 min Long Run, Saturday Fartlek 3×15 with 3 min RI.
  5. Feb. 25 – Mar. 3 – Intervals, 55-75 min per day, 75 min Long Run, Saturday Fartlek 10×1 min with 45 sec RI.
  6. Mar. 4 – 10 – Base, 80-95 min per day, 115 min Long Run, Saturday Farlek 2×20 min with 3 min RI.
  7. Mar. 11 – 17 – Threshold, 65-85 min per day, 100 min Long Run, Saturday Fartlek 3×15 with 3 min RI.
  8. Mar. 18 – 24 – Base, 80-95 min per day, 115 Long Run, Saturday Fartlek 2×30 with 5 min RI.
  9. Mar. 25 – 31 – Intervals, 60-80 min per day, 80 min Long Run, Saturday Fartlek 12×2 with 45 sec RI.
  10. April 1 – 7 – Base, 85-95 min per day, 130 min Long Run, Saturday Fartlek 2×30 with 5 min RI.
  11. April 8 – 14 – Threshold, 70-85 min per day, 110 min Long Run, Fartlek 3×12 with 2 min RI.
  12. April 15 – 21 – Base, 85-95 min per day, 140 Long Run, No Fartlek – just easy run
  13. April 22 – 28 – Intervals, 60-80 min per day, 90 min Long Run, Saturday Fartlek 10×3 min with 30 sec RI.
  14. April 29 – May 5 – Base, 65-85 min per day, 105 min Long run, Saturday Farlek 3×15 min with 2 min RI.
  15. May 6 – 12 – Taper – 45 – 60 min per day, 70 min Long Run, No Fartlek
  16. May 13 – 19 – Taper – 35 – 45 min per day, 50 min Long Run, No Fartlek

May 20 – Race Day!

What do you think?  All runners love to talk training plans, surely some of you have thoughts as to the wisdom or lack thereof concerning my plan, share your thoughts, help me make it better!


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