Marathon Game Plan & My First (official) Long Run

Well, Saturday I had my first “long” run.

I’m about 15 weeks out from my marathon, and I only *just now* put together a training plan for the Flying Pig Marathon. Oops? I hear you’re supposed to take 18 weeks to train, but seeing as I didn’t even start thinking about my training plan until the end of last week… 15 weeks is gonna have to do!

I’m honestly not too worried about only having 15 weeks. All the plans I’ve looked at show long runs of 5, 6 or 7 miles in the beginning of the 18 weeks. I don’t really feel like I’ve missed too much by skipping out on the first three weeks of training since my running base is pretty strong. Running has never been too much of a challenge for me and I feel like I’m pretty-well built for long-distance running (hellloooo slow-twitch muscle fibers and abnormally lanky limbs).

Look, mom, MONKEY ARMS!

Anyone else suffer from the monkey arm syndrome? No? Just me? Great– moving on.

My “long run” of 10  miles on Saturday didn’t really feel that much different from any other normal run.  Actually, I was only supposed to do 9 miles this past weekend, but I have a strong aversion to the number 9 and therefore felt like tacking on an extra mile just so my Garmin wouldn’t have to be stuck with that number on it. Weird… I know. Go ahead, judge me.


10 miles. Eat my dust.

Here’s the stats:

-Long Run #1 (10 miles)

-Temperature of “feels like 27 degrees”  –> this called for a countless number of snot rockets left and right (y’all cold weather runners know what I’m talkin’ bout… haaaa!). Gotta keep it classy, right?


I’m really glad that I spent some time last week talking with some experienced runners who’ve already completed a few marathons. Jen over at This Runners Trials was a huge help and recommended some great resources (hello,!) I tried to utilize their website to create a personalized training plan, but when I plugged in my average weekly distance (about 45-50 miles), my most recent 1/2 marathon time (2:06) and the race I am aiming to do (a full marathon) it shoved a training plan at me that called for a first long run of 16 miles. Excuse me? Sixteen miles for my first long run? Mmm, let’s try again…

I mentioned this to Jen and she speculated that my average weekly mileage was throwing their system off – it probably thought I was already doing long runs in the double digits on weekends. Nope, sorry…but I don’t roll like that. This girl just likes to do mid-distances.

Needless to say, I quickly dismissed that training plan and looked up a few others. I’ve pretty much settled on a mishmash of Hal Higdon and a plan from the actual Flying Pig website. So I guess you could say that I’m following the no-plan plan. I’m just going to aim to do a certain distance each weekend, and play out the rest of the week by ear with running and cross training. (Oh, and of course weight training, there’s no way I’m letting that fall by the wayside… I’ve come so far!)

Anywho, I’ve realized that  I really need to come to terms with my Sunday’s becoming either rest days or cross training days since my long runs are all going to be on Saturdays (for the most part).  Yoga, anyone?

I think one of the biggest challenges I am going to face with marathon training is  accepting the fact that I will not be able to run everyday like I’ve been used to.  I know that as I work up to building my distance on my weekend long runs… my weekly runs need to get shorter (or I just gotta plain ‘ole skip some days) so that I don’t increase my overall weekly mileage by too much. In fact, I think I’m going to end up cutting down on my weekly mileage, and focus more on cross training. Bet you never expected that… a runner cutting down on her running to train for a marathon?

I kind of picture it like a cellphone plan… you know, like how you have your allocated minutes for the month (except in this case… it will be allocated miles for the week). Once those minutes/miles are used up, they’re gone! No more. Gotta wait ‘til the next week (and plug in cross training instead). So since my body is used to a max of 50miles/week, I’m going to make sure that my weekly mileage stays around there. Going under is fine (and in my opinion, preferable) but I don’t want to go over, as that is just a recipe for overtraining. So there won’t be any of that “roll-over” business you find in phone plans.

“Budgeting- in” these long runs will help me from becoming overtrain/injured. In order for me to do this… I need to either  a) skip a weekday run (or two, or three)  or b) make my weekday runs shorter. Knowing me, I won’t want to make my weekday runs shorter… so I think I will just plain ‘ole skip some weekday runs.

So why is this whole ‘skipping some weekday runs’ thing going to be the toughest part? Well, remember when I talked about how  running is my therapy…my saving grace? Yeah. I need to do something that will give me a peace of mind, fill that empty space during the weekdays mornings when I’m not running. And this is where I think yoga and Pilates will come in. And this is where I need you guys to come in, too!

1.) I need y’all to hold me accountable and make sure I am not going out on runs during the week just because I miss running. I’ll get my fix on the weekends.  (And avoid injury in the process…hopefully).

2.) I would love for y’all to give me tips and advice on how/when/where to incorporate yoga and Pilates into my life! Are there any websites out there that have free videos? Any (cheap-ish) DVD’s you can recommend?

3.) And if you live in the Charlotte area and would like to keep me company on one of my weekend long runs (for any part of it… even if it’s just the at the end of one of my 20 mile runs) please let me know! I’d love the company Smile

So yes, I think physically… I’ll be ready for the marathon. Heck, I feel like I could probably go out and run it tomorrow and be able to finish. My cardio base is definitely there. And mentally? I am definitely well on my way to getting there. I think I’m going to be peeing my pants in excitement every time I reach a mile-marker I’ve never hit before. Good thing that I’ll be running a couple 20 milers. This way, when it comes time for the actual marathon… I’ll only have 6 miles of pee-my-pants worthy excitement (aka miles 21-26.2).

Gosh, I am so ready for this. And I am so EXCITED!

Now it’s time for me to work on that mental toughness. So bring on the cross training (and the stretching)!!!!


They call this "the stick." It is magical.

Question: For those of you who are training/have trained for something, how do you increase your mileage? Do you plan out a running route before hand? Or do you simply just wing-it? Do you prefer an out-and-back or would you rather have fresh scenery the whole time? I myself prefer out-and-backs… I like to mentally be able to visualize the “halfway” point, and the out-and-back is perfect for that since you literally have an ending point and then retrace your route (sometimes I do switch it up a little on the return, though)



Filed under Cincinnati, goals, marathon, my story, running, weights

35 responses to “Marathon Game Plan & My First (official) Long Run

  1. I always plan my routes out before I go, especially for long runs that way I don’t get caught somewhere toward the end of the run and have to try to mentally figure out where else I can run to tack one extra mileage. If I know before hand my exact route I can turn off my mind and just enjoy my run without having to stress about making sure I’m getting enough miles.

  2. Congrats on the 15-week marathon plan. I give you so much credit for being able to do this!! I wish I had the monkey arm syndrome haha! I’m the opposite! I love my Denise Austin Yoga Buns DVD. I also have an Ana Caban pilates DVD which is pretty good 🙂 I wish I lived in Charlotte. Stuck in super cold Chicago now. If I was there, I’d keep you company!

  3. That pic reminds me of the spirit stick in bring it on!!!

    Yoga One and Y2 Yoga offer some $5 classes on Sundays, let me know if you ever wanna go. So not a runner 🙂

  4. You can do it!!
    Groupon is a great resource for finding new yoga/pilates packages.
    Also, maybe on days you’d normally do a weekday run, set aside time to do something else relaxing, reading a magazine, meditating? playing with Happy. That kind of thing, so you still feel destressed.

  5. First of all, you are so cute! Second, that is SO exciting that you are a running a marathon and it sounds like you are right where you need to be! Third, I’m excited to follow along as you train for the next 15 weeks! 🙂

  6. That’s funny that you have an aversion to the number 9… it’s my lucky number!! 🙂

  7. You go girl! You are going to rock that marathon! I wish I lived close by so I could run the last 3 miles with you (’cause girl, that’s about as far as this chica can make it, haha!).

    • Ahhh haha I’d love for you to run with me! Happy and Oreo would have a ball 🙂 Is Oreo a runner!? PS…I thiiiiink you and Ryan’s mom may live in the same town. If so, we need to meet up the next time we head out that way!

  8. Jen

    Good luck! Everyone’s experience during marathon training is so different. I take forever to recover fully from long runs and found I could only handle 4 days of running and one day of yoga each week. It was odd cutting back for marathon training but it worked for me. Good luck!

  9. congrats; that’s amazing! 10 miles is great. I have a stick too (snicker) and love it. thanks for all your support and comments!

  10. So funny we both posted about this on the same day.

    We have too much in common… slow-twitch muscle fibers, loving the out-and-backs, monkey arms and all!

    I’m like you.. we’re kind of always in training. I prefer to do long runs all the time, so working on a schedule isn’t that different. I’m gonna go with what feels good to my bod since that’s never failed me in the past. 😉

  11. so I thought I commented earlier but have been having some difficulty pressing submit I guess. 10 miles is awesome; YAY YOU!!!

  12. That “stick” looks like it would really soothe sore muscles, is that what it is for?
    Girl you got this marathon thing! Congratulations for you and all your running skills 🙂

    • YES! My boyfriend bought it at the expo for the last half marathon I ran… it’s called “The Stick” and runners swear by it! It is just as good as a foam roller (I actually like it better b.c. it’s not as bulky and you can take it on the road much easier). It’s great to use on the IT band…calf muscles, even your back and arms! I’ve even rolled my feet over it…feels like a foot massage. It’s pretty much one of my favorite pieces of exercise equipment.

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  14. Meg

    I’ve never trained before but I can imagine it’s quite the process; you’ve got so many people here to cheer you on, though 🙂 Your plans sound awesome and it’s GREAT that you’re so excited!


  15. I also have long monkey arms! We just gotta own it girl. 😉 ha.
    And “the stick” is the best thing on the planet, so much better than foam rolling!

  16. I have a weird thing with odd numbers, like the number 9, too, haha. On another note, pilates is one of my favorite workouts…I really like the Winsor Pilates DVDs. Mari Winsor has a lot of different varieties, including a 20-minute workout that is great for getting in a quick session. Here’s a link to one set of DVDs I use:

  17. Hi! I just found your blog! 🙂 I always end up doing out-and-back because of the way my neighborhood is set up. I am thinking of doing the flying pig 1/2 marathon (I live in Ohio, but not near Cincinnati), but it’s been so cold here I haven’t been able to run at all. The other day the temp was close to zero! Good luck in your training!

    • Oh my goodness, zero!??! I can’t even imagine… I don’t blame you for not running! You should totally sign up for for the 1/2 Flying Pig! I hear it’s such a great race!!!! And yes, out-and-backs are by far my favorite

  18. I love the “Monkey Arms” picture! I have long limbs as well, and have been nicknamed Monkey Arms since as long as I can remember!

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