I’ve had a lot of success with the FIRST training method, which advocates only running three days a week and cross-training two other days. The days that you do run, they are pretty intense, but there is plenty of time between runs to adequately recover. I have used the FIRST training program for over two years and have brought my marathon PR time down to 3 hours and 12 minutes. I remained injury-free for the most part while executing the plans and the weekly mileage peaked around a very manageable 40 miles. So after experiencing so much success under this program, why would I want to change anything?
Well, as much as I advocate the FIRST method, I think I’ve pretty much reached my limit on seeing any substantial improvements if I continue with the program. I’m 41 years old and I still believe I have a couple years to improve my times as a marathoner. I could probably squeeze a few more minutes of improvement if I continued with the FIRST method, but if I want to take my marathon running to another level, I will need to change and modify my approach. When I say “take my marathon running to another level,” I’m hoping to improve my PR by 7 to 12 minutes.
So the next question, which I’m still seeking an answer to, is what new method should I adopt? Right now I’m reading Pete Pfitzinger’s book “Advanced Marathoning” and will probably follow that up with Jack Daniels’ book “Daniels’ Running Formula”. This should provide me a solid foundation, based upon scientific principles, to put together a solid training cycle plan for a fall marathon. I’m also intrigued by the Hanson Marathon Method and a book will be published on it this October.
Regardless of what method I choose to go with, inevitably I’ll end up running more miles to bring my running to a new level. This concerns me a bit because I find that I become injury prone when mileage starts trending above a certain threshold. So whatever plan I craft for my next marathon training cycle, I’ll need to be sure to ease into the increased mileage and allow for enough rest and recovery.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve have begun adding short easy runs (3 to 5 miles) a couple times a week in addition to my normal running schedule. The purpose of this is to begin the adaptation process of increasing mileage. Last week I ran 41 miles and this week I’m on target to run 42 miles. Honestly, I am feeling a bit more fatigued than I usually do, but it may just take a while for the body to adapt to the new stresses.
I still haven’t targeted a fall marathon yet, but will do so within the next couple of weeks. I’m planning on an 18-week cycle (about 4.5 months) this time, which means I’ll need to start training sometime in July. This should me allow plenty of time to read and digest some good books and and crystallize a solid marathon training plan based upon my strengths and weaknesses. More to follow…