Let's Get Serious About Marathon Training

It's time to get out of my comfort zone and seriously start training for the Big Sur Marathon. Being a first time marathoner, I am anxious and nervous about the race and my body's ability to run 26 miles at one time. I'm sure many of you can relate to setting out on your first marathon training schedule and feeling overwhelmed by the time and dedication that goes into it. Then, there's really 2 paths (in my mind) to take - traditional or Hanson.

I've been reading quite a bit about Hanson's Marathon Method, and know that many people have found great success in improving their time. When I signed up for my first half marathon, the training regimen I found suggested getting your longest run in at 12 miles, 2 weeks before the race. I liked this idea because it allowed me to be certain I could make it the entire way. At that point, what's 1 more mile, right? So should the marathon be any different? Hanson's method has quite a hefty weekly mileage count even on the beginner's plan, but the longest run is only 16 miles. I think mentally, I need to go with the traditional training plan that gets your mileage up to 20 or 22 for the longest run. Once I have one marathon under my belt, I'll consider the Hanson Method and work on improving my time. This first race is just about finishing.

This doesn't mean I won't be incorporating some of the Hanson Method into my training. I plan on doing 1 speed workout and 1 tempo run each week. I'll do weight training 3x's a week, with 4 to 5 days of running. Five runs would be ideal, but I also want to cross train with spin/cycle. Here's what my typical week should look like:

  • Saturday: Long Run
  • Sunday: Body Works/Weight Lifting
  • Monday: Tempo Run
  • Tuesday: Weight Lifting (morning)/Spin or Easy Run (night)
  • Wednesday: Run
  • Thursday: Weight Lifting (morning)/Speed or Hill Run (night)
  • Friday: Rest Day

The hill and speed work is going to be crucial to my training. Big Sur's course is filled with hills. One in particular from mile 10-12. Two full miles, almost a straight up hill. Let's be real. That is crazy. If I want to break 4 hours (which I also realize is quite a lofty goal for my first full marathon), I need to make hills and speed training a priority.

Big Sur Marathon Course Elevation

Big Sur Marathon Course Elevation

The next issue is time. We all have so little of it, which is why it's taken me 5 years of serious running to get beyond the half marathon distance. I've bought a training journal with some inspirational words, and think this will help me document my runs, workouts, and nutrition in more detail to determine when I do well and when I feel like junk. It will also help me stick with my weekly schedule. I put my workouts on every calendar. It goes on my work calendar in Outlook, in my iPhone calendar, and in my training journal (at least for the last week since I've had it). I plan my weeks well in advance too, and inputting workouts in my phone calendar has helped me stick with my half marathon training plans up to now. With the training journal, I'll be able to remember how I feel, how a workout went and if what I ate maybe affected my performance. I have to keep my end goal in mind every week through this long process because I know it's not going to be easy.

I'd love to hear what's worked for you during your training for your first full marathon, and any tips or advice you may have is very much appreciated!