Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Finny Training Schedule - it's very technical.

So I have this 1/2 marathon coming up, which I obviously have to train for, but I can't choose a training schedule since all the ones I've come across are really high maintenance and require math.

And we know I'm not doing any math. Running is hard enough.

Active and Runnersworld and all those authoritative-type running sites keep saying words like "tempo" and "speedwork" and "HMP" and I've finally come to the conclusion that they're making it too hard. Or, I'm just not hardcore enough to appreciate the intricate benefits of "carbo-loading".

And also, I don't know how far 400 or 600 or 800 yards is when I'm out at 6am in my stretchy pants. If these schedules could be more specific by using landmarks - like, say, from my house to Starbucks - that'd be much more convenient.

Then there's the whole "hill workout" business, which I just don't get. Does anyone have a hill by their house that they know is exactly 600 yards long and is followed by a "flat and fast" 400 yard track? Because I sure don't. And I'm not going out to any of the hills in my area with one of those walking/rolling/chalking mechanisms to pace one out either. Just forget it.

I just have to be realistic about this training thing. I know that even when the training schedule says,

" 20-minute jog. 8 x 400 (at pace specified) with a two-minute recovery jog in between each. Cool down with a 10-minute jog."

,that I'm just going to go out and run whatever distance that works out to be, at one steady (read: fairly slow) pace and then come home and do some abs in the backyard.

I'm not going to look at my watch every five seconds to see when I've hit the 20 minute mark and then try to do eight 400s at some pre-calculated pace while eyeballing my watch to make sure I'm doing exactly two minutes of recovery jogging in between. Not to mention the fact that I doubt I'd be able to keep track of how many of the 400s I'd done. I'm sure I'd lose count around sprint #3 and then end up doing, like four, when I'd get annoyed with the whole process and just go home and throw the ball with the dog.

Plus, I barely know how to use my watch. I would probably F up the buttons somehow and end up restarting the timer to zero thus negating the intricate workout anyway. I thought I bought a fairly basic watch, but it baffles me so regularly with it's flashing lights and tiny beeps and hundreds (four) of buttons that I'm sure there's a way to push the buttons together in a certain sequence to open wormhole to a parallel universe.

What I do understand is long runs. I know that there's supposed to be one long run per week, preferably followed by a day of rest and then some other shorter runs in between. And when you're tired, you should rest and if you're injured (say, with enormous crippling blisters on both feet) you should definitely not run in the rain through puddles no matter how good you feel otherwise.

What I also understand is this: on October 14, 2007 I will run 13.2 miles.

Whether this happens in 2 hours or half a day is of little interest to me, as long as I'm running. That's my only stipulation. I don't want to walk. I want to run the whole thing. Ok, so I might want to walk while drinking some water or trying to man down some Gu, but otherwise, I'm running this bitch.

So, that means that somehow, between now and then, I need to figure out a way to make my body run for 13.2 miles without falling completely apart.

And, I am pretty sure I can do it.

Last weekend I ran seven miles and my big concern was how I could get some new tunes on my iPod before next weekend so that I wouldn't have to keep clicking past The Fray because it is just too slow.

I wasn't in pain. I wasn't dreading looking at my watch to see how long I'd been running and HOW MUCH FARTHER do I have to go. No, I was trotting along (This is my official pace and I don't know how it compares to my HMP so don't ask), taking in the new scenery afforded to me by my newly elongated route, sorting out the week's bullshit and every so often checking in on my parts to see how everyone was faring.

Feet? Are you feeling blistery anywhere? No? Perf.

Legs? Are you feeling tired? Tingly in alarming places? Tight? No? Greeeeeeeeeeeat.

Fingers? Are you feeling hotdog-ish? Yes? Well, that's what happens.

About every mile or so we go through this convo. And, if we can get through it successfully for seven miles then I bet we can do so for 13.2.

So, after all that, I've decided that my training schedule will go as follows:

During the week, do runs of three or four miles at a time and only increase mileage on Saturday, Long Run Day. Like, for instance, I'll prolly run seven miles again this Saturday, just for consistencies sake, and then try to go for eight after that for a couple weeks. Then I'll up it a mile every couple weeks 'till I'm running for a couple hours on Saturdays and covering 13+ miles at a time.

I'm just worried I'm making this too simple and somehow I'm glossing over a crucial piece of training knowledge that would keep me from otherwise wounding myself for life.

Although Donk did tell me about the Gu + water thing (drink water when eating Gu so that kidneys don't shrivel) so I like to think I'm set. But if you see some glaring error in my tactics (comments on my stretchy pants are not welcome) please speak up before I land myself on a stretcher.

Meanwhile, I take solace in the fact that I have $1 in quarters taped to my iPod (so high-tech) in case I need to limp into a 7-Eleven and call Bubba to rescue me from blisters, exhaustion or unforeseen disaster.


  1. Sounds like a good game plan. When I trained for a half a few years ago, I did my long runs on Sunday, limped around the block a few times Monday to "get back on the horse" as they say, did 3 or 4 miles on Wednesdays and Fridays. Sometimes Saturdays, but not often. I'm pretty sure you'll do awesome. Go get 'em.

  2. Finny, I'm not sure if I've ever posted before but I correspond with Kelli enough to feel like I "know" you. Being fellow AB In Stitches SAL pals also means we have that in common. I know nothing of marathons or running and am, in fact, working on decreasing my hatred for things that cause me to breathe heavily (well, not all things of course). I must say, from my highly unprofessional opinion, you are doing an excellent job. I love your blog, you are F-ing hilarious and I have no doubt that if we knew each other we would drink copious amounts of red wine over Taco Bell and laugh until we had to change pants. Keep up the good work.

  3. Hey Finny--I found your blog recently through AfricanKelli and find your posts hilarious! You sound like me not wanting to do the math for running long distances...but I would suggest throwing in some interval'll help build your endurance faster. It can be complicated but the easiest is to just throw in some sprints (8-10 sprints lasting 1 to 2 min with 1 mn rests [jog or walk] between) maybe twice a week. Good luck though and keep posting about your progress! Good for the rest of us in training!

  4. Hey there...I did the US Half in SF a few years ago, and I ended up using a schedule that I found online. The most complicated they got was just miles to run and days for cross-training.

    For the long runs, and I think most (schedules) suggest this, you don't actually go all the way up to 13 miles while you're training. I think the most I did was 10 and then the week before the race, I went back down to "rest." My training schedule was for 12 weeks (I started right after a trip to Italy...can we say gelato butt?) so it was short and worked well.

    I think if you're doing 3-5 miles on your normal runs (2-3 times a week) and upping your mileage to 6,7,8 miles on the weekends for a bit, and then towards Sept, do 8, 9, 10 miles, then back down before the'll be good :)

    PS> Doesn't your company have a training group? I tagged along with Yahoo's for some sprinting at Foothill a few times.

  5. Hey Finny, I trained for 3 1/2 marathons. My training went alot like yours....3-4 miles on Tuesday and Thursday and a long run on Sunday. Monday and Saturday were rest days. Wednesday and Friday were cross training. My cross trainnbg consisted of anything with my friends - cycling, swimming, yoga, kayaking, canoeing, walking, beach vollyball, usually about 45 mins- hour.

    My long runs started at 4 miles and increased to 14 miles about 2 weeks before, and then the taper.

    I didn't do any speedwork, tempo, hills etc. Mainly cause for me, it was a huge acheivement to just get the runs in - I was close to 200lbs.

    Also I wanted to know that I could cover the distance for sure, so I went with a program were the long runs did go over 13 miles. Most only go to 10 or 11.

    I'm with Kelli - GU with water. If you take it with a sports drink, you get too much sugar, and it can upset your stomach. Not fun when you're 2 miles from a bathroom.

    Use your long runs to experiment with what you'll eat before your run. I have a banana with peanut and some yogurt. For me, a bagel was too heavy.

    After longer runs an icebath can help you recover. Run a cool (not cold) bath. Put in some ice and soak for 10 minutes. It makes a difference.

  6. I'm exhausted just thinking of getting out of bed at 6 a.m. You are a much better woman than I am.

    I think I would keel over at the 1/2 mile mark.

  7. Doode! Look at all the comments. I swear we should start an exercise/craft themed monthly excursion...
    Sounds like you have an awesome plan, btw. Can't wait to see you conquer this sucker!

  8. You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din. The human body is not meant to run, unless you're 5 and it's fun, or older and something bad is chasing you. I walked a marathon a couple years ago, after training only by - natch - walking - a lot. For the actual marathon I took along some extra bandaids in case of blisters. No blisters, but I did lost both my big toenails a couple days later.
    Good luck,

  9. There's a good basic plan at:

  10. I too would suggest you don't do 13 before the race, or even 12. Do ten, save the burst for the race, where you're going to need it. it helps not to know what it feels like. And, I would also throw in some longer runs as you progress during the week. Like, instead of only upping it on the weekend, occasionally add a 6 or 7 miler in the week towards the end.
    I too got scared by the crazy words and numbers and did mostly what you're doing. run when it feels good and the pace is nice. i never did tempo, or hills, and i ran 7 half marathons, none of them over 2 hours. I just ran every mile the same stupid flat pace.
    stretch like you want to be shannon miller, and then rest a lot the week before.
    oh, and plesae don't listen to the ipod the whole way because it's a really great experience to hear the people around you - not only those cheering, but those people huffing and puffing. you end up chatting, giving encouragement, even basing your pace on the rhythm of their breathing (it helps!) and you'll miss all of that


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.