Monday, June 4, 2012

Planning and Marathoning

I love to plan. I love to know what the weather is going to be like so I can plan outfits.  I love to know what I'm going to be doing tomorrow, one week from tomorrow, one month from tomorrow.  I love to make to-do lists and cross items off.  I love to schedule things.  So, it's really not surprising that I've been obsessed with figuring out my running plans and times recently...

Since I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon a few days ago, I have been looking up training plans and trying to focus my mind on a race time that I think is realistic, but a challenge, to achieve. Really, it's my first marathon- I'm sure it'll be a challenge!

For my last few half marathons, I've used Runner's World Smart Coach for my training plans.   I kind of love Smart Coach for a few reasons:

-It's free (unless you want something more advanced, but I did the trial for the advanced version once and didn't find it to be that much different)
-It's based off of you and your preferences.
     -You put in your most recent race time and distance, and it calculates a training plan for your next race.
     -You can pick your race date (Saturday or Sunday), so it will give you a plan right up until race day.
    - You can pick how hard you want to train, how many miles a week you want to run (although it
      sometimes goes above this if you pick a low milage for a longer distance race), and you can pick
      which day of the week you want to do your long run.
-It predicts your finishing time.  So far, it's always been within 1-2 minutes (usually faster) of what I've run.
-There's an iPhone app version of it (although this doesn't always give you the same information as the computer version....) to use when you're on the go but can't wait until you get back to your computer to see what your next day of running holds for you, what your predicted finish time will be, etc.  Not that that's ever happened to me....  I'm really patient and not at all obsessed with running...

Since I LOVE to plan, I really like to know what to expect, and to know how far Smart Coach thinks I can push myself.

So, naturally, before and after I signed up for the Philly Marathon, I have used Smart Coach for training plans and predicted finishing times.  This is where I have a slight problem.  I'm planning to train for 18 weeks since this will be my first marathon. I figure I need a little more time to learn how to spend 3+ hours on my feet...running. Based on my Brooklyn Half time (1:43:23, 7:54 pace), Smart Coach predicts I'll run a 3:20:20 (7:38 pace) marathon.  Now, I've never run a marathon before.  But that's freaking fast!  Yes, I'll get stronger and faster while I'm training, and yes, I'll get (more) used to running 20+ miles.  But really, 3:20:20??  I don't want to limit myself and believe that I can't achieve that, but I also have to realistic about how to run this race!  I know I'll have a better idea of this once I do a few REALLY long runs, but for now, this seems insane!  (Although, it would be so awesome if I could do it!)

I consulted a few other sources: McMillan Running Calculator, which predicts a 3:38:02 (8:20 pace) and Running Times Race Time Equivalent Calculator which predicts 3:39:43 (8:23 pace).  These, to me, seem more realistic, although still fast for a first-time marathoner!

McMillan's prediction:

Running Times prediction:

Given all this information, my main goal for this marathon (since I really have no idea what to expect) is sub 4 hours.  But to not sell myself short, my sub-goal is in between the RW Smart Coach prediction and McMillan's and Running Times predictions: somewhere around 3:30.  I'm still unsure about whether this is realistic or not, so may have to update my goal time during training.  I do have to remember that whatever my time ends up being, it'll be a PR! (yay for my first marathon!)

I'm excited to start training mid-July and see how 14, 16, 18 and 20 mile runs go!  I'm thinking of doing the NYRR ING New York City Marathon Tune-Up 18M run on September 23 to really give myself an idea of what to expect.  Is anyone doing this run? Does anyone want to join me if I sign up?

But mostly, I just want to make sure that I'm enjoying my training.  This marathon is something that 6 months ago, I didn't want to do at all.  So I need to make sure that come the evening of November 17, I REALLY want to run 26.2!

Also, today is the start of my own Summer Workout Streak (after I gave up on the RW Summer Running Streak for various reason)! I'm scheduled for a run and plank/squats (everyday!).  My core will be happy with me after I finish plank today because it's been too long and I've been eating out too much recently...  I'll be in San Diego this week, so will really have to make sure that I really stick with this plan while on vacation!  I'll give an update next week to let you know if I've been following through with it, and what I'm going to buy myself if I complete the whole Streak! :)

What training plan do you use?  Does it give you an estimated finishing time? Have you met it in the past?  

Are you doing a workout/running streak this summer?


  1. Congrats on the Philly Marathon! I ran it last year, it's a great flat course. The weather was perfect for 26.2 last year, hopefully you will get great weather again!

  2. I am signed up for Philly too! I am running with my friend Melissa. I just hit a sub-4 marathon (with a way slower half, 1:50). I ran the NJ marathon in 3:58. My original goal was 3:50 but adjusted it up because I had some injuries during training. Just go balls to the wall on race day :) You are going to be awesome.