Last week we went six miles, this week it’s eight miles… next week 7 miles? What is going on?! Short answer: trust the schedule. If you are curious about the method to the madness, read on!
We got a lot of questions wondering if the schedule is right over the last three weeks. Yes it is! One of the cornerstones of our marathon training schedule (and any fitness program) is variation. In our Physiology Seminar, we discuss the body’s ability to adapt to stresses and the ‘training effect’ — your body adapts to stress by building itself up to be ready the next time it’s asked to “do that again.”
So in our training we begin by adding a long run or walk to a regular schedule. Instead of just running or walking for 30 minutes 4 or 5 times a week, we are now adding one long training day a week. That simple change begins to teach your body to be ready for a once a week long effort. For the first few weeks, we simply add a mile on each week.
But our research has shown that just like we require hard days and easy days (we go long on Saturday; take a day off on Sunday), the body also benefits from hard weeks and easy weeks. So last week we stressed our body by bumping up two miles (from 6 miles to 8 miles), and this week we are recovering with an easier 7 miles. Then we’ll resume our progression for a few more weeks.
However, around mid-June our schedule makes another change. Once we get up to the half-marathon, you see we more-or-less top out at around 13 miles for our long runs, with one exception. About once a month for the remainder of our season, we’ll do a major effort — we call these our benchmarks. In July we go 15.5 miles. Then it’s back down to 13 or 14 miles. Then in August we go 18.6 miles. Then back down to 13-15 miles. Then in September we do 21 miles. Then again it’s back down to 13-15 miles. The last step is the marathon in October.
Effectively we are teaching our body how to adapt to the increasing stress. At the same time, we are training our mind that we can go significantly farther than we ever have before one time. This means that on marathon day, it will be a challenge, but it’s nothing we haven’t done before. The jump from 21 miles to 26.2 miles is significant, but in the last month, we’ve gone from 3 miles to 8 miles. To me, that’s a bigger deal!
If you have schedule or training questions, ask one of our Coaches on Saturday. And stick with the schedule… it will get your far.