Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Change of Plans. Again.

With the Tower of Terror 10-Miler behind me, it’s time to look toward my next race.  Which was supposed to be the Halloween Halfathon on Oct. 27.  It’s not anymore.  The race is still happening… but without me.  

After training hard through the HOT summer for the 10-Miler and dealing with my recent hip problems, I felt beat-up and tired.  Bone-deep exhaustion.  I felt physically ill at the prospect of tackling a half-marathon three weeks out from the 10-Miler.  I knew what I needed most was a rest, for both my body and my mind.  Fortunately, Florida Gulf Beaches Road Races offers a stellar refund/transfer policy and, while I’m a little bummed to miss the Halloween event, I am pleased to say that I’ve transferred my registration to the Beach Halfathon in late March.  A mere four weeks after the Glass Slipper Challenge and its cumulative 19.3 miles.  Whatever; I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

So now my next race is the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon in early January.  That little change gave me a few weeks to scale back mileage and recover from the summer.


To develop a new training plan.

Yep, another one.

My last plan was entirely too ambitious for the summer heat and got scrapped a while ago.  Add in my change of race plans, and the rest needed some tweaking, too.  Also, I listened to an awesome Another Mother Runner podcast interview with Greg McMillan, in which he explained the ins and outs of his training approach.  What really struck me was the conversation about how important the need is for slower-paced runs in one’s training program.  That’s something to which I’ve never before subscribed, other than when hobbled by impending heat stroke; on the contrary, I’ve spent the past year and a half thinking every run needed to be run at the fastest pace I had in me in order to get faster.  Well Mr. McMillan?  You talked some serious sense into this lady.

I spent some quality time on, where I first used McMillan’s world-famous calculator to find my best training paces.  It works like this: enter your best time at a certain distance, preferably a distance as close as possible to the distance for which you wish to train, and then enter the distance you plan to race and the time in which you hope to finish it.  I entered my last 10K finish time of 1:16:23 and a hopeful 2:31:12 finish for the upcoming WDW Half, identified myself as a “Speedster” (easily able to go short and fast, but challenged by endurance) and got this list:

Pretty nifty, no?!  But… what do I do with it???

First, each type of pace – Steady State, Long Run, Tempo, etc. – has a video explanation here:  I took a few notes on each, to have as a handy reference when my mom-brain stalls next week and I can’t remember what in tarnation heck I’m supposed to do with "Tempo Intervals."  Then, I moved on to McMillan’s detailed explanation on how to create a training plan.

Okay, let me say this: it’s intense.  And complicated.  And riddled with ~shudder~ math.  Of the non-Fuzzy variety.  But as I read on (and glossed over the math, as I realized it wasn’t really imperative that I understand the numbers, only that I trust them to work), things started sliding into place in my mind. 

  1. Figure out my weakness – stamina, for sure.  And make strengthening that the core of my training plan. 
  2. Add in some speed because A. that’s my area of some talent and B. increasing speed can only be beneficial in the long run.
  3. Figure out how many weeks I have until race day and create a spread sheet listing each week; include columns for long runs, main workout short runs, secondary short runs, and, for the Glass Slipper Challenge, back-to-back runs later in my schedule.
  4. Assign each week’s training runs, based on a couple weeks of base-building, a larger portion of stamina-building weeks, a small chunk of speed-building weeks, and a couple weeks to taper.

At the end, BOOM!  I’ve got a plan that looks very do-able, is very specific to my individual needs, will fit in nicely with my cross-training days, and just may lead me to a nice PR.

McMillan also offers training plans for purchase, which I imagine takes out a lot of the work, and I’ve heard very, very good things about those paid plans… but I’m broke. And I really think my customized plan will be good for me.  I started using it already and I can’t say enough good things about knowing what pace range I’m aiming for before each run, depending on what type of run it is.  Knowing that an expert says to aim for a certain pace removes from the equation the mental anxiety of worrying that I'm not doing enough.

Last Saturday, for instance, was a 6 mile long run; I checked my chart before heading out and knew I should aim for a pace between 13:17 and 14:17/mile.  It was hot and humid, so I aimed to hit the slow end of that range… and I did!  Before, I’d have tried hard to push my pace down to where I hope to race in January, and would have spent those 6 miles courting heat exhaustion.  This time, I felt like I was putting in some effort, but comfortably so; no gasping for breath, no muscle cramping, no dizziness.  It was a tough run, thanks to some overgrown trails and scorching sun, but I recovered from it quickly and was able to spend the rest of my day getting non-running things done and enjoying some quality time with my son.  This new methodology may make me a better distance runner… and a better Mother runner!


  1. This is genius. I also have trouble slowing myself down. I have used the McMillian site to estimate my 1/2 marathon time but did not realize you could get it to tell you a slower and also tempo pace! I have to go check this out. Looks like a great plan!

    1. Isn't it neat?! There's a link on the left, after you've entered your best finish and wish finish times - Training Paces. Click that and your chart will pop right up!