Friday, October 1, 2010

Open The Pod Bay Doors, Hal

OK. Right. I've been running on a regular basis for about five, six weeks now, and I think it's time to kick it into high gear. And by that I mean it's time to choose a training program for my next marathon.

It's been a year and several weeks since my last marathon, the grueling Tupelo marathon that blew out my SI Joint and caused piriformis pain so severe I couldn't run for a year. But after the start of my epidural treatments, my condition has improved dramatically. I've actually run one 9.5 mile run and I'm up to about 20 miles a week.

But that puts me in a dilemma when it comes to choosing a workout program. I've used Hal Higdon's Novice II and Intermediate I schedules for my first two marathons, and did pretty well by him (4:36 and 4:09, respectively). But where do I place myself now? Novice? Intermediate? Somewhere in between? Do I start at the beginning, jump in at week four or five, or what?

I ran a 4, and a 7.4, and tomorrow plan to run another 4. That would put me at something like week seven on Novice II, which calls for a 14-mile run Saturday. I don't know if I'm up for that yet. I may be ready for an 11-miler, and I've got the course plotted out already (my house to Melbourne Beach and back). Maybe I should look for the week where the longest run is 9 miles and jump in there.

Or, maybe I should see what other schedules are out there.

Runner's World has several training schedules depending on your level of experience for $29.95. They also have plans to break the 4 and 3 hour marks, as well as a plan for prepping for Boston. I think I'll pass on that until I know I can finish a marathon at all.

Running Times warns you right from the the start that its training schedule is tough, and just looking at it gave me leg cramps. Maybe after full recovery. Maybe after I actually finish a marathon!

State of the Art Marathon Trainng has a 19-week mileage buildup schedule leading right into the week of a marathon, strategies for injury prevention, a reasonable 18-week training schedule and other resources, like speed and strength workouts. And it's free! Sounds good, but I'm not sure.

So, I return to Hal. His programs are simple, easy to follow and don't require a lot of concentration. I figure I may as well start in at the Novice 2 level, starting at week one. It'll give me a chance to dial things back, and slowly work my way up to marathon level in 18 weeks -- just in time for the Disney Marathon!

Or I could just continue to run four, five days a week, increasing my mileage by about 10 percent a week, continue stretching and throw in some bike riding and swimming. I haven't made up my mind yet, but stay tuned. I will let you know.

Meanwhile, as I contemplate the universe of training plans available, let's listen to a real groovy, Grammy-winning version of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" by Latin Jazz artist Eumir Deodata:

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