I have decided to go against the "traditional" method of training for the Marathon by following the FIRST training philosophy. This plan was originally outlined in the book Run Less, Run Faster in which you only have 3 scheduled runs each week, as opposed to 5-6 in a normal training plan. The mileage is also much less, typically, than a normal plan, in I only hit a high of 32 miles in a week, as opposed to each week averaging 35-50 miles per week.
If anyone is curious about what I'll be doing for the next 16 weeks as I train for the R'n'R Las Vegas Marathon, you can view my training plan here.
Only 3 days? Well, each run is considered a Key Run, in that it pushes the envelope of the type of run for that day: Speed, Tempo or Long. Begin by determining the MP - Marathon Pace - from your last 5K. Using the McMillan or VDOT pace calculator (or the FIRST method, which is right in line with these other 2), we come up with a pace that pushes you to become stronger, but one that is within your limits AND minimizes the chance of injury. A prerequisite for the plan is being able to run at least 10 miles for your long run. My weekly average has been in the 35 mile range for the past 5 weeks, and my overall fitness is pretty good right now. My recent 5K run of 23:08 has my MP set at 8:38/mile or 3 hours and 38 minutes for a 26.2 time. I'm a little sceptical about this pace, and would be thrilled with a 4 hour finish.
In place of the 2-3 days of running that I'm missing in a normal plan, the FIRST method calls for, I will be doing XT - Cross Training - which will consist of biking, spin class, P90X, plyometrics and possibly some swimming.
Oh... you're not misreading. I'm running a 26.2 marathon 3 weeks before the R'n'R Las Vegas marathon. My training plan called for 20 miles at marathon pace on that day anyway, so I decided to do a "long run" during the 30th Annual Chickamuga Battlefield Marathon in Ft. Oglethorpe, GA (about 10 miles south of Chattanooga. Chickamauga is a small marathon, but I have heard lots of great things about it. I can take advantage of all the water/fluid stops and get the benefit of a practice run. I've also thrown in a few 5K, 10K and 1/2 Marathon races to keep in tune with.
So, for the next 4 months, I will be hitting the roads hard for the rest of the summer and into the fall. I'll keep you posted. Let me know what you think.