Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Viper's On-the-Fly, Six-Week Half Marathon Training Schedule: Reviewed

The Viper's most recent experiment is now ready for analysis. Last month the realization that only six weeks remained until the Cleveland Half Marathon inspired panic throughout Team Booze Hounds headquarters. The result of that revelation was the Viper's On-the-Fly, Six-Week Half Marathon Training Schedule.

The basic premise of the plan was three days per week of purposeful running, some cross training and losing weight. Before we craft a training plan to attack the Akron Marathon in September, let's break down the goods and bads of this first attempt at self-coaching.

What Went Well
Aside from post-race hydration, the No. 1 success of this plan was getting to the starting line healthy. After a right knee injury in March, the training schedule had to include enough rest to avoid re-injury.

The three-days-a-week approach (borrowed from FIRST) was a key factor in keeping the knee in check. However, there was no room for junk miles. Each run had to be focused -- either on speed, tempo or distance.

The short schedule precluded high mileage. No week exceeded 23 miles, and no single run exceeded 12 miles. The final race results did not meet the goal of a sub-1:50:00, but the knee held up with minimal post-race fatigue.

The weight-loss aspect was a personal first. The goal was a race weight of 165 pounds, which required trimming about seven pounds in six weeks. With careful calorie reduction and increased mileage, the pounds slowly came off. The pre-breakfast, race-day weigh-in reading was 163.5 on the Richter Scale, despite never fully embracing sobriety.

What Goes on the Scrap Heep
The failures of this plan were a 1) a lack of speed, 2) a lack of endurance, and 3) a lack of mental toughness. Or perhaps the race goals needed reevaluation.

The lack of speed was likely a result of faulty interval training. The plan called for an increase of 800-meter repeats at 3:38 until reaching six repeats (adapted from Yasso 800s). The two closest tracks were inconvenient (in use or no parking). Instead, timed intervals replaced the track sessions. Running hard for 3:38 is not the same as running 800 meters at 3:38. Consequently, tempo and long runs never achieved the proper pace to race at an 8:20 per mile pace.

The lack of endurance is partially related to the failure in speed training, but the short schedule and inconsistent cross-training also contributed. The short schedule was a direct result of the knee injury, which negated some base mileage. The FIRST three-days-a-week schedule includes cross-training on non-running days. Basketball provided good exercise some days, but it was never consistent enough to achieve the necessary benefits.

The lack of mental toughness resulted in straying from the race day strategy. More race experience will help improve this area. The blister was a first. The fact that it is gone today tells me that it shouldn't have been as much of a factor as it was.

What to Do Next
Overall, this plan was a success. My performance improved, but some tweaks to the schedule are in order. Specifically, I need a better approach to speed workouts and more than six weeks to prepare. (And no injuries would be nice.)

Ultimately, the sub-1:50:00 half marathon is still a goal, but it's time to start thinking about the sub-4:00:00 marathon. According to the freakishly accurate McMillan Running Calculator, my half marathon finish puts me on target for a 4:02 marathon. Unacceptable!

It's time to create the plan that proves Greg McMillan's so-called expertise to be nothing but a sham. I invite my fellow teammates in this quest to push this boozer's body beyond its limits.

Some considerations:
  • I liked the three-days-a-week schedule.
  • I've been toying with the idea of avoiding the 20-miler.
  • I probably still won't hit the track much.
Let me know what you've learned in your training (no matter the race distance) about mileage, body/weight maintenance, speed workouts, cross training, and of course proper hydration. The Team Booze Hounds Coaching Workshop is now open.


Laura said...

The calculator says my marathon time should be 4:06, so we'll see. If I can do that well, I may work on the sub-4 goal for Akron with you, as that race has really piqued my interest. Will keep you posted!

Nitmos said...

McMillan is a fraud as I've explained.

Regarding the absence of a 20 miler in a potential plan, I know that is a theory circulating. I would suggest you consider whether you need it for mental if not physical preparedness. I, for one, need some mental assurance that I'm in good shape for at least 20 miles before I decide to go 26 on race day. I'd hate to show up and fade to black at 18 miles because, well, I just wasn't prepared for dealing with the fatigue.

Incorporate fartleks in your medium distance run each week. this has been my biggest speed booster...teaches speed and stamina while tiring.

Good luck.

chia said...

The fact that I'm still giggling Beavis and Butthead style at the word "fartlek" - you know I have nothing positive and/or productive to bring to the conversation :-).

heheeeheheheh fartlek.

Ian said...

I've been using the FIRST plan too, as you probably know, but I haven't been very consistent with my crosstraining on the non-running days. I'm hoping that won't show up to bite me on race day.