Monday, December 19, 2011

#376: You Only Get One Chance at your First Marathon

Pennsyltucky dreaming...
I now have 26.2 reasons to look forward to the new year. I sent the money in, and I’m registered to run the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 6. It is a long way, but then, so was 13.1. And 6.2. And 3.1. I thought 1.8 was going to kill me. And then there was that morning I had to stop and rest after crossing the street. A full marathon is a long way. But I know I can run one step. I’ll just keep doing that. Am I nervous? Yeah. Do I have a plan? Also, yeah.

I’m using a program from Galloway TrainingPrograms. It’s designed to prepare a first-timer to finish the race without injury and without swearing to never run another one. No speed records. No near-death experiences. No puking. After all, since it’s my first, no matter what time I get is going to be a personal best.

I’m doing two training runs a week to build strength and maintain conditioning, with a Long Slow Run (LSR) on the weekends. That will give my old joints plenty of time to recover between workouts. On Monday and Wednesday, I’ll be cross-training (XT). XT is the work you do because you’re too crazy to take a day off, but you don’t want to kill yourself. At least that’s how I understand it.

I have a lot of options for XT: weight lifting, circuit training, swimming, spinning, body-weight training, Pilates, TRX. I intend to mix them up to keep things interesting. I have three goals in cross-training.

1.      Continue building my endurance. Nothing matters more in long distance running. It doesn’t matter how fast you can run if you can’t keep going all the way to the end.
2.      Build core strength. Not just my abs. The skin around my belly is so stretched out, I don’t ever expect to see a six-pack, but I do need a strong center. That includes the whole abdominal girdle, stomach, sides, butt, and lower back. It’s important to give the running muscles a recovery day, so I won’t be doing so much leg work while I’m training for the race.
3.      Dump some ballast. I want to get my weight down about 15 pounds. When I’m climbing up that hill to Oakland, I don’t want to carry more than I have to.
4.      Get pretty. This is my vanity goal. I want to look better in a tee-shirt. I tend to overlook bench presses and curls and such movements because they’re so isolated. I’m going to take the opportunity to focus more on my upper body: arms, shoulders, chest, and back. I confess, there is a macho man hiding inside me, longing to come out and kick sand in cancer’s face.

I also have the Run the BluegrassHalf-Marathon tucked into my calendar on March 31. That fits nicely into my schedule as a tune-up for the big one. There’s also something poetic about running races in Kentucky and Pennsylvania this spring that warms my Pennsyltucky heart.

I’m planning a major fundraiser to go along with this race. I’ll have more to tell you about that later. I’ll only get one chance to run my first marathon, and I want to make the most of it. As always, FMR will be a big part of that journey.

I look forward to traveling with you.


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