My Secret Winter Marathon Training program

Photo Credit: Robert Horowitz

Can I get a little light out here?
Photo Credit: Robert Horowitz

On the morning of New Year's Eve I signed up for the March Madness Half Marathon in exotic Cary, IL on March 15th.  Online registration opened at 6am that day -- so I cannot even claim NYE drunken shenanigans -- and this race always sells out quickly.   I told myself if I were up at that ungodly hour it was a sign that I should register for it. Low and behold our (then) 3 month old twins had me up at that hour so I secretly signed up which meant committing to a winter training schedule.

By secret I don't mean only the NSA knows about it, although I’m sure they do.  I just mean I haven't exactly told my friends or posted many training runs on FB (via Dailymile.com).  This was to give myself an out.  I figured that if I  didn't build up the endurance to run more than couple miles before petering out, I would gracefully bow out of running on the Ides of March.

If you are planning to run a spring marathon, you have to do a lion share of your mileage during the winter months. Training for a marathon during the winter is rough enough under ordinary circumstances.  It's dark when you wake up, dark when you get home from work and cold all throughout. If there is snow that toggles the difficulty setting up a notch.

Given my current situation of having to juggle twins, along with my diminished running ability, I decided that a half marathon was much more realistic than a full one, especially in the winter months.

This Half Marathon is special because it is a tough hilly course and hills are hard to come by in Illinois.  Rumor has it they actually reversed the course a few years ago because it was too tough.  I haven't found any concrete evidence of that.

Locals who are running the Boston Marathon usually run this race, even if they have to bandit, because usually aligns perfectly with the Boston Marathon training schedule. What that means is your 12-14 mile "cutback" run usually falls on the same weekend as the MM HM so why not.
smartcoach
Because of my diminished speed and endurance, along with having 4 month old twins to wrangle, I opted to use Runner's World Smart Coach to create a training program.  This tool is free but you have to create an account at Runner's World.  You input a few variables such as the results of a previous race, the date and distance of the race you are training for and how hard you wish to train and it crunches out a handy training schedule that you can follow (see above).  My inputs spit out a 9 week training program that will log me 126 miles including the MM HM itself.  I'm not in love with the idea of being married to a training schedule again but it is the best way I know to get in shape for a race and it gives me something to focus on.

You can read more on how this 9 week training program is going here.

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