Chicago 18 Weeks and Counting

My 18 Week Marathon Training Program

Last week (Monday, June 10th to be exact) I started training for my first marathon, the Chicago Marathon. I’m doing an 18 week program devised by Hal Higdon and my husband. In the past my husband has used the Hal Higdon marathon programs to train for his marathons, so we thought it would be a good starting point for me as well. With six half marathons under my belt, we chose the Novice 2 program instead of Novice 1. The Novice 2 program has more milage and consists of running 4 days a week, but lacks speed work. Bryan suggested using the Novice 2 program as a template and then changing some of the runs to intervals and tempo runs to work on my speed and make it my own. I was all for that idea. I’m so thankful to have a wonderful husband that also serves as my coach to put together a training program for me, motivate me, and push me beyond what I thought was possible.

My training plan is as follows:

Mondays are supposed to be rest days, but I turned them into “active rest” days to use for hot yoga and swimming. Majority of the time I will be using Mondays for hot yoga because the postures and stretching will be great for my sore muscles, and most importantly, I can’t give up hot yoga. If it’s a super hot day, then I’ll skip hot yoga and go to L.A. Fitness for a swim session to cool off.

Tuesdays are my interval days. Speed work here I come! Not only do I need to work on my endurance to run 26.2 miles, but I need to get faster. I must get faster. This will also help me PR on my 13.1 races. Since my marathon pace will be slower for my first marathon, my interval pace is around 8:15min/mile pace for my 400m and 800m intervals. For the first six weeks of my program I will be running 8X400m intervals and I want to run them all sub 7:00min/mile pace. Then when I move up to 800m intervals, I’d like to run sub 7:30min/mile pace. So if I can do it faster than 8:15min/mile pace then I’m going for it. Why stop short if the speed is there? Intervals are a sprint after all.

Marathon Training Day 2: 8X400m intervals

Wednesdays alternate each week with a race pace run at moderate milage to get myself accustomed to that pace and an easy pace run at moderate milage to work on my form and for recovery. I especially need to work on keeping my shoulders back. I like to hunch over. I have such bad posture from leaning over a slit lamp microscope every day looking at patients’ eyeballs.

Marathon Training Day 4: 5 miles at race pace (Should have been day 3 but it was my Nana’s birthday celebration so I had to move things around.)

Thursdays are another speed day. They will alternate each week with a tempo run and a progression run. Both to transform me to Speedy Gonzales. Again the goal is to keep the tempo runs around 8:15min/mile pace, but if I can hold it at a faster pace, I’ll go for it.

Fridays are my rest days! Woohoo!!!! No active rest, just rest and relaxation. Fridays might be my new favorite day of the week. Maybe I’ll remember to get in some foam rolling on these days.

Saturdays are my long run days. These are at an easy pace. They range anywhere from six miles to twenty miles. The weekly long runs get progressively longer with every third week as a “stepback” week reducing mileage to allow for the next jump in mileage the following week.  Not going to lie I’m scared of the long runs. The most I’ve ever done at one time is 13.1 during my half marathon races. Adding a few more miles to make it 14 or 15 doesn’t scare me. What freaks me out is 17, 18, 19, and 20 miles! I can’t even wrap my head around that right now. And then I’m expected to run 26.2 miles on race day when my longest training run is only 20 miles?! Craaaaa-zy!

Sundays are my CrossFit days to get in some strength training. Just because I’m training for a marathon doesn’t mean I’m going to neglect my CrossFit. Plus Sundays are makeup days at CrossFit so I can pick which WOD to do from the WOD’s earlier that week. Works out perfectly.

Marathon Training Day 7: “Angie” WOD at CrossFit followed by 8 miles at easy pace (Had to do a double workout since I was in a Zoobilation hangover on Saturday, but it was worth it.)

I’ve already come to terms with the sacrifices I will have to make the next 18 weeks for my training program. No late nights out, no drinking…too much, no last minute plans to meet up with a friend, and I’ll have to skip some social occasions so I can get to bed early for a long run the next day. It will be difficult and it’s not a matter of if I’ll struggle but when I’ll struggle with these changes. I had already started decreasing my nights out and drinking the past year anyways due to CrossFit workouts, but now I’ll have to take it to another level.

But most of all, I’m excited to take my fitness to a whole new level. I’m excited to see my body change. I’m excited to increase my endurance. I’m excited to get faster. And I’m excited to run my first marathon! 26.2 miles of determination, sweat, and heart.


One thought on “Chicago 18 Weeks and Counting

  1. i am training for my first half marathon, i hope i can go to the end. You seem very motivated, which motivates me too. good luck for your training 🙂

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