My Marathon Training

Me at the Bobby Crim 10 Mile Race in Flint, MI 1979

Me at the Bobby Crim 10 Mile Race in Flint, MI 1979

I started training for a marathon this week. If I complete the training and actually run in a marathon, it will be my first time. I had planned on entering several marathons many years ago, but because we moved (which we have done 16 times) I was not able to participate. I did train for them, however, and at the time was in pretty good running condition. My prime running era was in the mid to late Seventies and the early Eighties. I ran several half marathons, some 5Ks and 10Ks, and one 18 mile race. I ran a 10K in downtown Milwaukee whose runners were led off the starting line by Al McGuire, the coach of the Marquette University basketball team. I also participated in a race in Flint, Michigan, that starred Joan Benoit, who several years later, in 1984, won the gold medal at the Olympics in Los Angeles. I didn’t see much of Joan in that race. I told my brother, Brent, who was going to run but was suffering from an ailment of some sort, to wait at the finish line and snap a photo of the first woman across the line. It was Joan Benoit, as I suspected. I trailed behind Joan by a considerable distance, but Brent hung around long enough to take my photo too.

I’m using a training regimen established by Hal Higdon, the quintessential marathoner and author. Hal has been around for many years, and was a contributor to Runner’s World magazine back in the mid 70s when I started reading it. He has established a number of training schedules for running marathons that are based on a runner’s experience level. I selected “Novice 1” since it’s the easiest regimen. You can find that schedule here. In my case, I have run only sporadically over the past few years. The schedule calls for a mix of short and long runs, interspersed with rest days. It sounds like something I might be able to handle. I would like to complete a marathon, not compete in one.

The marathon I’d like to run is in Austin, Texas, on February 15, 2015. The main problem with aiming for that one is that the training will take place mostly in Northern Indiana through November, December, and January. If the coming winter is anything like last year’s, I’ll be running in snow up to my butt. I used to run through winters in South Bend, Indiana, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Detroit, Michigan, back in the day when my body was much younger and much better able to cope with cold temperatures.

Taking my pants off before a race in Southfield, MI, 1979

Taking my pants off before a race in Southfield, MI, 1979

I haven’t been running regularly for a while, so I’m at a disadvantage at the outset of this training. I have spent many hours on a bicycle for the past ten years or so. I’ve also spent a lot of time in strength training and spinning. My lungs are in pretty good shape. My legs are strong, but are not conditioned for long distance running. The last several times I took up running again, I experienced back pain. I’m not sure what was the cause, but it might have been due to a failure on my part to stengthen my back. Hopefully, this time my back is prepared for the abuse.

Yesterday was my first day of running. Hal said do 3 miles and so I did. I ran 3.02 miles in 29 minutes, 4 seconds for an average pace of 9 minutes, 38 seconds per mile. Fastest mile was the third one, at 9 minutes 19 seconds. Not a blistering pace by any means. For today, Hal said run 3 miles again. I followed his directions and ran 3.02 miles with a time of 27 minutes, 37 seconds. Fastest mile once again was the third one, at 8 minutes 42 seconds. I am making no predictions based on two 3 mile runs. I attribute my faster time for today’s run on my effort to catch a fellow runner on the trail. When I passed her, she told me that I am fast. I couldn’t say no, I’m slow, because that would have been the equivalent of telling her that she’s really slow.

I’ll run 3 miles again tomorrow, just like Hal says. Friday is a rest day. Saturday is supposed to be a 6 miler. Right now, that seems like a very long distance.

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