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  • Marathon Training – NYC Marathon

    Posted on September 3rd, 2013 Michele Sun No comments

    Back in July while I was still in recovery from injury,  I had spent good amount of time to research marathon training program for this ING NYC Marathon. , and also looked back at the programs/schedules that I used to follow before and found something interesting. I think training program is a very individual and personal thing! Because the person put together the program for you is not you, and that person doesn’t know your lifestyle, your schedules, you personality..etc. So there really isn’t an all for one or one for all program.

    When I first started running Half Marathon, I followed Hal Higdon Novice training schedules that I found online and had completed several Half Marathon with it’s help. And eventually I “upgraded” myself to the Marathon crowd and continued using Hal Higdon‘s program. It’s a more “loosely” constructed program that helped me prepared for the distance, but not so much about speed. Last year after the huge PR (45 minutes) at Tokyo Marathon, I got more aggressive and serious about my finish time, and wanted to do well at CIM. Perhaps my confidence was inflated too much with Max’s encouragement. With Chris help, I got a 3+2 training program and I followed the speed work, track workout, long runs (aggressive)..etc, and did well at Rock n’ Roll Half  San Jose in Oct — a PR of 1:51. Which very possibly could yield to a sub 4 marathon with the way training was heading. CIM Training photo

    But I bunked at CIM in Dec., and I blamed it on the once-in-100-year storm. I thought it was just tough luck, and given 1/3 of runners DNFed that day, I thought my PR would come naturally. But after Tokyo Marathon in Feb 2013  and Paris Marathon in April 2013 , I couldn’t help but wondered if I had simply been burnt out unknowingly and was on my path to failure and injury. I don’t know! But I do know that I had lost the confidence and drive after CIM,  and nothing felt right since then.

    While patiently dealing with my injury of hips and lower back, I tried to put together my New York training program. I asked myself “what type of runner are you?” I know I am very disciplined, and I know I am very focused, but I felt something was missing from my last training program. Don’t forget that I am a happy person, therefore I need a program that makes me feel happy doing it, not just “have to do it.” A program to mold me into a running machine and solely focus on the minutes and seconds will not be right for me, and eventually I will mentally burnt out. “Speed” is important and should be important for runners, but “speed” should not be everything. I need to put “fun” back to my runs, and put “speed” at lesser priority. I shared this self-discovery with Max, and he reminded me to get “mechanic” fixed before heading into a new training season as he believed that I have the “will and mind” for NY Marathon. After couple revisions, I finally cooked up my New York training program, back to loosely constructed program but with varieties during weekdays and back to back on weekends.


    With the routine treatment of acupuncture and  chiropractor, plus faithfully stretch and practice yoga, I was really happy to kick off my 14 weeks program after a prolonged recovery period, though the slow 12  min/ml pace was embarrassing almost, on top of frustration. But I knew that I just needed to stick to it and the endurance and speed would eventually come later. With that in mind,I entered   this training season with patient and caution. However, 3rd week into the training I got a terrible cold and it was before my scheduled trail race — the annual  Max’s birthday run. I was knocked out by Tamiflu for 4 days, and I had my worst time ever at Cinderella Trail run regardless how much I love the scenery! That day, out in the woods, I had experienced something very scary — I almost passed out during the run and I could barely breathe (not from the elevation though). A week later  my doctor told me that my wheezing cough  was from bronchitis asthma, and new medical treatment started while my training got interrupted again. One can not really run when she is under codeine and antibotic, can she?

    For the first time that I can ever remembered, I almost thought about giving up this season, and I am very jealous of people having great progress with their training — whatever target races they have in the next two months. I am almost angry that  why I am not having a good training season? But at the same time I also knew that if I give up now, I probably will never have the motivation to train for any race again this year. Besides, NYC Marathon is simply not something one wants to miss!! Running across the Staten Bridge and finishing at Central Park is my dream and I have wanted it so badly for so many years already.  But I only have 9 weeks left till Nov 3rd!!

    “What do you do now, Michele?” Well, 9 weeks is all I have and and that’s what I will focus on now — a 9 weeks training till I cross the Finish line at Central Park!!! I will finish NYC Marathon even if I have to jog, walk, crawl..etc, but I am not going to give up!!

    So you can have methodically constructed and engineered training program with speed, tempo, cardio, core, rest day, diet even altitudes… built in, but you can’t predict the interruption from real life events. Take it one step a time and just follow through till you FINISH.

    (photo credit: NY Times)

    p.s. You should not do a trail run when you are sick, the chance of being spotted and rescued is much slimmer than road race.


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