Post-Berlin and The Plan

So for those who don't know, my fall marathon plans in Berlin were a bit of a bust.  I ran 2:42 for 223rd place.  I knew I wasn't in great form and was just hoping for a modest PR of 2:25 or so.  I went through the first half in 1:13, but started to fall apart soon after.  Obviously, my pace really slowed.  My legs (hamstrings especially) just wouldn't respond and began to cramp on me.  The first major problem with my training leading up to the race was that I simply did not do enough of it (total miles or workouts).  I was working at a law firm in Chicago for the summer and just didn't budget my time well enough.  As a result, I didn't have the engine or endurance to handle the pace I was running in Berlin.  Second, narrowing in on the hamstring issue particularly, I've concluded that my legs were (and are) weak muscularly.  I haven't been near diligent enough over the last few years about doing core work and correcting muscle imbalances in my legs.  But as they say, "rock bottom's a college eduction."  This terrible race helped me get my head back on my shoulders better than a mediocre performance could have.  I've realized that I have a little more than one year left before I start work (in Chicago in January 2011), and I need to make the most of that training time.

My basic plan is to take a full year away from marathoning.  I'll spend about half of that year basically in a long Lydiard base phase.  I'll slowly transition into doing some more significant workouts, beginning to race over the summer, before finally doing an 8 week marathon specific phase prior to a fall marathon.  At this point, I'm thinking about the U.S. Marathon Championships in Twin Cities, or the Chicago Marathon.  Both are at the beginning of October. 

So, as for the base phase I'm currently in, like I mentioned above, I'm essentially following a Lydiard base.  His athletes (even his middle distance athletes like Peter Snell) would build to 100 miles a week of quality aerobic running with another 60+ miles a week of supplementary slow jogging.  This is what I'm aiming at.  Quality aerobic efforts are basically anything faster than about 6:30 pace for me (~80% of marathon pace) right now, though typically, my quality runs are somewhere in the 5:50-6:10 per mile range.  Easy runs are anything slower than 80% MP.  The physiological benefit of running 7 minute pace versus running 8 minute pace is about the same for me.  The main goals are increasing global volume, capilarization, and recovery.  In addition to the miles, for this base phase, I'll be adding core work, eventually six times a week.  I'll also eventually be doing strides of some sort two times a week, short hill sprints to improve stroke volume two times a week, hill bounding and springing (a Lydiard invention that helps to improve form and leg strength), and form drills.  I don't plan on having all aspects of this phase implemented until about February.  After the Berlin Marathon, I took 3 weeks of easy running.  Since then, I have been building mileage and slowly working out a plan for the next year.  If you're at all interested in how this new training plan goes, how my fitness progresses, and where my running is headed, check back from time to time.  Thanks!