Now that May’s here and the mid-July start of marathon training is getting closer, I’ve spent a ton of time thinking about marathon training. At this point, I’m not sure I’ll be training for my second marathon.
The biggest reason is because of my new job. My job, in a nutshell, is working on organizational change. I was brought in to help support a transition to a new way of doing software development, which includes the other aspects of the organization that affect that transition. My organization has more than 50,000 employees, and many of the existing processes have been in place for decades. So you can imagine that changing those processes and overall way of thinking is difficult and involves a lot of coordination and collaboration with a lot of people.
I don’t have a set daily routine. Every day is different, and I need to be flexible to accommodate early-morning and late-day meetings and to work from different locations depending on who I’m working with. This means that I’m no longer able to regularly come in late or work from home on longer run days. I can sometimes do those things, but not with any regularity. I need to be available for meetings when others are available, and that generally means starting work no later than 8:30 (sometimes earlier). To be at work by 8:15 (to allow myself time to settle in before meetings), I need to be in the shower by 6:20 to allow time for walking the dog and commuting to work. Considering the time it takes for pre- and post-run exercises and fueling, I don’t have more than one hour to run before work if I start running around 5 a.m. That means I can only run 4 miles on most days, since a 4-mile easy run generally takes me 50-55 minutes.
When I realized I could run only 4 miles on most days, I thought marathon training was completely out of the picture. I know there are a lot of training plans with minimal mid-week mileage and a traditional long weekend run (including 80/20 training plans), but those aren’t for me. I’m certainly no expert, but I read a lot of blogs, and it seems to me that you need to be really lucky to do one of those training plans and a.) not get injured and b.) not have an awful race experience. (I can imagine all the comments now that will contradict this; again, I have absolutely no authority on this and am only making this assumption based on blogs I read.) There’s no guarantee that neither will happen on any training plan, but I know that the Hansons’ method got me to my first marathon start line free of injuries and even aches and pains, and feeling stronger, fitter, and more confident than ever before. I didn’t have the best race experience, but that was due to the sun and warm temps—my legs actually felt great all through the race. Also, I know that a training plan with minimal mileage is fine for just finishing. But I already did that in my first marathon; this time, I want to perform better. So, for me, it’s Hansons or nothing.
I checked out the Hansons plans online to see if there was anything that could work for me. There is! The traditional Hansons’ plans have three long workouts a week—two during the week and then a long run on the weekend. There’s another plan that has two long workouts a week—one during the week and then the second workout alternating with the long run every other weekend. That sounds perfect. I would have to fit in only one long run during the week, have more recovery between workouts, and do more easy running to try to fit into the 80/20 rule. I bought the plan and have it on my calendar. While it seems like my best option, there are still hurdles.
- In order to do the one long workout a week (8-11 miles), I’d need to work from home. Most people at my organization work from home at least one day a week, and we have a lot of technology to support remote work. Still, given all that I said above about my job and what I do, I’m not sure I’ll be able to swing it. If marathon training started next week, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I simply have to be in the office right now. I’ll see how the situation is next month before I ask my supervisor about this option. If I’m unable to work from home one day a week for my long workout, I won’t be able to do this training.
- The other mid-week runs are 4 miles (perfect) and 6 miles (would be very difficult). I think I could get around the 6-mile run, though, by either doing some run commutes for a few extra miles or just by doing 2 miles less than the planned weekly mileage. Or, maybe once in a while I could do a 6-miler and come in a little late. It would depend on what’s going on at work.
- No more weekend rest days. To make this plan work, I’d need to run both Saturday and Sunday, and not only that, but both runs will be long. During the peak weeks, I would have a 16-mile long run on Saturday followed by a 10-mile easy run on Sunday. YIKES. Granted, that is only for the peak weeks, but I would still not be able to do anything on the weekends except run and recover. And, the peaks weeks would be in October—the best month of the year for hiking and playing outside. I’d essentially have to give up my October.
This brings me to the second reason I might not do marathon training even if I can work from home—the great sacrifice it requires. This was what surprised me most about training the first time I did it. You really have very little time for anything except running and work (if you work a full-time job). Is the sacrifice worth it to me?
One part of me says yes, definitely! This is the part that has been wanting a shot at a second marathon even before my first was over. My marathon training was my favorite cycle ever, and I want to do it again. I want to do the long runs again. I want to feel strong again and experience the satisfaction of training hard. Plus, the timing is great since I will have a training partner (Joanna) using Hansons to train for the same race at the same goal pace.
The other part isn’t so sure. This is the part that has emerged over the past few months when I started loving how the low-mileage 80/20 training fits into my life and having Sundays as a rest day. My life-running balance is pretty perfect right now, and I’m hesitant to upset it.
These two parts battle each other daily. Some days I’m like, Hell yeah, I’m going to run a second marathon. I can’t wait for training to start! And the next day I’m like, Do I really want to give up months of weekends for one day that can go awry in a million different ways despite the sacrifice?
This is a long post to say that two months out from the start of marathon training, I’m not sure I’m going to do it and am still thinking about it almost constantly. I’m hoping to have a better feel for my job situation and the work-from-home possibility in a month and will then make my final decision. I know only I can make this decision, but I’d love any thoughts you have, especially if you made a similar decision.