You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
This may go down as the most exciting and most effing terrifying blog post I ever share. Thanks to the flexibility of the UVM College of Medicine and the unwavering support and encouragement of Will, I’ll be taking the fall of 2015 to actually take a crack at seeing how fast I can get. For 13 weeks from mid August to mid November, I’ll be living like a professional athlete and my only focus will be on running and recovering to the best of my ability. I’ll still be doing some medical school related things, I’ll just be doing 4th year electives (reading month and some research) instead of clerkships, which I’ll make up when I return in November. My day to day schedule will focus on training and ultimately pushing towards a half marathon in November.
Why target the half marathon when the standard is 1:15 rather than the relatively easier 2:43 for the full?
1. The half marathon requires a little less perfection than the full to have a good day. If the weather is awful, it doesn’t take months to recover. If I have an off stomach, I can survive 75 minutes without fuel.
2. It capitalizes on the work I’ve been doing this Spring and doesn’t set me back into the pattern of long slow runs and lazy form.
3. If I am feeling really amazing and it looks like I could get a 2:43 in December, I’m able to turn around and try that with all the requisite speed already acquired.
4. From a long term perspective, we’re trying to set me up for a solid career through my 30s and 40s and although I’ll always have endurance, I won’t always have the ability to build speed.
What happens if I fall on my face?
1. A half marathon PR still pushes me forward to some of my other performance goals including gaining entry to National Championship events, the Boston Elite start and getting my elite entry to most of the big races around the country.
2. I don’t spend the rest of my life wondering what my limits are if only I wasn’t in medical school.
What’s the plan?
At this point, I don’t plan to go to altitude. That would be tough for us financially and logistically, as Will remains in the 3rd year Medical School curriculum and will need all the support a non-working spouse can provide. We are about 6 months out from race day, so I’m back to Phase 1A of training. I’ll spend May, June and July building as good of a base as I can while continuing to do speed work and working on efficiency. August, September and October will be where the bulk of the hard work happens and November is essentially for taper.
In terms of extras, my big focus for the first three months is building the muscle strength required to be fast and continuing to work on hip mobility. I’ve really locked up a lot over the past few months and need to spend some attention on loosening up again. During my months off, the focus will be on recovering as much as I can, on nailing workouts and on sharpening my mental game. I’m already finding myself second guessing whether I can do this, so that particular task will be very challenging!
The other benefit of more time is that I can do a better job of cataloging my experience. I know that I’m extremely lucky to have this opportunity and that there are many other runners who can only dream of 13 weeks off so I’m hoping that keeping this blog full of my lessons learned at least passes some of the benefits on to others.