As I mentioned in this post a few months ago, I am running a marathon in January as a part of a fundraising effort for childhood cancer, which is what little Summer (seen wearing her running gear below) has been battling courageously. Our team captain, Gina (Summer’ mom) wanted to set our sights high – she set a $25,000 fundraising goal. I am happy to report we are ALMOST THERE! Our team has raised over $24,000. I am asking my readers to help us push towards the finish line. If you would like to donate to a fantastic cause, here is where you can.
Running happens to be something I am not very good at (yet). I believe that you cannot grow as a person or athlete without getting out of your comfort zone. So this marathon presents an excellent opportunity to push myself in ways I have never attempted to. I am very comfortable lifting weights, sprinting, and playing team sports. I am NOT comfortable running for more than 5 minutes at a clip. However, I am not a total newbie runner – I have raced in at least 10 5ks, 4 Tough Mudder/Adventure races, and 1 half marathon. But a marathon dwarfs all of those other races in both preparation required and physical demands.
It is very important to set goals, and then build a plan to achieve them. My goals for the next few months are simple – complete the marathon (without injury) while getting stronger. To be blunt, “getting stronger” is a horseshit goal. It is too general – I always recommend to pick a tangible benchmark to strive for. My specific lifting goals are: snatch 205 lbs, clean 275 lbs, bench press 300 lbs, and trap bar deadlift 500 lbs. All of those numbers are milestones I have comfortably hit in the past, but I haven’t touched in a while because of my hip surgery. Challenging, yet realistic. Since I am coming of hip surgery my running goals are admittedly more modest – I want to complete the race, without injury. I am going from being on crutches to running many miles a week over the course of a few weeks . Performance and intelligent programming can be quite a tight rope walk sometimes. Flexibility is also a good thing to have when it comes to goal setting – if my training is going particularly well (meaning my hip is feeling good) I can revise my goal to hit a specific time.
I am very good at writing programs that get people stronger and more explosive. However, programming for a marathon isn’t on my resume. Lifting and running appear to be diametrically opposed activities – on one hand, lifting rewards bigger, more explosive participants. Marathon running, on the other hand, rewards lighter, more energy efficient individuals. Most marathoners aren’t big into the strength and power stuff, so asking them how to program my lifts and runs seems unwise. However, Alex Viada, a strength and endurance athlete and owner of Complete Human Performance is very much into lifting and endurance. He has developed a method to train for both. I decided to invest in Alex’s book, The Hybrid Athlete, which I recommend to anyone looking to learn about the demands of physical activities and how you can organize you training to maximize the benefits of each type of exercise while also prioritizing recovery. My plan is largely based on the concepts introduced by Alex in his book and through his articles online.
Sidenote – if my goal was to run a world record marathon, I wouldn’t be lifting as much. Likewise, if my goal was to set the world deadlift record, I wouldn’t have signed up for a marathon. There is a big difference in being competent in many disciplines, and being world class in one. Your training should match up with your goals – always remember the SAID principle – specific adaptations from imposed demands. In other words, you get what you train for.
The plan revolves around the term “consolidation of stressors“, a term brought to prominence by Juggernaut Training Systems owner Chad Wesley Smith. The term means in the context of this style of training that similar intensity activities and energy system demands should be grouped together so recovery can be optimized during the training week. So heavy squats should be paired with higher intensity intervals, while longer, slower runs should occur later in the week.
So here is what my week looks like:
Upper body max effort – bench press focus
Lower body max effort – snatch, clean and jerk, trap bar focus
Upper body volume lift – structural and hypertrophy work
Lower Body volume lift – structural and hypertrophy work
Long, slow run
To be continued…
I will update everyone every few weeks on my marathon prep. It has been challenging so far – but I love seeing little improvements week to week. The fun isn’t necessarily the outcome, but the process. Fall in love with the process and you can’t help but to be successful.
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