This morning I went out for an 11 mile run. Like a crazy person I set my alarm for 5:45am so I could finish my two and a half hour work-out with minimal disruption to my family (amazingly my 3 kids were up, dressed, and watching tv while my husband had gone back to sleep, but I digress…). By 6:20am I was out the door with my gear in place: Garmin (GPS watch which, among other features, gives a real-time pace), iPod with running mix, Galloway run/walk interval timer set to current training interval, Spibelt filled with running gels, iPhone clipped to belt, water/Gatorade mix in 2 separate bottles, new running shoes (my old ones are at the 300 mile mark), and standard running clothes.
I chose a route which took me on the Northbound segment of the Bronx River Pathway. This lovely path runs along the Bronx River which, despite the reference to the infamous borough where I work, is quite lovely. The path was not crowded on this unseasonably cool and pleasant morning and I had plenty of time to ponder life, the universe, and everything. Or in my case, marathon training.
My husband and I share a Kindle account and, as he noticed today when he realized that I’d purchased yet another marathon training book, I’ve read obsessively on running. I’m intimately familiar with Galloway but I’ve read Bingham and Higdon. I’m familiar with Train Like a Mother and the FIRST system. I’ve considered various training choices and discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each. And obviously I chose Galloway. Today I started to think about the philosophy of the various programs and what that means for the trainee.
At the time that I became a devotee of Galloway training, there wasn’t a deep philosophical understanding of what I was “agreeing” to do. His plans are 3 days per week with short mid-week runs and that was easiest with my work schedule. I’m never going to be able to commit to running 10 miles on a Wednesday (my OR day) like the Higdon plan wants. Even 5-6 miles during the week is hard at my pace and I sometimes feel pretty trashed after longer runs. I also am a big fan of run/walk/run but I think you can do that with any plan if you choose. The biggest criticism of Galloway’s plans is that he asks you to run longer long runs than any other plan (at least race distance if not further). The prevailing philosophy – in any non-Galloway program – is that 10 miles is adequate for a half and 20 miles for a full.
The epiphany I had today is that whatever plan you chose, you need to truly following that plan. Let me explain. Galloway has a lower mileage plan than most. My weekly mileage this week – with my longest run since starting ecoaching – was somewhere in the 16-18 mile range. The plan has you “make up” for this mileage deficit by running longer and longer long runs. You go the race distance before the event because you haven’t done the “grunt” miles week after week. The plan only works if you recognize that you can’t just stop with one 20 mile long run and expect to kick butt on race day (trust me, I tried!). You will be somewhat undertrainined because the plan accounts for the lack of base miles by giving you a 20 miler, 22 miler, 24 miler, and 26 miler. That’s where the endurance comes.
While training for many of my previous events I fell victim to the faulty thinking that I did a 10 mile or 20 mile run and that would be enough. In a Higdon plan it is because you’ve done so many non-long run miles. In a Galloway plan you may still finish but you won’t be well-trained. Using a minimalist plan makes it even more crucial that I try to finish each and every run. Missing an occasional day from a 4 or 5 day per week plan may not be critical. With Galloway it’s a bigger issue. I finally get it.
Since starting ecoaching I’ve done a good job of finishing every run. Hopefully I’ll continue on this path. But I know the importance of my weekend miles to keep me on target for race success. It’s one thing to finish and still another to finish feeling strong. I don’t even me PR. I mean that feeling that you put your heart and soul into preparing to do the best that you can. I plan to do that!

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