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Earlier this week I looked at the marathon training plan from Smart Marathon Training: Run Your Best Without Running Yourself Ragged (1st Edition) and balked when I saw a mid-week speed workout that added up to 18.25 miles. That’s a lot of miles for any speed workout, much less one scheduled for 10 days before race day. I questioned whether that was accurate and even went so far as to email the author, Jeff Horowitz, to see if it was a typo. To his credit, Coach Jeff replied very quickly to say that I had indeed discovered a previously undiscovered typo in the first edition of the book. Unfortunately, my Gmail account had been hacked and his reply went directly to the trash, where I found it today. Lesson learned: trust your instincts, and don’t be a slave to the plan and run 18.25 miles when you should be tapering. The workout was only supposed to be 10 miles long, and I ran an extra 8.25 miles. Oops. Big oops. The fact remains that I kicked that workout’s behind, and now all I can do with seven days until the marathon is focus on rest and recovery as best I can. Oh, and I can document the correction to the typos here. So here’s my correction, and my book review to go with it.

Please note the following correction to Speed Workout #14 on pages 177, 179, and 181 of Smart Marathon Training (1st Edition). For speed workout #14, do 1-mile warm-up, the intervals below, and 1-mile cool-down:

14. 4 x 800m
with 400m recoveries
(10K race pace)
Repeat 3 times

My book review:

This book is excellent for the intermediate to advanced runner (or triathlete) who enjoys running three days a week and cross-training on the bike another two days a week, plus strength training and drills mixed in with those workouts twice a week. I chose the intermediate marathon training plan, which had me putting in 8-10 hours a week. I enjoyed substituting some 50-60 mile bike rides for long runs — the plan called for 3 20-mile runs plus a few long bike rides. I also appreciated the emphasis on strength training, including photographs and descriptions of how to perform the exercises (note that I supplemented these with Quick Strength for Runners: 8 Weeks to a Better Runner’s Body, also by Jeff Horowitz). This plan was challenging in that it had me running 27-34 miles per week, packed into 3 runs. It takes a lot of planning to be able to do 8-10 mile runs during the week, along with 20-30 mile bike rides. Although there are varying plans for varying levels of runners, the plans are certainly a serious time commitment for a serious athlete. I’ve never felt stronger as a runner (I’ve been running for 3 years and my next race will be my fourth full marathon).

I found this book to have a philosophy similar to Runner’s World Run Less, Run Faster: Become a Faster, Stronger Runner with the Revolutionary 3-Run-a-Week Training Program, which I also liked. However, I prefer this one due to the aforementioned substitution of long bike rides for some of the long runs (whereas Run Less, Run Faster has plans that call for five 20-mile long runs, which bored me and burned me out a bit).

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I admit it, I’m a little bit of a slave to the training plan. I pretty much commit to and follow the training plan as written. I might juggle a workout here or there, occasionally switching up the days as needed, but they all get done eventually. There’s not much more satisfying than crossing off a workout.

I also don’t look much past the current and next day on the plan. I map out the workouts for the 16 or so weeks of the plan, but then I take them one day at a time, as one must. So I was in for a bit of a surprise.

As you might know, I was happy to embrace the 3-week taper period leading up to my next full marathon, The Santa Rosa Marathon. But then the workouts continued at pretty much the same pace for countdown week 3. Week 3 ended and week 2 began with a “long” run on Sunday of 10 miles, which indeed is long but seemed like a short run by comparison. I thought for sure taper had begun in earnest. But then the plan proceeded as usual with strength training on Monday and a 20-mile bike ride on Tuesday. Fine, I can handle those. I eat 20 mile bike rides for breakfast. <—- Me, poking fun at myself.

Then came Wednesday's workout. Wednesday is the speed workout on the plan. You might recall that sometimes the speed workout from Smart Marathon Training is a long run in disguise.

And this speed workout, scheduled for just 10 days before race day, was the whopper of all speed workouts:

1 mile warmup
400 m, 800 m,
400 m, 800 m,
400 m, 800 m,
400 m, 800 m,
400 m
with 400 m recoveries
(10K race pace) [for me and my I wanna-qualify-for-Boston-ambitions: 7:41, which is 7.8 mph]
Repeat 3 times [<—– Red flag]
1 mile cool down

Okay, do the math people. That adds up to 18.25 miles. I literally thought it was a typo. I could see doing the set of intervals one time, but "Repeat 3 times"? Are you kidding me?

I checked the Intermediate Marathon training plan, and checked again. I checked the Advanced and Competitive Marathon training plans. They all said the same thing for Speed Workout #14. [Edited to add: I later found out from the author, Coach Jeff Horowitz, that the plan contained a typo and the speed workout was only supposed to be 10 miles, not 18.25. See the correct workout here.]

So that's how I celebrated the first day that all three of my kids were in school full time. I dropped them off at school, hit up Vons for some more Gatorade, and set out to run/walk intervals for the next 3.5 hours. In the end it was a huge confidence booster, and I believe it was excellent practice for relying on the course aid stations for my all fuel. Normally I like to carry my sports drink with me so I don't have to stop running at each aid station. This time I won't have on-course support from my husband, so I've got to rely on the aid stations, which means slowing to a walk every two miles or so, taking in 6-8 ounces of sports drink as I walk, then picking the pace back up to average 8:25 or so. This interval workout made excellent practice for that. I'd run a quarter mile, then walk a quarter mile, run a half mile, then walk a quarter mile. I nailed the 7:41 pace each time, my confidence blossoming with each success.

When I finished, I hit the Vons again for some chocolate milk to refuel. A full quart of chocolate milk. And I took an ice bath when I got home. And I wore my PRO Compression socks for the rest of the day.

I feel pretty good today, but I am glad that the plan truly starts to taper now. Normally I’d be biking 20 miles today, but the plan only calls for strength training. Normally I’d be running eight miles tomorrow, but the plan “only” calls for 15 miles on the bike. I can only hope that my dedication to the plan pays off, and this final push before a severe cutback in taper leaves me with legs primed to kick butt on August 24th: 9 days, 9 hours and 25 minutes away.

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