Frugal Training: Marathons & Moderation

———- This was a guest post on A Healthy, Happier Bear’s Blog (Jan 11, 2012) —————-
Hello Healthy, Happier Bear Readers!  When Ashley asked me to be a guest blogger on her awesome blog, I was ecstatic!  I am a newbie blogger (just over 3 months) and really love “meeting” other runners through the virtual world.
My name is Michele and I blog at nycrunningmama.  I am the mother of a happy 1-year old boy and wife to my best friend.  I have been running for most of my life (in order to stay in shape for the sports I was involved in) but didn’t really fall in love with running until I was deployed to Iraq.  Running became my “me” time during each of my deployments – although I was pushing my body, I was resting my mind, so I happily looked forward to my daily runs.  You can find out more about me and read my bio on my blog!
 If you would have asked me three years ago about Marathon + Moderation, I would have probably told you that those two words do not go together. I was single, living in an apartment two blocks from Central Park and had no real obligations other than a very flexible job.  I was able to run whenever I wanted and for however long I wanted.  I was comfortable and happy to log upwards of 60-70 miles/week.   Life was good.  Most days, I would run however long my body felt like running – 8, 10, 12 miles. I very rarely had anything that required me to cut my run short – so if I chose to extend my run to two hours, I could.
Fast forward to today.
I find myself trying to juggle logging the necessary miles with being a stay-at-home mom, blogging, working on my pre/post-natal exercise specialist certification, cleaning, cooking, and other chores around/for the home.  My “free” time is limited. I no longer have the luxury of running whenever and however far I feel like. What does this mean?
I am no longer able to waste my time running “empty” miles. Nowadays, each mile has to matter and every run has to have a purpose.   Every. Single. One.
I’ve been forced to get smarter with my training. It was a necessity – after my son was born, I realized I was lucky to squeeze in a 30-45 min run a few days a week.  Whether it was due to my decision to be an on-demand nursing mother or simply because I couldn’t bear to be away from my son for very long, I no longer had the freedom to just run.
In an ideal world, I would be a sponsored elite runner with no obligations preventing me from running twice a day and logging as many miles as my body permits.  But, I have no hopes of running even remotely close to a sub-2:30anytime soon.  So, being smart with my *moderated* miles is key for me.
These days I hope to run 6x days/week.  I have three quality runs that are the essential workouts to my training – speed, tempo, and long runs. The other three runs are recovery/easy days to get more miles in while giving my legs and body a rest.  Although it’s a training plan, it’s a flexible one that allows me to easily skip a day and rearrange as necessary.  But, at a minimum, I make sure that I complete my three quality runs – they will be the runs that affect my pace during the marathon.
I am currently logging considerably less miles (about 20-30% less) than I was a few years ago. And despite that, I am actually faster than I was.  My goal time for my spring marathon (NJ Marathon) is sub-3:10, almost 12 minutes faster than my previous PR.  I’ve dropped close to 20 seconds off my mile PR.  And I completed my first ultra in November (Knickerbocker 60k).  I am proof that you can lower your mileage and improve your times at the same time.
Regardless of what constraints you have in your life – child/children, work, time – you CAN train for a marathon without logging an obscene number of miles.  The secret is ensuring that every mile (and minute) you run is important – don’t waste them!

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