Dec 23, 2010

Daily thoughts - The Hal Higdon Marathon Project

17 years ago, I joined the varsity track and field team in my school. Our training was Monday to Friday and we had road runs on Sundays. Sometimes we would also compete during organized races on Saturdays at the Rizal Track and Field Stadium. It was called PATAFA (Philippine amateur track and field association) weekly meet.

Fortunately, I never got injured in college. Although we sometimes trained 2x a day, I never really got burned out. There were times though I would just be lazy and not train at all. Not that I got tired but I just liked to sleep a lot when I was younger. But everytime I did run I never really pushed myself to the limit. I loved running but I just did it because I had fun being in the team and also enjoyed the perks that came with it (scholarship, free shoes, jersey and jacket, bags etc).

I never read any magazines back then about running. In fact I never questioned the type of training we had, whether there is any scientific approach to it. I didnt know whether my training was for endurance or to make me faster. I just did as I was told. Going up and down the bleachers was among the workout we had. It was hard on my knees but I never really cared. Back then it didnt seem to matter.

Now that Im older and with the advent of internet and more information about running, I began wondering whether I couldve done better had I known the things to focus on during training. Also I ask myself whether the knee issues IM having now has something to do with the kind of workout we had back then.Not that I doubt the strategy of my coach. I just think if I had more knowledge about how to pace oneself, the benefits of tempo runs, uphill runs, enough rest and hydration, I would have done better. I would have pushed myself to my limit instead of being complacent and content with my time. After graduation, I became busy with finding a job and also making money to support myself. Also, I discovered the "joys" of drinking and partying. I didnt drink nor smoked in college because my friends or teammates didnt. It was just unimaginable given the kind of rigid training we had.

I still continued running each year but never did I consider that I would be as passionate as I am now. Now that Im older (not old). I also found out that there are different types of shoes for different types of runners. I remember that back in college, I just wore whatever was issued to us. My first spikes shoes in fact was a beat up asics that was probably 4 years old. I wore it anyway and luckily never tripped or got injured. I had a Lady Boston Adidas that was only 10USD back then. It was a gift from my mother who didnt even know I was in the varsity team.

Its been a long time since I last ran competitively. Recently Ive gone back to running even participated in two fun runs. I plan to keep joining races until I leave for the USA next year. My ultimate goal is to join a marathon, hopefully the NYC Marathon. If not next year, maybe in 2012.

I dont know how Ill do it though. 10k is achievable. 16k, did it when I was a teenager. 21K hopefully in a few months. but a marathon..hmm is something else. Although I do know friends who have done it and have told me "if we can do it, you can do it too! youre a runner!" Im still not that confident. Ive heard of runners who DIE during a marathon.

But I dont want to wonder for the rest of my life so yes Im taking the plunge and am now preparing for my first marathon. Ive asked people who have ran marathons on what kind of training they had. They have all told me that they follow a program. My friend Joy who used to be a varsity player for Tae Kwon Do, never expected she would love running. Also she started running only when she moved to the USA after graduation. She has joined a full marathon and also a triathlon. She has inspired me to try it too and she always motivates me to follow through with the training and just do it. She sent me a program through email. I did check online for other programs that may are also simple and with descriptions on the kind of workout I should do in a day.

I found the Hal Higdon Link very useful. The instructions are really simple and also the program seem lighter for a beginner like me. I may have been running for many years but Ive never gone the distance. The farthest I think Ive tried in the last couple of years was 12K. I remember being lightheaded and that I had goosebumps after running for what seemed like an eternity.

I hope this time I can build up the mileage before going for the kill. Right now Im on my 3rd week on this schedule. Ive been consistenly running for almost 2 months though I had to relax the previous week because of a flu.

My feedback on the training is that it is true that after a few weeks, my endurance has gotten better. I used to get tired by the first ten minutes but now I can keep running up to 20 minutes. The other day my pedometer just didnt work right away and I thought I was still on the 1mile mark and wondered why I was getting tired when I havent even reached ten minutes yet (normally it takes me 9minutes to finish a mile). I realized the tracker was off and I have been running for 23 minutes.

Yesterday I ran for an hour and I still felt some energy left after my run was over. I hope I can improve on my endurance in the next few weeks.

Anyway, I will track my progress on this blog. I hope I can achieve this dream even if it takes longer than the proposed timetable. Maybe one day I can also share the experience with someone planning to try their first marathon.

This is it. No turning back.


  1. This is a good plan to start with. I did use it in 2008 for my first marathon. I ran a 4:05 marathon in Ottawa Canada. Not bad.

  2. HI LUc. Thanks for the input. thats not a bad time for a first marathon!=)


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