I am about to embark on a new training cycle and I am SO INCREDIBLY EXCITED!!!
I am even more crazy excited than usual because this time is different than past training cycles. This time around I have my very own coach, Beth Shutt at Your26.2 to help navigate me through every step of training.
What pace should I aim for on my 400 m repeats? My brother is coming into town this weekend, how should I adjust my long run to maximize my effort and recovery? What should I really be eating to best recover post long run? What pace should I aim for on my upcoming 5k? BETH will have the answer! Beth will be my partner in crime, the voice of reason (or tough love, whatever is warranted) when I want to stray from the training plan and the presence of hope when I feel defeated after a tough workout. She will review my daily run data and will adjust my training plan to best suit my individual progress on the road.
Please keep in mind that the high school and college version of Kassandra was anything but athletic. Chances are that I whooped you on your Calc test, offered tutor you in physics and wowed you with my vast array of colored pens and highlighters, but I didn’t do sports. I wasn’t on sports teams. Hell, playing bad-mitten in gym class gave me anxiety. Trust me I lack basic eye-hand coordination and you don’t want me on your sports team. This is why I run and often run alone ;).
It goes without saying that I have never been coached before and right now I am giddy like a high school freshman who just got asked to prom: I am head over heels excited to have my very own run coach!! This is going to be AWESOME!
How I met Your26.2: Finding my first marathon training plan
The night before I ran my first half marathon (May 2013), my dad informed me that his close friend who worked at ING offered to get me a bib number for the New York City marathon.
Dad- Don’t worry about this half! You better start training NOW!
Me- How do I know if I even want to run a marathon in the fall? I haven’t even raced a half.
Dad- He’s retiring next year. It’s now or never. It’s the NEW. YORK. CITY. MARATHON! You don’t say no to this Kass!!
Me: Hmmmm. (5 second pause to think, but not really think.) Alrighty then!?! I guess I’m in!
Immediately after the Superhero Half (where I proudly plunked down a 1:34:55), Owen and I brainstormed about marathon training plans as we drove the four hours back to Boston. At the time I knew relatively nothing about endurance sports, running or marathon training, yet I loved exposing my untapped inner strength and the thrill of racing. If I was going to do this whole marathon thing I didn’t want to use just any old plan I could get my hands on. I needed to have faith that this plan was solid, would prepare me for the real pain of race day and most importantly get me there safely.
I searched for a training plan with the following components:
- Challenging. While some runners complete the marathon for the fun experience of 26.2 miles (and that’s an awesome accomplishment!!), that was not my personal goal. I wanted a training plan that would truly challenge me and force me to dig deep to grow as an athlete. I wanted to maximize my potential (and for the least amount of $ as possible).
- Races/speedwork- After experiencing the rush of racing the half distance, I knew that I did not want to go from May until November without racing again. I searched for a plan that had specific track and hill bounding workouts to help me grow as an athlete.
- Running between 4-6 days/week. Both my mind and body love to run; I’m not a big crosstrainer. I knew a three or four day a week plan wasn’t going to cut it. I knew I’d need more.
- Strength training– Ideally the plan would incorporate routines or tell me the frequency/duration I should be lifting.
The day after my half marathon I marched myself into the Executive Director of the YMCA’s office for tips on where on Earth I could find a solid marathon training plan, and ideally at a reasonable price. A competitive triathlete with multiple Ironman finishes I was confident that he would be able to point me in the right direction. He stared me straight in the eye and with a serious, no BS tone in his voice he said,
“If you want to race this thing, and I mean really challenge yourself, and CRUSH IT- use this plan. Follow it to the T and you will be BULLET PROOF come race day. I swear it.”
He immediately pulled up Your26.2’s FREE marathon training plan on his computer and that was tha:, my decision was made. The plan had everything I was looking for for: YES!!! It also didn’t hurt that my friend personally knew Jesse Kropelnicki, the mastermind behind Your26.2 and its parent company qt2 Systems. Also, all of the members of the Boston based coaching crew began as avid marathoners before making their way to the triathlon scene where they compete as professional triathletes. I quickly learned that if there’s one thing these coaches know, it’s endurance sports.
I feel so strongly about the progress that I’ve made, the amazing people I’ve met as well as the fact that I have remained injury free during 2 years of rigorous training that I want to share more about this company and what they offer. To be clear the opinions I voice here are and always will be 100% my own! 🙂
In the spring of 2013 I used Your26.2’s FREE marathon training plan (the “Experienced Runner” level). I completed a lactate threshold test with Tim Snow to accurately determine my heart rate zones and thus began my training! I followed the training plan to a T (err, mostly to a T) and ran NYC in a 3:25:52 (BQ’ing by 9 minutes). While many runners are apprehensive about heart rate training fully embraced it! My runs were at a pace that was challenging, yet never unrealistic.
While I loved the free part of the plan, I still wanted more! I wanted the plan to be customized to my fitness level, my weekly schedule and to grow with me as an athlete. It was at that time that I decided to invest in a personalized training plan through Your26.2. I chose the mission plan option and received three customized training plans over a 12 months span. This option provided me with
- a personalized training plan with hill and speed workouts, incorporated road races to help you prepare for race day
- the ability to reach out to a coach in an online forum with any questions I encountered during training
- Strength training plans, core workouts and TRX workouts to develop run specific muscle groups
During this time I ran and PR’ed at Boston’s Run to Remember (1:32:02, about a 90 sec PR) and the 2014 Chicago Marathon at 3:16:32 (nearly 10 min PR). Then came Boston where my training runs displayed faster paces, yet I believe race day decisions kept me from PR’ing.
My amazing experience with the mission plan option left me wondering if I would experience even more progress if I had my very own coach to answer any/all of my training questions and track my progress. Honestly, I always have so many darn questions when it comes to running!! My positive experiences with the coaches at Your26.2 and seeing the amazing results from heart rate training led me to my decision to invest in my passion and myself and work with Beth Shutt (who runs a 3:05 marathon- AFTER swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles- holy moly wow!) on a one-on-one basis for my next training cycle! I’M SO EXCITED for this next adventure with Your26.2! 🙂
Let the training begin!!
Never Stop Running,