I’m in for the 2021 Chicago Marathon using my 2020 deferral. I feel like this is a second chance to do things right…so following one of my 2021 goals, I am going to keep promises I set for myself. This is going to happen. I am going to stand at the start line feeling prepared and excited. I’m going to make it to the finish line and finish my first “real” marathon without character stops.

The Phases

Since I am not a strong runner, I structured my training in three parts:

  1. Pre- pre-training
  2. Pre-Training
  3. Marathon Training

I’m currently on week 8 of phase 1, which started back in November when I created this plan. My training schedule for this plan is to run 1.5 miles on Tuesday and Thursdays, walk 30-ish minutes on Saturday, and finally run 3 or 3.5 miles on Sunday. The goal for this phase is to get out and run even when it’s dark and cold (it’s through the whole winter), build up a small base to increase my confidence, and lose weight. I’m a fickle runner and running in the cold is usually enough to make me not run. I’ve seen myself do this on my short runs when training for the 2018 Disney Marathon and 2020 Dopey. I don’t need to go far – I just need to do it,

For pre-training, I am following Hal Higdon’s supreme novice training program. This phase kicks off in mid-March. The weather will be better and it will start to get lighter then, so I shouldn’t have those for an excuse. I’m also hoping my losing some weight and building the small base of confidence, running will be easier. The goals for this phase are to continue losing weight, maintain consistency, and increase my mileage.

Marathon Training begins in June using Hal Higdon’s novice 1 program. At that point, I should have a solid weekly base of 9-12 miles. I will start to incorporate speed and hill workouts (which were very beneficial when I did those training for Chicago last year) and increasing mileage for my long runs. My goal for this phase is to think like a runner – monitor pace, have varying degrees of difficulty/excursion, and stick to my plan.

Throughout all of the plans, I am incorporating strength training and yoga/self care, which I never actually implemented in past training seasons. I don’t want to get hurt, and I want to improve my fitness. I want to be a runner. People often stress their importance, but then we forget to do them. For strength training, I am trying out Pure Barre and Apple Fitness. My Apple strength workout yesterday was really good! I really feel it in my legs. I’ve had more of a challenge sticking with yoga because I can’t focus or slow down my mind, so I need to make this a priority.

Looking Ahead

I foresee several obstacles ahead. I’m lucky that this is not the first time I have trained for a marathon, so I know my shortfalls.

  • I can get overwhelmed with the time it takes to run in the morning. I need to be honest with my schedule and not dilly dally in the morning.
  • If I work on Saturday, I either won’t do my long run or not prepare correctly. This training, I will not join the running club and commit to doing long runs on Sundays.
  • For long runs, I don’t plan my route. I’m already preparing the route for my 18 and 20 mile run so I don’t get overwhelmed on those days.
  • I get nervous, so I am (hopefully) going to try to add races to my training schedule. So far I have the Swamp Rabbit 5K and the Around the Crown 10K. A few others are still being planned as virtual, but hopefully they will be in-person so I can sign up.

So that’s my plan for 2021. I need to stay accountable, but I am really excited about this. I will decide my race goals once I hit phase 3. There is a different approach when this is a second chance. I appreciate what I have more than I did before.

Are you participating in the 2021 Chicago Marathon?