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  • Writer's picturecoachmk

Fall Races and Fitness Protection

Just hanging out, doing drills with my friends...

Coach MK answered this question in a livestream on the Coach MK Facebook page earlier today. Slightly jazzed-up transcript below.

Hey Coach MK, quick question... I just joined ReBuild this morning, and am still looking everything over, but if I have a specific distance (half marathon) I’d like to do this fall do you have your specific distance training plans available as well? I haven’t committed yet- as I’m more focused on running and staying healthy and injury free- but I wanted to check in with you and see.


Fall Not Sure

YAY FOR GOOD DECISIONS! And welcome to the Fitness Protection Program!

Short answer- YES. I will offer race plans for the HM and full marathon distances in a few weeks; they are currently in draft mode . Once they are finalized they will be free to all Fitness Protection subscribers. I’m really excited to share them, my approach, as you may expect, is a little unorthodox and will require a LOT of explanation.

I think there may be a second question embedded in here...apologies for being presumptuous but I’ve gotten this question several times. “Coach, I’m in (Re)Build, is a fall race possible?”

(If this wasn't your question, feel free to stop here! If you are curious though, proceed)

The answer….you may have guessed….

It Depends. :)

I know this is really frustrating. I promise I’m not holding out on you.

When it comes to that race, we really need to think about what you need to get from it. If PRs are the only thing that matter to you, and frankly that’s the ONLY metric most runners I meet use, then maybe the question is, “will I be ok if I race in the fall?”

To give you a more specific and personal example, I decided to defer the New York City Marathon in 2018. I wasn’t ready to race. I’d had a rough year, and sure I could have covered the distance, but it would have been my slowest marathon ever. A permanent reminder of how hard that year was, and I have PLENTY of those already. A number that potential clients could use to define me and naysayers could hold against me. A number that could have taken on greater importance than it warranted. A number I’d have to discuss until I had a new, better, number, a number that represented a level of fitness I'd be more likely to want to remember.

In the grand scheme of things, I don’t like being subject to inanimate objects. Which is to say, a bad number could have driven a lot of my decisions going forward since I put myself out there so publicly as part of my job. When I weighed how bad it could be, how wrong things could go- I opted not to race.

This leads to the question I had to ask myself, “what can I not handle?” And you need to answer that question for yourself. I can’t tell you what to feel or how to deal, but most of us think of racing as a test of fitness. I am not about to take a test until I’m certain I can pass it. and YAY for being a grown-up! I can opt of of tests I'm not ready to take!!!!!

That's a long way of saying, it's possible to race in the fall if you're coming out of (Re)Build. It is possible to PR in the fall if you are coming out of (Re)Build. But what if you don't?

So, you’ve weighed the options and participation is its own reward because reasons, fine. You don’t have to justify anything to me or anyone else in here. How long will it take to be ready?

The longest long run in Lane 2 of (Re)Build is 100 minutes, which is one hour and forty minutes. The long runs in Maintain start at 95 minutes (1:35) and end at 2:30


No matter your expectations or expected finish time, I’d caution against coming out of (Re)Build Lane 2 and going straight into a half marathon plan, even our half marathon plans. Especially if you needed to rebuild due to injury. Ideally, a person would complete one satisfactory month in Lane 2 of (Re)Build before moving into Maintain, then follow the directions in the membership area of the site to adapt your long runs your first month. By month 2, month 3 tops, you should be good to complete the long runs as written. At that point I’d consider using the half marathon pdfs.

So, from (Re)Build, that’s 4 weeks in lane 2 plus 2 months of Maintain, so 12 weeks. Once we are 12 weeks in, we have a huge base. A much bigger base than most runners will keep in the off-season. Once we’re there, it’s easy to stay there, and you can opt into all kinds of crazy things you want to do with shorter lead times- 10 weeks to a marathon for example.

So i just want to be really clear- I’m not selling 6 week half marathon and 10 week full marathon plans. That would be really irresponsible. What I'm selling is a plan to (Re)Build your running fitness stronger than ever before, then support you in maintaining a high running base to maximize the options available to you and minimize the lead time required to prepare. We really need those 12 weeks to adapt your tendons joints and ligaments if race effort is what you are after.

But if this half marathon has special meaning to you, like you raced it every year with your mother while she was alive and you can’t imagine not doing it, then OMG DO IT! Just please don’t plan to race it. Make peace with participation being its own reward, focus on making good choices so that you aren’t re-injured, and then go out there and make your mother’s memory proud.

Either way, if you want a fall race to be an option, we need to start moving TODAY. You're one step closer already just by being in (Re)Build.

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