The Starting Line (Marathon Training, Week 1)

This is it! I finally OFFICIALLY began my training when I woke up this morning. I have so much ahead of me. I’m filled with excitement and optimism. On November 11, 2017, I, Randy Birnschein, will qualify for the Boston Marathon at Richmond. I’m older and I’m wiser. I’ve had my share of failure and I’ve learned from it. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me (old school SNL reference alert). The only bad part about the first day of my training is that I’m not running today. 😦


My running plan is based on the FIRST program, which involves less quantity but lots of quality (link to the Runner’s World article is provided here)   It’s the perfect plan for a runner that needs flexibility in his/her schedule, seems to struggle with the wear and tear of high volume plans and knows how to really work hard on training runs. Those things are all me.

Non-Running Things

One of the lessons I’ve learned throughout my times of training for races is that besides running, I’m not very good at training for races. There are so many other aspects to the preparation process that can’t just be blown off. Cross-training, nutrition and rest are all key pieces. Throughout the next few months, I’m going to ask myself to do things to make myself a better runner even when I’m not running.


With all of the time I’ll have not running, it’s crucial to make my cross-training count. It won’t just be a quick hop on the elliptical anymore. I plan to beat myself up in multiple ways by mixing up some HIIT type stuff along with rowing, biking and some of the VersaClimber. If you haven’t experienced the VersaClimber, you are lucky. It is a KILLER. I don’t enjoy cross-training, so this is going to be a struggle to really make it count. Some quality pep talks from my fellow runners in training sure wouldn’t hurt (I’m talking to YOU).

VersaClimber – If it’s good enough for LeBron, it’s good enough for me.



If you read the description of my blog page, you’ll quickly learn that I’m no health nut. I’m a firm believer in quality of life and to me, a life without pizza, donuts and beer is no kind of life at all. However, I CAN make some minor tweaks and compromises to help myself perform better and be ready. 6 days a week, my plan is to eliminate food that provides me no value at all (you’re safe, pizza). This means stuff like chips, donuts and cake go bye bye. I’m still going to enjoy some fairly unhealthy meals and will probably find some loophole snacks (I’m looking at you, Halo Top), but I’ll definitely eliminate some garbage. Please note that I said “6 days a week”. Yep, I’ll give myself one cheat day a week. But Ralph, what about beer? Good question. I will allow myself 2 beers a week, both of them on run days. Beer does provide no nutritional value, but its value lies in being a great tool to wind down and relax after a tough training run (it’s yummy too).

Don’t worry, beer. I’ll never leave you.



Rest is always a tough one. I can’t speak for all but I tend to feel fine without much rest, until I get some rest. Then I realize just how much better I can feel after a great night’s sleep. Getting enough sleep these days takes effort. I’ll have to be willing to go to bed unnaturally early once in a while. I may need some cooperation from my 3 kids as well. They aren’t usually big fans of Daddy’s nap time.

Training Socially, can it be?

One major difference regarding my training this time around is that I have some friends that plan to run Richmond and they have similar goals to mine. This means I might have the luxury of suffering through some of these tough runs with buddies. Misery loves company, right? This is going to be huge for my long runs, where I’ve mostly had to run alone. I’m excited for that change.

The Plan

So for all of you data analysts/running nerds out there, here’s the plan in all it’s glory. The cross-training isn’t set in stone and I’ll likely play around with the track workouts a little, but this is pretty much it. The paces are pretty aggressive, which is what I must deal with due to only running a few times a week. I do intend to add one easy run every other week in place of cross-training so that I get a little runner socialization on occasion and don’t lose my mind. We’ll see how that goes. I do have a few races in between that don’t exactly follow my plan. I’ll have to add on miles and decide just how hard I want to race. It’s tough to do your best in races AND stay true to the ultimate goal.


So who else is starting some training this week and if so, what for?

Has anybody tried any training like this, and did you get the results you wanted?

10 Replies to “The Starting Line (Marathon Training, Week 1)”

  1. Reading your nutrition section made me laugh. Pizza does indeed provide nutritional value. I sometimes eat pizza as my dinner the night before a half marathon. Great fuel. Haha Your plan is like the complete opposite of mine with so few running days. Good luck! 😊


  2. I’m reading this really great book about nutrition for endurance athletes by my fave Matt Fitzgerald that you should definitely read. . . oh wait. Well, you could listen to the podcaaa…oh never mind. See you for warmups at the track. 🙂


      1. I hope you made your one podcast a good one! I think you’d like this nutrition book. The first rule is “eat everything.” So… seems right up your alley. I’ll give you a one-lap synopsis at the track.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s an aggressive plan, but as I’ve seen your times, I know you can pull it off. As a matter of fact, you said something recently that stuck in my mind, something about how it has to hurt if you want to get faster. So I made my run hurt this morning. I’ll carry that through my training until Marine Corps. Anyway, good luck! We’re all rooting for you to pull off a BQ!

    Liked by 1 person

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