I realized from some of the comments I received that I haven't posted my overall 2006 Training Plan. I'm the planningest person I know! Part of the reason I haven't posted about it here is that I have it all written out on my household calendars and entered on my spreadsheets and I just didn't take the time to type it in the old blog.
That's not to say that I have a fixed workout assigned to every day and do it on the exact day and the exact distance described. That doesn't work well for my temperament and my lifestyle right now. Flexibility and working towards general weekly and monthly targets works much better for me in practice, as well as helping to keep it fun for this recreational athlete and has seemed to prevent any athletic injuries (knock on wood, since I came back from a metatarsal stress fracture in 2002). I might also mention that I don't work with a coach telling me what to do in my workouts - one reason is that I never take kindly to being told what to do, and another is that I have a PhD in exercise physiology, sports nutrition, and sports biomechanics. I do have a highly experienced swimmer in Australia, Yurtie, advising me on my swim training right now.
I frequently use races for their training mileage value as well, since otherwise I do all my workouts by myself and I find it a lot more fun to go the distance during races than slogging it out alone. For example, I used the Baltimore Marathon as my final long run before the New York City Marathon three weeks later, but previous to that I had a series of progressively increasing long slow distance runs, as well as numerous shorter runs and track workouts. (I'm not saying that worked out great for my marathon performance at New York, but that was my approach. Live and learn.)
I establish concrete targets in advance for each month and more recently each week and then work out with those targets in mind, incorporating some flexibility from day to day for weather, family demands, and "listening to my body". Most of the time I do a reasonable job of getting close to the targets that way, although it's true that I am a slacker at heart and I usually set my targets at levels such that I almost never hit them at 100%. (I also make a set of written advance performance goals before each race, and achieve them at a reasonable frequency, and then use them in adjusting my training as it progresses).
I've changed some things this year to improve my adherence to the overall plan, in particular focusing on concrete weekly minimum targets (rather than emphasizing monthly goals) to ensure training consistency (see the right sidebar), in order to help improve my compliance and my performance result.
My training in 2006 will generally incorporate a minimum of 6 key workouts per week, at least 2 in each discipline (swim, bike, run). I've got the distances for the longer of the 2 workouts in each discipline each week already written out for 42 out of 52 weeks in my paper calendar, and 5 months marked out on 2 big laminated wall calendars (see photo). One workout will be shorter and focused on technique, strength, or speed, and the longer workout (blocked out on the calendar) will be focused on muscular and cardiovascular endurance.
Right now I'm in the 2nd of 5 macro cycles leading up to my two "A" races of the year, Eagleman Half Ironman in June and Ironman Florida in November. The distances that I've blocked out in my plans progressively increase within each macro, and then back off at the end of each macro to provide some recovery and recuperation. The other races on the schedule are all "B" and "C" races that I hope to complete without major interruptions to the overall training scheme.
My question about the spring marathon(s) is whether I can complete them effectively as "B" or "C" races while still not making extensive alterations in my overall training scheme. For example, it's true that since I considered it a "B" race I didn't do much specific distance training in preparation for the Goofy Challenge, (although I was reasonably sure my base of 2.5 marathons plus 2 other races for 3 PRs in the previous 12 weeks, not to mention my innate stubbornness, would carry me to the finish line). I'm still working with the numbers on the calendar to see whether I think these spring marathons are possible. Thanks for all your positive feedback and suggestions, folks!!
And remember . . . just because someone is slower than most, it doesn't mean they're not working hard.