For the last few weeks I've been trying to figure out my major training goals for the next cycle as I'm getting near the point where I need to start making preparations. My major goal this time around was to work my way up to a full marathon sometime during the next year. The question, of course, was how to best go about reaching that goal.
The two main concepts that I was playing around with were to either go right ahead and target the Mississauga Marathon in mid-May, or to target the 30km Around the Bay race in March as a stepping stone for a full in one of the Toronto marathons. The former had the advantage of allowing me to train in cooler weather as well as getting me to my target faster. While there is more than enough time to properly train for this distance, I was concerned a bit that the jump from 21.1km to 42.2km was a bit too big to make in one big leap. Naturally, the latter had the advantage of allowing me to fit in another training cycle to climb to 30K first and get comfortable with longer distances. The other advantage to the latter was that the weather on race day would likely be better.
After playing around with training schedules, I've settled on working around a bit of a hybrid plan. I'll use the 55mi/18wk Pfitzinger marathon program targeted for the Mississauga marathon, with Around the Bay worked in as a tune-up race. In mid-March, I'll make the call on whether I feel that training has gone well enough for the full marathon. If it has, then I'll go ahead with the plan as designed. If it hasn't however, I'll refocus on running ATB as my goal race and then prepare to start a different training cycle for the Toronto marathons.
This gives me the benefit of getting in a 30K race either way, and the ability to select my route based on how things actually progress rather than having to guestimate that at this juncture. Further, if the first time around doesn't work out I'll have first-hand experience with the training program when I re-start it in the summer.
Either way, I'll be officially starting this program in the first week of January through to the race on May 11th. Until then, I'll be holding at my current 58km/36mi per week level until that point to get my legs ready for the coming increase in mileage.