Monday, February 25, 2013

Marathon Training and Speedbumps

I'm about 6 weeks out from the Boston Marathon (my first road marathon) and training has been going OK.  I'm not following any set plan since plans completely stress me out when it comes to running.  I'm in this running thing for the experience and I do it because it's fun.  Since I have a good base of fitness already, I have a half assed plan that is designed to remind my legs how to run long and not get me injured prior to race day.

Here's a rough outline of my training plan:

  • Run 4-5 miles at fastish (8-8:30 min/mi) pace approx 4-5 times per week.
  • Run a longer distance on the weekend at least once.
The 4-5 mile runs are easy as I can run at lunch every day for the most part.  8-8:30 pace is conversational for me on the flat roads around work so I can have a good chat with my friend and running buddy, Scott.

The long runs have been going OK too.  Just roll out of bed early and "git r done" during the suck months of winter in New England.  

My first "official" long run was about a month ago. 12 miles at 8:15 pace.  It was cold and snowy that day but the relative ease of that run planted the possibility of a 4hr marathon firmly in my head.  Until then I was thinking 4:15-4:30 and enjoy the scenery.

Last weekend, I astonished myself with 15 miles at sub 8:30 pace on once again snowy roads.  Again the carrot of 4 hour Boston was dangling out there.  I was pretty wrecked afterwards but I assumed I needed to eat and drink more so I put that into the plan for this past Saturday's run.

This past weekend's run started before sunrise but the weather was the warmest and driest of any of my long runs to date (25 deg).  With my food and hydration plan in hand, I headed out to do the same 15 miles.  I was hoping for a similar pace performance.  I would add another 2 miles to the end if I had the time.

The best laid plans......

Starting out, the legs didn't feel as fresh as usual.  I chalked it up to sleep since my kids were stuffy all week.  Solid sleep for dad was not really an option.  To start, 9min/mi was doable but it required concentration not to slow down to a more comfy pace.  I stuck with the eating and drink and generally enjoyed myself until about mile 8 when the wheels started to come off.  My hamstring started to tighten up and screwed up my gait so that my calf tightened up.  

Grinding it out sometime during mile 10 which is a solid stead and steep 1 mile long hill, I started think:  "What the hell would I do if this happened at mile 10 on April 15th?"  All of this plus the day's schedule led me to bail out at 11.75 miles. I still managed a respectable pace of 9:15 but it was a full min/mi slower than my last 12 mi run.

I'm really trying to roll with this minor setback and chalking it up to good days/bad days but I can't help but obsess about that thought during mile 10.  Do I have the heart to put one foot in front of the other in that state?  I know race day will be different but I just really hope I will not have to death march for several of those miles.

Oh well, the marathon train rolls along.  How's your training coming along?


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  1. I enjoyed reading your experience. Mine is quite similar actually. I have a time goal of Sub 4 hours. Sub meaning I am pretty cool with 3:59:59. Last month we ran 17 miles on course. I felt amazing and like I could keep on truckin.

    2 weeks later, which was just last week we headed out for an 18 miler. What a drastic difference. My legs were dead and I struggled to keep up. Negative thoughts did start creeping in but I tried to keep them at bay. I have an 18 month old who since he started daycare in October has been consistently sick and that whole week he was up coughing and crying, thus so was I. It is hard to keep those negative thoughts away though. You start to feel overwhelmed and then wonder what the hell will entail on race day.

    Race day will be different. Adrenaline will be surging and the crowd will be intense. In October I saw someone holding a sign around mile 20 that resonated with me it said "Trust your training". You are going to have some rough runs but on race day you will have fresh legs. Right now they are far from fresh.

    Also, not sure if you care for my thoughts but don't worry about your pace on your long runs. Long runs are for muscle memory. Increase your pace on some of your shorter runs. Once a week I will do 5-7 800's at a 7:24 or 7:19 pace. This will build speed. Enjoy your long runs no matter the speed. Easier said than done, I know.

    Best of luck in your training.

    1. Thanks Coleen. Your advice is much appreciated and thanks for reading the blog. I need to add more of this personal type content with my gear reviews.

      I have 2 kiddos who have been sick on and off and I have great old dog that likes to pace at night. All of that is putting me into a huge sleep deficit.

      I have more time this weekend so I'm looking at a time on feet long run of 3hrs give or take at nice easy all day pace. I might even do Sat Sun longish runs if I feel good.

      I would be ecstatic with 3:59;59 but I know I will also be just as happy with 4:15 and a smile at the end.

  2. Great work Brad.. I know you will rock Boston. I'm shifting from a set training plan, to a do it yourself.. looking at a trail 50K in May.. any advice? Thanks!

  3. Thanks Jeff. I've never been much for training plans either. My 50K training centered around 120 days of running basically. I think I had a few long runs (12-15 miles) thrown in. Also, I initiated the 1st annual Brad's Fat Ass 6 Hour run about a month prior to race day. This was big for me because I had never been on my feet nearly that long.

    Good luck on the 50K. Let me know if you have any more questions.