Friday, October 23, 2015

Thoughts about marathon training: I’m not getting any younger

Just in case you missed it the first time. =)
I have a lot of feelings about finishing a 26.2 I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do – most of them happy, but a few frustrations in there as well. That’s mainly because although I busted my butt with 20-milers last year and barely ran at all for the month prior this year, I still finished this year within a minute of last year.

At first glance, I assume I wasted all that time running 20-milers last year. BUT, I ran almost identical training plans for last year and the year before, and I set my PR in 2013 WITH all those 20-milers.

So, I did the logical thing and pulled all my old Daily Mile data. To summarize:

Progression of miles to one 20-miler 10 weeks out (I had said 11 weeks, but I think I miscounted)
Consistent high mileage weeks and a record-mileage July
Threw out SI joint
Re-progression of miles to one 16-miler 5 weeks out
IT band inflammation
Very little running with longest run of 4 milers in the month previous
Very little cross-training two months prior; very little strength, core, yoga, etc. entire running season with increased core and yoga in the month previous
Completed marathon in 4:29:46

Progression of miles to two 20-milers and one 22-miler three weeks out
No injuries, but much slower paces
Very little cross training, strength, core, yoga, etc. two months prior
Completed marathon in 4:28:54

Progression of miles to three 20-milers and one 22-miler 16 days out (!)
No injuries, and much quicker paces
Very little cross training, strength, core, yoga, etc. two months prior
Consistent high mileage weeks and a then-record-mileage September
Ended nearly every long run with a fast finish (!)
Completed marathon in 4:10:06

I think the takeaway is: Long runs, but not too long; high mileage, but not too high; fast finishes, but not too fast; and seriously stop skimping on the strength, pre-hab and core work.

I completely skipped the fast finishes the last two years (I had a hard time in the heat last year), and ran 20 minutes slower – probably significant.

I’ve done a combination of 20 and 22-milers, with varied results – probably not significant.

My PR came after my shortest taper – probably not significant considering the rest of that season’s training.

Cross-training falls off every year at the end of triathlon season, with varied results – probably not significant.

I had joint and soft tissue problems after ramping up my mileage to the most I’ve ever run – probably significant, especially as I get older.

Consistently skimped on strength and core work – probably significant, especially as I get older.

With four marathons just under 4:30, I feel that’s my sweet spot. I can have an OK season of training and be close that that. Is it good enough? You know, maybe it will be eventually, but right now, I know I am capable of faster. I’ve proven it twice with a 4:10 and a 4:11.

I know I have a 3:59 in me somewhere. It’s just coming up with the formula – and keeping myself healthy and uninjured – that will get me there.

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