I started this second round of marathon training with hopes and aspirations for a BQ. For my first marathon, I ran 3:54 at Wineglass. I needed to knock off 9 minutes. It wasn’t unreasonable to think that I could do this. A stretch goal, but stretch goals are good. They force us out of complacency. As you know from my last post, I missed this goal by a mile, or rather 2 miles based on the pace I should have running and the additional 17 minutes I took in crossing the finish line.
I’ll go over what I think went well in this second round of marathon training and the things I think were less than optimal.
What Went Well
- Went into training much healthier and in better fitness: Unlike last year where I went into marathon training after almost 2 months of no running, I entered training in better fitness. I had been ill with bronchitis for several months in the beginning of the year, but I overcame it by May. In June when marathon training began, it was all systems go.
- Increased mileage: Last year I averaged about 26 miles per week. This year I averaged about 30 miles per week. I did mainly by adding another short run during the week, so rather than running three days a week, I ran 4 days a week most weeks.
- Six 20-mile training runs: Last year I did five 20-milers. This year I did six.
- Hill training and downhill training: Thanks to Prospect Park and all the bridge runs I did plenty of hill training. Steamtown may be a downhill course, but there are still rolling hills to contend with. Also I got some quality downhill training in (Run for the Red Poconos Half, All-Out Runapalooza Half, & 18.12 Challenge).
- Notable training runs (early 17-miler in 2:35:29, 2-mile run in 14:34, 17.9 mile run in 2:37:47): I had some really stellar training runs. Two of these runs (2-miler and ~18-miler were runs that I could not have done at all last year. These gave me confidence that despite the lack of visible progress, something was happening underneath. Somehow on the magic of race day, the cover would be thrown off, and I would turn into a sleek running machine.
What Went Wrong
- Not strictly adhering to the RLRF training plan: Last year I was pretty good about sticking to RLRF. Not perfectly, but good enough. This year. . . I deviated from it more often. It partially had to do with feeling more comfortable with marathon training, so I felt less motivated to stick to it perfectly. In the second half, I skipped the RLRF track work outs altogether. I kept the mileage the same, but did the speed work that I felt like doing.
- Lower quality 20-milers: I may have done six 20-milers, but those 20-milers were of lower quality than last year’s. Because of the higher heat index this past summer, I took longer breaks, ran slower paces, and did more doubles (breaking up the long run into two shorter runs during the same day). I think this had a big impact on my day at Steamtown. Because of the great 18-miler, I thought that the summer of slogging through long slow runs would still be fine and somehow I would pull off a great marathon. I think I was in good shape for running a great 18-miler. In the late miles of Steamtown, I felt slightly undertrained. Putting in quality 20-milers matter a lot and there are no substitutions for me.
- Still no cross-training: Once again, I had grand plans, or at least modest hopes that I would do more cross-training. I found a yoga studio that I like. I even found a weight-lifting gym that I love. Still I found difficulty with going because for both the yoga studio and the weight-lifting gym, I have to drive. When I lived in Astoria, cross-training was a lot easier because I could easily walk over. It’s difficult to explain just how difficult driving is in NYC to people who don’t live in this area. Parking is difficult to find, to the point where often if you find a good spot, you refuse to go anywhere because you don’t want to give up the spot. And I’m lucky because I live in what is known to be a “good parking zone,” meaning it’s relatively easy to find parking. Driving is slow and hard in Brooklyn. It takes me 20 mins to go 2 miles. So there’s a lot of mental block going on in terms of cross-training and I can’t get over the hump. I didn’t cross-train at all last year and I still did fine, so I can’t say that not doing cross-training is what hurt me, but it probably didn’t help.
I still love Run Less, Run Faster. I don’t blame my lack of success on the plan. All summer long I knew the second marathon training cycle wasn’t going as well. I thought I could pull a miracle out, but it wasn’t to be.
I went out for an easy run today and I felt great. Last year, I didn’t run for two weeks after Wineglass because my legs felt like rubber. It took two months until I felt like myself while running. This year, one week out, my legs feel fresh. The annoying part was that I ran my marathon pace and it felt easy, the way it NEVER DID AT THE START LAST WEEK. ARGH!!!!!! NOW MY LEGS FEEL LIKE RUNNING.
I’m going to run a few more easy runs this week. Next week, I’ll reintroduce some sort speed and tempo runs and slowly build up mileage. I have a few more shorter races and I’d like to pull out a PR somewhere to salvage what I can of this fall racing season.