Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2014 Boston Marathon: Training Review

OK, let's get it out of the way to begin with. The race was the definition of suffer-fest. It took me nearly a month to recover mentally. If this is the first post of mine you have read, I spent the last 8 weeks of the cycle literally limping by with a strained groin muscle so when I toed the line on 4/21, muscle still pulled, I was as under-trained as I have ever been heading into a race..

All of that aside, before the injury I was in the best shape of my life and by a whole lot at that. I had a very aggressive goal of 2:49:59 and the week or so before I got hurt I was thinking that I would be in shape to make 2:49:59 look like child's play. I had 8 or 9 weeks left and I could have run a 2:49:59 at  that point. In fact on 2/22/2014 I ran a very tough workout. It was supposed to be 16 miles with 12 at marathon pace. I felt so good I tacked another 4 on the end for a cool down. I just remember how satisfied I was with that run. You can read about it yourself here. This was no anomaly. I was literally exceeding my expectations on every run.

I've never written a training review before but I am recovered and looking for revenge on the marathon. I'll start with the Indianapolis Monumental in November but make no mistake, I am looking to give Hopkinton, Heart Break Hill and Boylston Street a big smack down. They abused me terribly and I want satisfaction. Oh yeah, it's personal. I'm not looking at 2015 because it was so expensive that my bank account will need adequate time to recover. Aside from that, revenge is a dish best served cold. So maybe 2016?

Back to the point of this post though. The point is a whole lot of stuff went right this time and this will serve as a way for me to summarize so that I can repeat the steps that lead to such success. First of all, I came off of a PR at the Indianapolis Monumental. I took only 2 recovery weeks after that race and promptly got back up to 60 miles per week. I have long been a believer in what I term "running piles of miles." 60 or more per week even in between training cycles. The big miles give you a solid base to work from. They familiarize your body with the necessary levels of fatigue that marathon training entails so that you can adapt. Once the cycle begins again you don't have to get you body used to the number of miles and you can focus on getting your body used to the number of miles at a faster pace.

Along with "running piles of miles" I didn't shy away from big long runs. It's tough to get out there and run for 2 or 2.5 hours by yourself. For me, when I don't have a regularly scheduled 20 + mile run I start to fear them. When I run them regularly that fear goes away. So while I prefer to keep them on my schedule for that reason alone the more important reason is just like running lots of total miles, the more familiar my heart, lungs, legs and feet become with those distances the faster I can start running them. They begin to take much less out of me so that I don't need long recoveries. I did this between the Monumental and the start of the Boston cycle by running 3 20 mile runs between the Monumental on11/2 and the start of the Boston cycle on 12/23.

Another ingredient was a lot of the miles were faster than "easy" pace. While a lot of training advice says that most of your miles should be "easy" I feel like that is short changing myself. Now, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking "but you hurt yourself." I did, but not while running. My injury came from me stupidly acting like a power lifter at the gym and trying to squat heavy weight and get down super low. I have suffered only 1 running injury in the several years I have been running and that was during a race taking a hairpin turn while trying to maintain pace.

For me a steady diet of progressive pace, marathon pace and tempo paced runs is important. Progressive meaning starting out a bit slower and ending up down around marathon pace in the last few miles. Marathon pace meaning somewhere within 10 to 15 seconds of the pace I want to hold in the race and tempo meaning the pace that I can race a half-marathon at(about 10 to 15 seconds faster than marathon pace).

Finally, running while in a fasted state and taking no nutrition or fluids during the run. I don't think that I can overstate the importance of this. I would go out for a 16-20 mile run first thing in the morning without taking any food and maybe just a sip of water to wet my mouth. Sometimes I would finish and feel like I had been in a heavy weight title boxing match. Sometimes in the last couple of miles I would be unsure how I was going to finish. This isn't necessarily the safest thing to do as you really start to become confused and unable to think straight. I would literally not be able to make the decision of whether or not to cross the street. But the body is a wonderful thing and will adapt to whatever you throw at it. My body learned to run 20 miles fasted. It does this by learning to burn fat at a faster rate. We've all got plenty of that. This makes it stretch the much easier to access carbohydrates further allowing me to run longer before running out and slowing down. I'm not doctor or scientist but that's how I understand it.

So training for the Monumental starts on 6/30/2014 and the race is on 11/1/2014. I will be employing these training techniques between now and then and I'm going to come looking for the marathon. I've got a score to settle and I'll just put it out there now. 1/11/2014/Me vs. Monumental Marathon/2:49:59

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