More on the marathonOctober 7, 2006
My preparation for and performance at Twin Cities were both quite similar to what I did in the spring leading up to and at the Vancouver Marathon. I had hoped that an equivalent training regimen would somehow lead to a better result this time around … but it’s been said that doing what you’ve always done before and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity.
In both cases, I did the marathon about 10 to 12 weeks after a period of training for something else; thus my buildups were rather brief. Because of my limited time to train and apparent need for lots of recovery in between hard workouts, my weekly mileage was quite low (55-60) relative to that of most others trying to run under 2:22. In general, I followed a hard-easy-easy schedule; hard days usually consisted of long intervals with short recoveries or tempo work at or under marathon goal pace (5:20 per mile), often on pavement, and most easy days were 5 miles at a comfortable pace (around 7:00-7:10 per mile).
During the races themselves, I had two main problems. First, although I was able to run 5:20-5:25 pace early on (splits at halfway: 1:11:13 at Vancouver, 1:10:45 at Twin Cities), this pace did not feel as easy as it needed to. Second, I started to feel the microtears in my quads (an unsurprising but unpleasant consequence of pounding the pavement) at mile 15 or 16, about five or six miles earlier than I had hoped for. Therefore, in future marathon attempts, I think I need to adjust my training to make race pace feel easier and make my muscles more damage-resistant.
So how would I do that? I’d probably benefit from a longer buildup — a good 16 to 18 weeks of marathon-specific training, to give my body more time to adapt to the specific challenges of this race. And I might have to crank up the overall intensity and mileage, too. It seems likely that, the more miles per week you can log at or near race pace, the better your legs will become at resisting both fatigue and structural damage. There once was a brief blurb in Runner’s World about why the Kenyans are so fast; its title was, “Their secret: train like hell.” Perhaps it’s a secret I need to experience firsthand.
Before leaving the topic of Twin Cities behind, I should note that I was treated extremely well by the race staff, who provided me with some very nice “elite runner” perks (free hotel room, guided course tour, special staging area near the start, etc.). I also enjoyed the camaraderie of the other runners who were there, including my Seattle Running Company teammate Mary Hanna, who was 2nd in her 45-49 age group with a time of 3:00:51; her remarkably extroverted sister Catherine, who makes her marathon debut today at St. George; my World Cup 100K teammate Patrick Russell and his wife Katie, who treated me to a nice pre-race dinner; and the euphoniously named Brian Lyons, a fellow sub-2:22 hopeful who came up just short. Next time, Brian, you’ll do it for sure.