Thursday, October 09, 2008

Lessons in Stealth Marathoning

Many masters runners would agree that half the battle when preparing for a marathon is just to get to the starting line in one piece. Here is what worked for me this year.

In April, just two months before Mayor’s Marathon I was only putting in 40 miles a week. Fortunately, I had done a lot of aerobic training on skis and was able to build the mileage quickly and pull together a string of six week with an average of about 60 miles a week. I felt great through May and the first week of June but a hard week that included a grueling solo 5000 m, a long run, and then a mile race a week after the 5000, my legs deadened and they never quite recovered leading into the marathon. I probably should have had a deep tissue massage the day after that mile.

Mayor’s was still a relative success. Despite the stiffness in my quads I lined up healthy and maintained goal pace until the very last mile. Next time I planned on lining up healthy, and not sore. After the race I took a week off and then started running again in July, but again without a firm goal. Equinox was on the horizon, but I didn’t want to set myself up for an injury. So July was all about recovery.

For mileage in July I went 35, 47, 51, and 37, not exactly big stuff for a marathoner. Other than a 13 miler and 14 mile run on the first two weekends of July, followed by the 16.3 mile Gold Discovery Run on the 20th, I didn’t do any hard running. The next two weeks were up on the North Slope where my training ground was a 1 mile gravel airstrip. I went 38 miles each of those two weeks but felt too sluggish to run hard. However, that gravel airstrip as boring as it was, turned out to be easy on the legs and while providing good resistance training. Kind of like running on a sponge covered with marbles.

It was a relief to get home in August, but without a big base I wasn’t expecting anything super for the rest of the summer. So the run at the Santa Claus half was a pleasant surprise. Good enough to give Equinox a go.

My schedule is probably not what they would recommend in a training guide, but it was just enough of the essentials (mileage, long runs, and pace work) for a decent shot at the marathon. More importantly, the training intensity was moderate enough not to bring on any nagging pain or injury. In other words I managed to fool my body to prepare for a marathon.

Here’s a quick summary of August and September. Note that my average pace is about 7:30 to 8:30 per mile; I might go slower than that on recovery days (about 2X/week)

Week ending
August 10…….64 miles in 6 days (1 day rollerski, 45 min),
Races…….…….. ½ marathon race

August 17…….62 miles in 6 days (1 day cycling 1:30)

August 24…….62 miles in 7 days (+ rollerski, 1hr),
Races…….……..5K xc race

August 31…….72 miles in 6 days (no cross training),

September 7…….64 miles (no cross training);
Races…….……..5K hill climb

September 14…….46 miles (no cross training);

September 21…….48 miles,
Races…….……..……. 26.2 very hilly miles at marathon pace


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