Friday, September 17, 2010
What I learned in training for marathon #4
Now that it's over, it's time for me to review a bit of the marathon, beyond a report. With some time away, I've been doing some thinking about training and the race, and what I've learned and what I can recommend to others.
Things that happened during training:
*I raced a lot in the beginning of my training. From 5/9-7/4 I ran 4 races, none greater than 5 miles. But these races were ones where I could be tactical and work on racing strategies. I do recommend running smaller races where you have a chance of being out in the front. It is a different experience, and I think it has made me a better/smarter racer.
*I stopped lifting weights late June. This was not intentional - but my job in Saratoga conflicted with gym hours. At first, I worried - normally I lift once or twice a week, and that didn't happen during cycles 2-4 of training.
*Once every 4 week cycle, I ran 6 days a week. This meant a track workout on Tuesday, a 5 miler Wednesday, a 3 miler Thursday, tempo on Friday, 4 miles on Saturday, and a long run on Sunday. While 3 of my runs were at least 15 miles each, the other 3 runs were really short. The tempo runs that were independent from the long runs were really good and also made for tired legs in the long run.
*I did tempo runs during my long runs. These were really tricky, but having to speed up 12 miles into a run made me prepared to accelerate at the halfway point in the marathon.
*I frequently operated on a lack of sleep. Sometimes, this made me feel awful during the long runs. But it did teach me (just like long track runs) to be tired on my feet. So, I learned not to get worked up over a lack of sleep - if it happened that it was a 4 hour night, so be it. I did lower my expectations for the next day, and hoped for a nap later on.
*Every 4th week, I had a recovery week. Instead of running 55-60mpw, that week I ran about 33 miles. I highly recommend the cutback week. It automatically gives the body to recover during the whole training period, instead of just waiting for the taper. When you run half the mileage, it also gives you time for other things - like sleeping or cross-training.
*I swam twice a week. This was a great recovery tool and helped to stretch me out. Plus, it works all of your muscles in a way that helps, not hinders running. I always felt better after getting into the water for 1000 yards.
*I lost weight. This was not intentional - I think the stress of comps, the high mileage, and life just caught up and led to that. I couldn't put it back on, and at first, I wondered if this would hinder my racing. But the more people I asked, said, well, this might be my racing weight (still need to read Matt Fitzgerald's book, Racing Weight). So, for now, we'll just go with the flow. If it comes back on, fine, if not, no sweat either.
*I ran on hills A LOT even though Rochester was a relatively flat course. And this helped, because A) it made me climb the hills that were there with ease and B) just helped to build stronger legs that could stay strong in that last 10k.
If you add all of these factors/experiences up...
You get a 3:35 marathon and a happy marathoner all around. Yes, there are some things that could have happened (more sleep and lifting) that may have improved my time. But, overall, the training worked out. Things slipped a little, but overall, I stayed on the ball.
You can take these pieces of advice if you want, or not. But, the marathon is always a learning process, and I learned a lot in training for #4!