Archive for December 19, 2010

Sunday morning’s 20-mile long run capped off what very well may prove to be the toughest week of training as we make our way to the starting line at the Austin Marathon on February 20th.

The 5 training runs, covering 55.4 miles are the most mileage I have ever run in a single week.

Some endurance athletes routinely run 50, 60, 70 mile weeks when they are training for a race.

For me however, 55.4 is a pretty big deal.

I take two days every week off from running, traditionally Mondays and Fridays as I have learned that for me to stay healthy, my body cannot handle adding a 6th day of running very often. 

I need those two days each week off from pounding the pavement to keep my feet, ankles, shins, knees and hips ready to push hard the following week of training.

Instead I ride the Tri-Bike on Monday’s as my cross training day, adding 16 bike miles to my training week.

To put the last week in perspective, I only raced 52.4 miles at the Boston and Pittsburgh Marathons last spring 13 days apart, so 55.4 is a pretty big number.

Not all miles are the same however, and when it comes to marathon training, logging mile after mile is not the only thing to be concerned with.  Not if you are planning on “Racing” a marathon, which is very different than “Running” a marathon in my opinion.

Simply logging miles at a slow pace is a sounds strategy if your goal is to “Survive” the 26.2 mile test.

But if you are looking to “Thrive” instead of merely “Survive”, then running miles of varying intensity levels is the key.  Not every workout is the same, not ever run is the same, nor should they be.

The key is varying your workouts to focus on training your body for the various challenges that are sure to arise as you start your 26.2 mile journey.  On race day there are going to be easy miles, hard miles, hilly miles and flat miles. 

There will be miles when you feel great, miles when you feel not so great and for most of us, miles when you are struggling just to hold on as your body is failing you. 

The only thing that keeps you going is your desire to push your limits and see just how tough you really are.  Those are the miles that make the marathoner and as I mentioned earlier this week, separate the dreamers from the achievers.

This stretch of my training cycle including the lead up to next Sunday’s second 20-mile run was put together in my mind to tear me down, allowing me to gather my strength during a step-back week two weeks from now. 

After a brief respite from heavy training mileage, I will push harder still running back to back 10 mile and 21 mile runs, reduce mileage once more and then finish off the meat of my training cycle with back to back 10 mile and 20 mile runs on January 22nd and 23rd.

All that will remain will be January 30th’s 3M Half-Marathon and three taper weeks to race day.

So now is the time to pay my dues, dig deep and put in the work.  It is these workouts that will carry me through the hills from mile 9-19 at Austin.  They will help me push through the wall at mile 20, and allow me to run “my race” over the final 10 Kilometers to the finish.

The hard work is not on race day.  The truly hard work was fought out on the hills of Avery Ranch at 5:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 19th.  Today was the day that I would have to pay the price for what I am hoping is a best-ever marathon performance in February.

A look back over my last six workouts:

Sunday, December 12 – Decker Half Marathon 6:37 pace.

Tuesday, December 14 – 6.2 Mile Tempo Run 6:52 pace.

Wednesday, December 15 – 10 Miles 7:19 pace.

Thursday, December 16 – 10.2 Miles – 10X Hill Repeats.

Saturday, December 19 – 9 Miles at Marathon Race Pace 7:08.

Sunday, December 20 – 20 Mile Long Run 7:18 pace.

This morning there were no cowbells clanging, bands playing, spectators watching and there was no finish clock in the driveway.

Only the mental images of race day to keep me company, and thoughts of my friend Dom who I’m running this race for.

Oh, and Waffles. 

A whole mess of home-made waffles that Dawn and Landry were kind enough to prepare for me while I was in the shower enjoying the end of a tough, tough training week. 

Time to keep pushing; we’ve got another big week ahead of us.