Archive for December 7, 2011

I worked on a College Campus back in the mid-1990’s.  The President of the school once said to me as we were preparing for a meeting, “you know Joe, if we only do what we’ve already done then will only get what we’ve already got.”

To know Judge Sanders was to love him.  He was a southern gentleman who always had a quip or colloquialism to fit the situation.  But this one stuck with me like no other.  The more popular version of this comment goes something like, “insanity defined is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.”

The point being in these two cases that if you want to change an outcome you have to change your approach.  Not too earth-shattering a revelation, but one that I have been kicking around ever since the closing miles of the New York City marathon.  In fact after all 6 marathons I have run I have tried to take something from the experience and put that knowledge into the development of my next training cycle.

I believe that if I do not keep trying to push a bit harder and refine my approach I am running a race that I cannot win.

I am 44 years old, not 24.  When we get to Boston we will be 5 months older than we were in New York, 14 months older than we were at Austin in 2011.  Our marathon time may be dropping at each event, but the other clock – Father Time – is ticking louder and louder.  Unfortunately that clock is moving in the wrong direction.

So in this intermediate period between recovery from New York which is now complete and our Boston Marathon Training Cycle that begins this coming Monday (12-12), I looked at my ramp up to New York and looked for areas where we could refine our approach.  Not all marathons are the same.  The course topography makes a difference.  Not only what kind of hills the course features plays a role, but when those hills arrive changes the marathon and makes it unique.

I was never concerned about any downhill sections when it came to the New York City Marathon – I was only concerned with the uphill climbs over the 5 bridges.

In Boston Heartbreak Hill gets all the hype and attention, but that is actually the 4th and final climb up the “Newton Hills”.  Each one of them takes a bite out of the marathoner.

But more treacherous than the climbing in Boston which our hill-repeat workouts will address during training will be how I handle the 14 mile downhill start from Hopkinton to Boston.  It is this stretch of the course that so thoroughly crushed my quadricept muscles in 2010 it didn’t matter how ready I was for the climb from Newton to Chestnut Hill.  My race was over at the Newton Fire Station.  I simply had nothing left.

One adjustment will be the addition of “downhill” hill repeats for Boston, where I will run down our local hill here 10X with a recovery jog back up to the top every third Thursday with traditional “uphill” hill repeats on the other two weeks.  That will allow for a strengthening of those quadricept muscles and make me a more efficient downhill runner.  I will also be adding the golf course to our long run course which will add a ton of short explosive uphill and downhill sections to my long runs.

More elevation change, more hills, more downhill running – all to be ready for 3 hours of the toughest racing I will have ever attempted.

One other change, which is actually quite significant will be the addition of running “doubles” during this training cycle.  Essentially adding a 6th run to my weekly training schedule, but not sacrificing one of my two rest days.

I know that I need those days off on Monday and Friday to stay healthy.  A training injury and all bets are off in Boston.  In the past I’ve realized that I can get away with running 6X a week occasionally – but I cannot sustain it without the onset of injury.  Some runners can run every day, week after week.  I just am not one of those runners.

So to add some mileage to my already moderately high 55-65 mpw average during marathon training, I will be running twice on Tuesdays.

A relaxed pace run in the morning (6 miles +/-) followed by a more strenuous, longer workout in the late afternoon, (8-9 miles) roughly 12 hours later.  Then on Wednesday morning an easy recovery run from 9-12 miles.

This will allow me to log 23-27 miles in a 24 hour period of time from Tuesday-Wednesday, where in the past we had run 16-19.  I will be adding some easy miles to help our endurance (think the final 4 miles of the marathon), while keeping the up-tempo run on Tuesday that has become a staple of our training.

Tuesday-Wednesday workouts looked like this:

Tuesday a.m. – 6 miles – 46:22 – 7:44 pace

Tuesday p.m. – 8.3 miles – 56:49 – 6:51 pace

Wednesday a.m. – 9 miles – 1:12:52 – 8:11 pace

By sticking with this formula over the course of 18 weeks we will be able to add 140~ miles to our training cycle and push us up to that 70 mpw threshold.  A place we have never been, all while maintaining our two rest days for cross training/recovery.

Like anything new, especially for a distance runner I will need to carefully monitor this change to our training after the first few weeks once our body and our muscles adjust to the new training load.  Some tweaks and changes may be necessary if I can not hit my speed workouts or if I am more fatigued than normal at the end of my long runs.

The goal of course is to show up in Hopkinton, MA on April 16th 100% healthy, ready to run the race of our life.

Weather permitting we are looking to blow through our marathon PR as if it was standing still.  3:08:09 was plenty good for New York.

But if we only do what we’ve always done, we’ll only get what we’ve already got.

And that ain’t going to cut it in Boston.