Archive for January 19, 2012

Back in December one week before our official start to the 18-week Boston Marathon Training Cycle, I ran my first day of “doubles”.  A six-mile run in the morning at moderate pace, followed by an up-tempo 8.3 mile run roughly 11 hours later.

This was one month post-NYC Marathon, after I was able to recover fully from that race and with the benefit of some time between crossing the mat and a return to marathon training, I had some new perspective on my race at New York.  Some of the things I did good to very good that day, and frankly a couple of areas where I still needed to do some work if I was going to make an honest run at 3 hours at Boston.

I needed improved endurance and strength to help me push through those late miles when my legs were fatigued and my mind was ready to be done racing.  I also needed to continue to improve my stamina to hold pace late when my body started to seek out the path of least resistance on the way to the finish line.

Knowing my training and injury history, my solution was not as easy as simply adding a 6th day of running.  I knew that I needed to keep Mondays and Fridays as my rest days – as showing up to the starting line in Hopkinton, MA nursing an injury would cost me far more on race day than any gains in those additional 18 workouts would help me.

I knew the answer laid in more mileage and more “tough” mileage at that.  But without adding another run day, the only solution I really saw was to add a second run on Tuesdays.

I was careful not to schedule them during race weeks, which would make the workout show up 3 out of every 4 weeks on average, and I was careful at first to go “easy” on the early workout, leaving myself some wiggle room in my afternoon session to run more up-tempo.  Lastly, I made sure to schedule a nice and easy run on Wednesday mornings so that I could recover well before Thursday’s hill repeat session(s).  I share that to illustrate that this was not a “willy-nilly” decision I made to just “train harder” – it was calculated after thinking about all the pros and cons.

Over the last 6 weeks, I’ve run 4 sets of doubles and the results have been pretty darn impressive.

12/6     Run 1     6 Miles     Run 2     8.3 Miles 56:49 (6:51 pace)

12/20  Run1     7 Miles     Run 2     8.3 Miles 55:07 (6:38 pace)

12/27  Run1     7 Miles     Run 2     8.3 Miles 53:21 (6:26 pace)

1/17     Run1     7 Miles     Run 2     8.3 Miles 52:57 (6:22 pace)

The last two attempts at this workout were “breakthrough” moments as I was able to run more or less at half-marathon race pace over a training route by myself, full of hills and 4+ miles of crushed stone after a previous 7-mile run just half a day earlier.

My legs have shown up for all of the workouts and I have frankly felt very strong throughout.  Not only have my times come down each time I have taken on this workout, but the pace at which I have run the early morning workout has quickened as well:

12/6     Run1     7:45 min./mile

12/20  Run1     7:39 min./mile

12/27  Run1     7:11 min./mile

1/17    Run1     7:09 min./mile

With The Texas Half Marathon on deck for next Saturday, I will be running long (16 miles) next Tuesday morning to compensate for a reduction in mileage over the race weekend.  I will do the same thing in the week leading up to The Austin Half Marathon on February 19th and the Shamrock Half Marathon on March 18th.

During the other 5 weeks of training between now and the Shamrock I will be doubling up with 7 miles at a moderate pace in the morning, followed by a tempo workout of 8.3 miles in the afternoon.  The benefits have started to show as I am running training paces at this point that I have never run before.

Some of it is the fact that I am taking these runs more seriously than most workouts, the other of course is confidence.  I feel like I can go out and really “nail a good one” late in the day on Tuesdays and as long as the weather cooperates, I think I have a few more seconds here and there that I can drop from my paces.

The real test of course will be proven out over our next three half-marathons and the Boston Marathon on April 19th.  Fast training runs look great on your workout sheets, but don’t mean a whole helluva lot if they do not manifest themselves on race day.

The fact is however that if we are able to run a new Half-Marathon PR in Dallas next weekend – bettering my time of 1:23:55 set last year at the notoriously fast 3M course here in Austin, then I think it is safe to say that this training cycle is going far better than any we have had before.

Doubles on Tuesdays, Religious Hill Repeats on Thursdays and a 20-mile long run Sunday after Sunday is a lot of work for sure.  My mileage totals are higher than they have ever been before – but I also feel stronger and more confident than I have in the past.  There is a delicate balance that needs to be struck between the two, even I am smart enough to know that.

But for now I can’t help but feel like we are threading the needle and putting ourselves in an enviable position for Boston.  We’re down to just 5 more sets of doubles, 8 more sets of hill repeats, 6 more runs of 20+miles on Sundays and 3 half-marathon races.

In total just 22 more days where we are really putting ourselves out there and “pushing it” – with 15 scheduled off-days over the same period of time.

We’re by no means all the way there yet.  But the view from where I sit right now is a pretty good one.

For the first time I am starting to think the Boston Marathon should start worrying about me a little bit more than I should be worried about it.