I remember my final 22 mile long run prior to the New York City Marathon in 2011. When I got back home I dropped my soaking wet shoes, socks, shorts, runderwear outside to dry out and shuffled into the bathroom. Dawn was there getting ready to go to breakfast and I said, “I am never training for another Fall Marathon again”.
Now, the first mistake that runners make is when they start a sentence with, “I am never …..”
It is just an absurd opening line. We absolutely are going to do whatever it is that we say we are never going to do again in the future and the future might be as nearby as just a few months away. I made the same mistake just seconds after crossing the finish line in New York on a day when I ran my best ever marathon, and I said aloud, “never again”. Everyone in the finish area, runners and volunteers alike actually just laughed.
Perfect strangers, and even they knew that I was completely full of sh#%.
But I have to admit, I really meant it when I swore off of Fall Marathons. Training for a marathon is difficult enough, especially if you intend on really “racing” the marathon. Running as close as possible to your abilities and fitness level.
But to train for that distance through a Texas summer, where the coolest temperatures of the morning take place at 4:00 a.m. and they are sitting at 77 degrees with humidity in the 84-88% range through June, July, August and September. It’s just a beat down, and there really is no relief in sight. Quite honestly, without any traveling planned during this training cycle, the next time I feel cool temperatures on my body in the 40’s will be on Race Day in Utah.
I am hoping that is actually going to pay huge dividends on race day, as in those temperatures after a summer of battling the heat, humidity and hills here in Austin – I should be ready to eat thunder and crap lightening.
But getting to that point is going to be the real test. We started this 20-week marathon training cycle with 118 runs and 1,201 miles to get through the finish line at Big Cottonwood. We are going to be going to 6 run days this cycle, only taking Friday as our day to rest, recharge the batteries and get ready for our Saturday team workout with the Rogue Elite Training Group.
After that weekly beat down we will pull ourselves together on Sunday mornings and go long. Our mileage on Sundays this cycle will be: 14, 15, 16, 14, 18, 19, 14, 20, 20, 14, 20, 21, 14, 21, 22, 14, 23, 16, 10 and then finally race day.
1,200 miles +/-, 7 long runs of 20 miles or more, 40 track workouts and plenty of endurance work mixed in at paces ranging from Marathon Goal Pace of 6:52 min./mile to our Recovery Pace of 7:52 or MGP +:60.
I am not a huge believer in running a lot of “total mileage” during a training cycle just for the sake of it. There are plenty of 55-60 mpw (mile per week) runners who can dismantle 70-80 mpw runners on marathon morning. But I do know for me that I was a much more fit and well prepared marathoner in New York City, running in the high 60’s and low 70’s per week than I was when I was topping out around 55 miles or so.
This cycle will have us running 53, 56, 58, 59, 62, 63, 55, 67, 67, 55, 68, 70, 55, 72, 73, 55, 76, 61 and 46 during our last week leading up to race day. Those 55 mile weeks that are highlighted are serving as my “step-back” weeks, where we back off of the mileage just a bit before increasing mileage during the subsequent next two weeks to guard against over-training and injury.
The thought of a 55-mile week being a “step-back” week is a bit surreal as that was my peak mileage training for Pittsburgh back in 2009 where I ran my first Boston Qualifier in 3:17:43. Now 55 miles is just a business as usual type of week.
So the formula is set, the dye is cast, we are doing things a little bit differently this time around working with Coach Carmen and training 2X per week with the Rogue Team. But we are keeping just enough of the things that we have done in the past that made us successful to make me remain calm, confident and relaxed heading into what is going to be a tough summer of training here in Austin.
There are going to be runners much faster than us at Big Cottonwood in September, of that I am certain. There will be others who are younger, stronger, more fit, have run more miles in their training and have big aspirations for race day just as we have.
Last year a sub 3:10 marathon was good enough for 10th place overall in the event. A sub 3:05 would have placed us in the top 4. Being the first year of the event last year, the crowd was small and nobody had a real sense of how the race would unfold.
This year there will be more competitors, faster runners, more at stake with Boston Qualifying times more precious than ever. I can’t really control any of that. All I can do is put in the work, take care of myself and put the best conditioned physically, most ready mentally marathoner we have ever been on the starting line on Sept. 14th. When that gun fires and we cross the mat – I want to have zero doubt in my mind that there was anything more that I possibly could have done to be ready.
If we are able to run that first mile with all systems firing, physically, mentally, spiritually – those other runners will be in a world of trouble on race day.
Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose. I ran the last one for me Dom in New York, this one is for you brother. We’re headed back to Boston and once we get there next year, we are going to crush it.