July 21, 2011

Recommended: Advanced Marathoning

After the marathon race pace run on Tuesday morning, I had an ART session at Chief Chiropractic & Sports Injuries Clinic. It was a preventative session and I asked Dr Leah Stadelmann to focus on my lower back and glutes, as those felt very tight. She did a fantastic job of loosening everything (needless to say, I highly recommend her. She's a runner and triathlete, too).

Unfortunately, as I've experienced before, an ART session that targets those areas leaves me feeling shattered for a couple of days. On top of that, Wednesday's alarm rang at 3:30am. I contempated getting my run in but decided against it, and read more of Advanced Marathoning on my Kindle instead.

This book by Peter Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas, recommended to me by a Sydney-based friend who's a 3:02 marathoner and who I've shared more running miles with than anyone else except Tim, was exactly what I needed. After the past two 100km-plus weeks, the volume felt good to me, as did my key sessions but I was wondering a little about the other sessions, the easy and recovery runs.

The question constantly on my mind is: Am I training and living as well as I can to get the best out of myself? Especially now that I am 41, I feel an urgency to get it right. I don't believe my age puts me on the slippery road to slower times, not yet. But if I want to get faster, I have to do it now.

Don't mistake this sense of urgency for impatience, I am more than willing to put in the time and effort to train. In fact, when I say that I am training for a sub-3:00 marathon, I do not expect to run it this year—the past three years have taught me patience.

I have all the patience in the world to get ready for the sub-3:00—but I don't have the time to waste on training that isn't as good as it should be. And therein lies the key, there are no ironclad guarantees that my training is perfect, you cannot lock in that sub-3:00 performance. You can only gain confidence that you are doing the best training possible for the runner you are today.

I know I am a different runner now than, say, three years ago. It's one of the many points made in Advanced Marathoning that strongly resonate with me and recent decisions I made about my training. They include boosting the volume, as the book says, "[M]any of the beneficial adaptations that improve endurance are related to the total volume of your training."

Another point is the pace and intensity of a marathoner's speed work. "In the long run, so to speak, it's your long runs and tempo runs that have the most relevance to your performance on marathon day, not now often you've churned out a sterling set of half-mile repeats," according to Advanced Marathoning.

After looking at the training schedule offered in the book that suits my weekly mileage, I noticed that the easy and recovery runs are both longer and shorter than I'd tried in the past couple of weeks. The authors also note that at this volume, with this particular schedule peaking at 113km (70 miles) a week, there's no need for splitting runs (at least not often) to reach that mileage.

The plan includes marathon race pace workouts (a key change I decided to make in preparing for the Bellingham Bay Marathon, as I've not done them before any of my other 13 marathons) as well as VO2 max workouts at a pace no faster than 5km race pace (which I like), and has an overall volume that I am already running and would like to stick with. I like it a lot, and am going to follow it.

While you may argue that this throws my run by feel approach out the window, I think it's an extension of the shift I've made in my training in the past months, even the past year. This schedule feels right to me.

This morning I did the medium-long run, 24km, at a pace between 10% and 20% below marathon goal race pace. The first half where I, as advised in the book, stuck closer to the slower pace - in my case 5:15/km - felt very, very comfortable. The second half, closer to 4:50/km, was still comfortable, though naturally less so. Overall, it was an awesome run.


Anthony said...

Excellent post Margreet.

Margreet Dietz said...

Thanks Anthony!