I’m a few weeks past the halfway point in marathon training so wanted to summarize how things are going at a higher-level. And, I have some changes to announce!
I’m doing a Hansons’ Marathon Method plan that has two something-of-substance (SOS) workouts a week instead of the three in the classic plans. I have one workout mid-week, then on the weekend I alternate between a traditional long run and a marathon pace run.
My marathon pace runs had been going very well until last Saturday, when I ran on a graded rail-trail that mimics the race course. I know some people say they don’t notice the slight grade and that it feels flat, whereas other people notice it. I, unfortunately, am in the latter category. When I’ve done long runs on this graded trail, I am always much slower on the upgrade. Like I said in my recap, my first pace run on this trail was a disaster. I ran about a minute/mile slower on the upgrade and then was too tired to pick it up much on the downgrade. I averaged 45 seconds/mile slower than my goal pace–a pace which I have been able to run all through training, even on very warm and humid days (last Saturday was very cool).
Last Saturday’s run reminded me of my first marathon. Yes, it was very hot and sunny and I was boiling, but the upgrade contributed to my getting so worn out, both physically and mentally, in the first half of the race that I had nothing left for the second half of the race. I’m realizing that I just struggle with this type of graded trail and never do well on it.
I’d always planned on this training cycle being more relaxed and more about the journey and experience instead of tackling a big challenge. That’s why I’m not chasing a big time goal. Do I really want the challenge of this type of course that ate me alive the first time I did it? So, I’ve decided to NOT do the NCR Marathon near Baltimore, which is on a graded rail-trail. Instead, I’m going to do the Philadelphia Marathon.
I know, I know. I said I didn’t want to do Philly because I don’t like big-city races. It’s true; I don’t. However, I’m pretty sure that the course will be easier for me than a graded trail. Even when I run on a route with rolling hills, I tend to do better than on that long upgrade of a rail trail. And even though I don’t have a big time goal, I would at least like to do one mile at my goal pace–I never did a single mile at my goal pace in my first marathon! Also, I am hoping that some of the things I don’t like about big-city races–a crowded course and lots of spectators–won’t be the case in Philly. The marathon is on a separate day than the half marathon, which is good. And I’ve heard from others that there’s not a lot of crowd support, which works in my favor. Unless they’re at the finish line, people watching me run really bother me!
I thought I would have a better experience at NCR because I like running on trails more, but I fear that I’m going to struggle on the graded trail just like I did in my first marathon and not have a good experience. All I want is a not-miserable experience!
Logistically, Philly is the weekend before NCR, so I will lose a week. But I don’t think that’s a huge deal.
My other change is regarding 80/20 (easy-to-hard ratio) training. I’ve been following this training method up to this point (applied to the Hansons’ plan), and like I said in my last check-in, it’s been going very well. I’ve been able to hit mileage and workouts without extreme fatigue. Now, though, as I get closer to the race, I feel like I need more of the mental training that the Hansons’ plan gives with its long, tough workouts. I’m no longer going to alter the plan to hit the 80/20 ratio. I know I’ll be very tired as the cumulative fatigue sets in, but I’m hopeful that it won’t cripple me because I have only two workouts a week.
This cycle is really going quickly for me. Now that I’ve moved my race up by one week, there are only a little over 7 weeks until race day! Other than my depressive episode after vacation, I’ve been enjoying training. But I know that from here on out, it will be tough. October will be a very high-mileage month, with two 50-mile weeks. I’m mentally gearing up to give the rest of training everything I have. I’ve done well so far, and I’m not about to lose steam now!
I mentioned last week that I’ve gotten my eating under control. I know that I’ll need to eat more for these high-mileage weeks. I’m going to stock my fridge and pantries with food to fuel my runs and not buy any junk food that will be easy for me to overeat when I’m tired and hungry.
The other thing that I’d like to do better at is strength training. I started training by consistently doing three sessions a week, then two, and now usually only one. I’d like to aim for at least two sessions, even if they have to be short sessions.
On to the final weeks of training!