I’m banking on some pretty sweet 70.3 fitness as about half the oomph to get me through a marathon with a short training cycle. I’ve also done it last year, and the year before (with a suuuuuper short cycle, in fact, I’d be recovering from it today instead of just starting taper).
Every year it’s been an order of operations:
1. Recover from Kerrville 70.3.
2. Do a long run as quickly as possible (6 days after in 2012, 13 days after in 2013, 20 days after for 2014 only because I was sick 13 days out).
3. Ramp up the weekly miles to support the long run (all easy). This year, in 2014, I actually did this BEFORE doing a long run, which is the right way.
4. Do my first 20 as quickly as possible (13 days after in 2012, 20 days after in 2013, 27 days after in 2014).
5. Take a stepback week to let my body process all that ramping up.
5. Maintain a decent amount of miles until 3 weeks out, and then start gradually tapering.
I’ll admit that the initial ramp up is a little rough, pulling you by the nose instead of a gradual build, but within about 2 weeks it becomes the norm and my body adapts. I’m actually finding this cycle that my recovery is better than ever. I’ve been just bopping along with training.
Zliten decided to go tweak his knee (doing non-running related stuff) so he’s been a little low on the miles – he did 3.3 miles with me Thursday night and was all smiles (once you get used to that steady stream of endorphins it’s hard to quit). But, as coach, I didn’t let him pick up training and do the 23 or even a 20 because that would be crazy after being out most of the week.
I bailed on the 23. I was definitely iffy on the merits of doing it, and I wasn’t doing it solo. I had considered an easy 20, because it’s the last week to do it, but I also wasn’t convinced that would be the absolute best use of my time. My next thought was do something a little shorter and speedier (warmup, a good handful of m pace miles, cooldown, somewhere between 15-18).
I had thought about doing the faster practice this week and doing a 20 next week (2 weeks 1 day out) to let Zliten have one more 20. Not optimal, but I definitely didn’t feel worse for wear after my last 20, so it was in the running as a possibility. So, I had lots of options and I was waffling back and forth on what to do.
Then, I went to the internet for advice.
Even though the second training plan I brought up had a 20 miler 2 weeks out, I guess it was the advanced high mileage plan for Boston prep, because suggesting that on the internet apparently is like kicking someone’s dog and insulting their mothers. How dare I consider running the magical 20 with only 15 days to recover? Apparently I’m asking to be injured, sick, and mentally addled, probably in conjunction with wearing a scarlet letter A on my chest or something.
Ok, fine, I can concede that. Probably not the greatest idea. Three weeks out of Kerrville I did my second 13 (long run) and then chilled out a bit on the run miles, so makes sense. So, whatever I did this weekend was it, and then it’s taper time. So, even more pressure to get this right.
Then I got paralyzed in that decision and decided to post my dilemma to a forum I frequent (that generally has sane people) to try to get ideas.
Apparently my training thus far was an affront to the marathon distance (not enough miles, ramped up too fast), swimming and biking don’t count at ALL in building running endurance fitness (I heartily disagree over years of experience with it), and the best thing I can do is to run way less miles (now that I’m ramped up and absorbing training just fine?) and accept defeat right now that my marathon is just shot. Wow, thanks for the confidence guys!
I know that the traditional path to a marathon does not include doing a lot of training on the bike and in the pool, but I feel so fit after my 70.3s I’m ready to leap. Once I drop the other sports, and after a little adjustment period where it’s weird and awkward to RUN ALL THE MILES, I feel good. I admit, it IS harder to do 90% running instead of splitting between all 3 sports, but I’m rolling less hours overall, with a lot less intensity overall, so the load feels very similar at the end of the week.
I was riled up for awhile about it, but at this point, I’ve realized this – if you’re going to do non-traditional things, you have to forge your own ground and ignore the haters. You have to march to the beat of your own drum. I certainly wouldn’t recommend everyone jump up in miles the way I do, but this isn’t my first rodeo.
It started one year I experimented on a half marathon 6 weeks out of an olympic tri, and I PR’d it (the half marathon that is, it’s actually still my PR). I was going to do it again the next year, but it got rained out. 2012, I tried the 70.3 to marathon, and while it was so, so, hard, I had a great experience and was hooked. Last year, I did it again but picked one NINE weeks out. I PR’d by 21 minutes. If any of these had gone badly, I would not continue to do this. I’m not a moron.
And, this doesn’t flatten me for weeks or months or anything. The first marathon ended and I took a nice long offseason (but that was planned, I’d done 24 races in 12 months and it was time for a break). Last year, I logged almost 60 miles in December not counting the marathon and I was already ramping up for a half in January. So, this level of training didn’t kill me, injure me, or otherwise negatively affect me.
I also have the benefit this year that this is not my only shot. Yeah, I want to PR and have a great day, and I’m on track to do so. However, I’m signed up for another one at the end of February. Getting up to fit enough to do a marathon and then having 3 more months to fine tune? Pretty sure that’s going to be the breakthrough one. However, I’m also going to nontraditionally train for that one too because I’ll be ramping up for an early season 70.3 as well.
But, I’m sure that run fitness can’t translate to bike and swim, so there’s no way I’m going to PR that one either, according to the internet. I may as well just give up now. Riiiiiight.
So, what happened this weekend? Only, like, my best breakthrough run of this cycle. I went out with a very flexible plan, and discovered my body had found it’s way out of the mileage haze. It wanted to cruise faster than normal, so I let it. The first 7 miles were between 11-11:22, and then I found another gear for the next 9 – between 10:20-10:40. It felt natural, and my cadence and stride felt pretty great. That was 16. I decided to do two more to cool down, but my legs didn’t really want to slow, so those were 11:04 and 10:50, respectively.
The result: the fastest I’ve ever run anything over a half marathon by a LOT, and a huge confidence boost going into the next 3 weeks of taper. I celebrated by stretching, an ice bath, a beer, and a delicious sandwich (yay, splurge day).
I do have some weirdness going on in my left shin/calf that I’m a little worried about. I can run/walk/etc no problem, but I’m feeling a few twinges now and then. I know it’s knotted all to hell (been doing lots of self massage and going to officially address that this week at the chiro and massage), but as a runner, anything in the shin is scary – we fear the hell out of stress fractures. I don’t think this is it. Pain that moves around and cycles generally is muscular, but it’s definitely a wakeup call to treat myself right. I’m taking a few extra days off running this week and frankly, if it’s a wash and I swim and bike most of it, life will go on. The hay is in the barn. Taper is for addressing these things.
However upset I was at the people on the forum, I actually am thankful for two reasons. A great path to me to accomplish a goal – to be told I can’t. So, thank you, random internet people. You may have gotten into my brain for a bit, but I can ASSURE you that you’ll be in my brain in the latter marathon miles, and I’ll be fighting hard to prove you wrong with a shiny PR.
Also, if this is going to be limping through a marathon, I’ll be excited to see what I can do at the end of February with 3 more months to train.