Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Marathon training vs shorter distances

Since Labor Day or so, I've been in half/full marathon mode and I'm looking forward to the end of this cycle. I still like the short distances better and do not plan on running another marathon until at least the Fall of 2014 when I can get into Boston with a 3:10. If healthy and under the exact right conditons with the aid of a downhill course, I might have a chance. Until then, I will put it out of my mind and focus on where my heart is, middle distance running.

The orthodox philosophy for marathon training is little to no speed, at least 80 miles per week with virtually all of it being a good deal slower than the pace that you will run for 26.2 miles on race day. Despite what everybody says, that approach will never work for me. I am often criticized for my fast training paces and my defense is as follows:
1. After my medical breakthrough, I am now much better than my current PRs indicate.
I don't think there is any doubt about that. I've basically proven that I can run below 3:20 with my most recent long run and had enough left to come back for 5 more @ sub-8 the next day. That would be a PR by more than 15 minutes in the marathon. It meant a lot just to know that I am capable of it. Who knows what will happen on race especially with my history of instabilty?
2. I take sharp cut backs periodically to guard against burnout.
When leading up to a race, holiday weekend or if I feel it's necessary, I've been known to cut my mileage by up to 50%. I always come back fresh and ready to roll. After the full, I get 7-10 days of complete rest before I tackle the next cycle.
3. I do not enjoy long slow distance every day nor do I like how it makes me feel.
Going by the book, I should do a lot of 10-14 mile runs during the week in addition to my weekend long run. Training guidelines such as McMillan are designed for 80 MPW runners. I've never topped 70 MPW but I did sustain 60+ for several weeks in the Fall of 2010 with disastrous results. With the same effort, paces will slow naturally as distance increases and you will never feel fresh. There will always be residual soreness in the legs and a bit of tiredness in the body as a whole. At 50 MPW, I feel fresh but suggested training paces feel much too slow. When coming off a cutback, 7:15 feels easy but 7:30ish has been the norm recently. I'm sure that I'd be more like 8:00 at higher volume. Also, it's too darn time consuming to run long every day. I need 8 hours of sleep. When you run 12+ miles in the evening, decompress, eat and shower, it's almost bed time. Not the life I want and it could put a strain on relationships.
4. The marathon is not a distance that I take too seriously.
It's little more than a fun lark every 2 years or so. I'd get a lot more satisfaction out of a sub-40 10K than a 3:20 marathon so why not train accordingly and do what I think is best to meet that objective.
5. I am improving by training this way
Race results don't lie. PRs at every distance that I raced last year and I didn't even have my best stuff in some of those races either. I know 2 runners in Birmingham than BQ'd on under 60MPW so it can be done.
Many, not all, sub-elite runners (2:40-3hr marathoners) seem to be a bunch of stuck up little pricks. I had a bad experience when I tried to run in college and it seems that little has changed as an adult. Some have suggested that anyone can run a sub-5 Mile or sub-3 marathon if they train hard enough. That's as idiotic as suggesting that a person with an IQ of 85 can get an advanced degree from a top ranked university. There's a little thing called talent that dictates your potential. I respect anyone who makes an earnest attempt to get in better shape by running regardless of their paces. I have no problem with constructive criticism about my training or differing philosophies but many of the comments on RWOL were downright mean spirited. The more I defended my training, the worse it became. I know where I stand with the Lord and I'm not after praise of men or women but to suggest that I only care about myself and my training paces is ridiculous. I've devoted countless hours to help others with chemical imbalances and hope to inspire others with my hope, faith and determination. If that offends you, you've got the problem, not me. I'm done posting in Marathon Race Training. I will stay on the 1:30 Half Thread where the group is supportive and encouraging.

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