Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Marathon Training: This is how we have fun.

As I get deeper into the whole blog-o-sphere, I've stumbled across more running blogs than I know real life runners.  And I love it.

The running community is a different breed of nut-jobs (as I've mentioned) and once you belong, you’re stuck whether you like it or not.  Running is an addiction that only people who also rub Vaseline on their armpits can understand.

And someone who really understands is pretty critical for a runner because, although you have your good days when you're out there feeling like an ad from Runner's World...

... you can't avoid the bad days when... well, you just feel like this:

Every runner has those days when your 5k pace feels hard enough to be breaking world records yet you finish a minute slower than last time.  There's not a word anyone can say to make you feel better, but there's also no substitute for the sympathetic ear of someone who knows your pain.

And the great thing about running blogs is that it’s like having 52 sympathetic ear-ed runners all congregated in your living room… without the soul-crushing smell of 52 runners in one place.

One of the main things I like seeing on other runners’ blogs is training tips and/or their training schedules (badgering your runner friends only works for so long).  So to save some other anonymous cyber-runner out there from resorting to harassment, here’s what I've been doing the last few weeks in preparation for my marathon on October 20 (goal is sub 3:10):

Although I’m loosely following Hal Higdon’s Schedule, I’m definitely making a lot up as I go based on how I feel, my running company, and how many Yankees games I’m going to that afternoon.

But I’m no expert and my marathon time isn't getting me to the Olympics.  Luckily, though, I happen to know a few experts and an Olympic Trials qualifying marathoner.  Before my first marathon last January, I bugged an amazing runner enough that she shared some tips with me (I won’t say her name for her privacy, but we can just call her Beast Mama… the only appropriate name for a working mother who runs a 2:38 marathon at the Olympic Trials).

A few of my fifteen thousand and seventy two questions were about training paces and workouts.  This is what she had to say:

On long run pace: 

Many people don’t believe in running their long runs fast (which is why they advocate LSD…long, slow distance) but my belief is if you expect your body to perform at a particular pace for that long of a race, you best be running close to that in practice!!!  And it gives you a hell of a lot of confidence!  Adrenaline will only help you so much!

On what worked for her:

For my first marathon, three weeks out, I did 4 x 1000’s at 3:32 and getting down to 3:20 for last one.  I did same workout for this year’s trials but did them in 3:15 and got down to 3:12.

I did 4 x mile with 500 meter jog recovery at 5:39 and got down to 5:36 before first marathon four weeks out.  I did same workout for this year but ran them in 5:20 down to 5:15.

I did 5 x 2000’s for each marathon training session too. 

Some key workouts:

So, you do long intervals…200s, 400’s, 600’s won’t do much for you except get you injury because you will be running hard on tired legs (my legs were always tired during my three month training periods).

You should do YASSO 800’s…they are great for a workout and do help predict your time…that is, you warm-up, and run 10 x 800’s with 400 jog between, steady pace for all and what ever your pace is can predict your time for the marathon. 

Some other good workouts are 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 staring with easy two, then hard 2, then easy 2, then hard 2, easy 2.

I also did mile, half x 5 so….. mile hard, 400 jog, 800 m hard, 400 jog and then another mile hard, 400 jog, 800 m hard…etc  

On tempo runs:

You should run tempos were you mix up pace…so I would run 2 miles at 6:45 pace, then break out with 4 miles at 5:50ish pace, then another 3 at slower pace like 6:30ish, then another 3 hard at 5:55, etc.

Obviously her paces aren't going to be relevant to most people, including me (and if they are, I doubt you're taking advice from me).  But Beast Mama's workouts can benefit marathoners at any level.

If you're not a runner, you probably only made it this far in the post hoping to find the punch line.  Well, this isn't a joke.  I'm not saying it's logical to voluntarily submit yourself to this, but you're talking about a community of people like this:

These are actual pictures taken at DII NCAA Cross Country Nationals my senior year of college.

... Because this is how we have fun.


  1. Loved the post. And yes, absolutely agree that despite all of the hard days and the overt strangeness of the running community, running is how we have fun!

    1. Thanks! We are a bit nuts but at least we're all nuts together :D

  2. I love this post Nicole! That snow looks crazy- I'm from the south and have never seen snow so I am in shock you ran through that for a meet, haha! So glad I have another running blog to read :)

    1. Thanks! :D I went to school in Florida (obviously from the pics) so a lot of the girls in my conference hadn't seen snow either. Still can't figure out why they picked Spokane, Washington for a national race!