NJ Marathon Recap Part 1

Hi!  So um, remember that marathon I signed up for back in January and then I dropped off the face of Blog Land?  Well...I ran it!

But before I can tell you about the glorious moment I crossed the finish line, I'll have to back it up a bit since I haven't talked to you in about 4 months.  I mentioned in my last post I signed up with a running coach at my gym to help me with training.  He is an iron man and really knows his stuff, so I felt very comfortable putting my training in his hands.  I had done the usual, circle the race date on the calendar, decorate it with colorful markers and stars ((oh wait, you don't do that?)) and count backwards...I had plenty of weeks to build up to a 22 mile long run, or so I thought.  

 Lou's approach was that of "Train smarter, not harder".  For someone who has always prescribed to the traditional mid-mileage during the week and you can't miss your long run on the weekend type plan, this threw me for a loop.

I sent Lou what I was currently doing (my new love, hot yoga, had to be included in this plan I told him) and how much I could realistically train each week time wise.  What I got back was a comprehensive plan that included 7 days: hot yoga, various types of runs (all based on training in a specific heart rate zone), strength training, rest (of course!) and the "long" run to be done in an ideal heart rate zone.  I say "long" run and not long run because the runs were just not long.  Seriously, this running gal was thrown for a loop.

Hot yoga shweaty mess!
After a couple weeks of following this plan I emailed Lou with my concerns.  Thankfully he is seriously passionate about running and fitness and there was a method to his madness.  He explained it like this,

"Time is a much more beneficial and useful way of training. Studies have shown that cardiovascular improvement increases steadily with little risk of injury up to the two hour mark, after the two hour mark the risk of injury starts to increase significantly while the cardiovascular improvement diminishes significantly. 

 The reason mileage is a poor way of training is because it does not take into account how long a person exposes their body to stress. You said you ran 20 miles in preparation for your last marathon. I think I would be safe in assuming that 20 miles took you a lot longer then 2 hours to run and therefore exposed you to a high risk of injury. I have a client who is doing the Boston Marathon in a few weeks. He qualified by running a 2:57 marathon. If I had him run for 20 miles I know it would take him a lot less time then you and therefore exposed his body to a lot less stress. Here you have two people running the same 20 miles but the stronger more experienced runner is running a lot less and not stressing his body as much as the weaker less experienced runner. See the flaw in training based on mileage? 

You need to train smarter not harder if you want to achieve your goals."

I still wasn't 100% convinced, but I kept going and put my faith in the training.  The workouts I did during the week were fantastic; I loved the very specific Fartlek and tempo runs.  I especially enjoyed my new strength training routine, which is so so so important to runners.  In the past I had always made the excuse that if I lifted weights I'd be sore and not be able to run...silly Melissa.  Another component to the plan were balance exercises to strengthen and stabilize my weak ankles and really, entire core.  He also made sure I used my foam roller consistently!

 The plan was broken into two phases, the first being a 3 to 5 month training cycle based upon strengthening and building a solid base.  Then the training intensity was turned up a notch for the last few weeks.  However I didn't have enough time to build up a base, so my training plan moved at a faster pace.

I'm gonna tell you something that I'm not proud of now.  Sometimes I slacked a little in the training department...

Two times during training I was legitimately sick, however there was a vacation to Florida and a few days of hitting the snooze button and just going back to bed.

With all that in mind; less running, a new approach to training, and a general "Oh my goodness, I'm not gonna be able to do this attitude" I didn't feel very hopeful going into it.

Saturday I went to the expo and picked up my bib and race swag (great long sleeve technical tees!).  I met up with my friend Stacey, a 2 time marathoner who is unfortunately side lined from marathons with an injury.  However on NJ Marathon day she rocked a 60 mile bike ride; go Stacey!!!!

After we bought some goodies from the expo and were saying goodbye, Stacey gave me great advice.  Just enjoy it.  Gee, I hadn't thought about that!  It's so true, but sometimes you can loose sight of the reason why you sign up to run 26.2 miles...we love to run!

With Stacey's advice and Lou's *Race Day Plan* I went to bed Saturday night feeling newly optimistic about my 3rd marathon.

...to be continued... 

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to hear the rest. I really like the idea of training based on time and not miles. My mom has suggested this to me frequently but it's been difficult for me to follow. Glad you're back to blogging!