Sunday, 15 July 2012

Marathon lessons learned & next training plan

"Every race is basically an experiment," my chiropractor said during my treatment session a couple of days after the marathon. Talking about the race then was the start of my post-race analysis and planning for future training. 7 weeks on, and one week from starting my next training plan, I've come to a few conclusions. Anyone looking for an action packed, witty post, please avert your eyes now.

While I'm never going to complain about knocking 9 minutes off my PB, I had been aiming for 3:10 and didn't reach it, despite my other PBs suggesting I'm capable of 3:05 (MacMillan calculator). So what went wrong and what should I do differently in the lead up to the California International Marathon on December 2 (with the Harvest Half on September 29th)?

-I should take it easy in the week after a race. The day after the spring trio 10k in April, I went for an easy run and my right inner thigh (looking at a diagram either the pectineus or gracilis) tightened. It had actually felt a little tight after that race, and in my elation at breaking the 40 minute barrier I gota bit carried away. Speed work was then done on the bike which effectively compromised my training. 

-This leads me to speed work. Speed intervals are the training runs that make me most vulnerable to injury. These are the short, sub-5k pace intervals that I usually do on wednesdays. A 10k race can be troublesome as I do it at almost the same pace as a 5k. I'm going to mix in some hill work for extra strength at the start to build a little more strength and also as an alternative to speed runs with similar effect (i.e. less exposure to them and kinder on the legs).
After the Harvest Half, there are 8 weeks until the CIM. The second half I will do long tempos - marathon pace or slightly quicker for the whole run - instead of speed intervals. This should, I believe, help build more endurance and perhaps even reduce my tendancy to go too fast at the start of a race. 
- I lacked raw endurance training going into the marathon. My sunday long runs should be longer, and there should be more of them. The tempos mentioned just above should also help with this.
This is my training plan covering July 23 to December 2:

Other observations:

-I'm a "salty sweater". I always knew I sweated a lot, but the way I thundered to a halt several times in the marathon then found my legs again after a spectator gave me some salt suggests to me that during a full marathon I need evev more electrolytes than gatorade has. The way I grabbed all the gatorade I could at aid stations suggests I might have had a touch of hyponatremia (low electrolyte to fluid balance). For runs over 20k then, I plan to experiment with various supplements such as salt tablets. Time to hit the specialist running stores.

-Quad/ hamstring imbalance. A classic runner's problem so I've heard. The main engine room is the front of the leg, with the rear stabilizing them and also pushing the leg forward after toe-off. On my tuesday and thursday weight sessions I've added 5lbs to the hamstring curl, and now also do dumbbell squats. In addition, I've also decided to replace the saturday static weights with a free-weight routine I found in Impact Magazine. I've attached the 3 pages below. I've tried it once, and my arse was well and truly self-kicked. I'll need to build up the number of reps in each set. It should also help with core strength. I work on that a little extra too, joining my wife in a home work-out between 1 and 3 times a week.
A lot of plans I read don't even mention weight training - it's as if a lot of athletes don't do it. That's not really true, is it?
Anyhow, that's my plan for PBs in the half and full marathons this year. I'd love to hear some suggestions.


  1. How does this training plan compare to your Calgary Marathon plan? I'm making a go at Kelowna in October, my plan is to run easy at a strict 75% heart rate and try to log 100km+ weeks with one day of speed work or a tempo run every week. The theory is that you can gain more fitness by running more at an easy pace than by running less distance at a harder effort, but everyone responds differently, it's definitely an experiment.

    1. You make a good point, and my thinking was gradually heading in that direction.
      For the Calgary Marathon, my plan was rather similar to my half-plan with slightly longer long runs. What I've done is tweak it a little in the lead-up to the HHM, then mostly do away with speed intervals replaced with long tempos. I might even alternate the tempo intervals on fridays with a long tempo also. The most I've ever been able to do in one week has been 70k, which probably blunts my marathon endurance. Anyhow, I've still got a while to change the Oct/ Nov part.