With the departure of August the fall marathon season is just around the corner. For those of us in the Sunshine State there are still a couple of months before any marathons show up on the calendar, which means marathon training is in full swing.
In case you are new to my blog I’ll recap my marathon history, and it’s not pretty. My first marathon was Thanksgiving weekend 2014, approximately 13 months after I started running. I thought I was much better prepared than I actually was and nearly PR’d the first half, reaching the 13.1 split in 1:53. My goal was to beat 4 hours so the pace seemed right. When I crossed the finish in 4:47 (2:54 2nd half) I was beaten, broken, and battered. I then ran another marathon 6 weeks later (with 4 halfs, a 10k, and a 5k in between). I started out slower but found the same basic result (4:50 finish). My third marathon was just two weeks after the second. Any guesses on the result? 4:54 finishing time and by this time there were two Achilles injuries and a completely defeated attitude.
Following the third marathon in 60 days I took a few weeks with little running and canceled a couple of races. I needed time to heal both physically and mentally. I also needed time to regroup and set some new goals. But wait, I hadn’t yet reached my marathon goal of beating 4 hours, or even come close. I set a new goal anyway. Conservative this time? Not a chance. I’m going for a BQ in the same race that I PR’d at 4:47, and I’m going to do it 12 months later (Space Coast Marathon). At my age a BQ time is 3:24:59 or better. I’m looking to make up 1:23 or more in one year. #Crazy
Fast forward to this past June when I started my marathon training. I had recently hired a coach and shared my new goal. She said it would require a great deal of dedication but it could be done. That’s all I needed to hear. I also purchased a gym membership so there would be nothing to get in my way. Strengthening would be a key part of my program and some of my runs would need to be done treadmill style simply because of the heat and humidity of central Florida in the summer. Things have since fallen through with the coach but I’m on a solid training program of my own and feeling good about my progress.
The month of August is where I started stretching the long runs as well as the easy runs, upping the weekly mileage while continuing to do speed work every Tuesday and Thursday, usually at the gym. My previous top mileage month was this past May, with 159 miles but August finished up with 189 miles. I conquered long runs of 14, 16, 18, 15, and 18 with the final 18 being on the treadmill at an average of 8:51 per mile. Marathon goal pace will be 7:49 per mile so I still have a ways to go, but considering the difficulty that I have had just finishing 18 outside this summer, that treadmill run was a huge confidence booster.
I was also able to complete a variety of speed workouts, including progression runs, 800s, ladders, and tempos, meeting or exceeding my goal for each speed test. On August 20th I even stretched a tempo run just long enough to set a 10k PR of 45:35 (my 10k race PR is 49:13). So far things are looking good.
My goals for September are to flirt with 200 miles for the month, achieve my first 50-mile training week and get more comfortable with the 18-20 mile runs outside. I will probably move one of my long runs inside again in September as I try to get a feel for marathon pace for longer distances. I also have one week scheduled with no speed work as a form of a cutback week, but other than that the speed work will continue twice a week. It really is having a tremendous impact.
If you’re on a marathon training program or if you’ve been through one and you have suggestions, please leave a comment. Like I said, I’m doing this on my own so I could be missing some important ideas.