A Fool For a Client?

Abraham Lincoln once famously said “he who represents himself has a fool for a client”. Now I’m no lawyer and I don’t think I would eschew the sage advice of Honest Abe if I were ever in need of legal representation. However, I’m also no running coach but I have nearly convinced myself that I can design a marathon training program that will effectively prepare me for the TCSNYC Marathon in November.

I ran the TCSNYC Marathon last year after using a popular training program and finished in an extremely disappointing 4 hours and 51 minutes. Almost 5 hours! Yecch. The program started me off a few steps back from where I already was in terms of distance and speed and in the end I felt it mostly taught me to run too slow. My average half marathon pace is 8:37 per mile but I never got below 9:00 for the entire marathon and finished around 11:06 per mile. I spent a lot of time concentrating on running slow, and boy did I.

Since then I have done a lot of reading and reviewing marathon training programs and I think they kind of boil down to these elements:

  • You need to run a LOT of miles
  • You need to incorporate some speed/strength training
  • You need to taper effectively

These programs typically help you to determine a goal pace as well, and there are workouts designed to make sure you know how to find and keep that pace while running the race.

Based on that and my experience last year, here’s what I am doing. I have increased my daily runs from 3 or 4 miles to 5 or 7 and I may go up to 7 every day. I’m increasing my weekly long runs from my usual 13 miles up to 20 miles on a graduated basis. However I’m increasing time rather than miles by adding 15 minutes every 2 weeks, ending with 2 3:30 runs before the taper. I am NOT trying to run at a certain pace but to run at the fastest comfortable pace I can, which has been between 8:30 and 9:30 depending on day, distance and heat. I didn’t feel that the fartleks and sprints etc. helped me last time so I don’t want to do them. Instead I am doing hill training once a week where I run up a 0.2 mile Cat 5 hill in my neighborhood 5-6 times, preceded and followed by 1 mile warm up and cool down runs. So I’ll end up running about 50 miles per week for the majority of weeks and Ill taper down to 44, 33, 16 for the last 3 weeks. I will also try to skip the 6 pound weight gain the week before the race this time, not that my training program recommended that last year.

So does that sound like a reasonable approach to training for a marathon? Or am I just fooling myself?

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4 thoughts on “A Fool For a Client?

  1. Sounds very reasonable but if endurance running is anything like endurance cycling, I think adding more speed intervals and spacing out longer recovery between hard days might add some oomph to your marathon pace. And hey, didn’t you say you weren’t doing it again?

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  2. I’m leaning more on the easier side of things, with doing 3 runs a week and strength training, for this marathon plan. I have a back injury that I do not want to aggravate. I have not had any issues with my back (currently at week 5), so I may up my runs to 4 times a week.

    I say if your body can handle the extra mileage and training, then go for it.

    I’m not an expert with this running thing. I would suggest sprinkling in a few races (10Ks and half-marathons) throughout your training plan, so you can give yourself a race mindset and somewhat predict how you will handle a marathon. Typically, I run faster on my races than in training. If I am consistently running at a significant faster pace in my races, then I know that I can push myself a little harder in my training runs.

    Good luck training.

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