Monday, December 1, 2014
After two weeks of no running and another two weeks of the occasional "chill" run, I officially ended downtime and commenced my training block for the 2015 Boston Marathon this morning at 6AM with a fifty-minute easy run, plus some strides at the end. The temperature hovered around zero (32F) and there was only a slight wind with an occasional hefty gust thrown in just to remind me it is in fact winter. All things considered it was quite a beautiful morning to kick things off, however moving forward this winter I expect these types of mornings will be a in the minority. Although I haven't done it much, nor have I tried when the weather is really cold and nasty, I really like getting out early in the morning when it's dark and quiet and most people are still sleeping. In a way It feels like you're getting free training time, and if you so desire you can go again in the evening to add volume (not quite there yet myself).
To be honest, my road2boston training block actually started off on a slightly more ominous note. I had planned on kicking things off with a decent long run on Sunday, but after dealing with cold sweats, general achiness, and being on the brink of puking the night before I decided it might be sensible to skip the run on Sunday. Besides, I didn't get out of bed until 10AM (that never happens), so I missed the 8AM group long run anyway.
My plan for the next twenty weeks is to have no "official" plan. I know where I need to go and how to get there, so I'm basically aiming to really tune into my body and how I'm feeling from week-to-week with the ultimate goal of being fit, healthy, and confident enough to drop a sub-3 hour time at Boston. I spent the entire summer focusing on getting faster, which culminated with a 1:23 half-marathon in November. According to the Daniels' Running Calculator (linked to this blog) that time roughly projects to a 2:54 marathon, so I know I've established the speed necessary to break three hours. To maintain that speed and perhaps even improve it, I'll mix in hill sprints (10-20sec), hill repetitions (1+ minutes), strides, and intervals of various lengths (1-5min) at roughly 3k-5k pace. This should be the "easy" part.
My biggest and most important goal over the next twenty weeks is to first maximize my general endurance (haven't had a single run over 24km since Boston 2014), and then hone my specific endurance and increase my fatigue resistance. Establishing specific endurance and increasing fatigue resistance are basically the same thing, but when training for a marathon I think of specific endurance as runs or long intervals at or very near race pace, and I think of threshold (10k to half-marathon pace) runs and intervals as workouts aimed at improving fatigue resistance. In this case, I also think of specific endurance runs as tempo runs. It basically boils down to semantics, but one thing is for certain, threshold and specific endurance runs are the key to marathon success because along with improving race specific fitness, almost more importantly, they test your mettle and willingness to suffer on a weekly basis. Apart from avoiding injury and/or cramps (my marathon nemesis), mettle and willingness to suffer are vital on race day.
I don't periodize my training in the traditional sense. Meaning, I don't spend weeks at a time solely focusing on improving one aspect of training and fitness. Admittedly, I've never tried this approach. Although I know it has its merits, it just doesn't seem like a fun way to train, and the reason I run in the first place is because I like it. For me, I'd rather focus on everything at once while slightly changing the emphasis I place on the various components of marathon fitness.
For instance, during the first five weeks of training my emphasis will be to establish a nice aerobic endurance base through mostly traditional long runs, but I'll also be mixing in some hill sprints and short bursts of speed to increase my stride power and improve my overall neuromuscular fitness. I'll also mix in the occasional threshold run or cruise interval run just to keep things interesting. During the next 8-10 weeks I'll limit the shorter speed/power sessions and emphasize threshold workouts and longer tempo runs. However, to keep my speed up and for the sake of variety I'll mix in strides, longer hill reps (with Heartbreak Hill(s) in mind), and some longer intervals in the 3k-5k pace range. During the last 5-7 weeks of this particular training block I will focus heavily on marathon pace runs and threshold runs at, or just below, half-marathon pace. Again, I'll mix in some strides and the occasional 5k pace interval run to keep my leg turnover sharp, smooth, and efficient.
Lastly, I plan to do all this while adhering as much as possible to the 80/20 running philosophy, which is a commonly used and successful approach to training employed by a majority of elite athletes in various endurance sports. In short, this training principle stresses that in order to maintain physical health and peak fitness 80% of your training should be of the easy, recovery, or aerobic variety, and 20% should/can be "hard." It doesn't have to be right on, and it might get a little out of whack at various stages of a training block, but at the end of said training block you're mostly likely to be healthy and in peak fitness if roughly 80% of your mileage was easy, and 20% was anything harder than easy. I'll be keeping track of this as I progress through my training.
Last Lastly, my personal training philosophy and the majority of the individual workouts I'll do for my road2boston training block come from an amalgamation of three wiser than me: Brad Hudson, Run Faster From The 5K To The Marathon, Matt Fitzgerald, 80/20 Running (and many others), and Jack Daniels, Daniels' Running Formula.
Let's get it on! Actually, that took me way longer than I expected and I'm mostly ready for bed.