Sunday, 15 December 2013

Week of training Sunday December 8th - Saturday December 14th + Thoughts on the state of the Marathon

Hi Everyone,

It certainly has gotten cold this past week, but as they say the show must go on. I may as well just not even bother saying I'll take a scheduled down week because it didn't work out that way again. I had a very solid week of training with a long run, 2 solid quality workouts and another day where I paced Kate for 14km's worth of running at about 5:48/mile pace. I kept my mileage up and averaged 20 miles a day and ran 140.8 miles for the week.

Last week I talked about speed development through repetition paced training. I'm still doing some research on the second part of the discussion which is speed/strength/efficiency development through hill training. I'm going to have a few paragraphs ready to conclude that discussion next week. So this week in between speed talk I'm going to touch briefly on why I think there are too many people going to the marathon when they have not yet learned the shorter events and are in tern not running the times they could potentially run had they fully maximized their shorter racing potential. (Note that I'm not trying to say that people should turn from the marathon. I want people to enjoy running the distance to the best of their abilities. This is just my opinion. I know that the marathon to allot of people is the ultimate feat, and it certainly is a tremendous accomplishment. All I'm trying to say is that to truly run your best marathon I would hope that you are pleased with your personal bests over all the other distances.)

When to move up to the Marathon? Is it still a "race" or something to check off the bucket list?

Let's talk about the marathon. Statistics tells us that each year the average time in which it takes to complete the marathon continues to rise. These statistics also show that the marathon is one of the fastest growing sporting events in the world. One would assume with more people running the event, we would see more great talent being discovered and more people running fast times. This however could not be further from what's happening. The gap between the elites and the average marathoner is growing with each year. If you look at the results from a major marathon there are normally very few male runners who come in after say 2:15 which is about the cut off of what an elite male is going to be finishing in, I'd even venture to say in this day an age your not really even making a living if you can't go under 2:11 but that's a different discussion. Normally there can be minutes where there are no runners coming in at all between the 2:15-2:30 range. This is something we need to look at and ask ourselves why are there so few sub elites? My guess is that to run a time in the range of 2:15-2:20ish you have to pretty much train how an elite would and train as a full time job, and that's just not going to happen because nobody running those kinds of times can earn a living from road racing like that. So I can almost understand why there aren't many in this group but I have no idea why we don't see more people running 2:20-2:30. Lots of people out there have the potential to run in this ball park (for women I'd say this is similar to the 2:35-2:45 range). My theory is that people simply don't develop enough before they go to the marathon. They go to the event with very modest times over shorter distances, so consequently they will only have the ability to run a marathon that is reflective of what they have accomplished to that point over the shorter races. We don't see people setting four 10km pr's en route to a new marathon personal best, it just doesn't happen. 

So how did we get to this point? Why is it that the marathon is getting all the glamour and not the shorter distances? (I have a theory but I don't want to offend anyone as whoever does a marathon is certainly deserving of respect in my books!) But personally I'm far more impressed by a runner throwing down a respectable 5 or 10km time. I had the pleasure of hearing Steve Boyd speak a few years ago and he touched on this as well. Look at him for example, the majority of the races Steve runs now are 5 and 10km, he is 50 years old and is running mid 15's for 5km and low 32 for 10km. Sure he could go out and run a 2:28ish marathon, but he would also have to dedicate allot of his season to one race, and would need a good month to recover on the other end of it. Now I understand Steve was a very competitive runner when he was younger and competed internationally but the same holds true for people who just take up the sport. I think we would have much more competitive marathons if people would just focus on becoming faster over the 5km- half marathon distance before stepping up to the "big show". I know personally my performances over shorter distances tell me I can run between 2:27-2:29 with a sound marathon specific training block. But to me I look at it from the perspective of if I can take 30ish seconds off my 5km time and start running under 15 minutes that's going to take potentially 4 or more minutes off my marathon time when I do make the jump up in distance, and a 2:23-2:25 marathon is a time that I would be proud of when I start running 26.2. 

I don't want this to sound elitist. I think everyone has the right to run whatever they are so inclined to, but I think that people would enjoy the marathon way more if they ran them faster. And for some people a 4-5 hour marathon is a very solid performance. We all have a different set of abilities and amount of time we can allocate to our training. So my advice is don't step up to the marathon until you are happy with your personal bests over the shorter races. Or if you have been marathoning for some time now, take a year or two away from it and drop those personal bests then watch minutes come off your marathon when you take another crack at it.

As I mentioned, next week I'll get back to the topic of building speed through hill work and touch on how developing better efficiency is paramount when trying to optimize performance. 

This week in training

I had a great week once again, the weeks seem to be clicking along nicely. I'm starting to get excited for the spring. I've got lots more work to do obviously but I'm feeling so fit right now. I would love to race a 5km, when doing 4X2km with Kate Wednesday I banged out a 6:03 2km rep and felt smooth doing it in windy and cold conditions. My speed is there right now, just have to keep building on it. Anyway, I decided to register for the Hypothermic Half Marathon the 2ed of February. This will be more of a hard effort then anything as the course is measured at 21.55 km (it even says it on the site...only in St. John's ha), so it's over 400m long and not a great course but I should be able to roll a relatively fast time regardless. I'll just make sure I dial in 5:25 pace and keep the effort steady. I'll try and come through the half marathon in 1:11 under control. I'm looking into the Miami Half at the end of February, if I can get a deal on a flight and Elite entry I'll go after a mid 1:09 there. I'll save the rest of the winter plan for another post. I got 140.8 miles in this week with a Long Run, 2 workouts and a hard session pacing Kate. It was awesome having her here this week for training. We will hit it big next week as well. I really think she is going to knock her Marathon debut out of the park if she stays healthy during the build up, I'm predicting 2:37 or there abouts. She is fit! Watch out Huston!


Long Run 20.8 miles - This went well, it started with a large group for the first 10ish miles and we ran pretty relaxed around 7:30 pace, then it was just Allison, Kate, Peter and myself and we started to drop the pace down into the 6:30 range for the last half. It was a pretty windy day, we ended up averaging 7:08 pace for the run which was good considering the slow first half and the fact it was on the trails.

20.8 miles - AM
Off - PM


Workout - 6 X 1 mile working down from half marathon pace with 60 seconds active recovery, I was going to do this on the indoor track. The goal was to do Mike Greene's 5X1500m workout but the track was packed so I did it outside on the Tupper St. loop, I started really easy and worked the pace down, my last 2 miles I was hurting pretty bad, but I felt I could have run 1 more which is how I should walk away from any workout. I went 5:17, 5:11, 5:07, 5:02, 4:58, 4:49. So looking at it the first 3 miles are pretty slow but I was using only 60 second recovery and I wanted to feel good working the pace down. The last mile was really solid, I went through the kilometer in 2:57, so the wheels are there for sure.

12 miles with workout - AM
8 miles - PM


13 miles - AM
7 miles - PM


Workout - 4X2km with Kate working down from 10km pace with 2:30 standing recovery. The loop was very greasy as we had gotten some snow Tuesday and it was windy but Kate and I got through it. I started my first 2km nice and easy at 10km pace and worked down going 6:21, 6:16, 6:03 then on the last rep I paced Kate for her 2km as I felt I had enough work in with the 6X1 miles on Monday, so the last one was 6:55. Kate nailed her workout running all her reps about 10 seconds faster then goal marathon pace on a poor day weather wise.

13 miles with workout - AM
7 miles - PM


11 miles very easy - AM
9 miles - PM


Workout - This wasn't so much a workout for me as it was pacing duties helping Kate nail an important Marathon paced session of 5km - 2km - 5km - 2km @ marathon race pace (3:40/km or 5:50ish/mile). It was brutally cold and we actually had allot of snow fall when we ran it. Kate nailed it and averaged about 3:38/km for the workout when all was said and done. I was pleased to get over 8 miles in at 5:48/mile pace and feel so composed and relaxed. The crappy thing was I took off one of my base layers a brand new Suacony Drylet sport top and put it behind a tree, and when I went back to get it someone had taken frustrating, so if anyone sees it on Kijiji let me know haha.

14 miles with workout - AM
6 miles - PM


11 miles easy on possibly the coldest day I've ever run - AM
9 miles - PM

140.8 miles this week. I'm feeling a little tired but not over-trained, just some lingering fatigue. I'm sure Christmas week will be one with less volume and that will freshen up the legs. I'm getting ready to head out for my Long Run now with Amanda and possibly Kate at 12. I'll make sure I get 20 miles in at a decent pace.

So that's about it for this week, smooth sailing, I've been doing my drills, core work and foam rolling. (Thank you to my friend Lee Bennett for sending me some great video guides/tutorials on this important part of running that is so easily neglected! Lee is a very strong runner and is ever improving thanks to his sound approach to the sport! Look for some great times from he and his wife in 2014!) So let's hope the healthy uninterrupted training continues. I'll do a review/impressions of the Saucony type a5 racing flat next week. I've been using it for workouts and it seems to be a very nice shoe, super light and responsive. I figure I should get a review in before I get my hands on the new type a6 when they drop in February.

Thanks everyone for your continued support and for following my training journey.
Stay frosty,

1 comment:

  1. the marathon is not a race but a run. Anyone ,even elite runners who start the marathon with a racing attitude eventually blow up. The first half must be controlled. A minute too quick in the first half will cost you many in the second. After much experience I eventually learned how to run the second half faster than the first No easy task. You have hold back during all those early miles.