It's hard to believe, perhaps more scary than anything else, but in three weeks, I'll start tapering for my marathon. The marathon is on 11/9, just under six weeks from now. I'll do a few hard runs during my taper, including my final set of 10 x 800 meters (that one will be done on the track and not the roads), but when I do my 24 miler on 10/18, I'll be done with long workouts.
To be honest, I'm not sure if I'm going to be ready to run 3:30 or not. Two years ago, I attempted a 3:30 marathon and I failed miserably. I think part of it was my nutrition in the days leading up to the race, but part of it was my training. In many ways, my training this time is a 180 degree reversal from last time, and I'm not sure how it's going to work out.
Two years ago, I did a lot more miles than I've done this year. I ran for 100 straight days that fall, and I had consecutive months of 213, 241, and 230 miles. This time around, my mileage has been much lower. I did 8 weeks of 50 or more miles 2 years ago, and 4 of those weeks were 60+ miles. I have no 50 mile weeks so far this fall, although I'll do 1 or 2 in the next few weeks.
My marathon in 2006 was in late December, and I trained on a treadmill a lot, including a lot of my speedwork. Mostly, I did repeat miles, maxing out at 5 repeats, at 6:40 per mile. But, to be honest, I don't trust pace during speedwork on a treadmill, even with the grade adjusted uphill slightly. It just seems to me that when you're pushing hard, it's easier to run a given speed on a treadmill than it is on the roads. So, my speedwork may have been suspect. This year, I'm running outside and I should be able to train outside the entire way through my training, although I may run inside during my taper if we get any slippery days in late November.
Two years ago, I didn't race at all in my training. This year, I've done two relays where I ran 4 legs in each, I've raced a 5 miler and a 5K, and I've got a half marathon next weekend.
Two years ago, my long runs were 18, 18, 20, 20, 22 and 22. This time, they will be 30 (slow pacing at VT 100), 20, 20 (relay legs), 22, 25 (relay legs), 22, 22 and 24. I'll have more runs of 20 or more this time, even if you discount the relay races and the pacing at the 100.
Two years ago, my marathon pace workouts were similar to this time, although I'll probably do a few more total marathon pace miles this time around.
So, I see less total mileage, fewer running days, more long runs, more races, and slightly better (I hope) speedwork this year vs. 2 years ago.
What about other factors? I weigh more this year than 2 years ago, and that will be a factor. My body fat percentage, though, is lower now than then. I'm a lot stronger now than I was then, and my total volume of workouts this time around includes all of my strength training. I'd like to believe that will help me in the race somehow, but I'm not sure it will. I'm also, of course, 2 years older.
I think the answer is still to be determined. I have three hard training weeks to go and I have to make them count.
This week, I'll total about 45 miles. My key workouts will be 9 x 1/2 mile on Wednesday and a 1/2 marathon on Sunday. I am not planning to race the 1/2 marathon all out, but I want to run it slightly faster than my anticipated marathon pace. My current plan is to start with an 8 minute mile, and then drop to 7:30s for the rest of the race. In my marathon 2 years ago, by mile 10 at just under an 8:00 pace, I knew I was in trouble. I hadn't run longer than 7.5 miles at race pace that year, so this 1/2 marathon will be a valuable workout from that perspective. If I can't maintain 7:30 pace for most of the race, I'll certainly be concerned. My target time for the race is 1:39, which translates to about a 3:28 marathon. If my training is on pace, that should be hard but less than 100% effort. I'd like to think I can run 1:35 or so right now if I go all out.
The next week, I'll run about 50 miles. My key workouts that week will be 2x20 minute tempo, 6 marathon pace miles, and a 22 mile long run.
The following week will be about 50 miles as well. My two key workouts that week will be 10 x 1/2 mile and a 24 miler. I'm planning to run the first 18 of the 24 very easy, and then do the last 6 at marathon pace. After that 24 miler, my 3 week taper will begin.
This morning was a gym workout - deadlifts, squats, Romanian deadlifts, core work, kettlebell swings, step-ups, and stair climber intervals. It was a very intense hour of work. Tonight, I'll run a few easy miles with my dogs.
Yesterday, my wife and I took the dogs out for a walk for about 75 minutes, which helped to work out some of the stiffness from Saturday's 22 miler.