Marathon training. It’s happening.
I still can’t make up my mind about Chicago or MCM, so I’ve started to tentatively train for Chicago since it’s two weeks sooner. If I wind up doing MCM, I suppose these next two weeks can just count as basebuilding and I’ll restart the training plan? Which leads me to my next point:
Actually sticking to a training plan is making me feel like I don’t know how to run a marathon correctly.
Before I ever ran a marathon, my default distance was always 6 miles/about an hour of running, 5 days a week. When I ran New York, I basically stuck to this pattern four days a week and swapped out the fifth day for the weekend long runs that peaked at 22 miles. Since my half marathon time was 2:09, I assumed 4:30 was a reasonable goal time for 26.2 and I was happy to finish in 4:27. As I’ve said before, I was expecting similar, if not better, results at marathon #2, and I might have at least improved by a few minutes if not for the heat that day. I’m sure I would have been thrilled with a 4:26 in 2010, but sub-4 is the big goal this time around, and it’s going to take work to cut 28 minutes from my marathon PR. I already have the advantage of a half-marathon PR of 1:44, and I’ve managed to (mostly) stick to a training plan for my last few halves (halfs?), so I don’t think 3:59:59 is too far out of my reach.
As for the training plan itself, I finally settled on the Runner’s World Smart Coach calculator, which lets you plug in your PR, weekly mileage, and desired intensity level. Since I haven’t run a marathon recently, I plugged in my half time, 36-41 miles, and moderate intensity. Smart Coach promptly told me that if I start my easy runs at a 9:16 pace in week 1 and run 9:01s in week 16, I will run a 3:30 marathon with an average pace of 8:01/mile. I actually laughed out loud when I read that. In my personal experience, half-marathon pace and marathon pace are not the same thing, so since my 2:09 half translated to a 4:27 full, I think a 1:44 half means a 3:5X full is within reach. That being said, “training” pace is supposed to be about a minute slower than race pace, which would mean dialing it way down to target 3:59:59 (9:10/mile). These days, 9:30s are on the slow side for me, so I’d say the RW recommended paces sound like a reasonable starting point. I think if I stick to them, I can easily shave some time off the sub-4 goal, but it will probably take at least one 20-miler to give me an idea of how much time that may be.
Anyway, first up on the training calendar was a long run of 12 miles at a pace of 9:16 per mile. Easy enough, right? Wrong. My splits were all over the place, with the main problem being that most of them were too fast:
It’s no surprise to me that the second mile was the slowest. This usually happens to me because my Garmin takes a while to settle into an accurate pace, so when I see something crazy like 11:30 pop up, I pick it up, my watch beeps with a too-fast warm-up mile, and then I’m tired during mile 2, which is closer to what the actual warm-up pace should have been. Oops. I will say that I was pleased with miles 3 and 4 because these included the climb across the Brooklyn Bridge. I’d say it’s a good sign that I can hit my target pace on the toughest part of a course and go on to run the second half faster than the first. However, I would really like to improve on consistency in this training cycle, so I’m hoping the next few long runs will produce better results.