This year's Boston will mark my 9th time toeing the starting line in Hopkinton. Each year has seen it's own sets of circumstances, but my journey to the line followed a consistent approach each time. Every year I enter the "official" start of training on January 1, and typically that training takes off from the gun with hard workouts. My base is typically solid enough that I can be running at least two 20+ mile training runs in January, and hitting speed and tempo workouts each week, averaging at least 250 miles per month.
Looking back, that has produced some good results (my marathon PR was at Boston in 2010), but the data seems to show that maybe I was doing too much, too early, peaking in February and March. So for 2013 I vowed to make some changes and experiment. I just hit 38 years of age and my methods of 5-10 years ago should be changing with the times. I also read two pieces that have "molded" my thinking regarding marathon training. Run Less, Run Faster from Rodale, which was based on the FIRST method from Furman University and Canova 101 which was a Running Times article. Please bear in mind that both of these methods assume a solid base of running.
Coach Canova has gotten some great results from his "distance doesn't matter, pace does" method, including a marathon world championship. He believes that the "accepted" training basics (speedwork, tempo runs, LSD) simply aren't preparing you for running 26.2 miles at your goal pace. He believes in longer rest periods to recover from the stress of longer distance training at goal pace.
Furman's research has shown that running less (3 days per week) and more intense workouts combined with a strict cross training regiment will produce faster times, and the results are undeniable.
I could talk all day about the above mentioned articles, BUT I'd like to briefly touch base on what I've done to change my "philosophy" on training and how it's working so far. Luckily, I love to ride and I have a good setup that allows me to get some time on the bike (road or trainer).
For 2013 I've basically thrown my "regimented, calculated plan" out the window. I'm not saying you don't need a plan and that plans are evil, I'm saying the worrying about hitting goal times, goal number of reps, etc is not my #1 priority this year.
My basic goals are this:
- Run 4 days per week with a maximum of two days in a row.
- Ride on "off" running days, mixing in some intensity and some long endurance rides
- Refrain from serious "speed work" until later in the schedule to build leg turnover.
- One mid week run with most miles at marathon pace.
- Another mid week run with some variation of marathon pace (tempo, etc).
- An up tempo long run.
My workouts have consisted of 8 x 1000m on the road, 12 miles at MP minus 15 sec, tempo runs at threshold pace (2 x 3 or 4 miles at 5:45-5:50) and long runs at MP plus 45 sec. I'm able to recover well and I'm noticing declines in my "normal" pace per mile. I know the leg turnover is not there, but that does not matter right now.
So far I appear to be climbing the fitness curve in a smart, controlled manner. Still far from the peak, but the goal race is still 10 weeks away. My first "test" is the Frostbite 5 miler next Saturday. I set a big PR there last year, but that was WAY too early in training to be running a PR. It will provide a good check on my current fitness and hopefully keep that motivation level where I need it.
I'd love to get back under that 2:50 barrier in April. As of now the 6:30 marathon pace goal seems very realistic.
Enjoy the SNOW this weekend if you're in the Northeast!