Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When FASTER doesn't always equal better ... or so I hope?!

It's no secret that I am training for Marathon #5. While my first two marathons were run for charity and simply just to finish, I've still been training for marathons for the last three years. My last two marathons were ran for me. They were ran for my enjoyment, my pleasure and most of all for me to see what I was made of. I've gotten stronger, faster and been very pleased with my progress and training and even race times. Though happy with the efforts and results, there was still something missing . . . a race time to show for all of the hard work. Granted, there is nothing wrong with a 3:56 (Marathon #3) just like there is nothing wrong with a 3:51 (Marathon #4). But, to me ... there was something wrong. Something deep down that keeps saying I can go faster. I don't need to cut off 20-30 seconds per mile (like it looks on paper). I just need to keep the same pace for all 26.2 miles and not die after mile 19.

This is a pattern that each of the 4 marathons have in common. I run well, maintain a good pace until somewhere between mile 17-20. Then, not only do I hit the wall, but I hit it hard. Like REAL HARD. Like my average pace per mile slows by 1:45-2:00 and I'm not even walking a step. It's like I got hit by a huge semi and it's everything I have in me to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You get the point.

So, I'm no pro. I have a lot to learn. But, the good news is, I've been keeping track of every single run for 3 years. I've noticed patterns in my training and patterns in my racing. This training cycle has been different (I won't say better yet because I haven't raced). I've realized that every runner is different and just like one shoe doesn't fit all, one training plan doesn't either!

So, I've been making some major adjustments in my training that I'm pretty excited about. The first being that I'm running my long runs faster. Screw the theory that I can run 45-60 seconds faster on race day. I can't! I've tried 4 times and I've fallen apart each time. I've been getting faster and faster on my long runs. See below:

New York
  • I only had three runs over 18 miles
  • 18 - 9:16 average pace
  • 20 - 9:00 average pace (on treadmill)
  • 20 - 9:37 average pace

San Diego

  • I, again, only had three runs over 18 miles (I stayed around 15-16 a lot).
  • 19.2 - 9:07 pace
  • 20 - 9:02 pace
  • 22 - 9:01 pace
  • ** This is the first time I incorporated speed work during an entire training schedule**


  • I have already run 2 long runs over 18 miles.
  • I have 5 long runs left before the taper - 4 of which will be over 18 miles
  • 18 -8:35 average pace
  • 20 - 8:32 average pace

While I have still had my fair share of discouragement this training cycle (getting burnt out, not getting all of my runs in and becoming slower and slower at track), I have decided that you can't win all. So what, maybe I was a track rock star during San Diego training. You can't win them all, right? I'm trying to convince myself here that it's okay for my track workouts not to be as stellar and my long runs to be. I'm training for a marathon after all, not a 5K.

Track Workout this Morning:

1200 1200 800 800 800 400

My times: 5:03 5:06 3:26 3:26 3:28 1:34

I won't list what my times should have been, but it's no secret that I've run similiar workouts in the 4:5x range, 3:16-18 range and sub 1:30 range.


  1. it's awesome that you look back at previous years logs. i have logs from years ago but i really don't look too much at them and lately i've only been writing the bare basics! i must get back into the habit so i can use the data in a good way.

    but your adjustments sound really good and solid. totally something to be excited about

  2. You are one hell of a runner. I hope that you get waht you seek. btw- I wish I was half as fast as you!

  3. Sounds like you keep a pretty detailed training log. Your average pace does look to be getting faster, I'll be interested to hear how Marathon #5 goes for you - good luck!

  4. Nice assessment! If those long runs are any indication, you are in great shape for the race. I can't believe how quickly our races are approaching...

  5. Not that I actually have any experience, but I am inclined to agree with your new theory that goal pace long runs are golden! I know you will do great, and I am so excited to actually meet you in less than 8 weeks!

  6. Every marathon that I've never hit the proverbial wall was ones that I took off slow at the start. You hit the wall because you've run out of glycogen and if you train your body to keep more in you, then it won't happen. Your race is soon here - how exciting :).

  7. Great, I was entertained by the post. I learn more things on it. Thanks!!!