Mistakes I made training Myself for the Marathon
(and future Training/Racing considerations)
So I failed by 12 seconds.
As most of you know by now, I’m not toeing the line at the 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials next weekend. This goal of mine, to qualify for what would have been my 3rd Olympic Marathon Trials race, has been a disappointment and I’d be lying if I said I’m still not upset about this “failure.”
But it has caused me to look in depth at my own training and progression in running, see some mistakes and areas for improvement, and to ultimately to be thankful for what I have been able to do!
Here are the Facts:
- I ran 4- marathons in a 10-month span, all between 2:19:12 and 2:20:32 in very different weather conditions, and on very different courses. That’s consistent…consistently too slow!
- I threw in a mountain-ultra win at the Speedgoat 50km in July and spent summer mountain training in France where I ran the first 40-mile of UTMB in the lead pack before falling and hurting my knee on a rock on the way down….which required stitches and took me out for awhile.
- According to Strava.com (where I upload 100% of my training) I only ran about 4200-miles in 2015 (a weekly average of about 80 miles a week) and only had a handful of weeks that were over 120-miles a week. Now to most that would seem like a lot…as it is….but consider my first 5 years out of college (where I actually ran up to 150 miles a week once), I averaged about 90 miles a week (4700 miles/year) at much higher intensities and mostly on pavement/tracks. I used to hit 120-130 miles a week a heck of a lot more often!
- Ultimately my early year marathons in LA (8th at USATF Champs 2:20:02) and Boston (16th place overall in 2:19:12 on a headwind day with cold/rain) were better than CIM (2:19:52 ) and Houston (2:20:32) considering that LA and Boston were slower courses and both were in much worst weather conditions.
In hindsight, gathering all these points together got my mind working (I’m very self biased with my own running/training/racing so this was a good thing perhaps as it gave new perspective!). I came up with the following points to address issues I saw (And to explain) the facts listed above:
- I should’ve given myself more like 6 months to “get my road legs back” instead of trying to force the process to happen in a span of only 2-3 months! Racing 4 marathons in 10 months and mixing in a summer of mountain running is just too much too soon for a top performance. Now I think a lot of other runners who mix road and mountain-trails can pull it off in a faster timespan (esp if you are newer to the sport or stilling working those PRs down). I knew the timeframe was tight going it in, but (like in 2014 when I raced 8 ultras in a year), I was greedy and I “wanted it all!” Well, I paid the price with some lackluster performances (Comrades probably being my worst race all year and Houston being a close second).
- My whole #AnySurfaceAnyDistance motto took a hard hit because I wasn’t patient and because I wanted to go too quickly from the roads to the mountains and back to the roads (the impending Olympic Trials deadline and my dreams of racing and training in the big mountains all summer did not help!). I feel like my marathons early in 2015 were better performances than my later marathons because I was coming off of more runnable/speedy ultras like my TNF50 San Fran. Champs win from December of 2014. Coming off Speedgoat and UTMB (and injury) took longer to get my “road legs” back.
- When I ran my marathon PR of 2:16:52 I was averaging over 120-miles a week for 2 months straight…I was doing weekly track and road sessions at sub 5-min mile pace and coming off a half marathon PR of 1:04:32. It was all about flat track/road speed and high mileage! However, I still consider Boston 2015 as best marathon performance overall (despite the slower time of 2:19:12) because of the nasty 10-mph headwind we had. Usually 16th place at Boston is an OTQ type of performance!
- To run a fast marathon again in 2 years (and I do want to qualify for the 2020 US Olympic Trials!) I’ll need more speed and running economy workouts at faster paces as well (high altitude and winter training conditions need to be avoided for that). Instead of waiting until the last year before the Olympic Trials marathon I’ll try as soon as the window opens so I’ll have more time to prepare!
- In the future, I’m going to focus on getting “back to the basics” of building a huge aerobic base with solid mileage, big training weeks and more space in the perdiozation of races/training blocks.
- Right now though, I’m going 100% full fledged into Mountain-Ultra Trail Running and I’d like to finish my first 100-miler this year on the big-stage! To take my racing performance up a notch in the sport I think I’ll actually have to get back to those 120-mile+ Training weeks as those are what make my legs really strong (main limiting factor in ultra running for me). Nothing grinds my gears more than a failure:
As a pro runner I have no excuse not to put in 15-18 hour training weeks (instead of the 14-15 hour ones I’ve only done). I guess in the back of my mind I’ve always been overly cautious to trying to avoid an over-use injury and overtraining that might hurt my endocrine system. I want to be a lifelong runner, and I want to have an ultra competitive career for at least 5 more years (a rather long time frame considering the high attrition rate this sport seems to have with other pros burning out and getting injured left and right) so I do need to pace myself though. But unlike in the past (2014) when I did 8 ultras in a year (and podiumed in all but one) while only training 70-80 miles a week… things are more competitive now! I need to step up my game! Specificity in training is key.
Next up I’m racing the Black Canyon 100km on Feb. 13th with a goal of trying to earn a golden ticket entry into Western States. Now this could be a really bad idea, considering it is only 4 weeks after the Houston Marathon and ironically it is going EXACTLY AGAINST what I just preached above…but I really would like to gain entry into Western States ASAP and this is one of the only ways. You can follow along this journey as I post 100% of my training and racing on Strava.com
Thanks for the support and hope your running is going well!
@SageCanaday (Instagram and Twitter)
www.SageRunning.com (our coaching website for training plans, our book etc.).
AND NOW Tea time! (thanks to sponsor Flora Health) for giving me ultra healthy goodies that allow me to recover so fast:
About the Author (Author Profile)2-time Olympic Trials Qualifier, Mountain runner, Author of "Running For The Hansons," trail runner, videos for Vo2max Productioins, LLC.
Sites That Link to this Post
- 2015 BOSTON MARATHON ENTRY | February 10, 2016
- ULTRA RUNNING NEWS FROM AROUND THE GLOBE | ian campbell adventures | May 16, 2016