12

Another "Help a Rookie Marathoner" thread (Read 1069 times)

    Question:  I see some comments, questioning the wisdom of doing workouts faster  than your actual race.  I am assuming you are only referring to long runs and not speedwork or tempo runs, correct?

     

    Maybe it's just me --- but if I tried to run a half or a full at a faster pace then I had ever trained at ... that would be a recipe for disaster. I dont think it's realistic to expect your legs to go faster all of a sudden when you've never asked them to do that before. 

     

    I do my longer runs considerably slower than my Goal Race Pace, but my coach ensures we have several runs each week that incorporates good chunks of time at either Goal Race Pace or Tempo (plus Intervals in speed workouts).    This ensures my body knows what it feels like at that pace.  You have to be train your body to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable.

     

    It sounds like your goal is to simply finish the marathon and enjoy it, right? If that's the case ... if I were you .... i would ignore all the comments about how fast or slow you should be running, and just do it at a nice easy comfortable pace that you are sure you can sustain. If your goal were to finish in a certain time, that's a different story.

     

    When I did my first half, I deliberately chose a very conservatvie pace plan ... I wanted to enjoy it, and I did. Since then, I've done another half and am training for my 3rd -- in both of these, I have very specific time goals, so my training is completely different and incorporates both slow long runs and plenty of tempo and speedwork as well. Like you, I am going to attempt my first full marathon in the fall and my only goal will be to finish. My training will then be primarily about getting miles under my belt, and not about my pace.

    I guess we digressed quite a bit from the original post/question and I guess I'm sort of responsible.  

     

    I think I've pointed this out here at RA somewhere before (can't remember if I got criticized for saying it) but here's basically what you NEED to do in training;  You go far--far enough or sometimes further than your actual race distance.  You go fast--at the targeted race pace or often, but not always, faster than race pace.  You also go some distance at near race pace CONTINUOUSLY so your body can learn what is expected in the actual race.  You shuffle these 3 things in your training program and fill in with easy recovery running (sometimes known as "junk miles").  That's pretty much all there is to do.

     

    The thing is; you shall never EVER put them all together in training--the only time you do that is in the race.   Otherwise, you'll go down as yet another common example of "leave your best run on your training".  

     

    Things have changed it seems like.  Nowadays, it is more common to see people doing better in workout (go further and/or faster in training) and the race is merely the place for them to pick up a finisher's medal or T-shirts and have a good time; a big party.  That's fine too.  But I personally still, and always, look at a race as the real thing and training is merely a dress rehearsal.  

     

    To answer your question, yes, you DO go faster in training than your actual race pace--you do need to get your body used to that speed.  But how many times have you seen someone doing mile repeats at, say, 6:00 minute pace only to "plod" along the marathon at 9 or slower?  I mean, why?  It's either the person is doing his/her intervals waaaaaaay too fast; faster than necessary.  Or his/her stamina sucks and can't even put it together for a marathon.  You need to be reasonable and know what you need to do.  Speaking of junk miles, and someone else had mentioned this several times throughout; junk miles is not just very slow run; if you do your workout too fast, faster than necessary and you, consequently, hurt yourself unnecessarily, THAT is junk miles.  You want to go just fast enough in training so your targeted race pace would feel easy.

     

    Another thing so many people make a mistake of is the fact that, while you are still training, you should be tired to reproduce your best race pace.  I saw a FloTrack clip of Kara Goucher preparing for Boston.  In it, coach Salazar was saying something to an extent that he would like to see her do, I can't remember the exact pace but, something like 5:30 pace but "she's still training hard so 5:40 is fine..." or something like that.  Taper, if done correctly, can chop vital seconds off your pace.  Like I said before, when my wife ran her first marathon, all she did was distance work.  Granted, she had run a 5-mile race at around 7-minute pace so we knew she could run fast enough.  She did almost all her long runs at about 10~11 pace until the final weeks.  As she started to taper; meaning she stopped doing all the heavy workouts and freshened up and her pace NATURALLY came down.  The week before the marathon, she did an hour "jog" at 9-minute pace without her knowing she was running almost a minute per mile faster.  It just happened naturally.  In other words, we timed it right.  We still see people doing their final long run like 2 weeks before the marathon only "to gain confidence".  To gain confidence that you can do it; but to lose this vital freshening and natural "speeding up" process.  They are the ones toeing the start line, exhausted and having to start out conservatively (slower than your workout pace).  

     

    The race is the real thing.  Dress rehearsal, however important it may be, is still nothing more than a dress rehearsal.  You work on pieces and you only put them all together in "the real thing".

       

      To answer your question, yes, you DO go faster in training than your actual race pace--you do need to get your body used to that speed.  But how many times have you seen someone doing mile repeats at, say, 6:00 minute pace only to "plod" along the marathon at 9 or slower?  I mean, why?  It's either the person is doing his/her intervals waaaaaaay too fast; faster than necessary. 

       

      To add to what Nobby is saying here, a lot of people training for their first marathon get their priorities all wrong. Most of us are unable to do 100% of every single thing we wish we could train in one training program, so if some of the problems are only going to get 50% then it really pays to get the right ones.

       

      Most people training for a marathon are already pretty good at running at their eventual race pace or even faster. What they are not yet prepared for is how to get from mile 20 to mile 26 at a decent pace. There are a bunch of new problems they have to tackle for the later miles for which they start training almost completely unprepared. 

       

      So if (in the extreme) you take a standard marathon program and totally delete all speed and hill work but keep the weekly mileage and long run goals you have a training plan that is not great but still might be barely adequate. If you do the reverse and delete the long runs and weekly mileage you have a complete disaster.

       

      No one makes that kind of tradeoff, but at a lesser level it happens all the time. Too many hard days doing less important stuff and you find yourself doing less of the stuff that matters. The result is someone who can get comfortably to the mile 18 point about 2 minutes faster than otherwise, but takes 20 minutes more than planned to finish the rest. Oops.

       

      How do I know this? A long time ago in my first marathon my 20 mile split was 1:58, my finish time was 3:15. After 20 consecutive sub-6:00 miles I couldn't break 75 minutes for the 10K. Big grin


      HobbyJogger & HobbyRacer

        ...

         

        How do I know this? A long time ago in my first marathon my 20 mile split was 1:58, my finish time was 3:15. After 20 consecutive sub-6:00 miles I couldn't break 75 minutes for the 10K. Big grin

         

        I have a friend who did just about that same "plan" -- very close to those same splits. He reported that it had some flaws; I think they involved disproportionate amounts of pain in that last 10K.

        It's a 5k. It hurt like hell...then I tried to pick it up. The end.

           Love, love, love it about this forum that so many folks take the time to post responses - y'all are awesome. Thanks all for your replies.

           

          To answer some of your questions/comments.

           

          Dreamless & MissP - your first two replies combined to sum up where my head is right now which is somewhere between "dammit man should should be able to crack 4 hours; HTFU" and "start a little easier, enjoy your first marathon and see if you can get faster as you go". Either way MissP - I am fit and ready!

           

          Byan - I unashamedly tracked you down on Facebook (thru our mutual friend) and .. I do kind of know you! Thanks for the encouragement, will ping a reply to your message too!

           

          Nobby - I've been using RA for a few years now and have always read your posts with appreciation  (and a certain amount of reverence! Blush ). Thanks for the pointers. I will do what I can to follow the advice and "use the force." To explain myself somewhat. I have no running smarts or education other than what I have gained on this site. No excuses, it is what it is, to this point I have never really prioritized enough to take the time to educate my self on why and how to train I have just copied training plans (mostly Higdon), followed them, and done OK. My main driver for asking the question I asked was really the unknown about the big "Mile 20 boogeyman" and if there was a good way to approach it given the way I have trained. For HMs I knew I had trained 25+ miles/week at 10:00 easy pace and then gone and run an 8:40 pace for 13.1 miles. The Mile 20 boogeyman was telling me that if I have trained 35+ miles/week at at 10:00 easy pace and went and tried to run 26.2 at 9:09 pace I would fall on my ass. So I ended up, with a plan that had me setting off at a 9:50 pace, which is faster than what I set off on all my training runs (10:00 pace) but not by much. I realize this is hugely over thinking things but I am a sad Garmin obsessed data head! We live, (read RA,) and learn! Thanks again.

           

          Everyone else - thanks again. I'm stoked to even be getting to the start line this weekend. Appreciate the advice..

          2013 Goals
          1) Break 1:50 in a HM (PR 1:52:19)
          2) Break 4:00 in a Marathon (PR 4:20:39)

          12