Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On the Training Train: the Strategy

Continued from yesterday's post ...

My goal for the Akron Marathon is, say it with me, to break four hours. I have run three marathons, and each time I hoped to break four hours. And each time failed. What I realize now is that I need to conquer the course mentally if I'm going to conquer it physically.

I was doomed last year when I reached the halfway mark at 1:54:27. I couldn't hold the pace, and the climb out of the Cuyahoga River Valley took its toll in Sand Run Park, as my legs started to cramp. My 8:44 mile pacing was too fast for a four-hour marathon (by 26 seconds per mile). This year, I need to shoot for a halfway split of no faster than 2:00:05.

After my failed effort at Akron last year, I tried to run negative splits at the Towpath Marathon two weeks later. Although, I did not actually succeed, the mental approach led to my current PR. I am focusing more on negative splits during my training runs, using the two-thirds method. This year, I will approach the marathon by running the first two-thirds (~17.5 miles) of the race comfortably, then picking up speed and intensity for the final third to achieve my four-hour goal.

I am also toying around with the idea of using a pacer for Akron, which I did successfully last year at the Buckeye Half Marathon. But then unsuccessfully at the 2008 Akron Marathon when I mistakenly on purpose lined up with the 3:50 pace group. This year, if I decide to line up with a pacer again, it will be with one who will get me over the finish line in less than four hours, which is my goal.

I am always leery of joining a pace group. You may not have noticed, but some say I'm cantankerous beyond my years. If the pacer or the group gets on my nerves, it could be detrimental to my race because I might have the urge to run too fast to outrun them or run too slow and let them pass. However, having a continual pace gauge is a benefit that I can't ignore.

The most important thing is that I have to run a smart race, which -- let's face it -- is not my strong suit. I'm a tinkerer, constantly adjusting my training, my goals and my strategy. This year, I need to stick to beating four hours. Because that is my ultimate goal.

16 comments:

Mike said...

I'm clear on everything except what you hope to accomplish.

Blyfinn said...

Sounds like a strong plan. The hardest thing to do for me is to start off slow.

Sun Runner said...

"However, having a continual pace gauge is a benefit that I can't ignore."

It's called a Garmin Forerunner 305...check it out.

X-Country2 said...

I just got a Garmin this week to solve my pacing issues. I'm racing with it on Sunday, but I think I'm in loooove.

Lauren said...

I love when I do things mistakenly on purpose. I've never been able to master the negative splits or even accomplish it once. If you can do it on your practice runs, maybe you will be able to do it on race day. Good luck!

Roisin said...

This will be a good challenge, and I think you can do it. Consistency is the key.

Carolina John said...

Nobody ever accused you of being smart viper. no need to prove anyone right. use the pace group.

Vanilla said...

I'm betting you hit the 4 hour mark... somewhere right around mile 24.

the erratic epicurean said...

marathons....you're doing it wrong. =)

Jess said...

You could keep one of the pace groups in your sight and not really run with them. That way you have the benefit of the constant pacing but don't have to worry about being annoyed by people in the group.

Nitmos said...

Good luck with your Roar for Four or Whorin' for Fourin' or whatever you are calling this pursuit. I'm going to call it the Bore for Four though.

Still going with plans to 'speed up' after 17.5 miles, eh? I better see reports of this type of late mileage speed work training. Not saying it's not a good strategy (don't need that debate again) just sayin' you better not show up at the start line without ever having conditioned yourself that way.

(two cents deposited)

Good luck! This is your year.

Spike said...

wow, Vanilla really let you have it. ouch.

sadly, I agree with Nitmos, picking up tempo after 17M is difficult. and I'm left wondering, if a 4 hour marathon is a 9:09/M pace, then are you planning to run that pace and then picking it up, or running a slower pace and pick up at the end to just finish under 4?

Jess said...

Maybe you should just find yourself a rabid dog to chase you at a 9:09 pace. I find it easier to run FROM something rather than be motivated TOWARD something.

Ms. V. said...

...of course from yesterday's post, we expect some cross training too...learn this from me. It won't work if you don't work all of it...yeah.

BrianFlash said...

Just aim for 9 minute miles. Come on - anyone can pile up those easy 9 minute miles. Don't look to my marathon times for inspiration though.

Xenia said...

Wait, what's your goal again?

I might go straight to hell for suggesting this, but you could always wear a fake hearing aid and pretend to be deaf so people won't try to talk to you. Of course then you'd probably end up with a twit or two who'd want to try out their sign language skills.