Thursday, August 27, 2009

Racing as Training

Each year that I have run the Akron Marathon, I have also run the Buckeye Half Marathon as a primer for the big day. My prior attempts have been at PR efforts, setting my current best half marathon last year at 1:49:09, which was a big milestone for me. This year, I decided to put more emphasis on my four-hour marathon goal.

As I pine for my paycheck so I can sign up for these races, I am left to dwell on race strategy. As the Buckeye Half Marathon is about two weeks away (Sept. 13), I'm considering how I should attack the race to best prepare for Akron (Sept. 26). The way I see it, I have three options.

Just Kill It
The most obvious strategy is to go after a my PR. Assuming all my speed work and higher mileage has paid off, I think a PR is doable. However, will balls to wall effort harm my chances at beating four hours at the marathon?

Equivalency Test
Turning the McMillan Running Calculator on its head, a four-hour marathoner should be able to run a 1:53:48 half marathon. While that is slower than my PR, it would rank as my second best performance. But again, would that pace drain my legs when technically I should be tapering?

Marathon Pace
My third option is to consider the race a marathon race pace training run. That means sticking to a 9:10 mile pace and logging my slowest half marathon ever at 2:00:05. That just seems wrong, but it may be the best option to prepare for the overall goal. It would get my mentally prepared to run at the right pace, but it would save my legs from going all out.

Here's the part where you offer your two cents, and I completely ignore it. Go forth and comment!


Ian said...

I vote for 1:59:59 just to keep that pesky 2 hour mark off your record.

Ian said...

Also, I think you should run it in those socks with grips on the bottom.

B.o.B. said...

That is a tough call. I am surprised that you even do both. I guess if you have already signed up I would do it at Marathon pace or a bit under. You have a half PR that you seem happy worth. Work toward that full 4 hour.

2 cents in, commence ignoring.

Mike Antonucci said...

Forget the time. Run the first five miles as if they were the first five of your marathon. Run the second five at or just under 9:00 pace. Run the last 5k at your best possible pace and pass as many laggards as you can.

The first two segments will approximate what you hope to do during the marathon. The last segment will give a psychological boost and prove you can negative-split it.

Keep your eye on the goal. If your only goal was a half-marathon PR, you could have trained differently and assured it.

David said...

Whatever you do, run the first third with head, the second with your legs, and third with your heart. Let your personality shine through the whole race.

Maybe treat it like a tune-up race (a little too close the actual event). Go out at it with your marathon strategy and learn what you can.

The Sean said...

2 weeks is plenty of time to recover and reap benefits of an all-out half. Go long this weekend, then a little less long next weekend. Blast the 1/2, a shorter long run the next week and then go kill that marathon. you are strong enough!!!

The Sean said...

ps- don't let a future run, detract from today's run... or today's run detract from a future run... while running today your assignment is to figure that out and then tell me wtf I am talking about!

Jess said...

I don't think I have two cents on this one. I hesitate to advise because each option seems solid. Flip a 3-sided coin.

BrianFlash said...

I have a similar situation coming up. I have a half marathon on September 13, then a full on September 19. That full is my peak race for the fall, so the half I'm running at a 9:00 mile pace. That's my goal pace for the marathon so I want to use the half to build the muscle memory of that pace.

I vote against killing the half - it will definitely take a toll on your legs.

Oh, and show up for the half drunk, but sober for the whole ;)