Saturday, June 09, 2018

12 weeks

(Warning: This post is yet again running-related)

The North Shore Marathon is just 12 weeks away. It'll be my second full marathon, and out of all my goals for this year, it is the highest, most valued. I have the goal of a sub-3:30 time, and hopes of getting it considerably lower. My other goals in between it and now, my 10k and 5k goals are at this point to serve this greater goal. 12 weeks is both far and near - individual weeks can play huge parts in the lead-in; a single run or injury can bring it all down. It has clearly got my attention.

To understand and be better prepared than last year it's important to know what went right and wrong last year. I should have had the fitness to get close to 3:30 at the Auckland Marathon. Instead I got 3:46 with an exhausting last quarter. My post-mortem of factors that led to the disappointment, from close range to long range are as follows:

  1. Running too fast in the first half
  2. Not hydrating well during the race on a warmer than average morning.
  3. Risking fueling with just dates and never considering using the gel I had in my hydration vest.
  4. Doing my training runs on average too fast, with few easy runs.
  5. Not sustaining a consistent mileage in the weeks leading up to the event. 

Many of these lessons I've already applied. Point 4 I believe I've partly succeeded in. I now do 2-3 completely easy runs during the week and have reined in my long run speed, with only a few indiscretions. For example, last week I was doing an easy run and in the last 5 kilometres found a "second wind" that I just ran with. Considering I had a hard run the previous day, it was probably ill-advised. My calves felt quite tender on the rest day and then they still had some residual soreness, which then affected my long run today. It served as a reminder that speed has the capacity to kill this campaign. Going slow now can only lead to more speed and health in the long run.

And that was what went wrong last year, which led to point 5. I had momentum back in January 2017 until I did three straight days of fast runs, had one rest day and then one more intense run was enough to give me a calf tear and a couple of months out of action. After recovery and progress, I again were delayed by niggles both perceived and real. The biggest of these was my knee ligament issue that developed in July, which started once I started doing increasingly long runs far more early than I should have. For perspective, even though I was doing a few runs a week, the long run was often over half the mileage for the whole week. I was a so-called "Weekend Warrior" making up for a lack of running during the week by going overboard on the weekend. Every three "good" weeks of mileage would invariably be followed with a week of worry when something causes me to fret that I was overdoing it. This year I've built up in a more reasonable way. Two straight months I've average over 50km a week. In the last four weeks I've pushed it up from the 50s, now into the 70s. I'll consolidate around this level while aiming to push up further, peaking at 100km for the peak weeks in early August. In other words, touch wood, I've got a more informed, strategic mindset to get me in better shape to my goal.

As for points 1-3, that's race day.

Of course those are just to address the missteps of the previous attempt. 

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