A bunch of you have asked for my thoughts on how my training cycle went, what I learned etc. And I figured that it would be a good thing for me to do. Even if no one else cares anymore or finds this post really boring 😉
It’s been XX days (and since I’m writing this over several days I don’t really know how many days it will have been when you read this but y’all are smart and can figure it out ha) post-Boston so the emotional high and euphoria has waned and I can be more analytical than if you asked me on the 20th of April what my thoughts were.
And be warned, I wasn’t quite sure how to organize my thoughts when I originally sat down to write this so they might jump around a bit. And because most of the questions I got were: what did you learn / what would you do differently there might be a slight emphasis on the negative/bad stuff. Rest assured that I do consider this training cycle to be a success and I’m way happy with it. Also, in true MM form it’s long.
The Good: I PR’d and re-BQ’d. Pain free too. If that’s not good then I don’t know what is 😛
The Bad: Absolutely terrible shin splints that threatened to derail me. And there was a lot of doubt that creeped in on top of the physical woes.
The Ugly:aka what I would change. In general, though, everything that went “bad” I wouldn’t change. I’m a very inexperienced marathoner / racer in general so no matter what the mistake I made was I needed it. Cliche to say that but whatever, it’s how life is. Of course I would have loved everything to fall under the good category but that would be anti-climatic, no?
But here’s a more detailed breakdown…
The training plan:
- The good: Very aggressive and that was good for me. After training for my first marathon in early 2009 I felt like I hadn’t reached my full potential. It was pretty conservative and I wanted something that would really challenge me. Lots of speedwork was the perfect solution for that. I absolutely loved how much speedwork there was in the plan I picked. It made me feel…well to state the obvious, fast.
- The bad: Well I guess the bad thing is that I didn’t follow it. As in I added lots more miles. Like way more. I think the peak my plan had was 75 miles and I definitely hit 112 at one point during Monster Month. There also weren’t any places to insert hills or lifting so I had to try and figure out where to place that which likely led to more intense sessions than necessary.
- The ugly: Nothing inherently ugly about the plan except that I was overzealous about getting in the miles — and then some. This lead to a much more extended taper (remember the sports med doc who said I should start the taper 5 weeks out to counter the damage?) and I’m still feeling the effects of being over-trained. I probably could have added some XT in there because I trained (pretty much) exclusively with running
Specifics with the training plan:
- The good: In general, pacing was good. I was slightly faster than McMillian paces for all workouts but I was able to listen to my body for recovery runs which was good and an improvement. My interval paces were always faster than called for on the plan (oops to following that sucker) but I was able to nail those workouts. My LR pace was slightly all over the place but it was always within :45 – :75 of GMP (which at the time, and still is, 8:00) and thus was ~60-90 seconds slower than my actual race pace at Boston. Which, according to numerous sources and articles, is where it should have been.
- The bad: I still cannot for the life of me hit tempos. It’s so hard and maybe it was a cause of all the mental stuff going on that I get into later but nailing a tempo still eludes me. Curses. Another bad thing was how all over the place my paces were for the LR. Some weeks it was sub-9, some weeks it was 9:30. And I never felt as though my LRs were improving. By the end of the cycle I definitely didn’t have my usual kick to the finish.
- The good: I lifted 3x a week for the first 13 weeks of the plan. Exactly what I wanted to do. For Providence (in May 2009) I lifted 2x a week and cut it out way early.
- The bad: I did the same routine each session. So by the end of the cycle I probably wasn’t deriving as much benefit as I could have been.
- The good: I was able to incorporate hills into my routine and even got to run the Comm Ave hill once during training. This allowed me to BEAST Newton. I never noticed the first of the hills (only after a guy running next to me said 1 down 3 to go) and the rest of them really weren’t bad. Negative splits anyone? And I ran them at the end of my speedwork sessions semi-mimicking the fact that the hills come so late in the race.
- The bad: With the exception of going on Comm Ave once (and back in January too) all my hills were on the TM and I couldn’t prep myself for the downhills; let’s be honest here: everyone talks about the Newton Hills but the race is net downhill. And while I still ran a strong race, with negative splits indicating the Newton Hills didn’t break me, my quads did take a beating. Unfortunately as much as I would like to go back and change this, in reality I wouldn’t be able to if I could because my area is pancake flat and travel was not an option.
- The good: Well I ate really healthy and made sure that I was getting a wide variety of nutrients by eating variety in each individual meal as well as meal -to- meal. I even upped my salt intake so that I could retain more water to push through those tough workouts as well as the antibiotics I was on over the Easter break.
- The bad: I ended up losing a bit of weight which tells me that I wasn’t eating enough overall. I’m a pretty small person girth wise so I think that if I had been able to keep on that weight then maybe I would have been able to run faster / harder. (Note: This is why I haven’t yet — and likely won’t ever– do another fueling post, I’m trying to figure things out for myself and see what works. Again: inexperience here!) Another thing that was BAD was my lack of water intake. Sure, overall I drink a lot of fluids but the daily breakdown looks like this: ~32oz milk, ~20 oz diet coke, ~16 oz ice tea, ~20 oz water. So out of 88oz liquids consumed only 22% is water. Obviously an area where I can improve drastically.
- The ugly: Save for one long run I didn’t take in fuel during the long runs. And I never took in any water or fluid (that goes for marathon day too although I did eat two mini-luna bars). I don’t really know why this happened as during the my first marathon cycle in 2009 I readily ate during runs (never drinking things though). This, in conjunction with overtraining, probably led to some of those lethargic runs toward the end of the cycle. Hard to tell which was the larger source but they both played a role I’m sure.
- The good: Ummmmm…I did make it a point to sleep A LOT the week before race day but it probably was just a drop in the bucket at that point because…
- The bad: Well I’m a college student. Suffice it to say that I probably sleep a lot more than the average college student and I only got about 6 hours a night. Not nearly enough when logging mega miles. Part of it was work: those assignments certainly aren’t asexual! Part of it was social: It’s senior year and I want to see my friends. Part of it was likely overtraining. But I wouldn’t change anything here even though sleep deprivation sucks hardcore.
3. GI Issues
- The good: I didn’t have to stop to go the bathroom during the race!
- The bad: It was awful to have bladder issues during my LRs. Absolutely awful. Not really quite sure how to fix it though. I tried a number of things and nothing worked. Maybe it was mostly mental. Wicked frustrating as I *never* had this problem training for Providence 2009.
4. Psychological / Mental stuff
- The good: I was mentally prepped to go into this race because I was expecting it to be a disaster with everything bad that happened. Aka: I was expecting to just enjoy the race so it took the pressure off. I think what helped me the most gut out the hard miles at the end of the race was that I was doing so much at the time.
- The bad:I was mentally very tired by the end of the training cycle: finishing up Senior year, training while juggling all my classes, doing job searches, setting up things so I can apply to med schools, being social. And then on top of that training a billion miles a week. That’s just the “regular stuff”. Throw in the toe issue that happened on Easter as well as the shin splints which really put a lot of doubt into my mind and it’s a wonder I made it to the starting line not in a straight jacket. There really isn’t, however, a way to reduce all that mental stress. It’s just my life.
Well there you have it. Again, everything went as well as it could. Yes I could have done lots of stuff differently to produce a “better” race but it went down how it went down. I’m sure I could write more on the topic buttttt this sucker is long enough as it is.
P.S. The Boston Jacket is *still* being rocked 😀