As I was doing my long run this morning, I realized I had forgotten one of the most important lessons I learned at Twin Cities:
11. Have a pacing plan. What I really mean here is, if you are trying to achieve an exact time goal, you need to both train and race faster than the exact pace that you need to run to come in at that time. Why? Because, despite your most diligent efforts, you will never run 26.22 miles for a marathon. You will always run longer. The more curves and turns in a course, the better the chances that you'll not run the shortest possible distance. The shortest distance I've ever come up with on my Garmin in a marathon is at CIM where it shows about 26.3. CIM has very few turns and the roads are not winding. Every extra 0.1 miles adds somewhere between 36-50 seconds to your total time depending on your pace. That can be significant. So, do a quick check before you start your marathon training to see what your pace would be for 26.3 or even 26.4 miles and expect you'll be running that far. I think a good rule of thumb is to train and race about 2-3 seconds faster per mile than the pace that will meet your goal on a 26.22 mile course. Just look at what happened to me at Twin Cities. I trained for sub 2:46 and ended up running 2:96:29 all because I didn't think about running longer than 26.22 (or maybe the clock was screwed up, but whatever).
Back-to-back Marathon Training Update:
This week has been a mix of running and cross training. I've run 5-7 miles every day except yesterday and added an hour of elliptical madness after my run on Wednesday where I did 12 x 3 minutes hard, 1 minute easy. That was like running 12, 800s at 10k pace, I realized after I was done with it. I was a spectacle, sweating like a garden hose and pumping my arms in a furious running motion on this machine as I knocked out those hard repeats (I hate holding on to those flippin' arm pumping handle thingies). My total mileage for this week was 45.
Today, I had a great 16-mile long run despite some unfavorable headwinds during most of the speed work. I was using this run to gauge my recovery and my fitness for next weekend's big competition. It was a progression run that went something like this:
5 miles moderate (7:37 average pace)
2 miles – 50 sec’s slower than GMP (7:11)
2 miles – 40 sec’s slower than GMP (6:53)
2 miles – 30 sec’s slower than GMP (6:44)
1 mile – 20 sec’s slower than GMP (6:31)
1 mile – 10 sec’s slower than GMP (6:22)
1 mile – run GMP (6:19)
1 mile – run 10 sec’s faster than GMP (6:12)
1 mile easy cheesy
And, guess what? GMP felt easier than it did before Twin Cities. So, it looks like I've blown through 7 of the 12 steps to marathon recovery. I hope to complete steps 8-12 this next week. I may be able to pull off a good race next Sunday after all. I am still not ready to set a time goal for myself. In fact, I may not do that at all. I might just size up the competition and run how I feel. Novel idea, I know.
UPDATE: I realized that this lesson needed a bit more explanation. I am talking about pace here in the context of wearing a Garmin or similar GPS device. These devices show your actual or average pace over the distance that you run. If you rely only on this pace information and don't keep track of what your overall time is at the mile markers, you will not hit your time goal. However, if you just run with a pace chart and are right on your correct splits at the mile markers, then you'll be fine. It's only if you rely on the pace shown on your Garmin that you need to run a faster pace.