This week is the beginning of the second half of my training for the Shamrock Marathon on March 18. While I never doubted myself, I’m still pretty pleased to have made it through the first 8 weeks in great shape, knocking out two 20-milers and three 18-milers along the way. I’ve run 296 miles so far this cycle, although far more miles lie ahead (I was almost 4 weeks into the plan before I adopted my higher-mileage strategy).
Here’s a look at what I can expect over the next 8 weeks:
Three more runs of 20+ miles: Not only do I have some big runs coming up, but the prescribed pace keeps coming down closer to marathon pace (7:15). I ran my first 20 at a 7:43 pace and my second at 7:25. While the pace certainly won’t keep dropping at the same rate, I’d love to keep the next three in the 7:20s. Also, I plan to bump up at least one of those 20s to about 22 to help mimic the stresses of race day without going the full distance. My long runs on the non-20 weeks will hover around 15-16 miles.
MP runs: Over the second half of the cycle I will be spending a lot more time at MP – marathon pace. My mid-week tempo runs transition from shorter, faster workouts to longer distances at MP. Today’s 10-mile run included a 4-mile tempo segment at 6:38, but next week’s 11-mile tempo workout includes 10 miles at 7:15. By the time race day gets here I should be very familiar with a 7:15 effort.
More speed: Even as the long runs and tempo runs get longer, my speed workouts get longer, too. Where I’ve been getting about 5k of speedwork wrapped into a 6- or 7-mile session every week, the intervals get a little longer now and will cover about 4-5 miles per session.
Practicing the details: Up to this point, I’ve been carrying a CamelBak with my nutrition on my weekly long runs and making short stops for fueling at a couple points along the way. But as race day gets closer I’ll need to practice fueling on the run to mimic the situation on the course.
A little help: After all the great advice I got after my last post, I ordered myself a GPS watch. Several people suggested the Timex Global Trainer as a less expensive but high-quality alternative to the Garmin 310. I also put in a good deal of my own research over the past few weeks, and decided to give the Timex a shot. It’s been ordered and should be here in a couple days. I’m very excited to see how it helps me with some of the critical pace work that lies ahead.
A break? Not likely. My plan keeps up the hard workouts straight through taper week, which is fine with me. I didn’t know what to do with myself on my last recovery week earlier this month, and ended up feeling so good that I ran the week’s long run – 13 miles – at a pace that was only 6 seconds per mile off my half-marathon PR. I’ve got essentially six more weeks to hit the training hard, then two weeks of taper before race day. If I feel as good on race day as I did during that recent 13-miler, I should be in good shape to meet my goal.
I’ve reached the critical moment – these next six weeks before taper are the chance for me to cement the gains I’ve made so far and to really push for improvement in my strength and endurance. Particularly the three 20-milers are going to shed a lot of light on my fitness and preparedness to achieve a BQ. The most positive aspect is that I’m having a blast with this training, and look forward to every run. With that mindset, success is inevitable.Bike: 0/130.1 miles Run: 34.3/139.7 miles