[157] Sharpening focus

I’m about a month away from marathon day, and my training has gained a much sharper focus as I start preparing myself for the specifics of the race. Here’s a laundry list of how my runs and other training components have been evolving lately:

Marathon pace: I’ve really been trying to figure this out but haven’t had great luck. The GPS watch I bought a few weeks ago has proven to be somewhat inaccurate and, therefore, not too helpful in this regard. My two marathon-pace tempo runs have both been faster than I would have liked, averaging around 7:00 instead of the desired 7:11. That’s cool – maybe I’ll just run a 3:03 marathon instead…or flame out at mile 18 and end up walking the last quarter of the race. I’ve got several more chances to tinker with these MP runs in the next few weeks.

No stopping: On my longer runs I’ve been making a point of maintaining continuous forward motion. I do these runs downtown and frequently encounter stoplights and crossings that force me to stop. It’s not like I was taking a knee and resting for several minutes, or that I was running at paces that require recovery breaks. Ten seconds here and there do make nice breathers but will add up over the course of a 3-hour run. So on last weekend’s 22-miler I made an effort to alter my pace when approaching intersections or otherwise adjust my course so that I wouldn’t have to stop. Because, well, the clock doesn’t stop on race day.

Fueling: Along the same lines as above, I’ve also started fueling on the run. That means getting a single gel out of my back pocket without dropping the rest of them onto the sidewalk, opening the gel and squirting it down (and then carrying the sticky wrapper with me for 20 minutes until I finally run past a trash can) – all without falling off the pace. I run with a CamelBak, so drinking on the run is pretty simple. I doubt I’ll wear that on race day, but I’ve grabbed enough paper cups during races to know what I’m doing there.

Training courses: After writing about the need to train on terrain similar to the race course, I’ve pretty much abandoned my hilly neighborhood in favor of flatter courses, both for my mid-week tempo runs and my long runs on the weekend. I do my speedwork at the gym, but I still tackle any leftover, easy miles in the neighborhood.

ITB: After my IT band locked up at the end of the very first long run of this cycle, I started wearing my ITB strap during long runs. I’ve also been very consistent about doing my ancillary strength work to help address the issue and, happily, it seems to be paying off. I haven’t worn the strap on my last two long runs – 15 miles and 22 miles – and have had no issues.

Clothing: I’ve chosen the shorts I will race in, and I’ll wear them for each of the last four long runs before race day so I can practice with the gels in the pocket as I mentioned above. I’ve also picked out my shoes: I recently ordered two new pairs of Kinvaras – one to get me through the next four weeks and one for race day. I wore the race shoes on an easy 6-mile run and then on last weekend’s 22-miler. They felt amazing – no hot spots or any discomfort – and they’ll now be shelved until I pack up to make the trip to Virginia Beach next month.  

Slowly but surely it’s all coming together. I’m doing my best to influence the things that I can control to make sure I’m as prepared as I can be on March 18.

Bike: 37.1/259.5 miles
Run: 16.2/283 miles
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8 Responses to [157] Sharpening focus

  1. Sounds like your ready.. I am running in the same marathon although I should be rolling in about 25 min after you Mr. Speedy.

  2. jnkmiles.org says:

    Have you ever thought about mixing gels in with your water? I do that in 1 of my bike bottles so I don’t have to mess around with the gel itself…I hate handling the sticky little things. I use a flask (with the gel diluted in water) clipped to my shorts when I run. Good Luck! I wouldn’t be surprised to see you go UNDER 3hrs!! Zoom! Zoom!

    • traintotri says:

      No, I’ve never even heard of mixing gels in water. Sounds like a good idea, though! (And if you think I’m coming in under 3 hours, you might have something else in that flask!)

  3. steena says:

    The no stopping thing is hard.. Best way around that is to head out as early as possible, especially on a Sunday morning,… well here anyway.
    And carrying an empty, sticky gel packet for 20 minutes is annoying too, good thing for race day you can just drop it.
    Why not just wear the camelbak on race day?

    • traintotri says:

      I haven’t completely ruled out carrying the CamelBak. After all, I’ve taken it on every long run since last summer. Part of me thinks it would be nice to not have the extra weight, and the other part says that the weight is minimal and I would get to carry whatever beverage I want. We’ll see…

  4. David H. says:

    Looking good. Now just 4 weeks to go! I’ve been practicing the best I can these past couple of weeks of getting up early and out the door as close to possible as 6 a.m. as I can since the half starts at 7 a.m., a week after the time changes. So, in effect, I’m running at the same time the race would start.

    • traintotri says:

      That’s a good point – I hadn’t even considered that the time change is the weekend before the race. I’m glad the marathon doesn’t start until 8:30 … as long as it’s not too hot that day.

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