I just wrapped up my most recent training cycle and before I post my race recap (and to keep that from being crazy long), I am posting my how I prepared for the California International Marathon.
As usual, I had a 12 week training cycle for CIM organized by the coach I have been working with for the past 5(!) years. Since I typically average about 40-45 miles a week when I’m not marathon training, the 12 week cycle works really well for me. But I did do some things differently this time.
The first thing I consciously changed in my approach was being serious about the easy miles. In years past, I often ran most of my miles within 30 seconds of GMP (goal marathon pace), except the workouts of course. But even with workouts, often my warm up and cool downs were still faster than necessary. This time around, easy miles were at least a full minute slower than my GMP and for workout warm up and cool downs, they were up to two minutes slower. In the past, I also usually ran my 18 miler (I usually only do one) too fast. I wanted to believe I could hold my GMP for the whole thing. This time my 18 miler was about a minute and forty seconds slower on average than GMP. I reminded myself it was about time on my feet not pace.
One major difference between this cycle and all my training cycles since I had my daughter is how much I incorporated the track into my workouts. I had not used the track because my schedule just really made it more difficult but this time around I prioritized it. This meant that generally I was starting my workout at dark o’clock (i.e. 5/5:30am) on Wednesdays and Fridays so I could get back home in time to do the kid thing/get ready for work thing. I don’t know how much actually running on the track affected my race performance, but just having the company of my teammates (as well as members of both That’s Fine Track Club and the Oakland Track Club) was motivating. Since I use a different coach from my teammates, our workouts weren’t the same. But just knowing someone else is pushing hard around the oval is always inspiring. And I didn’t have to worry about tripping in the dark.
Another thing I changed was being consistent with core work. I always want to do core work but I had not challenged myself to do it daily. This training cycle, with the exception of Thanksgiving weekend, I did core exercises every day – even if it was just a minute plank.
I also changed my fueling for the marathon. I have had a lot of troubles in the past with gels and fueling as almost all of it upsets my GI track and I end up marathon day wasting minutes in a porta potty. This cycle and race, I tried Huma gels. These were great (well only chocolate, I don’t care for the other flavors). My stomach didn’t love them race day but I didn’t have to dash to a bathroom and I was able to eat later in the day, so I’ll call that a big win. (If you are an Arete team member, you get a discount on these gels!).
Lastly, I ran a lot of treadmill miles. But I didn’t want to … you can read about that experience here.
There were some things I did the same. I largely shied away from posting anything specific about my marathon training on social media and I kept my goals to myself. People generally knew I would like to run a sub 3:20 but my real goal was a 3:18. This discrepancy is more about my own hangups but something about keeping this stuff closer to the vest makes it better for me. But obviously each person does their own thing. I also kept strength training pretty consistently in the mix (save for the bad air quality weeks when classes were canceled at the gym). Almost every week my easy Sunday run was broken up into miles to and from the gym with a Body Pump class sandwiched in between.
Leading up to the race, I ran 649.3 miles, which was 95 hours and 1 minute. You gotta put the time in to see results. 🙂