Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CIM Marathon Training Review

I achieved great success at the California International Marathon (CIM) and it would be a shame if I didn't capture all the things that went well or didn't go so well during my marathon training and CIM race.  

What I did well:
  • Coach. I've been self-coached the past couple years using a mixture of Greg McMillan's training philosophy and Jack Daniel's Running Formula (book).  While I had good success as a self-coached athlete (56th Overall at 2012 Boston, 3rd Place at 2013 Boston2BigSur Challenge, 3rd Place 2014 All-American Marathon), I felt that I needed a coach not only to stay discipline and keep me accountable, but more importantly I felt I needed and wanted to try a different training structure.  Deep inside I wanted to get back to running sub-2:35 or hopefully a PR for the marathon, but knew I would need some guidance and coaching.  Thanks to Coach Scott Wietecha (2:17 Marathon, 63 Half) I was able to run a new PR and break my own Guam National Marathon Record.
  • Miles.  While I've always been a moderate to high-mileage runner, I only averaged about 70-80 miles/week with a few weeks at 80-95 during my previous marathon training cycles.  This time around, during the 18 weeks of training (not including a 2-wk taper) leading up to CIM, I ran 5 weeks at 80-89 miles, 11 weeks at 90-99 miles and one (1) week over 100 miles.  I averaged 89.7 miles during the 18-week marathon training cycle.  
  • Running doubles.  I ran more doubles as part of my mileage increase.  A normal training week consisted of about 11-13 workouts.  It may seem like I had a lot of time on my schedule to run, but that wasn't the case.  During the work week, I would normally have to run my first workout as early as 4:30-5:30am and my second workout during lunch or after work.  On double-days, my 2nd workout was no more than 4-5 miles at a very easy pace.  
  • Take it Easy.  I actually ran "EASY" on my easy days.  After seeing how slow and easy Scott was running his easy runs, I figured I should run my easy runs easier.  I averaged 7:00 pace or slower on my easy runs, whereas I used to average about 6:40-7:00 pace.  The slower pace running allowed me to increase the mileage without feeling very fatigue and saved the legs for the faster workouts.    

  • Progression Runs.  I ran a lot of my quality workouts as a progression run.  It didn't matter if it was an interval session on the track, mile repeats, tempo run, or marathon pace workout, I ran or tried to run a faster pace as the workout progressed.  This was key because it taught me how to be patient early and to save the faster running for the second half of the workout/race, therefore running negative splits.   CIM was a perfect example: I ran negative split halves of 1:16:41 and 1:15:48, with the last 10K being my fastest section of the marathon.  
  • Long Runs.  I alternated my weekly long runs between normal long runs and long run variations mostly on rolling terrain to simulate the CIM course.  The long run variations included workouts at marathon effort/pace or faster.  There were a couple long run workouts that I thought were key during my train-up.  One was an 18-miler at 4300 ft elevation that consisted of 5x2 miles at marathon effort.  Each 2-mile rep was faster than the previous.  The other key long run workout contained 10 miles of 1/2 mile steady (6:15-6:20pace) followed by 1/2 mile hard (5:30-5:40ish pace) on rolling hills.  I also ran many of my long runs without taking in any fuel (electrolytes, gels, etc.), i.e. glycogen-depleting long runs, which teaches the body to metabolize fat more efficiently and enables runners to maintain race pace longer.   
  • Altitude Training.  I was fortunate to get in 5 solid weeks of moderate altitude (3900 ft) training while at Fort Bliss (El Paso), TX for work.  Studies have shown that moderate altitude training improves performance.  (Zap Fitness trains at moderate altitude of 3500-4000 ft.) I'm sure I reaped some benefits from the 5 weeks of altitude training.  I averaged just under 93 miles/week and got in some very good quality sessions.  
  • Nutrition. I stuck to what works for me.  I always took in my Herbalife24 (HL24) Rebuild Endurance recovery shake immediately after my workout.  Pre-race: I ate lots of carbs the two nights before the race and stayed hydrated.  On the morning of the race I had my usual pre-race meal: bagel, HL24 Formula 1 Sport shake, yogurt, banana and coffee.  During the race, I consumed a total of 5 PowerGels and 1 GU (offered on the course).  I also alternated my hydration between an electrolyte drink (Nuun) and water at each aid station.  I think I only skipped one aid station.  
  • Race strategy.  I think the one thing I'm good at with marathons is running my own race.  It's very rare that I'll get suckered into going out too hard or running faster than I should be running.  At CIM, I was patient early in the race and did not push the pace even when things felt very easy and comfortable.  Obviously, it paid off because I ran a huge negative split and did not die in the end.  
Run your own race.

What I can do better at:
  • Stretching.  I'm horrible at it.  I'll be honest, I did almost no stretching besides maybe some calf and quad stretches (for about 15 sec) immediately after my runs.  I don't think it's a matter of not wanting to do it, but not having the time to do it (excuses).    
  • Core exercises or cross-training.  I'm usually good about doing my core exercises or some cross-training, but during this training cycle I was not consistent with doing them.    I need to get back at it to ensure I stay injury-free.
  • Races.  I like to run races, but it didn't seem like I raced much or maybe I did.  I think I felt like I didn't race much because I ran most of my races (ran a total of 4 races between Jul-Nov), besides Philly Half, as tempo runs or hard workouts.  
With CIM in the books, it's now time to look ahead towards my next big race, 2015 Boston Marathon.  My plan is to continue doing the things I did well for CIM and improve on the things I didn't do so well.  I already started incorporating some structured stretching after my runs.  

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