Our training for this marathon was strategic and committed. After a number of overtraining experiences in other races derailed our goals, this time we vowed to make it different.
We found a book called, Run Less, Run Faster published by Runner’s World. The premise of the plan is really based on the 3 plus 2 system of 3 quality runs per week and two day of cross training. The plan sounded like a perfect fit for us and we loosely followed the marathon training plan provided. Our basic weekly schedule consisted of speed work, a 6.2 mile hill/tempo run, and a long run. And although each of those workouts served a unique and significant purpose to our training, we do believe it was the hill work that made the most difference (read more about our hill runs here).
About a week before the race, during one of our last long runs, Lance and I discussed how running at a 9 minute plus pace was just not very natural for us. We had forced ourselves to train at this pace for our long runs thinking that it was our ‘marathon pace’. The pace actually took a great deal of concentration to sustain, and at times was actually painful. So when mapping out a strategy for race day, we decided to run comfortably for as long as possible and only fall into that pace if necessary.
We are so thankful for that discussion…
Our ‘running comfortable’ turned out to be between a 7:30-8:30 pace for the first half of the race. I was actually able to PR my half marathon split by about 3 minutes. Again, we owe this to a combination of the speed work and hill/tempo runs. Miles 18-22 were the most challenging for us (and probably for most racers), but even still, my pace slowed only to the ‘emergency’ 9-9:30 minute pace that we had been training at. During this time, I was thankful for our long, slow runs and I was confident that I would be able to persevere. I walked through the aid stations to make certain I got my nutrition down, and was actually able to recover my pace slightly at mile 23 through the finish line.
When I slowed down, I never panicked. I had made up so much time in the first half of the race, I knew my goal was still safe. And unlike in 2010 when I slowed significantly due to an injury, this year I slowed down because I was running a marathon and was just plain tired. Because of the strength gained from the hill runs, my body was strong enough to persevere through that mile 18-22 ‘sticking point’ without succumbing to injury.
We each crossed the finish line physically and mentally exhausted, but absolutely fulfilled. The race was everything we had hoped for.
It’s nice when hard work pays off. Identifying a goal and committing to it for 4 months takes a great deal of physical and mental focus. The time we committed to training—after work, nights, 3 hour weekend runs—was valuable, and to triumph at the finish line is worth it.
Now, after careful recovery, we move on to conquer sprint distance triathlons, which present their own unique training challenges. We will take with us our marathon training experience and apply it to reach success in triathlons as well.
Visit our Team Fruition calendar of events to see what’s coming up next.