The Marathon is a beast. The beastly part of the event isn’t so much the distance as it is the expectation of the time it should take you to run that distance. I have run races much farther than the marathon many times yet I have only raced marathon distance 3 times with 1 completion. The reason for so few marathons is simply because I find them to be the most demanding event to train for.
Marathon training is always attached to a time, while most of the longer events I have run are so diverse in terrain it is difficult to train to a specific effort. So I just run…sometimes fast, sometimes slow for hours. The marathon requires a plan and that plan gets stuck to the fridge so that every day when I wake up I look at the fridge and go out and get the prescribed work out done. Long runs, speed work, hills, tempo, easy, etc…they all have to be done at a certain pace and distance to get the most out of each work out.
I am competing in the BMO Vancouver Marathon this coming Sunday May 7th and I have a goal. My goal has been in my head for nearly 20 years since my first good crack at the Vancouver Marathon in 1998. Can I run faster than I did in 1998? I think I can and I hope my training has been sufficient to allow me do so.
The plan this time was to actually run some longer mileage weeks and minimize the speed work. I have spent the bulk of my training running at a very easy pace that is about 1 minute 30 seconds slower per km than what I hope to race at. My theory is that this extra time on my feet and legs is building strength while not actually causing fatigue so on the day I want to train speed I have lots of energy to run faster than I will race. Time will tell if this approach works but as I age it seems to make more sense. I have spent a lot of time running in my barefoot shoes (BF Runs on my Strava) and this has helped my form greatly while also staving off nasty little injuries.
Speaking of injuries, what would a lead up to the marathon be without some little issue. I competed in an Orienteering event last Sunday. The plan was to take it easy and concentrate on finding the controls and not race. Well I am a racer and I headed out with focus to the first control…no big issue now on to the second. While reading my map and planning the lengthy route to the second control I tripped and banged my left quad and knee badly. I thought if I kept going it would keep the injury from swelling and stiffening up. That was wrong and it continued to be a problem, so much that it caused me to slow down and lose focus. I missed a control and headed back to the finish with a DNF. The leg and knee seem to be getting better so hopefully another week of rest is enough.
This time next week I hope to sitting here happy that I reached my goal and I never have to race a marathon again…if I don’t do it I’ll go back to the drawing board and see if these old legs can muster another kick at the can.
Wish me luck.