Monday, December 5, 2011

Marathon Post Mortem

What the heck is in THIS picture?!

It looks awfully reminiscient of a marathon training program.  And based on my recent marathon failure, I thought I'd never be making one of these again.

Not sure why I look happy in this
photo... happy to be done?  Next time,
I hope to be happy for a race well-run.
(More pictures from the race HERE)
I don't know what the heck I'm doing.  I'm registered for the 2012 Los Angeles Marathon on March 18th (and a few shorter races in between).  It will be my fifth LA Marathon, and for some reason, I have not been able to run better than a 4:50 each time (my PR is 4:19, a time I've hit twice).  Although I am scared that I will be wasting my time again by training for this race and then succumbing to a surprise calf spasm for the 11th time, I have decided that this one will be a go.  Some notes:
  • I will NOT register for any other marathons until this one is done.
  • I will consider alternatives from my physical therapy visit and perhaps do a second.
  • If this is my last marathon, I want to give it my last efforts.
I have been combing through my notes from my previous training cycle, trying to determine if I did something wrong during my training.  I complied with that program (based on THIS book, 4 Months to a 4-Hour Marathon) about 85%, which is much better than I have ever stuck to any marathon training.  The reviews on Amazon for this book were indeed mixed, but I felt it was the right program for me because of the relatively low weekly mileage and plenty of long-long runs (e.g., 19, 21, 23) to condition my endurance.  Low weekly mileage was important to me, because I tend to get injured easily.

So now I'm revisiting a plan I've used before, Hal Higdon's Intermediate 1.  I ran a 4:34 in San Antonio last year using this plan, even though I didn't follow it perfectly and recall doing a lot of walking in some of my training runs.  If I can handle this higher mileage without injuring myself, perhaps I'll stand some sort of chance.

I'm starting on the 4th week of the program, since I really wanted to give myself a chance to recover/unwind before starting.  I should have enough base fitness from my marathon of death to cover myself for the three missing weeks.  I have been plagued with a busy schedule, a cold, and lingering injuries, so let's hope these all settle -- if not, I'm willing to keep waiting and dive in when I can.

And yep, I started a new tag "lamtraining" for these posts... I will not be updating weekly like I did for the last cycle.  I have a few races embedded within my plan, so I'm sure details of my training progress will go in there (and hopefully Daily Mile).  Yay for half-marathons, though only time will tell whether those become my longest-distance race in the near future.


  1. Speaking of Hal Higdon, I am doing his 30 week training plan (on week 6) for a May 20th marathon that is flatter than a pancake right now. If, for the LA Marathon you have not gone under 4:50, maybe set your PR goal to 4:30 or so? At least that would be my thinking. It all depends on the hills and what not. Some courses do not offer the same PR chance os do other races. Other than what I just gave, with this amount of time out, you have a chance to really evaluate your realistic goal, try to do a half marathon indicitave of the full. Take care and happy training (hard)

  2. I know you're not embarking on this one lightly, but I'm still excited for you to do just one more, to see if the doc's advice can turn your marathon luck around.

  3. I have two questions for you (with my coach's cap on). 1) How are you doing for pre-marathon hydration, electrolyte levels, etc. during the week leading up the race? 2) When was the last time you received a massage to help relax and remove the knots in your calves?

    I hope you can train for another marathon. I am in a similar boat. No full marathons for me next year. Maybe in 2013.

  4. I'm excited for you and think this will be a marathon that you will rock.

    The only marathon I have decided on is Berlin and I'm not sure I'll be signing up for another one next year. With this job and all the travel I want to do / maintain a social life... I think one marathon is enough. But that's just me saying that now. Things tend to change on a daily basis.

  5. @Firefly

    1 - In the week before, I start drinking more fluids, and in the days before, coconut water, and I eat salty things. I also take electrolytes the night and morning of.

    2 - I got a massage 2 weeks before, telling them to concentrate on my legs. They did well, but this was a spa, not a sports massage. I've never thought that I have a knot in my calf... plus that area is squeamish usually and I just foam roll it.

  6. I go back and forth on whether or not I want to run LA. Part of me wants a do-over for both LB and the horrible weather (but great race) I had in LA earlier this year. I also know that an early spring marathon will be my only chance next year. I don't want to have to deal with weekend long runs while also doing wedding planning stuff. There's also the part of me that would like to try another marathon (I'd love to do Chicago, but October will not work) in another city.

    I'll likely sign up for LA. I think I'll know after this half marathon. I liked training through the winter and know I can do some group long runs with the SRLA kids at the local high school.

    So far, I've like the training schedule my online coach has set up for me. I trust that he'd help me get to LA healthy and on track for a PR.

  7. Good luck to you in your training for LA. I hope this is a positive experience for you!

  8. Just remember (as you are well aware) - L.A. is not an easy marathon. You might want to think about St. George (net downhill)? Or even San Diego (flat except for the freeway portion).

    And - it's better to be 10% under trained than 1% over trained!