Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Getting serious about training for the fall/winter marathons

It has been almost a month since I ran the full marathon at Colfax Marathon 2018. Ever since then I have not been actively training, and have been lacking the usual motivation to run on a regular basis.

Come on, Dude! We don't want you slacking off now. This is more than about running marathons. A lot depends on me continuing to train for and run marathons.

This is a fight for my life. 

Being fit enough to run marathons will help me better handle another brain surgery - which is likely due soon as I am 19 months past the initial craniotomy and in a fertile period for a tumor recurrence. Also, committing to run marathons later will help me rebound quickly from a surgery.

So can we get serious about training for the 6 marathons I have lined up in the fall/winter?

After running 3 marathons in Spring, I have lined up 6 marathons in fall/winter. From being someone who had completely sworn off running marathons, I have successfully transformed myself into someone with multiple seasons of marathoning per year. 😆

It is 13 weeks to Cheyenne Marathon and 15 weeks to Chicago Marathon - my next two marathons.

Here are the main aspects of my training plan for these upcoming marathons:
  • Main Goal: Accomplish a Negative Split: This is the main goal because I have not been mentally and physically ready to run the full marathon at each of the marathons I have run so far. Even at the Colfax marathon, the most recent of my marathons, my thinking was along the lines of "I should finish the first half. If I do so, I can then somehow make it to the end." Taking on the goal of accomplishing a negative split will make me stretch the scope of my thinking and preparation to the full distance of the marathon. The splits for the 3 marathons so far are as follows:
    • Los Angeles Marathon on Mar 18: Finish time of 5h07m35s split in two as 2h33m33s and 2h34m02s. Almost an even split between the two halves!
    • Eisenhower Marathon on Apr 7: Finish time of 4h55m51s split in two as 2h12m40s and 2h43m11s. A highly uneven split; a very fast first half, and a slower by half an hour second half. 
    • Colfax Marathon on May 20: Finish time of 5h07m11s split in two as 2h25m48s and 2h41m23s. The second half is around 16 minutes slower than the first half. Not as bad a split as at the Eisenhower Marathon
  • Every training run is an opportunity to accomplish a negative split: Yes. I will accomplish a negative split at the upcoming marathons by making it a habit everytime I am out running. In the few training runs over the past few days, I have been able to put in extra effort in the second half of the run to finish strongly and get a negative split. Example: Yesterday's 6.1-mile effort with a finish time of 1h07m10s had a split of 34m37s and 32m33s. This emphasis on a negative split is helping me train better with tired muscles and also become faster by incorporating some sprinting in the later half of the runs. 👍
  • A lot of easy miles, and a minimum of 20 to 30 miles per week: As I have documented elsewhere, the good performances in the spring marathons were built on a solid foundation of minimum 30 miles run every week for 10 weeks leading up to the Los Angeles Marathon. I will continue with that habit with just a little relaxation of the weekly minimum to 20 miles instead of the original 30 miles. A significant portion of this running mileage - around 90 percent - will be at an easy conversational pace. A small part of it will be for sprinting, tempo runs, and other variety I can add to make the training runs less boring. 
  • A long run every weekend: In the 13 Saturdays/Sundays remaining till Cheyenne Marathon, I tentatively plan to run the following distances: 
    1. June 23-24: 8-mile
    2. June 30-July 1: 8-mile
    3. July 7-8: 9-mile
    4. July 14-15: 9-mile
    5. July 21-22: 10-mile
    6. July 28-29: 10-mile
    7. August 4-5: 11-mile
    8. August 11-12: 13-mile
    9. August 18-19: 15-mile
    10. August 25-26: 18-mile
    11. September 1-2: 20-mile
    12. September 8-9: 12-mile 
    13. September 15-16: 8-mile
    14. September 23: Cheyenne Marathon!
  • One-way long-runs: Due to my dual restrictions of 1. Not being allowed to drive since I had my first seizure in January 2018, and 2. The need to minimize the time I am without Optune, I have been making all my runs start and end at my home. That has worked well so far as the three successful marathons show. Only down-side has been that I haven't been able to train at high-altitude and with significant altitude gain. That was one of the main reasons for me to drop out of the Mt. Evans Ascent I had signed up for. For this upcoming training cycle, I plan to make some of the runs one-way running towards the foothills, thereby gaining significant altitude through the run. One route I have identified for that purpose is to run from my home to Greenbriar Inn on Route 36 and Nelson road - a distance of around 11 miles with an altitude gain of 636ft! I guess I can have someone pick me up at Greenbriar Inn and drop me back home.
  • Strength training two times every week: I have discovered a very good strength training plan for runners with the book Quick Strength for Runners: 8 Weeks to a Better Runner's Body. The workouts detailed in this book are perfect for me as they can be performed even with Optune on. I plan to stick to this easy-to-follow strength training plan and improve my strength by steadily making the exercises more difficult (by adding repeats or by taking on the more difficult versions of the exercises).
  • Faster finish time is not important: Sometime ago I was entertaining the possibility of finishing one of the fall marathons in 4h30m. I don't think that is realistic. In fact, I would rather not focus on the finish times and just focus on finishing the marathon. Trying to run a faster marathon - as I have learned from experience over the past 10 years - is a surefire recipe to get demotivated and totally give up on running marathons. My goal is to keep running marathons for a long time. Not finish one marathon in a quick time and give up running forever. I hope to become a faster runner and turn myself from a 5-hour marathoner to a 3-hour marathoner and qualify for Boston Marathon over a few years. And I hope to document that journey in an upcoming memoir - How I turned myself from a 5-hour marathoner to a 3-hour marathoner and qualified for Boston Marathon as a middle-aged man. With that goal in mind, there is no speed goal for the upcoming marathons - the goal as I stated at the beginning is TO FINISH STRONG AND ACCOMPLISH A NEGATIVE SPLIT.


The story so far

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