Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hindsight, and...What Next?

Well, that was a fast week! It was a week ago today that I finished my first marathon. I took three days off from running, then ran the next four days (gently, with exception of today). Things are feeling pretty good. I totaled 20.2 miles, capped off with a group 6-miler this morning at a 7:24 pace. My quads and achilles are still a bit sore, but I feel more recovered than I expected to.

So, what are my thoughts on my marathon training cycle? For the most part, I feel pretty good about it. There are some tweaks I'll make next time around. It might be easiest to itemize my thoughts:

  1. Include more recovery weeks. I felt fresh relatively early in my cycle, and probably peaked about half way through. Toward the end, my legs went flat and I felt tired often. I only threw in two cutback weeks in my cycle. I feel that I would have stayed fresh longer if I had cut my weekly mileage every third or (at most) fourth week. That may also have allowed me to increase my mileage even more during my regular weeks.
  2. Find a way to eat even more. I felt weak toward the end of the training cycle. I believe I lost too much weight, yet my appetite wasn't ravenous most of the time. I think I could have solved the problem by eating small snacks throughout the day just to get in some extra calories. I just need to remember to do it!
  3. Keep up with the strength training. When I started running again last year, I intended to include some strength training at least twice per week. Nothing outrageous. Just enough to maintain some upper body and core strength. As my training progressed, I was just too tired to keep up with it. Consequently, my upper body continued to waste away. I'm not looking to "bulk up" necessarily, but just a little extra strength would have been nice.
  4. Hill work is my friend. I did a moderate amount of hill work, but I could have done even more. I feel that it's equivalent to strength training for the legs. I believe it can also enhance speed. My marathon was mostly flat, but with some ultras coming up this year, I'll definitely be focusing more on hills (and trails...which I love).
  5. Nail down my race nutrition. That's kind of a nebulous comment, but I had some definite issues during the marathon...although I think the heat had a lot to do with it. I don't think I'm far off. This one is just going to take race experience to figure out.
  6. Easier easy days. I usually structured my weeks thusly: long run, recovery run, hill/progression run, recovery run, recovery run, tempo run. Rinse and repeat. Not a bad plan (IMHO), but as the cycle went on, my "recovery runs" gradually got faster. Or some of them did. It's difficult to run slower than what feels comfortable, but I think even subtle pace variations can make a big difference.
Off the top of my head, that's about it. The race was tough and could have gone better, but I honestly don't have many regrets about the training leading up to it - especially for the first marathon. With experience, I'll continue to improve and refine my training.

What's next? Well, this year will continue to be interesting. As I write this, I'm three weeks away from the Lake Youngs Ultra (28.8 miles). There's no time for ramping up again for that, so I'll go into cruise control until then, running moderate mileage at an easy-moderate pace, hopefully going into the race pretty fresh. I don't plan on "racing" it, but I'd like to see what I can do. Then I need to shift into high gear, in terms of getting a little bit of speed back. I'm running a local 5k in early July in preparation for the Ragnar Relay, in late July. No races are scheduled for August, so I'll have a short window to ramp back up for the Skagit Flats Marathon (hopefully), on Sept. 12th. I'd like to see if I can improve on my Windermere Marathon time (and experience). No heat, please! Then, another short window before my first 50k at Baker Lake (Oct. 2nd). I hear it's a tough course, so again, this will be more for the experience than a fast time. I may run a little 10k in November, then will probably finish the year with the Last Chance Marathon (or half) on Dec. 31st. Should be a fun rest of the year. Hope I can stay healthy!


  1. Colin, looks like you have a sound plan. I am going to do something I try not to.... give advice. Regarding topic #1 & dead legs. I heard about a product called Opygen HP from Brandon. I've always struggled with flat/dead legs. Optygen HP is magic. It's not cheap and must be taken at least 30 days to be truly effective. But, the stuff is amazing. I will ALWAYS use it at least 30 days before all of my races.

  2. Thanks for the heads-up, Chris. It's definitely out of my budget right now, but I'll bookmark it for when my business picks up.

  3. Looks like you have some big plans over the next few months.

    I feel the same way in most of your points, but mostly #5. I think you are right, it will just take time and experience.

    Good luck with your upcoming races!

  4. You really recovered well. Not many people can run the week after their first marathon. I like your 6 points. Good luck with the ultra and the plans ahead.

  5. Hi Colin,
    Your list is great and I am taking note:) I am glad that your legs are feeling great and that recovery went well for you! It is good to see a few nice races on your schedule...more race reports:) You know how much I love reading race reports. Take care!

  6. Congrats on a great first marathon. Nothing like the first one.
    Easy days easier ... no better advice has ever been given. I can be hard to do tho.
    good luck with the upcoming races.

  7. Good idea to recap lessons learned from the marathon, I just did the same thing, hope to post tonight. I had some of the same conclusions - need to incorporate hill work, and get more serious about strength training, specifically. I also need to ease up on the recovery runs, though some have said that if it feels easy, then that's enough. Regardless, will try and see if I can't actually book a run with pace >8:00 per mile (haven't done that since, like, November).

  8. Good thoughts. doing a post mortem is always a good thing. Unless it is with work - then they are BORING and annoying.

    Wow, you have some pretty killer races coming up. Balancing the marathons and the 5Ks will be an interesting challenge. Why the 28.8 miles? that seems like an interesting distance.

    By the way, I really like the word Nebulous.