Friday, March 20, 2009

Tempo Training

If you’re reading plenty of runners’ blogs you know that the Boston bib numbers have been allocated. Apparently I ended up in corral 3, which is pretty far forward if you think about it. I can only hope I’ll be able to keep the pace realistic for the first few miles. When travelling thousands of miles to attend a race the last thing I want to do is ruin it with exuberance within the first two!

After feeling so great after my 22 mile on Tuesday, the very, very heavy legs on Wednesday came as a bit of a surprise. I wonder how much my fast last mile was responsible for this, but I guess the sheer distance and time on feet were more accountable. Taking it easy was the only option, and 8 miles at slower than 8:30 pace is what came out of it. On the plus side, the heart rate seemed to be dropping again.

There was still some fatigue in the hamstrings on Thursday, but not enough to stop me from attempting mile repeats. The schedule had them pencilled in for Wednesday, but of course running the 22 miler a day later than planned meant the entire week was a bit jumbled. I deliberated on the pace I should attempt; 10k pace was out of the question, as I had 6 repeats ahead of me, and half-marathon pace seemed a lot more sensible, so I guess about 6:30 should do the trick. As soon as I got up and had a peek out of the window I knew it was going to be a beautiful clear day, but at that time it was still foggy and there was even some frost on the ground. Maybe wearing a singlet was a bit daft, but I got away with it. When I checked the temperatures later it turned out that it had been no more than 4C/40F at 7 am, quite a contrast to the 18C/65F later in the day. Anyway, I managed to hit the pace on the flat or downhill miles, but unsurprisingly not on the uphill ones, and ended up with 6:35 pace on average. Considering that 2 weeks ago I had struggled to run 10k at 6:58 pace on the same course, I was happy enough with the outcome.

For today’s run I was back on the normal schedule, but not without hesitation. The plans was a but unclear, I was to run 15 miles in 3 faster 4.5 miles segments, but unless I missed it he (Ron Daws that is) never mentioned how fast those faster segments were supposed to be. I thought that progression run with the last 5 at marathon pace seemed reasonable enough, but that was purely my own guess. Since I had a tempo workout on Thursday I suspected that running fast again on Friday might not be the best idea, but since the pace was slower I decided to give it a go anyway. If in doubt I generally tend to opt for the tougher workout, not the smart one.

Anyway, I ran the first segment at 7:20 pace which felt incredibly easy, even considering that it was net-downhill. I sped up for the middle on and ended up with 7:03 pace, and since that had been net uphill it must have been pretty close to a marathon effort. I felt quiet tired after that, but had enough in my legs to give the third segment a good go. I did indeed manage to just about beat marathon goal pace with a 6:51, but the effort felt harder than one I expect to be able to hold for 26 miles. Of course I still have 4 weeks to get used to that pace, and on marathon day I hope the old race-day magic will kick in, but in all honesty at the moment I have my doubts about the sub-3 goal. I compared my recent training runs to the ones I did before Dublin and they don’t seem to be any better, maybe even a tad slower. While this doesn’t rule out a better effort on race day, it’s not a particularly good omen.

The day turned into a rather epic one when Niamh brought my bicycle to the repair man, and I ended up running to him after work to pick up my fixed bike. Despite feeling really stiff and sore early on and running at an easy effort, I somehow got faster and faster. The difference between morning and evening runs is absolutely amazing! Maybe they should start marathons at 5pm.

18 Mar
8 miles, 1:08:03, 8:30 pace, HR 133
19 Mar
10 miles, 1:13:02, 7:18 pace, HR 152
incl. 6xmile @ 6:29, 50, 31, 30, 54, 19 (6:35 avg)
20 Mar
am: 15 miles, 1:48:02, 7:12 pace, HR 157
   incl. 3x4.5 miles @ 7:20, 7:03, 6:51
pm: 4.55 miles, 34:42, 7:37 pace, HR 142


  1. I love the early am marathon starts! Unfortunately, those times are a hardship for most. But I agree, mornings are way easier to run.

  2. Comparisons with previous marathon builds will only do your head in. Remember your recent ten milers are faster than any races gone before. Also don't forget the rest/recovery part of Mr Daw's programme.

  3. I am one of those that have ruined my Boston race. Here were some of my errors:

    1. Too much hype in my head prior to the race.
    2. Went to the expo
    3. Started in corral 3 - the crowd at this point is actually slower than goal pace due to the crush. I got annoyed and expended too much energy trying to figure out how to get an open spot.
    4. Once I got open (mile 4 - 5) I ran too hard to catch up.
    5. Too many people to pass - I didn't let myself run a steady pace - just kept passing.
    6. Didn't relax and focus properly - always concerned with my time too early in the race.
    7. Ran the small uphills with too much gusto thus burning precious fuel.

    Not saying you'd do any of these, but we're pretty similar in marathon times and if you go back and read my sorry account of it you'll see how I could have chilled out and had a better race.

  4. THOMAS do you think that maybe the reason you are finding it hard to hold marathon pace is because of the hilly nature of your Irish roads, I know Boston has a few hills but I doubt nothing as tough as your training roads!
    I just ask this because you should be able to hold marathon pace for 10-12 miles in trainingm without vast difficulty, it should feel like a strong steady enjoyable effort!
    maybe you just need to find some flatter roads!

  5. or take into account a hilly route will damage your average pace

  6. Andrew's post is spot on, good advice. I've been in corral three before seeing TONS of runners doing exactly what Andrew writes.

    I've always felt its best to let the race develop and always consider conservation of energy.

    My reason for commenting is I've noticed three quality workouts in the span of, less than a week? I'd keep an eye on things as to how you feel, pace in the coming days and ensure recovery runs its course.

  7. Don't forget that Boston starts at 10am and with the 4hr time difference it'll feel like mid afternoon! Take it easy now will you?

  8. Don't worry about finding it difficult to hold marathon pace during training at this stage. The race day magic will kick in provided you give yourself adequate opportunity to recover from the tremendous training you have done. The main challenge now is mental preparation.

  9. Some good tips from Andrew. I reckon the old race-day magic will kick in (as long as you don't run your first 'crowd-free' downhill mile in 6:20).

    Also, taking up Rick's point, do you plan on doing any long (13-15 mile) runs at marathon pace? I'm curious about the Ron Dawes programme. Is that one on the web?

  10. All the best for your lead in to Boston. Congrats to the Irish for taking out the five nations.