Monday, August 07, 2006

Sub Three

This last week marked the first week in a 24 week training program for my next marathon. My goal for the this one (Carlsbad Marathon, Jan. 21) is a bit ambitious: i want to break 3 hours. Sub three hour marathons are not rare by any stretch, but for me it's going to be a serious challenge. First, it's more than 15 minutes better than my current PR, which is a huge jump. Second, i'm not really built to run fast. Although i'm down to around 10% body fat, i still weigh in at about 180, which is about 50 pounds heavier than elite runners. Finally, i'll be 43 by that time.

The first step in my preparation has been to try to lose weight. I'm shooting for about 175, and around 8% body fat by race time. So far that's been hard, though i've managed to lose almost 5 pounds. The program i'm trying to follow is from Pete Pfitzinger's "Advanced Marathoning". It ranges from about 50 to 70 miles per week. That's a bit more mileage than i'm used to, but i think training volume is going to be key. I know i can run the sub 3 pace for a half, so the trick is going to be to get myself confident that i can maintain it past 20. However, doing 10-15 mile runs mid-week is going to be hard to maintain.

My first week was mixed. I did a really nice 7 miler on Thursday. I felt relaxed and finished right around 50 minutes, which is just a touch slower than my necessary marathon pace. I did a slow but OK 10 miler on Friday, and an adequate recovery run on Saturday. But my 13 mile run yesterday was a chore. Doesn't help that i was up late Saturday and drank too much, but still i'd have hoped for an easier run. This part of the program is an endurance "mesocycle", so i mostly just run a lot of miles. Not much VO2 max stuff until later. The only speed work at this time is some 100m strides built in to the Tuesday run.

I'm not sure if i can deal with making several attempts at this goal, as i did with Boston qualifying. Given the step up in mileage, training duration, speed, etc.; i can't imagine doing this every year until i succeed. I guess it will depend to a certain extent on how close i get. If i miss by a minute, i might be motivated to try again. If i miss by 10, it'll be hard to justify.

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