I’m set to run my 2nd marathon, the Surf City Marathon, in less than 4 months. You wouldn’t know it from my blog entries since it hasn’t been the focus of my recent training. However, it’s now time to buckle down and set some training and race goals.
Since the last half marathon in August, I’ve been randomly getting runs in and haven’t really had a method to my madness. I knew that I could run the 6.2 miles required of me for the olympic distance triathlon in September and wasn’t too worried about the marathon looming in the what seemed to be very far future.
Well now it’s time to think about it.
Surf City Marathon Goals
As many marathoners before me, I’ve recently been overcome with “Boston Fever.” Obviously my recent 4:02 finish time isn’t going to get me there and this goal clearly conflicts with my primary goal of completing an Ironman in June. Therefore, I’m thinking long term, not short term. Although a coveted BQ may not be awaiting me on February 4, I can at least start making a dent in the twenty seven minute gap I have to overcome to get to Marathon Monday. Not to mention, the Ironman will be less miserable if I can run faster.
Realistically with the Ironman occurring in June, 2012, I’m not going to qualify for Boston by September when registration opens for the 2013 race. Not only do I think I probably won’t be able to run that fast by then, I also don’t plan to put myself through the
torture challenge of a marathon so soon after I mutilate my body at the Ironman. Therefore, the earliest I will be racing Boston is 2014, which means I have basically 1 year of racing (from September 2012- August 2013) to obtain BQ status.
So what are my goals for Surf City then? First and foremost, I want to go sub 4. A blogger I recently discovered used the motto “Sub4orDie.” I won’t go that far, since I know race day can bring plenty of obstacles that may prevent a sub 4 and I certainly don’t want to kill myself prior to the Ironman. I think my training buddies wouldn’t be too happy about that.
My second goal for Surf City is to go 3:50, which is a 8:47 minute mile for 26.2 miles. The current Boston Qualifier is 3:35 (previously 3:40), so a 3:50 will still put me a whole 15 minutes from my goal. BUT you have to start somewhere. Luckily I have a nifty little training tool called Yasso 800s that will help me get there.
Getting to My Goal
I’m quite a quantitative runner, if you haven’t figured it out already. I’m addicted to my Garmin and I love numbers. In the past, I’ve logged every training run in an Excel spreadsheet and I compare my pace overtime. I’m not one to “run by feel,” although I have found that I tend to go faster in (short distance) races this way. So needless to say, since picking up this hobby of running, I’ve done plenty of research on how to get faster and being crazy about tracking workouts and times will be useful in getting me there. Here are the main ways to drop time off your marathon:
- Run long more often
- Run long runs at race pace
Starting it Off With Speedwork
If you run fast you will get faster. Seems simple right? Yet so many runners keep going out and doing their moderate/easy 5 mile runs each week thinking that they will get faster just by simply logging the time on their feet (my old running coach’s favorite words). Yes, you will slowly get faster, but you aren’t going to miraculously run a 8 min/mile for 26.2 miles without actually running a 8 minute mile.
While training for my first marathon, my running group coach had us do Yasso 800s. Basically, the theory is that if you can run ten 800s (1/2 mile) at your race goal time (i.e. run 800 in 3 minutes 50 seconds) with a recovery jog of equal time, then you run the marathon that fast. It sounds easier than it is. If you really think about it, 10 1/2 mile intervals would equal 5 miles of FAST running, plus of course a warm-up and equal length recovery jogs. Running 10 of these bad boys at 3:50 with 3:50 recovery is going to take me 1 hour 16 minutes and 40 seconds and that is not even including the warm-up. That’s a long interval workout.
Yesterday I got on the treadmill with the goal of completing at least 4 Yasso 800s. After having done Insanity Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs that morning, my legs weren’t exactly fresh. And since we’re pretty far out from the marathon, I didn’t want to push it too hard. I calculated that since my goal time was 3:50 that I’d need to do my 1/2 mile intervals at a 7:40 pace. It didn’t sound too bad, especially since the first time we did Yasso’s I was doing them in 3:25-3:40 (although I can’t be sure that the coach measured the 1/2 mile perfectly). Here was my set (with a 1% incline to simulate outdoor running):
1 mile warm-up at 9:30 pace
4 x 800s at 7:40 pace
3 x 2:30-3:40 minute recovery jog at 9:30-10 pace
5 minute recovery jog
Overall, I ran 4.5 miles in just under 40 minutes. I was a little impatient during the recovery jogs at the beginning and cut them off short but by the last set I was happy to have nearly 4 minutes to recover. I’ve actually done longer steady-pace training runs at a faster pace than this, but this workout seemed much harder. I was sweating profusely and had to do some mental encouragement to get myself through the intervals.
This run reminded me that getting to my marathon goal isn’t going to be easy and I’m not going to get there by being comfortable. I need to set up a plan to do my Yassos 800s every week (except recovery week) up until the marathon. If I stick to this goal and make it to the 10 x 800 at 7:40 pace, I’m confident that I will break 4 hours and hopefully get close to my 3:50 goal. I plan to increase to 5×800 next week and perform each set twice before moving on to the next (i.e. two weeks of 5×800 before going to 6×800). I will skip my Yasso workout during recovery weeks to give my body a break. Going at this rate I should reach 10 x 800s by mid January, just in time for the taper.
As for the other two ways to get fast – Run Long More Often and Run Long Runs at Race Pace, those are for another blog entry. At this point I’m only up to 9 mile long runs, so these strategies are for another day.
Do you have any Get Fast strategies that you have found useful or want to try?