Saturday, January 26, 2013

Marathon Training Wrapup

Enjoying the sun in Phoenix
Eighteen weeks of training ended with the Phoenix Rock and Roll marathon last weekend. The race went extremely well. My goal pace was 7:30 minutes/mile and I finished in 3:17:39, or 7:33 minutes/mile. I felt good the entire race, but was especially happy that I managed a fairly even split. I ran the second half of the race only 4 seconds slower than the first half of the race. I recently read "Run Faster" by Brad Hudson, and his perspective on the key to marathon performance is "Performance in the marathon is almost always determined by what happens in the final 10K, after 20 miles of race-pace running are completed. Either you hold pace or you fall apart." From about mile 5 of the course to about mile 18, there were a group of runners around me going at a similar pace. But my mile 18, I had passed all of these runners and then began to steadily pass runners I hadn't seen before until I reached the finish line. I think the reason that I was able to hold pace so well was a  direct result of the training my coach gave me. In the 18 weeks of training, I did six 20 mile long runs and ten long runs between 16 and 20 miles in length. Of these long runs half of them included speed work as part of the long run. Many of them were progression runs, often ending with 3-5 miles at race pace or faster. I think all of the fast miles during and at the end of long runs were crucial for performance in the marathon. One of the more surprising aspects of the training to me was that typical weekly volume was only 50 miles and the average volume for the 18 weeks was 45 miles per week.

In order to fuel up during the marathon, I tried a new hydration system from Salomon, the Sense Hydro S-Lab Handheld Hydration Set (pictured above). Each bottle holds 8 ounces, and I filled them with 150 g of maltodextrin (600 calories) in 16 ounces of water. The bottles are held in your hand by the little glove and are very convenient. I drank every 3 miles and finished each bottles in 9 miles. One of the very nice things about these bottles is that they are very light and collapsible. After I finished each bottle I took it out of the glove and just stuck it in my pocket and forgot it was there. I'm not sure I would use them in an ultra given their small size (and I think they would be a bit of a pain to re-fill during a race), but for shorter races they are excellent. Ian Corless has written a full review here.