Thursday, May 07, 2009

Philly: The great experiment

One of the nice things about running a marathon this fall is the relative lack of pressure. I mean, I have plenty of things to stress out about other than how well I run marathons, but the fact of the matter is, they're important to me and I put a heck of a lot of time into getting faster. And Illinois was special because so much meaning was wrapped up in finally getting that BQ. I wasn't stressed out in the same way I am for, say, the wedding, or the rail-trail attack trial, or even the way I used to be about important school projects, but I did feel pressure to not take many chances with my training. I experimented a little with my training for Monumental (more speedwork, somewhat fewer miles) and it backfired.

But now that I have the BQ and a definite ticket to Boston 2010, I don't "need" to run a marathon this fall. I just want to! And I don't "need" to run any certain time. I do want to get faster, but I feel more freedom to try different things to get there.

Here are some ideas I've had so far:
  • Shorter training cycle (Pfitz 12/70?)
  • Two-week taper
The thinking behind these two things is that I've always followed 18-week plans. Is it possible I am missing my peak in that time? There was a discussion about this on the women's BQ thread on RWOL, triggered by a fellow forumite surprisingly missing her BQ after a tough, gutsy race in New Jersey. One hypothesis offered was that she had been in better condition around the time she ran a huge half marathon PR, and by the time the marathon came around, she was coming down off her peak. This got me thinking. Eighteen weeks is a long time--mentally, it's hard for me to stay motivated for that long. I'll have weeks in the middle in which I take extra days off simply because I can't make myself go. A shorter cycle might help keep me focused a little more. And it would be interesting to see how things go in the race itself if I do.

As for the shorter taper, I've never had any trouble recovering from workouts. Even the day after a 20-miler, I generally feel fine, with no soreness. By the end of my three-week tapers, I mentally question whether I can even make it to the finish line, let alone run fast! Once again there's a mental and a physical aspect here. Mentally, the two-week taper would be easier on me, and I believe that physically, my body could run a marathon well after 14-15 days of tapering.

So, if I do this, I wouldn't start training for Philly until the first week of September. That leaves five or six weeks between my goal 5K in July and marathon training. I'm not sure what I would use that time for; most likely, I would just run easy miles, maybe some MP or steady-state runs, and keep up the base. It'll be nice not to be doing specific marathon training in August. Blech.
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