Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Marathoning is Hard

I'm a Coach. I coach people through whatever goals they're looking to reach. I know how to develop a plan and how to execute tactics on race day. I know about fueling and pacing and mental toughness. I can advise you on how to run your race and, as long as you have the proper training and psychological tools to execute, you will do it. But me? I missed the mark this past weekend.
Sunday marked my 4th attempt in 3 years at a 2:30 marathon. People say "That's fast!" but in the world of competitive marathoning, it isn't fast. People say "You should be able to run that no problem, you run 50 milers right?" Not right. They're different disciplines.
If I'm being honest, I had a feeling in the back of my mind that I wasn't ready, but I kept that down and chalked it up to self doubt. Turns out it was legitimate, whether I created it or not. You see, I had a particularly rough start to the year with back to back viral infections during and following my 50 Mile run for a friend. After that I hired a coach. Then I switched coaches in the middle of my training and my new coach and I had a miscommunication. I didn't get the volume or Marathon Pace work required to pull off a 2:30. I thought something was amiss for about 6 weeks, but I kept telling myself "Just trust your coach. That's what you pay him for. He probably has a plan." Turns out he thought my marathon was 3 months later than it really was. We tried to make up for lost time, but there's not much you can do at that point. I didn't spend near enough time at Marathon Pace, never incorporated any hill work, and again, started questioning whether or not I could maintain 5:42 pace for 26.2 miles.

Let's take a look at my training leading up to Cap City:

02/19 - 50 miles around the track followed by lingering sickness and 2 weeks of inconsistency.

Month     Mileage    Key Workouts

March     42 miles - 19 long
               74 miles - threshold @ 5:35 - Long with 14 @ 6:30
               76 miles -14 mile Progression from easy to 5:30 - 24 long with alternating 5:40/easy
               47 miles - "down week"

April -     80 miles - 14 mile progression to 5:30 - 18 long with 6 @ 5:33 / 4 @ 5:45
               80 miles - 6 x1 mile @ 5:15 - 20 long and easy
               46 miles - 1:15 @ whidbey island 1/2
               93 miles - 13 = 5@ 5:30 rest 2 @5:30 - 24 long 3 sets 1x3 miles @ 5:45

May -      102 miles - 14 = 8 x.5 @ 5:00 pace rest 1x2 miles @ 5:30 pace rest 10 x hill sprint. - 20 long,                                       last 5 @ 5:45
                50 miles - 11 = 3 @ 5:30 rest 3 @ 5:45 - taper
                60 miles - 05/22 - Capital City Marathon in 2:46

Anyone who's trained for and raced a marathon or who's even read a damn book about it can see what went wrong. Yes, the workouts were stout, but the volume wasn't there, there were no hills and the peak was too late. I also NEVER did my strides, which was pretty dumb, considering I know better!

I still believed I could do it.

I executed my strategy perfectly on race day. I started right on pace. I drank at every water station. I consumed as many calories as my stomach could handle (God bless my wife and daughter for rushing around to meet me - I love you, girls) but no matter how perfect your execution is, you will be incapable of maintaining the pace if you didn't practice it and you won't have the aerobic capacity if you didn't put in the work in.

Admittedly, I haven't always been the strongest competitor. Some days I'm tougher than others, but developing my "competitor self" has been huge challenge for me. In the past, when things would get too hard, I would often give up; the very thing I would tell my athletes not to do. Some of the fundamental principles I work to develop in my clients, I seem to lack at times. This doesn't make me less of a coach, it just makes me a person, like everyone else.
When I met my wife I made a resolution to never give up, because I don't want giving up to carry over into the rest of my life. So, I NEVER give up, but sometimes I slow down and sometimes I say "This isn't my day."

I guess the difference is that now I'm ok with the disappointment. It's sometimes part of the process and it doesn't feel quite as crushing as it once did. I know that it will pass and I know I will grow from it. And if I'm lucky, no matter how fast I get, I'll never quite reach my potential, which means I'll never have a reason to stop trying.






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