|One of my most favorite marathon photos from the|
2011 Kansas City Marathon
I've been very guilty in the past of over-training a little. During a marathon training cycle my legs would ache constantly throughout the week, and I would struggle with energy level on a daily basis. And for a lot of marathons, I felt like I left some of my best times at the training workouts. And as I took a look back, a lot of it was due to double workouts, running six days per week, constant strength training, and not enough calories. But probably the main culprit that left me exhausted at the starting line was too much weekly mileage leading up to the event.
In 2011 & 2012, I ran over 3,000 miles in both years. I really cut back the mileage in the latter part of 2013, but the first part of the year had me on track for a third consecutive 3,000 miler. After reducing the mileage, I finished with about 2,300. In 2014 I took a similar approach as last year and am on track for about 2,300 again. And I can tell you that since I started reducing the mileage, my legs feel much fresher and I feel better on a daily basis.
But therein lies the lingering question for this marathon ... did I get enough miles in? If I look specifically at my long runs, and especially the quality of my long runs, I would respond with an emphatic, "YES!", without a doubt. In this 16 week training cycle for the Pocatello Marathon, I ran nine long runs of 18 miles or more, with five of them over 20 miles. Plus, most of the long runs were slogged during suffocating hot and humid days, and for the most part I hit all my target time goals. So the long runs really weren't the issue.
But the main thing I cut out for this training cycle was the double-run day. For most of last year, and a big part of this year, I would run my main workout in the morning, and then another 4-5 miles in the evening, simply to flush a little lactic acid from my legs and add some mileage. But for the most part they were just "junk miles", and I really didn't feel I was benefiting from them. For the most part, they only served to make me exhausted for my workout the following morning. But as a result, I only had one week over 70 miles for this training cycle, and most of them ranged from 63-68. Whereas, in the previous years I would average 70-80 for most of the cycle.
Honestly, sitting here about ten days from the race, my legs feel very fresh, fast, and healthy. I don't feel worn out in the least, and I'm ready to tackle the marathon. And if a marathon were only 22 miles, I'd pretty much guarantee a PR! But it's the remaining 4.2 miles that worry me. Even though the longer mileage weeks sometimes seemed to wear me down, they filled me with a great deal of confidence that 26.2 was not a big deal. Conversely, the reduction in training mileage really has me fearing those last few miles of the course. But then again, we're probably supposed to be a little afraid ... right?
As I age, my body has really appreciated a little less wear and tear from the road. Plus, most of my recent race results would indicate that scaling it back was the right thing to do. But it's the unknown from changing a comfortable routine that has the same old butterflies fluttering around in my stomach before I even touch my toe to the starting line. But it's only ten days until we find if this was the right approach. But one thing's probably certain, even if I race really well this Fall ... I'll most likely go right back to the drawing board next year. Hope your training's going well!
... be great today!