Saturday, June 20, 2009

When will I learn?

This morning I ran 20 miles, starting at 4:30 am. I finished this week with 58 miles of running, and I only have 4.5 weeks left before the San Francisco Marathon. I'm starting to get excited!!!
If you want to see any of my outdoor runs this week, just click on any of the runs in the right hand corner of the screen, and you can see what I did. All of my treadmill runs won't show up on here.

So anyways, I have a group of online training buddies (RWOL 3:20 thread) that have helped me tremendously with my running over the last year, and I am forever grateful to all of them for their input on how to make me a better runner...particularly at the marathon distance...cuz Lord knows, I need the help. One of the frequent posters, Paul from Chicago has a blog, similar to mine, and had a great post that he wrote the other day. Let me quote what he said:

"I always chuckle when I hear someone refer to something like the baseball season being a marathon. So is marathon training the real marathon? I understand the analogy, but the baseball season or things of that ilk are much more forgiving the a marathon. If you don't feel 100% on the day of the marathon, you're pretty much screwed. It's very unusual to be able to suddenly turn things on if things aren't going your way for the first 10 or 15 miles of a marathon. If you don't feel 100% on game day in baseball, you still can piece things together and if things don't work out, you still have 161 other games spread across 6 months."

Boy... ain't that the truth. I have done 3 marathons, and have been unsuccessful in all of them. The good thing is that I completed all of them...but unfortunately I crashed in all 3. This is probably why I am so enamored with attempting to run this distance... because it has made a complete ass out of me every time I have tried. Without these 3 poor performances, I probably wouldn't be 1/2 the runner that I am today... you know what they say... you never learn off of good things..only bad.

Someone once told me that for the marathon distance everything has to go right in the what is "everything"? Here it is...

1. Nutrition- You have to fuel your body perfectly with the proper carbohydrates before the race and during the race, because it is pretty certain that you will run out of them at some point in the race. And when you run out them, it starts to get ugly... it is one of the worst episodes of pain I have ever felt. During the race you have to properly hydrate your body with fluids because you lose so much running so hard for so long. For all 3 of my marathons, I have failed to do this properly... one marathon I overhydrated and my body went into a cramping fit only 8 miles into the race, and the other two races I underhydrated, which made my body cramp at mile 14 and 18, which unfortunately never let up until I finished... ugh!

2. Weather- The cooler the weather, the more lax you can be with executing your hydration. You can "mess" up a little, because your body is not losing electrolytes and minerals as quickly. Unfortunately, being in Florida, we get stuck with a lot of warm races, so weather is not usually on my side.

3. Execution of the race - The excitement of the marathon is very great, and the tendency is to want to start fast... and you usually feel ok in the beginning, but you pay dearly for it later in the race. Your body is like your car.... make your whip go at 30 mph, and the fuel will burn much more economically than if you are cruising at 70 mph. You have to show restraint, along with understanding what type of course you are running on (hills, etc.)

4. Taper/Rest - A few weeks before the race, you have to decrease your training to allow your body to recover from the beating that you have put on it throughout the training cycle. It will allow you to recover and regenerate your body in order to be fully prepared to handle running 26.2 miles. Also, the week before the race, you need to get adequate sleep, so your mind and body are prepared to tackle the grueling distance.

5. Training - If you don't train right, you don't stand a chance... at least at the marathon. This is the most important of all. Many people don't train enough, and many others overtrain. It is such a fine line to manage, but it is extremely important to do as much as you can, without overdoing it... if that makes any sense.

As I look back at my PRs (personal records) at all the common running distances, I start to think about those races and my lead up to them.
1. When I PR'd for my 5k, slept about 2-3 hours the night before, along with having some of the greasiest take out Chinese food with 2 egg rolls at about 11 pm that night. The race was at 7 am, and I ran an 18:54...

2. When I PR'd for my 10k, I came down with the flu a day before the race, had #2 stomach problems the night before, was pretty dehydrated going into the race (only did it, because my dad was here, and he really wanted to run the race with me) and I tore it up and ran a 40:38 on a fairly challenging course

3. When I PR'd for my half marathon, I was in S. FL for my our baby shower for our 3rd child, and was all over the place all day.... drove from Tampa at 6 am Saturday morning, spent the day with family and friends, and went to my bed around 12:45 am. Woke up at 5 am, and ran the race in 1 hr and 33 min with temperatures starting at 70 deg. before the race.

But the damn marathon... if I try any of that nonsense that I did in my other races, I'll get burned.... badly... again. I have yet to crack the 4 hr and 30 min. mark, and this time around I am hoping that I will make major improvements.... but I better make sure I have all 5 of those things in order, or it's gonna be a long day...


Puerto Rican Kenyan said...


Thanks for your comments on last blog entry. Learning how to run a strong marathon is a lot tougher than I expected, as you very well know. Hopefully our next efforts will go better than our previous efforts have.

screaminzab said...


I am glad you liked the analogy. Thanks for sharing it with others.

The marathon is a beast. I think you have made great progress over the past year and have been unlucky in your past 26.2 mile efforts. All of your other race times show that you have some great potential. I am sure things will come together for you soon. Good luck in SF! I look forward to hearing about in a few short weeks.