Hacking training for Lima Marathon 2017 with only 6 weeks to go
Too much to do. Too little time.
I am sure you recognize this. There is not enough time to do everything we want to do. And often what comes last is the important things to our health, well-being and personal development. There are too many emails to answer, too many newspapers to read, too many FB updates to do, too many blogs to write, too many birds to see, and then one has to work too to get some cash-flow on top of everything.
I am a bit contradictory. In some ways I am probably the least organized person you know. Everything around me is all over. I don’t worry too much about order and clutter around me. If it is not in the way, it is not in the way. Yet, I am quite determined when I decide to do something. This is such thing. I am determined to run a great marathon with only 6 weeks to go.
My training has suffered lately, because all those other things have been a priority. Prior to yesterday I did not run for a week. Still, I am in decent shape with 27km logged on the Saturday just before this hiatus. But on the other hand, I am nowhere near the shape I was in on Oct 29 when I set a master PR at Peak to Creek Marathon in North Carolina. 3:04:11! My second best time ever. And that was after a similar situation like now. I hacked my training the last 7.5 weeks and made my own schedule concentrating on key workouts and a more holistic approach to training. It did not only involve the running, but also what I did the rest of the day. Since that worked better than I could have imagined I am to experiment these coming 6 weeks how to best build speed, strength and endurance. On the other hand, I have done much less running the last couple of months. I also have had to Inguinal Hernia surgeries which kept me off running for practically two months.
The traditional way to do marathon training is to run. Run A LOT!. The more you run, the more mitochondria the body produces and you become a more effective runner.
Thus marathon training traditionally is about collecting easy miles (or kms if you have ten toes and ten fingers and use the metric system), interspersed with some more intense training at marathon pace or faster. And it is true. I made tremendous progress timewise when I started running more. I managed to qualify to Boston Marathon in 2014 with 3:24 in Lima Marathon and ran 3:14 in New York that same year. The build-up adding kilometers in slow. One can not add too much at once, and you are bound to break at some point if you’re not being very smart about training and know how to build-up slowly. The risk is that you are not giving the body enough time to recover. And that the intense sessions do not build but rather breakdown your body. It is VERY TRICKY to balance and your head will often tell your body to do sessions to keep up with a set schedule even if the best thing to do would be to take a rest day. Athletes are very hard-headed.
But there is another way. Running less! With only 6 weeks to go it would be impossible to get my weekly mileage to 120-150k per week like before. So instead I am looking at quality sessions, running less. I have learnt a great deal about High Intensity Intervall Training (HIIT) – a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods from Ben Greenfield’s Beyond Training (US Amazon) (UK Amazon). The benefits are many. It gives the same cardiovascular benefits as running long distances but in significantly less time invested. It also increases VO2 max faster than traditional marathon training would do.
Greenfield’s book has a number of other hacks too on nutrition, rest, sleep, etc and is highly recommended.
HIIT is de facto the same idea as the idea behind the faster workouts in regular training schedules. However, they are often faster and shorter. As such very taxing to the body, so it virtually becomes very difficult to do both these sessions and a lot of additional running.
The only way to go to increase my fitness with the short time that is left is to run less, run smarter, looking at improving form, eat better, sleep better, meditate, and just become a bit smarter about training. I shall keep a daily log and update you on my hacks, whether it is training, nutrition or anything else.
Hope you want to follow my ride? Goals?
Primary goal. Below 3:24 which is my course PR set in 2014 which had me qualify for Boston that year.
Secondary goal. Below 3:04 which is my best as master set last year at the age of 56.
Übermenschen goal. Below 3h. Did 3:00:34 in 1982 at age 21.
Leave a comment below what you think is possible?
Schedule of 6 weeks before the Marathon.
I have made a schedule in my calendar. I want to become faster. I am also keen to include a time trial on the English mile this year to see how close I can get to my mediocre 5:20 on the mile when I did a High School Year in the US and started running 40 years ago this year. I have no plans to break it during this cycle though. Perhaps after the Marathon. We’ll see. But in any case this shall build speed.
I plan only two long runs before the marathon on May 21. Long runs does deplete you, and therefor I feel they are not necessary to do every week. I have done two longer runs thus far in the month prior to starting these last 6 weeks of more motivated training. My schedule only involves three main sessions per week.
Week 1. 30s repeats, hills and 400m repeats
Week 2. 30s repeats, hills + downhill running and 1000m repeats
Week 3. 30s repeats, hills + downhill running and Long Run of 30K interspersed with some marathon pace
Week 4. 30s repeats, hills + downhill running and English Mile time travel
Week 5. two sessions of 30s repeats and Marathon Pace intervals on Saturdat
Week 6. tapering with Lima Marathon on Sunday.
The last two weeks I am guding a French birdwatching group in Northern Peru, so I will have to try to fit in the running here, and learn some more French. (I’ll probably do a post on hacking language learning as well).
Luckily the runs are time efficient so I don’t think there will be a problem.
Day 1. HIIT 5x30s with 2.5 min slow jog.
So Monday April 10, was my first day. 6 weeks to go. I did the same workout I did 6 weeks before the NC Marathon last year. Previously in the morning I did 3.4 km with a stroller to the market back and forth for shopping at very slow pace. I always do my errands running.
In the evening I did the HIIIT session. I warmed up for a bout a kilometer and then did 5 times 30 seconds of very fast bursts. The speed of those intervals according to iSmoothRun were between 2:57 min/km to 3:07 min/km but of course only between 150-160 meters. It is mind-blowing that the best marathoners hold this pace for 42km.
In fact in the upcoming Sub 2h attempt the average pace will be 2:50 min/km or 4:34 min/mile!!!
I recommend iSmoothRun for being a great very accurate GPS running app for iPhone (also Android). You can also export to Strava and Runkeeper as do, and this way be part of several other running communities. Other running apps also connect withiSmoothRun.
I also did two sessions of Seven before the run. Seven is also HIIT training but strength training and Cardio combined. One session takes only seven minutes. I know I need to do more strength training, but it is often hard to get motivated. Seven is a good app that reminds you. The workout is also a HIIT. It is very intense and burns hoards of calories.
It is a perfect companion when on trips if one needs to keep in shape, but have very little time. You can easily do a session in your hotel room.