The business of marathoning begins today. Still a little daunting looking ahead at the next 18 weeks (and the three marathons that will be at the end of that road) but it's good time to do a little bit of planning.
This year was always about the victory lap, and I'm going to try to remember that while I train, even if I set ambitious goals. The last six years got me to this point and while it's not really a time for cruising, it's also a time to set course for myself as a runner for the long term.
This fall, it's three marathons. The Toronto Marathon on Oct. 17 is my goal race. If weather does not cooperate, I will not transfer hopes and time dreams from it to the others. It's the one shot. I will not lose out on 2011 plans if I botch it. Marine Corps Marathon two weeks after that is a true fun run. I have fun three in a row and it'll be an honour to run my fourth MCM. Hoo-raw! And a week after MCM, it'll be the final marathon of my three-majors in NA tour: The famed New York City Marathon. I. Can't. Wait. It'll be even stress free than what Boston was. If I'm smart, I target my slowest (within reason) times for MCM and New York, and aim at among my fastest in Toronto.
In the summer, I have a race a month (a 5 miler in June, a 10 miler in July, a 30K in August and a half in September). All will have specific purposes and maybe one will be a flat-out race.
That said, here are some thoughts as I head into tomorrow's first training run:
Long-term running: I have to now think about the type of runner I want to be when I'm 40 and 50. I will probably always look to my watch and think about time, but I can also look to enjoy running and just run by feel. Even during marathon training, I can use recovery days to be joyful running days. Just go by feel and go even a bit slower. Stretching and other workouts have to be incorporated. Wish me luck as I find the proper programs.
Eat like an athlete: I love this phrase and my friend Marlene used it recently when talking about preparing for racing. My goal could be 'get down to optimal race weight by losing 6 pounds' but I think it's more smart to think about diet. I've been thinking about the type of food we eat. I once saw a few people in front of me in line at the grocery store. One had two bags of chips and a bag of apples. The other had frozen pizzas and other processed foods. I know I need carbs, protein and all the minerals and nutrients that are, in the end, better to get from fresh produce. For the last month, I've been switching to buying more groceries, filling my basket with fruit and veggies and avoiding the bad foods (ie. snacks, fried foods, over processed foods). So, eat like an athlete and the weight will get to where it needs to, especially when I balance that with an increase of exercise.
Focus on quality: Today's run was a 8 miler with 4 miles at lactate threshold pace. This winter, I threw away all quality and focused on the miles. So it's back to work. I targetted 4:20 - 4:25K pace per kilometer but went out a little too fast. Anyways, I did turn it down after only 4K at that pace. Didn't feel right, but it will soon enough. Marathon pace runs will come back, as well track work and strides. I absolutely know these runs will hurt. But I also know they will build a foundation on the miles that will make me a strong marathoner in October.
Balance: Because I have largely hit my running goals, I'm going to now lower my mileage back to the 55 mile peak as opposed to the last two summers when I peaked at 70 miles. I may end up adding mileage to my rest days to get me to 60, but I trust in the overall milage and I think my body is accustomed to endurance. That reduction in mileage (ie: 15 miles = two hours of running plus a few hours of prep) will hopefully mean I'll have time this summer to see friends and rest.
Timing: This is my way of saying, lets run in the mornings. Heat usually forces me to become a morning runner but I've gotten into an after-work pattern. Must break that. Running in evenings often means I get my run done at 8 p.m to 8:30 p.m. That sucks, I must get more out of my evenings by targeting early morning runs. Hello 4:30 wakeup calls.
Back to blogging: Almost five years on, I think in many ways I've exhausted the topics to write about, but I know there's much more to write about. Plus, this is my way of giving back.
That's it for now, a good 18 weeks more to come.