December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas, Marathon Recovery

We’re a little late on getting that obligatory Merry Christmas blog posted… we also haven’t mailed out our holiday cards yet (they've been ordered, though!). You’d think I’d be on top of things after actually taking some time off from running after CIM.

For once, I actually did take a decent period of total time off after the marathon (after putting it down beforehand in writing to hold myself accountable.

The down time was good – it allowed my body to recover from all of the damage a marathon (and training for one) does to it.

For comparison’s sake, here’s how much I ran in the 2 weeks after my other marathons. TOU 2013 was a “train through”:

I posted some thoughts about my 2014 season on my training blog entry for December 18th, and I’d like to share them here as well (although the 10.5 weeks I mention below is actually 9 weeks now):
From right now, I have 10.5 Weeks to the Phoenix Half Marathon (March 1), then another 8 weeks from that point until the Indy 500 Half Marathon (May 3). Those will probably be my two target races for the winter/spring. Since I'm going to continue to lay relatively low for the rest of December (but start phasing in some lighter efforts next week), it essentially breaks down to two 8-week training blocks with a little lead-in to the first one. I'm going to mainly use a 14 day / 5 quality efforts cycle. A lot of things will be similar to what I've done before, but with some tweaks such as wave tempos and different ways of using intervals to get the body good at clearing lactate.
I've built the outline of the calendar for the next four months, and then a sketch of what the rest of the year might look like... of course that is somewhat (but not completely) easy, the devil is in the details. I don't plan specifics of workouts this far in advance, for obvious reasons. I mainly like to have an outline to see how the types of workouts will flow, and it gives me an idea of where to start (from working backwards).
I'll run some other races during the first eight week cycle (USA 1/2 in Houston, and the SLC Winter Series). I'm not going to try and cram for Houston, I'm just going to slot it in as a hard workout and part of the buildup, with an extra easy day or two on either side of it. If it wasn't a free trip, I wouldn't be going. But it is a free trip, so why not? If nothing else, it will be a good checkpoint, and opportunity to race on the course that will also be hosting the USA 1/2 Champs in 2015. The fitness I'm carrying over from the fall should at least put me in a position to run a decent time. The winter series races can serve as a substitute for tempo runs of varying intensities (and they are on the best course in SLC!). Between Phoenix and Indy, I don't really plan to race at all. There isn't much that interests me during March/April other than the USA 15K (and Jacksonville is expensive and logistically difficult to get to). Plus that's the bigger and more important of those two training blocks, so there would be a lot of advantages to having no interruptions.
I like many of the things I did this fall, but there are obvious areas to improve. Spacing out workouts and giving myself more recovery was a sound move. I'll continue to do that. I'll take more breaks, and more days off. That doesn't bother me anymore. Mileage needs to be lower in January/February, then build cycle to cycle. I'll also continue to do more of the huge workouts, especially when preparing for a marathon. On the flip side, racing a half marathon (that you want to do really well in) five weeks before a marathon isn't necessarily bad, but I've found it isn't ideal. In the future, I'd want at least 7 or 8 weeks between a target half marathon and a marathon.
My spring marathon will be Grandmas Marathon in Duluth, which is more like a summer marathon (late June). Like Indy, they take good care of runners who want to come there and run fast. There are a lot of reasons why Grandmas is a good fit - I know the second half of the course well, they'll assemble a top-notch field, and if I decide in May that I want to keep my focus on the half, I can drop down to the Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon. Plus, I like visiting Duluth. Its become something of a summer tradition for us.
And assuming all that goes as planned, I'd take a good break (like I'm doing now), do a short summer speed cycle, then train exclusively for a fall marathon with a proper, longer (10-12 week) marathon-specific buildup.

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