Thursday, October 10, 2019

Marathon Training #9 Complete

How many marathons have I run?   I have official race results from seven, officially did not finish my eighth (I promised my wife I would stay with her during the Valentines Day Los Angeles Marathon in 2016, but she pulled out just past the halfway mark), but have completed the distance eight times thanks to a 27 mile charity run I did awhile back.   Regardless of how many marathons I have completed, though, this is the ninth time I have fully trained for a marathon....and I have largely stuck to the same training schedule for all of them.  And thanks to my love of Garmin watches (of which my current Fenix 5 is by far my favorite), I have valid data from all of these training cycles that I can align and make direct and relevant comparisons.  This data allows me to gauge what pace I should target, not based on anyone else's experience but from my own personal efforts.  Comparing my historical data may give me a better idea of what to expect come race day than how I may feel on any given day or from simply observing recent improvements in my pace.

This is largely because I do not usually focus on improving my pace.  When training for marathons, I hit the track and do intervals infrequently and don't often sign up for other races.  I live on a hill, meaning all of my runs involve a considerable amount of elevation change.  My long runs usually lead me off the hill, meaning I have to climb when I am most fatigued.  The marathons I sign up for tend to be on relatively flat courses.  In other words, my training pace is usually going to be significantly slower than my race pace.  I find I am far less prone to get injured if I let pace come naturally with the miles anyway.

So what do my last four runs tell me?  Without focusing on pace, I still completed each activity significantly faster than I have recorded in many, many years.   Keep in mind these activities include my most frequently run 4, 5, and 6 miles orbits...and a 10 mile route I have run quite a few times as well.  For today's 4 miler, I have to look all the way back until 2013 to find a matched run I completed at a faster pace.  As mentioned in my last blog entry, I had to look back to 2012 for the 5 and 10 miler.  The kicker was that I completed Tuesday's 6 miler faster than I had since 2010...which was just 3 days before I reset my marathon PR in Los Angeles Marathon.

For a more accurate assessment of how I'm doing, I'll need to look at how my pace has improved over the past four weeks...but just four weeks weeks ago, I wasn't even sure how much of the schedule I would be able to complete.  I began that week by cycling in place of my peak distance run as I was still recovering from the calf strain.  In other words, a direct comparison of these four weeks would be slightly tainted by my injury.  That said, the peak activity was the only one within this final training period that I did not run, I compensated by running longer than scheduled on the following Sunday, and I ran of my fastest 5K races during this time...and, as I mentioned above, my final four runs easily are on par with the final four I have run many times before.

If I count all of the cycling I did in place of running as equivalent to the schedule mileage (and if I do the optional short run on Saturday morning), then I actually will have completed 95% of the schedule...probably a higher percentage than in most of the years I have followed it thanks in part to a lack of illnesses, fewer activities skipped due to travels or work, and a relatively cool summer.  I do not to know need to know my relative pace to know I am ready to complete another marathon.  The only reason why I care about this is that I would very much like to think I will be able to complete Long Beach on Sunday in around four hours.

If I go solely by the last four runs, I'm good to go, but extending my average pace out to a month and to a year definitely shows how much slower I am now.  I have been known to run faster during the race than during my final training month (by 45 seconds in 2013), I need to average 9:09/mile (28 seconds per mile faster) if I want to hit 4 hours. 

Final four weeks of this cycle:
09/15-09/21: 23.16 @ 10:11/mi (does not include cycling on 09/15)
09/22-09/28: 53.72 @ 10:04/mi
09/29-10/05: 19.22 @ 09:28/mi (with 5K @ 08:54)
10/06-10/12: 20.28 @ 09:02/mi
Average pace for month: 9:50/mi
Annual average pace for last 12 months: 10:19/mi

Repost of similar data leading up to four of the five sub-4 hour marathons I completed:

Month before the Los Angeles Marathon in 2013:
02/17-02/23: 37.74 @ 9:29/mi
02/24-03/02: 37.17 @ 8:58/mi
03/03-03/09: 30.19 @ 9:17/mi
03/10-03/16: 20.41 @ 8:53/mi
Average training pace for month: 9:11/mi
Average race pace: 8:31/mi
Annual average pace for 2013 YTD: 9:14/mi

Month before the Malibu Marathon in 2012:
10/13-10/20: 46.65 @ 8:46/mi
10/21-10/27: 36.67 @ 8:31/mi
10/28-11/03: 30.15 @ 8:18/mi
11/04-11/10: 20.22 @ 8:13/mi
Average pace for month: 8:31/mi
Average race pace: 8:30/mi
Annual average pace 2012: 9:03/mi

Month before the Surf City Marathon in 2011 (still my PR):
01/09-01/15: 45.49 @ 8:17/mi
01/16-01/22: 36.42 @ 8:27/mi
01/23-01/29: 30.02 @ 8:06/mi
01/30-02/05: 20.26 @ 7:40/mi
Average pace for month: 8:11/mi
Average race pace: 8:13/mi
Annual average pace 2011: 8:45/mi

Month before the Los Angeles Marathon in 2010:
02/21-02/27: 45.41 @ 8:47/mi
02/28-03/06: 36.16 @ 8:23/mi
03/07-03/13: 30.11 @ 8:08/mi
03/14-03/20: 20.17 @ 7:59/mi
Average pace for month: 8:24/mi
Average race pace: 8:22/mi
Annual average pace 2010: 8:29/mi

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