Some training cycles are really difficult from a mental or physical standpoint.
Some are even difficult from both the mental and physical standpoints.
If you are a regular reader, you might recall that my training for the Copenhagen marathon in May was a cycle that was challenging in both a mental and physical way. (For yet another reminder – click here!) Two small injuries and covid prevented me from ever getting in a really good rhythm leading up to the race.
Ultimately, that might have kept me from performing at my very best in that marathon, but I was still happy with how I did given the circumstances.
After the mild disappointment of missing a new personal best time in Copenhagen, there was a period of time where I felt physically and mentally drained. I was still enjoying my running, but it seemed to be taking more and more energy for me to run even just a few miles.
After spending some time in England this summer, running in new places and with a couple of good friends, I started to really enjoy my running again.
So I decided I would run the Philadelphia marathon again this year, which will be my 10th official marathon.
When I started my 14-week training cycle in mid-August, both my body and mind felt ready to undertake the challenge once again.
To help myself better prepare, I talked my friend Rune from Denmark into being my coach. Each week he sent me the plan for the upcoming week and was there to help out when needed, which was probably more often than he would have liked!
Here are a few differences that I have noticed during this training cycle compared to training for Copenhagen earlier this year.
From the beginning of this training cycle, my goal has been clear – to run a sub-3:20 marathon in Philadelphia.
I’ve come up just short of that target in my last two marathons, but this will only be the 2nd time I have gone into a marathon with that as my actual goal.
My original goal for Copenhagen was sub-3:10, but as race day approached I changed my goal because of some of the difficulties I had in training.
Having a clear, consistent goal has allowed me to be much more focused throughout this training cycle. Mainly because everything is based on reaching that goal. So even though some of the training runs or workouts might seem easy or hard, each one is set up to prepare me to run the marathon at the necessary pace to achieve the target time.
Because of this, I was really able to take a day-by-day approach and make sure that I was never looking ahead more than a couple of days.
During the first couple of weeks of this training cycle, I was just focused on getting off to a good start. The weather was still hot and humid and with 2-3 higher intensity runs (intervals, tempo run, long run) each week, I just wanted to make sure that I was following the plan.
Of course I wanted to hit all of the targets and paces, but just as important to me was to feel good during and after each workout. And for the most part that was happening in the first few weeks.
At the end of the 4th week, I had the Bird-in-Hand 5k and Half Marathon (Where The Heck Have I Been?), where I struggled to keep the pace. While this was a little discouraging, I knew that it was still early in the process and, as long as I stuck to the plan, I had time to improve and get to where I needed to be.
Luckily, right after this, the mornings started getting cooler, which really helped me a lot!
With the weather becoming a little more running-friendly, I really began to hit my stride. Each night, I would think about the next morning’s run and what the plan was for it. And most mornings I woke up feeling ready for that day’s workout.
Understanding the Purpose
Every day of the week now had a purpose and it was all helping me get closer to my goal.
The higher intensity workouts – the interval workouts, tempo runs and long runs – became the days that I looked forward to the most because they presented a challenge for me to test where my fitness levels were. And I really understood the importance of my body feeling fresh going into these days.
In order to go into the high intensity days feeling fresh, I had to make sure that my easier days were actually easy!
The easy runs were done on the 4 remaining days of the week that weren’t intervals, tempo or long runs. These days allowed my body to recover while still building up my stamina levels. I really grew to appreciate these slower paced efforts as time to just enjoy the runs and take it easy on my body.
Less Overall Fatigue
As the days and weeks continued to fly by, I also began to notice that I wasn’t feeling as fatigued as I had been during marathon preparation in the past.
Maybe it was just a coincidence, but I attribute it mostly to the training plan and making sure that I was getting enough rest and recovery time, when I felt that I needed it.
Yes, there were days that I woke up a little sore, but these were mainly due to a tougher workout the day before and not from overuse. Any soreness that I did have usually went away after one of my easy runs.
Overall though, I just feel more ready for this marathon than I have in the past.
The last 14 weeks have given me confidence that I have done the necessary training. I feel like my mind and body are prepared.
And as I go to the start on Sunday, I will go with confidence in the training I have done and in my race plan.
Does all of this guarantee that I will succeed in reaching my goal on Sunday in Philadelphia?
No, not really.
But I know that whatever happens, I can feel good about the work I have done towards this goal.
And that just might be enough for me.
2 thoughts on “Ready to Run Marathon #10”
Great blog! I’ve only ran one marathon and the best advice someone gave me was to trust my training. It sounds like your training for this one was on point and you should definitely have the confidence that you’re ready for the race. Best of luck and have a blast!!
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Thanks Jeremy! Training went about as good as I could’ve hoped for! Looking forward to getting started!