Monday, June 3, 2013

How to Run a Fast Marathon on 10 Miles a Week

After the Vermont City Marathon, I have had a lot of people coming up to me congratulating me on my "awesome" performance given that I had only been running 10 miles per week. Just imagine what I could run if I ran 20 or 30 miles per week! This has happened frequently enough these last few days that I've decided to write a little blog about the realities of my low mileage run weeks.


Here are my little pearls of wisdom on how I can run a fast marathon on low-mileage.

#1: Let the miles vary. There were a couple weeks that I was in the 20's for miles per week. I definitely had many weeks in the 10's but I also got a lot of good 20's that were huge for me because...

#2: Junk the junk. Very rarely do I have any junk miles(how could I when I'm only running 2-3x/week?). This does mean that I'm getting in threshold work for the majority of my runs. Only doing it 2-3/week allows my body to recover from these short but intense workouts. This past week is a great example. I only ran three times for 22 miles but it included a)long run(for me) with Amber, b)2x2 mile treadmill tempo run and c) a six mile run with 4x4 minute pickups with J Massa.

#3: Work on Your durability. As a physical therapist, I'm on my feet all day at work often demonstrating exercises to my patients. Just being on your feet for 10 hours a day increasing your body's durability.

#4: Build up your body's power plants. Usually once every other week, Amber tricks me into going for an "easy bike ride". This usually involves me working as hard as I can just not to get dropped by her in the first five miles. These long hard rides are great to build up mitochondria which are your body's power plants. What can I say? I have short-term memory issues.

#5: Don't hurt yourself. I have a low pain threshold. While this seems counter-intuitive for someone subjecting himself to the pain of a marathon, it works in my benefit because I don't push myself to the point where I develop overuse injuries.

#6: Cross-train. I ride a stationary bike on my lunch break for 30 minutes 3-4 days/week. I try to go to yoga 1-2/week. I spent the winter hiking the White Mountain 4,000 footers. I schlepp around all of Amber's triathlon gear during her races:) The point is there is more to training than just running mileage and your body can't always tell what type of stimulus you're providing so it will work to get stronger no matter what you're doing. In addition to those 22 miles I ran this past week, I also biked for about 3 hours, rock climbed at Evolution Rock, hiked Mt. Lafayette and Bretton Woods. Obviously you do need some sport specific training but mixing things up is arguably better for overall fitness and balancing all of your passions. Life shouldn't only be about running so if you have an opportunity to go hiking/kayaking/climbing etc go for it without any hesitation. Rather than miles per week, I'd suggest it would be more beneficial (and enjoyable) to document hours of exercise per week.



#7: Set low-expectations. I have a marathon PR over 11 minutes faster than my VCM time. This is equivalent to almost 30 seconds per mile faster. Instead of trying to PR, I was just trying to qualify for Boston so this allowed me to work within a speed that was (relatively) comfortable to run at.

#8: Find a favorable marathon. VCM had all of its hills in the first half so as I started getting tired, I had the benefit of having only flats or downhills ahead of me. Plus the cold temperature was definitely a benefit as my body didn't have to do any unnecessary work trying to keep me cool. Also, having a race with enough runners around your pace is a great way to keep you moving. I think if Jim Pawlicki hadn't passed me so late in the race, I may have walked it in.

#9: It's all in your head. They say that the marathon is 90% mental and 20% physical. No they don't. But there is something to be said about being in the right frame of mind to run 26.2 miles. You need to remember that you chose to be here. You can love it or hate it but you're in it so get through it however you can. Hope for the best but plan for the worst and use every good mile as a reminder of how wonderful it is to be out running and fully living your life. Try time-traveling, find some good people to talk with, or just live in the moment and enjoy the beauty of the course and the sensations in your body. When you're older and can no longer run marathons, you will not remember the pain but will remember your acheivement at the finish.

#10: Do what works for you. This means disregard everything I've just said if you thrive off of running long slow distances with no cross training at all. You're unique just like everyone else so it's important to use the things that work for you and discard the things that are not. Keep developing overuse injuries? Maybe curtailing your mileage and cross-training more may be beneficial. Follow my lead and bonk hard? Probably should add more mileage(and avoid reading my blog).

That's it.

Amber: Watch out Danny's Going Streaking!!!!
Up Next: Eagleman 70.3!!! Three Cullen Sisters, One Race, 70.3 Miles to the Finish!

1 comment:

  1. Great Workout :D You done a great job by :D Write about your self :D

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