Sunday, November 10, 2013

Run Less, Run Faster. Boston Or Bust!

Right now, this seems like the next logical step in my journey: I've signed up for a full marathon. If all goes according to plan, on March 1st, 2014, I'll be back in the great state of Georgia, running 26.2 miles in the Albany Marathon. I'm both excited and nervous about this next adventure, and have some rather lofty aspirations for a first-time marathoner. 

This particular race seems to be a fit for several reasons.
  1. I don't want to have to deal with the unknowns and variables that I dealt with in my first race: hotel, unfamiliar city, where to eat, etc., so the #1 criteria for my next race was that it be one that I could easily drive to from my home or a family member/close friend's home on the morning of the race. One of my older brothers lives in the Albany area.
  2. I ran a Half Marathon on October 20th, and wanted to allow some time to recover and then transition to my next training plan while not having a chance to lose the fitness I gained in training for and running the half. The 16-week "Run Less, Run Faster" plan very much appeals to me for reasons I'll discuss later. I'd like to do the entire plan, so the timing of Albany is pretty much perfect as well. I start the plan tomorrow: 3 weeks and 1 day after my last race.
  3. Albany is low-altitude and flat. There were a couple of other late-winter/early-spring races that would have been fits, but Albany is by far the closest thing to my native training environment. My typical training runs don't get above 60ft. Albany's altitude is around 200 feet.
I'm planning to use the "Run Less, Run Faster" training plan. I've purchased and read the book and it feels like a great fit. The core of the plan is having just three key runs per week, but they are all significantly faster than those of most other marathon training plans. Interestingly enough, when I created my own plan for the half marathon, I used (without knowing about this plan) the same three key runs as the RLRF plan. My interval training wasn't as fast, but my long runs and tempo runs near the end were very similar, if not a little faster, than the RLRF times. This training plan really seems to dovetail with the things I find enjoyable about running. 

I've got 3+ months from this writing until race day, so I'd like to write these out now and be able to look back at my progress. Based on my time at the half marathon, the various run calculators predict my race time for a full somewhere between 3:31 and 3:34. That said, it's my first marathon. I'll be pretty proud of myself for finishing. So, here are what I see as my tiered goals:

  • I'll be pleased if I... ...finish in 4 hours or less.
  • I'll be very pleased if I... ...finish in 3:45 or less.
  • I'll be extremely pleased if I... ...finish in 3:30 or less.
  • I'll be thrilled if I... ...qualify for the Boston Marathon (3:25 or less for someone my age).
To be honest, by writing them out this way, I'm trying to keep myself in check. The reality is that I want to run a Boston-qualifying time, that's my real internal goal here, and I'll probably be a little down if I don't make it--and that's a little silly. I don't want to run, say, a 3:40 in my first marathon and be disappointed by it. Sure, all indications are that I can do better than that, but I want to keep perspective as well. So, speaking of perspective...


  • On 3/1/2013, a year before the Albany Marathon...
    • you weighed 256 pounds
    • your best speed for any appreciable distance was around 4 miles at a 12-minute pace
    • the farthest you'd run in your life was 4.68 miles
  • On 9/1/2013, six months before Albany...
    • you were THRILLED at having run 14 miles at an 8:48 pace a week or so ago
    • you were THRILLED at almost having broken 50 minutes in a 10K training run
    • the farthest you'd run in your life was 14.4 miles
Just writing this down now in case I need to re-read it on 3/1/2014.

I weighed around 175 on race day at Myrtle Beach. Based on the remaining fat pooch around my belly, I suspect that my ideal race weight is going to be 5-10 pounds lighter than that. According to this calculator, losing on the low end of that amount may get me close to 3:25 without any improved fitness. (And of course, I'd expect at least some improved fitness over the next 3 months of training.) I've gained a little weight in between training plans, but not so much that I feel the need to do anything particularly special other than re-focus on tracking calories and eating healthily--along with doing all the running that comes with training for a marathon. The main thing is just to stay focused, so I will continue to tweet my weight and have it show up on the feed to the left of my blog. 

I will continue to use the LoseIt app/web site to set a calorie budget and log food eaten. I've set it to "Lose 1 Pound Per Week" to decide my calorie budget. I typically don't eat my exercise calories, but I intend to do so to some degree at this point. I think my rule is going to be that if I exercise more than 500 calories, I'll eat enough back to get back to no more than a 500 deficit. In other words, my budget is around 2000 calories. If I burn 900 calories running, I'll eat 400 more calories that day to get to around 2400.

In addition to the calorie numbers, I'm generally trying to stick to the following per-day averages.

  • at least 150g protein
  • at least 35g fiber
  • 25g or less saturated fat
  • 60g or less sugars
I'm not really attempting to hit these every single day, but I'd definitely like to hit them as averages every week.

My #1 fear/concern coming into the training is that I won't be able to do some of the Tuesday interval runs. They are unquestionably faster than anything I've done. For example, the first Tuesday has me running three one-mile intervals at a 6:50 pace. I don't think I ran even a single mile at 6:50 during training for the half. I did work on mile intervals the last two Tuesdays and I'm more in line with these, but I'm still not so sure about hitting 6:50 three times in a row.

The other issue is that training will go through both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I'll be traveling for both. Both will be to much hillier locales than my normal Lowcountry training, so there should be some benefit to be had there if time allows me to complete my scheduled runs. Time could be a concern on both trips, and weather could be a factor on the second.

All in all, I'm very much looking forward to seeing what this new chapter holds. I completed the longest run of my life yesterday (15 miles.) With the training plan I'm using, 12 of the next 16 weekends have me scheduled to do runs as long or longer than that. Yowza!

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