Less than two weeks until the New York City Marathon – which means the hay is in the barn, as they say. (I have no idea why that agrarian image has become the go-to metaphor for marathon training, but it’s what everyone says. Even here in Brooklyn, where there is little hay and few barns.)
From here on out, nothing I do is going to increase my fitness in any appreciable way. I can still mess myself up, though, which seems a little unfair. The balancing act between now and November 1 involves:
- Cutting back on mileage enough to allow my body to rest and recover.
- Maintaining mileage sufficient to satisfy my body’s craving for consistency and routine.
- Continuing with workouts at marathon goal pace, intended to drill it into my overly enthusiastic legs and my traitorous, self-deluding brain. (The latter is the bigger challenge.)
- Not tripping and hurting myself.
- Not going crazy.
All in all, I’m pretty happy with my training. My body held up – blogging in flip flops proved more hazardous than running – and even after losing two weeks to a twisted ankle, I was able to reach the peak mileage I’d planned. If I’m not quite as cocky as I was at this time last year, it’s because last year was so thoroughly humbling.
Here’s an overview through this past Sunday.
Total mileage for the month: 163 (vs.149 last year). I seriously piled on the miles, culminating in 72 and 67-mile weeks. Last year, my weekly mileage topped out at 65.
Over the full 14 weeks of this training cycle (ignoring the two I lost to injury, and the two taper weeks yet to come), I averaged 57.7 miles per week. Last year, my weekly mileage over the same period averaged 53.3.
Long runs: 18.5 (with three miles at the end at or below marathon pace), 16 (including the Staten Island Half Marathon, about which more in a bit), and 12 (the beginning of my taper).
Last year my final long runs were a fast-finish 16, 15 (also including the Staten Island Half), and 12.
All told, in this year’s marathon build-up I did three 16 milers and two 18 milers (one of them under race conditions at the NYRR 18-Mile Tune Up). Last year I did three 16 milers and one 18-miler (most decidedly not under race conditions).
Workouts: Just one interval workout – 2×3 miles with 600m jog recovery in 24:35 and 23:41. (This was the workout I bailed on in early September, but with less recovery and more hills this time.) My main focus was marathon pace tempo runs of 10, 6 and 7 miles.
Last year – no intervals, marathon pace tempos of 10, 8 and 6 miles.
Advantage: 2015 by a nose.
Tune-up race: The Staten Island Half Marathon is held three weeks out from the New York City Marathon, which – to my mind – is the perfect time to run a tune-up race. (I know opinions differ on that; my reasoning is that three weeks is ample time to recover from a half, and allows my recovery to coincide with my taper.)
Last year, I ran Staten Island close to all-out in 1:43:59. That was a big confidence boost (maybe too big a confidence boost, in retrospect).
This year, I kept it relaxed and ran 1:47:37. I started out a bit faster than marathon pace and then worked it down for a nice negative split (on a redesigned course that was unquestionably tougher in the second half), with the last three miles all under 8:00. Slower than last year, but, I would argue, smarter.