Marathon training begins: building base

masteringrunning.com marathon base training

I was slated to run the Boston Marathon this April, but since I was not at all into the training at the time and was not "feeling the love," I decided to skip it and instead concentrate on speed and shorter distances, which I tend to prefer, probably because I'm better at them. (We all prefer to do things that we are better at.) It turned out to be a good move. I enjoyed a sweet spring season, PRing in every distance I raced (5K, 15K, 10-mile) and even winning #1 female in a 5K – something I didn't expect to do at age 52.

As anyone who has done it will attest, marathon training is hard work and requires a huge time commitment, not only because you have to run higher weekly mileage than to train for shorter races, but also because you need to devote many hours to building up muscular strength in the gym and/or yoga studio. You have to be in the right headspace to do all this or you will have a miserable time.

One of the pleasures of marathon training: views like this  

One of the pleasures of marathon training: views like this  

After the spring racing season was over, the marathon bug started playfully nipping at my heels again. The thought of doing meditative long runs in the summer heat sounded appealing – not appalling. For years, I had been reading about the St. George Marathon and what an exquisitely beautiful course it is. It was definitely on my "life list," so I decided to sign up and commit to training for 26.2 again. And I felt excited about it. The good news is that I am still excited about it.

Fast twitch or slow twitch?

When it comes to 5Ks, 10Ks and even half marathons, I am a competitive runner in my age group and I enjoy running fast. But I will be the first to say I am not a marathoner, nor do I aspire to be a competitive marathoner. I do okay for my age, and have easily qualified for Boston, in some cases by as much as 20 minutes, in each of the three marathons I've run. But in St. George, I just want to run for fun and to enjoy the experience. (How much of a running geek am I?!) In some ways, this is nice because it takes the pressure off.

This may partly explain my rationale. A few years ago, I had my DNA tested to learn more about my ethnicity. A cool fringe benefit is that the test also reveals some interesting genetic health markers. I learned, for example, that I have mostly fast-twitch muscle fibers. This came as no surprise because once I start speed work, the speed comes fairly easy to me. On the other hand, working up to run longer distances -- like the marathon -- is not as easy for me; this comes more quickly to those who blessed with a proliferation of slow-twitch muscle fibers. 

So yes, I have my eyes on some goals for St. George, and I will run shorter tune-up races to assuage my love of shorter distances. But this fast-twitch girl is running the St. George Marathon mostly for fun and for the excellent views!

This week's workouts

First tempo run of the training cycle  

First tempo run of the training cycle  

I've spent the past two weeks slowly building up base again, after taking a few low mileage weeks (and one no mileage week) after Paris to rest and recover. Other than my gastroc being a bit lit up, I am feeling excellent. Here is what I did last week:

  • Monday: 4.13 aerobic miles. Ran at noon in the 90-degree heat – a challenge, for sure
  • Tuesday: 6.35 miles, the last 10 minutes at tempo (around 7:15 pace for me); 1 hour of strength and core training
  • Wednesday: 6.13 miles over a hilly course; 75-minute yoga class with my friend Fran; 15-minute shakeout ride on the exercise bike
  • Thursday: 7.45 aerobic miles, finishing with 4 sets of strides – gastroc was pretty lit up this day
  • Friday: 5.56 miles. I was scheduled to do hill repeats, but thought an aerobic run would be prudent given my nagging calf. It ended up being an accidental progression run, with each mile getting faster. Also took a 45-minute walk in the evening.
  • Saturday: Rest day. I usually rest on Sunday, but decided to give my gastroc some space.
  • Sunday: 12.5 mile easy run. 

Total weekly mileage: 42.1 miles; Weekly time commitment: 8.26 hours, not counting my Friday evening walk.

Have a great week everyone!