This week sees our first 'marathon pace run.' By now you may have settled on a target goal for your August marathon. This Sunday we will try to simulate race conditions, and run as close as possible to that target race pace. Have you already selected the shoes you will wear for the race? This is an important consideration - many have come unstuck in a marathon who have purchased 'new' shoes in the lead-up to the race, only to find their race dreams shattered by blisters or foot pain. Ideally, race shoes should be 'newish' but not brand new. The main question is: will you wear 'racing' shoes or more regular 'trainers?' Racing shoes are lighter, but may provide less stability and support than a heavier training shoe. Racing shoes are recommended for those aiming to run their personal best time, as there's no question you can run faster in them - BUT the shoes need to be well worn in before the race, so your feet and the shoes are well acquainted. As racing shoes may provide less support, they may place different strain-loads on different muscles, so it is essential to have trained in them in advance, under race conditions. Then again, they should not be too old, as racing shoes more readily lose their spring from accumulated miles. If using racing shoes it is recommended you select the shoes for the marathon NOW and use those shoes for four of your long runs, all the speed sessions and a few recovery runs between now and the race. If you're not so concerned about the clock, then why spend money on racing shoes? Just be sure to 'wear-in' (but not wear out) your chosen shoes for a good 3 weeks prior to the race.
Monday June 27 - just a short jog for fun, you choose the distance. Also swim if you feel like it.
Tuesday June 28 - 2nd endurance-speedwork session. 8 km (5 miles) incorporating 3 x 1-kilometre (1000 m) repeats, with a 4-minute recovery jog between each. This is similar to last week's session, but the longer recovery between repeats (4 minutes this week as opposed to 3 minutes last week) should allow you to run each kilometre a bit faster. Refer to the times you ran for the 1-kilometres last week, and be sure to better them this week, using the same course.
Wednesday June 29 - recovery run, 3 km (2 miles) easy jog to turn the legs over. Include some alternate exercise for 20 minutes.
Thursday June 30 - 2nd strength endurance session. 8 km (5 miles) incorporating 5 x 1-minute hill repeats. The same session as last Friday, the only difference being we have added one additional hill repeat. Try to better the distances you ran up the hill last week, for each of the 5 repeats, with no longer than 3 minutes between finishing one repeat and starting the next. You'll certainly feel the benefits of these hill sessions in the coming weeks.
Friday July 1 - day off running, at least 20 minutes of alternate exercise.
Saturday July 2 - recovery run, easy 3 km (2 miles), no other exercise necessary. Prepare as though for a race the next day.
Sunday July 3 - marathon pace run, 21.1 km (13.1 miles). Treat this session as though it were THE race. Prepare yourself in every way as you would for the real thing. If you're in the New York area, gather some friends and head up to the actual marathon course. Plan it all in advance and make a checklist the night before of everything you will need, including drinks and energy supplements. Even wear what you plan wearing on the day, complete with (make-believe) race number. Decide what target pace you're aiming at for the marathon. The purpose of this session is to get used to running at exactly that pace. As this
is a half-marathon distance, the maths shouldn't be too hard. Work out your split times for each mile or 5 km and write them down on a small piece of paper which you will carry with you, so you can check your progress as you go. For this to work you will need to run on a course which is accurately measured, preferably mostly flat. In the beginning it may seem that you're running quite slowly - that's good. Part of the purpose of this session is to get used to NOT starting too fast, an all-too common costly error in marathons. As a reward for this effort, go out and enjoy your favourite meal...