Happy Monday, friends! How was your Fourth of July weekend?
Today’s post is part of an on-going series about all aspects of marathon training. If you want to catch up, you can find all Marathon Monday posts here.
Part of my Independence Day festivities included participating in a virtual 5K/10K Run Ride Hydrate race with Nuun Hydration. I serve as an ambassador for Nuun and just love their hydration products. I never finish a run without enjoying a glass of Tri Berry Nuun or another refreshing flavor. Nuun invited all of their athletes, employees, and ambassadors to race together from everywhere across the country to benefit Girls on the Run.
Naturally, I immediately wanted to run this race when I received the invitation. However, I knew I would be a few weeks into marathon training, so I wanted to carefully balance racing with my training. Since currently I still have three months until the Portland Marathon, I was obviously not worried about pushing myself too hard before the race.
(I know I could have just ran the 10K as an easy run, but I am competitive and a bit of an all-or-nothing type, so of course I had to race it if I signed up.)
Whether it is a virtual race, a charity 5K, or a bucket-list destination race, the chances are high during the 12-18 weeks of a training cycle that there will be a race you want to run. However, the chances are also high that if you are in the middle of training, you have your sights set on a PR or completing a new distance. You don’t want a race to exhaust you from a whole week of training or to push yourself too hard too many times before your goal race.
A majority of elite runners do not actually race frequently, nor do many top coaches or training programs advise racing frequently while you are training for a goal race. The all-out effort of racing is hard on the body and requires more recovery time than a normal speed, tempo, or long run. Even if you plan on running the race at an easy effort, the adrenaline of race day can quickly alter those plans and you will find yourself pushing the pace. So how do you add races to marathon training without compromising your training?
Race early in your training cycle.
Any good training plan builds progressively. The earlier weeks call for less mileage and lower intensity, while the weeks closer to the race demand high mileage and race-specific workouts. It makes the most sense to run a race when you have less fatigue in your legs, less challenging workouts with specific paces to run, and more flexibility in your training schedule.
Additionally, racing early in your training cycle can assist you in setting specific goals for your primary race and provide a baseline from which you can pace your workouts during training. This baseline is particularly beneficial for new runners who are not quite sure of how fast they should be running. More experienced runners can benefit from this as well, as it provides an honest assessment of your current fitness and helps you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses for the training cycling.
As I’ve mentioned several times, I’ve set the goal of running a Boston Qualifying (BQ) time at the Portland Marathon. For women my age (18-34), the BQ standard is 3:35:00 or faster, roughly an 8:12 minute per mile average pace or faster. For the Run Ride Hydrate 10K, I ran a time of 46:12 seconds (7:27/mile average pace). This time provides me with both a baseline for my speed work and a reality check on my marathon goal. To determine your training paces and what your equivalent times would be for other race distances, simply plug your time into a calculator such as the Jack Daniels VDOT Calculator or the McMillan Calculator. The calculators will give you different equivalent race times; as a rule of thumb, the McMillan assumes you are faster at shorter distance races, while the Jack Daniels Calculator is the better fit for endurance runners who can lock into a pace and hold it for miles.
Since I tend to run better at longer distances than shorter races and am training for a long distance event, I opted to use the Jack Daniels Calculator. The race equivalency table indicated that I should be able to run a 3:32 marathon, which affirms that my goal is not completely out of my reach.
Switch out an appropriate workout for the race.
The Hansons Marathon Method recommends switching out a hard workout, not an easy run, if you wish to add races to marathon training. Running a race, even just a 5K, would put too much stress on your body in one week and make it more difficult for you to properly recover for the next week of training. Instead, run the race in place of the most similar workout: a 5K in place of speed work, a 10K or half marathon instead of a tempo run, and a half marathon or (if you really must) a marathon instead of a long run. If you need to add on extra miles to get to your scheduled total for the day, run a couple very easy miles as a warm-up and cool-down (which you should already be doing for any intense workout). Of course, races will not always fall on the same day of the week as your speed or tempo workout, so you will likely have to move around your schedule a bit. Just be sure to adjust the rest of your week so you are not doing hard runs on back-to-back days.
For example, I ran my 10K race in place of the 6 mile goal pace workout on my training plan and kept the day before and the day after at very easy paces.
While you will taper for your goal race, you do not want to forgo important training miles for a taper for a race during your marathon training. Instead, keep the effort of your easy runs very easy before and after the race, but do not decrease your weekly mileage unless you experience any pain from racing.
Use the race as a tune-up race.
A smaller race during your training can help you prepare for your goal race. During the smaller race, practice taking your fuel of choice and drinking water while running fast. This can help you avoid any frustrations, under-fueling problems, and GI distress on the day of your goal race. You can also rehearse mental mantras, pacing strategies, and your gear selections during this practice race. Learn more about running a practice race on your training here.
Portland Marathon Training Week 5
Monday: AM: 8 miles on the treadmill, 1-2% incline. 2.5 mile warm-up, 5 x 1000 m at a 6:58/mile pace (4:20, 4:20, 4:20, 4:20, 4:20), 1.25 mile cool down. PM: Recovery yoga and 10 minutes Pilates.
Tuesday: AM: 6 miles easy, 8:55/mile. PM: Lower body and core strength training.
Wednesday: 7 miles easy, 9:23/mile.
Thursday: Run Ride Hydrate 10K, 46:12 (7:27/mile), with a 2 mile warm-up and 0.8 mile cool down for 9 miles total. This was a 4 minute PR from the last 10K I ran back in April 2014!
Friday: 6 miles recovery on the treadmill, 10:00/mile, 0-5% incline for rolling hills.
Saturday: AM: 12 mile long run, 8:26/mile. PM: 7 miles hiking in the Cascades, 1300 ft vertical gain.
47 miles total for the week.
Questions of the Day:
Did you run long or race this weekend?
Do you normally race while training for a goal race?
What did you do for the Fourth of July?