Friday, 14 January 2011

Marathon build up races...getting it right.

 Lying face down with 4 needles sticking out of your bum is perhaps not the most convivial position to be in whilst having a meaningful conversation,  but there you go! The conversation with the chiropractor  on Monday turned to the number of races run last year. He seemed a bit surprised when I said 19.
 Not seeing a lot of runners,  I suppose he may have thought that most of us only run 2 or 3 events annually; namely THE " marathon" (that means London, of course, as if there aren't any others) the Great North Run and possibly the Great Manchester 10K.
 So you race every 3 weeks, he said.  "Yes, on average", I said.
 But, of course, it doesn't always quite work out like that, does it?
 It would if we aim to peak for several key races in the year, say April, July, October and possibly December.  Running build up races (U.S. : tune up races?) geared to each one that would give us at least 15/16 races per year and that would appear sensible.
  I'm sure there are some who'll  toe the line in a spring marathon with no build up races under the belt. May even include the likes of Paula Radcliffe. But 16 or so weeks without a race to me is a long time  and only adds to the pressure on the "big day." It's a long time to stay motivated.  
 I would always encourage,  at the very least,  a half marathon in the build up, as it gives a good indication of how training has gone and the resulting time acts a good predictor for the marathon itself and should ideally, if the long runs have been put in, determine race day pace.  
   Also, a  PB in a build run race, can often serve as compensation should the key race not go entirely to plan as can often be the case.  

 There is much talk nowadays about practising marathon pace in a build up race.  Personally, I can't the point of trying to run slower than capability over the shorter distance and of course you throw away the chance of that PB and throw away the chance to predict your  26.2 mile pace.   Some might opt for a February half at MP followed by a March half at 100%, of course which sounds like a better plan.
 I'll close with one build up which would appear to have worked.  London Marathon 1983.
Finished 1982 with Leeds marathon (Oct 31) 2:32.  Recovered in November and December with just one race. A 10 miler.
                           1983   JAN 16    FERRIBY 10                    53.24   (SNOWY CONDITIONS)
                                      FEB  27    RIBBLE VALLEY 10      51.52 
                                      MAR 13   SPEN 20                        1:54.17   (VERY HILLY)
                                      MAR 27   YORK  HALF                  68.08   (VERY FLAT)
                                      APR 17    LONDON MARATHON  2:25.33

A PB by over 4 minutes .   It wasn't the only marathon that went well for me ,  but after some others I wasn't a happy bunny and very often I was guilty of running TOO MANY  build up races.  To follow.....

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