Yet another week has become part of training log history, and the end of this one marked just five weeks to go until I toe the starting line of my debut marathon on June 16th. With regards to my 18-week training plan, I am closing out the hardest part of the plan, with just two more weeks to go until the taper starts. In summary, this was another very decent week of training as I managed to log 117 km (72 miles) and climb 1,043 meters (3,422 ft) over a total of 9 hours and 17 minutes of running. This was a new all-time high in terms of weekly mileage for me!
On Monday I started the week with a 10k recovery run before I did my first run commute to my new place of employment on Tuesday morning. Tagging along with a friend slash neighbour who works a bit further off, we took what for me amounted to the scenic route and a total distance of 15k for a nice start to the day. My plan after accepting this new job has been to try and get most of my weekday running done as part of my transportation to or from work. This will free up a lot of time for me, and hopefully, make running at this level more viable even as our family expands in the future.
Wednesday was a full rest day and come Tuesday, it was time for another interval session on the track. This week Pfitzinger threw 6×1000 meters at me, and while it definitely felt laboured throughout, I got through them comfortably enough coming in just under 3:30 in all six intervals. I opted for around 75% (2:30) light jog rest. With the benefit of hindsight, I probably could have made it an even better session by cutting the rest with 30 seconds. It was still a decent workout though, and with the sun out and the temperatures rising, it was a nice feeling to be able to run shirtless with some speed, relatively speaking, on the track again. I closed the day off with a slow 8k recovery jog.
On Friday I paid the price for my session the day before, as I struggled my way through a slow and sluggish 22k medium long run. These runs can be really challenging on tired legs, even if you’re running them at recovery pace, but I believe it to be very beneficial to make sure to get these done during marathon training. Saturday I just did another short and slow 8k recovery run, trying to get my legs nice and loose for the big session to come.
In Pfitzinger’s medium and high mileage plans, the 18/14 (18 miles with 14 at goal marathon pace) is perhaps the most infamous. It is hard because you’re in the middle of the hardest part of the plan, but at the same time, you should be able to complete 14 miles at your goal marathon pace just five weeks out from the race. The idea is that if you manage to complete this session at your goal pace and in representative conditions, you are in a good place with regards to realising your goal come race day.
I decided the course I wanted to run by looking at my old Strava logs, and to get the balance right between climbs and descents in the marathon pace portion, I ended up planning a 35k (22 miles) run with 23k at goal marathon pace. My goal for the marathon is to come in at under three hours, which equates to 4 min 15 sec per km (6:50/mile). To give myself some leeway, all my training paces have been calculated with a goal marathon pace of 4:10/km (6:42/mile). For the most part, I’ve been able to complete all my workouts slightly faster than the paces calculated from my 4:10/km goal marathon pace, which I figure will give me some additional leeway when something inevitably goes wrong. It’s a marathon, after all.
So, going into the marathon section of the big long run this Sunday, I was hopeful that I would be able to average at least 4:10/km. Given that the 23k I would be running at marathon pace comprised as much climbing as the full marathon I will be running does, and that I did it with a hydration vest with bottles, I figured that would mean I was in a good spot. Coming back home, I was delighted to find that my average pace for the 23k at marathon pace was 4:05/km (6:34/mile).
It was a very hard session all told, but I am happy with how I got through it. The conditions were favourable overall, cloudy with little to no wind, but the temperature climbing into the middle of the twenties (Celsius) for the first time so far this year definitely made it a bit challenging. Still, I was able to handle my nutrition and get down four gels and around 200 ml of energy drink. But I did have to stop at a fast food joint along the way to buy more water after finishing the marathon pace segment. I was all out of water and felt desperately thirsty and sticky in the throat and mouth from the gels and the energy drink. A note to myself following this is to make sure to not skimp on water at the aid stations come race day.
After finishing the run, I was completely battered for the rest of the day, and eating was about the only thing I managed to do until bedtime. In summary, it was another good week of training, and the emphasis is now on keeping the mileage up for the next two weeks despite the cumulative fatigue. If I can get through to the taper unscathed, I think I will have put myself in a good position to realise my goal time in my first marathon.