Switching gears, I started to read about the training I was doing leading up to last year's Chicago Marathon. Clearly several weeks out, I felt like I was in good shape, but my left shin was a significant issue. In the week leading up to the race, I wrote:
At this point, it seems like I'm losing the battle to take the shin pain. On dailymile, my friend, Dan M reminded me to try nuking the shin with anti-inflammatory drugs for a bit. I'm taking Monday off and taking some ibuprofen in order hopes it will help me shake some of this shin pain as it is clearly causing me to change my form a bit and put more pressure on my right hip.
One week to go!
Note to self and others: running a marathon with (lower leg) pain severe enough to cause irritation/imbalance is a bad idea. If it is bad enough where you're considering running in trainers like I did, take care! The marathon is a cruel and unforgiving mistress. It may sound simple, but it took me three years of injuries and poor performances to realize the value of showing up to the start line healthy. You may be able to BS a 5k while hurt (I did, setting a PR two weeks before last year's Chicago Marathon), but there is no getting around the fact that a road marathon involves 26.2 miles of pavement pounding that will exploit your every weakness and prevent you from running to your expectations.
Marathons are then a great opportunity to apply the theory of constraints (TOC). The Theory is a management philosophy first described by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and is based around the premise that focusing attention on a few constraints that limit an entire system you can make that system more productive. What were my constraints? Based on my Chicago Marathon race recap and further reflection here's what I'd say:
1) Mechanics constrained by
a) injury to the lower legs
b) muscular development due to the fact I didn't get in longer long runs that would have simulated marathon "time on your feet"
2) Fuel, there are two parts to this one:
a) Constrained by a haphazard fueling plan
b) Constrained by aerobic development, that is to say my ability to run aerobically at my expected marathon goal pace, at the pace I thought I was fit enough to run I was burning fuel too quickly
So in the year following, I shifted my training accordingly, focusing on first running pain-free then on injury prevention, consistent longer long runs both for time as well as at or near marathon pace, practicing a fueling plan and developing trust in certain products, and increasing aerobic capacity.
Leading up to the 2014 Boston Marathon, I spent time in the pool, nursing my lower legs and scraping for aerobic development. A steady diet of long runs during this build up, got me comfortable running beyond 18 miles again. I was also able to find fuel that I enjoyed using on these long runs and began to trust gels again. Introducing a longer bike commute with my new job, padded my training with hours of additional easy aerobic activity, the foundation of one's aerobic capacity. Finally, racing marathons more frequently allowed for longer efforts at or near marathon pace. I believe I've mentioned this before but pace at Boston equated to about 95% of my marathon pace at Grandma's making the Boston not unlike one of Renato Canova's very long runs a close to marathon effort.
All of this to lead up to the past three weeks of training for the 2014 Chicago Marathon:
A good set of three weeks, there are three key workouts here, one in each week.
Leading up to Grandma's I did this run by time, running about 20 miles in LA's Griffith Park. This time around, I did it on the super fast Lakefront Trail:
This one was my second longest training run ever (the first being a 25 mile run I did back in 2009 leading up to the Chicago Lakefront 50k).
3 x 3 miles
This one was a bit funny as I had a lot of time between reps (15 minutes!), but it certainly gives me a bit of confidence to know I was able to run 5:30 pace or better for each effort.
10 miles alternating pace
This is a new workout for me. The goal here was to average marathon pace for 10 miles, but by running above and below goal pace alternating every half mile. If you've ever done Yasso 800s, consider this the next level as you're never really resting, but you end up running a total of 10 "harder" half mile segments. I was really thankful to have Austin with me for this one as it was mentally tough since you could never really settle in and focus on running an even, consistent pace. I'm taking a lot of confidence from this workout.
This one was quite a long blog, but there was a lot of ground to cover!
Identify some of your constraints. What are some ways you can shift your training to address these constraints?