Follow The Republic:
Tim Proctor of Columbus is sharing his training experiences as he prepares for the Sept. 28 Mill Race Marathon in Columbus. Proctor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are some things about marathon training that are probably best kept as secrets, or at least in the domain of friends who are runners.
But in the interest of documenting my training experiences, I will open the door to this “closet,” at least just a bit. Here are three things that I didn’t know about and have surprised me about how important they have become to me.
Pedicure: Yes, all this running has increased the amount of hard, dead skin on my feet, and this has led to blisters. I’ve started using Clare’s foot file to eliminate the hard skin, and this has solved the blister problem. Clare is horrified that I’m using her pedicure equipment and bought a new foot file, so I now have my own, albeit secondhand.
Monday: Track workout and run home, 10 miles.
Tuesday: Cyclocross practice.
Wednesday: Run to work, 12 miles with 9 miles at race pace; 5 miles at lunchtime, close to race pace; 5 miles easy run home. Total 22 miles.
Thursday: Swimming cross training.
Friday: 6 to 7 miles at a slow pace.
Saturday: 10 miles with the last 4 miles faster than race pace.
Sunday: Cyclocross in Bloomington; recovery run, 5 to 6 miles in the evening.
Disney Princess Band-Aids (well, Band-Aids): Running for a long time, especially in the high humidity with the resulting wet clothes, causes chaffing in many locations. Most of these problems are addressed with creams applied before running (I use Chamois Butter because of my cycling background, but many runners use Bodyglide). However, nothing has prevented sore nipples except Band-Aids applied before the run to protect this sensitive area of skin. With two small kids, our first-aid kit is filled with superhero and Disney Princess Band-Aids, so I routinely run with some childhood icon stuck to my chest. This solution is completely effective, and I have not had a problem unless the Band-Aids come off with all the sweating.
Shaving my legs: As a cyclist, I’ve never succumbed to leg shaving even though professional cyclists always shave their legs to help with skin healing after crashes (less dirt in the wounds) and to make regular massages more effective. Having never planned to crash that often, or had the luxury of regular massages, I never saw the point. Since my shin splint issues, I’ve been using Kinesio tape to help with my lower leg muscle pains, and it simply will not stick to hairy legs, so I’ve had to shave the areas where I need to apply tape.
The spike in temperatures at the end of August coincided with a peak in my training. Finding the willpower to go out in 90-degree heat to get runs done is much harder than when the weather is cooler and less humid. The effect that the heat has on my body is also frustrating because I run slower than I want to simply because of the heat.
Even at 75 degrees, the heat is slowing me down. There are online resources based on scientific studies to give some idea of the impact. For example, at 90 degrees for the same effort, pace has typically dropped 20 seconds a mile compared to a cool 60 degrees. Over a marathon distance, that’s more than eight minutes. It’s hard to accept this basic physiological effect on my body. I still want to see my training runs hit a certain pace, which makes me try harder. Trying harder in one training session means that recovery takes longer and I can’t put the same effort into the next planned session.
Worse, it increases the risk of injury, so this is a time when discipline and patience (neither of which is my strongest attribute) come into effect, to complete the training runs at the right effort and not necessarily the right pace, knowing (or at least hoping) that the race on Sept. 28 will not be as hot or humid as we’ve recently experienced.
Having said all that, I didn’t manage to show the patience or discipline in my long run this weekend. After a long week with nearly 40 miles already completed, I started a 23-mile run on Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. in 75-degree temperature and high humidity. I ran for nearly three hours with a seven-mile warm-up and then 15 miles at my target race pace of 6:40 a mile. I knew that the temperatures were affecting me, but I kept my effort high and sustained my target race pace through the 15 miles. My one-mile cooldown at the end was pitiful, my heart rate was barely able to recover, and the slightest gradient reduced me to what felt like walking.
So I failed to demonstrate smart training, but I was also pleased that I pushed myself this hard. It’s truly the hardest run I’ve ever done and gave me a good idea how I’m going to feel at mile 20 going into the often critical (or catastrophic) final six miles of the marathon. Staying hydrated and eating enough are critical factors, especially when the temperatures start to climb. I know after this weekend that if it’s a hot day for the race, my ambitions for a finish under three hours may have to be adjusted. But that is also good to know, to be prepared for both physically and psychologically.
In the final weeks of building up to the marathon, I have a conflict of interest in my training. The start of September also marks the first races of the Cyclocross season, and these are important to me as I look to do well in the local championship series, which runs through the end of the year. Points in the early races are key, but the type of racing is completely opposite to what the marathon work is preparing me to do.
Cyclocross is a strange but growing niche of cycle racing in the U.S. where people ride what look like road bikes on a compact circuit, about 1.5 miles, winding around a field on the side of a hill. You even have to get off your bike and run up steps with it, jump back on and ride really hard to the next corner or obstacle. The races last about 50 minutes and are all about maximum effort from the gun, no measured prolonged effort, no planning on nutrition during the race, no pacing. Just as hard as you can go for just under an hour. It’s sometimes a surprise to people that there are different types of being fit.
The marathon work has made me a better runner over long distances than I have ever been, but all the work has been focused on managing my pace, metering out the energy over the course of the three hours. The body adapts to the type of training, and muscles become accustomed to the type of work you ask them to do. Suddenly asking my body to race in short, sharp bursts is like expecting an Indy 500 car to do well at a drag strip. I know that I’m underprepared for the cycling but hope that my weight loss and general fitness from all my running will help me to do OK, and then I can really focus on getting race-fit after the marathon is over.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.