Terrain Training / Not all marathons are created equal

Any modern day marathon ever ran has always been and always will be 26.2 miles, but that doesn’t mean all marathon races are the same.

The time of day, weather conditions and terrain are all key variables into a runner’s performance level in a marathon. Columbus runners Paul Bean, Joe Calandro and Lisa Stadler all have experienced the difference in marathon races after competing in this year’s Boston Marathon, which is known for its uphill and downhill battles.

The trio also know what it’s like to run a relatively flatter marathon like the Mill Race Marathon that both Stadler and Calandro have completed in the past, or the Indianapolis marathon that Bean ran in order to qualify for Boston. Calandro also is running in this year’s Mill Race Marathon, as is another local Boston Marathoner and Columbus native in Zane Yeager.

With different races comes a different style in training.

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“I definitely did train differently for the Boston versus the one in Indianapolis just because it’s a completely different race as far as the terrain, “said Bean, a former Columbus East runner and now a sophomore at Purdue.

Hill workouts were the biggest difference for the local runners training for Boston. All of them wanted to make sure their bodies were prepared for that style of terrain, so hill repeats were the go-to workout for most of them.

Calandro’s main concern when preparing for Boston is strengthening his quadriceps. He described it as more of a downhill race, and running down hill really puts a strain on your quads, he said.

“You don’t notice it as much until you get into the later miles of it, how much damage it dos to you quad muscles,” Calandro said. “Once you get out to the 18- or 20-mile mark, then you’re like, ‘Now I know what they were talking about at Boston.’”

Runners also feel the burn more in their calf muscles, and Bean said the hill repeats helped strengthen those, as well. Toning the the calf muscles helps with maintaining pace through the downhill and uphill sections, he said.

“Your angle that you’re running on is different, Bean said. “So it’s got to be a controlled space both up and down, so you’re not losing the rhythm of your running.”

Rhythm and muscle strength all are important components of training, but for Stadler, the mental preparation of racing a hilly versus a flat marathon is just as important.

She recalls completing a 160-mile bike ride across Indiana that she assumed would be a flat route. It turned out to be much hillier than she expected and threw her entire game off. It was tough for her to finish because it was unexpected, and Stadler is at her best when she’s mentally prepared for what she’s getting ready to put her body through, she said.

The Mill Race Marathon doesn’t take as much mental preparation. It doesn’t require many hill workouts, either. All three runners said they cut nearly all of their hill workouts when training for a flatter course like the Mill Race Marathon. That doesn’t make the training any less difficult, though.

“I just think the training in general is a deep task,” Stadler said. “So whether you add the hills or not, it’s tough. And I guess it just kind of depends on what your goal is.”

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The Sixth Annual Mill Race Marathon, half marathon and 5K will be Sept. 22. The races begin and end on Washington Street just north of downtown Columbus.

Fees are $80 for the marathon, $65 for the half marathon and $25 for the 5K through Aug. 31. From Sept. 1 through Sept. 20, the prices increase to $95 for the marathon, $80 for the half marathon and $30 for the 5K. At packet pickup on Sept. 21 and 22, it’s $110 for the marathon, $95 for the half marathon and $35 for the 5K.

Registration and other info is available at millracemarathon.com