Monday, November 5, 2012

New York Marathon Mea Culpa; Training Update

Before I launch into this latest post, I want to make a confession. This weekend, I came to realize I went overboard in ranting and raving in favor of the cancellation of the New York City Marathon. I do think the marathon should have been cancelled, but what I didn't consider were all the runners, like JT,  who'd flown in for the race only to find that they'd wasted money and time traveling to an event that ultimately never happened. I feel badly for them. I only wish the organizers had cancelled the race earlier in the week, before runners departed for New York.

It's funny how sometimes you feel so convinced of something, as if there's no doubt in your mind that you've taken the correct position. But the next day you have misgivings, only to realize you hadn't really considered all sides. Then regret sets in. Mea culpa.


With the Arizona Rock 'n Roll Marathon about ten weeks away, I have to say my training is going quite well. For the week that just ended, I logged 68 miles. On Tuesday, I nailed great quality at the track, running my three one-mile repeats between 5:37-5:47 each. On Wednesday, I ran six miles at tempo pace. On Sunday, I did a grueling 20.25-miler in 2 hours, 35 minutes in the Parker hills, climbing 1,100 feet. All other days I went easy. That's a pretty typical week for me as I get ready for Phoenix.

I'm finding that, if I can keep my calves loose, my ankles, soleus muscles and right Achilles feel a lot better. I've had some trouble with my right ankle for the past year or so. Every night I stretch both calves with a rubber band I got from my physical therapist. I get on the floor with my legs extended in front of me. I wrap the band, which has a loop on the end, around my foot and then gently pull back. I've noticed that both calves are much looser than they were a few months ago. I'm also using that same PT band to stretch my hamstrings.

I think tight muscles are a huge contributor to injuries. Not all stretching works; in fact, some stretching can cause injuries. Physical therapy bands seem to work perfectly for me.

Back to training. Sunday's long run was my third 20-miler in my build-up to Phoenix. I'm planning another four or five 20-milers, including one run of 22 miles, between now and January 6. I've noticed that they're getting a tad bit easier, though running 20 miles isn't ever easy. I'm also making a point to take the next day (Monday) completely off from running. I might cycle a bit, but for the most part I'm trying to completely rest on Mondays, because the rest is what allows me to build strength from the previous day's long run.

I do think that capping my mileage on Saturdays to 11 has allowed for better quality in my Sunday long runs. Constant back-to-backs like what I've done for years now had worn me down.

Bottom line: The strategy I'm employing for Phoenix is quality-focused. It's more about good quality than about big volume. We'll see if it pays off. I can say this much; from 2005-2007, I ran a bunch of marathons in the 3:05-3:09 range while logging about 50-55 miles a week with zero quality except for a Sunday long run and a few pick-ups here and there. With 100-mile weeks and good quality mixed in, I dropped my PR to 2:58 in 2008, even as my training was focused on 100-milers and not road marathons. It'll be interesting to see if the current formula of 65-70 miles a week with lots of quality and rest and a very long run will pay off.

And if it does pay off, I may tweak the formula for my Leadville 100 training, jacking up my long runs to 25-35 miles while still getting in good quality. Speaking of Leadville, all these road miles I've been logging lately, while enjoyable, will certainly result in me really wanting to get back on the trail after Phoenix and start gearing up for the 100-miler. Although the mountains will be blanketed in snow, I do love tackling the Manitou Incline and the Barr Trail, as well as the Flatirons in Boulder, during the winter months. I fully expect to break 25 minutes on the Incline in 2013!

Although I'm super focused on Phoenix, I am thinking quite a bit about what races I'm doing in 2013. At this point, the only races I'm a lock for are Phoenix on January 20 and the Leadville 100 on August 17. I'll be in Leadville a lot in late June through early August, training on the course, so that timeframe is pretty well spoken for. A big part of me would love to enter Leadman, but right now I just don't have the time to do that kind of training. Any suggestions for races in 2013?

Also, feel free to chime in if you have any thoughts on my current Phoenix Marathon training protocol. I'd love to hear what folks have to say.


  1. Wyatt -
    First off, I appreciate your contrition for the NYCM debacle. I have biased opinions because I had several good friends, including all 3 of my LT100 pacers, running and they got really hosed on the whole deal. And I really can't find the logic to say it was OK to hold a football game for 80K fans, but cancelling the marathon was the right thing. Bottom line was that it was a mess all around. Their biggest mistake was not making a call early and sticking with it.

    As for your thoughts on training, I don't know that I can offer much as you have much more experience. I will say that I think you are running a ton of 20 milers, so I don't think endurance will be a problem. I normally only run about 3 or 4 for a full cycle. And I rarely lead into them with anything close to a 10 or 11 miler. But, I don't usually run more than about 55 miles for a peak marathon week. Another thought is that you kind of have to mix up cycles. What works one time may not work the next. The goal is to constantly give your body new and different stress to avoid plateaus. Some coaches think that the more a cycle works for you, the more you need to do something different the next. It sure seems you are doing a great with tinkering.

    I am still keeping Woody's run in the back of my mind. But, with my latest set back, I am not sure I will be ready. I haven't run anything close to 20 miles in almost 3 months.

    Anyway, good luck. As always I appreciate following along!


  2. I just thought the call was handled in the worst possible way. Telling runners all week that the race was going to go on and then waiting until Friday night to pull the plug. Whitenberg makes half a million dollars a year, and at that pay you don't make bush league mistakes like this.

    I still have no idea what happens next year. Hopefully the folks who were in this year get in automatically this year. I'll definitely go back. NYC is a great town. I don't consider it a wasted trip as I crammed about 10 days of awesome stuff into a long weekend.

  3. Great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

  4. The Knicks, the new Brooklyn team, and the NY Giants are all the home team though. They wanted JTs money and other people's money for a stimulus, but yet not allow you to run on their streets. Its pure greed and selfishness. And Bloomberg admitted it - he said it wouldn't have diverted important resources, and the unused generators continue to sit there to prove his point.

    For marathon, you probably know how I feel about your training a la Renato Canova. As long as you can recover from your 20 milers, the more the merrier if you ask me. You have the endurance for a PR, now you just gotta get as much miles around your desired pace as possible. I think you can go really low. I can't remember what pace you're running those though - if you can't do 20 miles < 7:30 pace, then you ought to trim a few miles off to make sure you can run the right pace.

    Thats my 2 cents.

  5. Wyatt,

    You should run the Quad Rock 50 next year. Seems like a good "local" race for those of us in the metro area.