The tale of two races

If there is one thing you should know about me is that I don’t quit. It may take me a while to get what I want but it will happen at some point in time. Never take your eye off the prize; it’s as simple as that. Whatever your “prize” may be, never falter and you will get to it in due time…

Now, it’s hard to stay focused when there are a plethora of things competing for your time. As a father of three, a husband, a manager and a marathoner I can attest that time is a precious commodity. Between all day meetings, dinner with clients, kids volleyball games or practice, kids taekwondo tournaments, the days can go on forever… and feel so short at the same time. Although finding a balance is important; not losing sight of your goal is by far the most critical piece. Your goal is the prize, it’s what keeps you moving, the purpose behind the crazy things you do, the reason why you step out of your comfort zone and give it your all every day.

For the last 16 or so weeks I have been documenting my training for two significant races, the New York City Marathon and the Charlotte Marathon, with the ultimate goal being to qualify for Boston #BQorbust2017. With just two week leading up to the first race things started unraveling… Now let’s be clear I’m not making excuses for myself, but simply sharing some learnings that would hopefully help me and others in the future. My workload took me away from my training schedule and even though the weeks leading up to a marathon are taper weeks, those are just as critical as the first run.

Two weeks to NYC

Taper weeks called for less frequency of running, no more two a days, but more focused training time. Unfortunately for me this meant that my normal one run before work and one run after were not going to cut it. A required hour run turned into the 30 mins I could squeeze out of an already busy day. In my mind I kept telling myself that I just needed to log a run and that was mistake number one…

1. Endurance training is about conditioning your body for long periods of exercise. Two 30 minute runs are not the same as One 1 hour run. Your body needs to grow accustomed to the demands of longer distances, and your muscles need to get used to the shorter recovery times. Not to mention your mind has to be in the game as well for a prolonged period of time.

Mistake number two came in the days preceding the race;

2. The days leading up to a marathon race are rest days and include a short run, usually 15-20 mins to keep your legs fresh for the main event. Don’t go exploring NYC, should have been self-evident… I’m pretty sure we walked a good 30 miles sightseeing… If you are doing a destination race, leave all the tourist stuff for after the race, not before. Staying active and walking will help in your recovery.

And because three is the charm

3. Race strategy should be based on the event you are running. Personally I like to start somewhat in the back of the pack so I can work my through the crowd. It’s a mental strategy, the more people I pass along the way the better I feel about how I’m doing. That should not have been my strategy for NYC; I was in a corral where everyone had the same predicted finish time. That meant I was running faster than my predicted finish time as I worked my way through the pack, the problem with that was that it wasn’t a pace I could sustain.

I finished and overall, at a decent time of 4:05:37 far away from my Boston qualifying time but a good result none the less. Now for the crazy part; a flight back home, less than a week rest, a mid-week recovery run and then the next marathon.

The Charlotte Marathon

Bottom line on top; don’t run back to back marathons specially if you are trying to qualify for Boston. Going into the race I felt good, my legs felt fresh and my strategy was on point. What I didn’t take into account was “true” recovery time.

4. According to experts in sports medicine there is no steadfast recovery rule. It all depends on your level of fitness and your body’s ability to replenish and rebuild. But for the most part it will take a normal athlete between two and three weeks to get back to baseline. My best recovery advice is to reverse taper after a marathon, the gradual build up allows for a quicker recovery back to base. But that does not happen in a week…

Again, I finished and according to my Garmin with my second best marathon time 4:01:12 which makes me laugh since my best time is 3:35…

So what’s next?

I have a Spartan race in early December, this will take my training into an entirely different direction and after that it’s back to the drawing board. I’ll being working on my schedule to run at least three marathons in 2018. The goal is to Boston qualify in one of those; taking into account of course all of my recent lessons learned and like any good project manager would do I’ll make sure to apply those to the next marathon.

Never taking my eyes off the prize….

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