Faster than ever!

Breaking 4 hours in the marathon at the end of January got me even more excited and determined that I can and will qualify for the Boston marathon. During my week off I purchased “Faster Road Running” by Pete Pfitzinger. Since the plans in his “Advanced Marathoning” book worked so well, I decided to stick with what works. Having a couple 5k’s on the calendar I figured I’d start there. I was on the training week where there was supposed to be a practice 5k and ran one in Frisco, Texas with my best friends Stephanie and Angel.

To my surprise I ran a 22:05 for this 5k!!! tying my PR from 2008!!! I couldn’t believe it! And still am questioning, since the course was short according to my watch. But I will take it! Since the beginning of this training block I’ve been averaging about 45-50 miles per week and doing 1 workout per week with intervals and 1 with 100 meter strides. The rest of the mileage I take it pretty easy, except for a general aerobic run, where I run a little bit slower than tempo pace, but not too fast to get tired. For me, that is about a 8:45-9 min mile pace.

This past weekend I decided to sign up for a 10 mile race close to home, in Mooresville, Alabama. It was the prettiest little town! The post office there is the oldest post office still in use in Alabama, dating back to the 1800’s. I went into this race thinking that since I almost beat my 2008 5K PR the week before, maybe I could break my 2008 10 mile PR? I didn’t put too much thought into it, since I didn’t tell anyone about the race, and honestly didn’t think I could do it.

I warmed up for a mile and got to the wave start. My starting group had all (fast looking) men and one other woman. I immediately stayed back with the other woman, but noticed our pace was 8:30.. this would not get me to break my 1:20:30 record. I picked it up to an 8 min mile pace and stuck with the group of men. This made me nervous, cause there’s no way I could keep up with these guys right? The pace felt easy, but that has tricked me before. I decided if I’d still feel this good at mile 5, I would push the pace to a 7:55 from there to finish. From mile 2 to 3, my watch pinged a mile about 2 minutes before the 3 mile marker. I immediately knew with this 2 min error, I had no change for a PR. I should just relax and enjoy this pretty route. But then I thought.. well, I feel great, so lets pick up the pace instead, maybe I can still do it. I picked up the pace to run in the 7:40s. By mile 4 the course had corrected. (my guess the wind blew over the mile marker and someone just put it back where it ended up) I was feeling great still, so kept my pace. By mile 8 I felt like I was flying, my legs were moving fast and I still didn’t feel like I couldn’t breathe. The last mile I picked it up to 7:20 pace. That got me! but who cares, I was almost there. I flew (what I felt like) through the finish line with a new shiny PR of 1:17:30!!!

None of my miles even hit 8 minutes! I cannot explain how good it feels to see my hard work over the past year pay off. It has taken 1 year and 3 months of consistency and discipline to see progress I want to see. I’m so excited to see how much faster I can get.

Base building

I’ve been reading more and more on how to qualify for Boston. I’ve been nervous about going at it too hard and overtraining. Everywhere it talks about having a good “base” before starting your 12-18 week marathon training cycle, but I had a hard time narrowing down how to actually build a base.

In the past I’ve started every marathon training cycle with running about 15 miles per week, being able to run about 8 miles easily. Yes.. my idea of base building was so off… Most books, websites and podcasts say to have a mileage of at least 35-40 mpw before even starting training. I never even got up to this kind of mileage during my training for any of my marathons.

There has been a lot of conflicting information about building base, some people still incorporate speed and tempo workouts, but from the research I’ve done it mostly says to run in an aerobic zone for 12 weeks or so. This means to not get your heart rate up too high, because this will put you in the anaerobic zone, which you won’t need to train until the marathon training actually starts.

I won’t bore you with more details, long story short for the next few months I’m having to run slow and a lot! I’m gonna try to work up to about 40-50 miles per week.

I read that with the MAF (maximum aerobic function) test you can test your aerobic progress in this cycle. Below is the formula and test explained from the Phill maffetone website.

Basically you run 5 miles at 150 heart rate and with building my aerobic system I should be able to run faster at the same heart rate by the end of this base building phase. This is my first test and I will post the next one in a month to see my progress.

  • Mile 1: 8:12
  • Mile 2: 8:31
  • Mile 3: 8:46
  • Mile 4: 8:47
  • Mile 5: 9:08

The 180 Formula
To find the maximum aerobic heart rate:

  1. Subtract your age from 180 (180 – age).
  2. Modify this number by selecting a category below that best matches your health profile:
    a. If you have, or are recovering from, a major illness (heart disease, high blood pressure, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or you are taking medication, subtract an additional 10.
    b. If you have not exercised before or have been training inconsistently or injured, have not recently progressed in training or competition, or if you get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, or have allergies, subtract an additional 5.
    c. If you’ve been exercising regularly (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems listed in a or b, keep the number (180 – age) the same.
    d. If you have been competing for more than two years duration without any of the problems listed above, and have improved in competition without injury, add 5.
    For example, if you are 30 years old and fit into category b: 180 – 30 = 150, then 150 – 5 = 145.
    During training, create a range of 10 beats below the maximum aerobic heart rate; in the example above, train between 135 and 145 staying as close to 145 as possible. To develop the aerobic system most effectively, all training should be at or below this level during base building. As the aerobic system develops, you will be able to run faster at the same maximum aerobic heart rate.
    Once a great aerobic base is developed, an athlete can develop anaerobic function, if desired. In some cases this may not be necessary or the time and energy is not available for such endeavors. (Successful anaerobic training can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time, a topic discussed in my book, Training for Endurance.)
    One other significant benefit of applying the 180 Formula is the biochemical response: production of free radicals is minimal at this training level compared to training at higher heart rates. Free radicals contribute to degenerative problems, inflammation, heart disease, cancer and rapid aging.
    As important as finding the correct aerobic training heart rate is the process of self-assessment.
    Self-Assessment: The MAF Test
    A significant benefit of aerobic base building is the ability to run faster at the same effort, that is, at the same heart rate. A heart monitor can help objectively measure these improvements using a test I developed in the mid 1980s called the maximum aerobic function (MAF) test.
    Perform the MAF Test on a track, running at the maximum aerobic heart rate. A one- to five-mile test, with each one-mile interval recorded, provides good data. The test should be done following an easy 12–15 minute warm up, and be performed about every month throughout the year. Below is a 5-mile MAF Test of a runner training at a heart rate of 150:
    ©2007PhilipMaffetone http://www.philmaffetone.com