Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The One Shot Game

Or, the problem with the marathon. Recently I’ve been thinking about Chicago. The thing is, with a marathon, you only really get one ‘race’ for all of your training. To put this in perspective, think about a 5K. You pick a goal, you train for months and months, and you work hard. Race day arrives and you get 25mph winds or 85 degrees with 99% humidity and no rain. Any of these significant divergences from normal running conditions will assuredly kill a pr/goal time. But, you race it anyway, you try hard, and maybe you even come close. Oh well. But with a 5K you can recover and race again the next weekend, or the weekend after that. The reason being that the damage and stress you cause to your body during a 5K is not terrible. You won’t lose your ‘race’ spark.

For the overwhelming majority of marathon runners, you just can’t recover and race again the next week. So, if you bomb, or just narrowly miss your goal/pr due to high temps or a strong wind or you step on some guys foot during the early miles of the marathon and you don’t outright injure yourself but only cause a slight irritation that worsens with every step for mile after mile until you are forced to walk, you don’t get a second chance a week later.

Maybe you take another shot two weeks later, but from what I’ve heard the second marathon isn’t the same race. Sure you can gut it out and finish, but you don’t have the same kind of reserves. This is because you race the first race, regardless of the conditions, and give it your all. And it takes the body a few weeks to recover and regain that ‘race’ ready form.

And we all know this, which is why we all pray the Running Gods are kind to us and why we play such mind games with ourselves during our taper. But, then again, such things are part of the beauty of a marathon.


Last night was mile repeats. Splits: 5:53, 6:09, 6:11, 6:11, 6:23.


Sun Runner said...

Nice job burning up the roads with those mile repeats. :)

Afternoon outlook for ten quality miles: EXCELLENT.

Running and living said...

I have been thinking in similar terms about the marathon vs smaller races. I am now regretting not having run any races during this marathon training cycle. Perhaps doing smaller races while preping for the marathon can lower the pressure about "the perfect marathon" race.

The Laminator said...

You read my mind, man. To the list of things you can't prepare for in training...getting the flu for a week leading up to it!

Irish Cream said...

SO TRUE. And yet I keep on coming back for more . . . I think I need an intervention!

Those are some speedy mile repeats! Great job!