Below, for all of the moments of glory or failure are numbers from my long runs for Bayshore 09, Chicago 09, Boston 10, Grand Rapids 10, and current training for Boston 11. I'll note a few things under each graph, but I save the more in depth discussions for last. And a special thanks to the Redhead who decided to take these from a scrap piece of paper and put then in a graph.
In Bayshore I used the Hal Higdon's Intermediate II marathon plan. The key idea for this training plan is the middle week tempo runs as well as the Saturday/Sunday tempo/long runs. I was attempting to BQ. Of note, I ran the Earth Day Marathon as part of a long run.
KEY: If there is a parentheses after a number, that is what I ran. So, if it says 12M (15.7) then I ran 15.7M (or a 25K race); but if the number is smaller than I ran the shorter distance (see week 10 of Chicago 09). An '*' indicates I ran with someone else at their pace.
What I did well: A 19M run at a sub 7 pace.
What I didn't do well: Too many races (4 5Ks) and runs longer than supposed to.
Short Race Day Recap: Calf cramps at mile 20 destroyed me...destroyed me something awful.
For Chicago 09 I used the FIRST training program. The FIRST uses a track workout, a tempo workout, and a long run, plus two training days (can be running, but must run at slow pace). Plus, it is a 16 week program.
What I did well: 24M run at a 7:06/M pace.
What I didn't do well: Stayed up late, consumed over 150oz of Mt. Dew night before week 9's 18M long run. Lots of Mt. Dew will cause you to throw plastic patio furniture and have a melt down.
Short Race Day Recap: Sat on pacers for race, felt great, and got a BQ.
What I did well: Did all of my long runs.
What I didn't do well: Track workouts, tempo runs, or any other type of mid-week running.
Short Race Day Recap: Knew I was undertrained, tried to enjoy and run comfortable, still had major calf cramps.
Used FIRST again, but modified mileage because: 1) I'd taken a ton of time off and was out of running shape; 2) I wanted to try back to back 20M weekends.
What I did well: Had faith in my training plan and kept getting in better running shape despite weeks of not seeing results. A 23M long run at a 7:02/M average.
What I didn't do well: Begin with a base of any kind, stay positive for the first few weeks.
Short Race Day Recap: Had a wonderful race for 20M, 8:09/M avg for last 10K not so hot, still managed a BQ.
So, what does it all mean. Really, I could point out some trends and other things, but the reality is this...the numbers don't really mean all that much. I know when I'm in good running shape, and when I'm not. I've had awful runs during training cycles that led to BQs, and amazing runs during a training cycle where I was trying to BQ but didn't.
One common factor I've had is, when not following a pacer as I did in Chicago 09, I tend to blow up around mile 20 regardless of training (see Bayshore 09, Boston 10, Grand Rapids 10). After Bayshore I began to add 22M, 23M, even 24M runs, but I still seem to blow up on race day. Suggestions or ideas?
Sure, the numbers can get all gooey and sexy and may cause Nitmos to need a moment, but guarantee a great race? Nope. And worrying about the numbers is wasted energy, which is why I try to focus on effort more than numbers. Remember, there are no 4 week marathon training plans. So accept that you will have good runs and bad runs over the course of 15 to 18 (or more) weeks of training.
This is not an easy process, but it should be a joyful one. And when I minimize my complainnig and bemoaning, I realize it is a wonderful journey.