As I write this I have 6 days until the inaugural Exeter Marathon.
After my fund raiser in January for Camp Sunshine, I had a fair load of miles under my belt but no speed. I ran a 50k on January 31st, and then 1 week later ran a 10 mile race in less than 60 minutes. It was my slowest race there for 3 or 4 years, but I felt the same at mile 9 as I had at mile 2 despite my lack of speed.
Since then, my training has been a bit haphazard as I wasn’t training for anything specific. I haven’t cracked 200 miles in a month since then, and this week has been the first time in a month that I’ve run over 50 miles. I ran a total of 3 Fat Ass races this Winter, beginning with that 50k in January and followed by 26 miles in February and 15 miles in March. Most of my long runs have been 13-15 miles at most, often with an 8-10 mile run on the day before or the day after.
Out of curiosity more than anything else, I ran a Jeff Galloway “Magic Mile” on Friday evening in the rain after I got out of work. It wasn’t on a track, but I managed to squeek out a 5:14. I doubt that I had a sub-5 in me even had I been on a better surface or had somebody to chase so that 5:14 is probably pretty honest for an effort.
According to Galloway’s calculator that 5:14 mile translates to a probable 2:58:15 marathon given my current level of fitness. I tend to think that I’ll be able to run a little faster than that, although I recognize I won’t come close to my PR from when I won the Cox Sports Marathon 2 years ago. The calculator also claims that I could run a 10k in 37:19, a 6:01 pace, and I have already run a faster pace over 10 miles so far this season.
My best guess is that I will be somewhere in the 2:53 to 2:55 range next Saturday.
Since I know that my lack of speedwork means I’m not in the kind of shape to run 6:00 or 6:15 miles over the course of the entire marathon, it gives me the freedom to experiment a little and do something that I’ve just not had the time or opportunity to do over the past few years.
My race plan is to use Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk-Run method during the marathon. I have been practicing it on some of my runs and will count steps rather than sticking to a specific number of seconds, mostly because anybody running right behind me is likely going to be running too fast to dodge if I suddenly stop to walk. By counting steps, I can take the walk breaks when they are convenient and won’t be beholden to the watch.
The general plan will be to take a 15 second(ish) walk break every mile. I can usually make 38 steps in 15 seconds, but I’ll probably round it to 35 to give me a little deceleration and acceleration time and still stick to that 15 second window.
I’ve been able to stay pretty comfortable under 7 minute pace for 10 mile runs using this strategy, so I will hopefully be able to maintain a 6:30-6:40 pace using the run-walk-run for the first 20 miles. For the last 10k, I will theoretically be able to pick up the pace and finish strong.
This should be a fun experiment; if you are going to be racing or spectating, don’t get too discouraged if you see me walking. Instead, cheer me on and then check back afterwards to see how well it worked out. If all goes well, maybe I’ll actually get myself into shape and use this strategy to finally get that sub-6 pace in my next marathon…