Monday, December 22, 2008

Marathon Training

I didn't run the Stanchart Singapore Marathon this year in 2008, which is a change from previous years. The reason why I skipped this year's was because my NS in-camp training this year ended the day immediately prior to the marathon and I would not have been able to taper properly. That and also the couple of highly disruptive business trips I had to make this year.

I've run four marathons so far in my life, all of them the Stanchart except the first marathon I ever ran (the Baltimore marathon). 

Anyway, my friends, colleagues and associates all know that I am a serious, albeit recreational, runner, and one of them quizzically asked me a few days ago why I didn't run this most recent Singapore marathon.

My reply that I wouldn't have been able to train properly for it elicited a "Oh, but I thought that with your level of fitness, you could have just run it anyway."

Well, that's why I'm writing this post right now. To explain a little something about my marathon and more broadly, running routine.

For those who have participated in a marathon (or some extreme endurance event), you would know that training for the event is very important, not just in intensity but also in timing. The goal is ultimately to attain peak performance on race day itself. That means control over the training/resting cycle, diet, sleep and stress. A pre-race massage the day before race day to loosen up the muscles also helps.

For myself, finishing a marathon is no longer an achievement to aim for [and in fact, it already lacks cachet; so many people run marathons these days]. I'm not a particularly strong runner, but I do aim to better my time (4:09 under Singapore conditions, 3:40 under Baltimore conditions) with each marathon I run, and accomplishing that isn't exactly a walk in the park. Hence, I would rather not run a race if I have not been able to prepare adequately for it. After all, the recovery from a marathon represents a substantial amount of downtime that I could use to train. Particularly if I suffer an injury during a race that requires a lengthy period of time for rehab.

So what's my training routine, you might ask, and for the benefit of other runners that read my blog, here's my routine for your edification (and possibly criticism):

I like Hal Higdon's training guide for its simplicity and also because I intuitively believe in the philosophy behind the "stepback" week (which is in-line with the concept of the work/rest cycle in exercise physiology). 

However, I now run only 4 times a week as opposed to 5. This is partly due to work committments; it was far easier to run 5 times a week when I was just a college student.

But it's also due to weather and scheduling considerations. My "long" run each week takes place on Sunday (and very rarely, on Saturday instead), and all the rest of my runs are on weekdays. Because I've found that it's difficult to run three or more days consecutively (regardless of distance), I run only thrice on weekdays, as opposed to 4 times.

Running only on three weekdays also gives me the flexibility (such as to meet social committments) to switch days around each week instead of committing to a fixed schedule of running on certain days of the week.

The weather being what it is in Singapore, with torrential rains and occasional haze-filled days (during that time of the year), it pays to incorporate flexibility into training. Of course, it also means heavier mileage on each individual running day, to maintain overall mileage.

And as for mileage, at this point in time, when I'm rebuilding ground lost during my recent in-camp training (yes, I actually became less fit during my ICT), I run 8 miles (about 13 klicks) on weekday runs. This should eventually increase slowly to 12 miles (the limit for weekday runs before I start getting back home really late for dinner).

My most recent Sunday run yesterday was 10 miles (16 klicks), but should rapidly scale up in the coming weeks until I am ready for the Belukar-Gangsa trail again, which would certainly add some much-needed change of scenery. 

And the apex (i.e. for 1 or 2 weeks only) of my training mileage when I am "in-season" for a marathon? Running 5 times a week, (which I still do but only in the last 2 months of marathon training), the total mileage adds up to about 100+ klicks a week, and then the taper kicks in right after.

Seriously time-consuming.


No comments: