On May 4th, I will be running my third marathon. My first was in October 2011 and second in May 2012. I had satisfied my marathon thirst and said that I would only run another one if Barb wanted to run her second. Last September, she became thirsty.
|#1: 4 h. 29 m. 46 s.
Running is a great sport. For those who have a competitive spirit, the goal is continuous improvement and the measure is to beat your personal best time. When you do, the feeling is tremendous.
I ran my first marathon when I was writing the first draft of Change with Confidence. Running 26.2 miles. Twice the distance of my longest run seemed like an appropriate stretch goal.
I created a detailed training plan and stuck to it. My big mistake was exceeding it, which gave me shin splints four weeks before the race. I could barely run for two and a half weeks.
The run was tough. My legs started cramping around 9 miles in and they seized at the 15 mile mark. I had experienced slight cramping in my longest training runs, but nothing like this. I got to the finish line but far later than I had planned.
|#2: 4 h. 8 m. 26 s.
Two days after the race, I started planning my second marathon that was six months away. This time I was joined by my wife Barb and friend Tim. I learned from my mistake and kept to my training plan. At the starting line I was injury free and confident about my performance.
I followed my race plan, running ’10 and 1′ intervals and not starting too quickly. To my surprise and horror, my legs started to spasm at the same distances. I relived the progressive decline of my legs, just like watching a movie for the second time – a scary one.
The good news is that I finished the marathon and beat my first marathon time by over 21 minutes.
This time around, I have completely overhauled how I run and train. I have been:
- Changing my stride by shortening my steps and lessening the impact on my feet and legs
- Running continuously versus ’10 and 1′ intervals – I lost too much time walking when my legs were strong
- Limiting weekly training miles to 30 versus 45 – was I overtaxing them before?
- Running more preparation races prior to the marathon (7 versus 4)
- Seeing a physiotherapist two weeks before the race to discuss prevention and management strategies and tactics
- Managing what I eat, especially three days prior to the race – high carbohydrates, low fibre and protein
With 23 days to go, my practise races are a little slower than two years ago, but my form is better. This will be a good test of Marshal Goldsmith’s adage, “What got you here won’t get you there.” The “there” for me is a faster time and stronger legs throughout the race. Either of them will be an improvement and both will be tremendous.