Run 26 more marathons-- duh! Starting with this weekend!!! I'll be making my first trip to Little Rock, Arkansas for the Little Rock Marathon. More about that later this week with my Race RUNdown-- in the meantime I've been trying to figure out what I've changed with my running to drop my time 6 minutes and hit a pace I've been actively trying for in (some of) my marathons. Now that I've hit 3:35, I'm aiming to break 3:30 sometime over the next year!! That's not going to be easy with running another 26 marathons in ~13 months, but we will just have to see. So, what have I changed over the past few months? A few things... but I'll list what I found the most pertinent first:
1) Rest (say it ain't so!). Yeah, yeah, I know you're thinking "I told you so" but it's hard to get in rest breaks with so many marathons out there that need to be run!! I took about 5 weeks off between my last 2009 race and my first (double) in 2010. I felt really really good for the first race-- aside from the freezing cold-- and I wondered how I would have done if I only had 1 marathon that weekend. Well I would find out...
My first February marathon was cancelled (yep, Myrtle Beach), allowing me another 5 week break between my January double and my Albany (BQ) marathon. By the time I got to Albany I felt very rested and I found I ran into the wall much later.
2) Speedwork and the Mill O' Death-- I shared some of my speedwork workouts over the past few months. I've been attempting to force myself to become more comfortable with the treadmill and I found, focusing on shorter distances made it easier. I also found it was easier to keep up a solid pace for speedwork while on a treadmill. I've done both ladders (400m, 800m, 1200m, 1mile, 1200m... etc) as well as Mile Repeats.
Extra: I took a note from Kara Goucher's workouts and added a little extra speed to the end of some of my workouts. If I'm finishing a run, I'll pick it up for the last quarter mile to mile. Also, when I run my repeats, I'll break the last mile into 2, half-miles and drop the pace down an extra 30-45 seconds. This has helped my foot-turnover speed significantly and I've found I'm MUCH more able to breath comfortably at faster paces than I was before.
3) Increased Mileage- It's tough to balance tapering, post-marathon rest, and high mileage. With the downtime I had I was able to increase my mileage. It helped that I set some high mileage goals for myself this year. The high milage has helped me feel much more comfortable, longer into my marathon. I've put in about 280 miles this year and hope to up that in March slowly so I won't hurt myself.
4) New Kicks! As you've been reading, I've been dabbling with some "barefoot running"- first trying out the Vibrams and eventually settling on the Nike Free 5.0's for my marathons. Not only do they give you a quicker, lighter, stride, but they help a TON with foot turnover. I absolutely love the Free's for running long and I'm looking forward to trying out the vibrams in a longer marathon soon.
5) Pumpin' Iron! When I got hurt in January, I started back with lifting and stability exercises to build up some of the smaller muscles. I try to do most of my lifting while standing on an upside down bosu ball. Any sort of extra balance requirements in an exercise, will lead to better results. I've also tried doing some 1-legged squats to get my ankles stronger.
I've been reading "Advanced Marathoning" since hearing about it on another Bloggers site. I'm hoping to adapt some of their ideas and schedules to my own hectic marathon schedule. I want to increase my mileage and add in some substantial goals to my daily running. In the meantime, it is time to gear up for another marathon! Woohoo. My NEW Halfway There Marathon! :)