Over the weekend I took a coaching certification course offered by the RRCA, along with six other coaches from my club’s recently-completed 10-Mile Training Program. It was an intensive session of two 9-hour days, on Friday and Saturday. What we learned was that almost everyone runs too fast for proper endurance training almost all the time.
It has to do with how the body fuels itself during long races, whether it uses fat or glycogen, and how the body deals with lactate. It has more to do with time on your feet rather than intensity of your run, a classic case of less is more. You can’t skimp on the hours (miles) you run, but less intensity over the same time or distance is most often more beneficial, as you train your body to push its lactate threshold further out (the point where the production of lactate exceeds the body’s ability to disperse it). Also you want your body to start using fat for a fuel earlier so you don’t deplete your glycogen store so quickly. Very technical and very thought-provoking stuff in terms of training.
Sasha was there taking the course. She also ran her first marathon yesterday, the Marine Corps Marathon. I have avoided her these last few weeks, as she had a classic case of first-marathonitis. She wasn’t ready. Her knee hurt. She got sick three weeks ago and missed a couple of training days. She only did one twenty miler. You recognize the symptoms.
In the class late on Saturday, she went to fetch another chair upon which to prop up her balky knee. Carrying it across the floor over to her chair, she dropped it accidentally four times in a row. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Then five restless minutes later, she abruptly got up and left. Man, she had a marathon to do the next morning!
I looked at another veteran marathoner and wagged my hand as if to say, She’s on the edge! We both chuckled, after first making sure that she didn’t see us laughing.
I went out to MP 11 on the course yesterday morning to run the last 15 miles of the marathon with her. At least, that was the plan. Remember, I used to coach her. Now she is a valuable coach of mine in the club programs I actively direct. I was going to help her out.
Today I am sore as heck. She was awesome. She smashed her objective of finishing under four hours. When she came by and I hopped in, we ran a steady stream of 9 minute miles from MP 11 to MP 22. Then suddenly I hit the wall, not her. Our pace was actually creeping up at that point.
So I dropped out at a water table to fill up her fuel belt bottles. I picked her back up at MP 24, having rested myself, and I noticed that we did an 8:04 on that next-to-last mile. I could barely keep up.
Then she kicked up the pace in the last mile into a scorching sub-8 range and dropped me off the back end. I called out "Good Luck, Sasha!" as I ground to a halt and she left me behind! She waved goodbye and kept on blazing up the road. She finished her first marathon in 3:51.
Obviously I created a monster.