Monday, March 28, 2011

MDI vs. Boston Training Cycles & the Taper

MDI vs. Boston
I've been comparing last summer's MDI Marathon training cycle with this winter's Boston Marathon training cycle. Some similarities, some differences. Big duh there, I guess. I approached both with building up a solid base and trying to incorporate key workouts like interval work, tempo runs, long runs, etc.

For MDI, the first eight weeks (starting in June) were spent coming out of a slump where I was getting over another stress fracture during which time I had put on some unneccesary weight. I weighed 192 lbs. but late in the training cycle I got down to around 167 lbs. So, the first eight weeks was spent getting back in shape and ramping up the mileage.

For Boston, the first eight weeks (beginning in late December) was much different. It was more of making sure I was recovered from MDI and the Stone Cat Trail Marathon which I ran within three weeks of each other. I was still riding excellent fitness, so I was able to hit the ground running easier this time around, literally and figuratively. It was focused on making sure I could get back into a consistant routine comfortably after a proper recovery.

In both cycles, I very much played things by ear depending on how I was feeling. This involved pushing it when I was feeling like I could take it, and pulling back when I thought that it would risk injury or I was just feeling run down or overtrained. I've learned that I really need to listen to my body, so that continued.

While the approach was the same, what resulted was different. Looking at the last eight week section of each cycle when I was in full training mode and hitting the workouts hard, for MDI I averaged 54.7 miles a week and for Boston I've averaged 61.7 miles a week. Despite the seven miles a week increase, times look like they have also been a bit faster overall as well, though that's difficult to calculate.

So in summary, with Boston I am very pleased and encouraged. The key workouts were all there, and I honestly don't think I would have changed much. It's been a pretty harsh winter, so I'm especially glad I was able to not let it interfere with training outside. I only ran on a treadmill once this winter and that was only because it was a bonus run, and it enabled me to supervise some students on an overnight trip easier while I ran.

The Taper
I thought the taper plan I did for MDI dialed me in just right, so I'm going to do it again. Unlike the hard training, I followed the Pfitzinger taper plan much more closely. I plan to do the same this time around.

Pfitz has the three week taper going 80%, 60% and 33% for each respective week leading up to a marathon. It also involves key workouts designed to walk the fine line of letting the legs heal up in peak time for the race while also keeping them from going stale. Some think three weeks is too long for a taper, but I really like this plan because that first 80% week is more like a step-down week and isn't anything drastic. It makes for a smoother, seamless transition, in my opinion.

So for me, it breaks down like this, with my usual Mondays as rest days each week:

Three weeks out: Upper 40s for mileage. 10-15 X 100M sprints on Wednesday along with warm-up and cooldown. Friday a 5-6 mile tempo run. 15-17 miles on Sunday. The rest of the runs easy.

Two weeks out: Mid-upper 30s for mileage. 6 X 800M repeats w/ 2:00 rest in between on Thursday. 12 miles on Sunday. Rest of runs easy.

Final week: About 20 miles. Thursday, 2-3 miles at MP along with warm-up and cool-down. Rest of runs easy.

Boston Marathon Goals
I have a few, and I've mentioned them on this blog and to others in person before, but I'm hesitant to state them formally at this point. All that I'll really say for now is that I plan on running a smart, well-executed race and at the same time give absolutely everything I have.


mindy said...

Taper time! You're ready. I can almost smell the burning hay... Excited for your Boston experience and a well-executed badass run!

sn0m8n said...

You'll be in better shape for MDI this year after I throttle you in a few track workouts this summer.

Why said...

Good luck in Boston.. I too want to run a smart race there.. it will be a test of will and temptation not to go out too fast amongst the 500K screaming fans along the way while running on marathon pace but feeeling as though you are running backwards.. in the first miles.. :)
Good luck!
Gotta Run,