Until a few years ago I could run up to 170K or 105 miles at the peak of marathon training no problem. As I approach my 57th birthday the realities of training in the second half of my sixth decade (other than slower times) have begun to appear. Pounding the pavement takes more out of me and I just can’t train like I used to. What to do?! While I have been a lifelong commuter cyclist, I’m not too keen on training rides that take three times as long to get the same cardio effect as a run. Training takes enough time as it is.
So this is where I am at now, with eight weeks before my target race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 14th. I’m cautiously boosting my mileage. I should hit 102K for this week after logging 18 miles or 29K this morning. After my 5 mile run tomorrow the past week will look like this:
- 13 miles ( with 2 x 10 minutes at threshold pace)
- 6 miles easy
- 7 miles easy
- 8 miles with a ladder workout of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (minute) sections of near interval pace running
- 6 easy
- 18* steady
- 5 very easy (tomorrow)
- Total = 63 miles or 102.5 K
The * asterisk is to note that having devised a new and complicated route to merge my run with a friend’s 10 mile run. I got home, measured my route and saw that I was short 1.5 miles. You’ll know by this comment that I’m an old-school runner who does not own a GPS watch. Thankfully, I had not cooled down much so I immediately headed out the door and did the missing mileage. I gave myself a little pat on the back for that. Had my husband greeted me with a latte, as he often does post-long run, I might not have been able to gather myself up to get the job done.
Looking ahead, the peak training weeks will be from August 27th to September 24th. From there I will begin a three-week taper. I am curious to see how much mileage I will be able to manage at the summit of my training – the 100 mile week redefined.
As for my goal time, I’m will race a 10K next Sunday, on slightly rested legs, which will help me gauge my fitness level. Naturally, I’m hoping to improve on my 2nd slowest time ever of 3:50 run at NYC last year, the slowest being the 4:10 I ran in my first marathon in 1981.
My results since age 50 are:
3:10:02 Detroit (2005) 1st in age-group
3:13 Chicago (2006) 1st in age-group
3:17 Boston (2007) 3rd in age-group
3:23 Boston (2008) 7th in age-group
3:42 California International Marathon (2010) 1st in age group CLICK HERE for full story
3:50 NYC (2011) Waahhh! This one really hurt bad and I was 29th in age-group. CLICK HERE for full story
I’m hoping I can improve on my 3:42 of two years ago and my most optimistic hope is to run close to 3:30. According to the McMillan running calculator the 21:04 5K I ran in the spring extrapolates to a 3:25 marathon but we all know that for the vast majority of us, it is really difficult to match our shorter distance race performances at the marathon because of the mileage base required. Surviving marathon training, is a lot of what running a marathon is about.
One bright spot on the topic of aging is that I was able to match past performance levels (age-graded score) at 5K on fewer training miles, with the help of intense speedwork and an indoor track season build-up to the 5K. But – as a 56 year old marathon runner, accustomed to running the longer path, I’m hoping that a shorter path might still do the trick.
To get to the finish line, you’ll have to try lots of different paths.
August 19, 2012 at 10:21 am
Hi Lynn … just a few comments. You are into the 2nd half of your 6th decade :-). I think you are doing extremely well to hit the mileage you are. For myself, I have now decided to a lot more cross training in order to preserve the time left on my knees. Most of my easy days will be on the bike or elliptical. As I have gotten older, I have found the intensity of the track work has worked wonders.
August 28, 2012 at 8:03 am
Thanks for your note. I know it is unusual and I am lucky to be able to run this amount at my age. If I want to train like I used to, I think cross-training is the only way to get there. Hope things are going well with the recovery.