Sunday, May 30, 2010

Reasons not to race a marathon

First up, a confession. I haven't followed my simple plan to perfection. Running last weekend was the second thing on my mind. I had a couple of days in sunny Melbourne with my non-running friends Joy and Mal. The primary purpose of our visit was to see the Blues thrash the Hawks in an AFL game Sunday afternoon (Mal is a huge Blues supporter). Sadly, "our team" lost — badly! We slunk out of the ground before the final siren.

I managed two runs — 7.5k on the hotel treadmill (finishing in a lather of sweat), then on Sunday morning a lovely 8.3k run up the south bank of the Yarra River to the famous Tan track. While in Melbourne we also shopped (Joy for shoes, us boys for motorcycle accessories), visited Mali at the Melbourne Zoo, and won/lost money at the Casino. It was a good weekend.

Back in cool Canberra I ran 4 x 500 metres on Friday afternoon, then a solo 15k in the rain Saturday morning, before catching up with serial marathoner Liz for a coffee. The 500s weren't that quick (2:07.5 average — 6:50 mile pace), but what was amazing was how they seemed to transform Saturday's easy run. My stride felt easier, longer and bouncier than it's usual slow-run shuffle. A friend of Flo's linked to her blog an article in Running Times where coach Greg McMillan talks about changing the stride of Paige Higgins. According to Greg, Paige is a "super shuffler", who needs to improve her stride in order to make the US team for the London Olympics. I'd like to improve my stride so I can run a faster 5k. That's the distance I'd like to improve the most. After listening to Joe, Flo and friends at the Runners Round Table, I now have a couple of extra reasons not to rush into another marathon.

Bikers and the BeachMy mate Mal (blue T-shirt) in April 1983. We were having a 4-Owners motorcycle club weekend at Narooma Beach


Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

Hello Ewen,
Yes a marathon is hard but then would it be worth doing if it was easy?
On the issue of stride length, after 5 months of Pete Magill running drills i was some what dissapointed to find my stride had only improved very slightly :[
But after changing to Steve Magness's recommended way of running my stride improved greatly straight away :}

7:48 pm  
Blogger Thomas said...

I don't get it.

The whole point of the marathon is that it is hard. So where's the reason NOT to run it?

8:22 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Rick, thanks. I'll take another look at that Magness post. I agree that marathons are hard, but so is racing a fast 5000. Just ask Dave Moorcroft or Tirunesh Dibaba ;)

Ah, did you listen to the podcast Thomas? The main reason not to race a marathon is that marathon training isn't ideal if your specialist race distance is 5k. Just as marathon training isn't ideal if you're an Olympic distance triathlete.

8:52 pm  
Blogger Grellan said...

I find a marathon easier than a 5k as the pain builds up gradually compared to the almost instant struggle that a 5k brings. My mind isn't set up for instant pain.

If you're looking for a fast 5k Ewen, then I agree - a marathon will only dent your speed.

9:52 pm  
Blogger Superflake said...

I like a marathon because I don't have to breathe as hard as a 5k. I think Airport Adventure has been going since 2000 at least. I first ran it in early 2006.

10:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The beauty of the marathon is that you get a couple of hours of exhilarating racing before it starts to become really hard. However it appears that your heart is really in track racing. I think that marathon training can be good preparation for track events, but it is not the most efficient way to do it. I certainly think that getting that spring into your legs is important. Brad Hudson’s short hill sprints can be good for this, but I will be very interested to hear if the Magness style works for you as well as it has worked from Rick.

10:29 pm  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

Sounds like a brilliant weekend in Melbourne. Pretty cool that you got to the Tan! Solinsky who recemtly ran 26.59 for 10k and has a 13.12 5k PB and is a 5k specialist (still a 5k specialist despite smashing the American record in the 10k and becoming the 31st and only non-african under 27min for 10,000m, he plans to concentrate on the 5k and not race anymore 10k races) trains with marathoners. As a racewalker I was keen to be competitive on distances ranging from 5k to 50km. I see no reason why you cant do both 5k and marathon with the same training. There are 2 ways to train for marathons in my book, 1. lots of easy long runs day in day out, or a 2. shorter long run about 1-2-3 hours, and heaps of speed work, intervals work, intense crosstraining and run sessions...Approach no 2 is tough but it allows you to run a great marathon but also go after the 5k in earnest... Marathon training can help your 5k time...That said its a whole lot easier just to focus on the 5k only. Maybe get the 5k goals achieved, and work on the marathons later or at different times of the year. For example go after the marathon in August to October and work on the 5k November to April...

2:26 am  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

Glad to know you're also on the stride fixin' train. What a nice bonus to read Rick's comment about finding Magness's way a fast improvement, that blog is gold.

Very cool about the light feeling run after the speed stuff. I find that too, that it gives you a shot of adrenaline for a day or two afterwards.

3:56 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

Well I think if your serious about doing a marathon and still want to run a good 5k you should try the italian method of marathon training, building speed first then moving onto longer endurance stuff.
To be honest you don't seem to be running very well over the 5k distance anyway, so you don't have much to lose!

5:37 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

see Doc Rosa article;

5:42 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

On stride length.
Another area to look at to increase your stride length, is over tight hip flexor muscles, this can really damage your stride length!
Doing lunges as part of your pre run warm up, plus doing the lung stretch after runs will help.

6:25 am  
Blogger Love2Run said...

Plans are made to be broken and I still think you needed a vacation. See how your pace improved already with some R&R? I'm also laying off the marathon thing until I get the 5-10ks out of my system.

8:48 am  
Blogger speedygeoff said...

As I age, 3k is the perfect distance, 5k the perfect challenge.
As for marathons? Enough is enough.

9:43 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Grellan, we're all wired differently. I've always preferred the instant pain of a 5k. In a marathon I have too much time to think about it!

Flake, that would be why I haven't run that one. I was a member of Striders in the 80s.

Canute, you're right. My heart is in track racing, or road up to 10k. I'd like to try a more efficient way of preparing for a 5000, rather than racing it off marathon training. I'd like instruction on the Magness style. Knowing how it should feel from just reading about it isn't easy.

Jonathon, Solinksy is amazing - especially as he's not much lighter than me. I don't think he'd stretch to a marathon. I think one can race 5k/marathon off marathon training, but not both off 5k training.

I agree Flo. I just need Magness to put out a video with detailed instruction ;)

Rick, I'm not doing a marathon! The Italian method but stopping before the marathon section might work well. And you're right - I'm running like s#!te at 5k. Thanks for the links.

Mike, you're right. It's a runner's prerogative to change her mind. I'm taking a one week vacation in June at the Gold Coast :)

Speedygeoff, although I haven't started to age, I totally agree.

3:30 pm  
Blogger Sling Runner said...

Hmm..actually I like 5k and marathon but hate the 10k! 5k is over in a short time, so even when you struggle mid-way, you'll either fight against it or just cruise to the finish. Marathon is a special since the challenge is in the last 10k.

However, I find 10k is tough, especially if you already struggling or behind your goal pace at 4-5k mark.

5:38 pm  
Blogger TA and the Gnome said...

Ewen, Ewen, Ewen. Forget all this stuff about marathons and stride length. What were you thinking, leaving the game before the siren? We taught our kids that it doesn't matter how badly your team's being beaten, you don't leave until it's all over.

Then again, we follow the Swans, so we had plenty of practice... :-) :-)

10:01 pm  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

Oh bye the your photo brings back some 80's nostalgia.
The bikes look kind of dated now with their big old squarded off fairings and narrow wheels and tyres.
Most of been very happy days.
The beach looks nice :]

11:17 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

I used to surf at that beach, Narooma, all the time. although when that photo was taken I was just a grommit!

It seems to be your plan to first try to get your 5K and 10K times down and gradually increase the mileage then think about a marathon, is that right?

If so it sounds good and what I'm planning to do on my way to a career goal marathon race somewhere in 2012.

Ewen, How many full marathons have you run?

11:38 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Sling, I'm with you there. The 10k can be awful if you get it wrong. The 5 is more forgiving in that regard.

Bruce, I was outvoted! Mal and Joy didn't want to hear the end-of-game Hawks' song after such a woeful showing by our blokes.

Rick, yeah it was good fun. 80s bikes didn't handle that well with the skinny tyres, but they only had half the power of my 1400. Speaking of that beach, Mal ran up and down it with me one morning and kept up no problems. He would have been a good runner.

Scott, I bet you "dropped in" on all the locals too ;)
Possibly, but I won't run one this year, or maybe next too. Might see you in 2012. Being "faster" at 5/10 definitely makes marathons easier. I've only run 7 road marathons since '81.

3:32 pm  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

Ewen, I,ve only run 7 Marathons since 01 to!
Yes it was a good job bike only had half the power as they only had half the brakes too, plus the frames had the tubing of a push bike :]
my brother use to have a Kawasaki h1 mach 3 500 two stroke triple;
That was one evil son of a bitch to ride, I came off the thing twice!
My own favourite bike I owned in in the late 70s early 80,s was my RD 250 Yam I tuned up and ported, the power came in at 7500 revs and shot you forward at warp speed!!!
i did move on to biker bikes, Honda cbx 6 cyclinder 1000, Yam1100 shaft drive.
my last big bike was a retro kawasaki 1100.
But really i get more fun out of smaller bikes that I can blast without breaking the speed limit twice :]

7:33 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

Get a room you Westies!

8:56 pm  
Blogger Robert Song said...

Are you still up for the smack down at the Coast?

I'd hate to waste all my good training.

10:58 pm  
Anonymous Ali said...

I do not require any more reasons not to. I have a long list.

5:24 am  
Blogger Carla said...

those weren't 'kick-start' bikes, were they? j/k. the beach looks lovely.

i'm more on (moron?) the 'reasons to' run a marathon right now, being on my 2nd, the 1st being a long-ago disaster. trying to give the distance another chance w/hopefully more appropriate training. still, most likely, i'll fall in the category of 'running' it, as i agree after everything i've been doing, that you'd need 70-100 mpw to 'race' it at your best. kind of like the time commitment req'd for olympic+ distance tri's. i don't know that that should discourage people from doing those events, however, to the best of their ability with the most training they're able to manage. it would be great if we all had infinite hours to train, and the talent to justify that, so the q for most of us becomes why bother? guess i'm bothering.

1:05 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Rick, it's 7 for me since 1981, not 2001 ;) A guy I knew in high school had one of those triples, which impressed the schoolgirls no end. My mate Jim had an RD350LC (later the 1100 Yam you had) and he pretty much kept up with the big bikes.

Scott, I'm too educated to be a Westie ;)

Robert Song, sadly not. I've entered the 10k. Not to avoid a smackdown, but so I can watch you suffer on the Sunday.

Ali, that list would be similar to mine.

Carla, not those in the photo, but Jim's 350 was. It's worth bothering if you like the event. Talent doesn't come into it - if you love it, do it. And it's worth running as well as you can (a PB), with the training you can commit to. The marathon is no different to other events in that regard. A full-time 100m or 5k runner has a better chance of finishing ahead of an equally talented runner who works a full-time job.

7:49 pm  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

Ewen I'm all up for bikes that impress the girls :]

2:31 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

Check out these classic 'RICE BURNERS' and Classic prices too.
Wish I'd hung onto some of my old bikes, worth a mint now!

2:48 am  
Blogger Richard said...

All I can add is: The photo, the shorts - how did you prevent drop-out with a pair of nut huggers like that on?

11:51 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Amazing prices for those old bikes Rick. Maybe that's because very few are in original condition - most of those ill-handling beasts were crashed ;)

Richard, Stubbies shorts were all the rage in the 80s. A certain skill was required to prevent wardrobe malfunctions.

10:33 am  
Blogger Carla said...

heehee re the shorts...seems like it would be tough to ride a bike in those. and, don't know if you agree, but i think girls ("birds"?) look better in short shorts.

12:44 pm  
Blogger Runner Susan said...

Hi. Ewen.

Which one are you in the pic Ewen. My attention span is too short at the moment to figure it out. If you are the one in light blue running shorts, then I applaud your fashion 80 fashion sense. I just hope you don't still have them.

Okay. Maybe I've had too much wine - BUT I've been toying with a trail race. NEVER done one of those before?!?

11:19 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Susan, I'm not in the pic. I was taking it ;) I did have shorts like those, and I was very careful how I sat down. You'll enjoy trail racing - dirt is good!

7:43 pm  

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