The Hyderabad Marathon which will be my first Full Marathon of the season (the last one was at Auroville in February) is less than a week away - in fact by this time next week it will be over. And I will know whether the hard work and training of the past 11 weeks enabled me to achieve my goal of beating my previous PB of 3:52:48 achieved at SCMM 2011 in January by over 10 minutes. Right now it looks extremely challenging - A couple of my recent long runs were below par, my usual left calf niggle seems to have resurfaced and a light cold and sore throat has set in over the weekend. Moreover I realise that the flyovers and gradients on the run route are going to pose quite a challenge !
Whatever the outcome I know that I have trained very hard for the race. While I have generally been following a training regimen of 3 days of running and 2 days of cycling this is the first time that I have trained specifically using the 'Run Less, Run Faster' training program from FIRST. Though the weekly mileage using this training program has never exceeded 55Km the training has been very intense and specific. With each of the 3 training runs each week , that is, the interval run, the tempo run and the long run having quite stringent time goals. I have usually struggled in my interval runs to meet the pace goals - the interval training has varied from 10 x 400m to 3 x 1600m with intervals of 800m,1000m and 1200m in-between. On the other hand the tempo runs varying between 5KM for the short tempo to 16Km at marathon pace were very comfortable. And so were most of the long runs varying from 21Km to 36Km. I have never done as many consecutive weeks of 21K+ runs before.
I did have two below par long runs during this period; the 1st one was on 7th August where I ran a 30K in 2:39 at an average pace of 5:16 versus my goal of 32K in 2:46 at an average pace of 5:14 per Km. The last 5Kms of this run was quite a struggle and I decided to stop at 30Km rather than completing the planned distance. I was probably both mentally and physically tired due to stress at work and also lack of sleep the previous night. Plus it was the 3rd consecutive day of excercise and I seemed to have had a mild stomach upset. The 2nd one on 14th August was in the hilly terrain of Yercaud. I did not find a good run route and managed a 16Km in 1:31 instead of the target of 21Km in 1:46 . In both these runs my left calf hurt towards the end and these dented my confidence a bit - however a good 20K/1:41 run yesterday has had a positive effect. Whatever the outcome next Sunday I am quite satisfied with the progress I have made using the FIRST training program and hope to make further improvements over the next 12 months or so based on valuable detailed feedback from Bill Pierce, Scott Murr and Ray Moss - the authors of the book 'Run Less, Run Faster'. As all experienced marathon runners know there are several factors that all need to come together on race day and many of these are beyond the runners' control.
My strategy next Sunday will be to try and reach the half way mark as close to 1:45 as possible and sustain the pace to get to the 35K mark in around 3 hours. I have very pleasant memories of the 2008 edition of the Hyderabad marathon which was the 1st one in my journey of running 12 marathons in 12 months. I am once again looking forward to a great running experience , meeting fellow runners from around the country and having a fun weekend!!