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Coach Jesse’s 2:45 Marathon Race Report

This past Sunday I ran a local marathon; the Myles Standish Marathon. It was tough!! I had signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon (flat and fast), but last minute didn't want to travel with the family (wife, 2 year old, and a new born) given there was a marathon 20 minutes from my house!

I started my day with the customary Your 26.2/Core Diet race morning breakfast of unsweetened apple sauce, banana, PowerBar perform, and a whey protein; all 3 hours before the start. After my breakfast and quick drive, I arrived at the race site and realized how chilly it was.....high 20s to be exact which was cooler than I had expected (I hate the cold!). I had seen parts of the course years earlier and remembered it to be pretty hilly, but not nearly what it ended up being! Tim had warned me, and he was right! Based on my file below, the course ended up having about 69' per mile of climbing (total ascent divided by 26.2)....this number is HUGE! I typically call a hilly course about 40' per mile, and an average course about 20' per mile.

Pacing: After a quick shuttle to the start line, and chatting with some team members, I was ready to go and the gun went off! Based on my current zone 1 pace of about 6:50 per mile going into the race and the Your 26.2 run calculator I estimated that I could run 6:09 pace for an average difficultly course. Based on that guidance, I went out at this pace. About mid-way through the race I realized that given the hilly nature of the course, this was a bit too fast, so really focused on keeping the heart rate up. Typically, the best paced road races, 1) have the second half average about 5 beats higher than the first, and 2) have the highest average mile heart rates occur during the last 10k. I ended up having a 4 beat offset 1st to 2nd half, and a nice high heart rate for the finish. This indicated to me that my pacing was good. Had it been paced poorly, my peripheral system (legs) would not have been strong enough late in the day to continue to stimulate my core system (heart rate). Here's the file which shows I was able to keep the heart rate stimulated late in the race (a great sign): Myles Standish Marathon File. You'll also notice that despite the hilly course, my heart rate stayed very stable throughout (I tried to "flatten" the course).

Fueling: Based on my Core Diet race fueling plan, I had one caffeinated PowerGel just before the gun went off and then one gel every half hour during the race. This allowed me to build the caffeine intake throughout the day, such that caffeine in my system was at its highest during the last 5 miles of the race…..just when I needed it the most. Many athletes have caffeine early in the morning, and have the highest blood caffeine levels at the start of the race, when they don't need it! This also many times leads to mispacing; going out too fast and then fading throughout the day. All in all, I had a total of 6 gels throughout the marathon, which supplied 150mg of caffeine…..about 2 cups of coffee. The gels also provided about 50 grams of carbohydrate per hour, and about 400mg of sodium. This was perfect given my body weight and race weather conditions. The only other thing I consumed throughout the run was 2-3oz of sport drink at each aid station.

Training: My training for this race was pretty good. Not the best, but not too bad either. The highlights were a longest run of 2:10 five weeks before the race, and a split run of 1:20 in the AM, and 1:20 in the PM about 3 weeks out. As usual, everyone thinks you need hugely long runs to perform well at marathon, but in typical Your 26.2/QT2 training style, I kept the frequency of running very high to avoid injury, which also helped kept the weekly mileage up. This allowed me to stick to shorter long runs which kept the quality of running and form during these runs "crisp and clean". I also did only one speed workout during the entire buildup consisting of half mile repeats. This is a much better approach for most athletes, leading to less injuries, and better quality running….assuming they can mentally "let go" of their 3+ hour long runs and weekly track sessions! The overall management of training stress is the most important variable, for which I did a good job with: I had 4 weeks in a row of 50+ miles, a recovery week of 30 miles, then two bigger weeks of 60 and 65 miles, a recovery week of 35 miles, a moderate week of 45 miles, and then race week with just 8 miles. This type of a final 10 weeks is consistent with most of the programs we produce under the Your 26.2 Training Protocols.

Mental: Mentally, I felt good coming into the race. I really focused on remaining confident and embracing the things I could control on race day. I knew that there was comfort in staying focusing on the task relevant items that I COULD control. Outcomes such as placing and overall time were secondary. I also, did some imagery during race week, to help practice having the perfect race. Every time I felt myself going beyond a 5 out of 10 on the excitement scale, I took a breather, calmed down, and kept things at that magic 5; the ideal performance state. I believe that mental fitness is an important aspect in helping pull everything together, and show your fitness on race day and therefore formal training in this area is certainly worth the time!

Body Composition: During the final 6 weeks before the race, I had a tough time staying focused on my diet given how the winter whether comes quick here in New England this time of year. This had me slip up 1 or 2 pounds during that period however, during the final 3 weeks before the race I became refocused and really nailed the Core Diet to get my weight back down around 159. At 159 I am about 5.5% body fat, which is a reasonable goal for my age and gender. Although this may be race weight, I try not to spend too much time this lean throughout the year. Doing so would just be too stressful to my body. A good rule of thumb is that each pound of fat lost, is worth about 3 seconds per mile which highlights the importance of good body composition for race day.

All in all, I'm very happy with my 5th place 2:45 finish at this tough race, and I hope that this writing helps provide some information for those of you looking to have a marathon meet your potential! It's all about staying focused on the Your 26.2 five corner stones!



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