Thursday, May 17, 2012

Going to Soweto...

Monday was the beginning of the low and arduous journey to the Soweto Marathon, my first attempt at the distance. If you had spoken to me this time last year, it would have been the last thing on my mind. How quickly things change. I have gone from lazy though active in that I walk every where and am generally fidgety, drinking more than I should and eating very badly, to running 5-6 times a week and following a healthy eating plan, in a little under 12 months. I've gone from huffing and puffing through a 10km in 51:19 to powering through a half marathon in 1:35, and almost smelling that magical (for me at least), 40:XX or even 39:XX for a 10km. But that is for another time! Right now there is a bigger fish to fry that I approach with great excitement and equal measure.

Soweto Marathon route profile (image courtesy of
The plan is simple. No crash course program, but a long and methodical program that aims to condition my still young legs, both in a biological and running sense, to the rigours and toughness required to run the haloed 42.2 km distance, or 26.2 miles in archaic terminology! You can do the maths, 14 May 2012 is the start date, 4 November 2012 is the end date, a monumental 25 weeks. Thus no stone will remained unturned, and there is plenty of time for assessment and goal setting. At this point I'm not concerned about a target time/pace though I have, like I did with the half marathon, thought about a best case, a middling case and 'definitely need to beat this' case scenarios! This is big stuff though and the concept of running for 42.2 km still bends my mind in ways that no other physical endeavour has.

Is it too much too soon?

Will I hit the wall?

Am I strong enough?

Questions. Questions.

Anyway I do digress.

This is the summary of what my program entails. It's a five phase program and in a classical sense only 19 of the 25 weeks are proper marathon training with the first six weeks being base building. So it's just 1-3 weeks longer than regular 16-18 week programs.

  • Phase 1 Base Building (6 weeks). This will entail mostly easy runs and strides to lay down the endurance base necessary for the subsequent phases. 
  • Phase II: Repetitions (6 weeks). This comprise fast track repetitions (200m to 400m) on Tuesdays.  
  • Phase III: Intervals (6 weeks). This phase focuses on endurance speed sessions of 800m, 1000m, and 1200m on Tuesdays. These are high intensity sessions of no less than 3 minutes whose aim is to condition your leg muscles to run hard for longer periods.
  • Phase IV: Threshold training (4 weeks). This is the final sharpening phase in which you’ll run 800m or 1000m at an intense 5km pace for peak performance.
  • Phase V: Taper (3 weeks). This phase involves structured cutting back of both mileage and intensity to enable the body to recover and rebuild glycogen stores.
All of that of course involves tempo workouts, long runs and adequate recovery runs. I'll be doing assessment races at the end of each phase, 10km for Phase I-III and a half marathon in Phase IV (probably the City2City) to ensure I'm on the right track. Sometime in phase IV I will have an idea of what a realistic aim should be. I've played with the time predictors, noted the values but ultimately my body and mind (and the coach) will be the final judge of what I'll set out to do when, injuries and health permitting, I'm at the start line.

No comments:

Post a Comment