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Marathon experiments

by | Mar 19, 2010 |

Most avid track fans know the four-year cycle of our sport.  We have the the Olympics every four years, as well as the World Track and Field Championships the year before and after each Olympic games.  That really only leaves one year of every four that is truly a rest year.  When I say rest year I really mean experimental year.  I was watching the World Indoor Championships on TV this past weekend and I saw so many people in different events. One thing that many people might do is go up or down in distance, or play with different tactics.  Another thing that many athletes do is experiment with different types of training.  I think for me I will try to experiment with training differently for the marathon this fall.  I have tried, after each of the four marathons I have run, to change something which could help me get better.  In my first marathon, I simply did not take in enough fuel and hit the wall.  In my second marathon I just had to do the best I could because I was injured, so the build-up was short but I was very “track fit” before the marathon training.  In my third marathon, the Olympic Games, I was not super fit before because of injury but I had a very good 12 weeks of marathon-specific training, but I had huge cramping problems in my calves.  In my last marathon I was very fit early on but peaked too soon and struggled with a nagging injury in the final weeks.  Even without the extreme humidity, as was the case in Beijing, I still had major calf cramping in the London Marathon last year.

So, to experiment this year before my fall marathon, I will do much more work which is similar to what I did going into the World Half Marathon Championships.  Obviously I will have to do more specific marathon training as well, but I think the largest contributing factor to the cramping was lack of any speed training.  Both those previous marathons went out very fast, and all the long workouts I did were great for building stregth and fuel storage but every workout started a little slower and worked down to marathon pace or a little faster.  There was still some electrolyte washout problems, which we have worked on with a sports nutritionist, but since the cramping was targeted in my calves, I believe there was some specific muscular fatigue that needs to be addressed through speed training being incorperated into the marathon cycle.  It worked very well in the Half Marathon Championships, and I think it will help me as well in the marathon in the fall.  My racing is on a completely different level than before; now I just need to get the training right for the marathon.  Let me know your thoughts…