In this post, I will talk about my preparation for my second marathon and share some data on my training.
I ran my first marathon in May 2023 with a time of 4 hours and 56 minutes. Finishing a marathon is not a simple feat, but still I felt upset with the outcome. I think I was too ambitious about my goal of 3 hours and 30 minutes, and too optimistic about my fitness level back then. Leading up to the race, my weekly training volume was only 40-50 km spread across three runs. During the first hour of the race I realized it was not enough at all. Here is how my heart rate and pace looked like during the race:
Honestly, I do not know what I was thinking in the first 40 minutes. Running at a 5:00/km pace would be enough to achieve a 3 hours 30 minutes finish time. When I realized I had not trained enough, it was too late and slowing down (having to slow down) and taking walk breaks only prolonged the agony. Here is a breakdown of each kilometer split in relation to my heart rate, the measurements were taken by my Garmin watch:
Pace and heart rate all over the place! The average of all the splits is marked by the black cross.
After the disappointing result, I wanted to train again, and this time more properly. I got a chest strap heart rate monitor to ensure more accurate and timely heart rate measurements. I also wanted to run at an easier pace this time, around 140 bpm. For my first marathon, I was running at 156 bpm during the “easy” runs.
I then signed up for the Madison Marathon on November 12. That meant I had 26 weeks to train. With most marathon training plans spanning 16 to 20 weeks, I had plenty of time. I found a marathon training plan online. After some mile-to-km conversions and rounding up the numbers, I ended up with a previous version of the table below. Although rarely, I had to skip runs or adjust the daily volume. After 26 weeks my training looked like this:
|Week number||Weekly volume||Monday||Tuesday||Wednesday||Thursday||Friday||Saturday||Sunday|
|1||37||10 e||10 e||9 e||8 1:2interval||-||-||-|
|2||48||6 r||10 tempo||6.5 e||6.5 e||6 r||13, last 2 mp||-|
|3||55||7 e||10 tempo||9 e||6 interval||7 r||16||-|
|4||39||-||-||9 e||9 e||-||-||21 race|
|5||57||-||10 tempo||9 e||8 interval||9 e||20, last 1 mp||-|
|6||57||9 e||10 tempo||8 interval||9 e||21||-||-|
|7||70||10 e||10 tempo||10 e||9 interval||10 e||21 long||-|
|8||70||-||12 tempo||12 e||12 e||12 e||22 long||-|
|9||77||12 e||9 tempo||12 e||9 interval||12 e||23 long||-|
|10||80||13 e||10 e||12 tempo||11 e||11 e||23 long||-|
|11||40||-||11 e||11 e||11 e||-||-||7 e|
|12||72||12 e||12 e||12 e||12 e||12 e||12 e||-|
|13||85||4 tempo 9 e||13 e||13 e||11 tempo||10 e||-||25 long|
|14||85||13 e||14 tempo||13 e||-||-||30 long||15 e|
|15||56||15 e||-||-||11 e||15 e||15 e||-|
|16||90||13 e||14 tempo||13 e||-||26 long||13 e||11 e|
|17||82||-||13 e||7||15 e||15 e||-||32 long|
|18||68||-||14 e||13 e||15 e||14 tempo||12 e||-|
|19||101||-||13 interval||14 e||14 e||14 e||13 tempo||33 long|
|20||102||-||15 e||15 tempo||15 e||13 interval||14 e||30 long|
|21||50||-||-||11 e 11 e||-||14 interval||14 e||-|
|22||104||-||15 e||14 interval||15 e||15 e||15 e||30 long 2 race|
|23||106||-||15 e||14 interval||15 e||15 e||15 e||32 long 5 race|
|24||80||-||12 e||10 e||13 e||12 interval||12 e||21 long|
|25||38||-||10 e||10 e 6 race||10 e||-||8 e||-|
|26||11||-||-||6 e||-||-||5 shakeout||42 race 1 e|
- “e”: Easy runs where I tried to keep my heart rate below 136.
- “Long”: Typically longer than 20 km and heart rate below 145.
- “Tempo”: Between 5:00-5:30/km pace.
- “Interval”: Splits of 1 km, 1.25 km, 400 m with 1:1 run:rest.
- “Race”: Race tempo, meaning 5:00/km pace.
I think having 6 30+ km long runs in this training phase was crucial. During these runs, I gained a better understanding of my body’s cues, e.g. knowing precisely when to drink water, when to take gels, ideal frequency for both… In contrast, I had only one such run for my first marathon.
By the end of my training, I logged a total of 1773 km. Here is how the distribution looks like:
And finally, here is how the 1773 km look like with respect to pace and heart rate.
Half Marathon #2 represents the half marathon race I completed in Seattle in the fourth week of training. I ran it in 1 hour and 44 minutes, setting a new PB by one minute despite a very hilly course (358 m elevation gain). I placed third in my age group and earned myself a commemorative award. The improvement compared to the first marathon is strikingly evident: The splits are closely grouped together. It becomes even more evident with the graph below:
I finished my second marathon in 3 hours and 25 minutes with an average pace of 4:52/km and average heart rate of 174 bpm. Compared to Half Marathon #2, there is a 0:10/km pace and 10 bpm heart rate improvement despite the distance being twice as long. Seeing this improvement, and the stark difference in the graphs below (top: #2, bottom: #1) motivates me to run more.
Here is what I am planning to do after taking a 2-3 weeks of rest:
- I will ramp up my weekly volume gradually and reach 80 km per week.
- I will do my easy runs at an even easier pace, around 127 bpms.
- I will see how having 1 interval and 1 tempo sessions each week affects my body.
- I will work on maintaining a steady effort for longer time. This will make the gaps between my splits smaller during the race.
- I will aim for a marathon in Fall 2024 with 2 hours 55 minutes finishing time.
- In the meantime, I will do some strength workouts.
Some time soon, I will also write about my opinions on “The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing” by Philip Maffetone.