Thoughts and Reflections on Preparing for the LA Marathon

Race day is almost upon us. One week from now I’ll be cruising along the LA Marathon course.

To say that I’m excited about the LA Marathon is a massive understatement. I’ve watched the marathon for the past three years and I’ve wanted to run LA for several years. Coming off the Long Beach Marathon in October my body felt strong and my schedule opened up enough to allow for training. I took the rest of October and November off of serious training (although I did still run occasionally). In December I made the official decision to run LA. Luckily I still had a decent amount of running endurance left over from my last training cycle.

Yes, this photo is getting posted again. Deal with it.

I didn’t really dig into my marathon training until the first week of January. January through early March isn’t that much time to prepare for a full marathon. However, I was able to start my long runs at 10 miles and hopped right in to relatively strong mileage. I think running two marathons in reasonably close proximity helped my training. I knew what to expect and my body felt great the entire time. Maybe it was the back to back training cycles, but my body felt more comfortable with the discomfort of training. I knew when I needed to snack so I wouldn’t get hangry, my hips ached less and the quality of my runs improved. Overall, the whole experience has felt very low key.

Throughout training I was able to keep a relatively consistent schedule which looked a little something like this:

Monday: Long runs (between 10-20 miles in length, adding two miles during building weeks, 2 step back weeks with lower mileage)

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Tempo Run (5 miles or 7 miles, easy warm up mile, faster miles with run club, easy cool down mile. If I had to guess my average pace was 9 min/miles)

Thursday: Easy Run (usually between 4-8 miles)

Friday: cross train/speed (800’s, building in length, all done sub 4:00)/ rest

Saturday: cross train/speed/ rest

Sunday: cross train/speed/ rest

Friday through Sundays I kept flexible. Between the three days I attempted to get in cross training, speed, and a rest day. I was able to consistently get in my speed and rest day. Crossing training wise I alternated between spinning, occasionally weight sessions and hiking. There were a couple weeks where I ended up with an extra rest day. Three rest days while marathon training is kind of a lot but I’m going to be honest, it improves the quality of my long runs.

Hiking.

Within the running world there is a conventional wisdom about how you have to train and sometimes it’s easy to get sucked in comparing training and worrying about getting in enough miles. However, I’m never going to be a runner who easily runs 60 miles a week. My body just isn’t built that way. The past two marathon training cycles I’ve struggled to reach the 40 mile mark. I’ve been able to achieve that goal by incorporating biking. My bike was stolen last fall (out of my locked garage, don’t get me started, I’m still annoyed) so I generally ran lower mileage throughout training. I may have run fewer miles, but I had more weeks of higher mileage. I ran 4, 30+ mile weeks, maxing out at 35. I felt great the whole time. My paces were faster. I took fewer walk breaks on my long runs, and I incorporated speed work and tempo runs throughout training. It worked for me.

~

I’m in full on taper mode now, which feels great. I am in a moment of life transition right now. I start a new job tomorrow which will help me keep my mind off tapering and hopefully keep any marathon anxiety at bay. I am so excited to finally make the trek from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica that I haven’t put too much thought into my goals. My overall goal is just to enjoy the run. I don’t think I’m going to do another marathon for at least the next year so I want to soak in the experience as much as possible. This marathon in particular means so much to me. I started running in West LA during a tough time over 4 years ago. My main goal is to enjoy every moment of this run, especially the final miles in my old stomping grounds.

But hippy dippy feelings about running aside: I would love to PR (obviously). I ran Long Beach in 4:50, and was pacing to a 4:45 finish until mile 20. I think I may have a PR in me if only because I added in more speed work, I’m familiar with the final miles, and this training cycle built on my last training cycle. If I can’t PR, I would like to break 5:00, and if I can’t do that I would like to beat my Chicago Marathon time (5:22). I would also like to run the entire final mile. Perhaps I can do it this time without the assistance of other runners on the course.

I’m ready and excited. More than anything, I cannot wait to feel the magical marathon feeling. I cannot wait to challenge myself and reach the goal. It is a truly addicting and intoxicating feeling.

I’m ready to run my city.

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