Tune Up For the Marathon by Alternating Long Runs with Races

In my last post I highlighted my training plans leading up to the Malibu Marathon in mid-November. After nailing a couple decent 22 milers, a couple 17s and a 19, I felt I had developed plenty of endurance for the marathon. Now what I need to do is stay healthy and starting tuning up my speed for the distance.

Since I don't have the time or desire to do speedwork on the track (admittedly this would be good for me to do, but I know my body and schedule and don't feel I can commit myself to doing this weekly), the next best thing is to find some local races.

My goal in these races is not necessarily to go all out and go as fast as I possibly can. To do that would mean I would have to lay off the training for a day or two before each race. And I don't want to do that in the middle of training for a marathon.  The goal is to use the race as speedwork, test how my body feels running faster than I normally run and get used to running in a race.

I would prefer to run 10Ks and half marathons every other weekend, alternating long runs on non-race weekends. But life does get in the way...kids' soccer games, birthday parties, etc. So I did find a 5K race this past Sunday, a half marathon in another week, then another 5K in 3 weeks.

My 5K on Sunday went slightly better than expected. My goal was to run anything under 18 minutes. I ran 17:34 and won the race outright, which was a lot of fun! For my efforts I won a $40 gift card at a local restaurant. Not a bad return on investment!

My favorite book on marathon training, Hal Higdon's "Marathon: The Ultimate Training and Racing Guide," has a performance prediction table that indicates a 17:34 5K equates to a possible 2:49:22 marathon time if you do the proper marathon training and a fast course, good weather and a rested runner.

So it looks like I'm on the right track with my training and am crossing my fingers the weather continues to be courteous. (Unfortunately, forecasts for this weekend indicate Santa Ana winds and major heat...gulp!).