Thursday, March 20, 2008

To Marathon or Not to Marathon, Revisited

I just wanted to come back to Mr. P's post mostly because of some of the comments. I can say that I did do two marathons and one ultra, before my first IM. I have now done four IMs and have had terrible "runs" on two, meaning I felt like crap, and two runs that were comfortable even if not speedy.

Like others, I agree that a stand alone marathon hurts more than a marathon at the end of an IM. I had experienced friends tell me that in advance and so I just trusted in their collective experience and didn't worry about it.

So here is my departure, comments to the effect of not doing a marathon during the course of training for an IM…not even in the same year as an IM. I'm puzzled as to why that would be the case because I have heard it so many times. Here are my thoughts.

Recovery - good reason but how long exactly does it take to recover and how thoroughly are you trying to recover?

Performance – sure, you are unlikely to be at peak performance if you show up "over-trained" but what kind of peak performance are you looking for? I always have time goals but they end up taking a back seat to my goals of finishing and having a good time. I can't divine any importance regarding the time difference between my 14:20ish PR and my 15:50ish fiasco. What if I got what would be a dream time for me of something in the low 12s or even a sub 12? Well, if I did pull off a sub 12 I would probably obsessively follow every training rule to see if I could "shave" another TWO HOURS off my time so I could pretty much be guaranteed a slot at Kona.

Avoidance of injury – excellent reason…however you don't need to be racing to get injured, heck, you don't even need to be training.

Time and cost – as far as I'm concerned the best reasons, let's face it we did not choose the cheapest nor most time efficient sport.

Personally, I am doing a shameful amount of marathons and beyond this year, enough even to embarrass me, and the only thing I think I will really GET out of it is maybe the ability to more happily plod along if my IM does go awry. On the other hand I did just cut almost an hour off my marathon PR and about 45 minutes off my 38 mile PR so the running is doing something.

So, why not do a marathon in the lead up to an IM…why not a few…what are your reasons?


Supalinds said...

I believe the recovery time can be up to 3 weeks, maybe longer for some. I remember someone telling me once that to fully recover from a marathon you should take off as many days as miles you ran. 26 days. But I never followed that logic after my marathons.

All I know is when I asked my coach if I should do a marathon April 19th, before CDA, his no was so resounding you could hear it in China. I took his advice w/out asking questions.

S. Baboo said...

Right, I hear that a lot, my coach said...but then I wonder what the coach has in mind. Are the coach's goals and concerns the same as the athlete's?

Like, what if their goal is to put the athlete through what may be an optimal training plan and the athlete really doesn't care and just wants to collect experiences...just wondering out loud here.

Bigun said...

for someone who's focus is completeing thier first IM, then I'm gonna say the Mary is a bad idea. Recovery is all of 2 weeks, maybe 3, Taper before hand is 1 week or 2 for some folks, and the injury risk is greater in the accomplishment (or sickness from the depressed immune system).

Focus on the task at hand. IM. CdA. are an exception to any rule. And that's a compliment.

Fe-lady said...

Talk to me when you are in your 50s about marathon training and injury.
Also, recovery takes MUCH longer, and I will be the last to admit that...but it does!

Hope your biomechanics are better than mine tho.

And when I WAS training for marathons specifically, I was training for time and never went over 4 hours-because that was my focus.

I think throwing an IM in the middle there would have
mucked it up somehow.

SWTrigal said...

For me, I am paying my coach to give me advice and he says no way-you may hurt yourself, etc. which is fine with me because I really don't like the stand alone marathon idea. So we are in agreement on that one. But I do not come from a running background and I really do think that makes a difference-Runners could do it maybe more easily and without the bad consequences. I am also an "older" athlete who probably needs more time for my body to recover (I hate to admit that one!)Now I could do a marathon swim-would that count?

Pete said...

Great topic. a discussion I have with many athletes I coach. Recovery is dependent to the individual. Some people recover in 2 weeks onthers take a month. The bottom line is that the taper, recovery and lack of focus paid to swimming, bike and strength (no matter what you say it always takes away from something else) it isn't worth the loss of time. to be continued.........

Pete said...

Part II.. How does it affect performance. I don't think anyone has done a study on this so these are just my thoughts. The Ironman is one of the hardest single day multisport events. You want your body to be well trained and well rested. These are all well covered points so I won't beat them to death. I was taken back by your comment.. my personal goals always take a back seat to finsihing and having a good time. In my opinion from coaching many Ironman finishers there comes a point where you need to decide how bad do I want my goal. This seperates those who achieve good times and those who, and I don't mean to offend you,.. say .. I just want to finish and have a good time. It is a cop out. By now you know you can finish. Your next goal is to dedicate yourself 100% to your 12 hour goal. I don't know how you train but if you are running marathons in your Ironman year and you have 14+ hour times I would say you need single focus on one event. Dedicate yourself to the 12 hour goal and put your time and energy into achieving that goal.

momo said...

hey, pete, thank you for your insight on the marathon topic, however, i feel i have to weigh in a bit here...

after having completed two im's (imfl '06/imcda '07), i agree, i know that i can finish. and - to be fair - finish decently as my times were within 10 mintues of eachother at 13:10 and 13:19.

however, at this point in my life - i am a fulltime wife and mother of two busy kids i tote around all day to this and that activity, plus i have a fulltime job - the time commitment to take my 13 hour finish to a 12 hour finish is just a little more than i have right now. so, while i know that 12 or sub 12 could be in my future - should i desire that later on - it is just not possible today with all the other commitments i have.

but, personally, i am ok with that - because carving out 12 - 20 hours per week to train takes a whole lot of juggling in my life as it is.

and, honestly, i WANT it to be fun. that IS my goal and i think its an ok one. just mho.

Anonymous said...

Momo: I'm not sure where my statement differs from what you write? I never said anything about not having fun. My point is that you can't (or shouldn't) have conflicting goals. Don't talk about getting to 12 hours and then do things (i.e. marathon) that impact your ability to get there. I commend you on being a mother, wife, employee and ironman finisher. You have my utmost respect. My wife travels 3 states, has 3 kids (me being one of them) and has completed 6 Ironmans including Kona twice. She has fun and trains less than 20hours a week. It can be done. Pete (can't log in for some reason so I had to go anon. sorry