My legs were feeling dead tired as I ran what was supposed to be an easy 5 miles this early morning. Having just completed my first week of training using a plan written for me by coach and runner Max King I already see the great benefits of having such an aid in place.
I am currently focused on training for my next race the Eugene Marathon. As an amateur runner with no formal training background, not even at the high school level as I was deprived of that opportunity as the school I went to had no track team while I attended but I digress. I’ve for the most part been winging it as best I can. I came into distance running late in life as I ran my first half trail marathon in 2009 and first road marathon in 2010. Since then I’ve been hooked and now run ultra marathons as well. However my gradual improvements in running fitness, racing times and increased distances have been haphazard. As I never considering myself a “serious” runner with a lot of disposable income, I’ve done the best I can by learning as many do. Reading magazines, books, blogs and online articles. I’ve gone to free local running group gatherings, free talks given by local running greats at shoe stores and other venues. I have no doubt learned much but that can take me only so far.
This year I’ve decided to limit how many races I will do and instead will focus on doing a few of them as best I can. My goal is to push myself to trying to get closer to breaking the 3 hour finish time in the marathon, complete and improve upon a 50 mile race I did last year and finish up with running my first 100 mile ultra. I had some ideas on how to train for these endevors, but I also was a bit confused on how to proceed. How does one focus on a road marathon and try for a personal record and yet not lose any necessary fitness for running mountain ultras? I didn’t want to sacrifice a race later in the year to do well in the first one on the schedule. Fortunately for me I live in a town where ample accomplished runners live and train. One of them is Max King. For those who may not be familiar with his running accomplishments lets just say he’s a jack of all trades who not only can compete in events like the Olympic trials for the marathon, run flat 100k road races, race in 50k, 50 mile and 100 mile ultras, but he’s competitive in every race he runs and often comes out on top. Max offers a free weekly speed work session open to all abilities called TPG (Tuesday Performance Group). A few weeks ago after attending such a work out I approached him and presented my dilema. He generously started rattling off all kinds of suggestions and good advice to me on how to train for these three very different races and my brain was quickly swirling with words like tempo runs, hill work, locations to train, what to focus on now as opposed to later, etc. I quickly realized I wasn’t absorbing all he was sharing to me. So then it dawned on me to ask him if he’d be willing to write up a training plan for my marathon race and he agreed. Boy I didn’t realize what I was getting into. I’ve run weekly tempos but not multi week ones before. And this last weekend he had me running hills one day followed by doing a 13 mile progression run finising the last third at marathon pace the next day. Whew that was tough! But now I clearly see the benefit of seeking advice from an experienced runner/coach. These type of weekly workouts are not what I would have prescribed for myself. Although he is not coaching me day to day I already can see how much better prepared I will be for the race by having a focused plan tailored to my abilities and goals. If I could afford a coach to work with me week in and week out I would, but at least this is a step in that direction for me. So those of you who have never tried seeking out a coach I’d highly recommend doing so. Even if your financial resources limit you even the most basic level of coaching will help make you a better runner. Now onwards to another week of challenging work outs. Happy trails!