I was drinking beers with a couple of my running buddies Thursday at The Well – conveniently located two blocks down the street from my house. Our conversation turned to my Boulder Marathon training plan, AKA the massive mileage training plan. My friends think I’m nuts, although they are impressed my body is holding up to the stress. So am I. I completed my first 80 mile week today with an 18 miler on the LoBo Trail. I’m feeling the fatigue. Sometimes my knees buckle from weakness on my initial steps after standing up from a chair, but nothing feels on the verge of injury. More difficult than the physicality of running the extreme distance is making the time. I can squeeze in 60 miles easily enough but 80 miles is where time becomes a real factor. Thankfully Karen is cooking most of our dinners. I just show up hungry.
Steve asked me what my objective is with this massive mileage. I get the sense everyone thinks I’m still pushing myself as compensation for my cancer last year. I don’t think so. I did initially, consciously. I set my first race to be a marathon in order to have a meaningful challenge. And I had a little something to prove in the Bolder Boulder since my surgery caused me to miss the 2014 event. But I’m happy with my recovery and I’m over it. And I’m not trying to set some speed record. In fact, I suspect this distance is slowing me down. I do hope to run in the top of my range – 3:30 to 3:45 – but I’m not trying to PR.
I have two reasons for this plan. The first is that I recently read Running with the Buffaloes. That CU Cross Country team put in massive miles. Adam Goucher ran 100 mile weeks and went on to win at the NCAA Nationals. I wouldn’t call that book a great read, in fact it reads about like this blog. Chris Lear simply captures every workout of the season. But I have a tendency to get excited by sports stories. Shoot, I’m easily influenced by books. I do have some discipline. I read both Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto in College. Despite the liberal college setting, I thought they were both full of shit. Maybe it’s just sports stories that get me so excited. I made my plan immediately after reading about the CU Cross Country team.
My goal, my second reason, is that I hope this mileage will make me feel comfortable running the entire marathon distance. I begin to fade around 18 miles. Or 2.5 hours. Quick marathon math has you burning 3000 calories over the course. The typical marathon runner probably can’t store more than 2000 calories. Likely much less but this gives you around 1000 calorie deficit. And trust me, you can try eating ten 100 calorie gels during the race but your stomach can’t process that much in such a short time. So 18 miles, give or take, or 2.5 hours, is when many runners tend to bonk. I’ve bonked as early as 16 miles. My hope is that my body will adapt to the distance with this massive mileage to burn calories more efficiently during the run.
My previous training focus has been on nutrition and getting in at least one super long run (18 to 20 miles) on the weekend. I’ve had success with both. But running massive weekly mileage is something I’ve never done, not even back in college. I worked myself up to 70 mile weeks the summer before my final season and experienced decent success from that. I’ve always been smitten with the thought of running a 100 mile week. Problem is, I’m starting to doubt I can hold this plan. I just completed my first 80 mile week today with an 18 mile run and I’m exhausted. I’m not sure two weeks at 90 and then two weeks at 100 is viable. But I really want to try, I’m so close.
I’m thinking of modifying my plan. I’ll do 80 again next week per plan. Then only run a single week at 90 and a single week at 100 – rather than two weeks for each. After that, drop all the way back down to 60. This might keep me alive for race day. As much stink I raised in a previous blog challenging U-Curve studies, I actually believe in them. Drinking, running, everything in moderation. I saw my Chiropractor yesterday. I didn’t have any issues for him, and he didn’t find any, but this was a proactive, preventive maintenance component of my training plan.
Today’s run was brutal. 18 miles in blistering heat. I saw Jabe, Eve and Susan on the LoBo Trail around 3 miles. And Spot. Not sure how far they ran but Spot was feeling it. I drove directly to Inta Juice afterward and downed two 32 ounce smoothies with protein for an 800 calorie liquid lunch. I followed that up with a pedicure. Two absolutely brilliant post-run decisions. This photo above is of me last weekend on the CDT with Gray’s and Torreys in the background – which Brittany just summited yesterday. An active summer for all the Mahoneys.