Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Chasing the Unicorn: My Way

One of my main goals for 2015 is qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I need a sub 3:30, but will try for 3:25 or faster. Until April 25, I'll be chasing the unicorn (the Boston race "mascot"). As we know, unicorns can be elusive. Some people dream about unicorns, but never attempt a capture. Others try all their lives and never catch one. Not sure I'll wrangle one on April 25, but if I see one within my grasp during those last few miles, it's going down!

Over the last few months, maybe even the entire year, I've been thinking about training plans for Boston. Just in the last few weeks, I was settling on the Hansons Marathon method. It's an interesting and innovative plan. Long runs max out at 16 miles, with speed work on Tuesdays and tempo runs (marathon pace) on Thursdays. The difference between this plan and other "normal" marathon training plans intrigued me. It felt right. I could follow this plan for 4 months.

Unfortunately, I ran a couple of trail ultras at the end of the year. The Tunnel Hill 50 miler in November, and the December Winter Solstice 30 miler, got me to rethink what I enjoy. I prefer trails to roads. I prefer slow jaunts to fast runs. I don't run every day. I don't like detailed training plans. If I impose structure, it's usually heart rate related, not connected to mileage or paces. Basically, I want to do what I enjoy--and I don't enjoy following a plan. I especially don't enjoy a plan that has very specific speed work paces and mileage goals. So, my plan for the next 4 months is...no plan.

I'm not stupid. I realize that the same old lackadaisical training "program" will not get me to Boston. You can't catch unicorns without a plan. But you need to be stealthy. Unicorns are easily spooked. My plan will look very similar to my usual unstructured training...except I KNOW WHAT I NEED. I need long runs. I need some kind of speed training. I need hills. I need to remain injury-free. So, I'm going to run a lot of longer, hilly, trails. My initial speedwork will be fartlek style. Kind of sneaky speed. I'll charge the hills when I feel like it. Speedwork in disguise. I'll develop endurance, stamina, and strength. I hope that will translate into speed. I "only" need to maintain a 7:49 pace for a 3:25 marathon finish. An even 8:00 pace gets me a 3:30.

Honestly, I'm not that motivated to run the Illinois marathon. Twenty-six miles of roads is not my strong suit. But I am motivated to get in great shape between now and Apil 25. I hope that's enough. I'll have two tests between now and the marathon: Last Man Standing (early March) and Clinton Lake 30 Miler on March 28. Both will be excellent opportunities to get in ultra distances on the trails. They'll both test my endurance and will power. I'll need both of those traits for a successful marathon.

Time to chase the unicorn...my way. Wish me luck.

No comments: