Like previous years, I really enjoy using my birthday as a excuse to celebrate the life that endurance training provides. Though unlike some past years, my workout this year was prescribed based on my training plan, not necessarily by choice ;) In this case, it was the marathon race simulation run.
Most marathon plans don't really tell you to do much else other than run long and slower for your long runs. The basic concept in those plans is that you are strictly getting in time on your feet and building your aerobic capacity. But what puzzled me was always the great unknown of what pace do you run in your race? Nobody really tells you that. Most of those same plans tell you to run some of your shorter stuff at or faster than your "goal" pace and the long runs to be somewhere between 60s-90s slower than goal pace. This approach is fine for most people, except for the one aspect of what to do in the actual race. How did you determine that "goal" pace? Just because I want to run 4:00/mile, doesn't mean I can train for it as my goal pace.
Plus, if all your long runs are at a much slower pace, your muscles won't be able to handle the stress of going harder AND longer on race day without some significant breakdown (ie crampage). This is where the marathon race simulation run comes into play. It allows you to run closer to race day paces over a long distance to ensure your pacing is accurate, nutrition is solid, and muscles are able to sustain longer, harder efforts. Inside Marathon Nation, we include some faster pacing (based on our current fitness, not an arbitrary "goal" number!) in each of our long runs, but the Race Simulation is the key workout building up to the race.
There are several varieties of ways to execute the Race Simulation (see Race Sim link above), but mine was broken into 18 miles of:
- 6 miles @ 30s slower than goal pace
- 9 miles @ goal pace
- 3 miles @ faster than goal pace
By the end of the run, I was feeling pretty confident. I nailed my pacing by running pretty consistently over the course of the whole run, which included quite a few hills, whereas my race will be primarily flat. I couldn't help but just think that other than doing a long distance race, there aren't too many other great ways to celebrate your birthday. For me, this is simply an expression of the endurance lifestyle that I live.
Oh and don't worry...I did also find time to actually celebrate my birthday too. After some time focusing on recovery and getting cleaned up, Rebecca took me over to the VA Wine Showcase, where we proceeded to celebrate in a more traditional way!