Friday, December 9, 2011

QCIM3 42km: Post-Mortem

Let us strive to improve ourselves, for we cannot remain stationary; one either progresses or retrogrades. ---Mme. Du Deffand

Last Sunday's marathon was a humbling experience. It just shows that I have a LOT to work on in terms of getting ready not only physically but mentally for a 42km race.

My office work occassionally works on stats. To go over exactly where I went wrong in QCIM3, I had to go not on what happened last December 4 but, rather, I had to go back to the past 16 weeks of training for this race. Below is a table that I've summarized:

T = tempo runs
MP = Marathon-Pace runs

It would be good to have another race to compare this with. Fortunately, I ran the Condura 42km last February wherein I finished my still-standing 5:23 PR. Below was my training summary for that race:

Comparing the weekly long run average distance, my Condura training fared just a bit better, about 2km more on average versus QCIM3 training.

I had more tempo run workouts in Condura (10) versus QCIM3 (6). If I had run more 6:30-ish/km pace during that 16-week span then maybe running 7:00/km on race day would have felt more comfortable.

But the stat that was very telling on both tables was the average weekly total km. QCIM3 training totaled 529km while Condura training was 120km more(640km)!

More miles equals better marathon performance. A very obvious wake-up call for me. Averaging 33km (or even 40km) per week for a marathon will not be enough if I want to finish 42km below 5 hours. I may need to up the miles per week for my next marathon.


That next marathon, marathon #4, might have to be delayed even though I'm itching to redeem myself for a sub-5 PR. I have a lot to work on my aerobic capacity, which, according to references I've read, is the force needed 99% of the time when running a marathon. Looking back at my past 3 marathons wherein, at the 2nd half of the race, I was walking like I was tied to a bulldozer behind my back, my aerobic capacity needs work ---a LOT of work.

So, probably for the next 3 months, I will try to improve on it by going back to Maffetone-paced training which I only did for 3 weeks (or even trying out the Hadd method). Both approaches are focused on improving aerobic capacity by doing all/most runs at a comfortable HR/pace.

I'll keep you posted once I resume running next week. Let's see how this'll all go.

In the meantime, I still have Sat and Sun for rest and recovery. Enjoying the week off after a year of training and racing has been grand.

But, I'd rather be running.


  1. The indicators were very clear as early as a month before the race. Your training logs said so, and your racing times said so. What is lacking was the appreciation to read them and understand what they are saying.

    Also, a 40k/week is not a solid. Couple this with erratic mileage and intensities, doing a sub-5hr 42k is not possible. Add to that the lack of proper race pace training, LT workouts for the target race pace, the results are not a surprise.

    QCIM is also hilly to a degree. The proper training for that must also be factored. If I were to train for a sub-5hr 42k, I'd prepare at around 4:45-4:50 target time to make sure that I have enough elbow room.

    There is also a failure to heed the HR as a tool to find out if a sub 5 hour 42k is feasable. An insurance would be to run at 4:55hr target pace at 75-80% of HRmax for 16-20k once a week for at least 3 weeks (pref 4-6 weeks)total. If this target is met, one can be confident, barring some unforseen problems, that the target time can be met.

    In summary, the lesson is not in the race day itself. In fact, the lesson and signals your body, your equipment are telling you, including your log shows you are not going to do a sub 5 hour 42k. At best, the indications are a 5:30hr, w/c is basically what you got at 5:35ish.

    To do a sub 5hr 42k, you need to run your 21k consistently about 4-6 weeks b4 42k race date at around 2:20hr. Your 10k best should be a solid 1 hour or better. Your weekly Km should be at least 55k/wk, pref 60-65k with mixed tempos, about 8-12 weeks b4 42k race date. There is no need to go 32k or even 28k per long run. One need only to cover 2:15-2:30 hour run at 65-75% hrmax for this duration regardless of distance, at least 2x within the 12-16 final weeks, and no more 2hr+ runs with about 3-4 weeks to race date. The magic is not in the distance. It is in the time and effort spent in that long run.

    It is the proper mix of LT, speed, Long run, that matters with about 8 weeks to go. If done correctly, it is possible to hit one's target times with confidence. Why? Because you did it in practice and you have clear indications of what is possible.

    Remember - you have your logs, your HR, your distances, and times. Use them and do not ignore what they are saying. In the end, if you cannot sustain a sub 5hour pace for at least 16-20k with 3-2 weeks b4 race date, then you won't likely make the time.

    This is not a 100% guarantee of success, but no doubt, these indicators are solid feedback your body is telling you. Much better than guesswork or a RAH-RAH feel good motivational speech, which may have no bearing on how you will actually perform.

    Good luck on your future training and efforts to break 5hours! God bless!

    -Running Conscience

    1. Thanks for your inputs. They have been duly noted. :)