Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My recipe for BQ success

Over the last couple of days, I've been thinking alot about how my BQ in Missoula this past weekend came about, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that I basically just threw all conventional marathoning wisdom aside and still managed to pull through.

I religiously followed a Pfitz 18 week plan topping out at 100 miles in a week while preparing for the Colorado Marathon on May 4. The result: I crashed and burned hardcore, missing the BQ by a solid 8 minutes. After that debacle, I loosely followed Pfitz's recommendations for running multiple marathons and designed a 5 week long schedule to prepare for the Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon. I always expected DMTM to be a training run, so was plenty happy when I ran it easy and came away with a 3:36:55 and an undamaged body. Then, the real strategery began. I decided the day after DMTM to ditch Pfitz in favor of Daniels and, having just bought his book, crafted a 15 week long plan that would use Missoula as a training run and culminate with a BQ attempt at Roughrider in September. Although I knew that I wanted to try and BQ in Missoula, I wasn't counting on Mother Nature to cooperate, so designed my schedule assuming the worst case weather in Missoula. As you know by now, the Missoula weather actually turned out perfect and so did the race.

This is a mystery to me, since my training between Colorado and Missoula wasn't exactly what I would expect the training regime leading up to a BQ effort to look like. In that 10 week period, I ran only 4 long runs, one of them being DMTM. The other three were 16, 17, and 18 miles, so DMTM was my only run of 20 miles or more. I did only 3 speedwork sessions in addition to 3 shorter races (a 5K, a 4 miler and a 10K). I didn't do any tempo work (unless you count the 10K) and the only marathon pace run I did was the Tuesday before Missoula and I ran only 3 miles at MP during that workout. My weekly mileage topped out at 74, two weeks before Missoula. In the second to last week before Missoula, I did both a speedwork session and ran a pretty hard effort 10K (where I posted my 2nd fastest 10K time on a hard course). I really only truly tapered for one week before Missoula, as opposed to the usual three weeks. A vast majority of my miles between Colorado and Missoula were done at an easy pace, about 1.5 to 2 minutes per mile slower than my Missoula marathon pace.

So, I toed the start line in Frenchtown last Sunday with a body that had very little feel for the pace I was about to expect it to run, not much recent endurance work, and not as much rest as I usually give it before a marathon. And look what happened. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, it all came together at my third marathon in as many months. I probably couldn't replicate my training "strategy" for Missoula if I tried, but that's alright because I don't need to. Whatever the hell I did, it worked, and I guess that's all that really matters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


First off, congrats on your Missoula BQ...awesome.

Re: your befuddlement about why it came together without as many recent long runs or fast tempo training runs, I think it actually makes sense, and lends credence to the need for a longer taper than people normally get before marathons.

The way I see it, Colorado was a last long fast training run after the grueling work up to 100 mi/week, then Deadwood was the last long hill/trail power run at almost-marathon goal pace, then some medium-long, slow runs and easy short runs led up to the Missoula Magic...your mind just wasn't putting it all together as you were doing it, but your body responded to that particular formula of training. As Kierkegaard once wrote, "life must be lived forwards, but understood backwards" (or something to that effect).

And finally, as you yourself say, that unforgiving beast Mother Nature was nice to you, despite all the negative things you say about her constantly...

Congrats again