Monday, November 28, 2016

Racing 2017, two ways

I'm starting to plan my 2017 race calendar and my grand return to marathon running. Sounds crazy until you realise that 2017 is in five weeks! But I've run into a dilemma and need to pick between the wiser of two strategies.

Strategy 1: Do two marathons next year: Providence in May and Baystate in October, with the first as a dust-the-cobwebs-off warmup and the second as the Big Hairy Audacious Goal Race. That's two 18-week cycles with nearly two months of #runwhatever in between.

- Cost. If I sign up early for each race, 2 marathons = less than $100 apiece. Sure, we'll probably be overnighting in town for at least one or the other, but the non-race hours are all family time and we'll spend that time exploring the area.
- Providence gives me the chance to remind myself how to run a marathon. I used to know this. I don't necessarily want my goal marathon to be my first marathon in three years!

- Time: do I have the time to train for a spring marathon? I suppose I'll have to bite the bullet and do it one way or another. I'm going to have to find the time to train for a fall marathon, anyway. For us back-of-the-pack folks, a 20-miler takes more than three hours. THREE HOURS. In what universe do I have three uninterrupted hours on a Saturday morning? Do I want to inflict this on myself and my family TWICE?

Strategy 2: Develop some speed: Race a bunch of 5ks (Craicfest, Spring Classic, BAA 5k etc) in winter and early spring, 10ks, and a half (Providence or Run to Remember) in spring. Then train through summer for Baystate in October.

- I'm really bad at finding that extra racing gear on my own. I'm sh*t at time trials. If I don't have a hare and a free t-shirt, I'm the most unmotivated runner you'll ever meet.
- I reckon I have a couple of short-distance PRs in me, aided (ahem) by the good old cold-weather discount. My 5K PR is almost three years old. My 10K PR is so old it's ready for kindergarten. A little short sharp racing might give me a few more things to feel smug about.

- Time. Part of the reason I don't race much is all the downtime. You have to get to the start line, wait around for the race start, finish, pick up a drink and a snack, extricate yourself from the crowd, and get home. In a 5K the downtime generally turns out to be longer than the actual time spent running.
- Cost. If I'm late or lazy, all those registrations add up. $$$
- I have a sneaking suspicion that to train for a marathon, I have to train for a marathon. In other words, my training should be distance-specific.

Other stuff:
I'm actually thinking of using a 50K plan for the October marathon, as I always wind up slightly undertrained - so if I pretend to train for a 50K I might actually be properly trained for a marathon?

My biggest problem, in the past, has been cramping in the same muscles every single time, at or around the 35k mark. Is that a strength or imbalance issue? An undertraining issue? I doubt it's a pacing issue as my pacing has always been pretty conservative (10:00 miles during a marathon, on track for a 4:30 finish). Believe me, I've already been faithfully doing my MYRTLs. #teamgluteusmedius

What do you think? Do I have any alternatives to these two strategies?