Friday, June 18, 2010


Today I get to write about the final frontier in marathon training, advanced marathoning. This stage is definitely not for everyone as the sacrifice from a time and body perspective are substantial and just might not be a fit or a choice you want to make in your life. That is perfectly ok but I do want to give you some insight into these folks in case you aspire to be one or you are just curious.

You are most likely an advanced marathoner if:

  1. Your passion is probably more of an obsession now
  2. You have run several marathons or you are a top competitor in a shorter event and are moving up to the marathon.
  3. You are a bit of a “track geek”…you can reel off top runner’s names and their respective performance.
  4. You would rather or at least you regularly make choices to go to bed at 9pm instead of going out with friends/family/neighbors so that you will be fresh for your am run.
  5. 6am or earlier runs do not bother you any more as you have become used to them
  6. Your family and neighbors constantly remind you how lean you are and try to feed you more
  7. You have become more concerned about your sleep and diet than ever before
  8. You have honed your stalking skills using Athlinks and AthleticCore in a effort to better understand your training partners and competition
  9. Back to back to back weeks of 70+ miles does not scare you anymore
  10. Despite all the above, you LOVE what you are doing and crave more!

Sounds fun? In a sick way, it truly is but there can be a tough balance when you put so much focus and energy into a sport. So how do you get there?

Having a goal is the top priority. You need to have a goal that pushes you to do a 14 mile run at 5:30am in a pouring cold rain because in the big picture, you know this will get you where you want to be. A very close second is consistency. Running is not about any one workout or even one good week. It is about weeks of weeks of good consistent training. That means you can’t checkout for a few days. Every day you are working towards your goal.

Don’t over-do it! Running more and harder does not necessarily translate into racing better. Your body has a breaking point. Being injured or sick derails consistency and you lose the building blocks that you had been stacking up week by week.

Sleep…this will be the third time I bring it up. It is so easy to get sleep yet I bet it is the single most overlooked aspect of running. Your body absolutely has to rest. Sleep and good nutrition help you stay healthy and when you are not sick, you are able to stay consistent with training. To continue to ring home this theme and a few others, her is a plug for Lauren Fleshman. While she is not yet a marathon runner, she is one heck of a good professional distance runner. Her website takes a little different twist from your typical blog. She actually answers questions that readers post.


It doesn’t take a genius to know its important to do your workouts, train hard and show up for the race. The following tips are important ones I have discovered that fly a little more under the radar. Best part about these is none of them require you to train more.

If you are going to be strict about ONE THING, make it sleep. Even if you
didn’t train any harder, sleeping 9 hours a night will make you faster. Its when you are sleeping that you absorb all your hard work. Your sleep is worth more than gold. Protect it. Its worth your friends thinking you’re lame for having a bedtime.

Give up sweets 5 days a week and you will get sick less, recover better, and run faster. If a muscle cell only lives for 6 months before a new one takes its place, in 6 months, every muscle in your body will be replaced by new muscles, and they will be built out of the foods that you eat. You literally are what you eat! You will run a lot faster made of real food than gummy worms!

Buy a bottle you really like, because it will never leave your side. It will be either in your hand, your backpack, or on your bedside table. Pop a fizzy vitamin packet in there in the morning to keep in interesting, and please don’t let it get moldy and disgusting. That’s just gross.

Right before the race or the warm-up, take a minute to lay down in the grass, close your eyes, and breathe. I call this soaking in the field, and I lay there until I feel like I’m sinking into the ground and the world starts to slowly swirl around me. I tune out everything else and a moment later, I know its time to get up and have some fun. I don’t get up until I feel grounded and calm.

No matter how fit you get, the race will be hard. I know, its not fair…at some point the reward for hard work should be that racing is easy. Well, its not. When you feel like caving in, repeat this in your mind, “I train to handle pain.” You will beat people simply because you are willing to hurt more than they are.


Well said by Ms Fleshman!

Can you be an advanced marathoner and self coach yourself? I would tend to say it is very challenging. I coached myself the past 3 years. However, the last 3 years really was a transition from intermediate to advanced marathoning. I reached a point after Boston this year where I think I needed help. I know enough to know that I don’t know enough. In order to take my running any further, I have maxed out what I am capable of doing on my own and needed fresh ideas. Among others, I had been bouncing ideas off of Mark Hadley. I have seen how well Nathan Stanford, Alana, and Caitlin Chrisman have performed under his guidance. I reached out to Mark for help and am now finishing up week 5 of what I call “The Hadley Project”. (There are about 6-8 of us in town that are currently training under Mark for fall 2010 marathons).

What does a coach do? A coach puts a plan together and keeps you honest each week. He/she objectively tells you where you should do more/less and is there to support you mentally as well. They calm you down when you have a bad workout and they keep you from reading in too much to a great workout. I am fortunate to also have several wonderful training partners who are very similar in abilities and goals so we are able to do a lot of our running together. Mark is an excellent coach but there are others out there as well and a coach is not necessarily a must for everyone.

What else? Well, I have a nutritionist, and I have a physical therapist. A few folks even have a masseuse they regularly attend. Think of your body as a race car. If you drive lots of miles with your care, it requires tune-ups, preventative maintenance, and sometimes it just breaks down Your body is really know different so just like having a mechanic you can trust, having excellent professionals in town that can help you is a must.

I hope you were at least entertained by the 3 part series. We have a wonderful running community here in Charlotte and the flow of information is what helps us all improve. I absolutely do not have all the answers so please share with me and others here at the blog or better yet, join us on a run and chat. Happy Running!!!

Written by Aaron Linz - The author is the president of the Charlotte Running Club. He was fortunate enough to have run a 2:42.41 at the Boston Marathon for a finish of 269 out of 22645. Next up for Aaron is the Richmond marathon.

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