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Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments

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As I continue to peel back the layers of what may have happened to me at Boston, something keeps nagging me. Looking back at my splits, I realize that early on I wasn’t on pace for a 3:15 marathon, or even a 3:10. Some of my splits, had I been able to maintain them would have brought me in between a 3:00 and 3:05 marathon.

That’s a problem.

I’m not a 3:00 marathoner. Not yet anyway.

***

In retrospect, there were signs of the coming power bonk* during my training.

Throughout the winter, I was disciplined about running on the days I was scheduled. During the week I would run exactly or very near to what was prescribed by the Pfitz 18/55 plan I was following. On Saturdays, I would also run at the distance and speed that I perceived to be required.

But then there were Sundays.

Ah, the Sunday long run. It is, without question, my favorite part of training for a marathon. Whether it happens on my treadmill in the basement in front of the TV or, preferably, outdoors where I can enjoy the scenery, it is a relaxing time. Yes, I push myself; yes, I finish tired; yes, it is not easy; but it is peaceful. I get my highest runners’ highs off of the long run.

But there was a problem. I could never just run at the pace dictated by my training schedule. I always pushed the pace to a speed that was out of the physiological training zone I was supposed to be working on. Long, SLOW runs have their purpose. They are important, and yet I always pushed the pace a little faster than prescribed, probably costing me some precious endurance.

That being said, I was still probably in good enough shape to achieve the 3:15 I had originally been after, but true to form, when it came to race day, I pushed the pace. In the closing days leading up to Boston, I let myself get sucked into the concept of running a 3:10. My discipline went out the window at mile marker 1 and, in the words of my friend MK, the 20 – 25 seconds per mile I gained probably caused a classic bonk – and when I say classic, I mean an All. Out. Bonk.

I have never bonked like that before (not even at Manchester – that was my quads). I never want to bonk like that again.

So this training cycle is going to be about discipline (how I go about it I will discuss in my next post). Don’t get me wrong, I will still run happy. I will still have fun while I’m running. BUT, on Sundays and on race day, I will also remember the classic line, “slow and steady wins the race”.

More importantly, I will remember on race day that I have a plan, that I have trained for the plan, that I need the plan. I will resist the urge to push the pace early, and hopefully keep enough in the tank so that instead of hanging on for the final 10K, I will actually be able to pick up speed and finish strong. This was the strategy at Smuttynose, and it worked until I hit a soft wall with a mile to go. At that point though I just needed to finish to get my BQ…and I did.

So if you see me out there on a Sunday running way faster than I should, feel free to yell at me to rein it in. I know there are going to be times over the next 12 weeks that I just let the horses fly (or the schedule calls for a marathon-paced run), but I’ve got to remember, if I want to be disciplined on race day, I’ve got to do it in practice as well.

*In endurance sports, particularly cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by precipitous fatigue and loss of energy.

Why do you run?

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