At long last, my friends, it's showtime. That far off date that was once a distant speck on the calendric horizon is now at hand. After all your painstaking work and discipline, this is your week to shine, your opportunity to do something that will make everyone around you proud. By this Thursday at approximately 1:00 PM , you will be positively glowing with justifiable pride. Note that you may finish well before then but it will probably take that long until you start glowing because you'll probably be a bit pale until then. When you cross that finish line outside the Leonardo Hotel, regardless of your finishing time, you will be a hero. You will have had the courage and tenacity to undertake a journey that less than 1/2 of 1% of people ever take in a lifetime. More than you know, you will be a source of inspiration to your friends and neighbors because you will have gone beyond what man was comfortably designed to do. If you can conquer this, you can redefine the scope of the possible in any other arena of your life.
As wonderful as it is to run with such an accomplished group, there is also undeniably a downside. We inevitably become jaded by our intense desire to go faster and continuously improve. In the process, we sometimes lose sight of what an immense accomplishment merely running and finishing a marathon, regardless of our finishing time, truly is. I recall that when I was 14, I happened to sit next to a man who happened to have run the New York City Marathon that day. I thought the guy was Superman. "You mean you just ran 26.2 miles", I asked him in disbelief. It never ocurred to me to ask his finishing time. It didn't matter. Here was a real live hero sitting right next to me. Since my first marathon 8 years ago, I have trained tenaciously in order to slice a few minutes or seconds off the time it takes me to cover the incredible distance of 42.2 kilometers. I have not always met my optimal goals but I have never allowed myself to get depressed about it. If you allow yourself to fall into the trap of being a Type A personality and fail to participate merely because you are no longer setting PR's, you undermine your own impressive achievements as well as those of your co-runners. Even worse, you rob your running of its inherent joy and simplicity. Savor your fitness and revel in the fact that you are one of the rare few who, despite the unyielding demands of a busy life, still get to achieve the improbable.
Our primary focus for the next five days is to stay healthy, loose and positive. The small amount of running that we will be doing is secondary to the psychological work you will be doing, preparing yourself to succeed spectacularly in an event that you are eminently well-prepared for.
On a personal note, I am sad to report that my sacroilial joint pain has forced me to withdraw from the marathon. For the first time in 8 years, I will not stand on the starting line in Tiberias, jockeying for position and rehearsing some last minute strategy with Rich. Yes, it is personally frustrating and disappointing but it is nevertheless the Tiberias marathon and I would not miss it for anything. I plan to be there on the sidelines, cheering loudly for my wife Sarah and for every last one of you who have worked so hard to get there. I truly am incredibly proud of this club, of its members, its accomplishments, its cohesiveness and like every year, I will be waiting for you at the finish line, albeit probably a bit more refreshed than in previous years.
Here's what this weeks holds in store for us:
Marathon Week (1/1-1/7) plan
Saturday 10k migdal hamayim 10
monday 10k (4k at marathon pace) 10
tueday 5k easy 5
Thursday THE BIG DAY (42.2) 42.2
Friday serious rest
Marathon Training - Week 18
My fellow runners:
Most runners are emotional basket cases during the 9 days prior to a marathon. There are many profound pyschological phenomenon creating all kinds of malevolent psychosomatic symptoms. During the course of the next week, you will inevitably stand up or cross the street or rise from the breakfast table and you will be certain that you have fatally sprained your ankle or twisted your knee, thus dooming your marathon. Behind every corner, you will imagine that there lurks a sociopathic couch potato who would like nothing better than to trip you. Every elevator is an insidious incubator of infectious disease, every escalator a mechanical minefield. Well, my friend, just calm the heck down. Be assured that you are simply experiencing classic pre-marathon jitters. You have put so much into this marathon and so much is riding on your success that you have become a veritabloe schizophrenic. You are not alone. This is a well documented phenomeonon and yes, you will be on the starting line in Tiberias on January 6th at 9:00 AM poised for the run of your life.
Years of experience have taught me that the best thing you can do right now is simply relax. You will not lose fitness by tapering properly, you do not need one more killer interval session, you do not need to radically alter your diet. You DO need to try and sleep well, avoid stress wherever possible (good luck with that one), and visualize yourself achieving your goals. Imaging is one of the most potent weapons utilized by sports psychologists. Picture yourself crossing the finish line ahead of your optimal time goal with your arms raised high in victory. Picture the faces of your kids when they know that "Daddy or Mommy did it". When I ran the New York City Marathon in 2006 and my goal was to break 3 hours, I used one incredibly compelling image to get me through the rough patches. I kept on thinking of my wife, and my kids (not to mention Rich) getting instant email updates as I crossed the various checkpoints and cheering for me. I kept thinking how proud they would be if I broke 3 hours. This image was so inspiring to me that I actually quickened my pace over the last 6 km even though physically, I had nothing left. The ability of the mind to push the body beyond its physical limitations is truly astonishing. Don't just think or believe you can do it, KNOW that you can, with absolute certainty. Henry Ford, the miserable anti-semite, once said something quite profound. "If you think you can do it, you are right. If you think you can't do it, you are also right." Your mantra for the next 200 hours in "YES, I CAN".
Best Regards, Chaim
Marathon Training - Week 17
Ahhh......the Magic Taper. The mere sound of the phrase rolling off the tongue is soothing balm to the runner's aching muscles. Well, my friends, we are there. After last week's final long run, the hay is in the barn and you are officially declared marathon ready. All you need to do now is recover, maintain your peak fitness and stay healthy. Although we gradually reduce the mileage during the taper, we do not reduce the intensity of the runs until the final week. Marathoners need to continuously be reassured that they have not lost fitness and, by reminding the body how to run fast, we will both maintain peak fitness and soothe our fragile psyches. Incidentally, there is nothing you can do in terms of workouts at this stage to get fitter. What you can do is properly target the appropriate zones in the reduced mileage that we will be doing and to get plenty of rest. It is critical that you understand that hard training merely produces the stimulus to adapt to a new level. However, the actual adaption to a new level transpires during rest. What this means is that without the proper rest, you will not reap the benefits of the amazing training season that we just completed. The trick with tapering is to do the minimum possible volume without losing peak fitness. Resist the urge to do more than the carefully crafted schedule calls for.
As you read this, we are a mere sixteen days from the 35th Tiberias Marathon and it is an appropriate time for a little reflection. Yes, the marathon is an undeniably incredible experience. For many, it is nothing short of a life altering event where one redefines the scope of the possible in arenas far beyond the athletic. I always envy first-timers the incomparable sense of euphoria as they cross the finish line for the first time. But whether January 6th is your first or your fifteenth marathon, you deserve to revel in what you have already accomplished. This marathon is not merely a race that will last between three and six hours. It is an odyssey that has demanded of you nearly superhuman dedication for more than one third of a year. You have woken up at ungodly hours to run distances more appropriately traveled by freight trucks, gasped through lung searing interval sessions, dragged yourself out on the road in the heat and the cold while the rest of humanity slouched on the couch and accused you of being an obsessive lunatic. In so doing, you have transformed yourself into a hero and I am not truly not waxing hyperbolic when I say this. Any time someone transcends mediocrity by the sweat of his (or her) brow, that person has done something genuinely heroic. Most of us are simply programmed to do what our peers are doing. You, on the other hand, through sheer determination and tenacity, have become a testament to what a human being can accomplish should he choose to do so. You are now capable of running 42,195 meters, a staggering distance by any measure. And frankly, it does not matter one whit whether you cross that finish line in Tiberias in 2:57 or 5:57, you will have transcended your physical limitations in a way that an infinitesimal portion of the human race will ever do in their lifetime. And while personal records and milestones are worthy goals that should be savored, it would be a serious, perhaps even tragic error to assume that they are more significant than what you have already acomplished over the past eighteen weeks. On marathon day, naturally, we will all shoot for the stars. We will obsess about pacing, gels, isotonic drinks, negative splits and a plethora of other details that make the marathon as much of a mental challenge as a physical one. But if, by some unhappy stroke of bad luck, the weather turns against us, or you come down with a bit of a cold or you simply don't have your best stuff on that partcular morning, know this, truly know it and do not merely console yourself with it: You have already reached the stars.
Week 17 (12/17-12/23) (taper)
12k Migdal (8 x 200 meter strides)
intervals 10 x 800
14 km (5 at HM pace)
Marathon Training - Week 16
Week 16 (12/10-12/16) (peaking))
14 km migdal
14k (9k at marathon pace)
Marathon Training - Week 15
Week 15 (12/3-12/9) (Race Prep/Peaking)
12k migdal (10 x 150 meter strides)
4 x 1 mile repeats (12k total)
Bet Shean Half Marathon
Marathon Training - Week 14
Week 14 (11/27-12/2) (Race Prep/Peaking)
14k migdal ( 8 x 200 strides)
10k tempo (14k total)
18 km medium long
Lamed Hay Rd
Marathon Training - Week 13
This week, we are back to some serious mileage. One major concern that keeps arising, however, is the tendency of club members to run training rains too fast. For example, on this morning's 25 km run, there was a group of 9 of us of who ran the 10 km (and an additional 5 km after Zakariya) at a sub 3 hour goal marathon pace. While the energy and talent in the group is exhilirating, you are making a mistake running this pace on this type of run if you plan to run the marathon 20-30 seconds per kilometer slower. The name of the game now, my friends is discipline. Lack of discipline in the marathon is a surefire recipe for crashing and burning and if you don't exercise restraint in training, you will not know how to restrain yourself on January 6th in Tiberias. This week we have an important 38 km long run that we will run as a non-stop, meaning that the water will be laid out and we take no breaks other than to drink quickly. This simulates marathon conditions and is psychologically important because we do not have the solace of knowing that we get to take a break in just a few short kilometers. The marathon is one long continuous race and we need to train ourselves for the pyschological strain as well as the physical one. However, we will pull back the pace a bit and you shoud shoot for 15 seconds slower than your last Rechovot run. We also have a hill repeat workout on Monday. Note that we will meet at the Aviv boxes and not on Dolev for this workout. Also take note that long hill repeats is a strength workout, not a speed one. We will do a 7km marathon pace section during our medium long on Wednesday (some of us will be going long on Wednesday instead of Friday). Here's what this week holds in store for us.
Week 13 (11/20-11/26) (Race Prep/Peaking) plan
14 km migdal plus strides 14
14k(long hill repeats) 14
16k medium long run (7 at marathon pace) 16
rechovot 38 km 38
Marathon Training - Week 12
After a tough, long mileage week last week, we pull back a bit in terms of volume but keep up the intensity. We are now in the sharpening and peaking stage of our training and you should feel yourself getting stronger. If you are following the suggested paces in the schedule and the emails, the pace that seemed grueling 5 weeks ago should be easier. if you have been killing yourself on every run, it is important to run your recovery runs as true recovery. You do not want to peak 7 weeks before the marathon and line up in Tiberias on a downward slope. Your dietary and sleep habits deserve some extra attention at this stage. I know this is impractical for so many of us you who lead busy lives and have time for virtually nothing but do try and get one extra hour of sleep per night. Make sure that you remain well hydrated all the time, not just on running days. It is a good idea to have a 1.5 liter bottle of water near your desk that you drain twice per day. Cut the junk out of your diet on days that you run less than 20 km and focus on consuming large amounts of complex carbohydrates such as whole grain breads, cereals, potatoes, rice, quinoa and pasta. Stretch your hamstrings and calves daily.
Attached is a revised schedule until the marathon. The good news is that there are only two more long runs. The bad news is that they are very long (38 and 40 km respectively). While I concede that most marathon programs do not go this high and it is certainly not necessary if you simply want to cross the finish line, running your optimal marathon means having the confidence and experience to know that you can run strong in the late stages of the marathon when most other runners are fading badly. I truly believe that the reason our club has posted such extraordinary results for so many years is because we simply have more and better quality long runs under our belts than most distance runners.
Here's what this week holds in store for us:
Saturday: 14 km recovery plus 11x150 meter strides.
Monday: 9 x 800 meters at slightly faster than 10 km pace.
Wednesday: 18 km Medium Long: 7 km at marathon pace.
Friday: 25 km Lamed hay Rd (10 km at HM pace)
See you all on the road.
Marathon Training - Week 11
Shavua Tov. This week is one of our highest mileage weeks as we head into the sharpening phase of our training. At this point, every run becomes meaningful, however, this does not mean that every run should be run at breakneck speed. The schedule is quite clear about where and when to run fast and anyone who feels the need to kill themselves everytime they lace up is not only obsessive compulsive but also courting injury. After a recovery run with strides on Saturday night (or Sunday), we test our discipline on Monday night with a crucial 10 km run at marathon pace. If you run it faster, you have entirely missed the point of the workout so be realistic (but ambitious too) about your marathon goal and plan your pace accordingly. Some of us will be doing our long run on Wednesday instead of Friday. If you have not registered for the Al Derech Burma 5k this Friday at 12:00 PM , please do so now. It should be a wonderful event and is a great opportunity to get your family involved in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
With respect to Bet Shean and Tiberias, I will try and arrange group rates this week for us. I will also look into group rate accomodations for the marathon. Details will follow. One final note. If you or your kids can volunteer to help out on Friday for the 5 km race, it would be much appreciated. All volunteers will receive a race T shirt. See you on the road.
Week 11 (11/6-11/12) (LT and endurance)
14k migdal recovery 14
10 km marathon pace 14
17k medium long run (7k at marathon pace)
Marathon Training - Week 10
Week 10 (LT and endurance)
14k migdal recovery
8 x 800
18k medium long run
Marathon Training - Week 9
No rest for the weary. What was supposed to have been a recover week now turns into a high mileage week because of last week's schedule changes. There is a 36 km Rechovot run scheduled for this Friday and a 60 minute fartlek for Monday. Although the pacing for our runs becomes a bit more aggressive, it is important not to turn every run into a grueling speed workout. Recovery runs are an extremely important component of marathon training and if you are running hard every time you lace up, you are asking for problems. Here's what this week holds in store for us:
Week 9 (10/23-10/29)
Sat:14k migdal recovery (no strides)
Mon:fartlek 60 minutes (14k total)
Wed:medium long 18k
Fri: Rechovot 36 km
Marathon Training - Week 8
This week concludes the base training phase of our marathon schedule. The club looks incredibly strong. None of us are getting any younger but many of you sure look like you have either discovered the fountain of youth or are successfully experimenting with blood doping.
The weather has certainly not cooperated but we have managed to squeeze in some terrific runs despite the hellish conditions. The Running Rav of Rizhin (a little known but highly regarded Acharon) claimed that Gehinnom is not the proverbial fire and brimstone portrayed in Dante's Inferno but rather having to run endless intervals in the Sharav. Be that as it may, we have a tough week coming up. We have a 36 km long run which many of us will do on Wednesday, possibly on a new course. Then we have the 18.5 km Merutz Yekavim on Friday which I hope most of you will do. Saturday night is a 14 km recovery w/strides and Monday night is a 10 km tempo. Rest well, stay hydrated and get as much sleep as possible.
Week 8 (10/16-10/22) (base)
14 km Migdal w/ 11x 150 meter strides
10 km tempo 14 km
Rechovot 36 km
Yekavim race 18.5 km
Marathon Training - Week 7
As we conclude our base training and our long run mileage buildup, the fatigue may be starting to set in. Listen to your body and treat yourself to some extra sleep and good food. Proper nutrition and adequate rest are as critical to marathoning success as hard training. There is also a tendency to overtrain, particularly when you are seeing good results. It is only natural to assume that with even more training, you will achieve even better results. This is patently and demonstrably false. This gung-ho approach leads to overtraining syndrome which, at best, will leave you feeling flat and lethargic and, at worst, will suppress your immune system leaving you highly susceptible to illness. Everyone has an individual training threshold beyond which lies a danger zone but all of you can be assured of this. The training schedule that we use is tried and true. Dozens of runners have achieved spectacular success with it without running a single additional kilometer. If you have a compulsive need to do more, you do so at your own risk. This is the frustrating aspect of marathon training. We are always at the edge of a knife. We try to push our bodies as hard as humanly possible without going over that precipitous edge and succumbing to injury. It is worth noting that injuries are often cumulative and fatigue based. The fact that you feel mysteriously fresh the day after a hard interval workout should not be interpreted as an invitation to run hard on that day as well. When the injury arrives, although it appears suddenly, it is rarely the result of a single isolated run, but rather a gradual buildup. My advice is to follow the program as carefully as possible and to race against nobody but yourself. It is fairly safe to assume that none of us will be standing on the podium in Tiberias and therefore, your race should only be for your personal best, not necessarily your all time PR, but your personal best based on where you are at this point in your life. Here is what this week holds in store for us.
Saturday 10k migdal
monday intervals 4 x 2000 12k
wednesday medium long 18k
Friday Lamed Hay Rd 22 km
Marathon Training - Week 6
The Chagim are over and as we complete the first 3rd of our program, our training shifts into a higher gear. Now that the scheduling challenges are behind us, now is the time to get serious about eating and sleeping well and, of course, to do teh scheduled runs properly. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting articles on various topics such as nutrition for marathoners and heart rate training. Here's what this weeks holds in store for us.
Week 6 (10/2-10/8) (base) plan
14k migdal (8 x 200 meter strides) 14
Progression Run 12k
medium long 16k
Rechovot 34 km
Marathon Training - Week 5
Marathon Training - Week 4
Shana Tova to All. Most of us managed to get in a fairly long run this week and all hands should be on board for one of the highlights of the year, our annual Chol Hamoed run to Jerusalem on Friday at 4:30 AM. However, this is not our only quality run this week. As we transition into the 2nd half of base training, we begin to up the mileage while adding some quality as well. One note of caution. The club is looking extraordinarily strong this season and there is a tendency to overdo it in an attempt to keep up or gain an edge. This is asking for trouble. Marathon training is a long and grueling process and the objective is to gradually improve and peak just before our taper. Pushing too hard early on and peaking prematurely will definitely have an adverse impact on your marathon performance so keep your eye on the larger picture. Here's what this week holds in store for us.
Saturday yom kippur
Sunday 10k Easy 10
monday 8 x 800 (12k total) 12
wednesday medium long 18 km 18
Friday annual run to jerusalem 32.5
Marathon Training - Week 3
If you are feeling heavy and lethargic after the three day foodfest, rest assured you are not alone. The Chagim always present challenges and we always manage to overcome them so no worries. We are still early in base training and therefore educating our bodies and minds to brush off the sloth of summer. Here's what this week holds in store for us.
Saturday: 16 km recovery (no strides) to get the lead out and work off a few calories.
Sunday: Tzom Gedalya: rest
Monday: 6 x 1000 intervals at 10 km pace. 600 meters jogging in between. Meet on Dolev and
Dolev at 8:30 PM
Wednesday: Medium Long Run 18 km
Friday: 27 km: Tzomet Haela and back
Marathon Training - Week 2
Shavua Tov. Although your sore muscles may not agree, it feels good to be back in structured training. The scheduling challenges presented by the Chagim mean that we have to make extra efforts to get in our important workouts but we are compensated with some extra rest. The critical thing to emphasize at this early stage is that we are in badse training and therefore, should not be pushing the pace hard except for during our limited speed sessions. Our principle objective over the next few weeks is to build endurance. Once we feel comfortable with the distances that today seem daunting, we will begin to sharpen our speed and pacing. Here is what this week holds in store for us.
Sat night: 14 km recovery with 8 x 200 meter strides. Recovery means that the pace should be VERY comfortable. Talk to your fellow runners during the run and enjoy it. The objective of a recovery run is to increase blood flow and thereby facilitate repair to the microscopic muscle tissue damage which result from Friday's long runs. The strides are meant to improve leg speed and form and therefore should be done on flat or slightly downhill stretches. Allow plenty of time between strides to ensure that you are not building up too much lactate.
Monday: 8 km Tempo on Dolev. Meet at Dolev and Dolev at 8:30 PM
Wednesday: 25 km Rd 383. Cars leave my house at 5:30.
Thursday: Rosh Hashana
Friday: Rosh Hashana
Marathon Training - Week 1
Start your engines and brace yourselves for a thrilling ride on the cutting edge of middle aged sanity. Marathon Season is, at long last, upon us. Over the next 123 days, we will transform ourselves into razor sharp, precision tuned, running machines. We will eat, sleep and train like professional athletes. We will ignore our spouses and children, shirk our responsibilities at work (just kidding) and focus on our goal with a ferocity and intensity that we never dreamed possible. When it is all over, you will be leaner, fitter and faster than you were in high school. You will have formed extraordinary bonds with your clubmates, the kind of bonds worthy of fraternity brothers. Your love for this glorious land, your vitality, your zest for experience will all jump immeasurably. In short, my friends, you will be real marathon runners. If any of you are asking yourselves why you should make such a supreme sacrifice merely to be able to cover the objectively absurd distance of 42,195 meters a few minutes faster, let me assure you that you are missing the point. Marathon day is merely the icing on the cake, the culmination of an 18 week process which, done properly, can transform you dramatically and forever alter you perception about the scope of what you might achieve in any arena of your life.
Yes, there will be difficult moments along the way. There will be setbacks and frustrations and aches and pains. There will be times when you will ask yourself whether it is really worth all the effort. In response, I can only offer the soaring experience of those who have come before you and have never looked back. Stay the course and you have my solemn promise that you will never regret it.
Here's what our first week holds in store for us:
Week 1 (8/28-9/3) (Base)
Saturday Migdal Hamayim 12k w/ 10x 150 meter strides
monday fartlek 48 minutes (12k)
wednesday medium long 16k
Friday 22k long run (Lamed hay Rd)
Marathon Training - Preseason
For the many of you who have requested it, I am pleased to attach the Bet Shemesh Running Club's official 2011 Novice marathon schedule. This schedule assumes that you can already run 8 km when the season begins in two weeks. It is based on a steady but doable buildup designed to get you to the finish line on January 5th pooped but proud. Some of you may fall between the levels required by the advanced and novic schedules. This need not present a problem. Simply add mileage to the novice schedule (or deduct from the advanced schedule) as you feel comfortable. The type and objective of each run remains the same. As a rule, you should make a strong effort to join us as often as possble, at least on Monday nights when we run loops around Dolev. Marathon training is a lot easier and more fun when you do it with a group. Please note the following observations from my notes to the advanced schedule.
1) The schedule is based on a 4x week training program. Theoretically, you can get by on 3x a week but a word of caution is in order here. Long runs and quality speed runs are not the place to skimp. It is much better to miss Saturday night than to miss a long or medium long run. Monday nights are crucial because each week we will be focusing on a different aspect of running such as speed, hills, pacing, technique etc. If you are at the opposite extreme and want to train more (fat chance) you can add up to 12k on two of the three rest days (one day of total rest is absolutely critical for even the most obsessive runner) but be sure to maintain a very relaxed pace during these runs.
2) Monday Night Speed workouts will generally be held on Dolev where the terrain is appropriate for evenly paced running.
3) Saturday nights are mostly about recovery but we will be incorporating various stride distances to enhance our leg speed. I encourage our members from RBS to join us on Saturday nights on our excellent Migdal Hamayim course.
4) We are going to be doing some core strengthening work to develop better total body conditioning. This will help us run strong in the later stages of the race when our compeitors start to fatigue. We will also be focusing on stretching more than usual as none of us is getting any younger.
5) The schedule is subdivided into four sections.
a Base training b) Lactate Threshold and Endurance c) Race preparation and Peaking d) Tapering
The specific run distances and paces are all geared to focus on the specific objectives we seek to achieve during each training phase.
6) More specific instructions regarding the pacing of long and medium long runs will be provided each week in a weekly email detailing the running week ahead. Smart runners listen to their bodies and therefore some modifications may be made to the schedule based on our training progress and general fitness and fatigue levels.
7) There are 3 ong runs in the schedule and these runs are the key to marathoning success. You can certainly cross the finish line on less than the schedule demands but as a general rule, the more closely you follow the schedule, the better shape you will be in on January 5th.
8) The schedule may be modified slightly for participation in various races leading up to the marathon but all long runs should be done even if you have to so them at some other point in the week. It is useful to get some racing experience under your belt in races that don't mean that much in order to prepare yourself for that huge race that means everything.
9) Last year, the Bet Shemesh Running Club was represented by an incredible 39 marathoners who produced impressive results despite tortuous conditions on marathon day. I hope that all of last year's participants will be back and that we will add quite a few more. Training is so much more inspiring and motivating when it is a shared experience. I would appreciate if you could send me an email to let me know if you are in.
10) As you probably know by now, we have an excellent website that is constantly being updated and enhanced. Please feel free to log on frequently for training tips and all other running related issues.