Is it really winter?

This certainly has been the winter to train in Buffalo, NY. The mild temperatures and little snow have been a runner's dream!

We are 13 weeks away from Marathon Weekend in Buffalo. I wanted to address some common questions that usually start to pop up in the runner's mind.

  1. Am I where I need to be with my training? Most of you are several weeks into your training. If you are being consistent with your training plan and getting in the long runs, you should be right on track for the marathon. Remember, you do not have to be perfect with your training, but you do need to be consistent. If you have not begun training for the marathon and you have only run 5k's and 10k's, running a full marathon in 13 weeks might be ambitous. You may want to consider the half-marathon.
  2. What should my training pace be for my long runs? This varies from person to person. Refer to the training programs posted click the link for "Pace Calculator" provided. You can determine the pace for your long runs. For the Intermediate and Advanced Programs, I include different types of long runs. Some include miles at your Goal Marathon Pace, some have a progression of pace in the run, and some are holding your pace even at your 'easy/long' run pace. A common mistake made is running TOO fast on your long runs. Be true to your current fitness and your goals. If you train at the appropriate paces, your body will be fully prepared for Marathon Day. The risk of running TOO fast on your training runs is undo fatigue, slower recovery, and injury.
  3. Why don't I run the full 26.2 miles in training before the marathon? Some training programs may call for you to run a full 26.2 miles before race day. However, I am not in that group. Instead, I believe that a couple of 18-20 mile training runs carefully planned with the full progression of long runs will have you ready for 26.2 come race day. Recovery time needed after 26.2 miles is significant. Running the 26.2 mile distance in training - for most - will require a period of recovery, where you must reduce training. Conversely, keeping the long runs to a max of 18-20 miles (or max of 3:15-3:45 run time) does not require as much recvoery and allows you to consistently train. In addition, Race Day is "Special." Your body will be at a higher level due to the psychological benefits of race day. This is real! Race day provides a bit more excitement, the crowd will cheer you on, and those last miles will come. Yes, there is a leap of faith here. I'd rather be to race day HEALTHY, EXCITED, and READY versus fatigued, injuried, or rundown. No doubt the final miles are daunting. It does not matter if you are the world's best running sub-2:05, or running your first marathon with the goal of runinng sub-5:00. The final miles are hard, and the challenge will be real. Embrace the challenge. That's why you signed up for the Marathon!
  4. Can I train with a Cold? This is the time of year that many people get sick. Getting sick can really put a damper on your training plans and goals. Being smart with your training when an illness arises can help you recovery faster and be right back on track with minimal impact to your overall training plan. General rule of thumb: listen to your body! 90% of the time it is fine to train through a cold provided you make a few modifications. Slow your training pace, shorten the length of the run, and monitor energy levels. When you get sick, it is a sign that your body is worn down. The immune system will recovery faster if you reduce volume and intensity during illness. Taking a 1 or 2 days off may be a necessity in some cases. If you have a fever, REST! Do not train through a fever! Once the fever subsides, you may return to running, but back down your pace and length of the run to allow full recovery. Rushing back into the full training load will risk additional setbacks.

As you progress through your training, be smart and enjoy the process!

Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.