How I Ran 40 Minutes Faster in my Last Marathon
RUNfit 365 athletes from all over the world write in from time to time to tell us their story. We recently received one from Michal of Slovakia, who told us about an insane improvement he just had: 40 minutes better on his most recent Marathon! Here is his story…
Michal’s Story – How I Shaved 40 Minutes off my Marathon
My story starts three years ago. I was riding a road bike a lot – the downside of this was winter. I didn’t like those turbo trainers very much. I did it, but I wasn’t very excited about it. Running seemed like the perfect solution, because you can run in almost any weather. In fact, I haven’t cancelled any of my training session because of weather yet :).
So I decided to try triathlon. Bike (my love) and running, and because both sports are mainly about legs, I liked the idea of adding swimming to the table. When I started to run, I wasn’t able to run even one km without having to walk a bit. So I started to read everything about the sport. Training, recovery, nutrition – everything I could get my hands on. Before I knew it, I had a half marathon in my cross-hairs. You need a lot of time to train for a half, so I started to train at the end of the summer of 2013 and wanted to run the following spring (April 2014).
Along the way I decided to train for the marathon distance and if I felt good enough, would change my registration from half to full marathon. My target was to simply complete the distance, and didn’t have any particular time in mind. So I followed a basic program I found, which consisted of 4 sessions a week. Each session was done at an easy pace and there was a long run on the weekends. As I mentioned, I was reading everything that I possibly could. I had my lactate curve measured. I bought a Suunto Ambit2 watch. And, I finished my first marathon ever exactly as planned. I used an even-pace strategy from start to finish, with exception of the final few kilometers where I gradually went faster and faster. It felt amazing. It felt hard, and I couldn’t walk very well few days after, but it felt like I did achieve something great.
During that summer I did compete in some short triathlons, which I liked very much. I didn’t stop running, but I was on the bike as well.
And at the end of the summer (still 2014) I wanted to raise the bar. I knew I wanted to go to the same event, the Bratislava Marathon, in 2015. But I wanted to be faster. Much faster. My time from 2014 was 4 hours 34 minutes. This time I wanted to be under 4 hours. So, I started to look around. I knew that if I ran at a slow steady pace during training, then I would race at a slow steady pace. Therefore, I needed something more advanced. I needed to train my endurance, but also my strength and speed.
It’s then that I came across the RUNfit365 training plans and their intermediate plan for marathon, which seemed like what I needed. I wrote an e-mail to Dan Cuson and asked few questions before I decided to commit to the plan. He was very prompt and answered my questions. I went through the plan and saw it reflected all the knowledge I had gathered to that point. So I decided this was the right plan. This would get me to the finish line under 4 hours.
The plan contains a lot of info about intensity – how, what, and when to work out at each intensity. And if you really have to skip something, there are directions on what to skip and what not to. I didn’t skip any of the long runs but did skip some short recovery runs. (nor very proud of that). The training felt good. I was comparing my data from year before and felt I am faster. And stronger. I was convinced I could achieve my target (Or at least I will try very hard).
The race day came. I chose to run at an even pace, starting with a slower pace in first few kilometers. If I felt well, my plan was to pick up the pace at the end. Everything went according the plan. I did have a small crisis at around 30 – 34 km, where I had trouble staying on my target pace. But I told myself this is what it should feel like. It is totally normal, so I just ran through it. With 7 km to go, I knew I would achieve my target and started to pick up my pace. I went faster and faster. At 5km before the finish line, I was running at my lactate threshold and then slightly above, because I felt good.
I crossed the line 3:55:52 and it felt excellent. It felt like I really achieved something big. It felt like all those runs in snow, on ice, in wind in the night – it really did pay off. It felt amazing! And it wouldn’t be possible without a well thought out training plan.
Thank you, guys! I owe you one!
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