Road to Marathon Maniacs: Training and Preparation for Mad Marathon

Introduction

Back in late May 2012, I went to the dentist and she told me she was running the marathon relay at Mad Marathon in Waitsfield, VT over 4th of July weekend. My last marathon was on May 19th, 2012, so that is about 7 weeks in between marathons. It also happens to be only 14 miles away from Ben and Jerry’s. It is off the same exit from the highway.

I later thought about it and decided to challenge myself to run the Mad Marathon. It was the 2nd annual Mad Marathon as the first year was a giant success with over a few hundred runners. So here was my plan:

Training Plan:

Summary:
2 weeks rest after GW Marathon
3 weeks of total training
1 week taper

I needed two weeks of rest since I was still battling jet lag coming back from China. The first time I went back in March, the jet lag wasn’t so bad. However, this time it was so much worst and it lasted two weeks. It was actually worst the second week. I would equate running when jet lagged as running really hungover. I was hoping to run all of week 1 but just couldn’t. I managed to get out and run on the first Sunday but only made it to 6 miles.

My in between marathon schedule became running 3 days a week, shorter two runs being 6 miles each on Tuesday and Thursday and then a long run on Saturday of 12-20 miles. This is my bare minimum to finish a marathon, not necessarily to do well in. Here was my actual running schedule. You can also see I didn’t follow the “increase by no more than 10% a week” rule.

Week M Tu W Th F Sa Su Total
1 6  6
2  5 5.3 6 12  28.3
3  5 6 16  27
4  6  6 20  32
5  6  6  6  18
6  3  Race  29

Planning for a summer marathon:

As this would take place in July, I was concerned about the heat. It was up in Vermont at a slightly higher elevation  so it would be cooler, but not ideal temperatures for a marathon. Most marathons are usually ran in the spring or fall to have more seasonable weather. Even temperatures in the mid 70s can cause issues for marathon runners.

During the GWM, temperatures were only in the mid 70s but I realized I was short on electrolytes about halfway through the race. Another runner noted that he took sodium pills and that really helped him. I took a look at REI to see what I could get on short notice.

There were many products, but I ended up getting these two products:

Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes – I would be using this before the marathon and possibly around mile 18 or so to make sure I had enough. It turned out that eating them at mile 18 didn’t do much. I should have taken them closer to the halfway point.

Clif Shot Bloks: I used these before, but there are some that has 3x sodium in it. I bought a few of them and tried them out on the long runs before the marathon. My plan was to eat these around the 2-2.5 hour mark. I would eat a normal shot blok package around mile 8 or 9, and the second extra sodium package at mile 13 and another one around mile 19. Each package contained 200 calories and came in 6 bit sized pieces. I eat a piece every 10 minutes.

Mad Marathon:

I quickly took at the elevation chart for the marathon. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the GWM but it was still tough. There was a small 400ft hill around mile 3 and then the larger hill of 700ft between mile 9 to about mile 25. It was definitely not something to look forward to when you only have 6 weeks to prepare. Many of the ultra marathon training tips recommended walking all inclines if possible. On race day, many runners near my finishing time of about 5 hours walked uphill and made comments about the people who ran uphill. This strategy worked for me in the past, including on the Great Wall, so I felt comfortable using this strategy again.

Maps

My next post would go over the town of Waitsfield, Ben and Jerry’s, short stroll in Burlington, and a Race-day review.

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