Grandma’s: The Marathon Experiment

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As some of you may have heard in my post-Trials Flotrack interview, my goal for this post-Olympic year is to run as many quality marathons as I reasonably can and test my limits.

My coach, Terry and I initially thought that it would be something like a summer, fall, spring schedule.  Then after further discussion with Terry, I reconsidered and decided that it would be too rushed to try to fully recover from the Trials and then do a full marathon build-up before Grandma’s. So we scratched that idea.


Then I watched Boston. And first of all, it was Boston. What can make you want to run a marathon more than watching the Boston Marathon?

And secondly, the announcers could not contain their astonishment at the winner, Lemi Hayle, who at the tender age of 21 had raced 4 very high-level marathons in the previous 12 months.

Being a coach, of course my first thought was “how could he fit four 12-week build-ups PLUS full recovery into 12 months?” The only possible solution is truncated build-ups!

So in the weeks following, I kept wondering to myself what I could run with a sub-optimal, non-traditional marathon build-up. And since it was the build-up that was getting in the way of our scheduling a summer marathon, what if we just skipped that part?

So now that’s the plan. 6 weeks out from Grandma’s, I am starting my (mostly mental) mini build-up, while still primarily focusing on the races that I had already planned for this spring/summer season – especially the 25k Championships next weekend!


It might sound crazy… because it is.

But my rationale is this: things happen – selected athletes to US teams get injured and people get named just weeks before an international championship. And since one of my goals is to represent my country as well as I can, I figured I would go ahead and test out this scenario in a situation where the stakes are relatively low.

It’s a marathon, so of course it could go any number of ways, but I envision 2 likely scenarios:

  1. I run significantly slower than I have off of Terry’s typical marathon build-ups and we learn that the time invested in a full marathon build-up is effective and totally worthwhile and cannot be successfully skipped (at least not in the way that we will try this time).
  2. I run about the same or only slightly slower than I would have with a traditional build-up and we learn that hey, maybe I can successfully run 3-4 high-quality marathons in a calendar year. This would potentially open a lot of doors to more opportunities to compete at my specialty event and thereby also significantly increase my earning potential while doing what I love most!

I wouldn’t dare to try this if I hadn’t been so consistently healthy and training and racing at a high level for the last 7 years. In our cost-benefit analysis, Terry and I decided that the risk is relatively low, and if nothing else, the learning potential will be great!

So when I line up in Two Harbors on June 18th, I’ll be just as curious and excited as anyone else to find out what I can run off of 6 weeks of non-specific marathon training.

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