Just because you wear the same sneakers as the world’s fastest marathoner, Patrick Makau of Kenya, or just because you ride the same bike as Lance Armstrong, or just because you strap on the same goggles as Dara Torres, does not mean that you will have the same record performances that they achieve when running or participating in biking or swimming events. I will say that riding a better performance bike than your competitor will probably give you a slight advantage at the end of the day, but the expensive bike alone will not win you any races.
I wish it were that easy. However, some people really believe that their upgraded gear and by being covered head to toe in compression apparel, will make a difference in their overall time when they cross the finish line.
It really irks me when I hear these same people obsessed with latest and most expensive gear talking about how little they train and yet manage to secure coveted spots in top marathons that sell out in seconds. Then when the official results are posted, you know that they must have walked more than half of the distance based on their finishing time.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it is awesome that more and more people are starting to run to lose weight and improve overall health. Thank you Biggest Loser. But walking most of a marathon just to have the medal and bragging rights that you completed a marathon is just wrong. Marathon training is not a joke and needs to be taken more seriously. Otherwise, reserve those bib numbers for entrants that have dedicated the time and energy to train to run (not walk) the entire 26.2 miles.
I started running as a freshman in high school way back in 1979. All of the hard work at practices and in cross-country, indoor and outdoor races paid off because I was fortunate to have received an athletic scholarship to college. Several years post college, I continued to run and started to increase my weekly mileage to tackle the grueling marathon distance of 26.2 miles. I will admit that I had no idea what I was doing when I trained for my first marathon. I did however run 7 days a week and longer distances on the weekend. I knew that my self-created training program was not enough if I wanted to improve my time.
It was the National Capital Marathon in Ottawa in 1993 that I ran my first marathon in 3:36. This finishing time legitimately earned me a spot in the prestigious Boston Marathon. Even though I trained hard for Ottawa, I remember thinking that my training program wasn’t hard enough. Not that I ever had the urge to walk during my first marathon; I remember wanting to feel more comfortable running the distance for marathon number 2.
In an effort to become more comfortable with the marathon distance and improve my time, I started to train with my friends K and her husband T- who I called Coach T during that time. They both had several sub 3 hour marathons under their belts so I knew it would be a challenge for me to keep up with their training paces. I was up to this challenge because I wanted to get faster.
I admit, I lagged behind them during track/tempo workouts and in most long runs. However, training with people who were much faster than me was the best decision I made to improve my performance. I ran Boston that year in 3:15. Below is a snapshot of the weekly mileage that I ran (created by K) while training for The Boston Marathon in 1994. Nothing fancy or downloaded from the internet- well, I’m not sure the internet was mainstream way back then. Basically, I ran more miles on weekly basis than I did driving back and forth to work. You can see that several days were double speed workout days and that the long runs were at least 20 miles. You should also know that K & Coach T taught me that it was not considered a long run unless the course measured 20 miles in distance. And I still believe in this training philosophy today.
Bottom line, there is no way to fast track or edit weekly workouts if you want to do well and run the complete marathon distance. In my opinion, these so-called new marathon training programs where you run 2-3 days a week with a long run nothing more than 10 miles is for the birds. But so many people are fascinated with these types of training regimes that their end result usually suffers. Then all they do is complain about how slow their time was or how brutal and boring it was walking most of the distance.
The marathon is not a distance that is meant to be easy so why would anyone think that the training is any different.
I welcome discussion about this topic in the comments section. Feel free to agree or disagree or even get mad.