Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Reasons my Chicago 2013 Marathon Fell Apart


85% of my performance was due to going out too fast. Both the mental aspect of not slowing down enough when I realized I went out too fast and the physical aspect that led me to the wall. I went out almost as fast as CIM, although Chicago is flat, not downhill, like CIM. Hands down that was the reason I hit the wall. 10 miles in 55:14? I was just not at the level to do that for a full marathon in October 2013. I have no business hitting 5:2X miles in a marathon this year. The oxygen and glycogen demands for me at that pace are just too great to sustain for more than two hours.

The other 15% I’m going to attribute to nutrition. About 5% from trying the strategy I tried of eating in the middle of the night and not having breakfast, plus a low protein meal the night before. Another 5% is due to my nutrition 24 hours+ from the marathon. Not eating in the 30 minutes after my Friday run hurt me. If I stored 50 calories less because of that mistake Friday night, that's almost another mile of hard but not post wall hard speed. The other 5% I’m going to attribute to being vegan. I realize this is a can of worms and I will likely be vilified by the vegans and vegetarians out there for blaming any negative aspects of my performance on a vegan diet, however, I’m a 2:30 marathoner and low 32 10k and a 4:31 miler, hear me out!

In the last 30 days I had the best marathon specific intensive workout (1k medium, 1k hard for 21k total) of my life, the best marathon specific extensive (20 miles in 1:57) workout of my life, and an open 8k PR of 26:30. Clearly it is possible to run really well as a vegan. However, compared to October 2011 my recovery was not as fast in September 2013 as it was then. Perhaps that is the difference between a 27 year old and 25 year old, but I don’t think those two years should make as big of a difference as it did. Plus, part of the reason I did such great workouts was that I was only trying to do a big workout once a week, Bill Squires and new Renato Canova style. However in October 2011 I did nearly as big of workouts, with a lot more quality during the week. I could do that quality during the week because I was recovering so fast. I feel that, at least for me, getting the macro and micro nutrients from meat products is the most efficient and bioavailable way to get the recovery food I need. 

What will I do differently in the future? 
  • Well, I going to run a lower key marathon, and as soon as I can, so that I can negative split one of these things. I negative split my 2:47 this summer our of shape, but seriously, a 2:47? I could probably do that once a week if I really wanted to. (Barring my current bum leg.) That's the major change. To run a really good marathon, you have to feel great at half way. I don't just mean feel okay, you have to feel capable of sprinting a mile at 5k pace.
  • I eat meat again. I think my diet will consist of steak once a week and fish once a week and cheese on meals. Other than that I will eat some chicken wings or hamburgers here and there but I would guess than two thirds of my meals will probably still be vegan, specifically most breakfasts and lunches. 
  • I will eat breakfast before marathons. Just a bagel and some coffee and orange juice, but a few hundred calories none the less. 
  • I will be absolutely on my nutrition leading up the race so that I carbo-load and get the protein I need in the days before the race. The difference of 100 or 200 calories is all that separates a good race, but running a couple 8:20s miles at the end of a marathon. 

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