LA Marathon feedback and training solutions

It’s a good week, we just had a U.S.-based Bowes Fitness athlete, Blake Rankin compete in the Los Angeles Marathon and finish in the respectable time of 3:04:43. A great effort, on the LA course that has a very challenging back end.

The positive feedback from the event, Blake found this regime “the best ever” in terms of suitable preparation in a format that was sustainable. “The variety of training kept it interesting enough to maintain effort,” even though he mostly trained alone.

What we’ve (we = me) tried achieve at Bowes Fitness Headquarters (my sheet of plywood desk) is properly match the training program requirements with our athletes. In recent years, especially as my own commitments outside of training have increased, I’ve found that training needs to be accessible and achievable for my charges otherwise it goes onto the ‘back burner’ and the dream dies. I’ve polished and honed each training program against the demands of the event relative to the ability my athletes, and each campaign we’re getting closer. This is good!

Your training has to be realistic in terms of achievability, though this hits against the task at hand and, of course, your preferred outcome. I think it works in two parts, you have to do the preparation but the preparation must be sufficient. You can’t have part B without part A.

So, we first need to be in the ball park. Let’s train to our strengths and feel progress. There’s nothing better. Do this with slightly incremental training that starts long enough (before your event) to allows for improvement despite illness, injuries and misadventures ($#it happens). Once you’re on top of the regime and feeling like it’s coming naturally, you can bite down a little harder (incrementally again) and go into that sufficient training dictated by the parameters of your event and your goal.

Just to update you, while Blake did finish the marathon in a great time, it wasn’t the 2:59:59, he’d hope for. So he got Part A right but Part B was lacking. What do we do?


A few runners, I’ve coached in the past have had the same reaction as Blake. “The cadio felt fine, just the legs were breaking down in the final quarter of the race.” Which leads me to ask, what can we do to mitigate this effect? I speak beyond marathon running here, whatever event you undertake, I hear so many stories of people racing in something who say the same thing, “The final stages were hellish.” It feels like when we ask our bodies to go at heightened intensity, for a long while, our body can’t function at capacity for the duration. It’s what you’d expect really but so often we sell ourselves short.


I wonder, can we improve our racing experience by training sufficiently but still enjoying the process of the preparation, and actually do it? Most people I train don’t take athletics as seriously as I do, nor get as tied up on what could have been. But if you’re down to race somewhere the ‘face the music’ stage is going to come at eventually. (As fun as denial is.)

Can it be done – by yourself – in training? It’s hard, especially if you’re training alone. The effort of going and blowing the barn doors off – at race intensity – early on Saturday mornings around your local park is unlikely. It’s really so punishing, it has the potential to put you off the whole idea and ruin your love for the game. But if you can do it, all power to you.

Can it be done in a group? Much more achievable. I remember one of my runners saying, “If I train alone, everything’s negotiable.” Meaning the work usually gets shortened when it starts to get hard. Some of my Brisbane runners have formed a running posse as a means of getting their hard work done. You don’t even have to be equal pace, just having other people there and doing what you’re doing can be enough to spur you through those hard sessions, and the “remind me again why I’m dong this? moments.”

What about, practice competitions and races? These are good. With some solid numbers around you – unless you’re Yobes Ondieki – there will always be someone to chase and there will always be someone behind you. In no other format would you be capable of pushing as hard for the extended duration like you do in racing. You can ‘step load’ your racing too. My favourite sequence is, Canberra (10km) in April, into Sydney Half (21km) in May, into Gold Coast Marathon (42km) in July.

Between those biggies, you could also take advantage of events like Parkrun and other local hit outs, and use them for your high intensity, long duration training that is too punishing to face on your own. They say that misery loves company, well so does hard training, so use whatever and whoever you can to get it done.

Regular (minor) racing – I believe – is the best way to prepare your body for the demands of your major race day. And because it’s in a group setting you are likely to get it done and not hate the sport for your suffering. It just makes sense. You have to race eventually, so race early and race often. Then – I hope – I’m pretty sure – your race will pan out as planned.

Recommended running training courses…

If racing a marathon (or half) is on your agenda, here’s a great place to start, my FREE ’30 Days to 10k’ Training Program. It comes in beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, so there’s something for everyone. Get your campaign started today. Hit the link to my FREE 30 Days to 10k Training Programs now…

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