The Peak Performance Maine Marathon and Half-Marathon is just over five weeks away, on October 4, 2009. This means that over 50 people have been training hard for the past three months with the Peak Performance Marathon Training Group. (A few are doing other marathons, but are in the fold nonetheless!)
The 18-week program got underway on May 31st, with participation doubled from the inaugural group last year. Runners joined the program with a wide range of goals: many to do their first ever marathon or half-marathon; others to improve their half-marathon time from last year; even a 56-time marathon veteran came on board to run a goal time in the half! Over half the runners are also raising funds to benefit the Center for Grieving Children in Portland, Maine, the race beneficiary for the 2008 and 2009 events.
Runners received an individual training schedule based on their level of fitness, running experience, personal schedule, and goals. Most run their weekly long run on Sundays, as a group, while others run their long run on Saturdays, as it works better for them. A few live out-of-state and receive coaching via E-mail; and all are kept up to date with weekly communications.
About three weeks into the program, I received a call from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training Coordinator. The Maine training group had lost its coach and was looking for support. These twelve runners from all around the state were welcomed into the group and are training for the Maine, Dublin, and Nike Women's Marathons, all in October, while also raising funds to benefit the Society.
The distances of the weekly groups runs have been progressively increasing, with a few runners up to 18 miles. Because it's an individual pursuit in a group context, distances and paces vary. What is fascinating and fairly reliable about the process is that people seem to 'find each other' and are able to develop friendships and training partnerships. Because so many are first-time runners at these distances, speed and intensity are not the focal point. Instead, long slow distance runs are encouraged, particularly for the weekly group run.
Training runs will occur on sections of the marathon course for the next few weeks before the taper phase. Runners should have a very good idea of the course and will be prepared both mentally and physically for the big day. Throughout the program they have had access to free clinics covering topics such as nutrition, injury prevention, sports psychology, self-massage techniques, and understanding the physiology behind performance and training. It's a full and productive four and a half months, no doubt!
If you have any questions or would like to receive more information about running programs through A Running Conversation or Peak Performance, please just let me know. And, if you are training for a fall marathon, best wishes for a great run!