Posted by: Dean Hebert | August 4, 2008

Training: Pacing and Training for the “Goofy Challenge”- take II

In a previous post Jill asked about training for the Goofy Challenge. Given the broadness of the inquiry, in my first answer I gave the foundation for training for marathons which would be a requisite for training for this race.

However, this run requires runners to run a full marathon on Saturday (1/10/09) and a half-marathon the next day (1/11/09). [Entries are already closed for the 2009 race.] I’ll elaborate on some facets of training to tailor your training for Goofy-specificity.

The previous discissions about training and training mileage of course still hold true. What’s novel here — or “goofy” if you prefer — is the reduced recovery time between these two hard efforts. Take note that this is not really an endurance challenge in itself: if you can run a marathon, then of course you can run a half-marathon. Here it’s a twist on endurance – a repeated effort with limited rest.

Likewise, for most of us neither effort is a 100% effort so true stamina (ability to hold a pace over a specific distance) is not critical. You may give 100% over two days, but not 100% for the marathon and 100% for the half-marathon. In other words, you shouldn’t be looking for a PR in each of these (unless, of course you’ve never run one of these distances). If you were to put that much effort — going out at 100% effort on day one for instance — odds of even moving the next day are much diminished.

What’s critical with a back-to-back performance challenge is the ability to tolerate both mentally and physically come back with limited recovery and perform again. In that vein here are some elements that are critical to iron out during training:

1. Pre-race dietary needs are unique. Be sure to consume what is most palatable, very high in carbohydrates, and easiest to digest and eliminate. You do not need intestinal problems to thwart your effort.

2. Practice post-race recovery diets. Experiment and track the results. Your recovery diet must begin as soon as possible after your day-one race… the first 20 minutes! Fluids typically will suffice if they are high in carbohydrates and you introduce one of the replacement drinks with some protein (to facilitate muscle rebuilding). Again, do not leave this to chance! Day-two will count on what you do!

3. Though your total mileage should remain similar to any marathon preparation, where you place your runs in the week needs to be tweaked. Build into your training “long weekends.” Run a long run on Saturday and come back with another one on Sunday. For example, run 18 on Saturday and run 12 on Sunday (or whatever other two consecutive days of the week you choose). This is the time to practice points #1 & #2.

4. Do some double workout days. By running twice in a day you train your body to run while tired (essential for this event), mentally cope with short recovery and repeated effort (essential for this event), and simultaneously allow you to practice pre-run & recovery diets. Run 10 miles in the morning and 10 in the evening for instance. Try running the morning session faster than the second… and vice versa.

5. Though “goal” paced running may play less of a role in an event like this since most people are in this to experience it and complete it; quality runs (track and tempo runs) are still essential. As well, running some of the longer runs at faster than “stick it out and finish” pace are indicated. Every other week run a medium-long run (8-14 miles) at what would be your goal marathon pace and/or 5-8 miles at your goal half-marathon pace (…if you were racing for a time in either the marathon/half-marathon).

6. When you plan your goal pace for these two races think of the total time and distance of the race, rather than taking each of them on its own. As you would with a relay race or multi-sport race, think of the total effort and then pace yourself accordingly. One thing that we’ve seen in relay races, for example, is people going at at 10K pace when they have to run 10K three times in a day. They really should be pacing themselves for something closer to 30K, because of the reduced recovery time between the races. In the Goofy Challenge, you’ll be running 39.3 miles over the course of two days. Pace yourself accordingly and you’ll feel a lot better.

The Goofy Challenge is a unique twist on something that many people have done over the years: relay running. Races like the Hood to Coast Relay test people by having them run three or more times in a 24-hour period. Here, the twist is running a marathon and half-marathon in a short period. This challenge should be a fun and interesting one; just remember to take it easy on day one or you’ll be paying for it on day two.

Good luck.

Coach Dean Hebert, Tempe Arizona, USA
Contributing Editor, Running Advice and News
With additional content from Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA


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