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Focus turns to Austin Marathon

Brom Hoban: Austin Running

Brom Hoban

Although Feb. 14 may seem a long way off, from a training standpoint the Austin Marathon the final race in the Austin Distance Challenge is now visible on the horizon. If this is your target marathon, two months out is a critical juncture. You've done a lot of hard work, and it's time to assess where you stand.

Many runners have a time goal in mind. If you are among them, look at your recent race performances and see if you are tracking realistically towards that time.

For example, if you're shooting to break four hours for the marathon, and you ran over two hours at the Decker Half Marathon last weekend, you may need to adjust your goal. A good method for predicting your marathon time is to double your current half-marathon time and add 10 minutes.

Granted, Decker is a hilly race, but that should account for no more than five or six extra minutes overall. So a 1:52 at Decker could translate to a sub-four marathon.

Distance Challenge leader Derick Williamson, who cruised to an easy win at Decker last week, is making Austin his first full marathon. He's looking to the weeks ahead before he zeros in on a time goal.

"I've done a lot of 15-milers, and just now I'm starting to push up my volume," said Williamson, who has a half-marathon best of 1:06. "I know that I can hit the distance, and I finish my long runs hard. I do plan to plan to go 24 miles a month out, and then run 3M. It might mean that I take three to four days off after 3M to be comfortable. "

From a long-distance perspective, Williamson, who runs Duratatraining.com, an endurance coaching company, advises that you add about two miles each week. The month ahead might look like 17, 19, 21, and then 23-24 miles.

"Run them at an easy pace," he said. "Training is all about overload and recovery. Seventeen miles is an overload from a duration standpoint, so you don't want to induce more stress by running it hard, thus compromising the rest of your training. You can't run your long runs too slowly. Find a comfort zone and stick to it."

During the week, Williamson recommends two tempo runs at a higher intensity — maybe 15-20 seconds faster than your marathon goal pace.

"I've noticed that runners across the board, if they do their tempo runs consistently, should add 10-15 seconds per mile for their marathon pace on race day," Williamson said. "For example, a 3:30 marathoner might do tempo runs at 7:45 pace, and then run 8:00 pace comfortably on race morning."

Above all, keep it low-pressure. Don't pick a goal that is out of your range, and don't become anxious about running a specific time, regardless of how your training is going.

"Since this is my first full marathon, I'm going to base it on how my training runs feel," said Williamson. "I want to have a really good race, without forcing the issue of time. I'll let my current fitness dictate that."

"It's important to have a race strategy based on what you are actually capable of. And it's important to be confident. I start my races slowly. But that's because I'm confident I can pick up the pace. So you need confidence from your training, and that will allow you to stick to your strategy."

Texans fare well at cross country nationals

Texans ran well on Saturday at the National High School Cross Country Championships in San Diego, Calif. Chelsey Sveinsson of Greenhill School in Dallas came in second with the same time as winner Megan Goethals (Rochester, Mich., High School ), clocking 17:07 over the 5,000-meter course.

In the boys race, Craig Lutz of Marcus High School took fourth in 15:30. Lukas Verzbicas — of Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Hills, Ill. — won in 15:08.