Jenischpark Laps: Double Marathon Weekend
Currently I’m starting my training for the Endurance Trail des Templiers race, which takes place in October in southern France and will feature 106 kilometers in length and 5,125 meters of vertical gain.
Needless to say, it’s going to be tough and I will need to prepare for that quite a bit.
But how to prepare for something like that?
I am also not entirely sure, but from talking to friends who have done similar races I got some helpful tips. Those are not surprising: run a lot, and run up and down some hills a lot.
Also, as I’m guessing the race will take somewhere between 15 and 20 hours for me, I think I should prepare to be able to stay on my feet for a long time.
As a start which turned out to be very helpful and catapult my fitness level way up I recently did a running streak month during which I aimed for at least 10 kilometers on every single day. I ended up running a lot more than its required minimum and made it to 450 kilometers at the end of the month. That’s a good foundation already. But I can’t stop there if I want to be prepared for Templiers!
I wrote to Henning Lenertz (@henning.lenertz), writer at Germany’s edition of Runner’s World magazine, because my friend Michael Mankus (@michaelmankus) told me that Henning ran the Templiers. There aren’t many who have because it’s a relatively obscure event, seen from a German perspective. Henning, who seems to be a great guy, graciously answered all my questions regarding the race. What mainly stuck with me is that he thinks it’s most important to be able to run for a long time, as opposed to the mountain running skills. And there’s no better training than to push your body to more and more kilometers with less regeneration in between.
Taking into account work and family life, I arrived at the conclusion to do a double marathon weekend – Saturday a marathon, Sunday another marathon right in our vicinity, the Jenischpark. Removing the navigational tasks in order to free my mind from that burden, I went for identical laps on the paths. Saturday counter-clockwise, Sunday clockwise. Also, that park would have a slight amount of elevation of around 600 meters of gain during the 42.2 kilometers. I’ll take it!
I started on Saturday at 7 AM in order to be done and ready for family life afterwards. Thankfully, my friend and loyal running buddy Mathias showed up to do a few laps with me.
We talked about everything and the kilometers melted away like nothing. After about 25 Mathias had to leave due to his own family commitments, so I was alone on this 2.5 kilometer lap. Initially I planned to do a 5:30 minutes per kilometer pace and that worked out well. For the last two laps, Sophie and the girls showed up and played around in the park, although the weather wasn’t the best today. I had to fight for the last few seconds to make it to exactly a 5:30 min/km average, according to my watch. Strava agreed.
Shower, tiny nap, and off to do the weekly grocery shopping with the kids! Playtime followed, good food with enough carbs and protein, and of course a pint of my favorite Ben & Jerry’s icecream, Cookie Dough. That ought to do it!
Of course, my body felt the marathon. It wasn’t just as if nothing happened. Which is why I carefully chose 6:00 minutes per kilometer as the pace for today. I’m carrying all my liquids too, so that’s a bonus challenge. I need to get used to it, though, because I will need to do that during the Templiers as well, but probably not to the degree I’m doing it here.
A bit of family planning got in the way, so I couldn’t start at 7 AM sharp again but at 9 AM instead. Good enough. Again, I had the pleasure of some company, today Rasmus joined me for the first few laps.
I noticed the clockwise direction today made the hilly loop a bit easier to run for me. Something about the steepness of the little hills, probably. Or maybe I just got used to it? The 6 minute pace worked out fine, just as planned, and I felt like I couldn’t have gone any faster today.
A few laps after Rasmus left, another buddy joined me. This time, Stefan, who I haven’t seen for a long time, but who recently resurfaced on Strava. I like that community aspect of the service.
For the last few laps I was on my own again and had to fight that battle myself.
During the last few kilometers I saw my 6:00 minute average in danger and had to switch gears in order to make that goal. Not easy, but a good challenge. Strava even gave me a second there.
I would say it was a success. Two marathons on two consecutive days isn’t easy and I’m glad I was able to pull it off. It’s a good step into the right direction if I want to make it in France this fall.
As a little bonus, I even inspired German national 24 hour running champion Marcel Leuze (@endloslaeufer) to do a loop-based run that evening. Marcel references my friend and co-worker Holger Milde (@ecopunk) there, who also did a loop-based marathon this weekend, taking it to new extremes on a 400 meters track! Why not. I can definitely see that sort of thing in my future as well.