Keys to Improvement: Run Consistency & Strength Training
You can see by this chart that there is a correlation between faster marathon times and increase in lifting heavy weights. For about 6 months I did 50 reps at 50 pounds. I was building endurance but I didn't really need more endurance, I needed strength and power. It's not to say that when I was only lifting 50 pounds it was a walk in the park, but it wasn't what I was truly capable of doing. I remember trying to push 40 pounds on the GLUTE machine and that felt so incredibly hard, but strength training is just like running. You have to build up to a greater weight / a faster time. You can't expect to just go out on DAY 1 and lift heavy weights. I totally understand now why people love strength training because it is the same reason why people love running. You simply want to see how much more you can do. It's awesome.
When I started lifting heavier weights in August, I simply just incremented weight as I became stronger and more comfortable. I lift based on how I feel and what feels hard to me. When it's too easy, I bring it up a notch. It's ridiculous that I am able to lift 340 pounds on leg press (30 reps in a row without stopping). I don't even know how I am doing that, but that one is fairly easy for me. The other machines are harder but I was able to increment weights on a few of them yesterday (not noted in this chart) but I do want to see how heavy I can get to before the marathon in New Orleans. I completely believe that I will continue to have faster marathon times as long as I keep lifting heavy weights on a regular basis. The key is not to overdo it but rather incrementally build up to each new weight and "stay there" for about a week or so until you get comfortable with that and then increase the weights again. I am always a bit cautious about not injuring myself while strength training. I am looking forward to my next marathon to find out if I am able to break a sub-4:00 marathon. Stay tuned.
NOTE: The Average # of Miles Per Week below are counting the 6 weeks of "training" and excluding the weeks of taper miles. Myrtle Beach I ran the most I had ever run with Hartford a close second. Some of the # Miles Per Week are not that great but mostly it's because during those 6 weeks, I had another marathon or were taking it easy (between Hartford and Philadelphia because they were so close together.) Providence was kind of a wimpy training cycle (see post) yielded "ok" results at the time. San Francisco was a hilly course with a lot of people and I never could run as fast as I wanted to!