Ramping up your mileage this month is easy with Alaska’s daylight averaging 19 hours in Anchorage, 18 hours in Juneau and 21 in Fairbanks. Everyone knows the drill this time of
year – we all get a little manic with the extra hours of light, (and hopefully sunshine). And while all this sunlight doesn’t necessarily mean you are instantly ready to tackle a marathon, it does mean you can take make the most of the training hours. Use this time wisely to build endurance for other classic Alaska races like the Anchorage Run Fest in August, the Equinox Marathon in September, or Willow Marathon in December.
The Anchorage Run Fest offers a variety of events and, like the Mayor’s, is a Boston Marathon qualifier. That means it’s accurately measured, and if you run a prescribed time for your age group, you may gain entry into
the famed Boston Marathon in April. Runners World magazine also selected the Anchorage Run Fest as a Bucket List race in its’ January issue.
The Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks is argu- ably an Alaskan Bucket List race like Seward’s Mount Marathon. Steeped in history, the tough course profile looks like a cardiac EKG.
Relatively new on the running scene is the Willow Marathon set in December – Think minus-20 degrees or more at the start. This race is a chance to channel Robert Service or Jack London – you will be tested.
So here are a few choices, and some tips to make use of this unique Alaska gift: mega daylight!
First, keep that long run on the weekends because most of your pals are also off of work. Plus there is safety in numbers and running in a group is loads more fun. Another upside is one can start earlier in the day or much later in the evening. The range of where you can run increases as well. Drive to Eklutna Lake for an out-and-back lake run, or check out Girdwood for another out-and-back along the bike path to Bird. Out-and-backs are fun because larger groups can start and finish at the same time by des- ignating a set turnaround times such as 45 minutes or an hour, or more. To avoid injury do not increase the distance or time by more than 5 percent each week. Your body adapts gradually to this stress. If you crave more time on your feet, walk at the end for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Pace: Run so you can chat with your friends. Share your goals, and how you worked through tough patches in events. A favorite of mine is to swap side cramps. A quick slap on your friend’s side to take away his cramp or give him/her yours.
ONE OF FOUR CAUTIONARY NOTES:
Wildlife encounters can occur at any time but should be antici- pated closer to sunrise or sunset. Reduce the “Big Wild Life” risk by
using the hours after sunrise and before sunset as travel time to your training spot.
Second, lengthen your midweek run on Thursday to 90 minutes. It can be done in one session or split is up into an morning and afternoon/evening outing if necessary. This run offers a chance to push your pace a little after the first 10-15 minutes. Concentrate on your form, stay relaxed but chatting in sentences means you are running easier than you want to for the training effect. Factor in a 10 to 15 minute recovery.
Third, avoid injury by gradually increasing your distance and speed. June has five Sat- urdays. Aim to make your longest run on the 30th instead of the 2nd. Maintain a gradual adaptation. If you want more time on your feet, add a walk before and afterwards.
Finally, make the long outings primal by going unplugged. No tunes. Enjoy the banter between buddies. It also keeps you alert to your surroundings. There’s plenty of wildlife out there. A little noise from you just might shift a moose or bear to another trail.
Save the iPhone for emergencies. Turn it off or keep it on airplane mode to save battery life. OK, if you summited a peak or two in the Chugach Front Range take the selfie.
— Keep striding and smiling, Coach Mike
Mayor’s Marathon (June 23) www.goseawolves.com
Copper River Marathon (July 14) www.copperriverwild.org
Anchorage RunFest (Aug. 19) www.anchoragerunfest.org
Equinox Marathon (Sept. 15) www.equinoxmarathon.org
Willow Marathon (December, TBA) www.willowrunningcompany.com