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Product Geek vs. Marathon


I wrote an article to capture and reflect my journey training for the LA Marathon. The full article is up on Medium  but here's the opening section:



I had always wanted to run a marathon, but with a long string of injuries and a 44 year-old body I knew I had to do it properly or I wouldn’t be able to finish. The time commitments of being a tech executive and my family had always prevented me from seriously considering it. It was on my “someday list” where ideas loiter and often die.


Then last November things unexpectedly changed.


I found myself with plenty of time and exactly 18 weeks to prepare for the Los Angeles Marathon. As a longtime product leader, I decided I would plan for as if it were a product launch with a roadmap, milestones along the way, teams of people working on different aspects of the plan and a grand flourish (the race itself) at the end. I set a goal to finish it in 4 hours or less — and with a smile on my face. And then I did what all obsessive product people do, I built out a roadmap carefully charting a course from start to finish.


The Roadmap (Training Plan)

I wanted a training plan for my runs that steadily built up mileage over the months ahead. A bit of research, a couple YouTube videos and a cross-reference with an endurance athlete friend led me to the Hal Higdon methodology.


The freely available plans on Hal’s site are nicely done. The Novice 2 approach looked like a winner — I had run plenty of half marathons before and was in good shape so I was comfortable skipping the most basic level. It also avoided all of the dreaded speed workouts included in the more advanced regimens.


I copied it into a Google Sheet and hit the road.


The Coach

I had a hunch that I needed to improve my running form if I was going to be pounding out hundreds of miles in the months ahead. I searched on Yelp for running coaches in West Los Angeles and after a little back and forth I had an appointment with Coach Gareth.


Coach Gareth’s analysis begins with a blood-lactate test to gauge fitness and form. I had unwisely assumed this would be easy and ate a breakfast burrito at a morning meeting about an hour earlier. My regret was nearly immediate.


The test consisted of running at progressively faster speeds on the treadmill and pausing between each increase in speed to have Gareth prick my finger and capture a drop of blood. The blood was then processed by a device connected to his laptop. The concept behind the test is to determine at which point you show clear signs of fatigue as measured by a sharp rise in lactate. Lactate is normally produced by the body but spikes during high intensity workouts. In simple terms, the longer you can go without lactate levels rising, the better off you are.



The rest of the article is here. It's an ~14 min read.

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