Some of us think nothing of racing month after month at distances ranging from 5k all the way up to the marathon. But others, like Melissa Moore, believe in training specifically for one race distance and peaking just one or two times each year.
Read on to learn how this strategy has helped Moore drop her marathon PR by more than 50 minutes and her number one tip for newbie runners.
Years running: 12 years
Favorite workout: Long runs! I’m also a big fan of short tempo sprints. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t’ do a ton of speedwork outside of CrossFit workouts.
Favorite distance to race: The marathon
Significant past wins/placings: 3:15 PR and 13th place at the 2012 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. It was a perfect day and everything kind of fell into place for a PR. I’ve also dropped my marathon time by 50 minutes since 2007 so that’s pretty cool!
Favorite post-race treat: I’m a big fan of ice cream and pretty much always eat Chinese food after marathons.
How did you get started with running?
I started running seriously the summer before my freshman year in high school when I decided to try out for the cross country team. I had always played soccer and basketball but knew they weren’t sports I could continue on at the high school level. I made the varsity cross country team as a freshman and we placed 2nd in the state meet. After that I was hooked. In 2006, I decided to make a change and switched to marathoning. I won my age group 6 months later at the 2007 Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Marathon – a small marathon that no longer exists where 700-900 crazy people would run a marathon on Thanksgiving Day.
Do you have a quote or philosophy that inspires your running?
People always ask me why I run or what I’m training for and I always answer that “I’m training for life” and that’s true! I’ll probably never make the Olympics but running is helping to keep me fit and healthy so that I can tackle life’s everyday challenges.
Can you tell us a bit about your college running experience?
I ran cross country for one year at a small college in North Carolina. Toward the end of the season I had to get my appendix removed and the recovery was slow. After that I decided my education was more important, transferred back home and started training for a marathon. Looking back it might have been fun to compete for three more years, but overall I’m happy with the way things turned out. The marathon suits me and I’ve enjoyed it. It was nice to make my own training calendar and be responsible for myself.
Some runners race many times each year, but you seem to prefer to race just a handful of times. Can you tell us what’s behind your decision to race only a couple times per year and how you pick your races?
Since 2007, I have raced two marathons a year; one in spring and one in the fall. I’ve found with my body and the time it takes me to recover from each race, two marathons give me adequate time to relax after a race and slowly build back up. I think that’s the reason I have never been injured or suffered a major setback. It worked in my first year and I’ve just kept it the same. Two marathons a year also fits my lifestyle and pocketbook. I’ve been in college or graduate school for the majority of my marathoning career and I have pretty limited resources.
Can you tell us a bit about that first marathon on Thanksgiving Day?
Nowadays they only have a half marathon on Thanksgiving but it was a great race put on by the Atlanta Track Club that started and ended at Turner Field where the Atlanta Braves play. I won my age group with a time of just over 4 hours (not many 19-year-olds run marathons). I’ll be honest it was kind of awful. I had not run enough long runs and the fact that it rained didn’t help. I wore cotton socks and my feet were bloody from blistering. Once I finished, I swore off marathoning – for about two days when I signed up for my second!
Have you ever had a race that did not go as expected? If so, how did you bounce back?
In 2011 I ran the Deadwood Mickleson Trail Marathon in South Dakota (where my husband and I were living at the time) on one of the hottest days in June. It’s a scenic point-to-point marathon that takes place on an old railroad track turned dirt running trail. I pushed it way too hard in the beginning and by half way I was dehydrated and starting to falter. I ended up having to run/walk the last couple of miles and finished with a disappointing 3:55. I also had an awesome one-sided sunburn that was pretty painful! It was difficult and I was upset but I knew that the weather played a huge role in my performance. I took a week or so off and just started training again. While time is important to me, it’s not the end all be all.
Do you have any marathon tips for newbies?
Long runs! Long runs! Long runs! It’s so important to have that time to practice being on your feet for two to three hours. It doesn’t even matter how fast your run them; your body just needs time to adapt to the stress.
What are your running goals for the upcoming year?
It’s been a hard year for me so far. I’ve been dealing with a lot of (non-running related) medical problems that have impacted my ability to compete. Right now I’m planning on trying some new distances in 2014 and would love to start doing some trail races. After seven years, I think it’s time to make a change, but I do plan to run more marathons in the future.
Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
The Oak Leaf Trail is the most amazing running trail system I’ve ever seen. We have lived in a lot of places and I’ve never been in a city where there are so many safe, off-the-road options. I also love to run north on Lake Drive through the villages of Fox Point and Whitefish Bay.
What is your favorite Milwaukee race?
Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon – it’s a great course with so many great supporters!
In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
Milwaukee has a great park and trail system. They city maintains the areas and makes it a great place to run year round. There is also a great community of runners in Milwaukee. I love the Badgerland Striders Build-Up Program!
Thanks for chatting with us, Melissa! If you’d like to learn more about Melissa, you can connect here:
If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to chat with you. Send us an email at email@example.com if you’d like to be featured or know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Let’s Get to Know . . . post.
Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!