San Francisco Marathon 2023

I am Caleb Bendewald, 29 years old, and I've been actively running for three years. Over the past two years, I have been running the grueling 26.2-mile marathon distance, taking on the challenge seven times. My current personal best time is 2:35, averaging an average of 5:55 a mile. My personal best time came from the San Francisco Marathon, a particularly demanding course featuring significant hills in certain sections. Due to the intensity of the course, if you train for it and run it smartly, you can achieve a strong performance and a new personal best. I will be going over how I trained and prepared for that race.

The three primary keys I used in training for the San Francisco marathon were:

  1. Hills: My training regimen involved conquering various terrains, particularly challenging hills. These inclines ranged from continuous steady climbs to intense hill rep repeats, adding a crucial dimension to my preparation. Running on hilly terrain tested my cardiovascular endurance and enhanced my leg strength and stamina. Including hilly terrain in my training plan aimed to improve my overall fitness, ensuring that I was well-equipped to tackle the diverse demands of the race course.

  2. Stimulus: Using lots of marathon goal pace and faster pace run workouts ranging from short 30 seconds to up to 2-hour runs. I ensured that for every single run, whether a light or a hard run workout, I would run at my goal marathon pace for at least 30 seconds to up no less than five times. I create a stimulus of running at that pace, getting more comfortable with it, and building up to running longer at that pace for more extensive run workouts to come.

  3. Acclimation:  During a scorching Texas summer, I dedicated myself to training for a race scheduled in July. The decision to participate in this race was made in May, allowing me approximately a month and a half to prepare adequately. Recognizing the intense heat of the Texas summer, I incorporated extensive heat acclimation into my training regimen. Despite the race being in San Francisco, California, during July, I anticipated a milder temperature compared to the blazing conditions in Texas. Understanding the challenge of maintaining a goal pace in high temperatures, I adjusted my running speed to avoid overheating. Striking a balance between not pushing too hard in the heat and gauging my pace relative to race conditions, I aimed to optimize my performance on race day. Some days were challenging as I strived to hit my target paces. Still, I remained resilient, acknowledging that the entire process is a learning experience and not letting occasional setbacks discourage me.

The most important thing I use when running and training for races is simply having gratitude. Running is a challenging and humbling sport. It is easy to get carried away and overdo it when training and trying to reach specific goals, which can cause one to get hurt, flustered, and burned out. It's a blessing to be able to run when some people out there may not get to. Progress takes time; sometimes, you just need to let it flow rather than try too hard and cause tension for yourself. After all, running is healthy and should be something you enjoy doing. I try not to over-emphasize the training runs. As I mentioned before, my approach is to create a stimulus and gradually build on it. I feel that you don't have to be strictly structured in every run workout. You can have an idea of what workout you will do going into it and adjust from there; determine if you need to back off or overreach a little. Make workouts challenging but fun.