A few weeks ago I realized I needed to cut a week out of my training as I had miscounted the weeks leading up to my race. My plan alternates hard and “step-back” weeks, and it seemed to make sense to knock out a “step-back” week. This meant I would have one set of hard weeks back-to-back, and this was the second half of the set. I am now back on track, but I am also very tired.
This week also marked a switch from speed to strength workouts. This means my paces are a little slower but the trade-off is that the intervals are longer. This week it was six one-mile repeats. I thought that would be tougher mentally, but I liked the repetition after sprinting for the past seven weeks. Some of the strength workouts are longer, though, and I will have to decide if I want to keep those on the track or move to the road.
A few weeks ago, Andrea and I took part in our first prediction run. Bull City Running Company organized “Shot in the Dark”, a 6k on the American Tobacco Trail. The point of the race was not to go the fastest, but to guess the time you thought you could finish in and then see how close you could get to that mark. You’re not allowed to have a phone or a watch, so it is a test of how well you know your own pacing. Since we both ran this one, we thought it would be fun to compare experiences.
Another humid, but good training week. I hit my mileage targets overall, and think my three major work outs for the week went well. The splits for my 800 repeats fell within a few seconds of another and my tempo run added a mile and the splits stayed in the upper end of my target range.
The big question mark for me this week was the long run. Part of the Hanson philosophy is that long runs shouldn’t account for more than 25-30% of your weekly mileage total. Based on this, neither their basic and advanced plans call for long runs of more than 16 miles. In marathon training that is scary as the 18-20 mile run is a foundation of most plans. This builds strength in your legs but also marks an important psychological barrier for most runners; if you can do these in training, you know you at least should be able to make it to the finish of your race.
Overall, training this week went well. My speed work went well, and despite the humidity I managed to stay within my target range for the tempo run on Friday. I have included a large hill on my route for this run for the past couple of weeks, and this was the first week I didn’t slow to a crawl climbing it. My easy runs went well, and I worked in the strength and flexibility workouts I wanted to get in.
The main issue with my training for the week was that I realized I had miscounted the weeks until my marathon. On my current plan, I would be set to run my marathon a week after it actually occurs. That is obviously problematic. I had to make adjustments at the beginning because of an injury, but I thought I had mapped things out correctly. I don’t want to drop a week during my taper, so I will likely drop one of the “easy” weeks coming up to get back on track.
Next week I will take a step up in mileage again, upping the length of the tempo run from seven to eight miles and taking the longest run to date (15 miles). I’m hopeful fall is on its way and will make an early appearance for those, but we’ll have to wait and see.
One of the reasons I picked the Hanson plan to train this time was that I wanted to up my weekly mileage and get to the point where I could run 50 miles or more in a week. I hadn’t found a good strategy for building up to the mileage This was the first week I crossed the boundary and it felt good.
My speed work and tempo workout went okay. I kept close to my paces in the speed work on Tuesday but was on the high end of the range I set. This week my workout was a speed ladder (400m-800-1200-1600-1200-800-400), which is one of my least favorite. I like repeats better since you can develop a sense of pace and rhythm. With the ladder the paces vary slightly as you go up or down, and I find it mentally tougher to get through the longer intervals in the middle of the workout. That’s probably good for me, though.
As much as I enjoy track and field, I hadn’t been to a meet since I last ran in one as a senior in high school. I watched the Olympics every four years, but that was my only contact with the sport. A lot has changed in track since the 90’s, though. One of the cooler trends is the growth of small meets centered on the mile that bring the crowd closer to the athletes and give elite athletes a chance to run stateside instead of overseas.
Since 2014 (not counting the pilot in 2013) Raleigh has been fortunate to host one of these events, the Sir Walter Miler, which brings a men’s and women’s field of elite runners to town in early August to race on the track at Meredith University. The Sir Walter includes a few races with local flavor (this year it was a Raleigh vs. Durham open mile and a run club 4 x 400m relay), but the highlight is being able to line both sides of the track as spectators for the elite races.
I remembered seeing coverage of this in the News and Observer in the past, but hadn’t been able to attend. I circled it on the calendar this year and signed up to volunteer to give myself extra incentive to get out there.
Week four is in the books, and overall I am happy with how it went. The weather was good, I got in a complete set of workouts, and nearly hit my mileage target.
Fall Temps Are Here… Just Kidding!
We had a couple of days this week where the high only reached the upper eighties, the humidity stayed below 50%, and the mornings almost felt cool. It was a nice break while it lasted. I had forgotten how much easier it is to run when you don’t feel like you’re breathing underwater and what it felt like to not start sweating after stepping out the door. By the end of the week, though, the weather reverted to hot and humid conditions reminding me that summer will be around for another month or so.
When I first started dating my wife, my future father-in-law heard I was a runner and a reader and gave me a copy of Alan Sillitoe’s “Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.” He loved the book (short story, in this case) and especially the film version. I thanked him, but since I seem to collect books it laid dormant on my shelf for years.