It’s hard to believe I’m entering my last week of training before
Richmond. I’ve organized my life around training for the past three and a half months so it’s strange for it to be drawing to a close. There were only two key workouts this week, and I hit my targets in both the mile repeats on Tuesday and in my last tempo run on Friday (despite facing a stiff headwind for the last half) to provide some positive momentum into the taper. My challenge this coming week will not be running as much as it will be mental preparation. To be as ready as possible for Saturday I need to rest, stay calm, and finalize my plan for the race.
It’s getting close. I got my bib number in an email from Richmond this week, logistics are worked out, and I re-filled my stockpile of Huma gels. The goals now are just to finish my training plan and get rested for the marathon.
I hit the targets for my two workouts this week, and the other runs went well but were remarkable. At this point one of my challenges is not getting bored. I’m trying some mindfulness activities to focus on segments of runs that keep me distracted, but this week I found at least one better way to change things up and keep running fun.
There wasn’t anything really special about training this week. This was a step-back week, and I hit my targets for both the tempo and strength workouts. The interesting runs came this weekend.
Yesterday my family rant the Ellie Helton Memorial 5k (recap forthcoming). It was a great time and a good cause, but forced me to break the scheduled ten mile run into three chunks (3, 4, 3) with long breaks in between. I couldn’t have asked for better weather or company, but breaking up the runs created stiffness I didn’t anticipate.
Every marathon training cycle has its strange and difficult moments. This past week was one of mine.
I had planned to run a half-marathon as a warm-up race to see how well I could execute a race strategy. However, Hurricane Matthew forced postponement of the race for two weeks, and given the degree of flooding in Kinston it may have to be cancelled. I looked forward to the race, but you take what the weather gives you.
This was a step-back week, and after back-to-back hard weeks I think I’d confused “step-back” with “easy”. I expected a break because my plan had several easy runs, but when I think about it I probably shouldn’t have expected any week of marathon training to be easy. There are a couple of reasons why this week felt particularly long.
First, I tweaked my groin at the end of my speed workout on Tuesday and have had to nurse it through the rest of the week. It wasn’t too bad most days, but by the end of my ten mile run this morning I could feel it depending on how I planted my foot. I am stretching and taking it easy, but hope I can work through it (yes, future self, I can hear you).
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.
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.
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.