Monday, January 28, 2013

Right In The Thick Of It

Time just keeps flying by, doesn't it?  I am now finding myself staring down at 7 weeks until race day!  Which means, 4 more weeks of peak workouts, a transition week, and then taper time. seems so far away to have to get through the next tough weeks, but also so close.  But as always, I like to take things one day at a time, because you need to focus on the now, before you can focus on the future.  Otherwise, you risk losing sight of what you need to do first, in order to get THERE

So that is where I am today.  Taking a look at today's tempo run and looking forward to running outside.  This past week brought some challenges, between busy family stuffs and a few minor snow events.  I still ran outside wherever I could, but I had to hit up 3 treadmill workouts this week after the Z man was asleep, due to being on daddy duty for much of the week.  Thankfully it was a recovery week, so it all worked out and my body feels ready to move forward.  Ask me again in a few weeks and I'm sure it will have a different answer...but I digress.

As much as I recommend runners participate in tune up races as they build toward their goal race (no matter the distance), I am having a really difficult time making that happen for myself this training cycle.  For the marathon, I prefer to use a 13.1 as a predictor/tune up.  It most closely resembles the distance compared to other options, and works pretty darn well to figure out if you are in the ballpark of your marathon goals when you race one all out.  For those curious, I've found that doubling your 13.1 time and adding 10-12 minutes gives a pretty good approximation, which is typically a little closer to reality than most calculators.

However, the DC area really lacks 13.1 and 10 mi distances in the January/early February timeframe, despite having thousands of 5ks to choose from each weekend.  Rightly so, since it is the middle of winter, but it would be nice to have an option.  There are also so many runners in this area training for goal races in mid March (ie RnRUSA, Shamrock, B&A), that it seems a shame there aren't more options for us.  Last year, I ran the Snapple Half Marathon, and despite the mis-measurement issues of the course, found it to be a good race for a good cause and fairly priced.  I had every intention of racing it again this year, since the timing fell perfectly at the end of my recovery week, but family business required me to stay home.  No biggie at all, but I sure was looking forward to putting a shiny new PR out there.  My 1:29:xx is a soft PR for me with my current fitness, so it would be nice to put a dent into that or the 10 mile PR which is even softer, since I set it DURING the 13.1 last year. 

But given the place I am at in my training, I don't see where it makes sense to substitute anything shorter than a 10 miler into my plan, simply to get some race experience.  And I don't subscribe much to the belief that racing hard (10k pace and faster) on tried legs the day after a long run will do anything for me, other than lead to a sub-par performance in the race (potential confidence killer and injury risk), and require even more recovery.  The only 10 miler that is reasonably close to home is only 2 weeks out from my race, which could be substituted for my long run, but it is also not the time to blow out the legs just to get a PR.  And I don't sign up for races just to run supported miles.  Its just not in my DNA to stand on the start line and not run to my potential (unless I am supporting someone else of course).

Gotta have some priorities and the marathon is it right now.  So I will continue to flex my mental muscle on my long runs, speed workouts, and tempo runs.  I've been racing for a long time, so I don't think the experience will be that helpful.  Really it would be more for race prediction and PR setting than anything, which is something that would be nice, but isn't a requirement for me.  So I am going to hold strong and leave the PR setting at other distances until after the marathon.

It take a strong person to train patiently and properly throughout a race build up.  It takes an even stronger person to refuse the temptation of short term gains (ie "testing" oneself in workouts, setting shorter distance PRs, straying from the plan) in exchange for sacrificing the big picture goal, which is obviously to run to my ability at Shamrock.  And that's all I've got to say about that.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of miles to go run!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Reaching New Highs

Aside from the pesky cold that won't seem to go away, I have been having a great stretch of running.  Each day brings a new purpose, whether it is simply an easy run to recover from the previous day, or a long run to dial in my endurance.  Both give me reason to be excited to get out and run each and every day.  At the most simple level, running gives me freedom.  Freedom to see the world on foot and explore places one might miss if driving.  Freedom to clear the mind from anything else going on in life, except for the focus on the next step, mile, or breath.  Freedom to find out what I can mentally overcome when my body starts saying "no" in the midst of the difficult run.  All of these elements give me reason to look forward to running.

And I say this immediately following my highest volume week ever - 70+ miles.  Only a few years ago, I never would have even fathomed I'd have the time or the durability to make it 70 miles in a week.  Its amazing how quickly the body adapts and how one can find time even when it seems like none exists.  I'm busier more than ever now, yet able to sustain higher mileage easier than ever before.  Why?  I've found a way to create more time in my day by waking up early and getting it done.  Running is a priority in my life and early mornings are the only way if I want it to happen, so it does.  Typically, 3-4 days a week I follow the early riser routine, with the other days slightly later starts to my runs.  Below is how my week played out, which is pretty representative of my standard routine (its just the workouts that vary):

Pre long run photo with running buddies
- Monday: AM - 3.75 mi easy with Tucker to loosen the legs; PM - 10.55 mi with a 6 mi tempo (6:39/mi avg)
- Tuesday: AM - 7 mi easy with Tucker followed by 5 x 30s strides at the end
- Wed: AM - 11 mi of steady running on a very hilly course
- Thursday: AM - 5 mi easy with Tucker followed 4 x 30s strides at the end; PM - 7.8 mi with 10 x 600m intervals on the track (2:22 down to 2:15)
- Friday: PM - 5 mi easy with Tucker
- Saturday: AM - 16.1 mi long run of 10 mi easy, last 6 at marathon pace (7:10/mi avg)
- Sunday: PM - 4 mi easy with Tucker

Everything just clicked this week and I managed to get in some good quality workouts.  The highlight of my week was the 6 mi tempo on Monday on a rolling course, because it felt so fluid and easy relative to the pace.  A big confidence boost to nail the pacing so strong to kick off the week.  I definitely think it set the tone for everything else to fall into place.

But just like that, the week was over and now its time to start with a clean slate again.  Though this won't be a recovery week, I don't foresee getting quite up to 70 mi this week, but expect to be in the high 60s again with another 20 miler scheduled from Saturday.  While everything feels great, I'm trying to give myself some relative rest by removing the doubles this week to maximize recovery between runs.  This will also give me a few more hrs of sleep this week, which should hopefully help with my cold.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Rolling with the Punches

Sometimes the week flies by like you're just standing there, and other times it just creeps along like every second feels the equivalent of an hour.  When people are sick, and more specifically, when the whole house is sick, the week become the latter and is one endless episode of Groundhog Day - of sneezing, wiping, crying, and hoping for just a little bit of rest.  When you are the only non-sick person, you have to take care of everyone else.  Do all the things two people used to do and STILL get stuff done. The poor little man was so irritable that he couldn't be put down by himself for almost 3 days.  So that meant carrying around a 17 lb sack of potatoes pretty much everywhere I was for those days, while doing everything.  Talk about cross training!  Its not easy and I can't begin to imagine how this situation might play out with a larger family.  As always, I'm sure you adjust and that would become the new normal, but IT. IS. TOUGH. 

So when you are staring down at a week of running in which you plan to embark on your first of hopefully several 20 milers for the training cycle, it is rather ominous to have to run the gauntlet of sneezing, coughing, and sniffling people.  Even more so when you are forced to have your baby sleep in your bed because he can barely breath, let alone sleep.  So yea, it was not the ideal circumstances. 

Originally, I had planned on peaking my mileage around 70 miles on the week, with a few key workouts:

- A tempo run where the tempo portion was 6 mi at about half marathon pace
- A track workout as part of our DTP program
- The 20 mi long run

I got in 2 of those 3 and my 20 miler went really well, despite some pretty windy headwinds for the middle 10 miles.  And you know what?  I did what I could and that's about all I can ask for myself.  You just have to roll with it.  At the end of the day, I missed 2 runs, only 1 of which was a key workout (the tempo).  And while aside from the long run, it was the 2nd most important run of the week, so I felt bad for missing it, but you can't sit there and dwell on the past.  You move on to the next week. 

Things are looking on the up though, as everyone is starting to get healthier in the house, though the sickness does still linger and has me slightly worried of catching it on the tail end.  While I did get a slight cold, it is minor relative to what they had.  I still have a 6 mi tempo run planned (same workout as last week), so I will get that in, along with everything else (I hope).  That will hopefully put me back on the proper path and closer to another planned 70 mi week, but if not, I'm just going to make what I can with what I have. 

Every day/week/month can't be perfect.  It never is.  Plans are meant to be a guideline of the ideal and sometimes you just have to let go of the attachment to nail every workout and realize that the best you can do is the best you can do.  I know that a few unexpected workout misses isn't going to derail my training.  My commitment remains as strong as ever.  So I'm just going to get back on the horse.  Monday begins a new week and a new chance to start it off on the right foot. 


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