Fall Training: Week 9

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This was by far one of my most enjoyable weeks of running in recent memory. I may not be as speedy as I’d like at this point, but I am becoming a stronger runner by the day, or so it seems. Even training with a dodgy hamstring, which was more a slightly worrying nuisance than a hindrance, I felt great this week.

By “stronger” I mean that I am evolving into even more of an endurance machine than I usually am. I can run seemingly forever at a moderate effort, and tacking on high effort miles has been almost easy. I’m also not exhausted after any particular workout or at the end of the week.

I’m not sure how you quantify training progress outside of racing times, but this week of training has me feeling that after two+ years of consistently running high mileage, I’ve finally adjusted to its demands. Almost as if I really do now have a “base” upon which to build further, as opposed to a base that I am working to build.

The highlights for the week, aside from running 95 miles without issue, were Wednesday’s tempo run, Friday’s speedwork, and a monster run in Central Park this morning. Tuesday was no slouch either, with 15 miles at a decent pace for 70% effort.

The tempo run was an experiment in hamstring healing. My ailing leg felt okay, so I decided to try running as far on the track going counterclockwise as I could. That turned out to be 3.5 of the 5 faster miles before the hamstring started to tighten up. So I finished up going the “wrong way” and, aside from the slower, cautious first mile, chalked the run up as a success, given the decent paces.

Another thing about that run: I realized while running my warmup miles on the way to the track that I no longer dread tempo runs beforehand or suffer through them. If anything, they’ve become too easy and I have felt in the past few weeks that the faster blocks are too short. I have said as much to Coach Kevin and he concurs that they are becoming easy for me. So we may schedule longer tempo blocks for the spring cycle.

Friday’s speedwork was worrisome insofar as I didn’t want to screw up my leg and compromise the Sunday run. Still, I was feeling brave, so I decided to once again run in the proper direction on the track and see what the leg would do. It held up well, possibly owing to the fact that I had trouble working up to 92% effort due to fatigue. Still, I’m happy with the splits, considering most of them were run at 91% effort.

I should also note that I only had two days of doubles this week, which is not bad for a 95 mile week. I have observed that I am overall less fatigued in the weeks that I only have one or two days of doubles compared to those in which I have three or four. I don’t know whether it’s a function of age or just my own particular physiology, but I suspect I need 24 hours between runs to recover properly. Fortunately for me, I like running long.

Friday evening and yesterday morning, my legs were completely trashed. Not just my legs, but ankles and feet as well. My confidence in being recovered in time for this morning was shaky, but I’ve learned that miracles can happen overnight.

As it turned out, today’s run was, again, no big deal. I’ve decided to do my final long runs in Central Park so I can get the benefit of the hills there. The California International Marathon course is by no means as hilly as Central Park is, but it does feature a net downhill drop. I’d like to avoid another thigh shredding exercise if I can.

I ran three full loops of the park starting at 72nd St on the west side, along with a 1.5 out and back north, turning around at the 102nd St transverse. Holding effort between 76-79% was easy and I felt energetic enough to run the last mile at 86% just for the hell of it. That got me a 7:26 mile over hills on extremely tired legs. I’ll take it.

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