Fall Training: Weeks 18 and 19

I skipped last week’s training report on account of being up in CT enjoying the company of both familiar and newly discovered family members. So this is another twofer.

I’ve documented some of the ups and downs of the past couple of weeks in individual posts, so I won’t repeat those here. Suffice it to say that this season’s training really wore me down. So much so that I’m considering moving to a 10-day schedule (instead of a weekly one). I found it difficult to do three hard workouts per week over such a long stretch of months. Some of that may have had to do with the difficulty of training in heat and humidity. I’ll see what happens over the winter, I guess.

With rare exception, I did all the planned workouts, but looking back on my diary entries, I realize that I never felt recovered and ready for the hard days. As a result, I rarely hit the paces I wanted, and this has done a real number on me mentally. When I compare this season’s training to last, the number of hard workouts each week was never an issue. The obvious difference this time around was the mileage: an average of 91 mpw compared to 76 mpw. If I’m going to do higher mileage training, I think I need to accept that a woman of my rapidly advancing years needs more recovery time in order to make those harder runs really sparkle.

A look back at training week 18:

  • Monday: 6.8 miles recovery pace (AM); 7.1 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Tuesday: 4.7 miles recovery pace (AM)
  • Wednesday: 14.1 mile long run (steady pace) (AM); 4.8 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Thursday: 8.1 miles recovery pace
  • Friday: 5.9 miles recovery pace (AM); 7 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Saturday: 22.1 miles with some at marathon pace (meh)
  • Sunday: 6.9 miles recovery pace

Total mileage: 87.4 miles

And training week 19:

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: 3 miles recovery pace (AM); 5.5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Thursday: 6.2 miles recovery pace
  • Friday: 10 miles with 5 at tempo effort
  • Saturday: 6.1 miles recovery pace (AM); 4.5 miles recovery pace (PM)
  • Sunday: 18.5 mile long run (steady pace)

Total mileage: 53.9 miles

Paces these past two weeks:

  • Recovery: 8:50 – 10:40
  • Tempo: Hard to tell on the treadmill; ran at 89-91% max heart rate
  • Marathon pace (sort of): 7:30-7:45
  • Long: 8:16 – 8:46

I was so exhausted during week 18 that it wasn’t even funny. So much so that I couldn’t even run my marathon pace run at marathon effort. I was averaging 82-83% heart rate, so I never hit my times. I just couldn’t go any faster.

I thought taking time off on Monday and Tuesday of this week would help, but I still felt awful on Wednesday. So I cut back the mileage much more than expected and hoped I’d feel better toward the end of the week. Last season I had roughly equal mileage in the first and second weeks of my taper (although owing to injury rather than exhaustion) and it didn’t seem to be a problem come race day.

I felt good enough to do a decent tempo run Friday morning (although since I had to do it inside on our unreliably calibrated treadmill, I have no clue how fast I was running); I broke that run up into two 2.5 mile segments, with a half mile easy pace inbetween. That went pretty well. But I must say that I’m very rattled by the fact that I still have no idea how fast I should be running in two weeks.

Today’s long run was quite the adventure. We had temps in the 70s and 93% humidity. I got about 12 miles into the run and felt a sprinkle. My top was soaked anyway due to the heat and humidity. But then the sprinkle turned into a steady downpour. By mile 15 I was completely soaked. In a way, it’s liberating to just accept the rain and try to appreciate its cooling effect. I also had the running path pretty much to myself once the rain really got going. Thanks, Hurricane Kyle!

I wore a newer pair of shoes this morning: the Asics Speedstar. I’ve been looking for a racing alternative to the Saucony Fastwitch, at least for the marathon. The Fastwitch is perfect for the half distance and below and feels good until about 20 miles. Beyond that point it feels like I’m running on two pieces of cardboard. Since the last 6 miles of the race are the most painful ones, it seems crazy to wear shoes that will only add to the pain. Jonathan’s worn the men’s version of the Speedstar for the marathon and says they held up well. They felt more substantial than the Sauconys on today’s run, and there were no hotspots (even when they were soaked), so I’m going to wear them for Steamtown in two weeks.

Coming up in Training Week 20: Running “doubles” is now behind me; it’s one run per day from here on out. Taper week two calls for equal mileage to taper week one, but with fewer hard miles. I’ve got a short speed session on Wednesday (mile repeats at 5K-10K race pace), and then a shorter long run (13 miles on Sunday). After that, it’s just one week until showtime.

3 Responses

  1. Hi Julie. I found your blog via sprinter Susan. Not RBP I might hasten to add.

    With a high mileage program, it’s difficult not to be tired all the time – esp if you’re not getting 9-10 hours regular sleep per day (16 if you’re Gabriela Szabo).

    A 10 day (or 14 day) cycle would be worth trying – that way you could have 2, sometimes 3 days of easy/recovery running between hard sessions. I think you’re right in trying to get those hard sessions done well. That’s the thing that will most likely move your marathon up to the next level.

  2. I am also contemplating using longer cycles next year. How did you arrive at 10 day cycles? 2 cycles (20 days) give you 6 hard workouts, while 3 standard 7 day cycles (21 days) with 2 workouts per cycles will add up to the same 6 hard workouts. Is having 3 additional hard workouts for a typical 24 week marathon preparation really worth the hassle of having to adjust to this non-standard cycles.
    If you will give it a try, please keep us up to date on how it fits into your life and how you cope with the hassles.

  3. I haven’t thought all this through yet, but the idea for me is that I want a schedule where I’m always doing my longest run on either Wed or a Sun. Alternating 10 day training cycles means I can make sure that the “hard” long run is always on a Sunday. All other workouts are built around meeting that requirement.

    So what’s driving this is practical considerations, really: Since a long run every 7 days is too much, then I need to schedule things so that if I do a long run on a Wed, I can still function mentally later in the day (since I have a pesky job). On Sundays, I can do my harder long runs, since I don’t need to be able to think for the rest of the day.

    When I get my Spring 09 schedule documented, I’d be happy to post it here.

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