A hundred and one miles of fun!
Check it out: I ran just over 101 miles this past week, my biggest mileage week since July when I ran a mere 100.1. Piling on that last mile wasn’t the disaster that Mr. Creosote experienced at the hands of a maître d’ and his wafer-thin mint. I did not, in fact, explode.
In the end, it’s just a number. But it’s a big number for me.
Considering that I raced a very tough 25K a week ago, this week went very well. In fact, I’m thinking it’s probably my most successful training week so far. Here’s why:
- Well, for one thing, I ran 101 miles with no ill effects. Sorry to state the obvious.
- My resting heart stayed cooperatively low, up after tough days, but back down to 44 after a day or two of recovery. This surprised me.
- Two of my big quality workouts, both done on the track, were marred by steady winds of anywhere from 5-14mph. That affected my time, and for once I accepted that and felt the sessions went well once that was taken into consideration.
- Today’s 20 miler was a real confidence booster. I had lots of energy and ended up doing a big negative split.
Onto the details.
On Monday and Tuesday I experienced varying levels of tiredness, varying from barely any at all to near-stupefying exhaustion. Sunday’s hilly 25K race was a huge effort, so this was expected. Still, it was interesting to note how delayed the fatigue was and how, in some ways, it seems recovery running almost seemed to stave it off (I was most tired Tuesday evening).
Wednesday’s speed session on the track went as well as it could. It was very windy, so I focused on effort and decided to not let the effect of the wind on my pace get to me too much.
Thursday was the day when I suspect there was a tremendous amount of training consolidation going on. I had a terrible ache in my thighs and calves overnight, along with “I’ll eat anything” hunger. I also lost about two pounds overnight, a loss that I’ve sustained in the days since, despite drinking a lot of water and eating quite a bit.
Friday was the low point of the week, as I had a workout I’d come to dread: a 15 miler with the last five at a tempo pace on the track. Despite doing everything I could to prepare, I was again disappointed with the results. Once again, my legs felt heavy for the 10 mile aerobic portion, with the added delight of a slightly upset stomach. Once I got to the track and felt the steady wind, I began to rapidly lower my expectations of what I could sustain over 20 laps. Still, I gave it my best effort, managing five miles at 7:05 pace (instead of the planned 6:51 pace). And I only had one bout of stopping/berating/pep talking at the halfway mark.
I actually ran a little better after stopping halfway through, although whether that was for mental reasons or merely because the wind may have died down a little, I’ll never know. Of note is that my stomach was completely screwed up about an hour afterwards, which I chalk up to a physical manifestation of several days cumulative stress from the race plus heavy training (despite the recovery days, which still featured mileage in the teens).
I felt very good on Saturday and ran the two recovery runs faster than I’d expected to.
This morning I woke up feeling good again, owing to nine hours of deep sleep and Saturday night tea-totaling (okay, I admit I had one beer). In fact, I was actually excited to go do the 20 miler. I had no plan for the run, which may have explained why it went so well. Going in with no preconceptions or pressure allowed me to truly run by feel, which was a refreshing break after the two earlier, pace-focused workouts in the week.
I ran the first three miles as a very easy warmup, then decided I felt good enough to try to keep things in the 76% max. heart rate range. I stopped and took a little breather at the turnaround point and then decided to just run and keep my eye off the watch for the next few miles. With five miles left to go, I made the commitment to step up the effort. While this wasn’t to be a fast finish long run (as that wasn’t assigned), I wanted to run the last few miles “comfortably hard” (as opposed to “hardly comfortable”).
Imagine my surprise when I got home and discovered that I’d averaged well below 8:00 pace for the last few miles, all at a reasonable MHR of 76-77%, with a final blowout mile of 7:33 at 83%. I needed to have a good run combined with a relatively windless day to remind me that I am making progress.
Week 9 is another 100 miler, although there’s no tempo work and the speed session is short at 2400m total. This cutting back is (I suspect) to reserve some energy for the big workout on Sunday: the NYRR Colon Cancer Challenge 15K race sandwiched inbetween two full 6.2 mile loops of Central Park.