Shorter runs, more sleep and all the food.
After 15 weeks of training, I've hit the long-awaited and well-earned taper as the starting line of the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon inches closer.
It's that spot in training, too, like pregnancy when you feel like you have spent forever training but don't feel ready. The end is now far too close and there is so much work that could have been done.
I only hit 40 miles in a week maybe once. I ran a 5-mile tempo during half marathon training this spring; I wonder whether I should have done 6 or 7 miles for the marathon; I don't remember too many mid-week long runs that exceeded 8 miles.
And yet, as I fret, I know that I followed the plan. There are ridiculous smiley face stickers covering each of the runs – the negative split efforts that required patience and control, the intervals that required a disconnect from my brain and quick turnover; the tempos and race pace efforts; the long runs and then long runs with fast miles. I have retired shoes and stink-ridden tanks.
The spreadsheet in my Google Drive reports that I have ran 464.7 miles since I began training on July 4, my first run of this training cycle a 3-miler on an Atlanta hotel treadmill.
My posting about this training cycle has been sporadic at best. I had hopes to deliver recaps every week but barely manged bi-weekly, if that. Usually it would be an indication that my training was suffering somewhere but it hasn't. It's the other things – life, family, work – that have made it hard to share things but running, thankfully, has been a constant in these 15 weeks.
Rather than try to regurgitate the training runs I've missed and bore you with weeks of logs, I thought I'd share some of the recent workouts I've done. A reminder to myself that though part of me wants another four weeks of high mileage, I will hit the starting line strong.
Negative splits: The plan called for 7-9 miles, blocking the run in three sections – 3, 4 miles; 3, 4 miles; 1 mile. The run came at the tail end of a busy week, and I had to run both my long run and this one over the weekend. Thankfully, I was able to procure company for the Saturday outing. I slowly ran a mile to our meeting place, trying to come in around long run pace. I arrived a bit early and so I continued the slow jog to and from the baseball diamonds. My first two miles were 10:02 and 10:03. But when my friends joined me, the pace quickened. Excited to all see each other, we began talking – always translating to quicker turnover. 9:32, 9:27, 9:16 the splits beeped from my Garmin 230. When the 9:16 came in, I realized that this run would no longer get checked as a long, slow effort but the negative split workout of the week. We ran two 9:15s and then I split to head home. Ready to make that last mile count, to check the last block, I picked it up. 8:29. Not too bad for a week after my 26.2-mile long run at Fort4Fitness.
Tempo: If there is a run that intimidates me most, it is the tempo. The long, hard sustained effort is, well, just hard. The last big one for Monumental included a warm-up, one mile at race pace (9:09), 4-5 miles at tempo and a cool down. I really wanted to do this run on the treadmill so I could let the machine set the pace and I just had to hold on but a gorgeous fall day couldn't be spent running indoors. My warm-up mile was a little fast (9:29) and as was my race pace (8:48). After that, most of the run was a mental shit storm of self doubt. I had to stop once to tie my shoe and another time just to get my crap together. Still, I was happy to see that the 8 miles were at an 8:42 pace.
The 20-miler: After running a successful 26.2 miles on Oct. 1, I was pretty confident going into my final 20-miler. However, I really had to work for it around mile 13 and miles 17-20, which were on my own, was a battle of my will to get it done and my lack of interest in running by myself. I'm pretty sure I just sat down at one point to tie my shoes. It was too much to bend over, I guess. Or, maybe I was hoping that I'd flop over and fall asleep.