Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Monumental Marathon Training Weeks 1 and 2

It's marathon training season again. I went back and forth over the off season trying to decide on which training plan I would use this time around. I have always used the plans in Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfizinger. Because I get bored easily, I was tempted this time to go with Jack Daniel's "Final 12 Week" program found in "Daniel's Running Formula vol. 3." In the end I came back to Pete; "stick with what you know" Since it was by far my best marathon ever, I will be trying to replicate my build up from the last Monumental with the paces just a little quicker to help propel me to a new PR.

I got a late start with this cycle because we were on vacation in California the week I should have started. So I basically I planned to run the workouts from week 1 and 3 for the first 2 weeks. I faltered a bit because I had a hard time getting into the groove and getting my mind into the right place. It takes a lot of physical AND mental effort to train for a PR in the marathon.

Week 1 included a 9 mile run with 4 miles at lactate threshold (LT) followed the next day with a 12 mile run. The goal pace for LT runs is 6:08 and my splits were 6:06, 6:00, 6:02. Mile 4 was interrupted by stomach distress. I did a little over half a mile at 6:08 while trying to fight through it but it finally won and I had to stop to get it under control. I finished out the mile around goal pace but forgot to reset my watch so I don't have the specifics. It was 64* with 94% humidity for this run. Overall, I was well pleased with where I was at given the humidity and stomach problems.

The next day's medium long run (ML) went well with an average pace of 6:55. This was maybe just a bit too fast but hey, who's going to complain about that. I was happy to be able to produce that pace the day after a tempo run. The long run for the week was 17. I usually do my long runs on Friday's but I had trouble sleeping Thursday night so I slipped this to Saturday. I wanted to do some marathon pace (MP) work and extend the run to 20 miles but I wasn't really feeling it so I just put in the 17 miles and called it a day.

Week 1 stats
10 Runs
Total Miles 82
2 workouts (Tempo followed by ML and a LR)
Miles at or above MP 4

Week 2 was really week 3. At this point in training the most important workouts are the LT or "tempo" runs. So to get back on track I skipped week 2 and did week 3's LT followed up with another ML. This is a great combination that really helps to simulate the fatigue of a marathon while not requiring an undo amount of recovery. Week 3 ups the ante with another 9 mile run but with 5 miles at tempo pace and a 14 mile ML run the next day.

As I said, I have really been struggling mentally up to this point and the big workouts are the worst. I made this a little easier mentally by running a 4 mile tempo followed with 4 minute recovery jog and then the final mile of tempo. This allowed me to not stress and toss and turn all night before the workout and still get in the work. Again, my pace goal was 6:08. It was 72* and 88% humidity for this workout and I was a little slow with splits of  6:12, 6:12, 6:13, 6:12 and 6:09. Still I was satisfied with the work given the conditions. I ran the next mornings 14 mile ML an average pace of 7:15.

By this time the struggle is getting to be almost more than I can take and I have thought many times about just quitting. Just running for the health benefits and no longer "racing" marathons. Friday morning I was supposed to run 20 with 8 at MP. I was up and out the door by 4:00 AM but I couldn't get the thought of quitting out of my head. "I don't want to do this anymore!" and at mile 5.5 I did something I have never done. I bailed on a workout. I cut it and made a turn toward home. "Who needs this!?", "This is a hard life and I'm done with it!"

I couldn't help but feel like an abject failure. I quit on a workout. I made an excuse. I didn't finish the work. I was uneasy all day long. I made a decision to run the workout the next day. "I'm going to give it a shot.", "This is what I do, it's who I am,"

Saturday morning the alarm went off and I quit again! I just cannot get past this feeling of dread of running. I went back to bed and slept later than I have slept in a couple of years. When I got up I felt like a new man. Looking back I was so utterly exhausted, no wonder I could hardly bear the thought of running at all, let alone running 20 miles. But it was already getting hot and rather than run I decided to do my long run on Sunday, slipping it yet another day.

In the back of my head I was worried I would quit again Sunday morning. So with some encouragement from my wife I headed out around 10:30 AM for my long run.

It was hot. I ran way to fast to begin in the heat. The first 13 miles of the run were below a 7:00 minute pace which would be fine in 50* or 60* temps but it was 82* and sunny. In addition, I have never run a more broken up 20 mile run in my life. I had to make a bathroom break around mile 8, I stopped intentionally for water at home around mile 15. I was on call at work during this run and I got a text that something was wrong. Luckily I was only about a 1/4 mile from home so I stopped, went in my air conditioned house and spent about 10 minutes logging in to the network and correcting the problem. I was unable to rally after this last stop and just jogged out the last 4 miles finishing the run with an average moving pace of 7:07.

Week 2 stats
10 Runs
Total Miles 82
2 workouts (Tempo followed by ML and a LR)
Miles at or above MP 8 (5 tempo, 3 mile MP pickup at the end of a run)

I am feeling much better. The nagging voice telling me to quit has been silenced for the moment. The next couple of weeks will be interesting. I am running The Blister in the Sun Marathon this Sunday in Cookeville TN. Billed as a "A Stupid Hot Hilly Little Run in the Park" with a race director who says "I guarantee suck ass conditions and a fun time." Right now the forecast is 65*/90* with full sun and 80% humidity. "Suck ass conditions" indeed. The run will be a time-on-feet strength building run with no concern for pace or finishing time. My primary goal is to get the miles in and be able to resume regular training within a few days.

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