Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fatigue & Me

My "good friend" Pete Pfitzinger had me run 20 miles on Sunday, cross-train Monday (bless him), 6 miles on Tuesday and 14 miles on Wednesday. That's 40 miles in 4 days, a huge personal max for me. Factor in that I'll run two more 6-milers (today and Saturday), and a 15-miler (with 12 at marathon pace) on Sunday, and I will have run close to 70 miles in 8 days, something that was incomprehensible to me not only a year-and-a-half ago when I got serious about running, but even a few months ago, when stringing together consecutive 40+-mile weeks seemed like an accomplishment.

Truth be told, I am T-I-R-E-D, which I suppose is as it should be. I've had trouble getting up for my pre-dawn runs, squeezing runs it at lunchtime, and then making up the work time later in the evening. Cumulative fatigue is a key part of the training process, and it will be interesting to see how the 12 miles at MP go on Sunday. Speaking of which, I am 95% decided that I will not be pushing for my Boston Qualifying (BQ) time of sub-3:20 in Burlington in May. It just feels like a lot of pressure, and would require that everything come together perfectly. Since this will be a "second first marathon" for me, it seems foolish and a bit arrogant to set such a lofty goal, when I have yet to run the entire marathon distance. Instead, I'd be happy with anything under 3:35, and would be very happy with any time under 3:30. If my overall pace is 7:xx per mile, I'll be thrilled. Barring injury, another unseasonal heat wave, or some other unforeseen complication (anything from stomach problems to stupidly going out too fast), those goals should be within reach. I'll have logged so many more miles than I did last year, and I feel so much better overall (hip is a nag, but only a minor one), that I am confident about posting a respectable time. Then I can set my sights on getting the BQ in Chicago, after what I hope will be a much more manageable (just in terms of weather & daylight) summer/fall training program.

Sunday's MP run will tell me a lot about how training is going, but I'm telling myself not get too down if it feels really hard or if I simply don't make it through all 12 miles at a 7:55/mile pace. I understand the point of hitting the target pace on fatigued legs, but I think that's the very reason that anything less than a "perfect" training run is not cause to abandon all hopes of running sub-3:30. As all runners know, there's a difference between "training through" and running on rested legs.

A final "confession": in the back of my mind resides a notion ("hope" is probably the right word) that I will experience a sudden "breakthrough" of significant proportions somewhere along the line. Problem is, I don't know that I'm giving myself much chance to discern that breakthrough well ahead of the marathon, so that I can adjust my race planning accordingly.

Cheers, ESG

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