Sunday, March 2, 2008

Less is More

I had very much been looking forward to the "cutback" week in Pfitzinger's training program, and it was a refreshing break to run only a single double-digit distance all week (today's 12-miler). Overall, I'm feeling pretty good, handling the workload about as well as could be expected during a harsh New England winter and with seems to be a permanent hip issue. We are within about a foot of the all-time snowfall record for this area, and we still have 6 or so "snowable" weeks left. Assuming I stay with this sport, I'll look back on this winter as one of those that provided nearly daily tests of commitment, discipline and willingness to sacrifice for a "greater" (subjectively defined, of course) goal.

Four out of last week's five runs were outdoors, with the exception of a 5-mile recovery run on Wednesday, when the weather was iffy and the hassle of gearing up for a short outdoor run at lunchtime wasn't worth it. 40-ish minutes on the treadmill isn't too bad.

All of the week's runs went pretty much according to plan, except for Saturday's 5-miler, which I ran with a friend who was visiting from South America, through a pretty heavy snow. The nice thing is that the wind was minimal, but it was very slow going (close to 10-minute pace, which was normal for him), including powering through thigh-high snow in an unplowed stretch with a little over a mile left.

The flip side of Saturday's too-slow run involves a couple of more positive training segments, including about 2.5 near-MP miles on Thursday's 8-miler, done to one of the Podrunner mixes. Podrunner is a podcast which produces a weekly, hour-long dance mix at certain BPM (beats per minute). I ran 4 miles out, then switched from Phedippidations to Podrunner, and just let the music carry me along as I started back for home. It was great, especially since I enjoyed something new, as "club/dance" music is not my usual favorite. Mindful that this was an easy week, I made myself reign it in and take the last mile-and-a-half easy.

Today's run, done with a few of my running club mates, was also a pleasant surprise. The route brought us to the finish a bit shy of my 12-mile goal, but between the hilly course, snowy/slippery road (requiring a lot more effort) and wind (my logging software said the average wind speed was 16+ mph, with max winds approaching 25 mph), the 11.5 was plenty. The nice part was that despite the adverse conditions, I ran faster than I've been running the long Sunday runs on my own. Even though the club's faster member's smoked me, I felt strong at the end. My often-struggling & skeptical brain is starting to comprehend that the training is paying off.

The week of March 3rd is slated to be my first 50-mile week ever. On Monday I'll do elliptical and weights, plus some core exercises; Tuesday calls for 10 miles, with 5 at lactate threshold pace; Wednesday, an easy 4-5 miles; Thursday, 11 miles; Friday, rest or XT; Saturday, 7 miles, with 8 x 100 strides; Sunday, 18 miles. The added challenge is that I'll be a single dad from early Tuesday morning through late Friday night, with my wife traveling for business (again). It means rearranging my schedule, with early morning work-from-home sessions, and runs done either at lunch or just after dropping the kids at school. Each day will also likely require a couple of evening hours of work. In contrast, if my wife was home, I could do at least one or two of the mid-week runs in the very early morning, then have a regular, uninterrupted work day.

Well, I'm one-third of the way through this marathon buildup, and I think that the next six weeks will be very challenging, the peak of the bell curve, followed by six weeks where the light (first of the taper, then of the marathon itself) starts to become visible at the end of the tunnel. Lest I become a broken record (a very outdated expression, I know), I cannot wait until the snow melts and Spring finally arrives. The idea of throwing on shorts and a t-shirt to hit the roads (and then the trails, when the mud subsides) is extremely appealing.

Happy running, blogging and racing.

Cheers, ESG

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