So let me join in the chorus of East Coasters complaining about the weather we’ve been having this summer. I do believe that this has been the worst summer in terms of heat and humidity that I’ve had in New York since moving here 8 years ago. We had two heat advisories, including this past weekend.
I’ve decided to stop writing weekly training logs. I haven’t stopped marathon training, but I’m no longer writing weekly recaps of my training. The main reason is simply that I don’t like writing those posts. I didn’t mind doing it last year, but it seemed like such a chore to do this year. If you really want to know what I’m doing, you can find me on Strava.
As for how the marathon training is going this cycle, meh would be a good description. Neither good, nor bad. Compared to last year, I’m not as close in sticking to the prescribed paces in the training plan. This is mostly due to the far warmer summer weather that we’re having this year, but there’s a bit of marathon training blah going on too.
I can sincerely say that I rather enjoyed marathon training last year for the most part. This year, while I don’t hate it, I don’t get the same feeling of excitement and sense of challenge that I did last year. I just do what I can to get through the run. The doldrums set in far earlier and I feel it far deeper.
A 20-miler was on schedule this past weekend. I signed up for NYRR’s long training run so I would have company, pacers, and aid stations throughout the 20 miles. Because of the heat advisory, NYRR shortened the planned 20 miles to 15, and then canceled the run altogether a couple of days before the run. My training motto is “Something is better than nothing.” With temperatures that felt like it was 100+ degrees, I couldn’t stomach the idea of doing a single 20-miler, so I completed it as a double (two 10-milers in a single day, one in the morning and one in the evening). Two 10-milers are not the same as a single 20-miler, but what was the most important to me was getting the miles in. I ran easy; I didn’t even try to do the pace that training plan had. Do what you can and don’t stress over what you can’t control.
One of my goals this year was to set a new course record for the PPTC Al Goldstein Summer Speed Series, a 5K series that my running club hosts. My PR for that course is 24:06. This year, my best time for that course was 24:24. I did a handful of 5ks this summer and most were not good. I’m disappointed in this aspect of running. Theoretically I should have been able to set a new course PR. Physically I know I’m capable of doing so, but on race day, it didn’t come together. In all three attempts, at some point during the race I felt awful like I was going to throw up, so I had to slow down. This is all aggravating when 1) I’ve ran faster 5Ks before, 2) my level of fitness is better this year than last year, and 3) I’ve had very promising early summer training runs (2-miles @7:30 pace without feeling gassed at the end). I’m sad about not meeting this goal, but I know I’ll get over this.
After a bit of reflection, I think marathon training has gotten in the way of 5K racing. Not in the usual sense of marathon training is more focused on endurance and less on speed, but that I stopped pain training. During non-marathon training time (and when I’m not sick), I tend to focus more on getting faster for 5Ks. I developed my own 5K training style that I like. I hop on the treadmill and run at the future 5K pace for a set distance. I start short, usually a mile and over several, several weeks, I work up to 2 or 2.5 miles. Unintentionally I also teach myself how to tolerate uncomfortable pain. As I run, the pain gradually builds and becomes uncomfortable. It hurts. But more importantly I know I don’t die. I learn to run while tolerating pain.
The training runs that I do don’t provide me with this type of pain tolerance. There’s other types of pain, but not the same pain that I get in a 5K. I think I’m become a bit afraid of the pain and back off too much. I miss my old 5K training runs, and I’m going to toss it in whenever I can. The nice thing about Run Less, Run Faster is the flexibility I get from having three designated training runs a week.
Level of Fitness
I wrote that my fitness is better this year than it was the last year although this isn’t necessarily being reflected in race times, nor in paces for my training runs. It’s more of a gut feeling. Despite not having great training weeks this cycle, I never completely bomb every run. Every week I have a run where I know I could not have done it last year. In other words, there’s more training variability, but the overall trend is that I’m faster. At least, I hope so. If not, then I’m on a pretty fabulous delusional train.