I’m just going to give a brief monthly overview of my training.
After running the Amica Newport Half, I took two weeks off training. I could run whatever I felt like running or not run at all. I ran 25 miles and 33 miles. It was fun to roll out of bed, head to the park and do a single loop if I felt like it or do two. Whatever!
I greatly enjoyed the break. What I realize now is that I simply cannot ever train to race a late fall or early winter marathon because of work demands. As I previously described, my work demands are pretty cyclical. There are certain weeks of the year where I’m simply swamped and I cannot do anything much outside of work. Although my work responsibility increased this year, I gained greater time flexibility (such a luxury!) so I was hoping that was enough of a compensation to train for Tucson. It wasn’t and I was mentally fried trying to accommodate work and my own personal goals.
The nice thing about training for an early Feb marathon is that the bulk of the heavy training weeks will be occurring during one of the two slack periods that I have at work. Not much will be going on, so I will have far more free time.
The next three weeks (going into the first week of November), I ran around 30 miles per week. Long runs were on the short side (~10 miles) and workouts were some fartleks to remind my legs about running fast and turnover, but not tiring myself out.
The first week of Nov, I ran around 30 miles as I said earlier. The following two weeks after that, training jumped up to 40 miles per week. I was a bit relieved when training went up because after running 35-40 miles per week for so many weeks and then having so much down time, I was really antsy. I wasn’t tired all the time and I didn’t know what to do will all the extra energy. Going back to the usual mileage calmed me. I also realized that I’m so used to being exhausted that I don’t know what to do when I’m not tired.
This past week is when training got serious. Weekly mileage jumped up to 50.
Leah and I discussed my goals and plans. Independently we both concluded that I needed to increase volume, both in terms of increasing the number of miles I cover each day and the number of days per week I run. For the past year and half, I’ve been running 5 days a week, which honestly I thought was a lot. You need to remember that I was a staunch 3 day a week, very low mileage, runner for several years. Going from 3 to 5 was a shock to my body and I spent the first six months utterly destroyed (summer heat didn’t help). I felt that I could add a 6th day of running if we kept it to an easy low miles day. Leah was delighted I brought up the idea of running six days week; she wanted me to do this and thought I was ready, but she was also mindful of the fact that I have a job that requires a lot of from me, so she didn’t want to push me if I really didn’t have time for it. Again, this is where having flexibility with time helps in fitting training and increased workload into one’s life. Not everyone gets to create their own work schedule, so I feel very privileged that I get to control so much of my professional life.
This past week consisted of longer mid-week runs and two pretty substantial workouts. The other focus in this training cycle, other than increasing volume, is to increase strength. To run a 3:30 marathon (again, I don’t know if I’m actually going to shoot for this goal), I need to run 8:00 mm. I have the speed to run 8 mm, but I don’t have the strength to run 8:00 mm for 26.2 miles. We’ve starting putting in goal marathon pace (GMP) miles into the workouts, which I didn’t really do for CIM last year. I think we had a couple of short GMP miles (there was a short shake-out like run a few days before the marathon, and maybe there was a long run where I ran a few miles at GMP, but not really sure without going back). During the last training cycle, Leah was more focused on building an aerobic base and teaching me to run slow. I no longer hate running slow, but it’s not like I jump for joy about it either. Tempo runs are still my favorites.
Saturday, I had a workout of running 6 miles at 8:15, which is the calculated MP for my current level of fitness. It felt a lot harder than it should have. I was quite fatigued from work and it was impacting me. I was >< close to calling it quits after a couple of miles. I simply didn’t feel good and the thought of resting was beckoning me like a siren’s song. Still, as Garmin beeped, I noticed that I was on pace, which I found surprising. I forced myself to suck it up by reminding me that the last six miles of a marathon was going to suck and hurt, so I better start learning how to deal with it now. In the end, I somehow managed to pull it together and got it done.
What I learned from that workout is that there a difference between physical fatigue and mental fatigue. Until then, I was of the mind that fatigue was fatigue. How many times had I gone out mentally tired and it showed through sluggish runs? In that workout, I was able to disassociate physical fatigue and mental fatigue. The body’s capability is like a machine and mental energy is like the grease or the lubricant around the cogs. Without mental energy, it’s a lot harder to move the machine. I was physically able to run 8:15 mm, but without the mental “grease” I was working a lot harder to turn the cogs.
I hope everyone’s doing well. Tell me what you’ve been up to. Enjoying an off-season? Training for something?
Interesting, I’ll have to remember this the next time I feel fatigued – which kind is it? Also good reminder that I want to do more longer MP runs next season. My biggest complaint about the training plan I followed for NYC is that I barely ran any MP runs, kind of like with your CIM experience. Only for me it seemed to have translated into a lack of confidence that I would be able to do it for the race (so I didn’t).
It’s definitely useful and a huge confidence booster when you do GMP on tired legs.
Kudos for distinguishing between physical pain and mental pain. I still struggle with this.
I imagine I will too since this is a new realization for me!
It was a big change for me too when I went from running 3 days a week to 5. Absolutely agree with you on the physical vs. mental fatigue. I think most long-distance runners struggle with this.
It’s difficult to tease out, especially when you’re already tired.
I guess my off-season will last until Monday because I will begin training for a half-marathon. At times I played around with running 5 days a week, but I fear that will aggravate my back. Perhaps, I can alternate between 3 and 5 runs per week. Happy training . . . in the winter months.
Hope your first week of training went well!
RUNNING IS SUCH A MINDF*CK! 🙂 Totally with you on this; yesterday my legs were so physically burnt out and in turn my mental state went to a dark place, and overall my run was extremely unpleasant. Hard to tell your mind one thing when your body is feeling one way, and vice versa. I will keep trying though! Yay for marathon training?!
Oh, running! You keep us so humble.
You’re right, you can only push yourself so far when either your body or your mind is just out of commission. Heaven knows how many runs I’ve turned in early because my mind or my body said, “Not today.”
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