Now, on to this week's training..
As I looked through the weighty tome I received from my coach entitled "Jaymee 17 weeks to Twin Cities Marathon", I noticed a subtle reminder that my goal training paces had been adjusted to the slower side. Maybe the yellow highlight wasn't so subtle. Physiologically, this makes so much sense, but psychologically, it's a little harder to handle. These were the same paces I had heading into my last cycle of training for Belgrade (except the goal marathon pace was slower for that one):
Goal Marathon Pace: 6:16-6:20
Marathon training pace: 6:30-6:35
1/2 Marathon: 6:10-6:15
A good year of training has cycles. For me, these tend to revolve around marathon races. I'll gear up for a marathon for a few months, increasing volume and intensity of my training, peak, race, and then spend a couple of months recovering. I had achieved a new high level of fitness in my last training cycle right around the Shamrock'n half marathon. The time I ran there is my fastest race at any distance to date. After that race, my coach adjusted my paces down a notch to reflect this new level of fitness. Of course, when I started up this new training cycle, I was looking at those paces and race times thinking they were my new baseline. It is really hard for me mentally to adjust my expectations for training paces down for the 6-8 weeks or more after a marathon, but I think it is very important to make sure I don't burn out or get injured.
My coach doesn't seem to believe in pure and simple, unpolluted easy running days. I found on average 1-2 days per week where all I'm supposed to do is run or jog easy. There are several more "easy runs" in there, but there's always some sort of plyometric, stride, sprint, or hill shizzle built in. I used to see these as options or suggestions rather than part of the workout and would prune them if I was feeling tired or sore. I don't do that anymore. I realize that every little thing she puts in my schedule has a purpose and I make sure I get it done.
So, this week started with a good workout at the No Excuses 5k and just got better from there--after Wednesday. I went to a dinner party Tuesday night and had a lovely time enjoying the outdoor setting but was bombarded by pollen and munched by mosquitoes. I snoozed through my 4:45 wake up call the next morning leaving myself only one option for running my 8 miles: at night in 90 degree heat. Bugger it gets hot here. I also dreaded this situation because it meant less than 10 hours recovery between that run (which included plyo drills) and the next morning's hard workout.
Thursday's 8 mile workout, as scheduled, was packed with delightfulness. While programming this one into my Garmin, I realized it was not all going to fit into the prescribed 8 miles, so I estimated about 10 miles. Sprinkles had the same workout, so we headed out together from our usual early morning meeting spot. It's now light enough at 5:15 for us to head straight to the American River Parkway trail to run. This is a true summertime treat.
We did a nice 3 mile warm up and then started our sprint training after a few strides. These short little suckers are surprisingly tiring because you're going at a gut-busting pace. We then made our way back to the William Pond Park Bridge which I use for hill repeats of 75 seconds or less. This set of 10-15 x 60 sec hills at 3k effort with 60 second jog down rest was going to be a logistical challenge since I knew we would run out of hill if we only jog rested for 60 seconds. So we took a generous extra 30 seconds to get down the hill. I was happy to be holding the same pace for these as I did a couple of weeks ago when I only did 8 of them (though they were 75 seconds long for that workout). I felt super strong even on the last repeat and was very happy that Sprinkles stuck it out with me maxing out the reps at 15. When I looked at my Garmin to see how far we had gone, it read 12.5 miles at that point. I told Sprinkles I thought we should skip the 10x strides that were prescribed and she looked like she was going to kiss me for that. So, we ran about 13.3 miles that day.
This morning's workout made me realize I am starting to break through the other side of recovery. I can feel the speed returning to my little legs. We selected an early morning start and had a nice group of early girlies to run with for the warm up. My 15 miler included a step down workout of timed repeats all at 10k effort. I did 7, 6, 5, 5, 3, 2, 1 minutes @ 10k effort with half the rep time jog rest. I had actually been looking forward to this workout. I can do reps like this all day long. Mentally, these are so much easier for me than long steady runs at LT effort. I like having that rest break to look forward to.
I wasn't sure what pace my 10k effort was going to translate into, so I gave my Garmin workout program a wide berth--5:50-6:10 minutes per mile. It is probably somewhat counter productive to program a pace for effort-based workouts. I am a data geek and thrive off of instantaneous feedback. I like it when my Garmin beeps at me calling me a lard ass making me speed up. I also like it when it trills in the opposite direction and I am feeling comfortable at that fast pace.
My paces were 6:00, 6:05, 5:59, 5:57, 5:58, 5:50, 5:33. It all felt like 10k effort and well in control. We finished the run with 8 strides and I felt just fine. An honest effort to top off a good 68-mile week of training.
Next week: more miles and harder workouts. I even get to do 400 meter repeats! I haven't done those in ages. I'll need them to get me ready to face those cute fez-topped Shriners in their little cars at the Shriner's 8k race in a couple of weeks!