While reading some of my posts from months past, I realized that I haven't always been completely honest with you, dear readers, about how my workouts have gone. I'm not sure why I didn't include all of the details in them, like the fact that I took numerous "water breaks" during my intervals. I guess I was either embarrassed about admitting that, even to myself, or I had fooled myself into believing my own excuses for why I needed to do this.
I divulged this dirty little secret a few months back and admitted that I had been hiding behind the average paces I was reporting for my workouts. While overall averages may fool most, my Garmin charts don't let me forget that I did indeed stop and walk during an interval. You may recall that I set a goal in that particular post that I would follow the RWYCH (pronounced R-witch) principle from then on out. This stands for run what you can hold and is in response to my proclivity for taking short breaks during my long intervals because I can't hold the pace that I'm running.
I believe I've made the point before that this doesn't seem to have compromised my fitness much if at all since I still ran a 2:46 marathon using this run-with-a-teensy break training method in most workouts last summer. However, I hypothesized that I was probably compromising my mental training by allowing myself to give in to the urge to stop mid-rep.
I have been slightly nervous about resuming hard marathon training considering I was unable to train for a couple of months due to injury and then spent most of the time once I returned to training focusing on short-distance speed. For some reason I thought my body wouldn't remember how to run fast over the long distances. So, this past weekend's 22-mile long run was going to be my first real test to see what kind of marathon shape I am in. Note, this wasn't a formal test, just something that I had concocted myself.
I looked back at my Garmin Training log from last summer and found that I did basically the same workout on August 15, 2009. So, that would be about 3 weeks farther into my marathon training program. I blogged about this workout here. While I talked around the issue of stopping for water breaks, I never came out and said how many I had taken. The workout looked good on paper: 4 x (3 miles including 2.75 miles at goal marathon pace (GMP) and .25 miles at 10k effort) with 5 minute jog rest in between. I went on about how hot it was when I started the workout, so I HAD to stop for water. I patted myself on the back for averaging 6:16 pace for the GMP and 5:45 for the 10k effort.
I left out the 8 water breaks that I took during the intervals (2 per repeat); yes during the repeats, not in between during the actual 5 minute jog rest. I imagine a few of them were necessary to get through that much GMP work on a hot morning, but I know that many of them were not taken at an actual water fountain.
So, my goal for this weekend's long run was: try to maintain the same paces as last year, but don't take as many breaks. For me, this meant less than 2 breaks per repeat, but of course, no breaks was better. Why didn't I set NO water breaks as my goal? I believe in taking baby steps and recognize that old habits require time to overcome.
Saturday's workout was 3 x 3 miles, so that was one repeat shy of last year's workout. However, I had a total of 22 miles to run this time versus 17 miles last year. I decided to set out at the same time of day as last year, but I wanted to be able to have water at the right spots along the course so I wasn't tempted to stop during the interval. So, I did my 3-mile repeats back and forth on a section of the American River Bike Trail that has two water fountains about 3 miles apart.
I won't keep you in suspense here. The workout went amazingly well. I held 6:12, 6:14 and 6:18 pace for GMP and then kicked it down to 5:45-5:49 for the 10k effort in the last quarter mile of each repeat. So, how many water breaks did I take? Only ONE!!!! That one break came 2 miles into the last GMP repeat when I allowed myself a 20-second stop to get my act together and finish off the rest of the repeat. I was so excited that GMP felt this doable this early in my training cycle. I have mentioned many times before that GMP rarely if ever feels like something I could handle for 10 miles let alone 26 even in the last weeks leading up to the marathon.
So, things are definitely looking good for this training cycle so far. My mileage is on a steep uphill climb right now having completed 82 last week, doing 88 this week and 101 the next. I am going to be one tired pup. But, today I am still savoring a minor victory. Next time, I'm going for broke: no breaks!