Sunday, August 2, 2009

6 weeks of hills

On Monday, I enter week 4 of a 6 week, hill-specific training section of my marathon program. While I've been doing shorter hill repeats, I'll now be doing longer hill workouts as well as goal marathon pace workouts. While these workouts are hard, I find them to be the most satisfying in my build up to a marathon. Maybe this is because I also think they are the most relevant. A big part of training is convincing your brain that you can achieve your goal whether it's to finish a marathon, run a PR or qualify for the Olympic Trials. I gain a ton of confidence in my fitness level when I nail a long workout with a number of miles at goal marathon pace.

Yesterday's long run was a mix of short and long hills and marathon pace work--the best of all worlds! The workout consisted of 14-16 miles including:
  • 4 mile warm up
  • Everest Hill drills
  • 15 minutes at marathon effort
  • 10 x 1 minute hills at 3k effort with 1 minute jog rest
  • 30 minutes up a hill at lactate threshold (tempo) effort
  • 3 x 200m cut downs (from 3k to 800m effort)
Though I was super tired, I met the J-pack of early girlies bright and early Saturday morning. I love running with this group for the fabulous company of course, but I especially appreciate it when we are enduring the same painful workouts together.

I almost didn't make it to meet the J-pack because I had been up all night dealing with the doggie effluent that resulted from my imprudent idea to let my dogs eat the old sweet potatoes in my cupboard the night before. The first wake-up call came when I heard a doggie explosion at 11:30 p.m. in the living room. I cleaned that up and went back to bed. At 12:30 a.m., Sadie was whining at the back door to go out. Buddy followed at 1:00 a.m. At 2:00 a.m., both dogs were whining to come in. At 3:20 a.m., both dogs went back out. I got the last wake-up call at 5:20 a.m. allowing the crew to polish off their land mine configuration in the back yard. This will go down as one of the dumbest things I've done. My dogs are still working it out of their system. Yowza.

We headed west on the bike trail to my favorite dirt hill so we could do our hill boundie exercises (aka Everest Hill Drills). As we approached the hill, we saw Hover K leaping up a hill on one foot and one of the girlies said, "same coach?" Yes, we have the same coach. Who else prescribes one-legged hill hopping?

After we completed our hill drills I began running at marathon-effort for 15 minutes. I started out hot, but kept reminding myself to slow down. I tried to remind myself that I had a lot of workout ahead of me. It was hard to slow down particularly on legs that had enjoyed relative rest for the last 5 days. I managed to keep it at an average of 6:12 pace for the session.

Sprinkles and I then headed to our favorite hill at the William Pond Park bridge for short hill repeats. These felt good to me, and I zoomed up them at 5:12-5:40 pace. Our rest was longer than what was prescribed, but the hill is too short to take a shorter rest. My coach suggested that, if I take a longer rest on the hills, that I increase the intensity. So, I pushed the pace a little for that reason.

We then headed in to the gym for the 30 minute run up a hill. As I've said before, I really prefer to do this workout on a real hill, but that can be a logistical nightmare. Since I started my romance with Tready R., I actually have been seeking out excuses to go to the gym to run. I jumped on Tready and ran at 4.5% incline for 30 minutes at 8.3 mph. My heart rate got up to 173 at the very end. That's at the top of my lactate threshold heart rate zone. I probably could have pushed it harder, but I had pushed the rest of the workout hard and was worried about crashing. I then jumped off the treadmill, headed out to the parking lot and did my cut downs to complete the workout. Never a dull moment!

Of course, all of this stuff added up to 18.5 miles instead of 16. I was fine with this additional mileage given the fact that I had taken Monday off and was under the mileage limit for the week. Tonight's 8 miler and power core circuit will complete my recovery week, and believe me when I say that I have savored it. Two weeks of hills to go!

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