TITLE: Miles Fast and Long AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: August 08, 2005 7:34 PM DESC: My second 3-week training cycle has seen two 20-milers and speeds that were, for me, unheard of before hand. Maybe I'll be ready for 8:00 miles at my marathon after all. ----- BODY: My latest training cycle for the Twin Cities Marathon has gone quite well. I train in three-week cycles, consisting of two weeks of increase in mileage and effort followed by a "consolidation" week. The consolidation week gives my body a chance to recover from the new stresses, to rest a bit, and to prepare for new stresses to come. In my last running post, I wrote of the second hard week of my first cycle, in which I ran a fast 18-miler, and the slow, tired recovery week that followed. I'm now into the third week of my second training cycle. In each of the first two weeks, I ran solid 7x1200m work-outs. But the long runs are what I feel best about. On July 31, I ran a 20-miler in Muncie, Indiana, the home of my alma mater. The Delaware Greenways rails-to-trails bike trail offered an ideal route: flat, scenic, and toilet facilities. I ran ten miles from downtown Muncie to the neighboring town of Gaston and back. The first ten miles felt good, varying between 8:40 min/mile and 8:20 min/mile. When I reached Gaston, I felt strong enough to pick up the pace. What followed was, for me, an amazing eight-mile stretch:
8:07 - 8:07 - 8:03 - 8:02 -
7:59 - 7:53 - 7:25 - 7:34
Yes, I ran my 17th mile in 7:25. And I followed it with a 7:34 18th mile. At the end of the run, my feelings were a mixture of elation and amazement. Never before could I have done such a training run. Yesterday, I ran a 22-miler here at home. The route consisted of my 18.6-mile route from a few weeks back, plus 1.8 miles to and from the trail loop. After running repeats only two days before, I wasn't ready to start fast, and I expected to go relatively slow and easy for the whole run -- just doing the miles to build stamina. And did I start slow. My first 8+-miles were at an over-9:00 min/mile pace. But then I ran the middle 10K at an 8:43 min/mile pace, including an 8:15 mile near the end. Feeing stronger than expected, I decided to try to pick it up for the third 10K loop through the park. The result was a 7:54 min/mile pace, including miles of 7:46 (17th mile) and 7:22 (19th mile)! On the return home, I finished faster than I had started, for a grand total of under 3 hours, 9 minutes. Again, my feelings were a mixture of elation and amazement. Didn't I run a super-fast 20-miler last weekend? And a 7x1200m workout on Friday? Where is this strength coming from. Practice. Many miles over many, many months. Except for the tragically gifted, it doesn't happen any other way. I know, of course, that in the larger world of running my times are nothing special. But they are special to me. Today, I took a well-deserved nap at the office, in the midst of beginning my new job duties. Being better is more fun, but it can also be tiring! This week, I recover with fewer miles (49, instead of 54.5 and 55.5, respectively) and slower times. But this week should prepare me for my longest training run -- 24 miles -- and the two 60-mile weeks that make up my third training cycle. After that, one last 20-miler before I taper home to race day. -----