TITLE: Entering the Final Iteration
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: August 29, 2006 5:36 PM
I had had a good 22-miler, which was my first comfortable
long run of the year. My 18- and 20-milers had been
struggles, due in part to weather and in part to the
fact that I was still regaining strength and stamina
from reduced mileage in the spring. But I was wary of
feeling too good, because I still faced my longest test
of the year.
This year I am again training on a three-week cycle,
something like an iteration in agile development. For
two weeks, I increase mileage, including the Sunday long
run, and then in the third I cut back a bit, to consolidate
my gains and to prepare for the next increase. My tough
18- and 20-milers had been part of a 50-52-48 iteration,
capped off with a 12-miler. The 22-miler was the end of the
first week in a 54-56-52 iteration.
Well, I did my longest run of the year at the end of Week 2,
four times around a 10K loop in the local park. That comes
to 24.8 miles, though I record it as a 24-miler. It went very
well. I felt strong throughout, ran negative splits for all
four laps, and finished in 3:34:25 -- about 9 minutes under
my upper bound of 9:00/mile. The last mile of my first three
laps took 9:16, 9:04, and 8:46, and then I closed the last
lap with consecutive miles of 8:32, 8:46, 7:58, and 7:34.
This wasn't nearly as fast as
last year's 40K,
but it was perfect as a training run -- fast, but not too fast.
If I run the long runs too fast, then I won't be able to
gain as much from my upcoming speed workouts; plus I run an
increased risk of injury or simply burning out. Patience,
With a marathon goal pace of 8:00/mile, I felt good knowing
that I could close with two sub-8:00-minute miles at the end
of a 110-mile fortnight. On race day, I will have run only
20 miles or so in the preceding week, all in short distances
and none too fast. The body will, I hope be recovered and
ready for a long, hard push.
Even better, I ran that well with only two bathroom breaks,
taking no energy gels, and drinking only about 16 ounces of
sports drink. And I still felt good later that day! As I
have begun telling folks, I wonder if my body isn't better
suited for even longer distances, the so-called "ultra"
races. (No, I'm not ready to put my mileage where my mouth
is just yet.)
My consolidation week went very well. I ran only 49 miles
after giving myself a day off after the 40K. My speed
workouts pushed me long -- 5x1600m and 10 miles at marathon
goal pace -- and then I ran a long run of 16 miles in under
an 8:30/mile pace. I haven't run that route so fast in at
least a year. Again, I felt strong.
I'm now beginning the final iteration of my training, a two-week
cycle of 58-60 that ends as my three-week taper begins. I
don't need a consolidation/recovery week, because the taper
gives me three weeks of the same. My long runs will be only
22 and 20 miles, which means that I am bulking up my midweek
runs. I'm going to stick with a 10-mile max on my Wednesday
and Friday speed workouts, so Tuesday and Thursday will be
the days that see more miles. I am curious to see what my
long runs feel like these weeks, especially if I try to speed
them up to an 8:30/mile pace throughout.
What I really need to do is find a way to sleep more hours,
but there are only so many in a day. With the start of the
school year, both for me and my daughters, I don't have much
leeway. That is one of the big challenges for me, and one
of the reasons I've never tried an April or May marathon,
when all of my training would occur during a semester. My
training partner for this race, though, lives in Arkansas,
and he is suffering through the heat and humidity of the
south just to get ready to run with me in October. I
definitely owe him one and so will likely find out what
training for a spring marathon is really like -- and soon!
Next up, in the morning: a 10-mile speed workout, 800m
repeats, I think. Time to go fuel up.