TITLE: Ready for a More?
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: July 15, 2009 4:28 PM
As I set out on my first 12-miler since running a
half-marathon in May,
I could not help recalling
Barney's First Law of Running.
Just keep running. It is dark, and the miles lie
formidably ahead, but you conquer them in the simplest
of ways: keep running.
A couple of weeks ago I began to think about
training for fall marathon.
If I could run a full post-race week, maybe I was ready
to try. Well, I have now run two full weeks, for the
first time since a strong three-week stretch in April.
Last week was my highest-mileage week -- 32 even --
since April 7-13, 2008, when I put in 33.5 miles.
I have been fatigued, but I have managed to run each
planned running day.
These have been strange days, indeed. In the span of
five days, I ran my fastest 5-miler in recent times,
ran a negative split 12-miler that started oppressively
slow and finished reasonably, ran my slowest recorded
5-miler ever, and turned around the next day
to shave 4 seconds off of last Friday's fast 5-miler.
Th two fast 5-mile runs were on the track, my first
real forays on the track since coming down with whatever
ails me last May. One day on the track is a healthy
practice for me mentally, because it helps me think
of pace and speed in a way that longer-form runs
outdoors don't. I'm not running "fast" yet, just
faster. That I have been healthy enough to do three
in the last week and a half is a positive sign, even
if they have sapped me more than I would expect.
I have thrown in one cross-training twist. Since I
began training for races quite a few years ago, I have
tended to neglect stretching and other basic exercise.
I was getting plenty of work on the road. My wife has
recently started doing
which is a perfect fit for her, because she danced a
lot of ballet growing up. I've been doing a workout
or two with her each night. Wow. This is what in the
modern running world is called a core workout.
It focuses on the usual body parts, such as the abs
and hamstrings, but also on infrastructure like the
back and hips. The athletic workouts are tough. I
never realized how had a workout one could get without
using weights or other resistance. This could be good
for getting me back closer to marathon condition.
The last time I started on a training plan for a
was July 30, 2007. That week, I ran 43 miles, including
three 7-milers and a 5x800m track workout. I am nowhere
near ready for that yet. I was already in great shape
and had trained hard for a half-marathon earlier in the
year. That plan required only twelve weeks, though, so
I have some hope for getting ready to run an October
race. It will be slower, less aggressive, but no less
challenging, given where I am right now.
My October travel schedule complicates picking a race.
Right now, I am giving most consideration to
on October 17 and
Mason City, Iowa,
on October 25. Indianapolis would repeat the destination
of my half earlier this year, but it would be all-new as
a run; the half was downtown and on the west side, and
the full is on the northeast side of town. This is a
big city (373.1 square miles), and so a repeat would
not seem like one. Running there twice in one year
would be ironic, though after growing up there and never
running there at all. The Mason City race is run by
a local school system as a fundraiser and has a longer
history than most anyone knows. The experience there
would be a polar opposite to that of Chicago, my
It would require a different sort of mental preparation:
fewer runners, much smaller crowds, and a lot more
solitude. Can I be ready for that?
The cost, looser registration deadlines, and later
race date have me leaning toward Mason City. The
prospect of running a bigger race, on a day I'll
already be in central Indiana, makes Indianapolis
attractive. I need to decide by the end of the
month for early registration, if nothing else, but
more important are getting my training schedule in
order and beginning to prepare my mind for the rigor