For those of us training for a fall marathon, these are really the dog days of summer. Most of us are either at or nearing our highest mileage weeks of the training schedule. It's natural at this point to feel a little run-down, tired, and sore. It's probably good, if you are feeling like that, to realize it's normal and you're not alone. I suppose I am writing this as a way of reminding myself of that as well.
Last week was likely my peak, or at least equal to my peak mileage week. I ran about 46 miles for the week. That includes a 20 miler for my long run on the weekend, and a ten mile tempo run mid-week. It also includes two days off for the week. Since the injury trouble I had a few years ago with my feet, I generally try to take two days off from running, both to rest, and to cross-train.
I was reading one of Hal Higdon's books the other day, and looking at his training schedule. It varies depending on your level of experience, and goals. As you probably know, Hal develops the CARA training programs, in addition to his work for Runner's World. In any case, his suggested mileage, and my actual mileage are not too far apart. I kind of make it up as I go along at this point, but most training programs are similar. Some suggest longer runs than 20 miles, others suggest more cross training, or hills, or tempo runs. But the basic philosophy is not too different.
My own hodge-podge plan is really based on the long runs, and trying to work a little on my aerobic capacity and speed during the week. As I mentioned, last week was my mileage peak, and I felt it. I was dragging pretty good following my 19 mile long run from the weekend before. That run ended pretty well, and I felt strong. The 20 miler this weekend, on the other hand, was a real struggle to just finish. It was just the opposite for my training partner Tom. He didn't feel real fresh at the end of the 19 miler, but had one of his best long runs for the 20.
We talked about it afterward, and came to the conclusion that there's really no way to know how you are going to feel. Sometimes your body responds better than you head expects it to. And that's a good way to explain my run today. With the weekend still weighing on my mind, I was not anxious to get on the track today. But, after running out of excuses in my mind, I managed to get myself out the door.
I mentioned, a few weeks ago that I am trying the Yasso 800's training plan for the marathon this year. So I needed to do 8 of them this morning (working up to 10 in a few weeks). I did finish them, and it was not nearly as bad as I feared. I learned a couple things from the workout as well. One is that this workout is a good way to gauge your improving fitness. A few weeks ago, 6 of the 800's was tough. Today, 8 of them was not really that difficult. The other is something I know, but tend to forget. During every training cycle, there are going to be highs and lows. So you shouldn't worry too much about how you feel at this point. The objective is to get to the race in good shape, feeling good. And to get there, you have to put in the work.
So good luck putting in the work in the next few weeks. I'll see you on the trails....