Sunday, February 12, 2012

2/5-2/12, Most Weekly Miles in a Long Time

The number 70 seems like quite an arbitrary number, but either physically or mentally (maybe both), things start to change once I surpass 70 miles in a week.  Looking through all of 2011, post injury, I hit 70+ miles twice.  Pre-injury, I had 7 consecutive weeks exceeding 70 (and in many cases 80) miles per week.  Leading up to what still stands as my best marathon, the 2010 NCR Trail marathon, I surpassed 70 miles in 9 weeks (somewhat spread out) leading up to the race.

Though the sample size isn't exactly massive, it would appear that more miles = better chance of running a strong marathon.  With how weak and dead I felt going into my 2011 marathons, clearly I was doing something right in 2010 and not 2011.  Though even through 2010 looking back on the few weeks leading up to that marathon, I was very lucky to get out alive as I still vividly remember teetering on the edge of blowing up physically and mentally.  High risk, high reward certainly pays off when the stars align.  But as I have learned, the consequences of pushing right up to your limits all the time far outweigh the benefits.  10 miles per week less on carefully built mileage is infinitely more desirable than missing 4 months (nearly 2 with no running, and 2 with significantly reduced running) just to run 15-20 miles per week more than you can really handle.  It also turns out that the magic of 70 gets transferred to 60 or less if I try to ride a bike on top of all of that.

So what does all my rambling mean?

I need multiple weeks exceeding 70 miles to truly be ready for a marathon.  However, it is almost impossible to run 70+mpw at the level I want to while also riding a bike.  Furthermore, my body can and will go into significant recovery debt if I constantly push week after week on 70+ miles.  Finally, the paces I run are the paces I run.  If I ran my easy runs a little easier, perhaps the magic number would shift higher, but well, I just don't.  Sometimes easy runs are in the 7s, sometimes they don't end up being so easy and end up in the 6s.  Sometimes I'm really stupid and run sub 6 on "easy" days.  As long as I avoid the last one, that is really the best I can do!

So with that, here is my first 70+ mile week in a long time (to be followed with one more before jumping back to 55), which I got to by starting with a 33 mile post marathon week on 12/2/2011 and culminating with 77 miles 9 weeks later:

Monday 2/5: 7 miles, easy-ish, felt somewhat tired from my 15 mile trail run through mud (but would still do it again)
Tuesday 2/6: 12 miles total with 8 miles worth of tempo (on the track, because I am crazy) work as summarized below:
4 miles on: 5:38, 5:38, 5:29, 5:28
1 lap jog
2 miles on: 5:29, 5:32
1 lap jog
1 mile on: 5:29
1 lap jog
1 mile on: 5:28

By nature of the format, I wanted to pick it up a bit as I went on.  The 4 miler was a bit too fast, and my legs were still dead from the past weekend.  But, I wasn't disappointed.  I still ran faster than I would have on a straight 8 mile tempo.  I also got to work hard on tired legs which never happened leading up to my 2011 fall marathon debacle.  Holding on even with uncooperative legs is the key!  Not having runs on tired legs all the time though, means staying healthy.

Wednesday 2/7: 10 miles total, ran downtown, joined the Wednesday night group out of Canton, ran back.  My legs were still quite displeased with me, though as the run went on, they slowly started feeling better.

Thursday 2/8: 7 miles, still felt meh, but better than Wednesday.  I made extra sure to keep this one on the easy end.

Friday 2/9: AM: 3 miles easy with the Back on My Feet crew
                   PM: 7 miles easy-ish, finally started feeling something resembling good again

Saturday 2/10: 18 miles total on the NCR Trail.  It was a bit snowy, but there was no wind and the 35 degree temperatures were perfect for a long run.  Shorts, t-shirt, and gloves all the way!  I crushed this run and felt really strong the entire way.  It ended up being a slightly up-tempo long run:
7:15; 6:44; 6:44; 6:44; 6:42; 6:39; 6:39; 6:37; 6:36; 6:39; 6:31; 6:35; 6:41; 6:30; 6:30; 6;26; 6:31; 6:16, just under 2 hours overall for a 6:38 average.

Legs felt decent afterwards, just slightly stiff but the feeling went away a few hours later.

Sunday 2/11: The rather calm and peaceful Saturday gave way to freaking cold temperatures (20s) and nasty winds.  I drove down to Howard County to get a workout in with TWSS on the Club Challenge course.  The workout...

4 miles easy, followed by a farlek with timed intervals: 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1 minutes with identical rest, a little recovery, then 3 miles tempo pace.  By the end, we had run the whole course, and all the wonderful hills.  With some warm up and cool down, I ended up with about 13 total.

Unfortunately, the run sucked, though not because of my legs; the cold and the wind really did a number.  It was really hard to breathe (even on the easy section), and the wind made things even more difficult.  But no matter, I survived and still got the work in.  Now lets just hope it's warmer come race day, because this mild winter has made me incredibly weak in sub 30 degree temperatures!

Total miles for the week: 77

This coming week, roughly the same mileage.  No 80+ yet.


  1. First off, really nice week, especially that track workout Tuesday and the long run. Tired legs or not, it seems you're hitting the important stuff still and that's most important, right?

    Second, you think YOU've gotten weak from the mild winter? I am REALLY hoping for a nice day at Club Challenge because living down here in NC where 50s seems chilly, I am a big fat softie now!

  2. So does that mean you'll be up for club challenge, running for BRRC? Good luck!

    I've taken a little bit of flak for jumping ship, but I'm with them in spirit :)