It's been a challenging week, but today's long run felt good. Aside for just being gorgeous running weather, I got to run with a bunch of other people from my team up at the Rockefeller State Preserve. The greens of the sunlit fields just seemed to shimmer with an otherworldly intensity and the crisp air felt more refreshing and nourishing than it has in weeks. The miles weren't effortless, but they were comfortable and when I picked up the pace for the final section, I felt strong and healthy. Now I just have to decide if there's any point to running 12 miles tomorrow, just for the sake of hitting 85 for the week. I'm not really all that concerned if I do or not, so I'll probably just see how I feel after 8 tomorrow and play it by ear from there.
I'll be easing off on the mileage for the next couple weeks to recharge a little bit before the local club team championship race next Saturday and the Columbus Half on the following Sunday. I'm going to tentatively aim for 60 miles this coming week and 50 or so the next, before launching into my last two really high mileage weeks before the marathon. It's weird to think that the time horizon for this thing is going to close in on me that quickly, but I guess that's still about three hundred miles of running between me and the start of my taper, so I won't start celebrating just quite yet.
In response to some of the comments after my last entry, besides my high mileage, I do think there are a few things that have helped me to see results from my training and that have made that high mileage possible.
- Gradual build up + recovery weeks. It's taken me eight months to get to where I am now. I started training for this marathon January 1st on 30 miles a week and have increased my mileage in very small (5%ish) increments since then. Every two or three weeks, I cut back significantly to let my body rest, recover and adapt to the effects of the training.
- Moderate training pace to maximize aerobic adaptation. I started the training using a heart rate monitor, but even now, I think I run most of my training runs at about 70% HR max. I should wear the darn thing everyonce in a while to keep myself honest, but I think I'm able to keep my pace regulated by feel. I don't even completely understand the science behind it myself, but it's something to do with the mitochondria in the cells building up most efficiently when you're not pushing the pace too hard. It's a little mumbo-jumbo to me, but it seems to work.
- Learning the quirks of my body to develop a stretching routine that works. One of my legs is longer than the other, I'm pigeon-toed and running tends to make the muscles around my hips and pelvis get really tight. It's taken me years to understand what all the consequences of these physiological traits are, but learning specific stretches that target my ITB and piriformis and performing them religiously has made a huge difference in my ability to avoid injury.
- Targeted speed work. I tossed out the 400's since the risk of injury seemed too high and focused my track work on mile repeats. I've been doing them in sets of five based on the very scientific reasoning that it's one more than I really feel like doing and have mostly aimed to run them at 6:20 pace based on the reasoning that that's 20 seconds faster than the pace I'd really like to run my marathon in. Also to get used to what 6:20 feels like, since that's the pace that an Olympic trial qualifying marathon would need to be run in.
Two more things that are going to be key and than I really need to work on from this point forward are my diet and my sleep. I think my food choices are pretty healthy already, but I really need to work on eating more consistantly throughout the day. And after a week of uncomfortable stomach issues, I also would like to work on limiting the amount of dairy I intake. I don't mind soy milk and I really like yogurt, active cultures and all, so I should be able to continue satisfying my dairy fondness without upsetting my delicate constitution.
The sleep thing is going to require some discipline. I need a minimum of eight hours. When I'm doing the crazy mileage I probably need more like nine. Typically, I get seven. This has got to change.
And hydration too, of course. I had a nasty bout with the first cousin of a migrane Thursday night and I'm sure that had something to do with not drinking enough. It's not that hard to keep a bottle of water on my desk during the day. It's really too simple a thing, it would be stupid to let this one slide.
None of this is groundbreaking, by any means, but these are the things I've been keeping in mind when it comes to this current round of training.