26 January 2010

Stopping Short

Week 4, one-fourth of the way through the marathon training period. Half-way through the Endurance Phase. Saturday's run was, again, my longest run to date. Not just the longest in this training period, but ever. Unlike last week, it turned out to be a solo run. Also unlike last week, it was unsuccessful in several ways.

The week, with its built-in complications, seemed to work better with some adjustment. So again Monday - instead of the 20-30 minute jog, was on the trainer. Tuesday's run was outside, on the street, in the neighborhood, just as it was getting dark, after work. The neighborhood is not a particularly interesting place to run, but it's good enough up to about 5k. (I have run up to 5m without leaving our little subdivision, but ... well, it's not fun.) And my Wednesday schedule of teaching did not work well for the 12x400 speed intervals; so another workout on the bike. This is how I got 30 miles on the bike this week. Which pleased me no end!

The speed intervals had to come on Thursday. The weather and the timing kept me indoors at the Wheaton College Sports and Rec Center. I know running a track for this workout is better than a treadmill, but I couldn't face 3 miles of sprints on their flat, small, concrete oval. So I set the incline up a bit and ran my quarters at about 2 minutes each, with a 2 minute jog between. It amounted to just over 6 miles for the day, and wore me out enough to feel that I had earned supper. (But not so much I couldn't face a choir rehearsal.) That left me one more cross training day, and another 10 miles on the bike on Friday.

Saturday's run was an experiment in planning my own distance run; an experiment in running in the (light) rain and cold; a mental experiment for endurance. Ultimately it turned out to be less than satisfying. But still, it was my longest run to date. In the end, it proved (if nothing else) the wisdom of planning the long runs as loops, or out-and-back runs. Also, the benefit of running with someone else.

It was to be a 13 mile run, and from about miles 8 - 10, I mentally wrote this blog entry. Today I am writing a very different entry ... My final distance was 11.6 miles. Not bad, really, considering that I am new at this and still have 12 weeks until the marathon. But a failure in terms of endurance/perseverance, and a failure of the mental game. That is a cautionary tale.

I used Map My Ride to figure out how to get 13 miles on safe residential streets (the Prairie Path was still unrunnable then), without being too far from the house should something happen. (I'm pretty cautious, really.) The first 3 miles would be neighborhood laps; from my driveway, 3 times round and on to the egress street to the east. That would put me in the next neighborhood, where I ride hard laps in the spring, when I'm getting used to the road again, on my bike. From a a loopy course there, across a major street into the next neighborhood, and I was able to get 4 additional miles without being more than a mile from my house. Across the major arterial street, and another residential loop, then back across the arterial. Now I'm at 6 miles outside of my own neighborhood, or a total of 9 miles on the run.

This was when I started to feel the burn. My quads had not felt the effects of running since the day before I ran a 5k in June. I didn't expect it, and began to wonder about it. I also - to my discredit - began to wonder how much I had to run to make the day successful. And began to see that planning the end of the run to require a couple of laps in my own neighborhood, was probably not a good idea, endurance-wise speaking.

At 11 miles, then, I was back in the 'hood. Here I stopped for the first time, drank some water, and popped my last "shot block." I had planned this run with hydration and nutrition in mind. With a 6 oz. bottle of water and 3 shot blocks of carbs, I would keep sip every couple of miles, and ingest at miles 3, 7, and 11. That last shot would (ideally) carry me to mile 13. Well, it carried me around the subdivision to my driveway, where I stopped, walked in the house, and called it a morning.

Inside, I got a small orange, a little sport drink, a lot of water. And I stretched. And I took a hot bath and stretched some more. By lunch time, I felt like a failure - surely I could have done another loop and block, to reach 13 miles. Or another loop to reach 12.5? Just like a hard bike ride, it didn't take me long to convince myself that "it wasn't that bad." But to be honest, I have to consider: why did my quads burn on me after all this time?

Was it my speed? I wasn't trying to run fast - quite the contrary - but I averaged one minute faster per mile than the week before with Rich. Too fast, and faster than I expect to run the marathon, by quite a bit. Was it nutrition? Did I eat too little at breakast? The wrong things? Should I have taken something else, or more of what I did take? Should I have drunk more water? Less? Lots of questions. Maybe running the intervals a day closer to the long run ... I could see the wisdom in an extra recovery day between the two most challenging days of the week.

Oh well, this week is a kind of recovery week. The speed intervals are only 8x400. And the long run only 8 miles. Advice I'm getting, and things I see, vary widely as to how soon to build up the long miles, so I'm not freaked out that I didn't hit 13 on Saturday. I will benefit from the humbling. But some lessons learned:
* do what I can to run long with others
* plan a solo long run differently, without such an easy opt-out
* learn more about my personal nutrition needs for running

And ultimately, to consider the long haul ... it is still 12 weeks to April 25! Shake it off, and move on.

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