About 4 years ago, MC set me a set of distances/paces that he thought I should be able to run as part of my preparation for a sub-3 marathon. He liked me doing back-to-back workouts, which is one of the main training tools still in my arsenal today. A really good weekend would consist of a relatively fast 10 miles on Friday (not THAT fast, just enough to get the legs working) followed by a 20 miler on Saturday and 15 miles on Sunday. That's a pretty heavy load and I never managed to do a lot of those in any training cycle since.
For this weekend, however, that was exactly the plan. Things were thrown into slight turmoil with me recovering from a cold (the final effects of which are still with me) as well as some heavy legs on Thursday, probably a late hangover from last Saturday's marathon, but I figured I would give it a go and see how it went. I would always be able to cut back if it got too much.
I have learned enough by now to know that you should not be focusing on hitting a certain target pace but went entirely by feel instead. After a couple of slow warm-up miles on Friday I increased the pace. The first few miles felt pretty good and smooth but towards the end fatigue crept into the system and the pace slowed a bit. I could have pushed harder, but that would have missed the point of the workout. I ended up with 7:16 pace for the 8 miles, which leaves a lot of room for improvement but I felt I had nailed the intensity.
Saturday started fairly early, in order to get the run out of the way before some family business, and it was still dark for the first few miles. The wind was noticeable but actually calmer than the forecast had predicted. I had missed a major hail storm just before leaving and the roads were covered in little white crunchy balls, but all in all it was perfectly acceptable. The first half went by pretty quickly but then the legs remembered that they had gone into this run pre-fatigued from the day before and gradually got worse. At 12.5 miles I had a decision to make as I approached a t-junction. Turn right towards home and be done after 15 miles which would have been a perfectly acceptable run or turn left for another 5-mile loop that would most likely turn ugly and painful. It wasn't a difficult decision. There's a world championship coming up. I turned left.
The pace went south with each mile and every time I tried to get back I paid the price shortly afterwards. In some ways it was similar to the day before, I most likely could have pushed harder but that would have missed the point of the workout, which was not to destroy myself and still be in good shape for tomorrow. Anyway, the last few miles I was definitely dragging my sorry backside along the road, wishing for this to be over and I sure was happy when it finally was. I got caught twice by some fairly painful hail shower, just before the 15 mile mark and just before the end. Neither lasted more than a few minutes.
After that run I definitely expected Sunday to be a slogfest of epic proportions and wasn't exactly looking forward to it. I started at a very easy pace but after 2 miles tested the legs to see how they would feel running a smidgen faster, which felt unexpectedly good so I kept the slightly better pace and waited how things would develop. What did happen was that the miles just flew by effortlessly. I was past the halfway mark before I even knew it. It started raining/sleeting for the final miles but I hardly noticed, I was feeling much too good to let something like that affect my mood.
Even though the pace was almost 20 seconds per mile faster than on Saturday, the HR was actually lower on Sunday. Go figure. Maybe I managed to work the cold out of my system, though that had felt pretty much the same on all 3 days.
I have no idea where that great run had come from but I'll gladly take more of it as long as it's available. I have spent the last few weeks bringing my body back to base level and now it's time to build up again for the next 10 weeks. There is plenty of room for improvement, and improvements will come.
- 30 Jan
- 10 miles, 1:15:03, 7:30 pace, HR 152
- incl 8 miles @ 7:16 pace (HR 155)
- 31 Jan
- 20 miles, 2:41:35, 8:03 pace, HR 146
- 1 Feb
- 15 miles, 1:56:23, 7:45 pace, HR 145