Week 4 was a cutback week, so I took advantage of my extra time and actually had a bit of a social life. Crazy, I know. I better not get used to it.
Monday after work, I went to the Lady Gaga concert with my girlfriends.
Thursday evening, John and I went to a wine tasting event, and Friday night we went out with friends. You know you’re training for a marathon when you eat an entire margherita pizza at dinner (and could eat more) and drink water instead of beer at the bar.
For my “long” run on Saturday, I only had 10 miles on the agenda. I wanted to make them speedy since I had an easy week and my legs were rested. My goal was to average 9:15 pace.
After two miles of slowly chugging along, I became frustrated with my pace. I stopped for a minute to stretch out my calves and considered throwing in the towel and trying again Sunday. But since my goal this training cycle is consistency, I kept going. At mile 4, I was really frustrated, my stride felt weird, and the outside of my left calf/shin hurt. I considered finishing my loop around the lake and logging 6 miles for the day. But again, that dang consistency goal kept me going. After another half mile, I decided to focus on my form. I remembered reading that your feet should move in a circular motion when you run. I focused on that, making sure I was actually lifting my legs up and then pushing off them.
And then something magical happened.
I went from slogging through my run to flying; my pace dropped from 9:40 to 8:00. An 8 minute mile is currently an unsustainable pace for a long run and it wasn’t long before my heart rate skyrocketed; but despite my burning lungs, it felt so good to run fast.
As I kept running, I realized that I haven’t been running as fast as I’d like because I’ve been depending too much on my hamstrings. My quadriceps –my strongest, most powerful muscles — have been dead weight, hanging on for the ride while my smaller muscles have been doing most of the work. I thought back to my training log, in which I have already written several times: “Hard run. Hamstrings were tired.” No wonder they’ve been tired. They’ve been doing all the work!
With this new-found knowledge, I pushed hard through the rest of the run, and it felt awesome to glance down at my Garmin and see 8:xx. If I had quit at mile 2, 4 or even 6, I wouldn’t have had this breakthrough. But since I stuck with it, I ran 11.25 miles and finished one of my most satisfying training runs this cycle with a smile on my face.
Here’s how the rest of the week looked:
Monday: 1 hour yoga
Tuesday: Speed session. 1.5 mile warm up + 2×1,600 (7:47, 7:40). My goal was to run each interval faster than the previous one. This worked fine for the first two. My heart rate was way up there, but my legs felt OK. The wheels completely fell off within a quarter of a mile into the last one, and I had to break that last mile up into three chunks. + 800 (7:40) + 2×400 (7:47 pace) – 5.25 miles total.
Tempo run General aerobic run. 6.1 miles in 58:59 (9:40 avg pace)
Thursday: 1 hour yoga
Friday: 1 hour yoga
Saturday: 11.25 miles in 1:47:52 (9:33 avg pace)
Sunday: 90 minutes yoga + easy 3 miles in 29:08 (9:43 avg pace)
Total: 25.6 miles + 4.5 hours yoga