Wake up, gear up, lace up, run, recover, repeat.
That pretty much sums up life as of late, but this week was a welcome change of pace with company in town and these runs on the schedule:
- Tempo run – 5 mi
- Track workout – 12 x 800s
- Long run – 15 mi
I wanted to knock out the 15-miler early to free up our weekend and was fortunate to have a few brave souls who were willing to join me for a mid-week sunrise run (shout out to Dan, Kelly and Kevin!).
Dan and Kelly completed their first trail marathon a few months back, and Kevin’s in the process of training for the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, so I wasn’t surprised when we took off at a fast clip through the Marina and through Fisherman’s Wharf.
We continued along the waterfront to the Embarcadero before looping back to Kelly’s and Dan’s ‘hoods to drop them off after the first five miles.
Unfortunately, between the faster-than-usual pace, a few hills and not having fully recovered from last week’s 22.5-miler, my legs were beat.
Poor Kevin had to help hold the pieces together while I slowly unraveled over the next 10 or so miles, which I attributed to a few factors:
- First, was the fact that I didn’t give myself a full week between long runs; now I know to space ’em out, especially anything over 20 miles
- Next was the gradual buildup of lactic acid in my legs from the fast pace and early hills; I originally had a flatter route planned, but we changed it up at the last minute
- Finally, a tendon in my right foot started to act up again; all small items, but the sum of which made the final few miles of the run a real mental battle
I forged on, but was feeling discouraged and starting to spiral into negative self-talk (How can I do 26.2 miles if I can’t handle 15 with a few hills?!), but thankfully Kevin pulled me out of it and kept me focused on the finish line…which included our new post-run ritual of chocolate milk and bananas.
Fortunately this week’s track workout went a lot better. It’s taken me a few times (duh), but the message has finally sunk in: Pace yourself!
That’s what training’s all about – trial and error. You experiment a bit, push the limits, get your butt kicked, and zero in on that sweet spot where you can perform at your best without going off the rails (i.e. “hitting the wall” or “bonking,” which totally sucks and can break a race experience).
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially after reading this article by running legend Amby Burfoot, which talks about relying more on your Brain-Body feedback than other pace-based mechanisms during a race.
Type-A runners tend to pick a goal and gut it out, no matter what. I’ve done this before. Sometimes it works (i.e. my half marathon PR), sometimes it results in epic fails (been there, done that…never want to go there again), but it’s very tough to maintain that push for 26.2 miles.
Burfoot proposes that we instead run the race at a perceived effort of 98 percent, versus “redlining” at a tough-to-maintain 100 percent. He says that the seconds lost are few, and that it’s actually a bargain—a value proposition, that sweet spot I mentioned above. And something I’m definitely considering when setting race-day goals.
So after running the first 800 to get a feel for pacing (1:53) on the track that day, I reined it in over the next 11 laps and kept the timing in a cluster of 1:46-1:53. Sure the goal was to keep it even tighter, in the range of 1:50-1:52, but you gotta start somewhere, and this is progress in the right direction.
The final run of the week was a five-miler, which was supposed to be a tempo run, but I used it as more of fun run to flush my legs out so I could start with a clean slate for lucky week 13 of training.
Instead of a morning run, I chose late afternoon on a gorgeous first day of fall, complete with 70-degree weather, clear skies and that perfect edge of crispness in the air.
My destination was the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, whose white building stands in stark contrast to the technicolor blooms that surround it.
My favorite spot was the Dahlia Dell, tucked in behind some trees. I stumbled upon it only while jogging around the building to take a closer look at the grounds.
It was the perfect way to round out the weekend, get focused for the home stretch of training and take a moment to appreciate the past season while we kick off a new one.
Speaking of reflection, have you ever played the game “High/Low” about the peaks and valleys of your day, week, etc.?
Well, this week’s low was that my right foot is still sore, so I’m walking the fine line between finishing out training and keeping it from getting worse. Of course, full rest is what’s required to heal it, which I’ll do if it gets any worse. But for now, I’m alternating ice, Epsom salt soaks (like this one) and Advil, plus I researched and am testing a new way to tie laces that’s supposed to help (Lydiard Lacing; check it out).
But this week’s high overshadowed that with some delicious meals, great conversations and reconnecting over fond memories with some beloved out-of-town visitors. A great way to fill up the mental, emotional and physical “tanks” that can all start to dwindle at this point in training.
I do have to say, though, my “dessert tank” is at max capacity after facing this mouthwatering Ghirardelli gauntlet…
The final score? Sea Cliff Sundae: 0, Jennifer: 1.
Stay tuned for next week’s update; less than one month until race day, and only one long run between now and the taper!