Last week, I think I tried to cram too much quality running in and by Sunday my legs were rebelling. I had an unusually slow 4 mile run that I barely made it through on Sunday. I was feeling better on Monday, enough to get in a full 10 mile run and the aches in my knees dissipated (I think this was a sign that my shoes need to be cycled out… or at least not used on 18 mile long runs). I had a few other aches in my legs (quads, hamstrings, shins, etc.) but a foam rolling session on Monday evening made things feel mostly better. I thought I was recovered enough to try a workout on Tuesday morning (even though I had no workouts planned this week) but my body didn’t cooperate and I had to pull the plug after only two of eight 1200m intervals.
After that failed workout (which was the fourth workout I’ve pulled the plug on in as many weeks), I figured the mileage and hard efforts (and the heat/humidity!) must finally be taking a toll on me and I needed a significant cutback week so that I can start hitting my workouts again. Instead of 100+ miles, I cut out the doubles and shortened my runs so that I’d run about 60-65 miles, including the Springbank half marathon race that was on Sunday.
Over the last nine weeks of marathon training, I’ve averaged 86.8 miles/week which is a fair bit higher than the preceding five weeks (71.8 miles/week) and the weeks leading up to my spring marathon before I hurt myself (78.2 miles/week). Over the last four weeks, I’ve averaged 91.4 miles/week which is the highest four week average I’ve ever run; The next highest was 89.3 miles/week which was immediately before my shin/tendon issues started in March. I think all the evidence is telling me I need to pull back a little and get things under control so I can get back to successfully completing my workouts. I hope this down week and pretty soon the cooler fall temperatures will help.
By Thursday, I was feeling more refreshed but I continued to take it easy leading up to the Springbank Half. My plan for this race was to go out at 5:31/mile targeting a 1:12:19 finish which I figured would be close enough that if I had any gas left I could push it into 1:11:xx territory or if things fell apart, I’d hopefully be able to still come in under 1:12:59. My rationale behind this goal was that I ran 5:40/mile for 10 miles back in May and since then I’ve had significant improvements in my 10K times that told me I should be in the 1:11-1:13 ballpark. The last half marathon I raced was 1:16:06 in February and since then I’ve run a 1:15:28 or so in a 30+K training run which makes me think I should be able to go a fair bit quicker in a race.
The race couldn’t have gone better. It started early while it was cool (11°C) and by the finish it was only 15°C. With the exception of the first kilometer, I ran my own race at the pace I set out to run. The course was a little hilly with a winding path along the Thames River but it never had a hill that was too outrageous. I remember seeing the 10 mile mark around 55:00 which had me on target. At the turnaround point, I was in fifth and over the next few kilometers I reeled in a guy that looked like he was hurting. That got me fourth place but the two guys in 2nd/3rd were looking strong and I couldn’t catch them. In the end, I ran a new PB of 1:11:15 which is about 5 minutes off my time from February. I think this bodes well for Hamilton. I’m still not sure about 2:28 but I’ve got eight more weeks to get there.
Here’s a quick look at my training leading up to the race:
M: 10 miles easy with 6×30-second strides.
Tu: 10 miles with 2x1200m(400m jog recoveries) @ 3:54, 3:54. Failed 8x1200m workout.
W: 8 miles easy with 6×30-second strides. [XT] 20 min strength exercises.
Th: 8 miles easy with 6×30-second strides.
F: 4 miles recovery. [XT] 60 min massage (sore left side QL, hip, hamstrings). Epsom salt bath.
Sa: 6 miles easy.
Su: Springbank Half Marathon in London with 2.5 miles warmup/cooldown.
Total: 61 miles.