Ventura Marathon Training Week 5: Am I Fast? Am I Slow?

I don’t know!

Weekly Summary 7/20/15 to 7/26/15

It was only three weeks ago that I was lamenting my snail-pace times. That week I had three runs that were at twelve minute mile pace, and another that squeaked in at 11:58. The only reason my long run didn’t come in at that brisk walk was because I had to run seven of my miles at marathon pace, but the rest of the “run” was pretty much a shuffle.

My summary for that week threw out some ideas for what could be causing the logy pace: bad allergy season, summer temps, or just an off week. Since then, my allergies have improved about 50%, and I’ve made a point of putting in a little more effort into my mid-week non-recovery runs in case it was just laziness, so that my legs didn’t get used to that slow pace. However, even with these adjustments, I surprised myself with my faster times this past week.

I have tried doing my training runs two ways. Previously, I’d have a plan dictate a prescribed pace and bust my ass to hit that speed. This fucked with my head a lot. I could hit the paces sometimes, but those runs were fraught with checkity-check-checking my Garmin throughout the run, and if my pace was too slow or too fast, my head would react accordingly. It was a lot of agita and a sure path to not really digging running.

The way I’ve been running the last three years is by feel. It’s not to say that I don’t check my Garmin every once in a while, but I let my effort determine my pace. This works much better for me mentally, and as an older runner, running at a pace that is more intense than my mature body can handle on a given day probably isn’t wise. So basically I go by four levels of effort:

  • Ugh. Why is someone sitting on my chest?!? This is my tempo pace, and it’s miserable.
  • Comfortably uncomfortable. I can hold this for a bit, and it’s my marathon pace.
  • Engaged but relaxed. This is the gear I added a couple weeks ago and is the one I prefer for my longer midweek runs. It’s my favorite pace, and these are my happiest runs.
  • No fucks left to give. This is for my two short recovery runs and is usually the pace that octogenarians and pregnant women pass me at. Who cares? Not me! I let my body chill.

This past week was the first week of sharpening phase, which meant I’d be adding some speedwork in. At this point in my conditioning level and, ahem, age, my FMC and I play it conservatively and only have one scheduled speed workout, which is a tempo run. We had decided to try to drop the pace about ten seconds from the last cycle to around 9:00-9:10, which made me gulp because the last tempo run I had before M2B was a struggle in the 9:30 range. I also had 8 MP miles scheduled for my 16 mile long run, which was another *eeks* moment because I was hoping to drop my MP pace also by about ten seconds per mile, even though I hadn’t been able to pull out more than two MP miles in the last couple weeks. Add to this I was coming off my highest mileage week of the training cycle – 47 – and Valley summer temps. Who does this to themselves? Anyway, it was a daunting prospect, but since I run by feel, I was just going to exert the appropriate effort for the tempo and MP miles and hope for the best.

Wow, fam. I blew past my 9:10 goal pace for my tempo runs, and instead ran 8:52; 8:43; 9:05; 8:56 pace. Not satisfied, I then laughed at that 9:40 goal pace for my eight MP miles on my long run and ran them in 9:41; 9:30; 9:22; 9:09; 9:15; 9:21; 9:34; 9:25. Best of all, I never felt miserable-miserable on my runs, and my legs don’t feel thrashed at all. What a difference three weeks makes!

So hold up. Am I slow or fast?! And why the springy legs? Hmmm.

Well, I would hope I’m getting faster and that six months plus of consistent training (minus a minor calf injury and marathon recovery) is coalescing into me finally getting stronger and no longer on the perpetual train-injury-rehab cycle. As I mentioned last week, I feel solid for the first time in a long time and am no longer holding my breath in anticipation of my calf or knee giving out.

Me have strong calf.
Me have strong calf.

I am also curious about the change I made to my diet three weeks ago and wonder if that’s not partly responsible. I don’t want to assign too much significance to this until I do further research, so I’m keeping quiet on it for now. CLIFFHANGER.

I’m trying not to read too much into the perkier times, but not gonna lie, I needed this week mentally, and I’m hoping to ride that momentum into this 43-mile training week.

Hope everyone has a great running week!

Total weekly mileage: 36
Long run: 16 miles (8 MP)
Cross-training: Can’t you just let me enjoy my speedy times? Please stop asking me about this.


4 thoughts on “Ventura Marathon Training Week 5: Am I Fast? Am I Slow?

  1. Great week! LOL at your “no fucks left to give” pace. I felt like that was my pace for half my long run this week. Also, I feel ya on the cross-training.

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