Today starts my 2nd week (of 16) of training for the Grand Rapids Marathon on Oct. 18. So far, so good. Today was a X-training day...which amounted to a 15 minute ab workout. This week I am going to try to run 6 days, instead of my usual 5. I hope to run 6 days most weeks...this will allow me to run maybe 5 miles more every week. Not a huge leap in training mileage, but every little bit helps.
Wish I could do some days of doubles, but it's hard with the kiddo home. And I'm really not sure I'm all that keen on the idea of running, showering, running, showering again...and increased laundry. Though I do like the idea of running more than once/day. Often after my easier days I find that I feel so great a few hours later that I am twitchy to go again. Yeah, I should probably seek mental help for that, heh.
Speaking of training strategies, we were having a really great discussion in the private "girls-only" area of Running Ahead about training stalls and the causes of these lulls and solutions that has solidified things I have been mentally mulling over for many months (how's that for some hot alliteration?). My mileage has increased by leaps-and-bounds over the last couple of years, but my average pace on most runs is no faster...and probably a little slower. Granted, I am actually running at a comfortable, conversational pace, which was almost certainly not true in the first year or two that I was running, but it does seem to have come at a cost. In the past year I have trained for 2 marathons with more miles, but almost no speedwork....and my marathon times have been FAR slower than I would have expected giving my mileage and pace on long runs.
Of course, most miles SHOULD be run slow and easy...the alternative is running miles fast and hard...which usually will result in running no miles while sitting on the bench nursing an injury.
But I I seem to have turned myself into a machine that can run lots of miles at a single pace...like I have just one gear. It's like someone (I forget who) once said, "long slow distances make long slow runners." It's true. I have trained my body to function so well at a single speed that I only have that single speed. I look at my log and my average pace on nearly every run is in the 10:45 - 11:15 range. That's not much variety and it hasn't given my legs much opportunity to know how to run faster and to be able to run faster for very long.
Counter this with my best friend. When training for Milwaukee she logged about half the miles I did, but kicked my ass by about 20 minutes (she had 0 cramping). In most shorter distances we are very equally matched--I will beat her by a small margin in some races, then she will return the favor in others.
Only explanation I have is that she tends to run the bulk of her miles at almost her race pace. Sure, this sets her up for more injury risk, but it also prepares her body to go faster on race day. I think my cramping issues are equal parts electrolyte problem and lack of speed training. My body simply is not ready to go the 60-90 seconds faster than my training pace...because it hasn't had any practice at those speeds, regardless of the miles I have put in. At my mileage I *SHOULD* be able to run faster, but that mileage also assumes that I'm not running every run easy and comfortable, I believe.
I think part of the problem is the knee thing I struggled with for most of last Summer's marathon training. It forced me to really scale back and slow down while things healed. Enough so that I have become paranoid of it returning, even though I am almost certain that my knee issues were the result of insufficient rearfoot stability in my shoes (it whispers of return every time I try more than an occasional short run sans Superfeet).
I have not had any substantial injury issues in nearly a year, yet I still plod along. Time for that to change. I am sure I have it in me to someday go sub-4 in the marathon (I mean, assuming I can rein the food/weight issues in), but at this point I haven't even gone sub 4:30, which is due to the cramping issues. Training my muscles to run faster should at least help with that, in part.
2 nights ago was my first non-race speed work session (6 miles) of this training cycle. It went SO well. I think in part because I was still riding the temporary increase in speed that last weekend's 15k gave me, but also because of how much I was enjoying those new Nikes. Wow. Such a fabulous feel...soft and flexible, but more like Nerf softness than marshmallowy softness. Almost a springy, bouncy sensation. The addition of the slimmer blue Superfeet insoles, instead of the stock Nike ones really made such a difference. My toes had more room and the overall fit and stability was improved. I may even wear them for my 16 miler this coming weekend, which says something. I rarely will wear a new shoe for anything longer than 8-10 miles for several weeks. I still have not worn my Mizuno Wave Elixirs for anything more than 11, and they now have nearly 80 miles on them. They are a firmer shoe than I like and are not proving to be durable at all (already some of the little black outersole nubs on the forefoot are nearly worn through to the white midsole foam--I doubt I will get more than 150 miles from that shoe).
If the first couple of long runs in the Nikes go well, then I will sell my 3 new-in-box pairs of NB 903s on eBay. They are a fine shoe in a pinch, but if I don't love a shoe I find excuses not to wear it. I have at least 3 other pair (mostly NBs with the new narrower last that didn't suit my foot well at all) that I currently avoid unless it is pouring rain...I should donate these to Goodwill, since they are quite gently worn and may work for someone else.
The Nikes are definitely snugger than what I am accustomed to, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. The 903s go too far in the opposite direction. I'm also not wearing the thinnest sock that I could be (Smartwool ultra light weight, which is still heavier than a thin synthetic sock), so I am going to try some thin Balega and Drymax socks, since I know a lot of people really love these (and they are a LOT cheaper than the Smartwools). I have been in Smartwool almost exclusively from my very first days of running...it's worth trying some other socks to see if I might love something even more.
Yesterday was the 4th of July. Had a nice day with family...eating too much... Thankfully I have at least 40 miles on the plan for the week. 44-45 miles if I do that 6th day. Right now I think it's a necessity. *burp*