Gosh…I have no idea where I am in regards to marathon training. Or at least that’s what it feels like.
I’ve always done the typical kind of training for marathons, run run run, a little speed work, a little hill work, then run run run some more.
Now enter Jeff Galloway and his run/walk/ run method and I feel like I’m all over the map as far as pace and where and what I’m supposed to run.
Last weekend my wife and I were in Boise to visit Mom before her operation (which by the way went well..no cancer!) and ofcourse I had a long run planned of 18 miles. Normally I’ve been using the 4 minute run, 30 second minute walk system that Jeff recommends for a time-goal marathon plan. BUT I read an article from Amby Burfoot where he talked about Jeff’s method and how he, Amby, uses a modified cycle of a 9 minute run and 1 minute walk.
Well, I decided to try that cycle out in Boise and oh my gosh…..I hate it! Okay, to be fair there were many variables to this run:
1. Out of sync with my normal routine as far as sleeping, eating, etc. (Didn’t sleep well at all, AND we had to get up at the butt-crack-of-dawn to catch our plane to Boise so I was really out of wack, AND I had eaten a high level of fat the night before the run…ribs, hmmmm, wonderful ribs….but WAY too much fat!)
2. I ran a very hard Wednesday run at work: (Half a dozen fartlets while waiting for everyone to show up to do a Beacon hill run (VERY STEEP), then run down (VERY STEEP and FAST) then a medium paced run back to work.
3. New shoes. Not just new, but totally new make and model and type. (I am a neutral shoe runner but bought a shoe with just a little more stability, (Brooks Adrenaline GTS 9)
So back to the long run in Boise: When I started out, I walked a good 1/2 mile and then started very slowly, probably 9:30 to 10:00 mpm pace. I noticed right off that my legs felt heavy even though I hadn’t run since the Beacon Hill run. I also had a bunch of things happen that made me feel out of sorts; Couldn’t get my Garmin to show the right screen; The stories I had downloaded and was planning on listening to had expired; And my running gear just didn’t “feel” right for some reason…very strange; Attempted to run down by the river on an old trail only to have to turn around due to small streams flowing across the trail; So by the time I finally got back on the Green Belt in Boise and settled down, it was probably 2.5 to 3 miles but now my right heel was feeling sore (like last fall when I had to cut WAY back in my mileage to let whatever it was (is?) heal..no pun intended).
So I’m sailing along doing my 9/1 cycle and just not feeling good. Was tired, my legs felt like anvils and for something new, my calves felt REALLY tight, which I rarely have ever experienced. Instead of this being a great run down memory lane in Boise (used to live, run and bike there) I was struggling and a few times into the run thought about calling my wife and having her pick me up, (LOOSER!)
Finally got to the turn around point and headed back and finally switched back to my 4/:30 cycle which helped a little but by this time I was feeling really fatigued and my :30 second cycle was turning into a full minute, sometimes more cycle. Ugh!
So looking back: I believe one of the reasons I had such a terrible long run was I was fatigued from the hard hill and fartlet runs on Wednesday. The shoes ‘may’ have caused the calve issue but I didn’t break the shoes in at all, other than wore them around the house for a couple of hours. And last but not least I was not properly rested and perhaps was fighting off a flue or cold.
So, jump to yesterday (4/18/2008) I had scheduled a 21 mile easy run. My running group was planning on doing a pre-Bloomsday course on the Centennial Trail and since I run on that trail ALL the time I just didn’t want to do another 21 miles of it. So I got up at 6:00 AM and headed out to my very favorite ‘road’ course which starts at the Indian Canyon golf course and then goes along the Ridge Road that overlooks Spokane and is dirt, then finally turns West heading out towards wide open spaces with lots of horses, deer and wild turkeys. I love this course and probably could do it every weekend and never get tired of it. In fact our running group (http://soleandspirit.wordpress.com/) ran in the area most all of this past winter because it’s always plowed and all those farms and visits look amazing covered in snow!
So yesterdays run was just about perfect. I used my old shoes, my Garmin had no issues, my MP3 player had all the stories renewed and although my heel complained every so often, I would concentrate on keeping my form and somewhere about half way into the run it stopped complaining. The weather was “perrrrrfect”! When I left the house it was about 38 degrees and the longer I was out the warmer it got, although I never felt too warm. About 12 or 13 miles into the run I passed by my truck, so I dumped off my outside shell, reloaded my pockets with “Tri-Berry” GU (Mhmmmm, good!) and headed back out for another 8 for a total of 21 miles. And the best part? I didn’t feel tired!!!!!!!!!!! I felt I could have gone another 5 or 6 miles!
Now, keep in mind that I’m following Jeff’s instructions to the letter: 4 minute run, :30 second walk and at a pace that is 2 minutes slower than my marathon goal pace of 8:05. When I got done, my average pace for all 21 miles was 10:00 on the nose! I felt so fresh afterwards, just like Jeff said I would. I came home, took a shower, cleaned and mopped the floor in preparation for our dinner party and of course I was eating like a horse the whole time as I had burned over 2700 calories, but over all, I felt great! I did sit down prior to cleaning and watched about 30 minutes of basketball and put my feet up, but at no time did I feel like I was about to collapse or that my legs were about to give out. And that’s how I normally feel prior to adopting the Jeff Galloway method. In fact my normal routine would have me taking a map for a couple of hours. Around 3:00 in the afternoon, my wife and I and our dinner guest, Margo & Terry Jett, took our bikes and headed out to the same place I had run earlier in the day and had a very enjoyable ride. It was still warm, although a slight breeze was blowing and made it feel cooler than it was, but what a great way to share this beautiful area AND do a little recovery ride. My legs felt GrrrrrrrrRATE!
This method just makes good plain sense! However, I will say that I am nervous about how this will all work out. I haven’t been doing enough of the hill repeats and speed work and my “test” marathon is coming up on May 16th so I don’t think I’m going to be ready to run an 8:05 pace for the whole 26 miles. I’m using this race as a touching point to see where I am in my training. (Although a couple of weeks ago I mentioned to Steve, my partner in crime, that I “thought” I was close to being able to actually use this race as my qualifier, but that was a pipe dream. Not ready, not even close.)
So, back to the question, “Where am I?”, I think I could be on pace to run a marathon in late June or July BUT then I would have the issue of heat to worry about, so honestly, I don’t really know where I am. I hate the thought of doing all this training and then having to wait until the fall to actually attempt running a qualifier. I also hate having to spend $95.00 on a marathon knowing that I won’t qualify, but, perhaps it’s a good idea to at least attempt it, just to see where I am.
Well, right now, 1:00 PM on Sunday, Steve should be done with his 25K Spokane River Trail Run which I opted not to do because I made a promise to my wife not to do so many events this year, and it doesn’t really fit into what I’m attempting to do which is all road running. Hopefully Steve had a great run and didn’t fall too many times! (Watch out for those roots!)