Former 2:24 marathoner, now in my late 40s and hoping to maximally flatten the curve of my slide into senescence and mediocrity • Magazine writer, book editor and author, and commentator on the sport of distance running since 1999 • Adviser and confidant of other perambulators • Paradoxical hater of exercise fanatics • Chihuahua whisperer Sentence-fragment impresario

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Training, March 6 though March 12

70 miles in 12 runs, as ludicrous as that combination looks and probably is. I can't post the pointless but customary screen shot from Garmin Connect because the site's being uncooperative. But it was a good week.

Most people who've been doing this running thing seriously for a while are familiar with experiencing a fitness or performance breakthrough that takes place despite no real attention to honest rest. You keep hammering out mileage on the higher side of what is tolerable or advisable for you, and eventually you're either forced to the sidelines by physical malaise or you simply adjust and find yourself able to run a given pace for a longer period of time with relative ease.

The idea of being able to run faster thanks to resting rather than being fitter is also nothing new. If you spend three months averaging 10 miles a day prepping for a marathon and then do half of that for a couple of weeks before the race itself, you will almost certainly perform better in the marathon than you would have without the two easier weeks, but no sane physiologist on the planet would attribute this to a bona fide fitness improvement accrued during those 14 days; clearly, rest is vital.

I think I just managed to do both of these things at once. That is, I am "suddenly" able to run faster on any given day no matter what I feel like, but it's not really because I'm completely rested. Sure, this was as light a 70-mile week as anyone can imagine, but it's not as if that's really resting for me at this point.

Today, before a calm and sunny afternoon very quickly gave way to blustery winds and the threat of rain, I did a few 880-yard and 440-yard pick-ups that I thought would yield paces a little under 6:00 and 5:30 pace respectively. They were substantially faster than that. This doesn't say a ton about how long I could hold on to a given pace but it's rare for me to be pleasantly surprised -- or surprised at all, really -- when it comes to my running nowadays.

I terms of the 5K I have my sights set on in mid-April (I'm actually doing two races that month, but the first one will serve as a rust-buster and no more than that), I feel a little like a student who starts off a course getting a little behind in the reading but thinking he can still pull off an A if he catches up by such-and-such a date; that will require her to average 10 pages a night for a month instead of 5 a night for two months, but that's no insurmountable task. But the fuck-its don't subside as the term wears on and the final exam looms closer and closer, so the student merely recalibrates everything, first by deciding she can read the entire 300 pages in a colossal one-week bender to learn enough to achieve the A, and finally acknowledges that he doesn't really give a fuck what grade she gets as long as she passes and is able to enjoy learning, even though she hates feeling like being merely average is acceptable.

Regardless, I am taking a road trip midweek and because this will by chance take me to about 4,000' above sea level, I'm going to take advantage of this and do a 3- or 4-mile tempo run ad see how it goes.

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