This is it, training prime time.
With the conclusion of week 12, there are just four weeks between me and Hopkinton, Massachusetts. I’m currently in the midst of peak week, and then it’s all downhill from there (well, except for those infamous Newton hills).
The past three weeks weren’t exactly the norm for me. First, I had a mini taper before the Ocean’s Run “Half” (here’s my race report, if you missed it), and then a week of all easy miles to recover. This past week was my first time back to full workouts.
Here’s what it looked like:
Taper week was pretty standard for me. I cut back my mileage to 50 mi. total for the week from 56 mi. and 61 mi. the prior too weeks, and I kept it all easy with the exception of a mid-week tune up with 3 x 1 mi. at goal half pace. Usually I would do the three miles consecutively, but I took some advice to split it up. The theory is the splitting it up can help you tune into the pace more quickly.
Then during week 11 I focused on getting the miles in. They were mostly easy, with a lot of medium long run pace or recovery paced running. Still, despite taking it easy, I hit a weekly mileage record: 66 miles!
For reference, I peaked last training cycle at 57 mi. In fact, I cracked the 50 mi. per week barrier for the first time last cycle, and then I ran five 50+ mile weeks. This cycle I broke the 60 mi. per week barrier for the first time in January. Since then, I’ve run five 60+ mile weeks. The current week should make that six 60+ mile weeks.
This is a big deal for me, because I honestly never thought my body was capable of maintaining this kind of workload, but as I mentioned in my recent reflection post on the last year of my recovery, I think the key is that I’ve learned to take easy runs easy and to know the purpose of every run.
The cornerstone of that week was the long run — the first of two 22 mi.long runs in my training cycle.
I first incorporated long runs longer than 20 miles into my training two years ago when I was training for the New Jersey Marathon (and my first BQ). I find that going up to 22 miles really helps me in the later stages of a race. It makes a big mental difference to me to know that on race day I only have to go 4.2 miles further than my longest long run, not 6.2 — a full 10k.
I knocked out this long run in 2 hours 45 minutes and 29 seconds, good for a 7:31 pace. Last training cycle I ran my first 22 miler at a 7:46 pace and my second at a 7:38 pace, so I’m happy with how this one turned out.
Then, I followed that long run and 66 mi. week with another solid 60+ mi. week with two good workouts.
This past week, I did my first tempo run post half, running 2 x 15 minutes at lactate threshold(ish) pace with a four minute recovery. This is always the pace I have the most difficulty with during workouts. For me, lactate threshold should be around a 6:25 pace. I typically really struggle to hit it, and that was no different this week.
I ran 2.32 miles in the first 15 minutes, and 2.29 miles in the second 15 minutes, which works out to be a 6:28 min/mile pace and a 6:33 min/mile pace respectively. That second set was HARD. I didn’t think I’d be able to make it, even though in the grand scheme of things 15 minutes is nothing. Some how though, I survived.
The next big thing on tap was my long run on Saturday — 18 miles with 14 miles at marathon pace. This long run that I borrowed from Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathon training plans. I really like this one because it can be a great confidence builder and a great way to see where you stand heading into a race.
I never actually got up to 14 mi. at marathon pace last cycle. Before Philly, I did two long runs with 10 mi. at marathon pace and one with 12 at goal marathon pace. They went from an average of 7:14 to 7:17 to 7:07, and the I averaged 7:07 at Philly.
This cycle, I’ve done 8 mi., 5 mi., 10 mi. and now 14 mi. at marathon pace during the course of a long run. So far on those I’ve averaged 6:58, 6:52, 6:50 and now 6:49 min/mile during those marathon paced sections. At the end of it, I felt tired, but not excessively so, and I was able to ensure my last three miles were my fastest, which I think bodes well for next month.
With just four weeks of training to go — and just one more hard week before I start easing into my taper — I can only hope my marathon-paced long run this weeks works as well as a predictor workout as my last marathon-paced run did before Philly.
In the mean time, here’s to peak week. I can’t wait to be on the other side of it!