Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One-two punch

I felt great running 20 miles on Sunday; today I am exhausted after 14.  Pete Pfitzinger’s one-two punch put a hurting on me today.
Yesterday, the schedule called for 9 miles with 5 miles at my half-marathon race pace (6:20 per mile).  It had snowed about six inches the night before and the temps were in the single digits.  While sucking in that cold air, well, sucks, the snowy footing is not conducive to trying to run fast.  The last time one of these workouts was prescribed (referred to as a lactate threshold (LT) run), I did it in some loose snow. The times were slow that workout, but I figured that I worked hard making it a good workout.  I really wanted to try to hit the splits this time, so I got on the road to nowhere—the treadmill.  Ugh.
I don’t own a treadmill and have only run on one about five times.  The last two times, it was under similar circumstances where the snowy weather precluded running fast, but both of those workouts were intervals: running fast for a prescribed distance and then jogging a prescribed distance.  The variation of speeds made those workouts bearable.  Yesterday was a different story.  The treadmill is good in that I punch in the pace that I want (9.5 mph, which works out to 6:18 per mile) and try not to fall off.  However, grinding along at that pace with no variation at all for over half an hour is torture.  I was really struck by how much I must vary my pace in the course of a mile; the treadmill was relentless.  I did a two mile warm up, stretched, and then ran another mile at a comfortable pace prior to the LT portion of the workout.  I had to take 60 seconds rest after 1.5 miles of fast running, and then another 60 seconds after 3 miles total.  I lowered the speed to 9.4 mph (6:22/mile) and banged out the last two miles.  Besides the constant pace, the heat in the recreation center was brutal; I was sweating buckets and was nauseated by the end of the speedwork.  I finished with a mile cool down.
Today was the second hit of the combination: a 14 mile medium long run.  My legs felt heavy, it was 20 degrees outside (up from the single digits in the morning), and the roads varied from dry to soft, deep snow.  I trudged through it, but it was more difficult than it should have been.  Of course, I am happy to have it done and in the training log.  Tomorrow is an easy five miles; you can be sure that I will run it very  s l o w l y.
The dogs didn’t run on the treadmill, obviously, but they got some miles today.  Fletcher loves the colder temps and the cold snow on his paws:  3.19 miles @ 8:39 per mile.  Finn acted rested today as I had to keep him in check:  11.11 miles @ 7:51 per mile.
Of course, the importance of the last two days’ struggles is not lost on me.  Marathoning is not an easy hobby.  While there are challenging workouts, it is the accumulation of training that hardens me to bring my best on race day ( I repeated the mantra: Bos-ton, Bos-ton during yesterday's dreadmill session).  That hardening is not just physical; the last two days tested my concentration and resolve.  John L. Parker Jr. writes of the “trial of miles” in his novel Once a Runner,  commenting on the accumulation of training to get to the goal.  Pete Pfitzinger is trying me, and I like to think that I passed…with a B+.

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