Week 1

Week 1 of marathon training is in the books, and any concerns I had about losing fitness on the cross training have been thoroughly dispelled.  In fact, this week pretty thoroughly kicked my ass.  Tuesday was intervals, which is usually my favorite workout.  After years of running track, I still think of myself as a sprinter, and banging out 400 repeats and ladders is really the only venue in which I can hang with the big kids.  This week I had 3×1600’s on the schedule, though, which I’ve always felt are just an exercise in pain.  The gym was pretty warm, which didn’t help, and I had to work really hard to get through the repeats at pace.  It was a little intimidating to start the training cycle fighting that hard for a workout, but it was a good opportunity to practice staying focused and pushing through.

Wednesday was my first day of cross-training, and I opted for the rowing workout.  I read this article about the benefits of rowing for runners, so at 6:30 AM I ventured into the corner time forgot in the cardio rooom at the gym and dusted off the erg.  I’m still trying to figure out the appropriate level of effort for the cross-train workouts, but in the 25-minute session I felt like my arms and core got a decent session, through cardio-wise it felt pretty easy.

Thursday was a 2/2/2 tempo with 2 miles easy, 2 at 7:54’s and the last 2 easy.  That run was surprisingly comfortable and I had to admit that my legs felt much fresher than they usually did at that point in the week.  I had an early meeting at work on Friday, so I punted the second XT session to Saturday, which may have been ill-advised.  I did 30 minutes on a spin bike, with the middle 10 at a “tempo” effort.  I should probably take a spin class to understand the theory a little better, because again, I was unsure exactly what the resistance to speed relationship was really supposed to be.  I ended up overdoing it a bit and really hammered my legs, so I’m chalking that one up to experience.

Today I had a 13-mile long run on the schedule, and I knew I was in trouble when I got up at 6:15 and it was already 70 degrees.  By the time we got out and moving, it was close 80 and bright sun.  I’ve never been a great heat runner, but I felt good starting out and took the climb up to Prospect Park at a quick pace.  My legs felt a bit heavy from the bike on some of the hills, but overall the first lap of the park went quickly and I held about an 8:45 pace, well ahead of the 9:17’s on the schedule.  On the second lap I really started noticing the temperature coming up and tried to stay in the shade where possible.  When I made it to the top of the hill at the end of the second lap, I decided to reverse direction for the third, which would give my legs a bit of a break with a long stretch of downhill and a longer and more gradual climb at the end.  By this point it was clear that I had gone out way too fast and probably pushed my heart rate too high trying to hold onto the pace on the second lap.  Despite how much it was sucking, I was still having trouble keeping the pace down, so I started taking 30-second walk breaks every mile or so to even it out and push fluids.  I finally made it back to the park entrance and was grateful that the last mile and half home would be mostly downhill. It was still largely an act of willpower getting through them, though, and I felt completely wrung out when I finished.  In the end, I averaged exactly the 9:17’s I was supposed to, but it was not a fun way to get there.  This was far and away the hardest long run I’ve done in recent memory, including the 15-miler I did a few months ago while jet-lagged and in the throes of a terrible head cold.

As tough as it was, I think this week was exactly what I needed.  Coming off the Brooklyn Half I was feeling 100% ready for what was coming.  This week I was reminded that ready or not, this is still going to be hard.

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