Sunday, February 18, 2007

Eugene Training - Week 7

The week in which Darrell finally has a meltdown.

Upon returning from PA for the New Year's family vacation the first week of January, I began my new 6 day a week training program for the Eugene Marathon. I had tried this last summer for St. George and made it 3.5 weeks before my hip pain rearranged my schedule for me. After having taken the end of 2006 relatively easy I was ready to go again. From the beginning of Week 2 on January 8, I haven't missed a run, although I did cut one short by a mile. My weekly mileage has increased every week since week 1, from 30.2-36-38.4-40-42-47. This week was scheduled as the second half of another 10 days in a row and an cut back week. I judiciously swapped my day off from Friday to Wednesday (Valentine's Day, remember that?), giving me an 8 day streak instead. It had rained again early in the week so I had "saved" speed work till Thursday. But...

Thursday when I got home I was just spent; mentally, emotionally and physically. It wasn't just the thought of speed work either. My energy level had been lagging for a while, my legs were like lead and people around me have been pissing me off all too easily lately. I guess I should say I've been reacting to people negatively (my fault, not theirs). I was also increasingly frustrated with nothing but 6 mile runs mid week. Other training plans I've used have mixed distances up a little. Bottom line - I took Thursday night off and after 5.5 weeks of near perfect schedule I put a big fat goose egg in my log.

Ever since I discovered running I've loved it. I really like the marathon distance. I like knowing that pretty much on any given day I could cover the distance. What I'm not enjoying is the work required to get to a faster time goal. At least recently, that goal has sucked the joy out of running. What little God given ability I have has gotten me this far and now it just seems like work trying to get to the next level. I guess it should feel like work, but I'm not sure I have the mental or even physical capacity to get there.

Earlier in the week my runs hadn't really gone that badly. Friday evening, I tried to take it easy knowing I had a 15 miler on the schedule for the next morning. I was going to try to give the "last 4 miles at MP" thing another try. I had already planned this and Phil suggested using the medium long runs as a good place to insert this bit of training. My planned route for the day was the Santa Fe Dam Bike Path. From where I normally park at Mile 30 to the terminus of the bike trail at mile 37.5 makes a perfect out and back 15 miler.

The day was clear, sunny and warm. I got started about 8:00. I fell into a pace that I thought was easily sustainable and would still leave something for the end of the run, hovering just above 8:30 pace. I hit the half way point at 1:05; 8:40 pace overall. I could tell that the trip back was going to be a struggle. I was already running low on umphh. I had plenty of fluids with me and took half a gel at 9 and 12 miles.

At the 11 mile mark I picked up the pace to attempt my 8:00 miles and only made it a couple of steps before I decided that maybe I'd give it a try at the 12 mile mark. At 12, I walked for a minute to finish off the gel and still didn't have the energy to speed up. At mile 13 I didn't even give it a try. I was moving along at a somewhat faster pace but it was obvious to me that I wasn't going to be going very much faster for very long. That mile was my fastest since Mile 6. For the last mile I gave it one last shot at MP. I made it maybe the 100 yards before I was reduced to a walk. I thought to myself, "this shouldn't be this hard", but it was. One positive note from the run was my final time of 2:10:48. I had nearly even splits. So although I wasn't able to pick up the pace, I hadn't slowed down either.

All in all, I'm not sure I'm cut out for a 6 day a week training cycle. I definitely crave some variety in distances as well. Next week looks a little better on that front with 2-6's and 2-5's. It also has the added bonus of an 8 miler midweek. The first 20 miler on Saturday should be an interesting experience based on recent history. I'll deal with that next weekend.

The week by the numbers: 37 miles (43 scheduled)

M: 6 miles, 49:04 (8:11 pace)
T: 6 miles, 51:03 (8:31 pace)
W: Rest
H: Mental health day
F: 6 miles, 51:10 (8:32 pace)
S: 15 miles, 2:10:48 (8:43 pace)
S: 4 miles, 36:45 (9:11 pace)

Other notable happenings during the week were having my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for dinner on Valentines Day. I grilled steak. I made lasagna (my MIL's recipe) for 12 friends on Saturday night. We played Pictionary, Battle of the Sexes. The guys won once, the girls won once. During Saturday's long run I was passed by over 100 bikers and saw at least 3 pelotons of 20 or more people. I love the sound of all those bikes going by. A lone bike pulled up next to me at mile 12 and stopped. It turned out to be the marketing brand manager for the project I'm on at work. Even that 10 minute chat break (off the clock of course) wasn't enough to improve the last 3 miles of the run.

I still owe you the story of the boy and the bike. Sorry, it was a tough and busy week. Let's just say it has a happy ending. I'll try to get to it this week.


Backofpack said...

I hope that you can figure out a way to fix your schedule so you feel that joy and satisfaction again. I'm not a speed expert by any means, but I'm pretty sure you can get faster while varying your distances and running fewer days a week. It won't do you any good to be faster if you don't like it. You've got 41 marathons to go, you can't burn out now!

PLANET3RRY said...

Hang in there. It's comforting to know that running, like most things, have cycles. We just try to keep the UP cycle up for the longest time and the DOWN cycle for the shortest time.

and never underestimate the power of a rest day!

Sarah said...

We must have been in the same vortex, because I was having a lot of doubts too last week.

Maybe you need to maintain your mileage where you are for a bit before bumping up more. Or perhaps you should switch to 3 mid-week runs and increase one of them to a medium long run. Or maybe just a bit more rest. I'm sure you'll get your spark back!

Juls said...

Hang in there Darrell, you've put in some tough miles and have more in front of you. The thing is you *did* it. 15 miles! Just curious, why so thrifty with the GU? I took 2 on my run yesterday (and could have had another) and it sounds like you only had 1 for a similar distance.

Anne said...

I'm sure by now someone's told you that what you describe are classic symptoms of overtraining. Don't be too hard on yourself. This happens to most runners at some point, and you just have to adjust and before you know it, you're back in the saddle -- or merrily moving along some dusty trail.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

ebb and flow...all of life ebbs and flows. i second the overtraining remarks, and also, running is about the joy - keep the joy!

Jason The Running Man said...

Thanks for the comment. I'll be following your progress.

Wes said...

Darrel, do you think you actually might run better running 5 days instead of six? If its speed you need to work on, then work on it. But adding miles and speed might just be too much. I dunno. Just a thought....

Joe said...

Mama said there'd be weeks like least if Mama had been a runner she'd have said that.

Ditto Wes' remark and Coach Demming...would 5 days be better than 6? If running is a grind, perhaps less is more?? Might be worth a try. Your conditioning is solid, as evidenced by your time when you felt lousy.

Just an idea...but don't lose the joy, Darrell!!

David said...

Call me a slacker but I am entirely satisfied, improving both my speed and endurance, running three days a week. I especially like the feeling of recovery days. It puts me in the mood to run the next time out.
Sometimes I cheat and run both Saturday and Sunday. Woo hoo.

robtherunner said...

I think you have done pretty good thus far. The work will pay off and hopefully the joy will come back as well.

Rae said...

6 days a week is a lot of running. When it all starts feeling like another job or a chore I try to somehow mix it up. We all deserve some extra rest!!!