This week it was not the miles I put in (I was 4 miles short of my 45 mile weekly goal), but what I learned in the process. This week was my 3rd week of training to achieve my goal of running the Fairfield Half-Marathon in 1:20 on June 23, and I started the week not very motivated after two solid weeks of 40 and 45 miles. Running at night in the dark and cold after a long day of working in NYC and commuting to Connecticut is tough. I can’t wait for warmer temperatures and more daylight.
So after my 16 year old runner told me “Dad, go run, you need to hit your weekly mileage,” I ran 8 miles on Monday and to the second equaled what I ran for the same course in my first week of training: 55:57 (6:59 mile pace). That I was able to log 8 miles to start the week was more satisfying than the fact that I ran a good time.
On Wednesday, I again heard that nagging doubt in my mind, but this time I did not need my son to tell me to run. I decided to try my first tempo run on the road (I have been running intervals with my 11 year old son on the track to help him with his quest to qualify for the Junior Olympics Nationals in outdoor track). After a warm-up, I ran 1 mile in the cold and dark in 6 minutes on a local road, and followed with a cool-down. It was more difficult than running my half-marathon goal pace on the track, yet I was encouraged that I completed a tempo run and vowed to step up to 2 miles in the next couple of weeks.
My 10-mile long run was planned for Friday night, and I was pumped. A little too pumped. I started too fast and about 3 miles into my run, I realized that either I should slow down or I was going to blow up and not finish the 10 miles. I was running the same course as my 8-miler on Monday (but with a different finish planned), so on the fly I decided to run the same 8 miles instead of 10 miles to learn whether I could hold the pace physically and mentally for 8 miles. I was curious whether the aerobic base that I started to build, and the couple of track workouts and the (albeit short) tempo run were helping me run faster and longer. In the moment, I realized that I would sacrifice a couple of miles towards my weekly mileage, but as I said when setting my goal and designing my plan, I don’t want to be dogmatic but have fun, learn and explore. So I did.
I crushed the 8 miles in 53:51 (6:43 mile pace) and lowered my time by more than 2 minutes on the same course I ran Monday and in week 1. I learned a few things: the aerobic base helped me maintain the pace for longer; the tempo run helped with lactate threshold, pace and leg turnover; the weight lifting and core exercises helped maintain good running form when I became tired; mentally I was able to push through pain (I am reading Scott Jurek’s book “Eat & Run”, and he’s able to do incredible things mentally to push his body on his ultra-marathon workouts); and this was an incredible confidence builder that will carry me into week 4. Although I was a few miles short this week, it doesn’t detract from my goal and what I learned should in fact help me move one step closer.