Thursday, September 24, 2009

Slow, Slow Miles

Isn’t it strange how things always seem to work out when you least expect them to?

One of the direct consequences from my fabulous race on Sunday is that I am now married to my high mileage training plan for the rest of the season. If you recall in last week’s post, I was set and ready to use a bad time in the Queens Half both as evidence that higher mileage wasn’t working for me and as an excuse to switch back to a more comfortable, more conservative, lower mileage plan. But because I shocked myself by running my second-best marathon despite some unexpected inconveniences, shifting download in mileage is no longer a viable option. To tell you the truth, I don’t know how I feel about that. On the one hand, I’ve gotten used to running more miles and slower miles despite my innate desire to do entirely the opposite. But on the other, I absolutely miss the exhilaration of running hard and running fast each and every time out on the road. It’s kind of ironic how slow my training runs have gotten despite my internal pressures to run so much faster.

The schedule this week calls for a slight recovery of 55 miles including a hard tempo run of 7 miles and a long run of 22 miles this weekend. Next week will be peak mileage week when I will attempt to push through to about 65 miles for the entire week and end with a half-marathon race that I will run at marathon pace. Although some may hold a different opinion, that is a whole heck of a lot of miles for me! For comparison, last year at this time, I was peaking at 48 miles/week; that’s right, PEAKING at 48 miles. This year, I’m AVERAGING 51 miles/week for the entire training cycle. That is a significant difference. The craziest thing is that despite the big jump in mileage, I have absolutely no injuries to speak of. That has never happened to me before. My body has somewhat come to expect nagging aches and pains every year around this time as we get closer to race day so to have none of these concerns this year feels on the one hand absolutely wonderful, but on the other hand very awkward. I likened the sentiment to hosting a dinner party on marathon eve where nobody shows up. I think you get the point.

The key to my success in bumping up the mileage without injury I’ve come to realize is a newfound respect and appreciation for slow miles. In direct conflict with my personality, most of my running is now done at slower than conversational pace. It feels weird to write and even weirder to do, but I must give credit where credit is due. It has taken me a really really long time to get to this point, and I continue to struggle with the idea constantly, but I think I’m at peace with the slow miles now. Finally. I think.

12 comments:

marathonmaiden said...

wow that is a significant difference in mileage but the proof is in the pudding and this past half marathon must be a great mental boost.

glad you're at peace (somewhat)with slow miles, i'm still trying to wrap my head around it :)

Spike said...

one, I'm glad this is working so well for you. two, boy does this suck because now I want to give it a go. thanks for being so awesome and honest with us.

aron said...

i definitely agree... i think the slower miles take a toll mentally BUT i think they work. i usually have shin pain and all kinds of other pains during training, and this cycle i barely had any *knock on wood* but ran a lot more. hopefully it will pan out on race day too :) good luck in your upcoming big weeks!!

I RUN LIKE A GIRL said...

Hey! I'm sorry that I'm just reading your race report from the Half - but CONGRATS!!! What an AWESOME race!! You totally rocked it!

Now, on to this post. As a sprinter and lover of fast, hard runs I feel your slow running pain - but it appears that it has HELPED you improve. Keep doing whatever you are doing: it's working!!

Congrats again on an awesome race!

Jamie said...

I'm glad to hear you are sticking with your new plan. It is working out great for you! Even if it is tough mentally to run slow when you just want to bust out a speedy one. Keep up the awesome work in the weeks ahead!

runningcommentaries said...

I know! Slow miles are so hard to do but so worth it. I, like you and Aron, kept waiting for something to hurt or fall apart and yet here I am at 70 mpw and feeling great.

Keep it up. I think you are going to exceed your NYCM expectations-- you've trained so hard.

Running and living said...

Lam, 65 miles is A LOT! I am glad the slow running is working for you. With each marathon I am upping the mileage, too (e.g., 30 miles average last marathon, 40 now) by adding slow recovery miles to the 3 key workouts. I doubt I will ever get to the 60+ miles that you are putting in, mostly because I really enjoy biking and swimming and they do help my general aerobic fitness. Most importantly, they keep me interested in running. Again, glad you found something that works for you!

Robert said...

It's funny how our training methods keep moving in the same direction -- I've been increasing my mileage big time this training season. Up from averages in the low forties, I'm now at almost 70 for this week (higher than the recent average, but still...) And, like you, I've found great success with the increase in overall miles even though my training pace has slowed as I build up. It's especially funny/ironic when you think back to that whole discussion earlier in the year where we were both trying to defend the merits of low mileage training. I guess there's a reason every says you have to put the miles in...

joyRuN said...

Well there you have it!

I like the low slow mileage meself though :)

Irish Cream said...

Don't jinx yourself about the injuries, Lam!! Geez! You must not be as superstitious as I am! :)

I think I'm really going to have to try adding in more of the slower miles in my next training cycle. I claimed I was going to do it this time around . . . but then my whole world turned upside down and i just didn't do it. Sigh. I really think, now that I have more time, it's a better time than ever to try out upping the mileage and adding slow miles in. Thanks for the inspiration ;)

lindsay said...

you've definitely piled on a few more miles this time around, and i hope it continues to pay off for you. i definitely think there is a balance to find between quantity and quality. i still have trouble sometimes with so many easy miles and believing that i'll ever get faster... so i can't say that will ever be fixed :)

sRod said...

It's funny how you're coming back to this realization. I remember a while back you saying how you ran a string of PRs after doing long runs with slower friends. I'm thinking you could really benefit from this.

 
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