I can already see that my coach is going to ask a lot of me in the way of quality, which is a good thing. On Saturday, I joined AJ, Chuck and Jon for a little over 20 miles with 2,000 feet of vertical in the Castle Pines/Castle Rock area. Then the next day I did a 10-mile tempo run with a thousand feet of vertical (12 miles total if you count warm-up and cool-down) that had me working as hard as I’ve worked in a long time. My coach has emphasized the importance of these Sunday tempo runs, also mentioning that I’ll have a break from them every now and then in order to help keep me fresh, healthy and responsive to the work.
The average weeks looks to include hill repeats, tempo running, intervals and long stuff, with easy days in between the “hard” workouts with the exception of Saturdays and Sundays. I’ll have more rest weeks than I ever would have allowed myself—again, I see that as a good thing since rest weeks are when our bodies repair and get stronger. It’s easy to say you’re going to rest more; it’s hard to truly back that up with actual R&R.
One thing I’ve quickly come to see: I love the structure of this training regimen. It’s nice to know what the plan is every day, even if the plan is just 8 miles at super easy pace. And oh yeah: It used to be that my easy pace was around 7:50-8-minute miles. This morning I did 9-minute miles and it felt great! My new guiding principle is to go hard on my hard days and really easy on my easy days. I’m trying not to get too bogged down on numbers, but I will admit that I was eye-balling 72 miles this past week and I got it. When I’m running 70+ a week, it’s because I’m starting to get serious.
The regimen I’m on now is so different from what I did last summer. Last summer, I had a blast running every day in the mountains. The average week would consist of about 90-100 miles and 15,000-17,000 feet of vertical. But almost all of it was at easy pace. It’s no wonder I got so slow. I feel like the cobwebs are starting to get knocked off as I implement more and more quality. I know that this quality will help me run strong especially on the Hope Pass section and in those final 30-40 miles at Leadville. The key is to recover as best as I can between quality workouts, listen to my body, and take advantage of my rest weeks. The good news is that I’m going to be pushed hard enough on my big weeks/training blocks that I’ll actually want to rest on my rest weeks—they’ll be rewards for working hard.
Last night, I was thumbing through some of my old training logs. It hit me that back in 2008 and 2009 I did a lot of quality—intervals, tempos, hill repeats and long stuff every week. On Saturdays, I'd go long (20+) and then on Sundays a bunch of us in the club I ran with at the time would race to the water stop and beyond (if you're in SERC and reading this, you know what I'm talking about!), making for a great tempo effort within a long run. I didn’t rest nearly enough but I did tons of quality, got results and seemed to recover fast. Yeah, the fact that I was 35 or 36 had something to do with it, but I also think all the quality paid off.
It’s good that I spent the first three months of this year doing mostly MAF running. That solid base I laid is now ready to be built on.