Sometimes You Just Need Proof of Concept
Trying something new can be scary. This is true of the weird, un-pronounceable fish at a sushi restaurant and it is true of training approaches. However, trying new things can be exceptionally rewarding, but you never know unless you try. Luckily for me, I have the best sushi spot in the East Bay and my coach knows what he is doing, so taking chances with either seems to work out for me. Unluckily for my coach, he has had to deal with my barrage of questions about the training approach over the past several weeks as my insecurities have bubbled to the surface. After Saturday's long run, these will all stop since I now fully believe in the training plan. Hence, proof of concept. If I had to assign a tagline to my new training plan it would be "less is more and more is more". Less is more because I am doing less intense speed work and more is more because I am doing a lot more volume; a lot of the miles being easy to moderate pace. At first, this approach freaked me out. I anticipated feeling both run down and injured from the increased mileage AND out of shape due to the lack of speed work. Luckily, I clearly know nothing because the opposite is happening. My legs actually feel way more fresh and ready to do the mileage and when I do test out the speed (say by attempting 3 miles at GMP after 15 miles) I find myself flying along rather comfortably at what a short time ago, was my half-marathon pace. I am also letting the pace on "easy / moderate" days figure itself out. This means that some days the easy pace is 8 minutes per mile and some days its 7:20 minutes per mile, but the effort feels the same. I have focused on not worrying about the fact that my easy run is going 20 seconds per mile slower than somebody else on Strava, but rather have let my body decide how fast it wants to go. I have been doing this with the help of a heart rate monitor to get a sense of how easy paces align with heart rate. I have found that on most easy days, I am running at 15-20 seconds per mile faster than I was just a few weeks ago at the same heart rate.
Many people have asked me why I am doing so much volume so early in a training plan for a marathon that is still almost 3 months away, and I was wondering that myself for a while. Then I remembered that I am also running Way Too Cool 50k in Cool, CA on March 5. Funny how it is easy to forget about what is a pretty big race, because I am so focused on another big race. I was also hesitant about running a trail 50k a month and a half before a road marathon, but I figured it would help take my mind off Boston and would be a really welcome break in the road marathon training process.
Last week was a pretty big week that started with a win in the half marathon at the Inside Trail Racing Pacifica Trail Race. The course has about as much elevation gain over 13 miles as WTC has over 30 and it was raining, so it was a lot of fun. I certainly did feel the lack of trail hill climbs in my current training, but as my coach pointed out (after setting the course record in the 30k at the same event) you can't be ready to PR at Boston AND be ready to crush huge trail hills at the same time. While general aerobic fitness is essential to both, they are totally different types of running. This is why, much to my disappointment, I have to do most of miles before April 18 on the road. I am looking for running buddies so just name your price and I will probably pay you in cookies or beer, whichever is your preferred currency.
Last week was a 65 mile week with a huge track workout on Tuesday and a pretty epic long run / workout on Saturday. This week is all about miles and time on feet. Its looking to be a 75+ mile week which will be the biggest week for me ever. Thankfully, next week is a super down week which is welcome because if this amount of volume keeps up for much longer, I am going to have to increase my monthly food budget allowance.