Monday, August 30, 2010

A day of marathon training

On Saturday I was scheduled to for the more difficult of my two weekly quality training runs. The weather was not terrible. From what I remember, low 80s, dry, and sunny. Too warm to be ideal, but tolerable after two months of dealing with much worse.

One thing that struck me was how nervous I was before this run. I am not entirely sure why I do this, but lately each one of these feels like a test, one I am anxious about failing. For me this is generally, this is not a good sign. Pre-workout anxiety tells me that I am lacking confidence, and I expect to be in for a physically unpleasant afternoon, not unlike a wide receiver that gets alligator arms in anticipation of a big hit. This has been the story or my running this summer. I have consistently been not quite where I wanted to be, and workouts that inspire confidence have been the exception rather than the rule.

At 2:45 on Saturday I step outside for my warm up. The sun feels warmer than I expected, and I start up the road with a feeling of uneasiness. This will be a long afternoon. My legs feel stiff and fatigued from having run 51 miles the previous 4 days, and I have enough anxiety to elevate my heart rate and make me feel a little sick to my stomach. Three quarters of a mile up the road, then back to grab a 22 oz, water bottle, and a half mile to the track, trying to keep my nerves in check. That's 15:58 for two miles, but it felt like 30:00.

Stepping on the track is unnerving. At 3 pm the sun is still bright, and the heat radiates up from the rubberized surface. On schedule for this afternoon is 3x3200m at anaerobic threshold, with a 400m recovery. I am looking to run about 6:00 miles. The heat may be a problem. That short rest is key on a warm day. It allows me to grab the water bottle I leave on the infield and take in some water. I probably don't get through this workout without it.

After a few stretches I set off, taking it easy on the first lap, trying to figure out how I feel. First lap goes by in 1:32. I try to open my stride a little and relax, going through 800m in 3:02. At 1200m my nerves are settling down. I am starting to focus on holding an even pace and getting through the first tempo segment. The 1600m mark comes in 6:00, and 3200 in 12:00. Right where I wanted to be, and feeling like I can keep going.

After a two minute jog around the track I set off again, focusing on holding pace one lap at a time, but feeling increasingly fatigued and dehydrated. Those few sips of water just don't get the job done. The second tempo segment is done in 12:03, and I had to work harder for it.

Another lap around the track, sipping water as best I can, and time to go again. I come around to the line with some butterflies in my stomach. This will not be pleasant. The first two laps go by well enough, but fatigue and dehydration set in. I pass the halfway mark in 6:03, and I can feel my form starting to break down. Just a few more minutes, no big deal, I keep telling myself as I wrap up the last tempo segment in 12:07.

I jog back home to grab another water bottle and drink as much as I can. Now I have around 10 miles at whatever pace feels comfortable to get me to my 19 mile goal for the day. I get through 10.5 in 1:21. My legs are trashed for the last 3 miles, but I feel like I can keep going. Good enough, I suppose. I consider the day a success, and hope my legs respond well to the training. All in all, an exhausting but rewarding experience to get through this one.


  1. I feel the same way about running lately.

    Rarely do I run and gain confidence.

  2. Keep at it, though. There are always difficult stretches.

  3. This was the repeat post I was thinking about. Do you often do 2 mile repeats on a track?