After sixteen miles on Sunday, my longest run in months, I expected to start the week exceedingly sore. To my surprise and delight, that was not the case. I can’t say I was daisy fresh, but I felt pretty good.
Since I didn’t do much stretching or foam rolling, I attribute the rapid recovery to my trusty TENS device. This $20 gizmo provides “non-invasive nerve stimulation intended to reduce both acute and chronic pain” through the application of electric currents. Or, as I describe it, it electrocutes my legs to make them feel better. And it works, at least anecdotally. The sight of my muscles twitching really freaks out The Missus, so she’s less of a fan.
Tuesday called for 2-3 sets of alternating 1-mile and half-mile intervals. Poor planning forced me onto the treadmill again, which was unfortunate as I think the gym was more humid than the outside. It’s always great when I get done running and my shoes are soaked despite the absence of rain, but I digress.
I went a bit too easy on the first mile, barely clocking in under seven minutes, but the ramp up (down?) from there worked out well, with subsequent miles at 6:42 and 6:36. There was a time when I could hold that pace for 10 miles, and perhaps there will be again. But not today.
In addition to improving paces, I’m pleased to see my heart rate dropping a lot faster and lower between intervals. I’ve always found that to be a decent indicator of fitness, a sign of how hard I really had to push to hit a given pace. If I can’t get the ticker to slow below 150 BPM while jogging between efforts, it’s probably a sign that I overdid it. YMMV.
When Thursday rolled around, DC’s usual swamp-like weather had given way to a cool, temperate morning. Determined not to miss out, I got out the door early enough to join my Dojo of Pain colleagues for some suffering around Hains Point. It was, if not a fully humbling experience, definitely a reality check.
The prescription was 6 miles working down from marathon to half marathon pace. I figured I would hang with the “slower” group until the turnaround, then see what happened.
…I got left behind. It was partially my fault for turning after the group did (Garmin OCD!), but mostly it came down to not having the fitness I expected.
Initially, I put this down to the dreaded treadmill effect. After all, we were maintaining the same paces I did for seven miles last week, and yet I struggled to last for six. On the other hand, I ran as fast or faster for the final six miles of Sunday’s sixteen, so maybe it just wasn’t my day? Eating, drinking, and being on my feet at an event the night before may also have played a role.
With Thursday’s experience fresh in my mind, I approached Sunday’s workout with a bit of trepidation. On my calendar: the beloved/dreaded Pickups workout: A two-mile warmup followed by sets of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles at marathon pace with one mile jogs in between. In total: 17 miles, 10 at marathon pace. It’s a ballbuster, a real test of fitness and control. I haven’t exhibited either of those lately, hence the trepidation.
To the latter point, I clocked another 60+ miles on the bike Saturday. As with previous weeks, it was supposed to be an easy ride, just casual cycling to improve my aerobic fitness without stressing my legs. And it kinda sorta was, but not really. My heart rate generally stayed where I wanted it to, but I was pushing more power than I realized. Whether it was newfound fitness or the beautiful weather, the world may never know. But it was probably more than I needed before a long, hard run.
While any long run goes better with company, the pickups workout practically requires it. Fortunately, I found myself a partner in David, a friendly Kiwi with whom I’d not run before. While we warmed up, I learned that he is in the final stages of preparing for the Berlin Marathon, his eighth marathon in four years, with each successive one a PR. Suffice it to say he’s a much more committed runner than I have been.
I knew from our conversations before the run that David is targeting a 3:10 at Berlin. My PR, four years and almost 20 pounds ago, is 3:11. As such, I wasn’t expecting to keep up. But when we started our first set, I found myself farther behind and working harder than anticipated. A few minutes later, I realized why: I clocked the first mile at 7 minutes flat, 15 seconds below David’s target and 20-30 faster than I’d hoped to run. Oops.
You probably don’t want to read about another nine miles of huffing and puffing any more than I want to detail it. Long story short, I kept up better than expected, despite our generally running as fast or faster than David intended. It was definitely more encouraging than Thursday’s workout, even if I hated my life for part of it.
And with that, it’s time to recuperate and get ready for Game of Thrones!
My Meathead Marathon Misadventure
Week Three (8/21–8/27)
1:15 | 27,890 lbs
3 × 1 mi/0.5 mi alternating
1:15 | 9.08 mi
1:00 | 6.77 mi
6 mi @ PMP→HMP
1:20 | 10.30 mi
1:30 | 46,500 lbs
1:00 | 17.2 mi
3:21 | 63.3 mi
2:16 | 17.30 mi