My first real week of marathon training went well. Through forces beyond my control, my two hard workouts were pushed onto the treadmill. Though they proved quick enough, they didn’t exactly inspire confidence. Here’s why.
Even with my trusty Garmin Footpod measuring pace, I’m never entirely convinced that a treadmill effort really matches that of an outdoor run. The usual lack-of-wind-resistance argument is only exaggerated where, as a colleague told me the other week, I “block a lot of wind.” Oh, and I’m almost 200 pounds, so little things like hills and turns seem to make a bigger difference than they might for the typical running waif. In short, I’m never sure how well treadmill runs will translate into the real world. But I digress.
Tuesday’s interval session called for 8 × 0.50 mi at 5k pace on 2:00 rest. I haven’t raced in over two years, and I haven’t raced a 5k since 2013. Ergo, I have no idea what my 5k pace is. So I guessed. More precisely, I picked a pace that seemed roughly appropriate (6:45/mi), then tried to go a bit faster each with each successive interval. Mission accomplished—I logged my final rep in 3:05 (6:10/mi pace).
In hindsight, I probably should have referred to Capital Area Runners’ trusty Interval Pace Chart, though that would require knowing my target marathon pace. When I first/last ran MCM in 2012, I finished in 3:32:19, so I guess my target is anything faster than that? As you can tell, I really haven’t thought this through…
Thursday’s tempo run called for 7 miles at Proposed Marathon Pace (PMP). A 3:30 marathon is an 8:00/mi pace, but that’s not sufficiently challenging—I’m pretty sure I could run two hours at that pace right now, without preparation, and not feel like I was going to die. So I again, without much thought, picked a pace that seemed reasonable and tried to get faster throughout. End result: from 7:25/mi down to 6:55/mi, averaging 7:20/mi. Maybe I’m in better shape than I realized? Or maybe it’s the treadmill effect? Time will tell.
Saturday I went for a long ride out-and-back on the W&OD Trail. I’ve found rides like these to be extremely effective at building endurance and developing cardiovascular conditioning without being too punishing, but that requires doing them correctly. For me, “correctly” means capping the effort such that I’m not burned out the following day.
I did a decent job of keeping myself in check for the first half of my ride, but I may have opened up the throttle a bit more than I needed to after I turned around. A 25-mile stretch at over 20 MPH solo isn’t hard for me, but it’s also not a recovery pace. I’ll attribute it to the super steep -0.1% grade and not my being undisciplined.
Sunday called for a 16-mile progression run out-and-back into Rock Creek Park, with a planned pit stop at Peirce Mill, seven miles in. Fortunately, Saturday’s exertions didn’t seem to do much damage to the legs, and I felt reasonably strong from the start. Unfortunately, something that I ate the previous day wasn’t agreeing with me, and I almost didn’t make it to the pit stop. Take note: due to construction around the zoo, there are currently NO public restrooms between Georgetown and Peirce Mill
With the crisis averted at my pit stop, it was time to get moving again. In my rush to get back on the trail, I didn’t take in much (any?) fluids during my stop, a decision I would later regret. Also regrettable: picking up the pace from the turnaround at eight miles.
The combination of (relatively) quick running and dehydration made the last four or so miles pretty miserable. I stopped once at the Georgetown Waterfront in a fruitless search for a water fountain, only to be saved a few minutes later by a local running club (thanks, PR!). The final two miles, slightly uphill on the Capital Crescent trail, were brutal, but I fought it out without stopping again. In my heyday, the 7:55/mi average pace would have been laughable, but I came away quite pleased. It’s all relative, right?
My Meathead Marathon Misadventure
Week Two (8/14–8/20)
1:30 | 33,315 lbs
8 × 0.50 mi descending
1:10 | 8.55 mi
1:05 | 7.35 mi
7 mi @ PMP
1:15 | 9.56 mi
1:00 | 17.6 mi
1:15 | 26,120 lbs
3:16 | 61.8 mi
2:07 | 16.00 mi