Isn’t it strange how things always seem to work out when you least expect them to?
One of the direct consequences from my fabulous race on Sunday is that I am now married to my high mileage training plan for the rest of the season. If you recall in last week’s post, I was set and ready to use a bad time in the Queens Half both as evidence that higher mileage wasn’t working for me and as an excuse to switch back to a more comfortable, more conservative, lower mileage plan. But because I shocked myself by running my second-best marathon despite some unexpected inconveniences, shifting download in mileage is no longer a viable option. To tell you the truth, I don’t know how I feel about that. On the one hand, I’ve gotten used to running more miles and slower miles despite my innate desire to do entirely the opposite. But on the other, I absolutely miss the exhilaration of running hard and running fast each and every time out on the road. It’s kind of ironic how slow my training runs have gotten despite my internal pressures to run so much faster.
The schedule this week calls for a slight recovery of 55 miles including a hard tempo run of 7 miles and a long run of 22 miles this weekend. Next week will be peak mileage week when I will attempt to push through to about 65 miles for the entire week and end with a half-marathon race that I will run at marathon pace. Although some may hold a different opinion, that is a whole heck of a lot of miles for me! For comparison, last year at this time, I was peaking at 48 miles/week; that’s right, PEAKING at 48 miles. This year, I’m AVERAGING 51 miles/week for the entire training cycle. That is a significant difference. The craziest thing is that despite the big jump in mileage, I have absolutely no injuries to speak of. That has never happened to me before. My body has somewhat come to expect nagging aches and pains every year around this time as we get closer to race day so to have none of these concerns this year feels on the one hand absolutely wonderful, but on the other hand very awkward. I likened the sentiment to hosting a dinner party on marathon eve where nobody shows up. I think you get the point.
The key to my success in bumping up the mileage without injury I’ve come to realize is a newfound respect and appreciation for slow miles. In direct conflict with my personality, most of my running is now done at slower than conversational pace. It feels weird to write and even weirder to do, but I must give credit where credit is due. It has taken me a really really long time to get to this point, and I continue to struggle with the idea constantly, but I think I’m at peace with the slow miles now. Finally. I think.