In the two and a half years that I've been running, you could say that the five months I spent training for JFK last summer and fall stand out. Fitness-wise, I was in the best shape I've ever been. Mentally, I was as tough as nails. I will always be proud of crossing that finish line on race day, but I am equally proud of the months of work I put in.
Just ran 50 miles. NBD.
While there were some things about training that I will not miss (70 mile weeks, work, and graduate school leave little time for anything else), there are plenty of things that I really did like about it. Like enough, that I would love for them to be part of my weekly routine whether I'm training for anything or not. It's amazing what you get used to over five months and I quickly found myself missing my old "habits."
Now that I'm practically 100% back-to-normal since my injury, I've started incorporating some of these elements back into my routine. Even though I don't have any 50 mile races on my calendar this year, I don't think they could hurt. My goals for the rest of 2013 are really just to stay in consistant marathon shape, which they would benefit.
I wish I could find the energy to do longish runs before or after work ( like this super cool person ), but right now in my life it just doesn't work for me. Instead, I prefer to split up a run one day a week to get in some more miles. Usually these double runs add up to anywhere between 10-14 miles depending on my energy level that day. Not only is it a way to feel super accomplished on a regular old Wednesday, but, for me, it means I can happily run only 5 days per week instead of 6 and let my legs enjoy the extra rest day.
One of the very first things I noticed this winter as I started running again outside, was that my hill endurance was shot to hell. Last year hills felt easy, fun, and were a welcoming part of my run. So far this year they've felt like death every time and not the "but I feel accomplished when I get to the top" kind. More like the "why is this so hard and I'm going to go home and sulk" kind.
Finally I got fed up with it and scheduled myself for some good old hill repeats this morning. Hills are definitely not a rarity in my neighborhood, so its pretty easy to come up with 5-6 miles of ups and downs without feeling bored.
Surprisingly they first few didn't feel so bad and I started to think that I would get through the whole thing without any issues. Then I forgot about the 3rd and 4th hill. The steepest section on hill 3 is a lovely 17% grade, which doesn't sound terrible, but you actually feel like your going to fall off the sidewalk and plummet to your death if you don't lean into it enough. Overall, the workout was a success and I already feel more confident. The Delaware Marathon is known to be a bit hilly so I'm hoping I can counteract that with some weekly hill repeats.
Back-to-Back Long Runs
For my first marathon I followed a Hal Higdon plan with a few variations. Like most marathon plans, it had me run long one weekend day and either rest or run very short on the other. Looking back, I can't believe I actually used to take Sundays off. Now, I can't imagine doing anything better with my weekend than spending both days hitting the pavement or trails for several hours. JFK training had a pretty standard Saturday long run (16-25 miles) and a 10 mile Sunday run. I've slowly eased back into that set up over the past few weeks. I don't know that I'll be doing any back-to-back 20 milers anytime soon, but for now this feels pretty good!