Gotta love the feeling of a good Build period. It’s been a while. Eight months, to be exact.
Eight months ago was the Build for the Country Music Marathon. But since finishing that race, training has been very unfocused, occasionally non-existent. And that’s what works for me. I’m typically the opposite of everyone else, building and peaking for some great late winter, early spring races. Summer is not for me.
Basically it boils down to the fact that I generate a lot of heat when I run. A lot. When it’s 30°F (-01°C), I’m still in shorts, although I will start out with a long sleeve that typically gets pushed up to the elbows just a few miles in. Once it reaches 20°F (-07°C), I’ll cover the legs up and start thinking about a full cap. The range in between 20-30°F will get me to put on different ear coverings and occasionally gloves (that usually don’t last but a mile).
Summer races? Forget it. Unless they also involve a swim and bike. Then I just deal with the run.
So here I am, in the middle of December, building for my next race. Mid-December, when most of you are taking a break from the year’s schedule, just thinking about your upcoming Base schedule, hoping not to put on too much weight during the holidays. Me? I’m realizing that I’m not eating enough to keep up with the additional 2,000 calories a day that I’m burning above my daily caloric needs to stay alive and function. Simply put, I need to eat more. Easier said than done, unless I start eating at Burger King every day (no thanks). But I’ve got to fuel to race.
My next race? A 50K (that’s 31 miles for y’all that only use the Imperial system) on January 31st, 2010. Fifty kilometers is not a huge race for me (after last year’s 41-miler and last March’s 60K (37.2 miler), but something to focus on. The 50K is just for fun, mainly to see how the Germans run their races. And to give some focus to my training.
So this weekend was my first 20+ miler weekend of this cycle, getting ready for the race. That’s when I know I’m building strong. Instead of single long runs, I function better with “double-long’s”, which are two days in a row of long runs. That’s every weekend for the next five weeks.
My first experiences with double-longs are almost two years ago and they’ve served me well. One thing I’ve learned since then is that I can actually build to 32-mile weekends (22 on Saturday, 10 on Sunday) and recover well. Much better than if I do a 24-26 miler on Saturday and take Sunday off. I guess I’m weird that way, since it flies in the face of every training plan put out there by the experts.
So here I am, at the tail end of this first Build cycle. I’m now entering my “recovery” week, which I definitely need. Amazing how I can enter this weekend completely knackered, yet still push through comfortably. Saturday morning it was everything I could do to drag my carcass out of bed. But I did, had a bit of breakfast and some coffee, then headed out the door. The first few miles were slow, but that’s OK. By mid-way through the 13.1 mile run, I was cruising, powering up and over the overpasses (it’s pretty flat around my house, so I find the hills where I can). I finished strong.
Today, I was hobbling for the first hour or so. I guess that’s a sign of aging, but I refuse to accept it. Although it’s inconvenient, it works well with goals of my second long run of the weekend, which is to get the body used to running hard and fast when it’s tired and sore. So Sunday’s run is always with the goal of running a negative split (i.e. run the second half of the run faster than the first half). Sounds easy, until you do it with 15-25 miles of running in your legs in the previous 24-30 hours. It builds a skill that comes in very handy after 20 miles in any race of marathon distance or further.
So that’s the framework for the weekend now. This weekend, it was 13.1 miles on Saturday, 8 miles on Sunday (that’s 21.1 miles for the math-challenged amongst you). Since next week is a recovery week, I’ll back off to 9 miles on Saturday, 6 miles on Sunday. After that, the next Build begins, so it’ll be 15 on Saturday, 10 on Sunday. And so on over the next few weeks. Then to race.
So enjoy the holidays, enjoy the food, enjoy the drink. Most of all, smile when you drive past that lonely runner out there in the snow and wind. Because most likely they’re someone just like me, who’s schedule is offset six months from yours.