The marathon training schedule I use has me running two high mileage weeks followed by one lower mileage (recovery) week. The mileage gets progressively longer with each three-week cycle. So far, I haven’t experienced distances more demanding than my past half-marathon training. All that will change this week. Thankfully, yesterday’s run was a wonderful, confidence building experience and will serve me well as I begin running in new mileage territory.
Last week I was scheduled to run a 12-miler. I spent Saturday in planes and airports returning from a week of hiking in Colorado (more on that in a future post). That left Sunday for the long run. I awoke to a heavy downpour. By the time the rain stopped the temperature was blazing and the humidity was high. I completed the 12-miles but every step was a mental struggle. I. Was. Miserable.
Yesterday morning I met my friend and coach Lynn at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park. I was scheduled for a nine mile run. Lynn offered to take me through the park’s “5.8 loop” and she created an additional course so that I would have nine miles under my belt. (People who run Percy Warner often refer to the “1.6,” the “5.8,” and the “11.2.” Yep, that’s the mileage for each course.) I was a bit nervous about the run. Percy Warner is very hilly and the awfulness of last weekend’s 12-miler was still living in my head.
As we began our ascent up the path, Lynn informed me that the beginning of the course is known as “three-mile hill.” Terrific. It felt as though I was moving about as fast as a glacier, but Lynn noticed I wasn’t struggling as much as I did during a prior run on a hilly course. I checked my GPS watch and sure enough, I was holding an “ok for me pace.” As we were running up the last hill I noticed my legs felt strong. I felt like a runner. Just then Lynn told me, “You are really doing great. I’m so impressed and proud.” We decided all the hiking I’d done the week prior was paying off. When we finally got to the top of the hill I checked my watch and sure enough, we’d run three miles. The rest of the 5.8 was mostly down hill. Once off the trail Lynn gave me printed directions for the rest of my route. She ran part of it with me, then she ran back to her car (she’s training for a half marathon and is on a different mileage schedule.) She sweetly drove by several times to make sure I was ok, recognizing I was running on unfamiliar roads.
As I approached my final mile, I noticed I had enough gas left in the tank to pick up my pace a bit. Once back at home I checked my training log and learned I bested my most recent nine-miler by a minute and a half…and the previous run was done on a flat course. Yay!
I know as I continue with my training, I’ll have good days and bad days. I want to dismiss the bad days as soon as possible. As for the good ones, I’ll mentally hang on to them for a while.