I have become shockingly slow this fall. It's not new, it was developing all summer, and I am pretty sure it is greatly influenced by all the trail running and volume running and long slow distance I did preparing for MRTR. I do subscribe to the theory that when you train slow, you're training to be slow. Not that I could do anything else in a 50K. It's okay. I accept this.
It is a little galling, of course, to have that transferred over into shorter distances where you have certain expectations of being average, rather than below average. Ahem, Twin Cities Marathon, I'm looking at you! Then the following Sunday I did the Pouslsbo Half Marathon in 2:12:57, which is about three minutes slower than last year (when I ran it one week after 4:15 in the Portland Marathon). It's okay, though! My only goal for Pouslsbo was to be under 2:15, and I rocked that. Hurrah.
I suspect I may be experiencing a bit of running burnout. Or training burnout. Or both. I did cover a lot of miles over the summer. I hate that it is getting harder to run at the same time as we get dark, cold, wet mornings...which make it harder (for me) to run.
But wait! Doom and gloom begone. I have a Plan. Well, maybe it's just a plan. Here is my big picture plan (subject to change, of course).
1) I will train for the Honolulu Marathon (December 9) using some of the Run Less Run Faster plan. I will try to train for a 4:15 pace marathon. I do not plan to run a 4:15 in Honolulu...I just hope that my efforts will get me closer to a 4:30 than a 5:00. Right now I do not know if I can manage the speed work paces recommended for the 4:15 time...I would actually be happy if I managed to get close to those paces.
2) After the Honolulu Marathon I am going to take some running rest for the remainder of December. I have no idea what that will look like. I don't want to give up running completely (except maybe I will take a full week off after the marathon). I am also very leery that this rest time will coincide with the holiday season. I don't want to completely eschew yummy food to accommodate a reduction in running! So, details remain to be worked out. But I think I need a little training break.
3) My spring marathon will be in May or June (haven't picked one yet). That way I can do some base building in January, maybe even February, and do the bulk of my training in the late winter and spring (instead of the dead of winter!). I will probably use Run Less, Run Faster, and really try to successfully execute the 4:15 plan.
4) The further out in time I go, the more tentative this plan gets. But I do have some wanna-do marathons and half marathons in September and October. That means I may go back to volume running and weekend doubles over the summer. But NO 50K and probably less trail running. Although I really enjoyed those shorter (half marathon) trail races and I'm not ruling out doing a few. Maybe I could even try to run faster on trails? Dream on.
So I am transitioning into the RLRF stuff even as I finish recovering from TCM. Based on the "plan," I should have done the Poulsbo Half at a 9:59 pace...my actual average pace was 10:09. That was with about half the miles under 10 minutes, half around or just over 10 minutes, and one bigass hill mile at 11+.
This morning I did my first little stab at speed work. I didn't want to get up, I didn't want to go out, and I didn't think I could eke out any kind of speed whatsoever. But I did force myself out of bed and out the door, and told myself just to run hard (during the speed miles) and we'll see how it comes out.
I will say right now I didn't hit the RLRF pace. The speed portion was supposed to be 3 x 1600m at 8:11 (I figure about 8:15 for a mile). I did about 2.3 miles warm-up at slug pace, then switched into "speed" mode. I ran those three miles as hard as I possibly could. My heart hasn't pounded like that for a long time. I did about 2-3 minutes recovery in between miles, which is more than the plan calls for but it worked for my route. I didn't run 8:15 miles.
But I did the first two at just over 8:30, and the last one at 8:40. (Confession, the first two miles were slightly downhill, and the last was slightly uphill. Hence the times.) So, I was 20-25 seconds off pace. But I'll take it. I haven't seen a lot of miles in the 8:30 range for a long time (since the July 4 10K, probably). Yes, it was a little disturbing how much work it was. Yes, that is the pace I ran for my PR half marathon three years ago.
But...it was kind of good to feel the hurt. (The lung hurt, that burning gasping feeling of running fast.) For single mile repeats, that was not fast. But...it was not nearly as bad as I feared (like I didn't know if I could go under 9-minute miles). I consider it a baseline. I have another set of 3 x 1600 on my plan later on (late November, early December), and we'll see if I can get a little faster by then. Maybe under 8:15...a girl can dream, right?