I knew completing my Tuesday track workout just two days after my effort at Surftown last weekend was going to be challenging. What I didn't anticipate was just how much my brain would try to tell me that I shouldn't do it.
I debated endlessly all day Monday. I'd have moments where I'd be completely happy with my (momentary) decision to just do an easy 7 miles instead. Then those moments would be followed by waves of guilt that I was even thinking about skipping a workout.
Such is the self-inflicted drama and emotional torture of being on a marathon training plan. I have no coach to report to, no prize money at stake, nobody to answer to but myself - but that's more than enough.
As I stepped out the door with my Garmin on, I was still debating what I was going to do, but of course my feet led me, somewhat reluctantly, to the track.
I got right to work, figuring that I'd rather just get it over with. I was supposed to do 6 x 800, with 90 seconds rest. Even as I took my first strides, I was already trying to talk myself into doing fewer than 6. Tough, tough mental demons hanging around in my head that day.
My legs actually felt surprisingly ok for the first repeat, though, which was encouraging, and got me thinking that maybe I'd go for at least 4, and 5 if I was feeling ok after 4 (Which is such a joke, because you NEVER feel ok after 4. The more you do, the worse you feel - but these are the tricks we try to play on our brains).
I did make a concession with the rest intervals, though, taking a full 400m (just over 2 minutes) rather than just 90 seconds. And after the second repeat, I was very thankful for those extra 30 or 40 seconds of rest, because the second one felt decidedly less ok than the first.
By the time I finished the third one, my legs were jello. I could barely breathe. I decided 4 would be good. I had just run sub-marathon pace for the final 10 miles of a 20-miler - I deserved to cut myself some slack, right?
I somehow got through the 4th one, and I don't know how, but found the energy to do one more, for 5 total. That was it, though. I was D.O.N.E., and dragged myself off the track and back home.
I was glad it was done, but I can honestly say that was the hardest track workout of this training cycle so far. The good news, though, is that I hit my goal pace for every single interval. So at least there's that!
Thursday tempo was so much smoother. I can't say enough about how much I love tempo runs. This was my longest one yet, but I wasn't really all that nervous, since the goal was to run 6 miles at 7:34 pace, which is a tad slower than my half marathon race pace. I knew I could do it, and was actually kind of looking forward to it.
It went as well as I expected it to - my first tempo mile was 7:42, but then I dropped right down to 7:34, 7:20, 7:31, 7:28, and the final mile at 7:07. Me and tempo runs really get along :-)
Saturday was another test of mental strength, but I kind of planned it that way. I only had to run 13 miles, and the goal pace was 8:04. I knew that it would almost feel easy to run that on a flat course (I had planned to run the Gansett Half course), and thought that it would be good to challenge myself and try to run that pace on a hillier route.
It was a beautiful, cool, dry morning, and I felt great right through mile 9 or so. I was staying right around an 8-minute pace - with an occasional sub-8 - and feeling really good. I've had some tightness in my hip flexor the past two weeks, and am actually scheduled for PT next week, but it had actually started to feel a lot better during the week, and wasn't bothering me at all.
I knew the last 4 miles would be the hilliest, and I was prepared for that, but I guess not prepared enough, because those hills did a number on me. I was able to keep my pace at just below 8, but I was struggling. It felt much harder than it should have. Part of the reason, I'm certain, is that I opted not to bring a Gu for this run. I typically take one at the halfway point of 13.1 if I'm racing, but I've done 13-mile training runs without it and been ok.
But this time it was definitely affecting me, so much that at about mile 10.5, I stopped to walk. This was the first time I had walked the entire run, and I typically don't take walk breaks very often anyway. I was feeling very defeated.
I walked for about 30 seconds, took a drink of my water, and told myself that with only 2.5 miles to go, I'd better just put my head down and get it done. And as I started running again, it was like someone had flipped a switch. It didn't feel easy, but it no longer felt like I was running through mud with shoes made of bricks.
I felt lighter, and I felt happier, and I ran faster, dropping from 7:59, to 7:43, to 7:36.
It wasn't without a little bump in the road, but in the end, I finished strong. And it's better that the little bump in the road came during a training run. That's where you want those moments to happen, so you can learn how to deal with them and overcome them. (And you can also learn what your limits are in terms of forgoing fuel on a long run!)
So all's well that ends well in that respect, but after that run, my hip flexor that had been slightly sore and achy was suddenly really hurting. I suspect the hillier route aggravated it, but whatever it was, I was in tough shape all day and night Saturday. Thankfully, with a ton of foam rolling and stretching, it felt a lot better Sunday, and it's barely noticeable today.
I'm going to go ahead and run my track workout tomorrow, and hopefully it'll be ok. But I'm glad I have my PT appt. scheduled, too, because something is clearly a little 'off,' and I need some help getting it fixed up so I can continue on - lots more work left to do.