Monday, February 21, 2011

"Is this Mandatory, or is this Optional?"


I took a day off from blogging yesterday.  It was an off day from training in preparation for today's long run of 15 miles and, once in a while, a break is good.  Even though Friday's travel day was an "off day" from exercise, there's no relaxation that comes from getting up at 7AM and working, either in the office or traveling through 3 hops and 4 airports, until 11PM that night.

Up until today, the furthest I'd ever run was 14 miles and that was once during my half marathon training last summer and that beat the hell out of me.  I didn't get "healthy" from that run for months and fought lingering knee pain from IT and hip-flexor issues.  I was still not feeling great from last week's activities and the weather forecast of "feels like single-digits" wasn't acting as a strong motivator to get out and literally pound the body against the frozen pavement for over 2 hours.

But I did.  And every mile was better than the last the one.  A run through my neighborhood is just shy of 4 miles and 4 "laps" measures out at around 15.3 miles.  Starting out, my ankles were the worst; stiff and painful with each stride.  Fortunately, it was limited to the ankle and didn't get to shin splints or calf cramping.  

After the first lap, the stiffness was replaced by what feels like bruising of the ball of my right foot (or, more likely, I became aware of this pain when the ankle pain subsided).  This isn't a new feeling and I'm optimistic that it's just the lingering effect of running in what I really hope were worn out shoes. Today's run was in a brand new pair of Saucony Progrid Guide 3s I picked up on clearance and they felt solid (well, except for that patch of black ice I hit; that sucked).

My goal going in to the run was to complete the distance.  Period.  My Training Plan wanted me to do the run at 45 seconds per mile slower than my projected marathon pace (MP) or somewhere between 8:12 and 8:24 per mile (MP is around 7:24 - 7:36, depending on my goal).  When I trained for the halfs, I never hit my pacing (other than my interval runs) until around mid-point in the training, so I'm letting my body find a natural pace I think I can maintain for a long time and just trying to settle in to it.

By neighborhood laps, here's how I did:
  • Lap 1: 34'15" (8:49 per mile)
  • Lap 2: 33'44" (8:42 per mile)
  • Lap 3: 33'08" (8:32 per mile)
  • Lap 4: 30'26" (7:51 per mile)
Average time: 8:31 per mile.  I'll definitely take it!  I finally started feeling STRONG just at the tail end of Lap 3 and clearly picked up the tempo for the last lap.

Taking a page (and some motivation) from Mike French I started and ended the run with a set 25 jumping jacks and 25 pushups -- just a little mental game to tell myself that I finished as strong as I started and still had energy in the tank for more.

2011-FEB-19 Diet Log (yesterday) -- I'm experimenting with splitting my "long run" calories over two days.


Briefly, I wanted to share a bit of motivation and a cool fitness challenge I picked up a few months ago.  The challenge is called, "30 the Hard Way" and is performed by Martin Rooney of Training For Warriors.  Aside from the challenge, I absolutely love his "Mandatory v. Optional" lead in.  It epitomizes personal fitness and, on days like today, marathon training.  Running 15 miles was not mandatory, nor was bookending that workout with a total of 50 jumping jacks & push-ups.  I chose the option of getting off the couch and out of the house and I'm glad I did it!

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