Chasing Boston (part 6 – September training recap)

This was to be my monster training month, in which I piled on the mileage and the workouts so that, at month’s end, I could look back in satisfaction and forward with confidence.

It was, in fact, pretty monstrous. After losing ten days to my sprained ankle, I jumped back in to 50-mile weeks. That was probably definitely not the smartest thing to do, but I was feeling a lot of calendar pressure, and I have a long history of running stupid to uphold.

The first two weeks were not pretty. While my ankle, considered in isolation, was OK – meaning, it supported my weight without causing me to wince in pain – the tendon was still tender and swollen, and I noticed my right foot had developed a disconcerting tendency to roll outward. My right calf, meanwhile, was knotted and tight and resistant to the foam roller’s ministrations. I knew this was a bad sign – tight calves, in my experience, are the root of three quarters of my running injuries (general clumsiness accounting for the rest). Sure enough, it was only a matter of days before my right hamstring somehow got hold of a knife and began to stab me if I ran too far or too fast for its liking.

All this, and godawful heat and humidity, too.

By the middle of the month, through pure stubbornness (and a lot of easy running), I was back on my pre-injury training schedule and feeling, most days, OK.

Or as OK as anyone feels during their peak marathon training weeks.

Here are the numbers, along with last year’s for purposes of comparison:

Total mileage for the month: 250 (vs. 261 last year).

Advantage: 2014, but only just. An embarrassing number of those 2014 miles were “easy birding jogs,” in which I “ran” a cumulative 6 or 8 miles over, say, 4 hours spent in the park. My weekly mileage last year peaked at 65; I’ve already seen that and raised it this year.

Long runs: 14.5 (my first long run after my injury, and by far the hardest of this training cycle), 16, 18 (official TCS New York City Marathon tune-up in Central Park, meaning it was done under race conditions), 15. My long-run pace is consistently between 9:30 and 10:00, i.e., between 50-80 seconds slower than my marathon goal pace.

Last year my long runs were 16, 12, 18 and 13. I have no idea what pace I ran them at (it was only recently that I transitioned, reluctantly, to a Garmin); I do know that too many of them involved stops to take pictures of street art, check out restaurant menus and God knows what else.

Advantage: 2015.

Workouts: Strength intervals every Tuesday, and marathon pace tempo runs every Thursday (except for this past week, when I switched things up to race in the Bronx on Sunday). The strength intervals, mostly run with the awesome PPTC training group, involve 6 total miles at roughly half marathon pace in various permutations (6×1 mile, 4×1.5 mile, 3×2 miles, etc.). I had to shorten the first two workouts of the month (losing it in the final mile of a 2×3 mile workout, for example) because of my injury and a general loss of endurance. I also had to pull back on scheduled tempo runs – just didn’t have it in me – but was able to ramp them up over the course of the month: 6 miles, 7 miles, 9 miles, 10 miles (counting the Bronx 10 miler as a tempo).

Last year, I logged three similarly-constructed interval workouts (and ran them consistently faster than I’ve been running this year), along with tempo runs of 8 miles (two of those), 9 miles, 10 miles. And that’s not counting the Bronx 10 miler, which I raced hard.

Advantage: 2014.

So there you have it. It’s not exactly the blowout I anticipated when I blithely started these recaps in July – partly because of my injury and partly because my 2014 training was actually, in retrospect, pretty solid. (Those “easy birding jogs” and my desultory approach to long runs notwithstanding.)

Excuse me now while I go back to obsessing over Hurricane Joaquin and the weather forecast for this weekend and what it all means for my scheduled 18 miler.

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