Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I guess the idea of doing a long-ish run the day after a hard workout is that you learn how to run when you're already very tired. Today I was scheduled to run 15 miles, the day after a tough interval workout. I had already decided I would be cutting back on the mileage because I'm running a half-marathon on Saturday, but as it turned out, even my reduced-mileage plan ended up being quite a challenge.

The DART group was planning a 6-mile trail run starting at 6 a.m., and normally I'd just get up at 5:30, leave the house at 5:45 and run into town to meet them. But I decided it would make more sense to get up 30 minutes early and run 5 miles before meeting the group. That way I could take it easy at the start of the workout and then go faster with the group since they were only doing 6 miles.

The first problem with the plan is that I didn't give myself quite enough time to run the 5-mile route into town. I left home at 5:16, which gave me 44 minutes, so I'd have to run somewhat faster than a 9-minute pace, which isn't terribly hard under normal circumstances, but is a bit faster than I want to go when the group will be running closer to 8-minute miles for the second half of my run.

That said, I very much enjoyed the extremely early-morning run into town. I've never run this early before, and there's a remarkable difference: Much less traffic, and an amazing feeling of quiet and solitude. Even the birds weren't up yet, so there were long stretches when the only thing I could hear was the periodic thumping of my feet on the pavement. There was a beautiful moon in a cloudy sky, and a light breeze kept me cool on a 60-degree morning.

The second problem is that I probably didn't hydrate enough before the run. I was a bit rushed getting ready this morning because I needed to prepare a fuel belt and I wanted to eat something before I started. This meant I had only one glass of water before leaving instead of my usual two. I also probably didn't drink enough water last night. Combine that with the morning's warm temperatures, and I don't think the 16 ounces of water I was carrying along were really enough to keep me hydrated for a 12-miler.

After running 5 miles at an 8:45 pace, I met up with the group and we took off for the trails. Immediately I could see their pace was going to be a problem for me. After a half-mile I was about 20 meters behind the group. I finished Mile 6 in 8:45, but I was determined to catch up to the group, so I ran Miles 7 and 8 in 8:24 each, rejoining Chad, Rodney, and Jeremy for a mile or so. It didn't last. I could only muster an 8:52 for Mile 9, and I was falling farther and farther behind. About halfway through Mile 9, I saw that Jeremy was skipping the last mile of trails and heading back to town early. I was very tempted to join him, but I persevered and followed Chad and Rodney for one more loop on the trails. But I was losing ground quickly. Mile 10 was even slower: 9:05. At Mile 10.42, I emerged from the trails and Chad was there waiting for me. I was ready to run the half-mile back into town and call it a day, but he asked how many more I needed for 12, and we decided to run an extra mile around the Davidson campus. We ran Mile 11 in 9:35, and .76 miles of Mile 12 at the same pace, before mercifully arriving back at the CVS in town. I felt no compunction to run that last quarter mile to give myself an even 12.

Overall, my pace was 8:53 -- not terrible, but I was disappointed that I couldn't finish strong. My workout plan specifies that I should run my long- and medium-length runs in a 9:36 to 8:48 pace, so I'm well within that range. But given yesterday's tough workout, I should have started at closer to the 9:36 pace, and built up to a stronger finish. I'm scheduled to do 12 miles tomorrow as well, but that's because I had already revised the schedule to accommodate the half-marathon I'm doing on Saturday. Ideally I'd run a recovery run tomorrow, a longer run on Friday, and then do my long run on Sunday. So I think what I'm going to do is run a much shorter route tomorrow, perhaps just 6 or 7 miles, and take it very easy. I would like to be feeling good for Saturday's half-marathon and really see what I can do.

Details of today's workout are below.

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