Jack Daniels suggests that training for a major event should follow four phases. In the first phase, you build mileage. I've pretty much already done that, so I can skip right along to phase two. In this phase, you work on skills. In the case of marathon running, the only skills involved are basically speed and running form. So I've been doing some speed workouts.
It's interesting training for a marathon because you're always shooting for a moving target. I may have a goal pace for my next big race, but of course I can't run that pace right now: That's what the training is supposed to do. But when you do speed work, you can start getting used to a faster pace even if there's no way you could sustain it at a longer distance.
Since I'm planning two shorter races in the next couple weeks, on Thursday I decided to do very short intervals -- the shortest I've run since college. If you're doing shorter intervals, you need to do more of them to get a decent workout, so I settled in on 10 * 400-meter intervals, followed by 4 * 200. I'd have just one minute of rest between the 400s, and 90 seconds for the 200s.
But what pace to run at? I've been thinking that I might be able to run a sub-5:30 mile next week in the Miles of Mooresville, so I felt like I should be running a pace at least equal to that. So on the 400s, I shot for a 5:30 mile pace, which works out to 82.5 seconds. I wanted to do the 200s faster than that, but I wasn't sure how fast, exactly, so I decided to wait and see how I was feeling.
As I started in on the 400s, I noticed that I'd get out of the blocks very quickly. My Garmin has a "workout" feature where you enter a target pace and then it tells you when to start and stop. Annoyingly, it also beeps at you to tell you to speed up and slow down during the run. Since I was starting each 400 at perhaps a 4:45 pace, it was beeping a lot. It was probably right; I should have better feel for my pace, but I'm not sure I needed the constant reminder.
The first 5 or 6 went pretty well and I was hitting my target pace almost exactly. Then the heat of the day and the difficulty of the workout started to catch up with me. By 7 or 8 I could tell this was going to be hard, but I still managed to hit my targets. On the final lap, instead of starting out fast, I saw that halfway through my pace was only 5:37. Somehow I picked things up and finished right on pace again.
Next it was time for the 200s. Did I mention there were four DARTers joining me for this? John had been running fairly close to my pace for the 400s, but on the 200s his youth had the advantage. It was a hard effort for me to run them in 35 seconds, and he was consistently 2 or 3 seconds ahead of me. But still, the 35-second time on a 200 works out to a mile pace of 4:50, which is as fast as I need to be.
I'm now really looking forward to the Miles of Mooresville in 8 days. But first, the Bare Bones 5K in Salisbury tomorrow. It will be a warm day, so I'm not sure I will PR, but I'll definitely give it a go.
Weight update: 183 pounds, on track to make my goal of being solidly under 185 by the end of May. My wife is out of town for the weekend, so I think I'm going to really try to eat healthy through the whole weekend (we usually take weekends off to indulge a little). Maybe I'll actually hit my June goal of 180 by May 31.
Details of yesterday's workout are below: