Thursday, August 25, 2016

"Big Workouts"

As I get further back into this actual training thing, it just becomes so, so completely clear that (to the extent that I was meant to run anything), I was meant to run 5K (or shorter) races and not really marathons. I always get so worried about going back to the track after a big chunk of nothing but super easy miles, but get me part way into that first workout and it's like, "Yes, this is my core competency, I know how to do this. I know how to go fast (for me)." I have never once come even close to running the marathon times I'm "supposed" to be able to run based on other races, but I almost never finish a speed workout, even quite long ones, feeling like I've worked all that hard. (And that's almost always having run a little faster than the assigned paces.)

Last week's 9 mile workout including 10 x 600m @ 5K pace? Not a problem. This week I was a little surprised to see what RunCoach refers to as a "Big Workout," an 11-12 mile workout consisting of a chunk of marathon pace running sandwiched between two sets of harder intervals.

  • 2 mile warm up
  • Drills/dynamic stretches
  • 3 x 800m @ 5K pace / 200m jog
  • 30:00 @ marathon pace / 1:30 jog
  • 3 x 800m @ 5K pace / 200m jog
  • 2 mile cool down

In my last marathon cycle, I wasn't assigned this type of workout until about six weeks before the race, and I think I only did it maybe twice. Looking over my current training plan, though, there are about nine more of them between now and CIM. Which I suppose is just what happens when you, like, train consistently for more than a few months at a time & don't keep getting hurt or whatever. (Hopefully I haven't just jinxed myself.)

And honestly, a thought I kept having throughout this entire workout was, "This doesn't even feel hard." I mean, it didn't feel effortless, but for some reason running 800m @ 5K pace actually felt easier than running 600m @ 5K pace felt last week. And most of the "effort," I thought, seemed to come more from watching the pace & trying to keep it right around 7:00/mile. Towards the end there were a couple of times when I saw my one lap split & thought, "Hmm, slipping a little," but then it was no problem at all to kick it up a notch & find that next gear. The target heart rate for those intervals was around 200, which I did not even come close to averaging.

For now I've been defining marathon pace as "somewhere between 8:00 & 8:30, that feels like work but not TOO much work, with HR somewhere roughly between 167 & 182." The middle 30:00, I ran at 8:04 pace & 175 average HR, so I'm pretty darn happy with that as well.

Grand total = 11.4 miles

Again, I know there are still 14 weeks to go, and I won't *really* be happy until the tempo/threshold runs are feeling just as good, but things are encouraging right now, and that's not nothing.


  1. That workout sounds tough. I'm very much a marathon runner, so nothing I do on the track is very quick at all, although for some reason I am pretty competent at 200m. Your consistency at 800m, though certainly points to good middle-distance speed. Maybe you should throw a short race in and see how fast you are right now!

  2. Interesting! After the marathon, maybe you could start training specifically for a short or middle-distance race to see what you could accomplish.