My original plan had been to do another 3-hour training run at an easy pace on Sunday, three weeks before the Vancouver Marathon on May 1. However, plans occasionally change. Much of my weekend was taken up by the triathlon coaching course (NCCP Community Sport Triathlon Coaching Clinic) I did in Whistler.
There was no room to do a 3-hour run before driving to Whistler and saving enough energy for an intense course. I decided to postpone what would be my fifth, and final, 3-hour run before this marathon until Monday morning.
The coaching course was superb and comprehensive, therefore tiring. Compounded by two late nights on Thursday and Friday because of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival in Squamish, and just the usual busy-ness of work (a book of an author I'm working with is nearing completion), I woke up exhausted, both mentally and physically, on Monday morning.
The reality was that I did not have the time nor the (physical and mental) energy to do a 3-hour run. Given that I'd already done four of them in recent weeks, I looked through some of my books on run training for ideas.
One of the key messages from the weekend's coaching course was that, within the proper training principles, there are many answers to one question. There are many ways to train/coach. It's one of the main reasons that as athletes we change coaches or training programs. Often there's nothing wrong with the coaching we are receiving but it's simply time to test something new, to stimulate our athletic body and mind in a new way.
As for yesterday, I found in Joe Henderson's Marathon Training: The Proven 100-Day Program for Success a workout that suited my mood and time frame perfectly. Of course I first made sure that I checked in the proper time-frame of the training, i.e. three weeks out from race day. I also checked that I considered a workout tailored to my level of experience with marathon training.
Henderson's book offers three levels: the Cruiser Program, Pacer Program and Racer Program. Since this will be my 13th marathon (not counting the five marathons I've run as part of Ironman) and I have a decade of solid and consistent training under my belt by now, I opted for the long run under the Racer Program.
Henderson suggests: Long day: semi-long run of 11 to 12 miles, or half the distance of last week's long one. Run at your projected marathon pace or slightly faster.
That resonated with me. After a quick check of an out-and-back course on gmap pedometer, I chose a 19km route. It took me 42:51 on the way out, and 41:08 on the way back, for an average pace of 4:25/km, and a total running time of 84 minutes. Of course I did an easy 10-minute warm-up before easing into the effort, and a cooldown after.
In hindsight, it was a perfect session for me and I'm glad circumstances had me change it. Tonight it's time for interval training, the weekly Tuesday Runs organized by the Squamish Titans. On the schedules are "short intervals" on the track for "sharpening".