January 18, 2012

Mid-week 23K on the treadmill

A morning walk with the dog confirmed that it was truly cold outside. The wind was what made the unusual cold for Squamish unbearable enough for me to head to Club Flex again. The $11 drop-in fee was well worth it to spend just shy of two hours on one of their Star Trac treadmills.

Today's 23K session is one of two so-called medium long runs I have most weeks in this schedule during the Endurance as well as the Lactate Threshold + Endurance phases, which together span 11 of my 18-week program. In these workouts I'm aiming for a similar pace / effort as in my long runs, i.e. between 74 and 84 percent of max heart rate and, in my case, a pace of between 4:41 and 5:06 per km.

Having said, Advanced Marathoning recommends taking it a little easier the day after a hard run, such as the lactate threshold session I did, also on the treadmill, yesterday.

Today I ran at midday and, having only had breakfast, I brought two gels. Of course I also had a small towel, a bottle of water and an iPod.

Today's workout wasn't challenging per se - I ran 14.2 miles in 1:55 and my heart rate never got above 145, staying comfortably below 140 for at least 90 minutes.

Even so, I felt a mental tiredness in the final 20 minutes or so of the session. It's I think the most challenging part of doing longer runs on a treadmill when the stop button is right in front of you the entire time. It's too easy to get off that band as you're not going anywhere.

On the road I usually plan an out-and-back route, or a nice big loop, where it's just not possible to cut the run short as I need to get home. The option of stopping doesn't enter my mind on the road, slowing down on a hard session, sure, but stopping, no.

Feeling the mental fatigue, I entertained myself by focusing on the enjoyable rhythm of my pace and cadence in the second hour and listening to music. Most of the first hour I had chatted with a woman who jumped on the treadmill beside me.

I also aim to visualize parts of the marathon as I train; particularly when I feel like dropping off my pace towards the end, I remind myself that sustaining the effort might be the difference between a 2:59 and a 3:xx finish.

Here's a great clip where the top 4 women of the 2012 US Olympic marathon trials held this past weekend - Shalane Flanagan, Desi Davila, Kara Goucher and Amy Hastings - talk about their final mile.

All in all, time flew by today and I felt strong throughout. With another solid run, I am 49K into this week's 114K. I love training for marathons.

Watch this interview with the inspiring Flanagan the day after she won the US Olympic marathon trials in record time.

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