I’ve decided that I’m not in a training cycle so much as I am in a maintaining cycle. I spent 5 months building for Umstead and was probably in my best physical/endurance shape heading into it. It would be great to take a step up from there, but the timing is a little tricky with only 9 weeks between that race and Old Dominion 100. Before I can build on the gains I’ve gotten this spring, I needed to recover from running 100 miles. While I was back to 95% within a week or so it wasn’t until earlier this week that I finally felt all the way back. Which is good because I had my first long run scheduled for today.
When I was creating my training schedule leading up to OD100, my biggest uncertainty was how quickly I could add back the long run. This has been the cornerstone to all my training plans. Heck, it’s pretty much the only stone I have since I don’t do speed work or hill repeats or whatever a fartlek is (I think you can get them at Ikea). So really the only difference between my training and my offseason is that I do runs of 20+ miles leading up to my races otherwise my weeks look pretty much the same. I thought 3 weeks should (could?) be enough time to recover and I think I managed to find the sweet spot between too much recovery and not enough.
How do I know?
Because I absolutely crushed my 20 miler today. I was doing my long runs just under 10 minute pace earlier this spring and managed a 9:23 pace this morning. This was an evenly paced run as my first 10 miles were done at 9:19 and my second 10 at 9:27. I wasn’t pushing for a certain time or pace, this is just what it shook out to be. It probably took me 2 miles to warm-up, but after that I was in a groove. I picked a route that was slightly hiller than I had been doing and ended up with 1882 feet of vertical. OD100 has about 40-50% more elevation gain per mile than this, but my goal was to run every single blasted hill and I accomplished this. I even felt myself getting stronger towards the end. Though maybe that was just my imagination playing tricks on my mind as a couple of those hills pushed my pace perilously close to 10 minutes.
Sometimes these long runs can be a chore. Sometimes they seem to last for an eternity. Sometimes I’ll count down the miles for most of the run. Occasionally though, I’ll have a long run that just kind of flows along and is over before I know it. Today was one of those days. It was a nice way to start this maintaining cycle. I hope it leads to even better days ahead.