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.

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