I’m only 3 weeks into my C&O Canal training cycle and I’m already starting to rethink things.  Back in the day (like last year), this never happened.  I got out my excel spreadsheet, plotted out my daily runs over the next 20 weeks, and did them.  I never changed the schedule.  I didn’t change what runs I was doing when.  I had a plan of attack and I was going to do it no matter what.  The plans themselves would change slightly from cycle to cycle, but they wouldn’t change within the cycle.

It was a training failure not to do at least what was in the plan.  If I had a 25 mile long run scheduled, you better believe I didn’t stop at mile 24.9.  Extenuating circumstances (i.e. 2 inches of snow on the roads) never factored into my decision making.  When you’re starting out, you fight against straying from your training plan.  You figure missing one workout will lead to two.  Cutting a run 1 mile short will lead to cutting 5 miles off another.  And the next thing you know you’re at the end of your training plan, half trained, and unprepared for your race.

So I fought against these tendencies by never, ever, ever deviating from my training plans.  And this worked for me for 3 plus years.  I grinded out all my training plans as originally envisioned with hardly ever a miss.  I might juggle some days around depending on my schedule, but the total miles ran always ended up totaling more than I had scheduled.  All those extra tenths of a mile each day add up over the course of 140 days after all.

My thinking started to change last winter/spring training for my first 100 miler.  I got a little injured and had to cut a couple runs short.  I took a couple extra days off to rest here and there.  In the end, I fell about 40 miles short of the 600 planned.  This lead to my first DNF (did not finish).  There’s two ways I could look at this.  Either the DNF was related to me not executing my plan or my training mileage was too much, which caused me to get hurt.  Actually, there’s probably a dozen additional possibilities (not enough strength training, inadequate sleep, poor recovery, yadda yadda), but those are the two I thought most likely.

I decided the workload was too high.  That maybe less could be more.  So I created and executed a training plan that had me running about 10% less.  Now this was for a course that was significantly harder than the one I couldn’t finish last April.  Could I be successful doing less than I did before?  Well, the answer is yes.  I recovered better over the training cycle and got to the starting line 100% healthy.

So now the Phunt 50K has me wondering if maybe I can cut back my training even more.  Do I really need 9 runs over 20 miles this cycle?  Can I get by with less?  The answer depends on what my goals are for C&O.  If I just want to finish, I can probably get by with maybe half the number of 20 mile runs.  If I want a blazing fast time, then I should probably increase it and add in some back-to-back long runs.  But it’s never been about blazing fast times for me.  Sure I want to perform well and I don’t want to be at the very back of the pack, but I’m towards the front of the mid-pack now.  The amount of effort it would take to move up to the front and win some Age Group awards just doesn’t appeal to me.

And along the lines of less is more, I’ve cut back my two 5 mile runs this week to 1 mile each.  Since Saturday was not the training run I had planned it to be, my legs need the extra recovery time.  They were almost back to 100% today, but I’ll take the couple extra days.  There’s no reason to push myself with my speed workouts set to start next week.  And it’s been 15-20 degrees out the past couple mornings.  And sleeping in has been nice.

So basically, I’m in full on slacker mode.  Thank goodness I’ve still got 101 days till C&O Canal to get myself back on track.

Do ever feel like you’re overdoing things?