I used to live in Mainland China and while there were many things that I enjoyed about living there unfortunately running was not one of them. Since I am tall and have white skin, it’s almost certain that I would attract attention from people. I remember having to avoid certain hours when the students were getting out of classes or they were on a break because those little kids are the worst at giving out a big fake ‘hello!’ or trying out other phrases that they know. To them it was the most hilarious thing that happened all day but for me it was just annoying. Other people would just stare. I guess I’m a fairly low key person and don’t like that kind of attention. Of course there were other obstacles to running in China, especially in bigger cities like Shenzhen where it’s not always easy to find good routes.
Anyways, here in Hong Kong nobody looks twice at me and it’s great. There are also many places to run, especially up here in the New Territories where there is generally more space. There is a strong running culture here and it seems like there is always somebody out there running. I find it motivating to be part of a community, even if I don’t talk to the people as I pass by. There are also races every weekend during the fall and winter months and it’s great to have lots of options.
I just finished running 21 miles this morning and so that makes a grand total of 73 miles for the week. That’s the most I’ve ever run in one week (by 3 miles). Hurray! True, tracking miles per week is no guarantee of quality training. There are other important considerations like pace, intensity, and elevation. But I have to say that 73 miles of road running is not too shabby, especially given that I did maintain a decent pace for most runs. The target pace for my medium and long runs of 7:20 is getting closer, although I’m still suffering a bit in the heat.
The trick to building miles is of course doing it gradually. But the other thing is to run really slowly on some days. Recovery runs for me are done at an easy jogging pace. Around 9 min miles or sometimes even slower. The purpose of these runs is to get the blood moving and burn some calories; it’s not the time to gain fitness. Since I’m in my 40s now I need to be especially careful about recovery. I ran 10 miles at recovery pace this week, 7 miles at general aerobic pace (around 8 min miles), one tempo run, and the rest in my target zone which at the moment is around 7:20 – 7:45.
This is my second time through the Pfitzinger 18/70 marathon training plan. I used to follow Hal Higdon’s advanced marathon training plans and now that I look back I can see that while those plans were good in some ways, they were just too easy. The Pfitzinger plan got me a sub three marathon earlier this year and I’m confident that it will get me another good performance and probably a PR in Macau. Just need to stay off the injured list.
This week I decided to skip the Saturday 5 mile recovery run and go on a hike with Jenny. We’ve been enjoying our hikes together on the weekends, so it’s something I’d like to keep doing, regardless of how it affects my marathon training. In fact, it’s probably a good thing because it provides a low impact workout and a steady calorie burn. I’ll just need to be sure not to overdo it on the hikes, especially next weekend with a 22 miler on Sunday (damn!!).
So I’m back into the 18/70 plan (from the book Advanced Marathoning). That is: 18 weeks toping out at 70 miles per week. I’m giving it my best, but I’m finding it hard to keep the paces in the current weather conditions. The author recommends long runs and medium long runs at around 10%-20% of marathon pace. This can be difficult at the best of times.