I was running strong, stronger than ever. Finding gears I didn’t know I had. Pushing harder on longer runs. I noticed improvements on my heart rate which corresponded to the feeling that I was running faster with less effort required. I was recovering quickly from hard workouts. My weight was down to lower than ever, maybe even lighter than when I was in high school 25 years ago. My marathon PR of 2:56 would be easy. Maybe it would be closer to 2:50.
I remember years ago I was chatting to a runner after a 10 km race. This guy was a complete stranger but somehow we starting talking about how to improve and get better, or something along those lines. I remember he said something about running two times a day… I do remember that he had run that race in a very fast time and he looked very fit. But honestly, two times a day? Get a life, I thought….
Now, for better or for worse, I am that guy.
Just finished the longest run in this marathon training schedule that I’m following: Pfitzinger’s evil 18/70 from the book Advanced Marathoning. It was a 22 miler and I managed to run an average pace of 7:17 per mile. I felt tired for the final 4 miles, but definitely could have kept going and completed the marathon distance if I had to. So that finishes up a 70 mile week which feels pretty good.
This week I didn’t feel much like running. Work was stressful and I found myself not getting as much sleep as usual. Running started to seem like a chore and I felt myself slipping back into some old habits. Instead of waking up early to run, there were a few days when put it off until later after work. Instead of drinking a cup of herbal tea and stretching before bed, I found myself sitting in front of the computer, knocking back a few beers, and even dipping into the scotch a bit. I started telling myself that running is interfering with work and causing me more stress instead of alleviating it.
Another solid week. 71 miles of running and definitely feeling it. But no injuries and I’m basically happy with the paces. As you might know if you’ve read any of my previous posts, I am following the Pfitzinger 18/70 marathon training plan, a diabolical scheme designed to inflict suffering and pain all in the name of a fast marathon time. It’s a brilliant piece of work that is even more fun the second time through.
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.