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Week One: Sore

June 8, 2013

It’s back to training for Little G and I, and the official verdict is that we’ve gotten very far out of racing shape in the twelve weeks since we ran Gasparilla. We dove right into the new schedule created for us by our coach, and found ourselves hurting and doubting our ability to keep up from the very first workout. 

Part of the pressure is borne by the training program itself. After our success at the Tallahassee Marathon, where we succeeded in meeting our own expectations after following our coach’s training plan for the first time, all three of us know more confidently now that we can follow what she asks us to do–in fact, that we can often do more than what she asks, and usually do. In addition, last year we were training for a marathon, which required us to prepare to run at a pace of between 9 and 9:30 miles for the 26.2-mile distance. We will eventually be training for a marathon again, but the first part of this year’s program is preparing us to run a personal best at the half marathon. For both Little G and I, that means running the 13.1-mile distance in better than 1:49 or so, or better than 8:20 pace. Therefore, the first part of the training plan must concentrate on speed; the workouts are much more rigorous, from square one.

Again, our schedule calls for only four workouts per week–one day of cross-training, one day of speed sharpening, one easy run, and one long run. 

I decided to walk for my cross training on Monday, doing a little over two miles in just under thirty minutes on Monday. I figured it would be a light workout for someone whose usual easy day is six miles at 9:35 pace or so. Well, walking evidently uses different muscles than running, because my quads and glutes were sore all the rest of the day and into Tuesday, when we faced down our first speed-strengthening run: six repetitions on the bridge. Running up that bridge six times was a challenging proposition, and I was glad that Little G and I were able to do it together to keep each other encouraged–it’s likely we’ll be on our own for our speedwork for the remainder of the schedule.

After the grueling work of Monday and Tuesday I took Wednesday off, and was therefore due for an easy five on Thursday, just as Tropical Storm Andrea was moving into our area. Though we were under a tornado warning, rain was still light as I got dressed for my run, so I laced up and set out, staying fairly close to the house as I ran and running a little faster than I would have under drier conditions.

Today’s “long run” instructions were to run six miles at 8:45 pace, and as we warmed up, both Little G and I thought that seemed a pretty tall order. We agreed to run hard and be satisfied with whatever pace we landed on. In the end, we averaged an 8:33 pace, even with a slow first mile, and are tired, sore, and surprised at ourselves.

When we met with Coach “You Can and You Will” to report on the first week’s progress, we complained about the sheer volume of work–it felt like we increased the workload very quickly. She smiled sweetly and pointed out that our legs are responding–that, in fact, we are able to run faster than she asked. But she also reminded us to take it easy on the bridge–that the goal is good form and strong legs, not speed, and that we have until November to train. We talked again about the importance of rest days, of which we have many, and why we the schedule is structured the way it is. 

Hill Month continues with more bridge repetitions next week, and the “long” runs again will alternate between single-digit faster runs and double-digit, steady-pace efforts. With the half marathon on the horizon the pace is faster this time around, but I’m aware that the 8:15 pace or better pace I’m dreaming of at the half won’t come without a lot of hard work–few things that are worthwhile do.

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