When I woke up I was tired. Mister Gus is having a tough time sleeping through the night lately and it is taking a toll on the whole family. I’m not sure what’s going on – maybe he is teething, or coming down with something, or just growing … or maybe there is no reason at all for it? Who knows, but it is really not fun to be up all night with a baby who only wants to sleep if he is in your arms or practically sitting on your face – he is absolutely peaceful under those circumstances and that is just not ideal for me. I hope this ends soon!
Anyway, I got up for the day on Wednesday at 4:30am and got to the track a little before 5:30. I had a hard workout in front of me and since I was so tired I was really unsure how it would unfold. I told myself to just take it one step at a time, one set at a time, and that if my body was telling me today was not the day for this then I would stop. Track workouts are quality workouts – if the quality wasn’t going to be there then I wasn’t meeting the purpose of the workout. I would move it to another day if I had to.
The workout was planned as follows:
2 miles warm up
1×1600 (optional, depending on how I was feeling)
2 miles cool down
This is 8 miles total and 4 of them pretty major work. I warmed up with my buddy Chris and was glad for the 2 whole miles of easy running. I’m not kidding when I say I felt like I was still sleeping at least through the first mile!
But I had to get it done. The second warm up mile woke me up and I was ready to go.
We started our watches for the first 1600 (1 mile – 4 laps around the track). I glanced at my watch and noticed it hadn’t started. Ugh. I felt strong as I ran though and finished a little bit ahead of Chris (he thinks about 10 seconds) and he completed his mile in 6:39, so I am going with somewhere around 6:30 for my time. My target is somewhere between 6:34-6:46, so I was happy with it no matter what.
I reset my watch during the 2-3 minute recovery time and then was ready to get at it again. I had two 800s next. An 800 is a half mile or two laps around the track. It’s amazing how quick this feels after doing a 1600. 4 laps is a long way to go when you are running fast!
2×800 (target – 3:04-3:12)
I nailed them and felt really good about it. Only 4 more 400s and I *could* be done and ready to cool down after that – if I wanted to and if it was the right thing for me. I told myself not to think about that optional 1600 at the tail end. Just be in the moment I am in — right here, right now.
4×400 (target – 1:28-1:33)
I had put in a solid three miles of work at this point and was hitting my paces. Almost everyone at the track (and there were a lot of people at the track that morning!) was done – either totally wrapped up or doing their cool down. Even Chris decided he wasn’t going to do the optional 1600. It was so tempting to call it a day at that point, but my reasons were not convincing enough to me. I felt strong. My times were solid and consistent. I wasn’t dealing with an injury or feelings of burnout. I had it in me. At least to try.
I set my watch and started running the the first of my last 4 laps of speed work. This was seriously hard. I listened to my footsteps and my breath as I ran around and around and around. I didn’t look at my watch, not even one time. Instead, I dialed into my effort and listened to my body, focused on the work I was doing. I wanted it to be over, but tried not to entertain those thoughts to much. This was just as hard mentally as it was physically.
When I completed the mile, I looked at my watch. I had done it in 6:21. A big and grateful smile swept across my face and I was relieved — SO happy to be done. So pleased that I finished strong and that my last mile was faster than my first. I had a two mile cool down and was amazed at how easy the slower pace felt. I had earned my rest day. Yesterday I took the day off and I am realizing how much I love my rest day. No more rest day grumpiness around here – I am quickly learning to embrace it!
This morning when we set out for 8 miles my legs felt fresh. I know the hard work at the track is going to pay off. As long as I keep running smart and recovering properly, I am going to see the benefits from this type of training. The workouts are getting longer and more intimidating as the cycle progresses, but I just have to remember that I am training for this – that I am strong enough to tackle what’s laid out ahead of me and that it is going to be worth it.
What are your favorite track workouts to do during marathon training? Do you think speed work helps you with your marathon performance? I think track workouts build my mental toughness as much as they make me physically stronger – do you agree?