The Big Training Shuffle

Something wonderful happens when you start training for a race. Any race really, but especially the marathon. It’s a tough road to travel indefinitely, but a few months here and a few months there . . . there’s nothing like it.   

Every run has a purpose. There are short recovery runs and middle-distance runs at pace. Some runs are designed to improve the fast-twitch muscles that make us run ever faster while others train our bodies to go the distance. . . and I would stand on my head if it meant I would never miss a solitary run ever.

When there’s a hike on Wednesday, the first medium-long run is moved to Thursday, which moves the second short run to Friday (instead of a rest day which was moved to Monday) followed by housework, unless Kung Fu wasn’t on Tuesday, then it’s off to Kung Fu Friday afternoon followed by a nap. Saturday is the second medium-long run of the week, which at week 14 is 10 miles with the second 20-mile run on Sunday, except in this semester because our backpacking trip starts on Friday with 21 miles of hiking, which moved the second 20-mile run to earlier in the week so the taper can begin next Monday.
The Fartlek  (April 10, 2014)

Despite my valiant efforts, life happens and sometimes my running calendar suffers the blow.

Week 3 of this season’s marathon training coincided with Week 1 of this year’s relocation schedule. Every item under the roof of our lovely, old home was destined to be evaluated & eliminated, or packed & moved. Little time was left for running, and two runs were missed.

They say where you are in your training program determines whether runs should be made up, or skipped. I can honestly say I don’t ever remember making up a run, although a fair amount of thought goes into how to shuffle runs to different days, and which run(s) are forfeited when all else fails.

Hal Higdon defines 7 stages of the marathon cycle:

  1. Rest: an extended period of active rest after a marathon, 3-6 weeks, before training hard again.
  2. Endurance I: miles, and lots of them.
  3. Strength: to run fast, you need strong muscles. Run hills, interval training on the track but with reduced overall mileage.
  4. Speed: test yourself with shorter races during a time when you are not increasing mileage. Strength and Speed may overlap.
  5. Endurance II: the final mileage buildup – we know this as the 18-week marathon training program.
  6. Taper: you can’t achieve peak performance unless you are well rested.
  7. The marathon: run your fastest; then Periodize your training again.

Even though I am already in Stage 5 of this marathon cycle, there have been lots of hills and fast repeats at the track. Once each week I run up the mountain and back down for the benefit of building strength, and hopefully expanding aerobic capacity.

The goal has been to maintain a slow enough pace uphill to keep the effort aerobic vs anaerobic, and to maintain a steady, even pace going downhill. I have read it is important to learn how to guage and control the downhill pace to avoid muscle fatigue and be successful in a predominantly downhill race, such as my scheduled Peak To Creek Marathon this October.

Snapshots of this season’s hill training:

For the long run at the end of Week 2, I made the decision to run towards town first because it gets hot without the benefit of shade, and traffic picks up as the morning grows late. This left a roughly 5-mile climb up the mountain, which was not ideal except that it was quiet, shady, and the downhill finish was highly appealing.  
This out-and-back, 3-mile route follows a portion of the same road up the mountain as the 11-mile run from above.  The route has a total ascent of 290.38 ft and a maximum elevation of 2,592 ft. 


Once in awhile I’ll walk to the end of our road to begin the 3-mile route shown above, and walk back up our road again at the end of the run – roughly 6 miles total. I won’t lie, this is a tough workout.


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