Best 2.5 Weeks of Training - Ever?!?

This has been a surreal 2.5 weeks.  It started with my first 100+ mile week of the training cycle (2nd ever) where I nailed my workouts and started feeling stronger and more efficient than ever.  I told myself to enjoy it - I know that weeks like this come once every 4 or 5 weeks.

Except it's continued - through another 100+ mile week and into the first half of this week.  I'll recap:

Week 14 before NYC:
2 workouts:
#1:10x800m with equal rest (Yasso workout)
#2: Half Marathon where I was to do 4 miles at MP, 1 at T, 4 @ MP, 1 @ tempo, finishing up at MP (total of 21 miles)
3 doubles
= Total of 103 miles

I attempted the 800s Tuesday morning before work.  I had 4 brave souls meet me at the track (Nate, Craig, Brian (who I hadn't run with before), and Tom).  How cool!!  I've always botched this workout - either not hitting my times, having stomach issues and having to run to the bathroom several times (thank you, excessive heat at Warmerdam track), or just plain falling apart on extremely fatigue legs.  So, I was just praying to finish on Tuesday.
Except -- I absolutely nailed the workout!! I had a slower first repeat (2:43), but then all of my subsequent reps were at 2:40 or below (2:38 once, even!).  At half way I was brave enough to tell the guys that I wondered if I should be pushing harder - this seemed too easy (comparing it to the last times I've done it when they've felt like VO2 max intervals).  They said to wait, that I haven't ever done the entire workout at 2:40 so just to stick to that.  They're right, I told myself, don't be too confident.  This is a bear of a workout with little rest.  I'll likely fall apart at rep 7 or 8.  Save it, Nichole.
Except I continued to cruise, feeling fluid, strong, and efficient.  The last two were harder, but not in a VO2 max sort of way - more like a "end of a longer threshold workout" type of feeling (note: not "end of a tempo" - for me there's a difference).  I finished the last one with a huge smile on my face.  I told the guys that I was super excited to email Jerry with my times.
Average was 2:40.1 when I included the first one, 2:39.something when I excluded it.  I'm SUPER pumped with times like that [read about the Yasso workout online, it's supposed to be a good predictor of where your marathon finish time is]

Saturday I hopped into the Minnesota half marathon to help me get a hard long run done.  I finished in 1:19.51, 1st overall for women and 5th overall.  I felt good, considering I was nearing the end of a 205+ mile 2 week total, but the one thing I noticed was my inability to make noticeable moves in pace during the race.  I am very good at "cruising", but very bad at putting the hurt on at random points during a workout/race.  Is this something I should be worried about and specifically work on?  Right now it's not high on the priority list (SO many other things I'm working on!), unless you can convince me otherwise :)  I'm excited that this time is a new "best" for me (I haven't raced a half marathon in a long time) - faster than my last MP workout done before Grandma's.  It's super encouraging to be running times like this so early in the cycle.

Sunday was the end of the second 100+ mile week with a total of 15 miles.  I ran with Mesa (love the company!), exploring a newer loop around Northfield.  I knew early on that my legs felt good - TOO good for having just done a long/hard workout the day before and stringing my two biggest mileage weeks back to back (it's one thing to do one 100+ mile week - but to string two back to back is another feat, I think (the only other time I hit 103/week I took a day off right afterwards)).  I went with it, cruising up hills (and thinking to myself – am I just getting better at hills?  Since I’m pretty sure the hill inclines haven’t changed?), and just enjoying the morning and quick feeling stride.  Ahhh, gotta love the random runs where you’re feeling good!!!

On to this week, as long as I'm writing a super long blog.  This week is a (VERY) down week at just 80 miles.  Crazy to say that.  As I looked at my plan for the week, I was a little stressed.  No doubles of 15 miles? And I have a day off?  I actually found myself dreading the down week and looking forward to the following week (which happens to be 115… my highest ever).  I’m an addict.  I don’t know how this happened… but I am.  

Anyway, Tuesday of this “down week” (today) marked another hard workout, done early before work.  I was sure my legs were going to feel like they typically do after logging a lot of mileage (since the daily average so far hasn’t really changed yet, so I haven’t benefited from the reduction to 80/week yet).  But from the start of the first repeat, I knew that although they were a little tired that I was going to be able to log some good times.  Craig and I cruised through six 1 mile tempo intervals (1 min rest): 5:47, 5:42, 5:44, 5:41, 5:44, 5:26 (was the watch not working???).  I was mentally “in” the workout the entire time, trying to close the ~3 second gap between Craig and I each time.  A couple of times I came close to him mid-interval, but could never hold it.  Can’t tell you how much I LOVE doing these with someone just faster than me.  Super motivating.  I sort of wonder if he just places himself there, though, since he’s always JUST ahead… is he just improving at exactly the same rate as I am??  I’ll take it, whatever the circumstances.

So – another workout NAILED.  Wow.  I am so excited!!!  This has been a completely surreal 2.5 weeks.  I remind myself daily that I’m in a good place.  I’m pushing my limits, but have not hit “the line”.  I’m feeling good, strong, and FAST (faster than ever before?), and I need to keep myself in that sweet spot.  There’s a fine line between being here and extending yourself too far, and then having to dig yourself back out again (i.e. the month before Grandma’s where I just couldn’t get my legs back).

I still need to catch up on so much!  I've found the help from Donna on nutrition SOOO helpful, and have easily lost 2 pounds already (those pesky two that I ALWAYS gain right after a marathon and have the HARDEST time starting to lose - they just came off!).  More to come on that.  Also more to come on my adventures with Jenny at Pivotal Point where she's encouraged me to try acupuncture.  Plus, a couple of very fun, nutritious recipes with delicious fresh food from Just Food.  Oh... where is a weekend when you need it?? :)  Updates to come!!

Nichole Porath

Nichole is a blogger, elite level runner, and coach. She ran professionally for Brooks for two years after qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials. During that time she founded TNC endurance, where she coaches and motivationally speaks to organizations large and small. This blog details her rise to national-level racing, and continues to follow her as she gets back into racing after starting a family. Read on, friends!

6 comments:

  1. Awesome work! I ran my first 80-mile week last week and am now going for 90 this week. :) I'm interested to hear more about your nutrition because I'm looking to lose a few pounds.

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  2. Just plain....WOW. Very nice work!! Love reading about your training.

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  3. Great job girly!!! You are in SUPERB shape and you will only continue to improve for NYC. I am SUPER excited for you! Watch out NYC!!!

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  4. sounds like your training is going awesome! great to hear!

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  5. Yassos are a funny workout. If you're well trained they do feel easy, because the hard part is too short or the recoveries too long.

    If you look at Jack Daniels' VO2 max workouts they tend to be at the same pace as Yassos but about 50% longer for the same recovery. So a Daniels workout would probably be 1200 in 4 minutes (same pace as your 800s) with a 2:40-3:00 minute recovery.

    It's not like Yassos are a waste of time, you're accumulating 5 miles substantially faster than marathon pace. Having it feel easy is probably good as a running economy workout. But they're not ideal as a VO2 max workout.

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  6. Thanks everyone!! Evan, thanks for the insights on Yasso's - you're right, they're interesting in that they're in between a VO2 max and a MP workout in terms of effort, but it's hard to place where on the spectrum. I'm generally a fan of very specific zones/purposes for workouts, and hadn't really thought of that before... what is the exact purpose of these? To just put fast miles on the legs? Is it a threshold type of workout? Jerry wrote just one of these into the plan (he's written out until mid-October). It'll be interesting to see if he writes another?

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