April is here! Wow, how the time has flown. We’re now a less than two months away from our return home. Each week it seems a little closer, but I don’t believe it will really hit me until we land in Louisville on May 29th. The return to the US approaching also means Grandma’s Marathon is inching closer and closer each day as well. Training the past two weeks has gone well and I’m feeling fit. Not just feeling fit, but actually producing some workouts that prove it as well.
Monday, March 20th – Ran a 3000m (200m short of two miles) time trial in 8:48. I was a not pleased with this run. In January I tied my 1500m personal best (PB) and was hoping to be somewhere near my PB in this time trial as well. I assumed I’d have help from my training partners, but 400 meters in it became clear this was going to be a solo effort. Hit the mile in around 4:36 and slowed from there. Left this run scratching my head and wondering what was going on, I know I’m in better shape than that. I returned to the track in the afternoon to run out some of my frustration with 8x200m with three minutes rest. They were all between 29-30 seconds and I felt like I’d rounded out the day nicely. Total for the day was 17.31 miles.
Tuesday, March 21st – Recovery day. I was sore from the time trial and the 200s. Ran a very easy 10 miles in the morning and went for a massage in the afternoon. Louise, my sports massage therapist, did a great job both working out my sore muscles, but also reminding me that running PB pace in the middle of high training volume is pretty hard to do. Left feeling a little better about the time trial. Total: 10 miles
Wednesday, March 22nd – Redemption! 50 minute tempo effort today at the Air Wing, a much flatter stretch of land than in city center. Francis looked to get some revenge from the time trial and took us out hard. Ended up running 9.43 miles, that’s 5:18/mile, the fastest long tempo I’ve run since moving to Malawi and 5 seconds/mile faster than my quickest tempo this training block. Afterwards we drove to Francis’ sister-in-law’s house and had boiled corn on the cob and coke, recovery fuel of champions. Slow afternoon run to get up to 18 miles for the day.
Thursday, March 23rd – Easy doubles today. Morning run of 13.4 miles followed up with an afternoon run of 4.6 miles to get in another 18 mile day.
Friday, March 24th – One final quality session for the week with a Fartlek run. Reps were 4,3,2 with 2 minutes rest on everything. Did that three times and got in 7 miles. Ran on the hilly dirt roads behind the track. Francis was pushing pretty hard early, but I stayed with him on the last set and even kicked hard on the last two minutes to give him a challenge. When I start catching them at the end of workouts I know my fitness is coming around. With warm up, cool down, and a short afternoon run ended up with 18 miles for the day.
Saturday, March 25th – Long run day. 20 miles in 2:23:15, that’s 7:09/mile. Toughest long run yet. Just really beat up from this week’s training. Was planning to increase mileage next week, but may hang out around 100-105 again and let the body adjust.
Sunday, March 26th – Rest Day. No Running.
Week Total: 101.42 miles. Another week of 100 or more miles in 6 days. It’s been a solid 5 weeks and I hope to add a few more before coming down the the half marathon I’m racing in Lusaka, Zambia at the end of April.
Monday, March 27th – Relaxed doubles today. 11 Miles in the morning, 6 in the afternoon for 17 total for the day. Decided to go with another week around 100-105, just need the body to stay healthy so I can keep training. I’ll get through this week and then decide which way to go on volume.
Tuesday, March 28th – Strength running today. The Malawian Army cross country course is made up of a 2 kilometer loop that involves the highest and lowest points in our training venue. So each loop is a lot of downhill and uphill, the only question is do you want to run up the shorter, steeper hill or the longer, more gradual hill. We opted for the shorter, steeper hill on our 2k repeats today. The workout was reps of 2k,2k,1k,2k,2k,1k,2k,1k. We ran on 8:30 goes, so every 8:30 we started the next rep. The goal was to run a solid effort on the 2k loops, then come to the track and run a hard 1k. The course was a little muddy so we had to play with the route a little making the 2k more like 1.31 miles instead of the rough 1.25 miles that a 2k is. The 2k’s reps went well, each one hurt a little more than the one before it and each got a little slower as well, something I hate doing in a workout, but the 1k’s on the track were the redeeming quality of this workout. On the first one we split 2:56, the second was 2:58, and the last one was a 2:49, the fastest K I’ve run in quite some time. Left the track feeling pretty good about this one. Long warm up and cool down got me to 16.3 miles for the morning so I took the afternoon off.
Wednesday, March 29th – Easy double. Morning 11, afternoon 6. Legs were a little beat up from the hills yesterday, but nothing a day of easy running won’t fix.
Thursday, March 30th – Today’s workout is all about marathon pacing. 10x1600m at marathon goal pace. The Olympic Trials “A” Standard is 2:15:00, which is 5:09 per mile. Today’s plan was to shoot for 5:10 per mile, giving myself a second for altitude adjustment, Lilongwe sits at 3600ft above sea level. Rest on these was short, usually 1:15-1:20 per rep. Got off to a rough start when I caught my toe on a rock during the warm up and went down hard. No time to react, I just fell straight down taking the worst of it on the left side of my body. Left knee, right knee, left elbow and shoulder were all bleeding, but I jumped up and kept running, not wanting to get stiff. The blood had congealed by the time we lined up for the first rep and off we went, a little stiff, but nothing 40 laps around a track wouldn’t fix. Felt smooth and relaxed the whole way and was shocked how easy this pace felt. Splits for the workout were: 5:14,5:13,5:13,5:06,5:04,5:09,5:06,5:05,5:06,4:43. Let loose on the last rep because just to end on a high note, but I feel like I could have run 5:05 for a least another 3 reps with no real issue. Recovery was good, and the only thing I noticed when I dropped the 4:43 on the end was that my legs were stiff, not tired. Average pace was 5:08/mile. Long workout with warm up and cool down netted me 17.66 miles. No afternoon run.
Friday, March 31st – WOW! What is going on today, I felt so fresh on the run. 11 miles at 6:42 pace the day after 10x1600m? That never happens. Actually that’s not true, I’ve been feeling fresh after my tempos for the past few weeks, I was just surprised to feel so fresh after this one. Afternoon run of 4 miles in a rainstorm. Total for the day: 15.
Saturday, April 1st – Another Saturday, another long run. 22 miles in 2:35:39, 7:04/mile. Tested out the Sword Endurance Drink mix for the first time on a long run today. Wore my hydration pack with two 9oz bottles. Mixed the stuff a little under double strength. I hate running with a pack, but I needed to test this stuff out over the course of a long run to see how it sits in my stomach and how my energy levels feel while consuming it. My conclusion? The stuff seems to be working. My stomach was fine, no issues. Taste was good, though I’ll have to grab some water from time to time as my mouth got sticky and a little dry. I was drinking around 2-3oz every 3 miles. Legs had the usual end of a long run soreness, but energy levels never crashed, which is a good sign. Also found that I never had my later in the day crash like I usually do after a long run. I can continue to beat my legs into the ground to prepare them for the marathon, but if I run out of energy I’m toast. So a little more practice and figuring out the exact ratio I want seems to be the next step. So far, so good.
Sunday, April 2nd – Rest Day. No Running.
Week Total: 105.2 miles. Another solid week. Felt very good all week, not the tired, beat up feeling that I suffered last week. Looks like I’m set to bump the mileage up again and see how the body responds.
One final note. I did some digging through my training logs and it appears March, 2017 was my highest mileage month…EVER. I ran a total of 448 miles in those 31 days, actually 27 days, I took 4 days off. On one hand I’m elated! Setting a new record is always cool. On the other hand, I have to ask myself what have I been doing the last few years that this would be my highest month ever? Anyway, can’t live in the past, got too much riding on the future. Solid start to my marathon training is how I’ll look at it, not just solid, my best start yet. Perhaps that will translate into my best marathon yet. I guess we’ll see in June.