Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Solo Progression Run

2 mile w/u
Target: 12 mile progression: 3@ 6:30, 3@ 6:15, 3@6:00, 3@ faster
Actual: ~3@ 19:10; ~2.5 @15:03; ~2.5@ 14:26; ~3@ 17:30; bonus fast finish to the stoplight at the top of the hill by Salem State @3:38
1.5 mile c/d
Total: 15 miles

I considered doing this workout yesterday evening since Emily made plans to come up to Salem and run with me for a change of scenery. However, in general I prefer working out (especially marathon workouts) in the morning, so by Tuesday afternoon I was already hoping that she would agree to a more relaxed social run instead. Fortunately she was on the same page (no doubt running a whopping 28 miles on Monday played into her decision-making process) so we enjoyed a fun 13-mile frolic through the Marblehead rail trail, around the Neck and back. Though this run was at least twice as far as I usually go on my typical evening double, it was totally worth it for the company and the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the Atlantic.

In contrast, Wednesday morning dawned gray and dreary and decidedly solo. With Jordan's hip bugging him, my one chance of having a weekday morning workout buddy had instantly evaporated. As I trotted down toward the trail, retracing in reverse the return trip Emily and I had taken a mere 12 hours prior, I knew this lengthy progression run would be just as much a test of mental fortitude as it would be physical strength. Fortunately/unfortunately, with no Garmin and no specific mile or distance markers the endeavor would be largely effort-based. I decided to mentally and physically break up the route into four separate segments: the largely unpaved and slightly downhill section from the trailhead to the Neck, two paved and rolling loops of the Neck itself (minus the "lollipop" add-on to the lighthouse that Emily and I had tacked on the previous evening) and then the return trip, now slightly uphill and into the wind, from the Neck back to the termination of the trail. Normally that would also signal the end of the hard effort, but Jordan had also instructed me to run the next half-mile uphill section from the end of the trail to the next major street crossing hard. "Like, really really hard." If I had anything left, that is.

Based on feel, I might have gone out slightly too fast. 6:30 is sort of an ambiguous pace for my legs, one that sounds like it should be difficult but usually ends up feeling quite easy. As a result, in situations like this when I don't have any feedback on the pace, it usually means I end up running faster than prescribed. I didn't necessarily mind since my legs were feeling pretty good, but at the same time in the back of my head I knew that the faster I ran on the way out, the faster I would be required to run on the return trip. Nonetheless, I reached the Neck eager to pick up the pace and increase my level of effort. Thanks to its constantly rolling terrain, that happened quickly enough. Again, I maintained control knowing I was expected to run the second loop faster despite the accumulated fatigue. With only a general knowledge of distance and pace any time goals were somewhat arbitrary, but I set a target on the second loop of finishing at least 30 seconds faster than the first loop of 15:03. Satisfied to see a 14:26 split on the watch, I knew the toughest running was yet to come. Not only would I be headed into a headwind across the causeway, but I would also be running gradually uphill for the majority of the return trip. It would've been easy to get discouraged as my comfort zone quickly evaporated, but the minutes ticked by quicker than expected and I held on to finish strong all the way to the top of the hill.

To be honest, this wasn't nearly as bad (or as boring) as I'd anticipated. Mentally breaking the workout up into four sections made the time fly, and not feeling pressure to hit exact splits allowed me to lose myself completely in the effort. As my marathon training progresses, I look forward to revisiting this workout and seeing some tangible improvements. 


Caitlin Chrisman said...

wow!!! stellar workouT MEAGAN!!! miss you!