(I guess I should have run another mile)
And, I'm into the rhythm of marathon training. Which I really like. Long runs are my favorite workout by far, and I also enjoy racking up easy mileage (as odd as that seems).
Plus, we did my favorite track workout on Tuesday - a pyramid of 400, 800,v1200, an optional 1600, and then back down with 1200, 800, 400. The fact that each interval is a different length makes it easier to mentally break up the workout, and it's also a good way to make sure that you get a full four miles worth of intervals in. If you're doing 6-8x600, the decision point really comes after rep six, and a lot of times it's just easier to shut down the workout then, especially if your teammates are as well. But when doing the pyramid, the decision point comes earlier in the workout, when you decide whether or not to do the 1600. Once you've done that, each interval is a bit shorter, and so it's easier to just complete the whole thing.
Friday's workout was long intervals on the track - 3200m, 800m recovery, and then 1600m. Since I was only doing 3200, I decided to hang with a group of slightly faster people for the first 2 miles of their 4-5 mile tempo. The first lap felt a bit slow even by my standards, but I didn't want to push stuff or pass them - after all, they were a) faster than me and b) had a longer distance to cover.
And then my coach called out our 400m split - 7:20 pace. That was "leisurely" according to my coach, and slower than marathon pace for me, never mind everyone else in the group. And everyone woke up. :) And I hung on for the next seven laps at somewhere between 6:15 and 6:20 pace - possibly one of my more painful workouts, though I can laugh about it now. It was good practice in gutting it out.
Sunday, I had another of my coach's 4-3-2-1 workouts on tap - segments of 4, 3, 2, and 1 mile at marathon pace, each separated by one mile easy. I normally do these on a flat segment of pavement, but this weekend that route was blocked by construction, forcing all of us doing this workout to use the C&O Canal Towpath instead.
Some people (mostly those with histories of stress fractures) love the towpath. Others can't stand it because it's boring. For myself, I don't mind the boredom factor (still beats the track), but too many miles on the soft, occasionally unstable, sometimes rocky surface make my joints hurt and aggravate the various chronic injuries I try to keep at bay. Plus, I've tripped and fallen on the towpath enough times to be leery. Despite all that, it was our best option, so I sucked it up, running with cash in my pocket so that I could bail out at Carderock and call a cab if things started to hurt too much.
The workout itself went well. The first four miles were pretty rough - there's gentle but steady elevation gain over the first four miles (a false flat), with the occasional short sharper hill at each lock that's just enough to screw up one's rhythm. After that, we got to turn around and run back, benefiting from the slight downhill. Overall, it was a hard workout, and I was glad to get it done. My hips and feet did hurt intermittently during the workout, and I was pretty sore right after. Some gentle stretching and a solid night's sleep helped a lot, though, so hopefully no longer term damage.
Despite the heat and the slightly slower towpath surface, the pace of this workout ended up being the same speed as my previous 4-3-2-1s. Not sure what to think about that. On the one hand, this is supposed to be a "marathon pace" workout, and 6:50-7:00 is not a realistic marathon pace for me right now (and also feels way too hard for marathon pace). 7:10-7:15 is closer to my actual current abilities, and I'm certainly not targeting a sub-3 marathon this go-round. On the other hand, when I discuss with my coach, he's fine with the pace I'm running, and tells me not to overthink it. And I am definitely prone to overthinking. So I guess I'll just not worry about it, and continue to run this workout at somewhere between marathon and half-marathon pace, until my coach tells me to slow down.