This week was 61 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running, and 2500 yards of swimming -- training log is here.
I'm pretty happy with where my fitness appears to be, based on my workouts this week - Tuesday's workout felt very restrained (well, until the last 800, when I let myself have fun). And Friday's tempo showed that last week's tempo wasn't a fluke.
As I noted a few weeks ago, I had asked my coach if we could downplay the marathon pace work this cycle in favor of more 4 and 5 mile tempos (done at 10 mile or half marathon pace, respectively). My thinking here was that:
a) I've done an immense amount of marathon pace work in the recent past, so it was good to take a break from that and
b) I've historically responded best to work between 10 mile and half-marathon pace - the tempo work that gets reduced or eliminated during half and full marathon training cycles in favor of marathon pace work combined with very short and fast tempos and cruise intervals.
Based on how I'm feeling, I'm really happy we tried this. Of course, the ultimate proof will be in how my races go this spring, but all indications are that I'm running really well right now. I'm responding to the 4 mile tempos at 10 mile race pace pretty much how I'd hoped I would. I haven't gotten to do any 5+ mile tempos at half marathon pace yet, but hopefully those will come soon - the best I ever ran was when I was consistently alternating between slightly faster four mile and slightly slower five mile tempos.
It's also worth noting that I've mixed up my strength-training some this year. Specifically, I've added heavy weight split squats into my 2-3 day-a-week leg strength routine, as a substitution for traditional barbell squats. I do the split squats in a power cage with a barbell loaded at between 60 and 80% of my body weight. I do them in three different ways - as lunges forward, lunges backwards, and Bulgarian style (with the rear foot on a bench)
I swapped to split squats back at the beginning of the year because I wanted to work on single leg stability more. (Single leg stability has historically been my weakness, and the source of nearly all my running injuries.) I already regularly do weighted step-ups and single leg deadlifts, plus daily balance board work, but split squats require the core and glutes to work together in a way that's very similar to running, so there's a good deal of transfer. Additionally, I find that split squats target the glutes more and the quads less, as opposed to traditional squats. Good news for me, since I tend to be quad dominant.
In the past few weeks, I've noted a great deal of oomph in my stride, and I think it's the direct product of the split squats. Stronger, more powerful glutes yield a stronger, more powerful stride.
Of course, as is the case for all runner-focused strength-training, the trick is to find the balance where you're doing enough to improve your running, but not so much that you compromise your running or your recovery. For me, that's 2-3 sets of 6-8 squats, done right after a track workout, so I have as much time to recover as possible.
It's also worth noting here that, though I feel I'm getting a lot of benefit from my work in the gym, it's not for every runner. My personal philosophy is that if you are a young, male, historically injury-free runner, your time is best spent running more. But the further you get from that point, the more important supplemental strength training (with heavy weights for power - not the light weight/high rep stuff that bodybuilders do to gain mass) becomes. For myself, as a female masters runner with a long injury history, this gym stuff is essential.
Monday: In the morning, yoga and 6 "miles" pool-running. Foam rolling at night.
Tuesday: In the morning, 11.5 miles including a workout of 2x(1600, 800) in 6:09, 2:58, 6:04, 2:48. Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam roller at night.
Wednesday: In the morning, 7.5 miles (8:51) to yoga, yoga, and then another 4.5 miles (8:43), followed by drills. Sports massage at night.
Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights/core and 8.5 "miles" pool-running. Foam rolling at night.
Friday: In the morning, 11.5 miles including a 4 mile tempo in 25:50 (6:36/6:31/6:26/6:18). Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in the afternoon.
Saturday: In the morning, 10 miles very easy (8:56) with drills and strides. Late that morning I did upper body weights plus core and injury prevention work. Foam rolling in the evening.
Sunday: In the morning, 16 miles progressive, split as first 5 at 9:02, next 5 at 7:46, last 6 at 7:03. Followed with 1.5 "miles" pool-running and 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling in the evening.