JC Marathon Training Week 4: A Little Taste of Winter Misery

Spring marathons are made in the winter, as they say.

So far, winter has been pretty mild here in New Jersey. There have been a few cold days, and a little snow, but a lot of mild to warm days. This week, though, it was back to winter, and I got another little taste of winter misery.

I just wrapped up the fourth week of my training for the Jersey City Marathon (more about the big picture here). This was a tough week, with peak mileage and some hard workouts, but I made it through and feel good now that it’s over.

After my easy run this morning, I plopped down on the couch to watch the Olympic team trials marathon on Peacock. Seems like a good time to write up a quick reflection on the week’s training.

For a more detailed look at the runs, here’s my Strava profile.

The Plan for Week 4

This week called for 80 miles.

After spending a few weeks at 70 miles before starting the plan, the first three weeks were 70, 75, and 78.

Here’s the daily plan:

  • Sunday: 18 mile long run
  • Monday: 8 miles easy
  • Tuesday: AM 10 mile R workout, PM 5 miles easy
  • Wednesday: AM 6 miles easy, PM 5 miles easy
  • Thursday: 8 miles easy
  • Friday: 12 miles T workout
  • Saturday: 8 miles easy

And here’s how it went.

Sunday Long Run

As always, I started the week off right with a long run. This is the second 18 miler of this training block.

I had nothing else on my agenda for Sunday, so I slept in a little and had a second cup off coffee before heading out. I hit the road at 10am, did a couple loops around the Orange Reservoir, went out and back to Verona Park, and finished up with a final loop at the Reservoir.

Things felt pretty good at the beginning. My warm up miles were in the low 9:00’s, and then the pace drifted down to the low 8:00’s by the halfway point. In the last for miles, though, I was starting to feel a little tired. I backed off the pace and finished up around 8:30 to 8:40 for those last four miles.

I was tired coming out of the previous week, so I wasn’t trying to push the pace. Overall, with a brief pit stop, I ran 8:37/mi and finished the 18 miles in 2:35:03. I’m happy with that for an easy long run.

Monday Recovery

Monday was an uneventful recovery day. I ran 8 miles around the Orange Reservoir.

It’s been rainy here lately, so I’ve been avoiding the trails. But I’m hoping that the weather improves so I can hit them up next week for a few of my easy runs.

I wasn’t worried about the pace, and I averaged 9:05 (1:12:40 for 8 miles). I ran 10x strides in the last few miles. These were slower than normal, but I wanted to loosen up a bit for my workout on Tuesday.

Tuesday R Workout

Tuesday was the last of my R workouts in the plan. If you’re unfamiliar with Jack Daniels, you can read more about his approach here. But basically R workouts are fast, short intervals.

Earlier workouts included some shorter, 200m intervals. For this one, I planned to hit 12x400m with a full recovery in between. The target pace was around 5:40/mi or 85s per 400m.

I was a little tired, so I woke up late. Instead of driving to the track, which would add an extra hour to my morning, I converted the workout to time-based intervals and went to the Orange Reservoir. Instead of running 400m, I programmed 80s intervals into my Garmin.

The first two reps were a little fast (~5:25-5:30/mi). The next seven were on target (~5:40-5:45/mi). I fell off a little bit in reps 10 and 11 (5:50/mi, 5:59/mi). But I pushed the effort on the last one and did a little better (5:48/mi).

It’s a big workout, and I felt pretty good throughout. Although I lost the pace a little at the end, I wasn’t feeling that worn down and beat up. In the past, I’ve had to walk the beginning of the recoveries after a few reps, but I was able to jog straight through each recovery.

I’ll chalk it up as a successful workout.

Tuesday night, I ran an easy 5 mile double on the treadmill. I had originally planned this for Monday, but I had to shuffle up my schedule a bit. It was easy, slow, and simple.

Wednesday Recovery Day

Wednesday was an easy day scheduled following Tuesday’s workout. And boy, did I need it.

I went out Wednesday morning, and I could tell that I was slow and tired. I just took it easy for six miles, and I didn’t look at my watch until I was done. It was a recovery run, so the pace didn’t really matter.

I ended up averaging 9:50/mi. That’s probably the slowest I’ve run in a long time. But a good reminder to take your hard days hard and your easy days easy. This was supposed to be an easy day, so nothing wrong with taking it extra slow.

I went to work, came home, took a nap, and hit the treadmill for my evening double. Again, it was slow and easy. But I felt a little better than in the morning.

Overall, I felt pretty drained on Wednesday. The mileage and workouts were catching up to me, and I was beginning to wonder if I’d finish out the week successfully.

Thursday Easy Day

Thursday was another easy day – 8 miles around the Reservoir.

I saw a bald eagle circling around the Reservoir, so that was cool.

Otherwise, this was an uneventful run. I started out a little stiff, but it quickly improved. Overall pace was 9:06/mi – slower than usual, but much faster than Wednesday.

I did 10x strides towards the end to loosen up for my Friday workout. Most of the strides were a little slow, but a few of them hit my typical pace.

Friday T Workout

Friday was the second workout for the week. I planned a total of 40 minutes of T-paced cruise intervals – 2×5 (1 minute recoveries) followed by 3×10 (2 minute recoveries). The target pace was 6:30/mi, give or take a few seconds.

Frankly, I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. I was pretty beat up earlier in the week, and I wasn’t sure I was ready for a strong workout. The weather was crumby – in the high 30’s with a mix of mist and rain. The precipitation wasn’t that bad in the beginning, but there was a steady light rain by the end and I was soaked.

I briefly considered bailing on the workout, but I decided to take it one interval at a time. If I bombed a rep, I’d stop early.

The first two went great – 6:31/mi and 6:25/mi. Right on pace.

For the next three reps, I came through the mile split at right around 6:30/mi. With the first two reps, I lost the pace a little bit in the file few minutes. But I still averaged 6:33/mi and 6:35/mi.

On the last rep, I was determined to push the pace and hold on. After splitting 6:30 for the mile, I picked up the pace a little bit. My watch showed a 6:25 to 6:20 pace at the end, and I averaged 6:28/mi.

Despite being tired and despite the wintery misery, it ended up being a great workout. Not 100% perfect – with the slow pace at the end of a couple reps – but overall, it was a success.

Saturday Easy Day

That left one more easy day to round out the week.

I went back to the Reservoir and ran 4 loops to make up just over 7 miles. I had actually done 12.6 miles in my workout Friday, so I rounded Saturday down to 7.4 miles.

The first mile was slow, and I expected to be tired at the tail end of this week and after the previous day’s workout. But I loosened up quickly, and I was surprised when I looked down at my watch to see that I ran mile 7 in 8:05.

Without intentionally pushing the pace or looking at my watch, miles three to six had improved from 8:52 down to 8:30.

It’s an easy day, so pace isn’t the focus. But the fact that I naturally sped up this much is a good sign that I made it through a tough week and came out the other side stronger.

What’s On the Horizon?

Next Saturday, I’m running a 10 mile race – the Super Saturday 10 Miler.

This is one of two tune up races leading up to the Jersey City Marathon. I’m planning to target an overall pace of 6:30-6:35 (1:05 to 1:06 finish time).

If that goes well, I’ll be a little more aggressive in my next tune up race – a 15k in mid March.

So I’m going to take it easy this week leading into the race. I’ll put in some easy miles and do a shortened threshold workout mid-week to dial in the pace.

Check back next week to see how the race went.

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