JC Marathon Training Week 8: Dealing with Winter and Wind

After a week away in Florida last week, I’m back to running at home in New Jersey. Although I thought winter was just about over, it returned for a few last cold days this week.

I made it through, and hopefully cold weather running is behind me for this year.

This was also the first of three peak weeks in the second phase of my training cycle. I made it through pretty well, and I’m looking forward to tackling an even tougher week next week.

Here’s a quick recap of how things went.

The Plan for Week 8

The last few weeks I’ve run a base level of 70 miles per week. First, I was easing up before the Super Saturday 10 Miler. Then, I was recovering from the race. And last week, I was on vacation.

Now that I’m home, I could get back to business and put in some extra mileage. I planned to hit 80 miles this week, and the next two weeks I’ll peak at 85 miles.

Here’s the daily breakdown:

  • Sunday: 18 mile long run
  • Monday: 8 mile trail run
  • Tuesday: 11.5 mile I workout
  • Wednesday: 8 mile trail with a 5.5 mile easy double
  • Thursday: 5 miles in the morning with 5 mile double
  • Friday: 11.5 mile T workout
  • Saturday: 7.5 mile easy run

And here’s how things went.

Sunday’s Long Run

This week, I upped the long run again to 18 miles. I’ve done several 16 milers so far, and this is now the third week this year that I’ve hit 18 miles.

It was cold Sunday – a last gasp of winter. As luck would have it, our furnace also went out this weekend. So I stayed in bed a little longer, drank an extra cup of coffee, and went out after the sun was up. Over the course of the run, it heated up a bit and I was pretty comfortable towards the end.

I felt pretty good throughout the run, but I didn’t feel great. I wasn’t too focused on pace, and I wanted to keep the effort easy. I started with a loop south through the Reservation to Millburn, and this meant a big hill on the way back north. I finished the first 8 miles in 1:10 – not particularly fast, but not particularly slow, either.

From there, I picked up the pace a little bit. I ran north to Verona Park to finish out the 18 miles. My pace was around 8:10 to 8:20 for most of the run, with two miles towards the end around 8:00. The last ten took me 1:22 – an average of just under 8:15/mi.

This was slower than my long run last week, but I matched the time of my fastest 18 miler in January – and did so with a significantly lower average heart rate. So I’ll take that as a win.

Monday’s Slow Trail Run

After that long run on Sunday, I took it easy Monday. I wasn’t feeling too beat up and stiff, but I was moving slowly.

I hit the trails in the South Mountain Reservation for a nice, easy 8 miles. I didn’t stop to look at my watch, and I just focused on keeping things nice and easy.

We got a decent amount of snow in February, and most of it had melted by Monday morning. This left the trails a bit messy and muddy. It was still cold enough that there was some crunchy ice, but I’m seeing muddy days in my future.

When I got to the end, I finished in almost exactly 1:20. That’s the slowest I’ve run that route in a while – I usually finish in 1:15 to 1:18 – but I’m not worried.

Easy days easy, right?

When I first sketched out this training plan, I penciled in a double for this day. But, I had a meeting Monday night so I shifted it to later in the week.

Tuesday’s Hard I Workout

Tuesday, I planned an I-paced workout (read more about Jack Daniels training philosophy here, if you’re unfamiliar with I/T pace). I don’t usually do these at the track – I structure the reps by time and run around the flat, paved path at the Reservoir.

Last week, I ran 24 x 1 minute intervals with 1 minute jogging recovery. This week, I kept the volume the same – 24 minutes – but shifted things to 2 minute intervals with 2 minutes jogging recovery. Last week, I averaged low 6:00’s, but I wasn’t sure what pace I’d be able to hit for the longer reps.

The weather was a little crumby – light rain on and off, high 30’s, overcast. But it wasn’t horrible.

I warmed up (~4 miles of easy running with some strides towards the end) and then I launched into the workout. The first rep felt good, although I looked at my watch and I was running 6:05-6:10. The 5:55s I hit last week weren’t going to happen. This is probably a good thing, though, since I faded in the last few reps last week.

I was pretty consistent throughout the first half of the workout. The first three to four reps felt easy. The next few were a little tougher, but my pace on the recovery segments was the same. I noticed afterwards that I slowed down a bit for two reps in the middle, but only by a few seconds.

When I got to the last few reps, I was tired. My pace on the recovery jogs was getting noticeably slower. But my overall pace in the reps was consistent – which was not the case last week.

During the workout, I was a bit concerned about the pace a few times. I glanced at my watch, and it wasn’t where I thought it would be. But I think, in retrospect, that this was a function of the cloud cover messing with the instantaneous pace from the GPS. Looking at Garmin Connect, the splits were pretty consistent.

I averaged 6:10/mi – which is more or less in line with what I was hoping. I’d have been happy with 6:05 to 6:10. Only three of the reps were between 6:15-6:20 (and none were above 6:20). All in all, it was a pretty solid workout.

Wednesday’s Doubling Up on Miles

Following that tough workout, Wednesday was a planned easy day.

I started off with 8 miles on the the trails again. Same route as Monday. It went a little faster (~1:18). But it was a lot messier.

It rained Tuesday, and the remaining ice and snow was completely melted. The trails were riddled with puddles, and by the second half I just gave up on trying to avoid them. I think I’ll keep off the trails for a week or two to see if they dry out a bit.

But it was a good, easy morning recovery run.

After work, I needed to do a double to add some additional mileage. I put dinner in the Instapot and then I drove back to the Reservoir to do a few laps. I’ve never run there at night before, but it was quite nice. The lights reflect off the water, and it’s a pretty and serene setting.

However, I was definitely feeling the effects of the workout and my morning run, so things were extra slow. I wasn’t paying attention to the pace, but I was surprised at the end to see that I was still above 9:00/mi at the end. Usually, I loosen up after three or four miles.

But again, easy days are easy. No need to rush the recovery days.

Thursday on the Treadmill

Thursday was another easy day, focusing on recovery and piling on some additional miles.

I needed to be awake and home from 7-9am for PSEG to come take a look at our furnace. It needed replaced, and they were coming to give us an estimate for a new one.

So I woke up at 5:45, rolled out of bed, and hopped on the treadmill. I watched a couple episodes of Star Wars: Clone Wars while I jogged five easy miles. Despite being super early, I felt better and looser than I had the night before.

I got cleaned up, drank some coffee, and waited for PSEG to arrive. He eventually got there (right at 9). I made it down to work a little late, took care of some things at the office, and eventually came back home.

I got dinner ready, threw some vegetables in the oven to roast (sweet potatoes, carrots, and brussel sprouts), and then I hopped on the treadmill. After two more episodes of Clone Wars, my five miles was done and I got cleaned up for dinner.

Nice, easy 10 miles broken up into two doubles.

Friday’s Windy Workout

Friday was the second workout of the week. This was a T paced, threshold workout.

Last week, I did 8 x 5 minute reps with 1 minute walking rest. Today, I wanted to get back to longer reps, so I did 2 x 5 minute reps followed by 3 x 10 minute reps (with 2 minutes rest after these). Same 40 minutes overall – but condensed into fewer reps.

Last week, things went great. I kept all of the reps under 6:30/mi and I was hoping to do the same thing again. Right off the bat, though, that wasn’t going to happen.

The first rep was a bit slow – ~6:35. Not great, but it’s the first rep. I’ll warm up, right?

Next rep. On target. Just under 6:30/mi.

Then, I got back to the other side of the Reservoir and realized why the first one had been so slow. The wind.

Down one side of the Reservoir, I was running into a mild but steady headwind. The weather report said it was around 5 to 10 miles per hour, and the flags were clearly flapping in the wind. It wasn’t hard, but it was definitely enough to be noticeable.

I think I pushed a bit too hard trying to maintain my pace in these conditions, and I ended up fading a bit.

On the first long rep, I split the full mile in 6:38. But then the rest of it was at ~6:45/mi pace.

On the second long rep, I was more even. I split the mile at 6:39, and I managed to speed up just a little bit at the end.

But that may have been pushing things too hard. On the final rep, I split the mile at a dismal 6:58. My legs were definitely tired at this point, but I’m not sure if I was totally spent or if I just got a bit lazy. In the final half mile, I was able to get back on pace (6:35/mi).

Overall, I averaged 6:41/mi. The pace isn’t great. But I’ll chalk it up partially to the wind and partially to poor pacing. I think if I had accepted 6:35-6:40 as a revised target from the beginning, I’d have made it through the workout fine.

Hopefully the conditions next week will be better, and I can get back on track.

Memo to self: Wind sucks. Adjust and adapt.

Saturday’s Rainy Run

I wrapped up the week with an easy run on Saturday.

The weather was … eugh. It wasn’t too cold (low 40’s), but there was a steady, light rain.

I checked the weather to see if there was a respite later in the morning, and there wasn’t. So I just sucked it up, dressed for the weather (a short sleeved compression shirt underneath a waterproof quarter zip to keep me dry), and got out the door.

I needed 7.5 miles – 4 loops around the Reservoir – to round out my mileage for the week. I got going, slowly. My hands were cold at first.

But after the first lap, I loosened up, my hands warmed up, and things didn’t seem so bad. There were a half dozen other wet souls out there, slogging through the weather. It’s always good and inspiring to see others pushing through adverse conditions.

I finished up, took a shower, and made some breakfast (two eggs on a toasted everything bagel, with some blueberries on the side). Then, I enjoyed some coffee while thinking about another week in the books.

Looking Ahead

Overall, this was a pretty good week.

I had a good long run and I hit my mileage. My I workout went well. The T workout wasn’t perfect, but it also wasn’t a disaster. Hopefully, I’ll redeem myself with a better workout in the next two weeks.

I’ve got two more peak weeks left, followed by a down week and a 15k race. In the short term, my focus is putting in the work for these next two weeks.

Ultimately, I want to be able to finish that 15k in under an hour. Being able to run I pace around 6:00 to 6:05 and T pace from 6:25 to 6:30 would be a good indication that I’m in the right shape for that. So we’ll see how things go.

That’s all for this week. Luckily, the weather looks nice for tomorrow’s long run. Hopefully winter is behind me now.

Happy trails, and I hope you have a successful week of running.

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