Sunday, August 2, 2009

My marathon training: Week 3

Week 3: Rest on Sunday; 3 easy miles on Monday; 6 miles of hills on Tuesday; rest on Wednesday; 5 miles with a handful of pickups on Thursday; 5.25 easy miles on Friday; 2.75 very easy miles on Saturday. Total: 22 miles.

So, I finally deviated from the plan! Yup, the OCD streak has ended.

I did the prescribed work on Monday (at an 8:53 pace) and Tuesday (8:39 pace), then spiced things up a bit on Thursday: Instead of a straightforward "easy" run, I added some short pickups and wound up averaging 8:21 -- including a sprint at the end that put Mile 5 at 7:57.

Got back on track Friday, as I met a friend uptown to run a little more than 5 miles, including the Blue Points 5K course. (More on that race, scheduled for this Saturday, to come later this week.) We were right around 8:45 for the workout.

But this weekend I focused on what I wanted to do and not on what the plan had me down for.

I usually do my long runs on Saturday morning; instead, I woke up before 6 a.m. (UGH) to meet some friends at the Lake Norman YMCA for its second-to-last open water swim of the triathlon season. (Click here for details on Saturday's finale.) While we were waiting for our wave's scheduled start, we ran just short of 3 miles at a gotta-love-it 9:24 pace.

That pushed my long run to Sunday morning (which'll get credited to next week's mileage total, meaning this week's looks unusually low and next week's will seem awfully high). And for the second weekend-day in a row, I was up before 6 a.m. Double ugh.

Now, as a morning runner, I've been rising and trying to shine for a while now. I'm not gonna lie and say it's necessarily always fun or easy to get out of bed before dawn to pound pavement, particularly on a Saturday or a Sunday morning. But I'm used to it. So used to it that more often than not, I'm up before my alarm goes off. Saturday morning: My alarm was set for 5:40; I was stirring by 5:30. Sunday morning: Alarm was set for 5:20; I got up at 5:15.

This kind of extreme wake-up call is going to start becoming more and more common as I get deeper into my training, as longer midweek runs force me out of bed earlier so I can get them in before work.

Problem is, I'm not really going to bed any earlier. And I need to. I know it. Six hours of sleep a night, over the long haul ... it just isn't enough. Now, I'm not an elite athlete, but this quote -- from a column on the Runner's World Web site earlier this year -- could apply to any of us:

"Traditionally, elite athletes dedicate numerous hours to daily practice, strength training, and conditioning as well as work closely with nutritionists in hopes of optimizing their athletic performance. However, very little, if any, attention is focused on an athlete's sleeping patterns and habits," said Cheri Mah, a Stanford researcher who authored a study that found getting extra sleep over an extended period of time boosts athletic performance.

According to various experts, we need at least seven -- and preferably more than eight -- hours of sleep a night to be at our best. This isn't outlined in the Bart Yasso 16-week marathon-training program I'm following right now. But maybe it should be.

Thoughts or advice regarding my training? Want to share stories about how your own plan is going? Fire away!


Jason said...

Hey Theoden. Glad to see your training is going well. I'm enjoying reading how your weeks are unfolding. I've always been an early riser and I've had problems with the sleep issue too. Getting up in time to bust out a good 5 or 6 miles while having a good 7 hours or more rest before is really tough. And getting to bed by 10pm in my house(meaning fast asleep by then) is a feat. Once I'm out the door, the first mile or so can be a bear, but I do enjoy the stillness of the early morning. Plus I don't have to worry about traffic as much and I get the run done for the day.
Keep the blogs coming!