I ran 10 miles in to work today and it was marvelous. My legs were tired and sore and still it was marvelous - I felt like I could have run all day.
Well, it helped that it was a beautiful sunny cold day - so pretty and bright but I didn't get hot - and that I was running by the lake.
But what was really exciting to me was that my pace felt easy and my energy felt good despite my legs being tired and sore.
I'm trying a new training plan this year for the marathon, the Hansons Marathon Method. It calls for a lot of running. A lot. Six days a week, with all the main workouts being done on tired legs. I'll probably refer to some of the science behind it as the summer goes on, but here's the description that attracts most people to it:
Hansons Marathon Method does away with mega long runs and high mileage weekends—two outdated traditions that make most runners miserable. Instead, runners using the Hansons method will gradually build up to the moderate-high mileage required for marathon success, spreading those miles more sensibly throughout the week. Running easy days mixed with precisely paced speed, strength, and tempo workouts, runners will steel their bodies and minds to run the hardest miles of the marathon.
Of course, that description doesn't mention the six days a week of running involved. Or running long runs (or speed workouts or strength or tempo runs) when you're already tired.
Or that, and this I think is really key, all runs that are not speed or strength or tempo focused are to be run slowly. Much more slowly than I am used to. More slowly than a lot of us who are trying to get fast would feel comfortable doing.
I haven't started my proper marathon training yet - I have a race next weekend to do first - but since reading the theories behind this method I've started bringing them into my current training. Both because I believe they'll work and because I want to be able to ease right in to marathon training once this race is over, no nasty surprises that could lead to injury.
So I've been running five days a week (up from my usual 3-4) and planning it so that I'm running in the days before a speed workout or a tempo run or a long run. But what I'm running in those days are easy runs - nice and slow and even pulling myself back if I find myself wanting to get ahead or worried about time.
(By the way, I'm doing this because I'm tired of finding that my performance in longer races - half marathon and beyond - don't match what I "should" be capable of based on my performance in shorter races and in speed and tempo workouts. Nutrition has been part of this - not carbo-loading sufficiently in the days before a race and not taking enough in during a race - but I also think I just haven't been putting in the miles. And those weeks when I have I've felt really good, which is why I think I can even attempt this in the first place.)
And I think it's working, because today I got up, thought, "Wow, I'm really not feeling bouncy," made sure to eat more than I usually do and to have extra on hand for on the way, and then just got going. Slowly and steadily. And while my legs may have been tired my heart and mind were light and I felt good - all the way.
And now I get to taper until my race and I'm looking forward to that too.