The last three days have been pretty much textbook perfect running weather, and have done wonders in decimating the massive snow piles that have accumulated over the last month or so. There was a bit of cold and snow in the early week, but once we got through that it got up to a high of 8C on Saturday which is quite the reprieve from what we've been dealing with lately ;)
Unfortunately, after the 15 miler last Sunday I began to have a bit of discomfort in my upper right leg. It was likely caused by the fact that I've been spending a lot of time lately running on the roads rather than the sidewalks. As I tend to religiously stick to the left side of the road for safety purposes (going against vehicular traffic), the camber of the road creates an imbalance in my stride (as my right foot is repeatedly hitting ground higher than my left, it hits the ground with much greater force than usual). While this isn't a big deal in and of itself, when the body is continually pounded like this for an extended period it can cause problems. This was likely exacerbated by running long stretches on the larger roads, as the camber at the edge of a four lane road is generally much more aggressive than that of a two-lane residential street.
In the interests of letting it heal, I skipped the cycling session on Monday. By Tuesday it was improved, but there was still a bit of tightness there. It wasn't really bad enough to throw off my running schedule, so I went out for the Tuesday run anyway. Fortunately, it didn't really cause much issue with my running and actually improved a bit over the duration of the session. It was still a bit uncomfortable to walk on it, however, so I skipped my walk that afternoon to let it get better.
On Wednesday, I elected to give the scheduled 30K ride a shot to see how it would work. As cycling doesn't have the impact of running or walking, this worked quite well and any discomfort completely disappeared while I was riding. It even stayed away for a few hours after the ride, although it did start to come back afterwards. I did my 5mi recovery run at the Running Room as usual, and like the day before it wasn't really an issue.
As the previous runs went well, I did my 10 miler on Thursday but skipped the scheduled walk in case that would help. On Friday, I did my ride as usual (although I scaled it back to 40km due to scheduling issues) with the same results as I had on Wednesday. At this point, it was significantly improved but again wasn't completely gone so I elected to skip the 5 miler on Saturday morning. This does mean that I lost a bit of running mileage, but I figured with the long run scheduled the next day it was worth it to ensure that I'd be able to make the most of it. It was certainly a shame as the weather yesterday was incredible for this time of year, but it's better to be safe than sorry on this front.
Which brings us to this morning, where I set out for my first run with a chunk at marathon pace. The schedule called for 16 miles with 10 of them done at marathon pace. I'm still not 100% sure what that should be, as my fitness has improved significantly since September so my previous race times don't really mean a lot at this point. As such, I looked over my data for the last little while and settled on giving a 4:45/km pace a shot (which works out to a little over 3h20m for a marathon distance).
Given the issue with the leg, I carefully plotted a course that would allow me to stick with the sidewalks for the majority of the run. Thankfully, the heat over the last few days had melted a significant amount of the snow so the problems that I ran into last week wouldn't really be an issue this time around. What I didn't properly anticipate, however, is that as the temperatures had dropped below freezing overnight there were a good number of icy patches that I had to deal with. As the snow banks didn't completely melt, in many places they formed a dam on either side of the sidewalk trapping the water and allowing it to refreeze.
Fortunately, the clear portions were pretty much bone dry so these ice patches were easy to see, however I had to slow down significantly when passing over them. In some areas (especially on hills, where the water ran down the sidewalk) these patches were quite large, so they had a significant negative effect on my ability to maintain my desired pace. For a normal long run this wouldn't be a big issue, but when trying to maintain race pace it made it difficult to keep my heart rate up where it needed to be.
Despite these issues, however, the run went quite well. I averaged an overall pace of 5:05/km, with the 10mi segment at 4:52/km. Running the raw numbers through a spreadsheet however, my median pace worked out to a perfect 4:45/km so when the obstructions are factored out I stayed pretty close to where I needed to be. Unfortunately, my heart rate was much lower than it should have been during this segment and it's hard to tell if that was the fault of (a) the periodic slowdowns or (b) if the pace was a little slower than it should have been. Either way, I'll have to do some more experimenting with different speeds to figure out where I need to be.
As I missed the 5 mile recovery run on Saturday, my mileage is a little short this week (40mi vs. 45mi). Naturally, the two walks and cycling session that I skipped also mean that those numbers will be a little lower than usual. Either way, the leg is feeling a lot better today and as next week is a recovery week hopefully it will get back to 100% soon.
Running: 64.8km (40.3mi)
Walking: 2.3km (1.4mi)
Cycling: 70km (43.5mi)
Total: 137.1km (85.2mi)
Year to Date:
Running: 395.5km (245.8mi)
Walking: 119.7km (74.4mi)
Cycling: 485.0km (301.4mi)
Total: 1000.2km (621.5mi)
As noted above, the upcoming week is a recovery week so mileage will drop down a bit (to 37mi) before jumping up to 50 miles the week afterwards. Other than the bump in the road this week, the training program has been going quite well so far and as long as I'm a little more careful things will hopefully continue along that path ;)
Mon 50K Cycle
Tue 8mi (12.9K) w/10x100m
Wed 30K Cycle + 5mi (8K) Recovery
Thurs 8mi (12.9K) Steady
Fri 50K Cycle
Sat 4mi (6.4K) Recovery
Sun 12mi (19.3K) LSD
In other news, I'm now officially registered for the Mississauga marathon so I'm committed to seeing this program to the end one way or the other. There is still a lot of training to be done which is only going to get harder and harder, so I figure that locking myself in will help to keep me motivated ;)