Training: 9 miles, 59m, 6:37 pace
Resting HR: 44
Sleep: 6h, 6/10 (wow, I guess I just don't sleep)
Legs: 8/10, Still coasting
I cheated and broke out the Garmin to measure how the last few weeks have been treating me. I was happy to see a decent pace for what seemed like an easy run, but I have a feeling I subconsciously sped up the second half as I knew I'd check the results at the end of the run. Heading out with a plain watch or no watch at all has been liberating these past few weeks, and I think I'll stick with it and just run by time for recovery days in the future.
The other day I wrote, "It's been a bit of a blow to the ego to put bigger miles and workouts aside, but it's part of an effort by me to really focus on optimal training this cycle instead of always pushing for maximum training," to which Ewen commented,"Is that optimal training during the build for NYC, or in the cycle before the build? I'm just wondering if you see optimal training as meaning less emphasis on weekly/monthly mileage totals and more on the quality of certain sessions?"
The short answer is that I want to push for optimum recovery and rejuvenation now so that I can get more out of the (hopefully) optimum training to come. Mystery Coach has consistently produced detailed schedules which are divided into Arthur Lydiard's classic categories of base conditioning, strength and transition, speed development and neuromuscular recruitment, race pace development and sharpening/maintenance, and I consistently throw a monkey-wrench into the works by plopping club races in throughout the schedule.
In short, I dig too deep at the wrong times and probably too often, and this goes a long ways towards undoing the good I've done myself by training consistently. Running a freaking marathon for training only four minutes off my personal best just five weeks out from my target marathon is probably my finest example of this. So Ewen, you're right about me focusing on the quality of certain sessions, but I think for me it's a matter of not pounding these sessions too hard or replacing them with races where I go full-bore. A decent workout should allow for recovery and super-compensation afterwards, but too hard a session (or too many races) in the middle of a medium to high volume training cycle seems to put me in the hole rather than build me up.
As far as an emphasis on miles goes, I can say with some confidence that relatively high mileage seems to agree with me. In hindsight, I think the higher mileage I started running in the summer of 2005 is really starting to pay dividends now, almost three years later, and I hope to continue with it. With that being said, I think if I want to continue on this path, or if I want to increase my weekly mileage during my base conditioning for the NYC marathon, it will be necessary for me to run easier and slower on my recovery days. Dropping the Garmin on these days will hopefully help with this, and doing my second runs indoors on a treadmill instead of in 100 degree temperatures outside after work.
This is my own theory here, but I think larger framed runners such as myself possibly get more bang for their buck from miles than smaller, more lithe-framed runners. At 6'2" and 168 pounds, I think I get more rattled by eccentric muscle contractions than many, and I feel running more miles more often builds up resistance to this. The fifth 20 mile run hurts the legs much less than the first one, and by the tenth one it starts to seem reasonable to run another 6.2 miles. Arthur's books go on and on about this "hardening" during the conditioning phase.
I think all runners have the innate ability to tune into their bodies, though putting the ego aside long enough to listen can be a challenge. When it comes to my own training, it's much more often that I hear the legs say "you ran that too fast" than "you ran too far". If I start hearing both lines at once I'll hopefully be smart enough recognize it. If not Mystery Coach will surely have another axiom ready for me to write on the blackboard 50 times.