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Friday, June 19, 2009

The zen of sand castles and running

10 days out of Chattooga leaves me feeling pretty rested... and pretty bored. In the immortal wisdom of Tom Petty, "Time to move on, Time to get goin'. What lies ahead I have no way of knowin'. But under my feet, grass is growin'..." Should I continue???

With this in mind the mental transition from long racing to resting and now to training again has been not so much a challenge, but a welcome change from the routine. Much the same way as running a long downhill brings smiles with thoughts of an upcoming climb. Though, as that climbs begins we need to remind ourselves to focus and transition our mechanics for an efficient stride.

Grandfather Marathon sits about a month out. I believe in my base and my endurance so now it is time to add a little flavor to this stock. In this case the main spice is pace (speed) work.

I had been hitting the track for mile repeats at 10k effort leading up to the 50k. Now I move to learning marathon pace by simply running the pace for 2 mile stints. This feels comfortable, obviously. Then I mix in a few faster miles at 8k effort before finishing the session with another mile at marathon pace. This MP feels so comfortable now since the heart has relaxed, the stride has shortened and the lungs have been opened fully from the 8k efforts. All of this with minimum rest... about 2 minutes. After all, we do not train to rest. If it is too much intensity then slow down, but our time is best spent running... if we want to be better (faster in this case) runners. Bottom line here is that the clock is a tool. We need to pay attention to our effort, honestly, with integrity. If it feels too hard (or too easy) then it probably is. NEVER push through something that seems like too much just to log it in a book. This is a sure sign of immaturity in the runner... and a sure way toward burn out or injury.

This training can be akin to building a sand castle by dripping wet sand into globs. We begin with big globs, by the handful or more... though eventually, when the time is right, the sand is carefully dropped from the fingers in specific areas. Otherwise, if we get too careless, too ambitious, the entire structure will crumble.

Eventually the cycles of time will wash this all away, but what can linger is the feeling of satisfaction which arises from a well orchestrated plan. What could be called a work of art. If we can reach this elusive area in our running then we will have known success.

At any rate... these are the details I will be carefully adding to my sand castle over the next three weeks with a couple of 2 hour runs to sure up the overall structure. We'll hope this all comes together for a successful run come July 11. Today though, I know this... I am tired.

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