I've been in rest/recovery mode for the past two weeks. I'm just starting to run again (2 days last week, 4 days this week), but the break has been good for me (and for my yard!). I'm starting to get excited about running again, although I'm still feeling the effects of the glitch, in that all up and down the back of my right side is tight and a little sore. I will definitely be making a few trips to the PT over the next few weeks to make sure I'm back on the right path.
But I'm posting now to do kind of a lessons learned thing for this past training cycle.
You might think that since my race was crappy, I'd be looking to my training for answers. That is not the case. I think my training went great.
I'm extremely happy with the system I worked out for myself. The mix of workouts was awesome, the training paces were challenging but manageable, and the overall training load felt pretty damn good.
I liked the two week cycles. The one specific thing I learned in relation to them, however, was that if I want to feel good for a tune up race (and I always do want that, or I wouldn't bother racing), the race needs to fall one week after the end of a two week cycle. I need to finish the two week cycle, and then have a third week as my cutback week, in other words. When I did that for my first tune up race, I felt awesome, when it didn't work out like that for second tune up race, my legs were tired and flat. One week after that second tune up race, however, my legs felt like a million bucks. I would have loved to have those legs on race day.
I got fit faster than I expected. In general, I'm not a fan of long training cycles for marathons. I wasn't trying for some super long cycle this time either, but I did give myself a little extra time because it had been so long since I'd really trained for a marathon, so I thought I might need a few extra weeks. I did not. I felt ready to taper about 4-5 weeks out. There's only so much fitness you can gain (in my experience) in any one training cycle, and I knew I was there about a week before Shamrock. This might be partly due to the fact that instead of building mileage gradually over 8-10 weeks with one or two peak weeks, I basically raised my mileage to my top level as fast as I safely could, and then just stayed there (other than my rest weeks) the whole time. I really liked that part actually. All 4 or 5 of my easy days each week were 10 miles a day for at least 8 weeks. I really liked having the mileage level be routine. I definitely plan to stick with that.
The glitch/ancillary work was my downfall. I fell into the routine of doing extensive stretching/strengthening after my morning easy runs during the week, but not doing much of anything after my evening runs or (gasp!) weekend runs. I think I could get away with being lazy after my evening runs because I was taking such good care of my body in my morning routines, but not taking care of myself on the weekends was a disaster waiting to happen. The glitch first reared its ugly head when I ran my last hard long run (about 4 weeks out) on a Saturday, felt some tightness and didn't get right on it. I have no one to blame for that but myself. I'm not trying to be unrealistic about it. I don't think I need to spend an hour a day stretching, but I need to spend 5-15 minutes afterwards doing the things I know I need to do. There's no getting around it. And it's not like I hate doing that stuff, it actually feels pretty good, I just have to do it before I sit down with my dinner, because it's probably not happening after that.
And, I guess this wouldn't be complete without a little forward thinking....
My tentative plan right now is to get back to normal non-marathon training level (~70 miles a week, maybe a little bit more) and stay there until Hood to Coast. After Hood to Coast, I will take a couple of weeks of easy running, and provided the motivation is there (and who knows about that), I'll start training for CIM.
I have a little unfinished business with that race.