It seems silly to say I’m at a crossroads with training, because honestly I hit crossroads with my training all the time. Most open minded, experienced athletes hit these crossroads all the time. Adjusting and proceeding is just part of the deal.
My Indy marathon plan itself remains fine: I’m hitting most of my workouts, definitely hitting all the longer runs while at least partially or conditionally finishing quality workouts if/when I can’t totally finish them as written. I have yet to completely write off a key workout this training cycle, and I obviously don’t plan to.
In a bit of irony, I had originally planned for this weekend to be easy on training, and instead with appropriate changes it ended up being my most demanding weekend in some time: A 10 mile run Saturday morning, swolework at the gym later that day, 10K of total running between Sunday morning and afternoon, plus more gym swolework that afternoon.
On the plus side, I nailed the key items: The 10 mile run, as planned, and the two swolework sessions nailed everything I needed to work on strength-wise while complementing each other perfectly. And, best part, is despite all this work, imperfect nutrition, and poor sleep… I don’t feel any residual soreness. And that’s despite going into the weekend with a strain in my lower back and left knee, neither of which are bothering me much right now.
Part of me just wants to somehow go to bed and finally get some decent sleep. And part of me feels somehow stronger, like all of this work that was once arduous in base training now feels standard and totally do-able.
Overall though, this last week was particularly tough. And I’ve now discovered that (especially in this Vegas summer heat) doing early morning runs doesn’t put me in a good spot the rest of the day. My heart rate variability (HRV) never comes down after these workouts, meaning I spend the entire day in a highly stressed state. I’ve also found I’m not sleeping well after these days, likely because of the work my body has to do to come down from this extended period of stress.
Meanwhile, if I don’t work out until the evening, starting my exercise instead with work break runs, I find my HRV stays in a relaxed state and my energy’s suitably conserved.
Previously in Chicago I would do nearly all my workweek running after work in the late afternoon or early evening. My sleep was up and down throughout my time in Chicago, but it was definitely better than it’s been recently on these days of working out early in the morning.
This past week, circumstances forced me to do training workouts after work on a gym treadmill (I obviously couldn’t run outside in 105°F heat). I found these treadmill workouts not just do-able, but it didn’t unduly wreck my sleep as I recently worried it would do. I had improved my heat acclimation and chops to the point where running the turbo was more comfortable than it had been before.
So now going forward this opens up the option of switching most if not all training workouts to the treadmill after work. I’m not so concerned about heat acclimation because my goal race will likely be run in 50-60°F weather. It will also be somewhat humid, and the 30-50% humidity of indoor air is closer to those conditions than the 5-10% lack of humidity outdoors in Las Vegas.
I do still plan to attempt long runs on the treadmill since my Stryd will allow for distance to be accurately tracked… a far easier and cheaper effort than trying to go out of town to high altitude to do these.
However, some workouts are still only practical outdoors, and I will still do these in the early morning: Speedwork (can be dangerous on the treadmill due to the speed and delays in slowing the treadmill), hill repeats (ditto), and towards the end of training I simply will need to train outdoors to practice pacing in outdoor conditions, though by then it should have cooled down in Las Vegas.
The turbo also adds the obvious advantage of strictly maintaining whatever pace you set, and I find I’m surprisingly comfortable holding faster paces on the treadmill than I usually run on easy workouts outdoors. So this can only help with key attributes like my turnover and ingraining more efficient mechanics.
The barrier before was that these treadmill workouts were unbearable. They’re not unbearable now, so I’m going to start leaning on them.