After 7 weeks on my current training plan, it’s now clear to me that while the mileage and general approach is generally working, I need to change the timing and the frequency of the weekly workouts (which I went ahead and planned out) because some things just aren’t working the way they need to.
I woke up Sunday morning after Saturday’s 8 mile pace run feeling unusually exhausted. I had a 16mi long run planned. Even factoring in the previous day’s workout, I expected to have suitable energy for the planned long run and perhaps some soreness and fatigue.
Instead, I felt far more tired than expected. No cup of coffee or breakfast could get me out of the unusual funk, and combined with some mild squawking from the hamstring (which has largely felt better but made a bit of noise the previous day) this led me to at least postpone the run until the late afternoon and evening.
I went home, had lunch later in the day and relaxed. Just to be sure, even though I had no illness symptoms, I took an at-home Covid test, and that came back clean and negative.
But even at 3pm, when I planned to head out for that postponed run, I still did not feel great, my hamstring felt just slightly sore enough that I didn’t want to unduly risk anything, and I decided to just axe the run entirely. Fatigue was clearly telling me I needed a break.
The thing with the Higdon Intermediate plan I was following is that, as Jonathan Savage had warned, the back to back long weekend workouts were rather tough on the body, and I ultimately realized they aren’t totally necessary to get the needed training stimulus.
More so, I was spending both days of every weekend being rather tired after a long or otherwise tough run, and I honestly wasn’t doing much with my weekends other than training as a result. I was getting tired of every weekend feeling like that. I wanted to get at least one day back, even if the other would be spent laid out and recovering from a long run.
So I went ahead and adjusted the plan as follows, which will provide roughly the same amount of mileage, the same intensity overall, and more recovery.
- The pace run and the long run are now separated, and the long run will stand alone, with easy days before the day before and after.
- The long run now moves to Saturday. When I run Saturday morning, I often have pretty good energy, plus the church crowds along my route aren’t there like on Sunday, so the parking traffic is clear.
- Instead of two shorter and one longer midweek runs, I now have two longer runs plus the moderate/pace run that was moved off the weekend, all during midweek. The pace run being midweek also allows me to do it on a more closed course where traffic can’t interfere as much (which has been a problem in prior pace workouts).
- The other two weekdays may be easy, shorter runs, or can be days off, depending on feel. If I run these runs won’t be longer than 45 minutes and more like 20-30. I typically will look to work out these days because the 5pm commute sucks and I like having a workout kill that time until the traffic cools off.
- I haven’t been strength training lately, but I can also go to the gym and do that in lieu of a weekday workout on the non-long days. I’ll try that the next couple weeks and see how that feels.
- Friday will err more towards the side of totally resting or strength training than running, since the following Saturday will be a long run.
- Sunday will not be a total rest day, but will either be a shorter easy run, or cross and strength training, maybe all of the above if it all feels very easy and I’m in the mood. This is far easier on me energy-wise than a long run or pace run.
The general schedule:
M: Moderate run or pace run, 1-2hrs
T: Easy, rest or 20-45min run, or strength training
W: Moderate run or pace run, 1-2hrs
R: Moderate run, 1-2hrs
F: Easy, rest or 20-45min run, or strength training
S: Long run, 10-22 miles
X: Easy 20-45min run, and/or strength training, and/or aerobic cross training
The midweek workouts were perfectly do-able, and the short workouts just felt too short. I didn’t feel like I was getting enough longer aerobic workouts, but then also felt like the weekends were too backloaded with volume. The midweek felt too easy, the weekend felt too hard. This change addresses that problem.
I want the moderate workouts to be done by 7pm, and some of the previous schedule’s long runs may have taken longer. Aerobic benefit peaks at 60-90 minutes, and one 105-120 minute run surrounded by shorter runs isn’t as beneficial for me right now as three spread out 60-90 minute workouts. The two moderate runs clumped together can provide some useful cumulative fatigue without hitting me hard with it multiple times every week.
The pace run can fall on Monday, two days after the long run, or after the easy Tuesday on Wednesday. The other moderate runs are just easy, probably 8 miles right now (which takes around 80-90 minutes for me). I’ll play by feel each week where that pace run should go. If I felt bold I could do two 8mi pace runs each week, but I’m not thinking of crossing that bridge right now.
I could also, once stretched out to 20 miles on the long run (ETA early March), consider adding some speed segments to some long runs. If you can do it, that really helps with marathon training. For now though, I’m keeping the long runs easy until I get stretched out. Once I can run at pace in long runs, I can even consider omitting midweek pace workouts if needed. But again, not at that bridge yet.
So, after the mild bummer of cancelling a long run due to unusual fatigue (more so it felt like the best decision), I’ve made some adjustments that should avoid future occurrences of some issues I’ve been running into.