Comparing my fitness now, to that same point in time last year, I would say that I was in better shape last year going into 20in24, then I am now going into this thing. I was deeper into my marathon training back then. But it's not like I am in terrible shape now. I've been putting in some good miles with a good stretch of long runs for the past six weeks. I hit my first 20 miler yesterday and I felt great and I have been seeing continual improvement through the summer. My long run progression has been 18, 13, 15, 19, 15 and 20, with an average of 30-35 miles per week, which on a volume basis is much lower than I wanted it to be going into this thing. On my long runs, my average pace has been dropping consistently with the biggest gains happening over the past three weeks. I think I'm finally dialing in alot of the variables - hydration, nutrition, etc. The summer heat wasnt helping things either, so naturally, as the temperature has ratcheted down, my pace is dialing up. My trail running - which has been limited to about once a week with the Delco RRC- has gotten stronger - stronger as in I don't want to stop and die at the top of the steepest hills.
Aot of what works for me can't be factored into a training plan. It comes with experience. Granted, the long running obviously has a physiological benefit and unless you're some kind of genetic freak, long running is a requirement for my sort of endurance event. But for me, the real lesson is figuring out what works. What socks give me the least amount of issues with blisters? How often should I be taking a Gu? What should I eat before a run? How often should I eat? These are all the types of things that can't be scripted in a training plan. Aside from the logistical lessons, the mental prep is huge for me. Lots and lots of running with nothing but me and my thoughts. I do train with some other club members on my long runs, but nine times out of ten, we get kinda spread out as we all settle in to our different paces. And even if we're running at the same pace it's inevitable that we are going to run out of stuff to talk about, or the pain of running just requires me to put the mental blinders on and focus. I have found that I can have the best long running partners in the world, but at the end if the day, it's just me, the road, and my aching feet (my feet are always the first to go).
So this week is a taper week. I'm rather sore from my 20 miler yesterday- but in my defense I was hammering (by my standards) the last ten miles. I'm gonna be taking it easy this week. I have an appt with my ART guy tomorrow to work on my shitty piriformis which has been nagging me Undiagnosed for the last year ever since the Quad Cities last September. My feet are really killing me more than anything else today so I can't see myself doing anything until at least Tuesday, and maybe 2-3 miles at the most. Ill skip my Wednesday night trail run because with my shit luck I will twist my ankle four days before an ultra. Run Thursday and/ or Friday, skip Saturday, race Sunday.
And then there's the rescheduled 20in24 at the end of September.....