Monday, April 20, 2015

Best-Laid Plans?

Three different logs for one goal...
Sometimes the literary context for the source of one of John Steinbeck's most popular novellas rings in my head. Just as the title (taken from "To A Mouse" by Robert Burns") suggested doom and gloom for Lennie and George, the echo is often not a sign of good things to come, but rather a harbinger of failure: "'the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." I've really worked to have this particular plan come out on the positive side of the ledger...

When I began this most recent training cycle back on February 15 it was with the goal of completing next weekend's Flower City Half Marathon. At the onset, I lacked a true plan due mostly to my own waffling for a few weeks prior to actually stepping foot in the gym. The cold, icy and snowy weather pattern, that only recently broke for consecutive days, couldn't last forever.

This morning's 10 mile loop.
The thought of pacing a friend on his quest for a 2 hour half-marathon had been gestating for a few months before I my having acted upon it the morning following a Valentine's dinner party, and while many in the local running community will be realizing their lifelong dreams of running Monday's Boston Marathon, my aspirations are less lofty. Over the past nine weeks, I have been trying to chip away at four years of rust in hopes of comfortably completing a slightly less heralded (though popular) local race at a shorter (by 50%) distance.

Having survived a few weeks on the dreadmill early on (a situation I no longer dread quite so much, and one I actually seek out weekly for its variety), Sunday morning I completed my final scheduled long run, a ten-miler at what has become my only pace, between 8:20-8:30 minutes per mile. I have made efforts to consciously slow down or pick-up, but whether running 2 or 10 miles, that has where I've settled for the moment. All that remains in preparation for the race, is to taper into two rest days prior to Sunday's 7:30 a.m. start.

Now that my current plan will soon be reaching its conclusion (fingers crossed!), it will soon be time to consider next steps. I like a great deal the current plan's structure of four weekly runs, with cross-training on one day and rest on the remaining two, one of which follows the Sunday long-run that accounts for 30-40% of the overall mileage. I have put together similar plans for myself in the past in preparation for distances ranging from a 13.1 to 33 miles, so it has helped me achieve previous goals, so there remains a strong likelihood that I will stick to that organization. I am, however, leery of counting any chickens before they've hatched, so will wait until I finish one goal before setting too much of a foundation for the next.

Over the last ten days my left hamstring has been "acting up," so in some ways, I'm just trying to make it through next weekend. Taking a conscientious approach of  stretching, icing, and targeted resting, I remain confident that it will play out favorably with a finish in the two hour range. After that (and a suitable recovery period), there will be time for basking in the afterglow of having successfully followed through on one set of plans before setting some new ones in the days that follow April 26.

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