Men’s Health Urbanathlon (Chicago): A slow start

November has largely been a wash.

Having peaked at the Chicago Urbanathlon it took a solid two weeks to get my motor running again, and when it did kick in I was summarily dogged for the first time by a frustrating ‘injury’ that manifested itself in a persistent (and odd) pain around my hips/groin/hamstring area a few hours after my run and lasting for a day or two. I figured rest, good hydration and consistent stretching would be my best home remedy.

 And then Thanksgiving rolled around and well, more rest was on the menu.

The taking it easy thing, while the best cure, has been difficult. Every day I’m not putting the miles in is a day I don’t improve. And now the unseasonably warm weather has gone full bore into biting cold (not making it any easier to get back out there).

The upside is that I’ve had plenty of time to think, rethink, and think some more about my training for the next two months. My goals between now and the end of January are simple: increase my weekly mileage to 34-40 miles (from about 20-25), increase my long run from 10 miles to 12, and continue my weekly speed work and stair climb (this past year I didn’t get hip to the speed and stair game until July so getting it in early and often should help). Speed, strength and endurance. That’s the end game, but right now it’s just about maintaining my core fitness for the more rigorous workouts to come this spring. 

So how does all of this play out in a weekly plan?

I can’t state emphatically enough how valuable and refreshing these days of rest are (despite my current feelings about taking it easy).

6 miles 7:20/mm
My 6-mile race pace this fall was 6:35, and 7:20 feels like I’m pushing but not overworking or burning out. The course on this day includes a pretty long, steep hill half way in.

6 miles 7:20/mm
This is just a comfortable pace for me at this distance.

10 miles 7:30/mm
By the time the Urbanathlon rolled around this 10 mile was my Sunday long run that hovered around 7:15/mm. I’ll slow it down some, maybe even to 8/mm, especially given the now slick, snowy terrain.

Stair Climb
(6 reps / 1,068 steps)
I can’t say I look forward to this routine, but I enjoy the change of pace, and I’m always glad I did it when I’m finished. This past year I kept pretty detailed stats about each rep (timing, mostly) and they averaged out like this: 1:41, 1:42, 1:43, 1:47, 1:48, 1:42 (this last set is always brutal). I’ll keep it dialed in here for a while.

Speed Work 4 X 800 (plus 2 miles for warm up and cool own) 5:54/mm
These are fun, actually, and very necessary to build speed (in my opinion).

12 miles 7:40-8/mm
I’ve never run this far in one clip. Each year the Urbanathlon sets a new bar in my mileage, and in 2013 I want the 10-11 mile run to be a step down for me; not a reach. So I’ll start with 12 miles and look to hover around 15 come summer. For the first time I’ll put some half marathons on the race schedule, too, so I can get some race-day reps at this distance.

So that’s how I see things shaking out for now, and of course I feel compelled to give my standard training manifesto/caveat:

I will remain flexible and adaptive about all of this. This schedule is a best-case scenario and one I’ll work hard to maintain. Like with you, life is busy and things come up routinely. These are guard rails for an ideal week, and while I don’t delight in missing a planned workout, I’ll take it in stride when it happens and figure out how to do something active in its place when I can. This should be fun and fulfilling.

Now good luck with your training. I’m also curious about your regimen to build/maintain speed, strength and endurance. Let me know in the comments; I can use the help.


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