Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Tale of Two Saturdays

Last Saturday, I went for a run, like I typically do. I'd been thinking about doing as many as 15 miles, though a scheduling problem meant I'd probably be able to do 12 at most. I ended up doing 8 after my legs inexplicably gave out on me. Nothing dramatic - I just reached a point in the run about 4 miles in, where they suddenly became increasingly heavy and fatigued. I staggered back the final two miles, wondering what the heck was going on. This past week of running, as I struggled with a minor injury, was also mentally tough.

Today, I went for a run, like I typically do (yes, there is a point). I was planning to run four miles easy, using a route from the Promenade over the Brooklyn Bridge and back, since I'm racing tomorrow. For those of you out there today: You know it was blustery (all the more fun). I was expecting an easy run, perhaps even tougher than usual. So I was surprised when I reached the top of the bridge and was running 30 seconds faster than I normally do on an easy day. And in fact, the whole route was done a good 1:30 faster - and I wasn't trying.

Obviously, I didn't ingest steroids or speed pills overnight. What did happen? One was a bad day, and one was a good day (I love it when the good days also occur when I'm racing: Those become "great days"). For all the training and prep work we do, I'm a firm believer that some days just suck, and some days are the absolute best.

The point: Today, many of you probably finished your last big workout before the New York Marathon, three weeks hence. For some of you, it was a brilliant 20-22 mile jaunt, for others it was a struggle and you felt like crap, and you're wondering if you're ready for the big race.

The answer: If you've done the right work, and keep yourself in check for the next three weeks, you'll probably be fine. At this point, there's not a lot you can do to suddenly improve your performance - if anything, you can hurt it.

Believe in yourself, believe that you've sweated out the miles over the past 15-20+ weeks to get ready for the race. One or two bad days during the cycle is typical; don't pysch yourself out or over worry. Get into the three-week taper mode, do what your plan calls, and start getting mentally ready.

And, if you're feeling awesome after today's long run -- feel the power and milk it. But don't get overconfident and suddenly start planning for 30 secs/mile faster pace. Look at your training and make a smart decision about what you can do.

WHOOOOH! Good luck everyone.

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