In my opinion, the marathon is the truest test of an endurance athlete. More closely related to a 10k than any 50k I have ever run. Perhaps because I treat the marathon as a race and not another 50k just to get a good "training" run in. Anyone who has laced them up and trained to race a marathon can attest to the fact that the path to accomplishing this can be elusive. It can also be difficult, so this is why I seldom commit to an all out focus on one race. Most of us who have been doing this awhile have a good sense of what it takes. Plus we have friends and the internet to run our "sweet science" ideas past the shade tree mechanics just in case. It's nice to have someone in the boat with you along the way to offer encouragement or sarcasm even. The one thing I lack this time is someone to bang the hard workouts with. There has always been something to meeting someone at 5:45am and knowing they would be there. Maybe it is a good thing as most of us have a tendency to get a bit competitive on training runs.
I have been generally surprised this time around that my willingness to put the training in has been positive. Now I have a ways to go, but my attitude has been good. Being a bit older and wiser I can appreciate that my biorhythms, the weather, or other life stresses can and will impact some training days. I rely more on the effort at times than that cold hearted retch called "the watch."
8/2 - HR 60, 16.0 w/ 20k on the track in 1:29:55 (7:14).
8/3 - HR 53, OFF
8/4 - HR 52, 5.0 (10:05) easy
8/5 - HR 58, 5.0 (10:00) easy
8/6 - HR 56, 11.0 (7:55) moderate
8/7 - HR 54, 11.0 w/ 6 x 1mile (6:46,40,45,39,39,25)
8/8 - HR 55, 11.0 (7:42) moderate
Now the one thing I like about training cycles is I can see how they overlay to the previous one. It helps me coach myself better. Improvement is obviously good to see, but I'm talking about the tweaks you make to bring about better results. You know...stuff like a better warm-up, starting out slower, backing off, etc. The meat of these cycles is really the moderate runs at 10-12 miles. These runs keep the general fatigue at a level so when you do the "mandatory marathon training crap" you are learning to endure/adapt. Honestly I was disappointed in the mile repeat times, but I just told myself it is the process. It doesn't matter how fast I ran these 15 years ago. The first response to this as I have mentioned before is I need to incorporate more speed/turnover. I need to establish a cruising speed. You have to let this go. On race day the idea is to uncover the exact pace I can carry for 26.22 miles. For me to run 11.0 miles today at 28 seconds over my 7:14 pace target the day after mile repeats shows me something is starting to work. Like Terry Bradshaw once said, "When you go to the biggest dance of the year, you dance with the one who brung ya."