This whole marathon training thing has brought me face to face with my advancing years.
The last time I seriously trained for running was when I was 30, training for my first 1/2 Marathon. I had never run 13 miles before and as a result I prepared as well as I could, which meant that I went out, ran as fast as I could for as long as I could, took the next day off, and did it again.
This time around that approach really doesn't work. I just can't recover between efforts, even with a day off. Maybe it's the kids, maybe it's the job, maybe it's the additional 10 years. But after a long run or a speed workout I'm cooked for at least a day if not two. However, I'm running much longer than I ever used to, and at least as fast.
Which reminds me of my favorite 'old guy' story. Actually it's an 'old bull' story. There are two bulls, one young, one old, sitting at the top of a hill, overlooking a pasture, staring down at a bunch of attractive (to bulls, anyway) cows. The young bull says to the older one: "Hey Pops, lets run down the hill as fast as we can and fuck a cow!". The old bull turns, looks at the younger one and says "Hey kid, lets walk down and fuck em all." I wish I had been this intelligent about training earlier, when I actually had the ability to recover quickly from a hard workout. But youth is definitely wasted on the young, and I can't turn back the clock.
These days I'm running one long day, up to 1/2 to 3/4 is at marathon pace, and one fast day, consisting of mile splits at 1-2 minutes faster than marathon pace. Both runs include stretches of 'Gallow-walking', as recommended by Jeff Galloway. I usually walk until my pulse drops to <> 15 miles, the other one will be around 8-9 miles, and the easy runs all under 5.
I'm hoping that the speed work as well as the marathon pace runs on the longer days will effectively get me faster. I definitely feel like speed is the last thing to come around. The other stuff, like stretching, climbing, pullups and squats, really helps balance out the pounding from the running. As the days get longer I'll probably skip one of the runs and get in a medium length bike ride.
One benefit of being 40 is simply 10 more years of experience. In the last 10 years I have grown a lot as a person. I've become a father, I've lost my father to cancer, my entire perspective has shifted from 'what can I do for fun next?' to 'what can I do for my family?'. The additional responsibility gives me the perspective to not take training so seriously. At the same time I am able to fully commit to training when I am doing it, because my time is so limited. Any pretensions of actually being 'elite' have disappeared completely. I'm doing this because I like it, not because I'm good at it. I can honestly say that I enjoy running more than I ever did before, because it gives me 2-3+ hours of silence in which I can work things out.
Last week my long run was a relatively flat 18 miles -- in freezing hail and rain. I froze parts of my body I never want to freeze again. However the run itself was a great confidence booster -- mostly due to the weather. Training has been a constant adventure, pushing these distances that I've never done before has been a lot of fun.
The marathon course was published online yesterday, and it actually looks kind of hilly. So that, plus the fact that we're going to Disneyland next week, makes me want to 'burn one down' on Sunday, maybe a good 18 miles with hills. An easy run on Monday, climbing on Tuesday, and speedwork on Wednesday prior to leaving for CA will probably set me up just right to take it easy and recover while in the land of Mickey Mouse.