Today is a special Tuesday edition of Rest Day Wrap-Up. Yesterday, for Labor Day, I ran a 5K. Coming off a 93 mile stretch for the preceding 2-week period, I ran well, finishing 39th overall, 5/60 in my age group, and with a time of 21:24, my fastest 5K of the year by 9 seconds. The race fell on my seventh consecutive of running (not something I typically do) and immediately following a 42.6 mile week. Last week also included a strong long run (14 miles at 8:22 pace) and some tempo work (4 mile tempo work at 7:37/mile pace). I finished August with 165.5 miles. And with all this volume, I feel good. Other than some blisters, the result of running 90% humidity routinely, I have no physical concerns following August’s increase in volume. But today’s rest day is much needed. If all goes as planned, my mileage will continue to climb in September and August before a steady taper through November for marathon.
This week will be a planned drop down in mileage before I start piling it back on next week, and the week will be sandwiched between two races, yesterday’s 5K and Sunday’s first 10K in the Memphis Runners Track Club Road Race Series. Following the 10K, I will go a 6-week stretch before I race again to focus on building up my volume for the marathon. Following these two races, I can continue to dial in training paces and interval times toward my realistic goal marathon time, which by one calculator (Chicago Endurance World), might be as fast a 3:24 and, by another (Runner’s World) that factors in volume, in the 3:34-3:37 range. My goal at the beginning of the year was 3:40, but I’ll continue to adjust my goal through the training process.
With the strong possibility of tropical storm (or hurricane) rains working their way northward this week and hitting Memphis, I could see training conditions get worse or make getting some workouts in difficult. As runners on the West Coast have had to deal with missing workouts or modifying workouts due to wildfire-related air quality conditions, I know this is just part of the process. And with any emergency situation, my first concern is with those whose lives will be most disrupted.
Reflection for the Week
In last week’s wrap-up, I was circling a point about trying to channel running toward something–using the discipline of training and the joy of the pursuit to be, in some way, a better version of myself. The day after I published my post, I found, via Mario Fraioli’s The Morning Shakeout, Paul Flannery’s “Extreme Athleticism is the New Midlife Crisis.” I can’t recommend this piece enough for its brave and honest look at depression, anxiety, and the significance of endurance sports.
One passage from Flannery continues to resonate with me:
Of course, there’s no telling what motivates all people to push themselves like this, but from my experience and the experience of many athletes I’ve spoken to, extreme fitness is less about being young again and more about building yourself up for the years ahead. In other words, getting better at getting older.
Flannery’s idea of “getting better at getting older” speaks to the honesty that comes out of any endurance sport pursuit. If we can’t outrun what’s dogging us, how can we make that something that makes us better, Flannery asks.
There’s also an honesty here about embracing aging. For a long time after high school, I didn’t want to compete because I knew I couldn’t match what I once had done. Now I look forward in training, trying not only to think about where I will be in my next race but in 2-3 years. But I hope any such athletic success comes with personal fulfillment, too.
As I prepare for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, I am also fundraising with the St. Jude Heroes program. In 2017, the Memphis Marathon Weekend raised over $10.3 million for the care and research activities of the hospital. You can support my fundraising efforts here.
Thanks to donations from Dr. John Smarrelli and Gregory Gross, I am halfway to my fundraising goal. Can you help out?