I finished a challenging week of training with 76 miles. I was blessed with unusually warm January weather, which always boosts my mood. Being able to run in only capris and a long sleeved shirt is a luxury during a Michigan winter.
The above photo is of my current VO2 max as stated by my Garmin 735xt. This number is significant not for the the value, but because it is the highest my VO2 max has ever been. In running terms, VO2 max is a measurement of the amount of oxygen your body can take in and deliver to your muscles. The higher the number, the better - the more oxygen you are delivering to your working muscles. For the last year I have hovered around 58, so to see this number going up gives me hope that my hard work is paying off and my fitness level is increasing!
I had three runs this week with some quality work, and the other four days of running were easy runs. Tuesday I ran some short repeats, 16 reps of 200 m in 47 seconds, which is roughly 6:15 per mile pace. This pace is challenging for me due to the fact I have shied away from faster intervals prior to working with my coach. These short, fast intervals are great for increasing my leg turnover without beating up my body. Thursday was another marathon pace run: a three mile warm up, eight miles at marathon effort, and a three mile cool down. I am happy to say my marathon effort is dropping! My average pace for the eight miles was 7:03 per mile. My Saturday long run also had some faster running in the middle, which is also a relatively new to me concept. I chalk this partially up to laziness - I love easy long runs. It's my happy time. Throwing in some faster, harder miles disrupts my happy place, but it gets me where I want to be in terms of my fitness. My 18 mile run consisted of a four mile warm up, ten miles at a goal range of 7:00 to 7:20 per mile, and a four mile cool down. My average pace for the ten tempo miles was 7:13. The first six of those miles were a real challenge. The pace felt harder than I thought it should. The last four of the ten miles felt pretty great. This was one of those runs where I got to practice my goal of a more positive mindset. Rather than beating myself up, I cheered myself on, and I think it made a big difference. I don't always use fuel during long runs but I did take a gel at mile ten of this run and I'm pretty sure it saved the day. My overall average pace for the 18 miles was 7:43 per mile.
I am really thankful to my amazing coach, Esther Atkins, for the guidance she is providing me during this cycle. The short, fast repeats, and the occasional faster long runs are new training stimuli that will hopefully propel me to the next level. I started working with Esther in November, after contemplating hiring a coach for months. I had been following a coaching group, McKirdy Trained, via social media and also through some of the running bloggers I follow who were being coached by McKirdy coaches. Click here for a link to their website. After running the Indy Monumental Marathon in November, I decided it was time for a coach when I started training for Boston. Ironically, McKirdy Trained was giving away three months of free coaching. I entered the contest, crossing my fingers I would win, but had already decided if I wasn't that fortunate, I would still hire a McKirdy Trained coach for my Boston training. And I won! I was even more fortunate to be matched with the coach I REALLY wanted to work with. Esther is a very talented runner and very positive person. After our first phone call I knew I wanted to keep working with her long after my three months of free services expired. She is stuck with me! Esther also writes great blog posts. You can read the latest one here.
My upcoming week of training has some more hill work, and my favorite, an easy paced long run of 20 to 22 miles. I am excited to celebrate a BIG birthday at the end of the week, which I will discuss in a post later on this week. I have been diligent with my goal of post run stretching, and I am definitely making some progress because I can touch my toes again!