I didn't run this week. I had scheduled a week off because I have had a very long base phase. I spent last fall from a bit before labor day until just before Thanksgiving building up VERY slowly. I was banged up, out of balance and really struggling so even though the volume of work was very low I was working fairly hard to do it. Finally I got myself together over the course of November and started doing what I would call training and have been at it steadily ever since. I would not normally schedule a single phase to be this long, 17 weeks not including another 12 or so weeks of build up, but I was just so out of shape after a 4 month layoff and another two plus months of very light running that I really needed to put in a lot of work just to get into some sort of general fitness.
As such I took this week off. All I did was go to yoga on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and I got a massage on Friday. I did my normal stretching, basic exercises and mobility stuff but nothing that you would call real exercise.
Looking back to the fall I was far out of shape. I did run a 15:22 at the very fast Great Bay 5k, but the 16:11 I ran at the only moderately difficult Great Island 5k was more telling as to just how far off of decent shape I was.
My first week resembling real training was November 20 to the 26th where I ran 72 miles the following week I was up to 84. On December 10th I ran 32:10 on the very fair USATF Club Nationals course. I would guess based on the winning time that it was within a minute of what you would expect to do on the track in ideal conditions. So I was pretty out of shape. At this point I was only doing half Mona fartleks and only covering about 1.8 miles while doing them, 5:30 mile pace or so.
By the end of the month I had done a full Mona and covered 3.7 miles, about 5:24 pace, so I was coming along but I was still a long way from what I would consider 'normal fitness' which is covering around 3.9 miles for a mona. I was getting in at least two decent efforts every week and running between 70 and 100 miles a week. Nothing flashy but consistent.
For the month I had 8 workouts, two races and a long run of 14 miles. Certainly nothing to write home about but I was fitter at the end of the month then at the start of the month and I was healthy.
In January I had 10 workouts, two races and a long run of 17 miles. The first race was a 15:25 5k in much tougher conditions then what I ran 15:22 at back at Great Bay and the second was a very nice step forward with a 9:15 track 2 mile. Not a great race but for where I was at it was good. The thing I was starting to notice both in workouts and in that two mile was that I wasn't feeling the same resistance at speed that I had been struggling with the last couple years. You can even see it in video of me racing. (fast forward to 4:10)
I felt like I was running in sand when I try to get down much under 4:50 per mile pace and looked like I was almost dragging something. In the 2 mile I felt like I had very little aerobic fitness and like I was running quicker than I had trained to but mechanically I felt smooth and easy. This really got me, and still has me, very excited about the potential for running well this year as I get my aerobic fitness back and start to do some more race specific workouts.
If for comparison you look at how I'm moving now the improvement is pretty noticeable.
In February I got in 8 workouts and two more races, my long run was 22 miles and additionally I got in three 16 milers. I also had a 100 mile week, admittedly during vacation week. The races were a 24:50 5 mile, which is back into what I would consider my normal competitive range. Yes the out of shape side of the normal competitive range but after running a couple of 32 something 10k's and a 16:11 5k in the fall I admit I was worried about ever getting back into real shape again. I am after all not getting any younger. My 5 mile split at USATF had been a 25:40 and I feel like the courses were fairly even so to see a ~50 second improvement, 10 seconds per mile, over a 2 month period was very gratifying. My second race was a 14:41 track 5k which much like the two mile really has me excited. First mechanically I felt smooth and I didn't feel like it was hard to run that pace. Second I was running off of fartleks and road work, no specific track workouts. The fastest 5k I have ever run without specific work is 14:20. So I'm not that far off.
Generally I expect to drop 20 to 25 seconds on my 5k with a 6 to 10 week specific cycle which would have me in the 14:10 to 14:15 range this spring. After how far I had fallen last fall I will be over the moon happy if I can run in that range this spring. Lastly I improved my mona fartlek to 3.83 miles, an improvement of 9 seconds per mile to 5:13.3 pace.
March was actually another good month. I was getting tired and New Bedford was an unmitigated disaster but the general trajectory was still good. I got in two solid weeks to start the month both in terms of mileage and workouts and with this rest I feel ready to go. I would really like the snow to melt so I can get on the track for some specific workouts but I keep trying to remind myself I don't have control over that and that I no longer have the time to either shovel a track or to drive into the city to get on an indoor track so I must do the best I can with the resources I have.
Moving forward I want to race two or three times in April, right now I'm planning on a Fresh Pond 5 mile on April 9th as a bit of throw back fun with Ruben. A sort of "make fresh pond fast again" day. Then I will likely do the James Joyce Ramble 10k. I know some people hate this race but I like it. I don't like the hill up to the finish but other wise I like the course. It is generally competitive and they pay good prize money.
In May I'd like to get serious about racing well and hopefully with some rust buster races and some specific track work in April I'll be ready to do so. I plan on keeping at it up to the USATF-NE 5 mile champs in mid June at which point I'll take a week or two rest before changing speeds.