A Change of Plans...

Steve Gonser PT DPT
Physical Therapist

First time Dad, Husband, Physical Therapist at Buffalo Rehab Group, Boston Qualifier, Ironman, and founder of RunSmartOnline.com. Join me as I balance training, work, and family on my journey to the start line (and hopefully a PR).

It’s been a crazy two weeks since my last post.  Between getting a tooth pulled (ow!) and running an impromptu race, my training has been forced to pivot.  William has me guessing every day.  Will I get Dr. Jeckel or Mr. Hyde? Only the morning will tell.  We've had some amazing days followed by ones that are more difficult.  He's been out on his first run and Chestnut Ridge walk this week (see main image).  So this post begins like so many other, over a cup of coffee with the clock staring back with 3:15am, fully knowing that the submit button won’t be hit until later tonight.

So have my training priorities have begun to pivot.  The pivot is founded on the back of a race that I had no intention of running.  That is, until I pulled the trigger 23 hours before the start.  April 11th brought me to the start line of an 18 miler in Honeoye Lake. It was cold and hillier than anticipated, but I was able to walk away with some great feedback from my legs:  I need more speed work.

My strength as a runner lies with ability to hold a moderately hard pace for an extended period of time. I’ve done this across a handful of marathons, coming within minutes from even splitting the first half and second half of the race.  The 18 miler at Honeoye Lake came at the tail end of a 60 mile week with zero effort to taper.  I actually impulse registered with less than 24 hours before the race started. Although the race was somewhat a success, I felt rather flat without that extra oomph. 

There’s this misnomer in long distance running that speed work is less important. It’s not.  It was no more apparent than in the 2015 Marathon when the US simply couldn’t match the surges from Kenyan and Ethiopian runners.  I’ve always shied away from speed work, joking about my specific allergy to lactic acid.  It’s why I’ve always aligned my running with longer events.  In any given year, I’ll run more races beyond 10 miles than below.

Running hard or fast makes me uncomfortable, which is likely why I bias myself to longer, steady efforts.  Sure, it’s served me well, but I also think it’s governed my ability.  Running hard prepares us both physically and mentally for when things, for lack of a better term, suck.  That’s what I learned in my “race.”  I’m not ready to embrace the “suck” that accompanies a marathon. I define the “suck” as that dark place that is all too familiar for most marathoners.  The suck is accompanied with those inner demons coercing you into walking or slowing down.  “It’s not a big deal, just let up a bit.”  Damn you demon.

So my training is pivoting, aiming to better embrace the suck… or at the very least, push it back to a later point in the race.  This week marks my peak of volume (70 miles) and my final long run (18 miles).  From here on out I’m going to commit to some targeted, harder running.  I have plans to attend one more race, The Grand Island Half Marathon.  I won't be looking to nail the race, but to simply test the legs one final time before game day.

In attempt to switch things up, I spent some time at the trails at Chestnut Ridge this weekend.  Turns out, these haven’t been cleaned up since winter.  Oh yeah, it's now 6:40pm... final time to publish this post.