With my base phase in the bag, it's time for my most grueling phase of all, the speed phase. My base phase went ok, but it could have gone better. I finished with a week just over 100 miles and got to the point where I could be pretty relaxed at sub 6:00 pace. However, I had trouble finishing up my medium progression runs at the pace I wanted. I debated extending it another week but I felt I met most of my objectives, so I decided to move on.
In the speed phase, I try to build up my engine as much as I can and get in very good 10k-half marathon shape. At the end of the phase, I hope to be in sub 67 half marathon shape and have the speed to run close to 30:00 for 10k. Joe Rubio said it best when he said the point of this phase is to turn into a Porsche, while in the marathon specific phase, you take that Porsche and turn it into a hybrid. While I'd prefer it to last 8-10 weeks, I think I'll only have time for eight weeks.
I'll run a variety of speeds in my workouts, race a good bit and also increase my mileage. The key is to attack the body with a variety of stimuli to help it develop in different areas. While I can't yet know how my body will respond to the training, I'd like to be over 100 miles for most of the weeks in this phase and get in a couple 110-115 mile weeks. While in the marathon specific phase, it's very important to be fresh enough to hit your workout times and I'll delay a workout if it's not going well, in this phase, I'll run my harder workouts tired and will stick with them, even if I'm running too slowly or am running slower than planned. I expect to hit some rough training patches and have many days where I feel like a zombie.
During my Rocket City speed phase, the focus was more-so on building half-marathon fitness. I did a lot of long intervals, 6-7 mile tempo runs, finished up some of my long runs with some hard running and did a weekly run at 90% of my marathon pace. I only raced a couple of times and placed most of my emphasis on workouts that would give me a good gas tank.
During my Country Music speed phase, I focused more on speed. I raced about every two weeks, did a lot of fartleks, and really didn't get in any longer tempos or long, steady runs. It really wasn't the best training for the marathon but I wanted to have some fun and get in some fast running and workouts, which I hadn't done in years. I also needed to get used to running under 5:00 pace, which will help my efficiency for this fall.
This go-around, I'll probably do a combination of the two. I'm racing 3-4 times in July, with a race or two in August. Every other long run, I'll include some fast running or run most of it at 90% of marathon pace. These long, fast runs will be something new for me, but as a result, it will hopefully help me breakthrough to the next level. My body wasn't strong enough to do those kinds of runs so frequently last year, but with a year of solid training under my belt, I feel that I am ready. And as boring as it sounds, I'm going to do the majority of my tempo runs and all of my intervals on the track. It will help me regulate my speed and work on more efficient pacing. A two week period might look something like this:
Monday: Easy running
Tuesday: 10x10 second hill sprints with 2:00 jog recovery
Wednesday: Workout around half-marathon race pace
Thursday: Easy running
Friday: Workout at around 3k-10k race pace or a controlled long progression over hills (if I'm racing on the weekend, I'll make this another day of easy running)
Saturday: Easy running
Sunday: Easy long run with every other long run including most of it at 90% at current marathon race pace
I'm both looking forward to and dreading this phase. Luckily, I can knock out six weeks of it during summer break, which gives me enough time to get in some good sessions (rather than having them be rushed during my lunch break) and also give me a chance to get enough sleep.