Now, don't take this the wrong way. I absolutely think that track work builds speed and strength. I am proof of that. And furthermore, I always enjoy track intervals. And I'm good at them (for marathon training at my paces, we aren't talking blazing speeds here). It's fun to whiz around a track and end up out of breath and holding your knees. I love that feeling.
But there are a few reasons I'm okay with skipping it this time around.
1. I have always maintained that for me, track workouts don't build confidence.
I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's because I don't come from a track and field background. So, I don't just automatically associate certain times with certain paces/speeds. I honestly don't know what's good or bad, so, its' not like I finish a workout and think.. DAMN, I'm so fast. I just think... DAMN, I killed that workout. But then I'm like.... WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Or maybe it's because I don't have a very mathematical mind. I have a hard time calculating time when I'm running (or, let's be honest... any time). So, I'm not thinking... ohhhh this is XYZ pace. I'm just like... is that the pace I'm supposed to hit?
I will say that 1600s do build confidence, because... (duh) easy math.
2. It's not a weakness.
Generally speaking, I haven't had much trouble in the past getting my track workouts done. I barely ever missed one and I almost always hit my target paces.
Track work is so zen for me. I love how explicit it is. Do XYZ at QRS for T times. It gives me a break from my brain and appeases the part of me that loves order and specifics.
Since I'm not trying to PR at this spring race, I really want to work on my weaknesses and the execution of the long run is really my weakest link. So, I want to focus more on tempo runs, marathon pace runs, and doing specific paces DURING my long run. Mentally, the long run feels like the opposite of track work. Where the track intervals soothe my OCD by giving my brain something to focus on, the long run just feels like a mental mess, where my brain doesn't have something to hold onto, so, it's just out in lala-land and easily manipulates me into feeling like I'm tired when I'm actually just fucking bored.
3. It makes my weakness even weaker.
So, here's the deal. I do my track workout early in the week. It's a specific set of paces, distances, and numbers and so it's easy for me to just get caught up in doing them and I usually get a little competitive with myself and do them faster than I'm supposed to. I nail the shit out of it and then come Saturday for my long run, it's less specific and my brain has time to think and get bored, and since I'm physically exhausted (see: track workout from earlier in the week) and I just get the miles in.
I think spending time focusing on the long run WITHOUT track work during the week, will help me start to build my tolerance of exhaustion for training and make me realize how I'm SUPPOSED to be doing my long runs, and maybe I will take things a little easier at track workouts in the future, with that in mind.
All this to say... I will still be incorporating some fast running in my training. I will be doing progression runs and hill repeats, strides, etc. The fun leg-turnover kind of stuff to build strength and some muscle memory. But, for these 14 weeks of training, I will not be visiting the track. And I actually think that this track break will turn me into a better runner in the long run. (Hahahahha).
The track will still be there when I'm ready for it. But for now, it's time to harden up and get these long runs under control.
What's your training weakness? Any other Long Run Weaklings out there?
*I need a name for this training cycle. Any suggestions?