For my next half marathon I'm once again following Hal Higdon's advanced half marathon training program. This morning was the end of the first step-back week, and I was supposed to run a 5K race. Since there were none scheduled nearby I did a sort of time trial around my local loop. And thank goodness it was only 5K because it was ugly.
I'm the kind of guy who has to keep running. I really like my one rest day every week, but anything more than that and I start to lose motivation and desire and heart and ability and all that. OK, maybe not that quickly, but pretty quickly. My training program offers an optional two rest days before the 5K, 10, or 15K races at the end of each step-back week. The optional rest or easy run day is on Friday and Saturday is the rest day. This week I just couldn't get it together to get an easy run in on Friday, so I took both days off. And this morning's run suffered for it, I believe.
I had all these grand illusions that 5K just wasn't far enough and I'd stretch it out to 4 or 5 miles, but when I started moving I knew there was little chance of that. My legs were dead, my breathing was labored, my desire nil. It wasn't that hot out, about 70 degrees, and although it was pretty humid it was also cloudy so I didn't have to deal with the sun. In the end, the run didn't turn out that bad, I was about 13 or so seconds per mile slower than what I run that route on a good day, and my average pace for the entire run was still under 8:00/mile at 7:54, but it was enough to put a kernel of doubt in my mind.
Even though I took it easy for most of July to get ready to train again, I now wonder if I'd have been better off taking time off of running completely during the month. Not for 30 days or anything, but maybe 4, 5, 7 days off might have been a better idea than just not timing my runs in 90 degree heat.
On the other hand, I've had a nice string of successful runs that has lasted all summer and has included several personal victories, so if I was going to have a (perceived) bad run I'm glad it came when I was only out there for 25 minutes and not 2 hours.