"Lactate threshold 8 mi (13 km) w/ 4 mi (6K) @ 15K to half marathon race pace."
God I hate those runs. At the beginning of last winter, I tried that exact run. My knee was aching, and I barely made it through 3 miles at slower than tempo pace. I stood there after barely 5K of 6.4K and just about threw in the towel for the season.
Well, that's only partly an exaggeration, as I didn't give up marathon training. I went on to run the big race, and ran four more marathons last year, but something about that tempo run told me I needed a break from that 'work' that needs to go into fast marathoning.
Next Monday, my next training cycle begins for my April marathon. In the next three days, I'm going to pull out Pfitzinger-Douglas's Advanced Marathoning and plug in all the scheduled runs for 18 weeks. It'll include those dreaded tempo and pace runs, the ones I love to hate, but hate to miss. They hurt bad, but when you're finished a month of training with them thrown in, you're a stronger runner. You get freaky fast.
Last year, I listened to my body when my knee said 'oh no' and when my head said 'again?'. Was good to take a step back. They say that you build up for three or four weeks, then take a week recovery. Well, there's nothing that goes against the idea of going hard for four or five years, and taking a year for recovery. That's what the end of this month feels like, like the end of an easy year. In fact, my mileage this year, probably targetted around 1875 miles, will be much lower than 2008 (2240 miles) or 2009 (2120 miles), though it'll higher than 2007's 1600 miles.
I see my return to speed as a year-long project. I don't know if I can get back to where I was in the fall of 2009, but it's also not my goal to get there by April or May. I want a decent, fast-paced spring marathon. Give me a sub 3:20 and I'll be ecstatic. I'll take that and build momentum in the summer. First step, 4 miles at LT, next week.