And So It Begins.

The summer can be an interesting time for runners; particularly those of us who run year-round.

The winter for me tends to be a build toward spring races. In this case, it was arguably my best build ever toward the Boston & Cleveland Marathons. Unfortunately, PR attempts were thwarted in both cases by global warming. In the end, all I had to show for it was a 5k PR.

And as you hit late spring and the temperatures climb, the paces on your workouts do the same. You feel sluggish and look at the race calendar, knowing that if you race, the heat won't allow you a time you'd want to brag about.

But summer running is extremely valuable for another reason: it is the build that leads into fall, and for that reason alone, it's critical. It doesn't matter so much exactly how fast your workouts are as it does that you are doing the workouts.

It's funny - I tend to do the same thing every June. I run just as much, but I get less religious about keeping my running logs. Likely, it's ego, because who wants to be plugging in splits that are 45 seconds a miler slower than what you were easily doing 2 months ago. But while my record keeping slips, the running doesn't. I was nursing a knee thing so for a few weeks was only out 3-4 times per week, but slow running fixes most ailments, and I'm about 90% now.

The most important thing, this summer (though for me, all the time) is the long run. This build is aiming toward the North Face Endurance Challenge in Georgia; my 2nd 50 miler and a much more difficult course than the one I did before. My last 50 miler took me 7:55, and based on what I'm seeing from the results on the GA course, I've put a goal in place for under 10 hours for this one. But of course, that's merely a guess - just a dart I'm throwing to figure out how long my long runs should be.

For my first 50 miler, I maxed out at 5 hours and around 36-37 miles. But those were road miles, because it was an easy course. This time around, most of my long runs are being done on tough trails to simulate a tough course. Last weekend, I did my first 3 hour run. I barely went 14 miles, but all of them were over roots, rocks, plants and trees. It was awesome. Because I expect this race to be 2 hours longer, I plan on getting the long run up there as well, closer to 6 hours.

Along the way, I've got short races: my high school and college cross country alumni meets, and long races: the 18 mile Double Trouble and Susquehanna Super Hike Ultra, all with the common theme of not being fast courses, but being critical to this build.

I'm stil figuring out what speedwork I might drop in, as well as what cross training and core work might get me there in under 10 hours, but there's time to figure out all of that in the next several weeks. For now, putting in the miles and getting in the long runs is enough to know that come October, I'll be ready.

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