Have you ever noticed when you have a great workout, you know you could have done more and the cool-down is a breeze. Other days you can do the same workout and just barely make the jog home. Why is that? No question rest plays a significant role. Yesterday I did a slow 5 with the dog followed by another slow 4. Nothing special, especially since all I did on Sunday was bike. Could I still be trashed from my hard Saturday effort? Definitely!
If you've been reading my entries, then you know I am preparing for the Seattle Marathon a week from Sunday. Over the last month one of my staple workouts has been a 4 mile hard effort- with times getting progressively quicker. Last week was a breakthrough effort - 23:38, and I felt great. Peaking at just the right time, or so I thought. Today I did a 23:48 and my legs were so shot after I walked half of the 800 meter cool down home.
I've only got a couple more key workouts planned before my race, but I want to do this 4 mile one more time next week, and I want to run well under 23:38. To me, that will be a good indicator that I am timing my peak just right.
If I can't do it, then I probably need more recovery. In those last days leading up to your marathon, don't be fooled into thinking your fitness is somehow deteriorating. A more likely scenario is that you have gone just over the edge and need to back down even more than you planned. In my case, I had a very hard 14 mile run on Saturday, and probably needed another easy/moderate day before attempting this workout.