Wednesday, November 16, 2005

How much is too much?

tb1 made an insightful comment after yesterday's post where I groused about my poor planning, and my inability to execute a workout when I felt I had to. Here's a bit of what he (or she) said-"Remember that in any endeavor (e.g., business, athletics, investing) all of the action is at the margins. With that being said it sounds to me like you are where you want to be (at the margin). With the little I know about Lydiard and your training history, the one thing that Lydiard stressed that sticks in my mind is that his methods are "guidelines" and the actual miles and intensity must be gauged by the athlete according to ability and age. The danger lurks in solo training without somebody to assist you in gettng the most out of each workout."

This got me thinking, especially the idea of gettting gains at the "margins". One thing I've learned through following Lydiard's method is the discipline to get up every day and run. This came easier than expected, as I found that I enjoyed running more as I increased my mileage. This discipline or work ethic cuts both ways though, as I experienced yesterday. I've found that I often am too eager, and will push myself too hard at the "margins", in order to make gains. Like Nobby has told me before, I don't want to be the fittest person watching from the stands, and yesterday's exhaustion, coupled with icing the top of my foot and feeling a tweak in my abductor gives me pause.

When I started training the Lydiard way, I told myself I would follow the program for a minimum of three years. Lydiard always took the long view with his athletes, probably to keep from burning them out. When he saw a brilliant high school runner, it is said that he would be more concerned with what the youngster would be running ten years down the road, while other coaches would be tempted to throw lots of fast intervals at him in order to bring his times down temporarily. This could very easily lead to burnout or injury.

So how do I behave? I want to run my best marathon in January, make that my best marathon to date. If I had to choose between having one good race and finally breaking 2:40, only to break myself down so much in the process that I wouldn't have the drive or ability to ever do it again, or gradually improving by degrees over the course of three to five years, I'd pick the latter for sure. During some of the more difficult workouts ahead, I'm going to try to think about this. While I'm training for January's marathon, Lydiard says what you do this year is really for next year.

With this in mind, and with yesterday's tough 22 miler behind me, I decided I could still get in all three "speed" workouts if I did a time-trial effort today. Noting yesterday's fatigue and problems, I decided to try running 10 miles, with 8 at marathon pace. Since I really want to break 2:40, that means 6:00-6:04 per mile. I'm glad to say that after the mile warm-up I felt very good, and I was able to manage 6:03 for the 8 miles without too much trouble. It was hard for me to imagine running that pace for 26 miles, but that's probably in part due to running 22 yesterday. I'm hoping by taking it a little easier today that I will be fresh for the 4x1000 repeats I have scheduled for Friday, as well as for my second 5K time-trial on Sunday. We'll see.

One thing I really have to focus on is getting enough sleep, but the kids are not cooperating. Today they devised a plan where 4-month-old Finn gets up at 4:30 (an hour before my alarm today), then 3-year-old Haiden gets up at 5:30 to delay my departure while I give Kiera a chance to sleep until 7. I guess I need to work on getting to bed around 8, but it's hard for me to unwind by then. A twelve-hour workday today might make me tired enough to crash though.

Training: 10 miles, 1:02:50, with 8 miles at 6:03 pace. Felt surprisingly good.


Zeke said...


While you want to race well in January, I like the 3-year plan. If you think like that then you avoid phrases like "I have to get all 3 in before Sunday."

Remember that just because a calendar has 7 days in a week, that doesn't mean our bodies work on that schedule.

tb1 said...

I agree with what zeke said. And Mike, you sum it up best with a quote from Lydiard "what you do this year is really for next year."

That's great that you physically felt good on the run. You earned some sleep. Hope that part works out for you.

Mike said...

Thanks Zeke and tb1, good suggestions. As for the sleep, you'll have to talk to Finn. He apparently really needed to see me and the wife at 11pm and 5am (just when I was ready to leave on my run).