Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Shutting it Down

It's time to back off, the work is done. I have to write this so it's easier for me to do. After 12 weeks of conditioning, 4 weeks of hill training, four weeks of anaerobic/track work, and four weeks of coordination training, my six months of Lydiard-based training comes down to these last two weeks of sharpening and tapering. Note to self: don't screw it up.

I did my last two mile time trial today, and the effort started to get away from me. My competitive nature and my need to see progress can work against me, and I started to find myself racing instead of just doing the workout. The result was 10:29 for two miles, or about a 5:15 pace, but I think I worked a little too hard to get there. My 5:18 pace the week before under more stressed conditions was in my mind, and I wanted to prove I was still improving. Proving it by running myself into the ground wasn't what I had in mind. I started to tie up a little in the last half mile, and I could feel the lactic acid building up in the quads. It started to feel like the last half mile of a 5K, so I eased up just a touch and tried to remember that by going all-out at this stage would probably be more to my detriment than to my benefit.

Nobby said it before after my last marathon time trial two weeks ago but it bears repeating, "The hard work is done". The legs feel good now that I'm at work, and I think I'm still on the way up. However, now is the time to hold the reins tightly and to keep the short, sharpening work under more control. More of the old sayings come to mind, like "Better to be 90% coming up than 90% coming down". I still have a 50 sprint/50 float workout and another 5K trial this week, but I'll be taking more care to ease the effort on these.

After working so hard for 24 weeks, these last two weeks are probably the hardest for me. I will hopefully prove my condition on the 15th, so I'll do my best to save it until then.

The greatest obstacle I overcame in my running today? No, it wasn't the time trial. Try putting together two sets of shelves from IKEA before a morning run and still getting to work on time. If I never see another allen wrench it will be fine with me.

Training: 7 miles, 46:30, with a 2 mile time trial in 10:29, 5:15 pace


Scooter said...

a) Did you get the picture I e-mailed you?
b) I tend to think of a lot of speed work as making the body move through its range of motion rather than trying for real speed. That is running at 85 or 90% effort while trying to keep the motions as they'd be at 100%. It helps keep your joints loose but doesn't really load them. Good job in spotting that you needed to tighten the reins.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

I still have a hard time believing that tapering before a race can help. The physics of it just doesn't make sense to me - back off and shut it down so I can run better? Huh? I'm not looking forward to that part of my training! How do you turn the "run drive" off?! Ok, I'm sure I'll figure it out. Good luck with the tapering! You've put a lot of time and effort into this, enjoy it!

My coworkers had conversation this morning in regard to IKEA - it's so much fun to wander the 23-acre forest of furniture in Tempe, or look through their catalogue, but the thought of actually having to assemble it?! Ack!

Anonymous said...

Just read Ryan Hill's webiste on peaking. It is hard to get right. But you are wise to begin to shut things down. The program has brought you this far. Just follow it through to the finish.

One year back in the 1960's Peter Snell did a 4:40 time trial 2-3 weeks before his final Lydiard coached peak. He began to doubt the program and whether he should cut back. Lydiard calmed him down and told him just to stay with the plan. Several weeks later he ran a sub 4 minute mile winning a big race and running a PR.

Johnny Lyons said...

Congrats on the newspaper article! I've only done a few races and I already don't like tapering. Sure you don't want to hurt yourself, but cutting back just feels like you're losing a lot that you worked so hard to gain. We just have to trust the people who say to cut back and dial it in. Good luck!

James & Kenya the Duck Toller. said...

Good stuff Mike. I'd like to run the AZ Rock and Roll someday. James

Thomas Sørensen said...

Trust old man Arthur, Mike. And if you or your wife has taken a liking to IKEA stuff, you really should start a collection of Allen wrenches :-)
Or come visit me, I live 500m from an IKEA - we go there for hot dogs :-)

Zeke said...

Mike, man it's gone by quickly. Yep, tapers suck. I'm still trying to figure out what works for me leading up to a marathon. Hang in there.

Eric said...

Wow...I'll have to stick up for tapering here and put in a good word. Tapering does not suck. Tapering is like someone from the future coming to you with the winning lottery numbers! Tapering is a can't miss proposition to improve your odds of performing your best on race day.

Keep it rolling, Mike.

Duncan Larkin said...

Mike. Sorry we didn't connect. I'm in Phoenix and my lack of knowledge of Arizona geography was evident when I learned that its over 100 miles to Tucson. For some reason I thought this state was as small as Lichtenstein. Ikea rocks. I love that place.Good luck on the rest of the taper.

Anonymous said...

Eric, I'm with you here...man, the animosity toward tapering is getting me down! A sort of microcosm of tapering can be seen when you're forced to sit out a week because of some niggling little problem, and the next week your long run feels fresh and easy. There's overwhelming historical evidence from the top of the sport: Lydiard, Daniels, Pfitzinger, Kellogg, Bowerman. Zatopek easily won both the 5000 and 10,000m at the 1950 European Games after being in the hospital for two weeks prior. Gebrselassie, in the case of both his Olympic golds, was bed-ridden for a week and a weekend, respectively, but also with an entire month of training lost prior to Sydney. If you're in a bookstore sit down with the Noakes and read about Bruce Fordyce and Mark Allen's unprecedented successful training methods in Chapter 6, it may just convince y'all.

Mike, after months of those 100-mile weeks, glad to see you're taking it easy!

Mike (inboston)

Mike said...

Wow, the taper does strike a nerve. I know Johnnie and Angie are more into the ultra-running scene, where just peaking once or twice a year doesn't really happen as often as running strong throughout the year. I know that recovery and supercompensation happens when you rest, and when I feel good the day after an easy workout I know this process is at work. The thought of losing fitness is overpowering, but I will try to listen to the masters and keep backing off. Thanks Mike in Boston, good to hear from you again.