Friday, January 20, 2006

Where's the peak?

When I decided to do P.F. Chang's Phoenix marathon, it was for three reasons.
1. It was about seven months after my previous marathon, which gave me time to do a full Lydiard cycle of marathon training.
2. I had a score to settle with the race, as I bonked horribly and was forced to walk sections en route to a 3 minute PR (went out way too fast with too little training).
3. Late January through late February is the busiest month of the year at work, so it would be a good time for a block of reduced training after the race.

I unpacked, consigned and photographed more than 30 paintings for a show our gallery is doing on February 11 yesterday, thus no blog entry. This is a show of small, or "miniature" paintings, which will have close to 400 pieces total. There's the boss, one full-time co-worker, and me, plus a sporadic part-timer to do all of this. It's simply crazy but we get it done.

A client surprised me yesterday by mentioning he saw me in the newspaper yesterday. I like that they used my chip time instead of the gun time, but for some reason they have me as 21st place. I guess they're not counting the six women who beat me, which is a shame.

In training news, I got my legs back today, which means I will be running the Sun Run 10K next Sunday. I'm not sure how I'll do, but it kicks off our club's Grand Prix series, which I was lucky enough to win last year. One unexpected bonus prize was comped entries to all ten races, which is really appreciated.

It seems that folks are arguing over whether or not I should be racing after the marathon. I mentioned once before that Arthur Lydiard has a schedule for continued racing after your first "goal" race (the marathon in my case) which looks like this-

Monday: 100m sprints every 200m x 10
Tuesday: 1.5 hours of long aerobic running
Wednesday: 3000m time trial
Thursday: 1 hour of easy fartlek running
Friday: 1/2 hour of jogging
Saturday: Race 5 or 10K
Sunday: 1.5 hours or more of long aerobic running

My plan was to start this schedule once the legs were feeling better, which coincidentally happened today. It should be possible to hold a peak for 6 weeks or so, which would have me racing through the end of February before rebuilding. There's only one problem with this. I'm starting to question when exactly I started peaking.

Nobby cautioned me towards the end of my track/anaerobic phase that it was important not to peak too early, and that when I started feeling too good to slow down and ease off with 90 minutes of very slow running. I've mentioned (more than once and now again) his thoughts about coming into the race 90% and coming up rather than 90% and coming down. The "Running with Lydiard" schedule Mark Coughlin sent me and that I favor has 25K time trials 7 and 6 weeks out, followed by a 20K trial 5 weeks out, followed by a full marathon trial 4 weeks out. This last time trial is the final push to really bring you up to the level where you begin to peak, and the "sharpener" (shorter speedwork) workouts and shorter (2 mile to 10K) time trials that follow this act to "put the icing on the cake" of your anaerobic system while not bringing your overall aerobic conditioning down.

Where I think I made a big mistake was 6 weeks out, where I raced a half-marathon full-bore. This was a fantastic race for me, with a great negative split and a very quick finish. It was everything I wanted my marathon to be. The race was so good, in fact, that I'm worried it brought about the beginning of my peak prematurely. The following weekend I did 15 miles of a 16 mile run at 6:01-6:02 pace, then the next weekend (four weeks out) ran 18 of 22 miles at 6:01 pace.

I'll continue to think about this, but when I remember how I felt after that last pace run I really believe I was feeling better than I was at the same point in the marathon four weeks later. I'm wondering if I should have skipped the half altogether and just kept training instead, which might have helped me run a better last six miles of the marathon. I'll never know, but it's worth thinking about. After six months of training, I owe myself a few weeks of nit-picking and overanalyzing what I did and didn't do. I'll be sure to bore you with all of it.

Training: Today, 8 miles, 53:03, 6:38 pace, got my wheels back
Yesterday, 8 miles, 57:18, 7:09 pace


Scooter said...

Regarding your half, I think you answered it yourself. You shouldn't have...but one of the wonderful, though frustrating things about the marathon is that we learn, but it takes a long time. I have no doubt that your next race, as close as it is after the marathon, will be unspectacular. You will likely feel like crap and your legs will feel leaden. Expect it. It won't hurt you (though your recovery may be slowed a bit). Oh, even though you fell like crap, your time may be a pleasant surprise. That's my take on things, from a bad racer. Let them second guess you. Only you know how well you are recovering. You will make the right choice for you.

Hunter said...

Mike, do you recall having muscle soreness (hamstring, abductor and gluteus) when in your conditioning phase? I am in the 60 mpw range now since I run five days on treadmill. This week, after one hill workout session and one tempo run (10K) session, I have the muscle soreness. Well, it's NOT that bad actually, and the level of soreness is even milder than the time when I first upped my mileage to 72.

I guess it will go away, just want to be assured that I didn't edge myself into the anaerobic zone while in the conditioning phase.

tb1 said...

I checked out your pics on the internet. You looked very determined. I guess one of the benefits of running fast in the marathon is there is a good chance of finishing by yourself and thus get great photo shots like yours. Good luck with your spring racing and I look forward to your reports.

I checked out and they are big on high mileage. I'm going to increase mine by 25% and see what happens. Thanks for your blog.

Mike said...

No fair tb1! I need your bib number to get even! Hunter, I just emailed you. tb1, careful with those letsrun folks, some are pretty full of talk. The link at the top of the list to good training threads has some great advice from some great coaches. Congrats again on your first marathon.