Thursday, March 23, 2006

Again with the "Balance" Thing

Arthur Lydiard's approach to training focuses on balance. There is no single "killer workout" that will ensure success. It seeks to perfectly balance all the elements of training, starting with an aerobic foundation, adding strength, stamina, and speed in appropriate, time-specific doses. The end result-running your best when it matters most.

It is a puzzle, with lots of pieces to fit together. After thinking about my questions on fueling during, before and after the run, which I wrote about yesterday, I realize that it's just a small piece of the puzzle. Sure, maximizing my glycogen stores before the race and learning to replenish them (partially) during the marathon will help, but that alone won't power my legs along at 6 minute pace or under.

That being said, "under" was the order of the day. I had originally planned to do my long run this morning, but after doing a 6 mile evening run with the Running Shop gang, eating dinner too late, and not sleeping well, the alarm at 4:30 was quickly silenced and ignored. This means a long run tomorrow or Sunday, but 10 miles with 4 miles of tempo running today.

After 5 miles of relaxed warm-up I took my mark and started accelerating to tempo pace. My course for this is a two-mile out and back, slightly uphill and out of the wind for the first half and the opposite for the second half. My wind-aided 10 mile race pace is 5:38, and my half marathon pace from a week and a half ago was 5:48. I hoped to run 5:40-5:45 for the duration, but would defer more to effort than pace. I'm finding lately that the first 2 miles on my faster days (marathon pace or below) are difficult, but I usually feel better after that point. This was the case today, as I practiced my "jump-cough" combo and tried not to get too much spit on my shirt as I tried to simulteaneously run in the "5's" while hacking up the remainders of my sickness. At the turnaround I was at 5:43 pace cumulative, and I figured right there that I would win the battle. Heading back on the slight downhill the wind felt cool in my face as I clawed along. I managed to make up another second along the way and ended up running the 4 in 22:47, or 5:42 pace. From here I limped along for another mile to make it an even 10 and got home in time to take Haiden to school.

These are tough days, but I feel good about the end result. When I look back at my first Lydiard conditioning phase I notice lots of days in the low 7's to high 6's. This is great for an ultra-marathoner planning to run these paces for a race, but not optimal for a guy like me hoping to run 6:00 pace or below for 26.2 miles. This time around there are more 7:30-7:50 days, but also more time spent at marathon pace and tempo pace, which was completely ignored during the conditioning the first time around as I struggled just to get the miles in. Hopefully these efforts will pay off.

Training: Today, 10 miles, 6:47 pace, with 4 miles at 5:42 pace
Yesterday pm., 6 miles, no watch but probably 7:30's or so.


Duncan Larkin said...

Mike, nice one today. I think I speak for a lot that follow you when I write that we are looking forward to reading about your tempo stuff after this huge base you have painfully and determinedly built(and hills to follow). I saw an inkling of this when you ran a fast 1/2 marathon while sick and see it again today in 4 miles at 5:42 on top of all your other runs. You strip that base stuff out from your weekly routine and you are going tear up the track and eventually the roads. As an aside, I really enjoyed this visual from your post made me chuckle as I imagined you in the dark, barely fitting into your child's table, contemplating long runs, misery and copious amounts of phlegm: "Eat the muffin with peanut butter and jam, drink the juice, coffee and a glass of water at my daughter's miniature ladybug table in the kitchen with the lights off so I don't wake the kids up."

Eric said...

I never asked...what is your goal for the upcoming marathon? At one time you mentioned maybe focusing on shorter faster stuff.

I was curious about the marathon goal because I noticed you are still training at 2:40 goal paces, even though you have already established your ability to run that kind of time. Many of us who follow your blog would argue you could have run several minutes faster without the fuel issues.

I guess the question is, would you consider your training and goal-setting to be conservative versus your abilities? I'm thinking back to your sub 1:13 half, expecting your tempo pace, as one example, to be closer to 5:30. And why not up the marathon pace to 5:55 (2:35 pace)?

My friends call me whiskers, cos I'm curious like a cat.

Evan said...

Mike, nice run. A question for you, especially as you transition into more structured tempo runs.

Do you use the feedback from the Garmin on pace to supplement what you feel based on effort?

You seem--I could be wrong--to be relatively serious about hitting particular paces and running for distance.

See, I can imagine that for an early season tempo run Arthur Lydiard might have said to not worry about whether you covered 4 miles or 3.87 but that you ran hard for 22 minutes.

When I read Lydiard I took away the clear impression that the man was not too concerned about precise paces and distances a lot of the time. Some of the time he was, hence the time trials over standard distances. Hence his suggestions to run for time and at prescribed efforts, rather than distances and paces. As you know interpreting just what 3/4 effort meant has eluded many (though see here
and hence the appeal of Daniels' VDOT derived charts and this calculator.

Paul said...

Well done Mike. Any time you put up multiple mile splits that begin with a 5, you are dealing in QUALITY!

Mike said...

Eric, it's still early, but if I had to guess right now I'd say 2:35-2:37, or 5:55 to 6 minute pace. This could certainly change once I start getting into the longer time trials in the coordination phase. My 1:13 half dropped 1,000 feet, so I just can't take the time as realistic. I figure my latest 1:16 could have been a minute faster if I wasn't running for place as part of a team, so that would probably put me at 2:38 as of now (though I hate prognosticating). I'm still trying to figure out if it's a fuel thing or just a not running fast enough often enough thing, or both. I honestly thought I'd do 2:38 last time around. As for dropping marathon pace to 5:55, it's probably a good idea, but it just feels too hard right now. As for 5:42 pace today, any harder would have made me anaerobic, so that's just where the engine is at for now. As far as 5:30 pace goes, I have to keep in mind my fastest certified 10K (from January) is 34:11, or-you guessed it, 5:30. I'll get there.

Evan, you are absolutely right. I wish I had Arthur running with me, or trackside, to help guide me in a more "natural" manner (effort, not pace and time, not distance). I fall back on specific pace often in an effort to hold myself accountable. Just short of two miles today I wanted to pack it in, but by focusing on keeping to the splits I was able to get through the bad patch. Numbers are comfortable. As for running based on time, once I have a rough idea of pace I guess I just like even numbers so I just go by distance, though I'm happy to pull the plug at 20 minutes into a tempo run since that's a nice round number. I do like McMillan's numbers on the whole as well as Dr. D.

Anonymous said...

It always becomes a matter of which training runs map to races. This might be one of those runs. It's that moment where you are mid race and things are getting tough and you draw on the effort of a run like this and say to yourself, I handled that run and effort and I can handle this.

Intervals never did that for me. Tempo runs and time trials and hard slogs where I was hanging on, did that.