Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Fast(ish) Finish

Poor, sick Finn. On the mend again.

I've been thinking more about this article I posted on this blog after Evan was kind enough to let me know about it. Here is a little excerpt-

"It's a very interesting phenomenon that we're only now coming to grips with--that mental fatigue will lead to the perception of muscular fatigue," says Benardot. He notes that the brain has a lot of processing to do during a run, monitoring blood volume and sweat rates, core temperature, blood sugar, and stress hormones. "The brain is juggling all of this information and can eventually make the decision: 'Whoa, things are not good here, I'm going to shut it down."

This is the post where I discuss the above quote. Anyway, as I start to feel like I'm beginning to drag towards the end of some of my runs, I think about this article. Just where does my brain get off telling my body to shut things down? The audacity! Deep inside, I feel that my will should be able to circumvent or short circuit these negative neurological impulses that can possibly slow the body down before it is absolutely necessary to do so. I'm testing this "will" with a few faster minutes towards the end of some runs, specifically when I start feeling tired.

Today's 16 miler is a good example. I woke at 4am and turned on the computer to check the conditions outside. 85 degrees. This is madness, but what can you do. The first half of the run went by with me feeling good, but as I worked my way back home on the Lucas loop I started to tire through "gut-check-alley" (I really need to cut this out of more runs, but it just hurts so good). As I cleared the uphill and was left with about 2.5 miles to go I noticed that the pace had dragged up to an average of 7:21 from the 7:18 I was running a few miles prior. While I didn't particularly feel like it, this is where I stopped letting my mind boss me around. Two miles at 6:02 followed, which felt a little tough but still aerobic. When I tried to push the pace down further I started breathing a little heavier, so I backed off and didn't let the two extra seconds per mile bug me (I wanted to run 6 flat on these). At the end I cruised the last half mile home, somewhat pleased that I was able to push back against my natural inclination to slow down.

As I sit writing this I can't help but think, "Big deal, two miles at marathon pace", but on the comeback trail I take these little victories and file them away. Maybe during the last two miles of a marathon I can think back to this and remember that I might not be quite as tired as I think I am.

Training: 16 miles, 1:54:54, 7:11 pace, with two miles at 6:02


D said...

Finn is adorable and getting big! Interesting article.

Evan said...

Ummm ... 85 degrees at 5am! Next time you plan to run a marathon in those conditions let me know. Until then, if you're within 2-5% of your normal pace you're doing fine.

As for not eating before the run, give it time. After a month or so you should be comfortable at normal easy pace (7:00 ish) without the pre-run infusion of calories, and it sounds like that is the case. I'm not a scientist, but I imagine that the adaptation to the different fuel source takes longer the closer you are getting to maximum speeds. It took me several months to adjust to doing speedwork in the morning. The body is also not fully awake, whereas on marathon day you'll have been up for 3 hours before you start. That will add another few seconds onto your "marathon pace today" (which will differ from your goal marathon pace).

angie's pink fuzzy said...

Finn looks just like his daddy!

"only" two miles, but two miles is better than none, and you're right, you'll use that in the future! it's a building block.

Greg said...

I say any time spent at marathon pace or faster after an hour and a half running are worth noting. especially in 85 degree heat. Nice job.

stephen said...

Funny, Mike, I tacked on a 'steady state' mile at the end of my run today, too, and found it invigorating.

What was the dew point this morning? I used to run in Florida, and I found I could handle 85-90F as long as the dew point was 60 or below. That level of humidity is low enough that the heat is manageable.

Once that dew point starts climbing past 65, though, runs become chores. And the closer the DP is to the temp, the worse the conditions. If the temp's over 80 and the DP's over 69, forget it: total counterproductivity. One could actually be at risk for heat-related dysfunction in such conditions.

I used to look at pure humidity readings, but they're infamously inaccurate. DP, on the other hand, can be accurately measured in tenths.

Mike said...

The dewpoint was 61, so fairly stifling but it could have been worse.

Good to see you back on thre roads D!

Evan, I LOVE all those excuses for my crummy running.

Thanks Angie, I hope you are back running soon. Today was a good day to be "in recovery".

Thanks Greg, it didn't feel as bad as I thought it would.

Phil said...

Only two miles at marathon pace! ... with the temperature hovering just below 90, relatively high humidity and 14 miles behind you. Sounds like you're starting to lick whatever mental problem you think you have. Most folks would have called a cab.