Friday, July 07, 2006

A Little Disappointed

Who doesn't love kids in sunglasses?

Early day today, as I was out on the road at 4:30 running through some light showers. My plan was 12 miles or so, slow if I felt bad and faster if I felt good. I ran four additional miles last evening in the heat, up to the junior high where I put in 6x100 strides on the overgrown grass infield, which meant 20 miles in doubles yesterday.

I expected to feel pretty bad, but once I got on the road I felt like I was moving along at a good clip. I made a point of ignoring the Garmin and just running by feel, and my breathing indicated that I was pretty high up on the aerobic scale. While the run was very hilly and included some trails, I imagined I was probably running around 6:40 pace or so given the effort it took. At 10 miles I gave into temptation and looked at my average pace, which was stuck on 7 flat. I know I have a barrel full of excuses I can reach into, but still I was disappointed to see such a slow pace when I felt I was going much faster. I thought a bit about Eric cruising effortlessly through 15 milers at 6:10 pace and Greg knocking out medium-long and long runs comfortably at sub 7 pace and couldn't help but feel jealous.

I put in one mile at 6 minute pace after the 10 miles, just to see what it felt like and was even more bummed out. I was clearly working out of my comfort zone, even though this pace (6 minutes flat) should be aerobic by at least 20 seconds per mile. At this point I eased off for the last mile and made it home with an average pace of 6:55 for the run.

I know I need to be patient for this Lydiard stuff to work, and most of the time I'm not bothered by the slower paces at the beginning of the cycle. However, after Wednesday's cruise intervals with microscopic rest at 5:40 pace I thought I was getting back. I guess it's just going to take awhile longer, and I'll have to live with that. I do notice that I'm feeling better after my runs, which is a sign that my body is starting to recover from the workouts quicker. Hopefully faster times will follow.

One thing people keep reminding me of is the need for a recovery week, and while I'm generally not a fan of this I do find myself wondering if I would magically find myself running faster with less effort if I just cut back to 60 miles for a week or two, as Eric and others have suggested. My usual "comeback" is that I don't need to be running faster now, and that it will happen on its own given enough time. More miles earlier at a little slower pace will ultimately pay greater dividends in the long run. But this is something I don't know for certain. Lydiard tells us that he did all the experimenting for us, but at the end of the day we're all an experiment of one. Maybe before I poo-poo the recovery week philosophy I should give it a try, although years ago (before I doubled my mileage) I never really saw a clear-cut benefit from a down week (though 50 miles a week perhaps wasn't enough of a workload to step back from).

Regardless, I'm still on track for a good week if I can keep up the momentum through the next two days. My plan is to get to at least 105, in part to average out the 5 miles I missed last week. Yes, I know you can't really "make up" lost mileage, but when I look at my log it's unavoidable that I try to anyway.

Training: 12 miles, 6:55 pace
Yesterday pm., 4 miles at 7:21 pace


Eric said...

I do think you need a recovery week. Both of them. Back to back. One for each marathon you haven't recovered from.

Okay, I'm done browbeating you for today. Seriously, though, the way I got my paces down was by the forced recovery that I took for my injury. Before that first break, I was running just exactly how you described, 7:15 mile after 7:15 mile. I didn't know how I would ever string 6:00 miles back to back let alone 26 of them. Then I took a couple of 60 mile weeks and magically I run an 8 miler at 6:20 pace in complete comfort. WTF!

Now, approximately 10 weeks after that, with one more low mileage stint and a 9 day no mileage stint behind me, I have run a 15 miler at 6:10 avg. pace and a 17 miler at 6:04 avg. pace. Neither of which caused me any stress, indicating marathon pace is somewhere faster, which is just mind boggling.

I honestly believe 10-14 days of 6-8 mile runs with maybe two 12 milers scattered evenly in there would do wonders for you. If it works for you, a couple of days after you get back to 'normal' you will feel the same effort, but your pace will be different. Probably faster. No guarantees though! It's a leap of faith.

BTW, I don't think Lydiard would advocate not resting between cycles. There isn't much in his books about it, but I doubt he would recommend going cycle to cycle without some downtime.

Okay, NOW I'm done browbeating you. Take some pressure off and give yourself a chance to pull all of that hard earned fitness together. It's not a break so much as giving your body a chance to put all the raw materials together for the next cycle.

Greg said...

OK it's my turn to browbeat.

Earlier this year, I did a marathon and I treated it more as a fitness check than an actual race. I ended up PRing in the race off of what felt like very little effort. Anyway, the following week, I tried to jump right back into training.

What I found was that everything I did seemed difficult. My supposedly nice and easy runs were painful and the thought of doing anything fast actually gave me shivers.

I finally forced myself into a stepback week, and the following week...magically, everything returned to normal. The relaxed runs were enjoyable again, and the fast efforts, well, they still gave me shivers, but that's just how I'm wired.

Stress and recover. Stress and recover. Do you really think that in 3 months from now, you will look back and say, you know, I really wish I wouldn't have taken that down week? I highly doubt it, but I could see the reverse happening.

OK. I'm done. Who's next.

Evan said...

What Eric said ... I know where you're coming from not wanting to back off. I ran 359 days last year and 358 is 2004, so I think I've earned my addicts badge. But the two weeks after each of the three marathons in there I didn't top 40 miles. Really, you'll be amazed. It's the old story of taking the downtime before the downtime takes you.

As for today's run which you're a little disappointed in, well, Mike you put it all out here for us to see, and that's great. Eric posts less frequently, so we hear about the great ones or the ones that are so frustrating they make us feel sad for him with his injury. It's like with a blind date (not that I've ever done that, another story), you either want it to go really well or really badly.

It's just not realistic for anyone to feel great everyday or every week. Sometimes what you think is enough recovery isn't quite enough, sometimes you surprise yourself. Less than a minute over your most recent marathon pace is still a good pace for 12 milers the day after you did 20.

Evan said...

I guess I would just add a p.s to my post. You mention you did cycling before running. With cycling you can string together more days and weeks of intensity without the break because you don't have the impact stress. Same with swimming.

Running is different because of the impact stress. After a while the cumulative effect means you have to cut back and recover.

Thomas said...

Jeez Mike, let me apologize personally for messing with your head in my last post. I'm sorry it's still stuck in your brain, but you had a fairly similar entry once (February 09, 2006) which I can still remember(!).

On a completely different note, don't you think the present heat and humidity in Tucson might have something to do with your present "slow" speed?

Mike said...

I re-read my old post and you're officially off the hook Thomas, mine was much grosser. Funny reading it again and remembering all the suffering, then looking at the date and seeing that it was a little over a month after my January marathon. Makes a guy think.

The weather is definitely sapping my strength a bit.

Dusty said...

Hi Mike. I would have to say a little rest would not hurt you... might keep you from hurting yourself. Easier said than done, I know... but you are talking to the girl that broke a bone in her foot from non-stop running.

Another thought about your slower times on the run -- quite often, it is those runs where you feel like you are going faster than you are that you are making breakthroughs... I'm not sure about the full training plan you have and must admit I don't know Lydiard's plan (always had a coach and decided it was their job to think -- now I'm realizing I should have taken better notes). I digress - not sure what the overall deal is - but you may likely be getting primed to start breaking through a wall. That often happened to me. Othertimes it was just because I was overworked and so forth.

Hang in there -- maybe take a few days off if not a week? Just a thought.

Dusty said...

oh - and meant to say... cute kids :)

Running Rabbit said...

TOO FLIPPIN' CUTE!!! (The Kids that is!!)

Phil said...

Mike .. take a day off every now and again. What could it hurt? There is enough literature around that indicates taking break will do you some good. If you try it and you don't find any discernable benefit, then stop taking breaks and go back to your current plan.