Friday, August 11, 2006

Delicate Constitution

I pride myself on having an iron gut, meaning that I can pretty much eat whatever (or not) before a run. I've been doing the "not" for a few months now, save for coffee. However, I met my match today when I ran out of coffee filters and ended up using that goofy metal-mesh reusable one that comes with many coffee machines these days. Yes, it was still coffee, but all the acidity that the paper filter usually removes flowed freely into the carafe, which made for a jumpy and edgy runner.

I just never settled in to the run this morning, and at about 8 miles my stomach started with the "hunger knock" that usually only comes on after two hours of running. My legs took a hint from my stomach and started to tire also. While I wanted to call it a day early, I stuck it out for the 14 miles I had planned, finishing them at an average 6:57 pace. Part of me wonders if I'm just a little worn from a fairly quick week, but it's possible it was just the coffee. It's also possible it wasn't even the coffee, but just a bad day. Regardless, it's over with now.

I'm closing in on the end of my first of 8 weeks of conditioning, and it's been interesting comparing the speeds of this week to where I was at during my previous two builds. For example, I only averaged under 7 minute pace for a total of 8 runs during my first 12 week stint of conditioning training a year ago (races excepted). During my second build, where I did 7 weeks of conditioning, I ran a total of 13 runs under or at 7 minute pace. So far during the last 4 weeks of running I've run all but three days below 7 minute pace, and two of those were days off. I am running fewer total miles at this point, but that will be changing as this build progresses.

Let's face it, finding the magic point where ideal mileage and ideal average pace are joined together in harmonious bliss is all but impossible. Even if someone succeeds with this once, I'm sure it's a moving target and what will be a perfect mix one week won't be ideal the next. 7 minute pace isn't nirvana, but I believe in my case running that speed or faster works a greater percentage of my muscle fibers for a longer duration (I thank the mystery coach for this knowledge). It's this struggle to find what works best for us that keeps training interesting, and I'm not even involving anaerobic in the mix in an effort to keep my head from exploding at this point.

On an unrelated note, what's up with the spell check? My only alternative for "carafe" was "carboy". "Flowed freely into the carboy" makes an interesting end to a sentence though.

Training: 14 miles, 1:37:12, 6:57 pace


Laurie said...

car·boy n. A large glass or plastic bottle, usually encased in a protective basket or crate and often used to hold corrosive liquids.

You could consider your coffee corrosive!

Mike said...

Wow, I was way off thinking "valet" for carboy. It was a pretty corrosive brew today.

Evan said...

Interested you use average pace as your metric. I'm always interested in what pace I'm running at the business end of the run, but I try not to be too concerned about how quickly I'm going in the first 2-3 miles of anything over 8 miles (anything shorter than 8 is typically recovery anyway). If I do an 8:20 first mile that will have a big impact on average pace, but if it helps me ease my way down to quicker paces later in the run it's all good. Other days I can drop a 7:30 for the first mile. Not having a garmin I don't have precise data on this, but from samples of splits, I know my pace in the first 2-3 miles is far more variable than my pace later in runs. My gut sense is that the variation in the early miles is often somewhat external to running factors, and related to sleep, nutrition, time since waking etc.

The short version of this is that I think (YMMV) the average pace for the miles after 2-3 is a better measure of how the run is.

Mike said...

You're probably right on that Evan, and I do some progression-type runs where the early paces are 7:30-7:40, especially when I'm with others. Some days I like the feeling of hitting the ground running though, like the 6 miles out the door at 6 minute pace the other day.

I haven' forgotten your take on the anaerobic, and know that I am a fan of the 800's-1600's which fit squarely in the Pfitz plan. I figure I'll talk more about the day-to-day speedy efforts when they come up in 12 weeks. That being said, I will be choosing one day of each of these conditioning weeks for an "examination" time trial of 2-3 miles, which will be a little anaerobic. Hopefully Arthur won't be spinning in his grave.