Wednesday, August 23, 2006

On the Radar Screen

While I'm months away from the marathon in California in early December, today I feel like I crossed into the same hemisphere. Given the stomach bug I'm kicking and the fatigue I felt during my last run, it was with some trepidation that I headed out the door for 7 miles of 6:10 pace effort. This was my third week of this type of workout, which should culminate in 8 weeks with 8 miles at 6 minute pace. By that time (5 weeks from now), I'm supposed to feel that 8 miles at that pace is a walk in the park, and that I could literally turn around and repeat the workout. As of last week, when I ran 7 miles at 6:14 pace, I was a long way from feeling nice and relaxed. The week prior to that I made the mistake of just taking off out the door and running 6 miles at 5:58 pace, which turned into anaerobic hell. It was at that point I decided (with the urging of the coach I've mentioned) to back the pace off and slowly work towards 6 minute pace week by week.

When it comes to these kinds of weekly workouts, it seems two schools of thought prevail. There's Jack Daniels, who advocates repeating the same workout (or similar workouts) several times at the predetermined pace, and working towards making that pace feel easier and more relaxed week by week. Lydiard seems to be more about getting the paces to come down "naturally" week by week, so you're running the workout a little faster each week without even realizing it. I guess I'm trying to get the benefits of both approaches, that is getting the workout to feel easier week to week while simultaneously reducing the paces. The best of both worlds? Who knows. Daniels says he likes to keep the paces constant to keep runners from "racing" themselves into the ground by trying to beat their times from week to week. He has a valid point there. I'm hoping by trying to get an honest read on how I'm feeling during these workouts, and not pushing too hard I can avoid that pitfall.

Back to the workout. I was planning on 7 miles at 6:10 or so after a one mile warm up, in an effort to build upon what I did the week prior. This time I set the watch to record each split and headed off on my newly extended 1.06 mile loop, which is slightly uphill for half and slightly downhill for half. I think this minimal variation in terrain is a nice feature of the course, and it gets me to focus more on maintaining a consistent effort, even as the paces go up a few seconds on one half of the course and down on the other. Mid-way into the first mile I knew I was going to be all right, and the 6:10 that resulted felt calm and easy. I rattled off the next four miles all at 6:07 pace, then ran 6:02 and 6:06 for 6 and 7. At this point I still felt good, so I extended the effort one more mile and finished with a calm 6:06. At this point my breathing had elevated a little bit, but I felt well below threshold for the duration of the run.

After a mile cool-down I'm back home, and for a change I'm feeling very happy about the workout. For the first time since, well, the early stages of the last marathon, near-marathon pace felt controlled and relaxed. It's a good feeling. Have a great day.

Training: 10 miles, 1:03:15, 6:20 pace, with 8 mile marathon pace run, splits of 6:10, 6:07, 6:07, 6:07, 6:07, 6:02, 6:05, 6:06


angie's pink fuzzy said...


GregC said...

Glad to hear it Mike. Nice workout!

Eric said...

Nice. This is just how I worked my way around to doing six minute pace comfortably. A couple of easy weeks, then easing the miles back up.

It's going to be really great to see what you can do on this build. WooT!

Mike said...

Thanks all. Eric, your gradual build was on my mind when I saw the plan for my build. The way I see it, with the volume steadily increasing all the way to the taper, I'll probably be running the same amount of miles (total) for this program as I have in the past, they'll just be distributed more towards the latter stages instead of early on. Hopefully this will mean I can keep running the faster paces as the volume increases and (hopefully) my fitness buids. In the past I've stepped down on both daily run speed (on non-workout days) and mileage once I hit the third (anaerobic) phase of training, so it will be interesting to see what happens this time when the volume keeps increasing at this point instead. The goal of course is a higher, sharper, and more finely tuned (calendar-wise) peak. Easy to write, hard to do.