Friday, December 08, 2006

The Way Forward

Resting yesterday seemed to bring my right calf and soleus back to about 90%, so with that in mind I've decided to rest again today to try to get it all the way back (gusting 30 MPH winds helped with the decision). This is uncharted territory, as I would have to go back a few years in the log to find another two days off in a row. If I spontaneously combust and the blog disappears tomorrow you'll know why.

A little time off gives me a chance to start plotting my next course of action. The tentative plan is to take a page from Arthur Lydiard's early playbook and take a one year approach to my running rather than follow one of the more standard 4-6 month build-ups advocated in his later books like Running to the Top. In Mystery Coach's post here last month he laid out the typical schedule Arthur's boy's used to follow, which looked a bit like this:

12 weeks X-country schedule
6 weeks Road Racing (2 mile schedule)
10 weeks Marathon conditioning
6 weeks hills
10 weeks Track Schedule
4 - 6 weeks track racing
2- 4 weeks off training

"Three fourths of the year has speed training or racing. If you look at the cycle going on year after year that speed is always before and after the relatively short conditioning phase. Everyone is always looking for what piece is the secret. The real secret was Arthur's ability to evaluate and balance the training with the correct amounts at the right time. He never was very far away from speed development and his runners were training to be racers not trainers."

I'm at the end of the list right now as I take a few weeks to put myself right after the marathon, but soon enough I'll be at the top and racing again. While I obviously don't have a 12 week cross-country racing schedule followed by six weeks of road racing planned, I do have a series of races to run this winter and spring. Here are the events, along with my best times on each specific course:

1/28/07 Sun Run 10K, 34:11, 5:30 pace
2/4/07 Desert Classic Marathon
4/21/07 Spring Cross-Country Classic 5K, 17:31, 5:38 pace
5/6/07 Cinco de Mayo 10K, 34:38, 5:34 pace
5/22/07 Tucson 5K, 16:07, 5:11 pace

The marathon in early February is speculation at this point, but I'm interested in using the race in part as a training exercise geared towards finishing the race at a fast pace. This might end up as more of a training run with an emphasis on running the second half at goal pace (sub 2:35) or faster. I think if I execute it right it won't do much more damage than the two biggest runs I did during this last build (25 miles one week and 15 miles at 5:52 one week). The muscle between my ears needs to learn how to not slow down through discomfort, and if I end up doing this race I can hopefully get over this hurdle. I don't expect a PR here, as I'll most likely run the first half at 10 seconds or slower per mile than goal pace.

I feel very different after this marathon than I have after the last two. Duncan, Scooter and others have urged more racing without going back to base or conditioning training after the last two marathons, but quite honestly I think I was coasting on fumes by the time those races were over. Whether is was too many long, hard time trials in the weeks before these marathons or a lack of rest (or a combination of both), I think I reached each race at either the very end or entirely past my peak.

This time things are different. Mystery Coach's plan seemed to bring me around just in time, even with my protests over resting too much and not running enough. I feel like I'm at the beginning of my racing season instead of the end, and I look forward to specifically training for some shorter races instead of feeling like these events are merely brief interruptions on the road to a greater goal. I'm hoping the coach can help me in this regard.

Rest assured, it's still about the marathon. I get a feeling of accomplishment from training for and racing that distance that I don't from other races. Plus, they're just so damn hard to get right.


Greg said...

Glad to hear that you're giving yourself some downtime to recover. Now update your Marathon PR!!

Eric said...

Two rest days. I'm speechless. It's like you're paying attention or something.

Are you off your meds?

Seriously, good job.

Phil said...

After reading your blog for 9 months I think this must be the first time I've seen the phrase,"two days rest". Altough not qualified to comment, I think you are at or near your best conditioning level ever and certainly seem to be at the front end of a productive racing season.

Anonymous said...

Good looking racing plan. I'll be interested to find out how your run goes tomorrow after you have had two days are running tomorrow, right?

Anonymous said...

Enjoy a little down time. You've earned it.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mike, my first comment. I've been reading since day one. Took me awhile but I am up to date now. Time off your feet is important. Time off is for both physical and mental recuperation. After peaking for this marathon, you should take several weeks off to recharge the battery(mind). For every peak there is a valley(never forget that). Go swimming, hiking, go walk Finn whatever etc... I am overwhelmed by your dedication, your consistency, your motivation is 2nd to none. You are a great blogger also. Now for the difficult part which has me baffled. You take time to master your plan and execute it. But one thing that keeps coming back to me is where in your plan do you take time to recover? Also I truely believe, that you do not believe 100% in Lydiard's program or the tweaked blue print version that you currently follow. You think you do but you show symptoms that you do not. For example; You refuse to take days off, believing that you might lose your form. I also got the feeling in your base conditioning that if you did not reach 100 miles that week, you'd punish yourself by trying to do 110 the following week only to abort or come short again. You keep writing in your blogs that it is best to come in at 90% ready but you have consistently already peaked by approx. 2 weeks by my calculations. Obviously you over do it because 'under' trained scares you or do not believe in yourself yet. When you do believe in yourself, you will be a great marathoner. According to what i have read since last year, you should have busted through 2:30 by now. You don't lack training, you lack recovery and peak tweaking. Please continue with your running and your blog. I am fascinated.

Mike said...

Thanks everyone. Abadabajev, I'm glad you enjoy the blog and I appreciate your comments. I certainly agree with the opinion that I peaked a bit early for the marathons in January and in June, but I disagree that I overtrained coming into the race last weekend. I definitely held back more, and I think comparing both the total miles and the number of efforts and their corresponding intensities from this build to the previous ones shows this.

I do appreciate your frankness and also your belief that sub-2:30 is within the reach of my abilities, and I hope I can prove you right.

Anonymous said...

Of course you will prove me right.

I am glad that you quoted not long ago in one of your blog that "The Russians believe an athlete should peak twice a year." I believe it and indeed you believe it as well which is reassuring. The Russians also believe it should take between 16-20 weeks to achieve maximum peak condition. 12 too short, 24 too long. So after your 12 week base conditioning(Polish coaches call that accumulation phase), it shouldn't take you more than 8 weeks to put it all together and peak for a particular weekend. After each major peak, 4 weeks minimum should be required to recover from such an intense regimen before normal activity resumes. I've known many athletes who sometimes do poorly at a major competition that they punish themselves by immediately starting a new cycle without proper rest and recovery. They start out like lions only to finish like a turtle. And they repeat this process.

One more topic before I forget. Lydiard's hill phase (Polish coaches call this transformation phase). This is where any athlete tries to develop power because we all know that power affects speed. Elite Olympic weightlifters all well known for their speed which came as a direct result of developing power. In order to develop power, you need to be fresh. In order to be fresh, you need rest. I hope you know what I'm getting at. Good luck and keep those blogs coming.