Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Axiom Number One

Workouts show what condition you are in, they don't make you into that condition.

Yes, This axiom causes the "chicken and egg" discussion with runners and coaches when presented but it should be looked at not as a logical statement but more like a koan , It changes the prospective from your mind telling your body what it should do to letting your body tell your mind what it is doing. Yesterday I asked "What Mike should do next?", each answer had a perspective on training that they had experienced or learned about. It is very difficult to convince runners what they did today is a reflection of the previous workouts that they did and should be the mirror for future workouts. To give an example read the following post:

"No pressure no diamond

What a great quote. With 22 weeks to go, I'm still focusing on base mileage, but I've learned from my lengthy winter cycle that base doesn't mean slow. Not always, anyway. Lo and behold, when you regularly include some threshold pace and strides during the base phase, your overall efficiency and paces improve across the board.

I noticed that this morning. I was able to comfortably run 18 in about 1:57 with the last five in 29:44. I need to go back through my logs to quantify this, but subjectively my sense is that I was a complete idiot not to have included some higher-end aerobic work in my winter build-up. It may not have cost me anything...hell, maybe it saved me from injury. But I can say with certainty that it is extremely uncomfortable both psychologically and physically to struggle through the month or so that it takes to comfortably do a marathon pace workout after running so many slow base miles. It's easy to get frustrated if you don't know what's coming."

Now this person learned something about training ( much the same way Arthur did) but still needs convincing that an evaluation (time trial) run was needed during the base phase. Proper training is not about numbers, it is about analyzing how the workout felt then responding to what the workout is telling you. Every workout (even the easy or morning runs) is an evaluation of where you are and where you want to go. Arthur understood this very well and in almost every speech he gave, talked about reading your body and not the numbers in a schedule.

Yesterday's workout for Mike was a test which to me as a coach indicated that it was too hard (they were my goal times that Mike tried for). So what did it say? First that he slipped into oxygen debt at a pace that before the illness was a steady state pace. If it was a steady state run then a fast 2 mile trial would be scheduled for tomorrow, but since it was an oxygen debt pace easy running and 200 meter strides ( for leg turn over will be used). Mike will know the pace that is fast and relaxed better than any numbers that are written down. So look at your logs, study your reactions to the various types of running, they are your key to running well when you need to.


Stephen Lacey said...

This is a brilliant post. It really helps you shift the mindset about what any particular session is all about. I would like to learn more about how to interpret the results of my workouts with respect to deciding "what next", especially when the results are good. It's easy enough when the results are perhaps dissapointing. But what about when you are getting some nice numbers coming in. Nice feeling at good pace? And the marathon is four weeks away? That dreaded taper is right there in front of do you hold onto those nice numbers, maybe squeeze a bit more out, but not cook yourself?

Mystery Coach said...

Stephen, Nice numbers coming in indicate you're doing the correct amount and intensity. I know it's tempting to get a little more in but with four weeks to go intensity ( the same intensity I should say) with less volume will hold your condition very well. Maybe Mike will comment on the dreaded taper since I had to write him everyday not to worry.

One thing on the taper the last ten days can be very light in terms of volume ( more in the line of imagining that you are warming up to do a race then stopping there)

What marathon are you running?

D said...

It's good to hear that you are feeling better. Very interesting posts lately. What is your opinion on proper running form? Beautiful photos - unusual to see photos of AZ covered with ice and snow!

Mike said...

Stephen, the coach is right that I was a bit of a basket case during the taper. I think keeping "axiom number one" in mind is paramount during the last month. If I had to do it again, I wouldn't have tried to run faster workouts towards the end, but rather I would have focused on running the same speeds or efforts more relaxed. Let the workouts show you you're fit, don't try to kill them at this point to prove something your log already shows to be self-evident. Also, I would have skipped the 5K cross country race I did 10 days out from the marathon. By 1.5 miles in I had all the stimulus I needed from an anaerobic workout. The second half of the race just prolonged my recovery and put me in the hole for two days instead of one when I should have still been climbing.


Michael Jay Dotson said...

Posts like this are an example of why your blog is so popular.