Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Nose, meet Grindstone

"Think optimum training, not maximum training." -Mystery Coach

Through trial and error over the last 18 months I think I've found where my "maximum" is, but I'm still honing in on exactly where "optimum" falls. What can't be hidden is in the log. The runs have gotten shorter, too short on many days. While it's tempting to blame my short-term achilles issue, the fact that I was sick and the need to recover between anaerobic sessions, somewhere along the line the runs got shorter and have stayed that way.

When I'm feeling good it's easy for me to set a minimum for runs. For quite awhile I knew as I ran down the driveway that I would put in at least 10 miles before touching the garage door again, and much of the time I would add on 2 to 6 more miles depending on how much time I had. Somewhere along the line 10 became the new average rather than the baseline, and soon after that I found myself only heading out for an hour or so on many days. Before you know it, I'm counting only 90 miles run during the past two weeks. I got sick but I feel I also got a bit complacent.

Awhile back I emailed Eric with some unsolicited advice about keeping an eye on how his endurance was holding up once he started running faster paces. I mentioned that in my case I could tell my endurance was slipping once I started wanting to come home early during longer runs and stopped wanting to add miles. I feel it's time for me to take my own advice. With three weeks until my next race I have at least two weeks to get back to enjoying being out longer in the morning, and while it might bite the legs a bit at first I'm hoping I'll get used to it again quickly. Hopefully the confidence in my endurance will return with more miles under my belt, and I'll be itching to race again when the 5K on February 18 rolls around.

This morning's run was something the coach calls an exchange workout. After finishing it I think the name refers to exchanging the almost recovered but slightly sore runner who started the run for the very tired and in dire need of coffee runner who finished the run. A late-evening training discussion over a few beers is perhaps partially to blame, but the three mile effort of two alternating sets of .75 miles at 6:00 pace and .75 miles at 5:30 pace had me on the ropes for the last 1/2 mile. The good news was that the two sets at 6 minute pace felt easy and very aerobic. The bad news was the 5:30 pace sections had me sucking air and flailing my legs like I was trying to top the first mile of my last 10K. I was quite glad to stop after three miles of this and take my heart rate, and a quick jog back to the house found me at 10 miles and left me two minutes to change clothes and drive Haiden to school.

Tomorrow it's a few more miles before touching the garage door.

Training: 10 miles, 1:05:40, 6:34 pace, w/3 mile effort .75 miles at 6:00 pace, .75 miles at 5:28, .75 miles at 6:02, .75 miles at 5:32 pace

9 comments:

Mark said...

That's pretty neat workout and coincidentally it is similar to Seebo's w\o today that he calls in-and-out.

Their not on my schedule but this is a w\o I would like to try sometime. Good Job!

Mystery Coach said...

Mark, The origin of the workout is from an article that Joe Henderson wrote for Runner's World 20 plus years ago (I have a copy of it somewhere). It has been an extremely effective workout when I've used it over the years (in fact replaced all repetitions and intervals for some runners). The key is that it is continuous and it prevents runners from over doing the fast part (see Mike's comments). If you want to use it effectively first find a pace that is a bit faster than marathon pace ( or about 40 seconds slower per mile slower than your 5K pace) and run it for three miles for three weeks then work an speeding up the second and forth 3/4 miles. It might look like this the first time (3/4-4:30 3/4-4:15 3/4-4:30 3/4-4:15) but after three weeks or so it will look like (3/4-4:30 3/4-3:50 3/4-4:30 3/4-3:50). I have had runners replace their 5X1000 meter @ 5K pace workouts with this work out and improve their times 10-15 second for 5K. I always stressed working on fast relaxed efforts on the fast 3/4 miles ( the actual times were less important) and having the runner note how well they recovered during the high aerobic phase of the run. Looking back over half my runners ran PRs on that simple workout.

Jermaine Gregory said...

Hey Mike this is Jay(Jermaine) why don't you become a high school coach. I think you'd be pretty good at it.

Mike said...

Jay, it's nice to hear from you. While I'd love to take credit for assigning this workout, it's Mystery Coach above who deserves it. Mark, in my case the workout really made 6 minute pace feel easy, especially during the second time through. 5:30 pace, on the other hand, definitely wasn't a breeze at the end but that should change after a few weeks of these.

Thomas said...

That's it, I'm starting a database with Mystery Coach's workouts. There is so much secret wisdom in it, I'll need to write this down.

Marc said...

Un-scientific and purely anecdotal observation: A few down weeks or a break in consistancy, no matter the reason, may be needed in order to get the drive and motivation back in spades. You know, like Steve Austin - we can rebuild him...stronger, faster...

Complacency is the devil that stalks us all.

Eric said...

Well said, Marc. I never feel better than a couple of weeks after a couple of bad weeks.

Bench said...

Hey thanks for the words. I guess in your situation there's also a temptation to make miles the goal and push too far. I think that's why I'm in the state I'm in now having pushed a plan to run 70 - 75 mpw up to a weeks of 86, 86, 87 just before I started blogging. It was simply enjoying running so much that pushed me beyond the point of sense into stupidity. It sounds like you're just recovering and that's the natural ebb and flow of this running thing. It seems a really good session in context, context is the most important thing.

Mark said...

MC, Thanks for the insight on the w\o. It looks like the fast relaxed times will stay consistent and the high aerobic phase will get quicker with development. I like it.