Monday, March 26, 2007

Where am I?

Do you really need to see another mouth-open, jimmy hand-waggling, white-singlet-wearing finish line approach shot? I thought this one snapped by Kiera after the race on the playground looked a little better.

The 8K race ended what felt like a week of marathon training, with only one short workout of 200 strides accounting for any "speed" before the event on Sunday. Here's how the week went down-

Mo: 10 easy
Tu: 9.6 miles w/7 at 6 minute pace
We: 10 miles w/7 at 6 minute pace
We: 6.2 easy, easy, easy
Th: 13.2 miles
Fr: 9 miles w/6x200 strides/accelerations
Sa: 6.3 miles easy
Su: 9 miles, w/8K race in 27:27
Total: 73 miles in 8 sessions

Hmmm, the week felt tougher than it looks here. The gallery I work for had a two-man-show on Saturday, which I'm really glad to have done. Getting home from work at 11 and having Finn get up before 5 made for a tough race morning, and for the first time I can remember I felt exhausted after two easy miles of warm up on the race course. I told Kiera I was considering just not racing, even though we both knew I wouldn't drag the whole family across town to NOT race.

As for the race itself, once the gun sounded I got my head into it and after a few incredibly sharp turns on a narrow walking path I found myself in no-man's-land, in front of the pack but behind the lead runner. I knew the fellow in front, as I've done some long runs with him and he finished one place ahead of me at a 5K in February. He started to stretch out his lead and I felt right at the edge of what I could maintain as we raced a bit into the wind and uphill. I glanced at the split after one mile and saw 5:21, which was right where I was hoping to be. While I took the rest of the splits I never looked at them, and this ended up being a good thing since I had the third mile at 4:14 and the fourth at 7:03 (I don't know why putting out accurate markers is so difficult). While I kept the leader in sight, I simply could not find the strength to gain on him. The course had a few 180 degree turns and followed a strange route on and off bike paths, across overpasses and along dirt embankments, and the constant pushes to keep an even pace throughout wore me out a bit. It seemed that the fourth mile took forever, and instead of making up ground I started to fall back a little further. The last almost-mile found me in damage control mode, trying to maintain as much of my momentum as I could while the form started to deteriorate. Any thought of reeling in the leader was long-gone at this point.

While this race wasn't a huge priority for me, I am a bit disappointed to have run as slowly as I did. On my best day I should have been able to challenge the winner, as my 8K PR is right around what he ended up running. While I'm certain the course slowed me down some, I should have enough strength to minimize this sort of thing.

So I guess I'm in limbo at the moment, three weeks out from my next 5K on the track and running slower than I think I should be. Conventional wisdom suggests a peak in performance can last from 6-8 weeks with proper maintenance, and quite honestly I feel I've slid down the other side a bit since the 5K on the track (my first race of the season was the last weekend in January so I've been at it for awhile). I'm finding the second-half of races more difficult than when I really seemed to be "coming up", and that feeling of strength and calm during the latter stages of racing seems to have vanished.

The temptation for some runners at this point would be to pack on more speed work, but at this point I don't think just working on turnover and efficiency with reduced volume is the answer. Another choice is to go back into a preliminary build, focusing more on volume and running steady paces. The question about this approach is whether or not I have enough time for it to have a positive effect on my racing on April 13, 21, and May 6 and 20. To add to the problem, the biggest races for me are the first one and the last one (4/13 and 5/20).

The coach has suggested training more by feel for the next few weeks, so I'm doing some soul searching about exactly how to approach things. My natural tendency in the past has been to overdo things, but during the last few months I think the coach has somewhat cured me of this. Finding the line between enough and too much while touching on all the elements I'll need to race well in a few weeks will be a challenge.

Training: a.m., 7.4 miles, 49:56, 6:47 pace. Legs a bit tired, but a nice progression run with Lucas
p.m., 4.8 miles, 33:42, 7:10 pace, easy


Dusty said...

Not bad at all for an "off" day!! 2nd is great. And I completely agree about these crazies that can't put down mile markers properly.

I'm interested to see what you decide to do going forward with your running. Glad to see you aren't overdoing it :) Are you training to run lots of races or is there a big race/goal on the horizon that these are stepping points for?

Marc said...

"The temptation for some runners at this point would be to pack on more speed work..."

Some of us at this point would have a beer and some ice cream. Done right, this can yiled tremendous benefits.

Here's to climbing back up the other side.

Thomas said...

Maintaining your peak for so long might become difficult - not that I know much about that kind of training. I guess that's where your Mystery Coach comes in.

Btw, he keeps promising us new Words of Wisdom to chew on, but it starts to look like he's only teasing us.

Mike said...

Thanks Dusty, everything is pointing towards Chicago in October. I'm hoping that by focusing on speed and efficiency now that when I go back into marathon training in May that I can start my base conditioning at a higher level (so I don't have to take the first month or 6 weeks to "get into shape").

Marc, I did enjoy a beer last night and would have had two if I could've kept my eyes open. Driving 250 miles to my mom's house and back afterwards for her birthday wore me out more than the race.

Thomas, I imagine the coach is gearing up for another post. One problem with trying something new (like an extended racing season after recovering for a marathon) is that there isn't a log or a past progression to analyze. Work, sickness and life in general just add to the number of variables. That being said, it looks to me like you're figuring out the taper this time for sure.

Evan said...

YMMV, but back in the day when trying to bridge the gap between the end of summer track (early March) and the selection race for harrier cross-country (early April) I found that a couple of weeks of higher mileage could restore things a little. You have, what, three weeks 'til the 5000m? Throw in a week of 85-100 miles with some good long runs, anything quick should be half-marathon to marathon pace or no longer than 200m going quicker. The next week you could cut the mileage back 15-20% and do some 5km pace work. Just some thoughts.

Abadabajev said...

What you need this week is a complete recovery week.

Cut your mileage in 2. You need to run 5 days for 7 miles this week for a grand total of 35 miles at 60% (recovery between 7:30 and 8 minute mile pace)

This is clearly required. Clear the mind and the body. I'm sure MC will agree. This will do you so much good. It will re-charge your battery. Don't delay your recovery.

JMDF said...

IMO you just need some recovery. I've been following your blog for a couple months and have noticed that your easy/base runs look too fast compared your PBs. That can add up over time.

Mike said...

I think what I really need recovery from is work. My job is generally quite easy, but during the few weeks of the year when the gallery I work at has shows it is pretty much all consuming. Working on my days off and being on my feet for 13 hours the day before the race might be more of a reason for the fatigue than the running. That being said, it all adds up. Thanks for the comments as always.

Eric said...

A week or so ago, I suggested a somewhat similar approach to what Evan suggests, which is get back to aerobic volume. You trailed off in the last third of your 5k, even though your start was quite reasonably paced, and you had the speed to finish well. You just seem to have lost touch with your stamina.

A while back, like immediately following the marathon, I would have agreed with Abadabajev, and suggested a couple of low, low mileage weeks. The time for that has passed. If you're going to do that, do a couple of weeks of it, take it seriously easy, and start up a new build in mid-April. I think that would be fairly drastic, though.

Just one (pea)nuts opinion...I personally wouldn't be surprised to see a nice little training effect out of the back-to-back MP workout you just did and the 8k. Give that another week, and with a bit of aerobic volume see where you're at. I think you'll be surprised.

Abadabajev said...

For your best 1-mile, I estimate it at 5 minutes(approx). 60% run would equate in the vacinity of 7:32 pace. The nearest pace I could find in all of February and all of March is 7:07 pace which happened the day after your 5k track race. The only reason I can find why you slowed down to 7:07 was because of sore calves.

Your recovery runs should be at 60%. But Mike, I can't find any at all in the last 2 months.

The 2 most unrespected aspect of training 1) a recovery day per week. 2) a recovery week every 3rd or 4th week.

Let me finish with a Lydiard quote

"You can never run too slow"

Phil said...

4:14 mile ... Your lucky you didn't look down to see that split.

So you didn't run close to your PR on a winding course with little or no sleep. You still went out and stretched out your legs and put in a very good performance. You're in great shape.

Thanks the great picture.

Bruce said...

Hi Mike, I've been reading you Blog for a few weeks now. It's all interesting stuff. I'm new to running with just one Half behind me so I won't be giving you any training advice, I guess other than to just go with what you body & gut tells you. For a newbie like me though its great to read all the suggestions coming through from the seasoned runners out there.

Scooter said...

I saw this, and thought of your kids:

Scooter said...

Or if it doesn't show fully (ends in "html", String this together - blogger seems to want to truncate, sorry.