Sunday, June 27, 2010

The early bird doesn't get heat exhaustion

This is turning out to be one of the hottest summers in recent memory. So far I've been able to not let it affect my marathon plan - but it makes things like hydration and nutrition absolutely essential. Next week I plan on running over 100 miles for the first time since February of 2009. It's not just about getting through the week, but it has to feel comfortable - I have another six weeks of 100+ mile weeks planned before Chicago - including my highest week ever, 120 miles planned for mid-August.
Each week is going to be a little different in July - next week I'm swapping a 5k for my interval workout and running a 22 miler in the middle of the week, the week 7/5-7/11 will also be over 100 miles with my last V02 max workout and a tempo workout, 7/12-7/18 is the Great Lakes Relay week - a 280 mile relay over 3 days in Northern Michigan with 10 guys per team. After that I'll be focusing on getting quality tempo workouts in and by early August I'll have my first marathon pace run. So lots of varied challenges coming up - at least I can't claim to be bored!

Last Week
Monday: 8 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday evening: 12 miles 5X1 mi I pace 800 rest (5:06.2, 5:04.8, 5:03.8, 5:03.1, 4:59.9)
Wednesday: 11 miles
Thursday: 13.5 miles
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 20 miles 4X1 mi @ T pace with 1 min rest
Sunday: 10 miles
Total: 84.5 miles

Next Week
Monday morning: 7 miles
Monday evening: 10.5 miles
Tuesday morning: 9 miles
Tuesday evening: 7 miles
Wednesday: 22 miles
Thursday: 14 miles
Friday morning: 5 miles
Friday evening: 8 miles
Saturday: 10.5 miles
Sunday: 12 miles 5k
Total: 105 miles

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Natural and Extraordinary

I finally started reading "Born to Run" this week. Chris McDougall does a superb job of playing with seeming conflict - whether it's between crazy characters, business interests, and scientists/doctors or the natural act of running vs the extraordinary accomplishments of the greatest runners.

One of the more interesting ideas explored in the book is that distance running is something that seperates us from other animals as much as language or the knowledge of our eventual death. If you compare us with our nearest genetic cousins all the physical differences can be explained through running. Why do we have less hair than a Chimpanzee? Stand upright? Even have bigger butts? It's all related our ancestors who were biomechanically advantaged to running longer distances surviving in greater numbers. Most likely it was related to our ability to chase prey for long periods of time. A gazelle might be able to out run us over 400 meters or even a mile - but, give us a day to track an animal over 10 or 20 miles and the animal will collapse - becoming easy pickings for the human willing and able to push long enough.

Remember - many generations of your ancestors survived only because they were able to do something extraordinary every day of their lives. The experience of those long lost generations lives in our bones, our veins, our lungs, our muscles, our tendons, our feet. Don't kid yourself that you will ever test your body the way that some long lost family member did in pre-history. We aren't besting them when we run, we are merely channeling them.

As I enter into my hardest summer of training ever it's a great reminder. Instead of focusing on grinding through the hard miles and heat - hoping for everything to come together on a Sunday in early October - I should enjoy every mile listening for my body to show me the way. Or as Caballo Blanco says - Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast.

Last Week
Monday: 7 miles
Tuesday morning: 6 miles
Tuesday evening: 10.5 miles
Wednesday morning: 4 miles
Wednesday evening: 13 miles 8X1200m 3 min rest (3:50, 3:48.7, 3:47.5, 3:46.1, 3:47.1, 3:45.7, 3:45.8, 3:43.9)
Thursday: 13.5 miles
Friday: 10.5 miles
Saturday: 18 miles 7 miles tempo (38:07) probably a little short
Sunday: 12 miles
Total: 94.5 miles

This Week
Monday: 8 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday evening: 12 miles 5X1 mi I pace 800 rest
Wednesday: 13 miles
Thursday: 10.5 miles
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 20 miles 5X1 mi @ T pace with 1 min rest
Sunday: 10.5 miles
Total: 84 miles

Sunday, June 13, 2010

V02 Max and marathon training

Last week included my first track workout since the end of April. Most of my hard workouts in preperation for Chicago will be tempo pace (aka lactate threshold) or marathon pace - however the Jack Daniels schedule includes five weeks of interval or V02 max workouts in the second phase of his 24 week training cycle. VO2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that can be processed by the body in a certain time period - it is expressed as litres of oxygen per minute. In other words it is the capacity of the cardiovascular system and peripheral systems (muscle groups) to take in oxygen, deliver to muscle systems, process oxygen, and deal with the by-products.

VO2 max can be tested by increasing pace every minute until the runner is going all out. Expired air is collected in a bag during the test - heart rate is taken at the end and lactate levels are measured two minutes after the end of the test when lactate is highest. Along with lactate threshold and running economy it is an important determinant to distance running. It is most important for distances up to 10k.

So, how do you improve VO2 max? Interval training is the most efficient way to improve VO2 max. Usually this is done by running at 3k-5k pace (usually95-100% VO2 max) for 3-5 minute intervals with recovery times that are equal to, or a little less, than the time of the interval. The amount of total weekly interval-paced training should be up to 8 percent of total mileage according to Jack Daniels.

V02 max work might be most important for 10k and 5k racing, but it cannot be ignored when training for a marathon. You hope to never reach 95% of your V02 max during a marathon, but the stress that is put on your basic oxygen processing systems during a V02 max workout will help you to run a better marathon. Also it would be pretty boring to have 18 weeks of nothing but tempo and marathon pace hard workouts. The five weeks of interval workouts help to break up the long 24 week training cycle a bit. I ran a lot of interval workouts this winter and spring, as a result I didn't feel too uncomfortable on Thursday. This week marks my first tempo workout, along with another interval workout - all during a planned 96 mile week. I'm guessing my topic next week will be about "recovery" : )

Last Week
Monday: 8.5 miles
Tuesday: 14 miles
Wednesday: 10.5 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday evening: 12 miles 7X1200 @ I pace 3 min rest (3:47.8, 3:48.2, 3:46.2, 3:46.9, 3:44.6, 3:46.3, 3:46.6)
Friday morning: 4 miles
Friday evening: 11 miles
Saturday: 12 miles
Sunday: 19 miles
Total: 95 miles

This Week
Monday: 8 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday: 13 miles 7 mi tempo
Wednesday: 14 miles
Thursday morning: 6 miles
Thursday evening: 10.5 miles
Friday: 10.5 miles
Saturday: 12 miles 8X1200 @ I pace
Sunday: 18 miles
Total: 96 miles

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Getting on the right path

It may seem cliche, but the marathon really is about the journey rather than the destination. I remember talking to a fellow marathoner from the Netherlands just after the NYC marathon in 2007. It seemed incredible at that moment that I had voluntarily done something that made me feel that awful. Frustrated and exhausted I asked the obvious question - "why do we do this to ourselves?" It was more of a rhetorical question - but, he answered anyways - "we run marathons for the training and so we have stories to tell at the bar."
The more marathons I've done the more I think that he's right. You have to enjoy the training - you have to enjoy making the plan and trying your best to execute it. You have to enjoy observing how your body is reacting - trying to figure out how to help your body recover through nutrition, cold whirlpools, massages and a hundred other details that contribute to your fitness.
Our culture's focus on results sometimes leads us, ironically, to look for shortcuts and derive value entirely from our experience on the day of the marathon. By focusing alternatively on the long training cycle you can find more enjoyment and ultimately greater success. As with much of life, success is about walking the path everyday - not so much any particular workout or race.
Chicago is 18 weeks from today. The first six weeks have gone as smoothly as I could have hoped - and now I move on to the next phase with my first track workout planned for Wednesday. Hopefully I stay on the path and not deviate as I did today - taking a wrong turn that made my 20 miler into a 24 miler. I'm in good enough shape to hopefully absorb that kind of mistake - but I certainly can't do that every week.

Last Week
Monday morning: 8 miles Loudon Street Mile
Monday evening: 4 miles
Tuesday: 10.5 miles
Wednesday: 12 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday evening: 13 miles 8X150m
Friday: 7 miles
Saturday: 10 miles
Sunday: 24 miles
Total: 92.5 miles

This Week
Monday: 8 miles
Tuesday morning: 4 miles
Tuesday evening: 8.5 miles
Wednesday morning: 4 miles
Wednesday evening: 12 miles 6X1200 @ I pace
Thursday: 13 miles
Friday morning: 4 miles
Friday evening: 10.5 miles
Saturday: 13 miles
Sunday: 19 miles
Total: 96 miles