Sunday, July 25, 2010

Biggest Week Ever

Only by two miles - but in the long slog of marathon training you have to celebrate the little victories. The topper today was running 21 miles on another brutally hot morning. I ran near DC for a change of scenery. After I ran 8 miles on the C&O canal path Georgetown Running Company runner Jake Klim took me on a 13 mile run that included a brutal 2 mile section on a mostly unshaded road. Thanks for the hospitality Jake! I now have a better idea of what hell is like.

If I recover psychologically and physically from that ordeal I'll hopefully be running similar mileage this week with more quality. In my opinion the most important feature of successful marathon training after total volume are Lactate Threshold (LT) workouts. As I've said in previous posts - it's a bit of misnomer as lactate doesn't appear to actually fatigue muscles directly. Greater lactate production does correlate with muscle fatigue but doesn't appear to be the cause. The real culprit is most likely the build up of hydrogen ions that can lower pH and block the uptake of calcium.

Regardless of the cause there does appear to be a level of effort that cannot be sustained much longer than an hour. Increasing the pace at which that process occurs is important for any race longer than 5k - but for a race like the marathon that lasts well over two hours it's imperative if you are looking to run "fast." Sure, you can run the marathon distance by training your body to store a lot of glycogen and use it efficiently as possible - but that's not enough to run at your best.

If you are surprised to hear that "lactic acid" isn't why the wheels came off in your last marathon - you might really be shocked to hear how to actually increase the pace at which "LT" occurs. The research by Jack Daniels and others seems to show that you should run slightly slower than LT pace in order to reap the benefits. Once you cross that LT line you start to stress other systems that might improve your V02 max but don't seem to help much with LT pace.

On Saturday I'll be running one of my most important workouts. It's a 22 miler that includes some tempo near the beginning - but also a 3 mile section that occurs after I've already run 16 miles. That's the only way in my mind to create anything close to what you feel in the late miles of a marathon.

Last Week
Monday morning: 8.5 miles
Monday evening: 8.5 miles
Tuesday: 10 miles
Wednesday morning: 10.5 miles
Wednesday evening: 7 miles
Thursday morning: 4 miles
Thursday evening: 11 miles 1X 2 mi 10:56 2 min rest 1 mile 5:23 1 min rest 1 mile 5:25
Friday morning: 11.5 miles
Friday evening: 6 miles
Saturday: 14 miles
Sunday: 21 miles
Total: 112 miles

Next Week
Monday: 10.5 miles
Tuesday morning: 6 miles
Tuesday evening: 14 miles 4X1 mi @ T pace with 1 min rest 1 mi easy 3X1 mi @ T pace with 1 min rest
Wednesday: 14 miles
Thursday morning: 12 miles
Thursday evening: 6 miles
Friday: 10.5 miles
Saturday: 22 miles 3 mi easy 4X1 mi with 1 min rest 9 mi easy 3 mi @ tempo 3 mi easy
Sunday: 13 miles
Total: 108 miles

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Halfway there

Believe it or not I'm now halfway through my 24 week training plan for Chicago. The Great Lakes Relay I ran this last weekend was a nice mental break. Physically it was one of the hardest three-day stretches that I'll have in all of my training. Of the 46 miles I ran in those three days over 26 were at faster than tempo pace. I actually feel pretty good - which is nice because I'm supposed to run 114 miles this week.

The relay has become my favorite race of the year. The mix of competition, old friends, and beautiful scenery is the perfect cure to the feeling of staleness that I might feel at this point in my training for a marathon. As I said last week, the next eight weeks will be the hardest training of my life - time to push things to the next gear.

Last Week
Monday: 11.5 miles
Tuesday: 10.5 miles
Wednesday: 13 miles
Thursday: 7 miles
Friday: GLR 16 miles
Saturday: GLR 17 miles
Sunday: GLR 12.5 miles
Total: 88.5 miles

Next Week
Monday morning: 8.5 miles
Monday evening: 8.5 miles
Tuesday morning: 10 miles
Tuesday evening: 6 miles
Wednesday: 12 miles
Thursday morning: 14 miles 4X2 mi @ T pace 2 min rest
Thursday evening: 6 miles
Friday: 14 miles
Saturday: 13 miles
Sunday: 22 miles
Total: 114 miles

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Great 8

Next week I head back to Michigan for some good times at the Great Lakes Relay. It will be a down week for mileage but the intensity will be high for three straight days. Although I'm anticipating some good fun in the great lake state there is part of my mind that is nervously anticipating the eight weeks from 7/19-9/12. They will undoubtedly be the most challenging eight weeks of training in my life.

My planned weekly average for that period will be just over 105 miles per week - with a high of 120. I'll run 83 miles at tempo pace, 28 miles (in just two runs) at marathon pace, and six runs over 20 miles. I'm not going to lie - it seems a little daunting at this point.

This week provided me some practical lessons of what I need to do (and not do) to make it through those two months. Last weekend my parents were in town and I ate and drank a lot of junk and then I scorched myself in the sun for 3-4 hours going tubing on Monday. The result was that I was in no shape to run my workout on Wednesday morning. It was the worst workout I've had in a long time. I cleaned up my act the rest of the week and the result was a strong 20 miler including 4 miles of good tempo running on Saturday with Brennan.

Right after I'm done writing this I'm going to e-mail Melissa Majumdar to set up a nutrition counseling session. She really helped me in my preparation for Boston and if I have any chance of making it through my big 8 weeks I'll have to make a plan and stick to it. Other important parts of recovery that I've so far neglected are ice baths, massage, and yoga. It will be time to get back to those after I return from Michigan.

Part of me does ask why - why would I plan an unrelenting, unforgiving two months for myself in the dog days of summer? The answer is in part found in all of those things I outlined above. There is no cushion - there is no going through the motions. Many people think of goals as burdens, but in reality they are opportunities to experience life in the extreme - to push past assumed limitations and make the extraordinary seem mundane.

Last Week
Monday morning: 10.5 miles
Monday evening: 4 miles
Tuesday morning: 7.5 miles
Tuesday evening: 6 miles
Wednesday morning: 9 miles 2X1 mi 800 rest 2X1200m 400 rest (5:08.1, 5:07.2, 3:49.5, 3:53.3)
Wednesday evening: 10 miles
Thursday: 14 miles
Friday: 13 miles
Saturday: 20 mi 2X2 mi @ T pace 2 min rest (10:40, 10:55)
Sunday: 10.5 miles
Total: 104.5 miles

Next Week
Monday: 12 miles
Tuesday: 10.5 miles
Wednesday: 13 miles
Thursday: 6.5 miles
Friday: GLR 12 miles
Saturday: GLR 13 miles
Sunday: GLR 17 miles
Total: 84 miles

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Know Thyself

On Sunday I ran the Liberty 5k here in Winchester. As the gun sounded I was immediately reminded how hard high school kids go out at the start. At first it was a little worrying - finding myself in ~20th place in the first 100 meters - but the nice thing about being a older is that I know the race isn't won in the first quarter mile. Realizing that most of them wouldn't be able to keep the pace - I smiled - thinking how much fun it was going to be to catch them.

It was fun (I got 3rd) - but I also felt a certain amount of envy in these kids who ran from the gun with such excitement. It might have led to a painful day for them on a course that included two decent hills in the last 2k, but high school kids improve so quickly - the best high school runners have to be fearless. Their limits are constantly being pushed back and if they're too conservative they won't be able to take advantage of their new found fitness.

I've often said that my favorite thing about running is the sense of discovery. I love running in new places or during the changing of the seasons. Races though offer the most important kind of discovery - discovery of what is inside. This summer is about doing what I can to make sure I like what I find on October 10th.

Last Week
Monday morning: 7 miles
Monday evening: 10.5 miles
Tuesday morning: 7 miles
Tuesday evening: 11.5 miles
Wednesday: 22 miles
Thursday: 13.5 miles
Friday: 10.5 miles
Saturday: 8 miles
Sunday: 9 miles 5k 16:15
Total: 99 miles

This Week
Monday morning: 10.5 miles
Monday evening: 4 miles
Tuesday morning: 7.5 miles
Tuesday evening: 6.5 miles
Wednesday morning: 14 miles 6X1 mi @ I pace 800 rest
Wednesday evening: 6 miles
Thursday: 14 miles
Friday: 10.5 miles
Saturday: 20 miles 2X2 mi @ T pace 2 min rest
Sunday: 12 miles
Total: 105 miles