Monday, August 31, 2009

Week 9 Training Update

Well, the weeks are a rollin' by. Time for another weekly training update.

The numbers:
Total weekly mileage: 63.3 miles
Average Intensity Factor: .82
Long run: 14 miles
Average weight: 120.4 (+.5 lb.)
% body fat: 17%
Average hrs. of sleep: 7.4

This is the first week of a new cycle (the "Build 1" Phase) where the training objectives are to continue to increase aerobic capacity and endurance, and to increase fatigue resistance at 3,000 pace and 10K pace. (Translated, that means the new speed workouts are 400m intervals @ 3,000 pace and 1-Mile intervals @ 10K pace).

As you know, I've been experimenting with increasing volume via recovery run mileage.Unfortunately, I got it wrong early in the week which set me up to struggle with fatigue all week. I struggled tremendously to meet my targets in my key workouts this week.

I was also seriously sidetracked by some reading I did about Hadd's Theory on Distance Running. It started out simple enough. I was just trying to figure out why I was so fatigued. Which if you've ever been in the midst of trying something new, you know it's practically impossible to "figure it out" on the spot. You almost always have to wait and figure it out in hindsight. Anyways...Hadd's Theory suggests that if your race times have no relationship (i.e., don't follow the race prediction calculations to some degree) it's because 1)you aren't running enough miles, or 2) you're running your mileage too fast. Now, my first clue that this information did not apply to me should have been the fact that there is a very tight relationship to my race times. But nooooo. All I saw was "you're running your mileage too fast", and I jumped all over it simply because I had been wondering if perhaps I have been running my base pace miles too fast- getting caught up in always trying to run the same course a litle faster, etc. Long story short, I went through a major freak out which involved several days of serously doubting my training, only to come to the conclusion that I front loaded my week (Mon/ Tues)with too many miles, and set myself up to feel extraordinarily fatigued for the harder workouts.

I even went as far as to wear my heart rate monitor for two days, since according to Hadd's Theory, any easy running I do should be at a heart rate no faster than 125-135bpm. Imagine my freakout when, for the second run of the day at 4:30 PM (80 degree heat), my resting HR is 89!! And my heart rate jumps right to 140 and averages about 145-147 (but not before hitting 165, which is 93% of my max heart rate (supposedly). Ugh!! How to make sense of THAT when your resting heart rate is 48?!?!?

OK. I have since done a lot of homework on HR monitors and distance training (which I will thankfully save for another post), and I have all but thrown out the HR monitor for purposes of marathon training. I am firmly convinced the (Brain Training)pace based method is the way to go.

I am officially talked down from the ledge. What a week.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Week 8 Training Update:

This was a recovery week, and here are the numbers:

Total weekly mileage: 43.6 miles
Average Intensity Factor: .84
Total Hours: 9.25
Long run: 10 miles
Average weight: 119.9 (-.10 lb.)
% body fat: 17.4%
Average hrs. of sleep/night: 7.0

What was strange about this week was that I hit a wall of fatigue mid-week. What is this about? Is it fatigue built up from last week? Am I running my base runs too fast?(Maybe). Wednesday's base run was terrible. Then I had to bail out of Thursday's intervals, which told me something was wrong. I'm not recovering, so I better back off.

On Thursday and Friday I got some extra rest in the shape of less running and more sleeping. This was rewarded by a very satisfying "long run" on Saturday. I feel like I most likely avoided any serious fallout from over-reaching a bit last week. How do I know? Because I feel primed and ready to take on the next 3 weeks of hard work.

I also made a new rule this week: If I bail out of a key workout, I must forego the additional "recovery run" that day. Just makes sense.

Up next: Leaving hill repeats behind (YAY!) and moving to the track for 400m intervals at 3,000 pace and 1-Mile intervals at 10K pace. Plus lots of easier miles in between:-).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Usain Bolt's 9.58 Reminds Me of Ben Johnson's 9.79

Yesterday I witnessed Usain Bolt shatter his world record with an unbelievable time of 9.58 seconds. 9.58.... wow. I still can't believe it. Here's the video evidence, in German to preserve the authenticity.

So far, no other event at these world championships has piqued my interest but I made sure I saw the 100m final live. You could sense the record was going to fall. You knew Bolt could run faster. I think he can run raster, still.

Watching Bolt blow away the other runners reminded me of Ben Johnson's 9.79 in Seoul. 24-hours later, Ben broke our hearts, but for a glorious day in 1988, Ben was without a doubt the fastest man in the world. Because I'm a glutton for punishment, here's Ben's drug-assisted 9.79.

I hope Usain Bolt is clean. I want him to make the world stop at 9.4s.

Week 7 Training Update

It's time for another weekly training update.

The numbers:

Total weekly mileage: 60.0 miles
Average Intensity Factor: .89
Total Hours: 12:30
Long run: 14 miles
Average weight: 120.00 (-1 lb.)
% body fat: 17.4%
Average hrs. of sleep/night: 7:45

Some things I've noticed this week: First, running more (more mileage and more times per week) is improving my running economy. I've experienced the sensation of "dialing in" my most efficient stride more than once this week, ususally on recovery runs. It's very cool to feel my body responding to training this way.

Second, I've now bombed out two weeks in a row in trying to run my "long run" at base pace. Last week, I ran out of gas after 8 miles- this week I only made it to 7 miles. I endured a very painful second 7 miles on Saturday, prompting me to fix this "error" as soon as possible. My next long run is in 2 weeks, so I still have time.

Finally, it seems my body is adjusting nicely to the additional recovery runs. These may turn out to be the most important change I've made. As I mentioned above, they seem to be improving my running economy, and they also seems to be helping me shed extra fat.

Next week is a step down week, with mileage reduced about 20%. Calories will have to be adjusted as well if I want to keep losing fat.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Recovery Runs

Like just about everyone else on the planet, it seems I've totally misunderstod the benefit of recovery runs. According to Matt Fitzgerald, their real benefit comes from increasing the amount of time you spend running in a fatigued state. While key workouts (runs that are challenging in their pace or duration) boost fitness by taking your body well beyond the point of initial fatigue, recovery workouts are performed entirely in a fatigued state, and therefore also boost fitness despite being shorter and/or slower than key workouts.

Matt Fitzgerald has a good article on the subject at called, "A Fresh Perspective on Recovery Runs". In this article he says:

“The real benefit of recovery runs is that they increase your fitness — perhaps almost as much as longer, faster runs do — by challenging you to run in a pre-fatigued state (i.e. a state of lingering fatigue from previous training.)”
Makes sense, I guess. My issue with recovery runs is that they're called recovery runs. I mean “recovery”? Really? Why not a different adjective like “agony” run, or “really not awesome” run, or “make your feet swell up at 3:00 in the afternoon at work” run? Recovery implies that I should get some positive feeling during or after the run, but that is not the case…it really hurts. Anyway…it is a great article and worth a read:

“Don’t be too proud to run very slowly in your recovery runs, as Kenya’s runners are famous for doing. Even very slow running counts as pre-fatigued running practice that will yield improvements in your running economy, and running very slowly allows you to run longer without sabotaging your next key workout.”
While I've completely embraced the concept of the recovery run, they still suck. The worst part, I've found, is that without putting myself into either a "zone" or oxygen debt, my mind has time to think about a lot of things. But what it thinks about mostly is how this isn't much fun.

When I do a tempo run, I don't have time to worry if a dog's on a leash. (If he's not, I'll just out-run him). I don't worry about strange twinges in my knee or shin or foot because all of that will be dealt with only after I've put those marathon pace miles in the bank. But on recovery runs, I feel like an old housewife shuffling through suburbia. It's these feelings, I suppose, that cause such runs to be labeled as "junk" miles by others and it's hard not to agree because that's exactly how I feel on them: like complete and utter refuse.

On the bright side, recovery runs do work. When I get to my next key workout, I find that the shuffling slowpoke has been momentarily replaced by a relatively focused Boston-bound age grouper, ready to take on the day's pain. At least until the next recovery run comes around.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Week 6 Training Update

Time for another brief training update.

The numbers:

Total weekly mileage: 52.0 miles
Average Intensity Factor: .90
Total Hours: 10.5
Long run: 12 miles
Average weight: 121.00 (-.85 lb.)
% body fat: 17%
Average hrs. of sleep: 7.32

This week felt harder than the numbers suggest. On Wednesday and Friday I ran the modified YWCA loop that includes Sunset, which is one long, long uphill followed by one long, long downhill. This is not really factored in to the intensity rating, but it had the effect of wearing me out. Consequently, the last 4 miles of Saturday's "long" run of 12 miles were really, really hard. I was completely fatigued.

On a nutritional note, I'm wondering if I'm eating enough carbs. Matt Fitzgerald suggests eating 7-8 grams of carbs per kg of body weight if you train 7-10 hours per week. For me, that's 385 grams of carbohydrate per day, but I only averaged 356 grams per day this week. My intuition tells me I'm not running too low on carbs, but that I'm running my base pace runs too hard (i.e. the hills).

I'll take it easy on the hills this week and see if I don't feel more refreshed for Saturday's run of 14 miles.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Old School Timing Device

Over the weekend my running watch died. I'm not yet ready to buy a new one, so I've been using my Garmin exclusively this week. This morning, I went to turn on the Garmin and nothing happened. This was bad, as a run of 7 miles with 8 x 90 seconds @ 7:22 pace "sprinkled in" was scheduled for this morning.

My solution? Use the YWCA clock and my iPod as a timing device! I timed the first 90 seconds of the Black Eyed Peas' song, "I've Got A Feeling" and played that for each one of my intervals. The down side? I am now officially burnt out on this song!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Heart Hill Repeats?

I've been worried I might see smaller fitness gains this time around because I started out in better shape than I was in when I started training for Buffalo. But this morning I ran 8 hilly miles at 9:20 pace, which is a breakthrough of sorts. Today, for the first time EVER, I ran the full length of Sunset (beginning at Charlotte Street and ending at Old Toll Road) without stopping. There have been many, many times that I've made it almost to the top, but then that last little steep part forces me to walk. Not today. Today, I ran the entire thing feeling strong, which is a noticeable improvement in strength and fitness. After today, I'm even considering changing my attidtude about hill repeats:-).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Week 5 Training Update

Time for a brief training update.

The numbers:
Total weekly mileage: 51.6 miles
Average Intensity Factor: .90
Long run: 11 miles
Average weight: 121.85 (-1 lb.)
% body fat: 17%
Average hrs. of sleep: 6.85

My training weeks are 4-week cycles (3 weeks of building and 1 week of recovery) so week 5 was the first week of a new cycle.

I ran additional recovery runs later in the day after Tuesday and Thursday's hill repeat/ fartlek sessions. These additional recovery runs are new to me, but they do seem to be working out well. I make sure I allow 11-12 hours in between runs, and I keep the pace slow. I'm finding these additional easy runs in the evening are not compromising the next day's regular run.

One thing I've noticed this week is a pattern of having a crappy run after a day off. After taking Sunday completely off, on Monday (the first run of the week) my legs feel dead and I feel sluggish. I've heard this is true for other people, too. I just don't know what, if anything, to do about it. Maybe I'll experiment with a 20-30 minute jog on Sunday and see if I feel better on Mondays. I know that if I don't try something, eventually I will come to dread Mondays.

A note on my long run this week: I was at Camp Daniel Boone at Webelos Woods. I did an out-and-back run, since that was all that was available. It was 5.5 miles down hill, then 5.5 miles uphill. This would NEVER be a course I would choose to do if I had other options, but in hindsight, I'm glad I did it. It was especially demanding, and I bet I got a lot of benefit from running that last 5 miles in such a fatigued state.

Next week: Add a third recovery run on Saturday and experiment with light running on Sunday as a way to avoid feeling sluggish on Monday.