2 months till CIM and training still on track

September 30, 2010

It’s a little crazy that we only have two months left till CIM, 10 weeks to be more precise. This was our first week where both Tuesday and Thursday were what I’d call full on workouts. Tuesday was a 5 mile workout on the track with miles alternating between 10k and MGP and today we ran 2 sets of 5 miles at Steady pace. I’m haven’t quite managed to hit my training paces for a 2:45 marathon but it’s close enough to make me feel I’m on track for where I need to be in order to have a fighting chance at breaking 2:45 at CIM.

10k/MGP Miles on Tuesday

Target paces for a 2:45 marathon (if you plug it into any calculator) are 5:39 for 10k and 6:18 for MGP. I’ve always struggled with the faster paces at 5k or 10k but did end up hitting the times in the past. This week I’ve been very concsous of my legs since this is generally the phase in training where injuries tend to show up if they will for people. That has meant holding myself in check at each workout including this one. I do think in the coming weeks it’ll be far enough into this phase where I can feel better about my ability to handle the strain of the faster paces.

Mile 1 – 5:42
Mile 2 – 6:16
Mile 3 – 5:45
Mile 4 – 6:16
Mile 5 – 5:45

Steady Run on Thursday

Today worked out fine. First set of 5 miles at a 6:18 pace and second set at 6:13. That puts it right under marathon goal pace which is probably fine for this week. I do think the paces will need to come down moving forward if a 2:45 time at CIM has a chance so let’s see where I am in 4 weeks.

Should you train at where you are or where you want to be?

September 28, 2010

A conversation I was listening to today during our cool down got me thinking a little bit about a pretty fundamental difference in approaches to training. We’re all at some level of fitness and want to get fitter so when we’re doing pace work what effort should we be running at? I’ll use my specific goals and results as an example.

My recent results include a 2:53 marathon at Boston in April 2010 and a 2:51 in Portland in October 2009. I trained at 2:45 marathon equivalent paces for Boston and managed workouts successfully (for a flat course). Right now I’m training for CIM in December 2011 and have a goal of getting under 2:45.

My current fitness is in the 2:45 to 2:50 marathon range and I’ve opted to train at 2:45 marathon equivalent paces (6:18 MGP, 5:59 Tempo, 5:39 10k, 5:27 5k). 2:45 is my current goal so it makes sense to train at these paces since it’s reasonable given my current fitness. But let’s think about it as a longer term plan. Hypothetically let’s say I want to run a 2:40 marathon next year. Well should I train at 2:40 paces or 2:45 paces right now? Should I train at the pace that’s kind of where I am or where I want to be. Now if I said drop it to a 2:30 it’s obvious that’s really no where in the ballpark. A 5 minute drop in time is 10 seconds a mile for each of the paces so anything beyond that seems nuts to me.

One approach would be to try and run at 2:40 paces and see what I could do. The other is to run at 2:45 paces and when my fitness level is confirmed for a 2:45 drop down to 2:42 or 2:40 equivalent effort. If I tried to run the workout we had today (5 continuous miles alternating between 10k pace and marathon goal pace for each mile) here’s what the difference in paces would look like:

.         2:45 Paces     2:40 Paces
MGP     6:18                   6:07
HGP     5:59                   5:48
10k       5:39                  5:29
5k          5:27                 5:17

If i decided to go out at 5:29 pace today for the first mile at 10k pace instead of 5:40 I think I could  have run the mile succesfully. Looking at the numbers 5:29 pace is the 10k pace for a 2:40 marathon time and very close to my ideal 5k pace for a 2:45 marathon time. Now it’s a 5 mile workout so I doubt very much I would be able to get through 3 miles at my current 5k pace and 2 miles close to my current tempo pace successfully. If I did go out at a 5:29 my guess is I’d get through the first 10k set, the first MGP set, then maybe the 3rd 10k set and then come crashing down. I wouldn’t get the intended volume of work at the right effort levels of the workout and therefore the intended physiological adaptations. For me as an individual the faster paces would also put additional strain on my body which would make me more susceptible to injury. I choose to train at my where I am.

Of course this is my view on things, I’m relatively conservative with my training but I don’t think I’m alone on this approach. One of the people in the team has run a marathon faster than me in the past but took a break. So he’s currently looking at training at a 2:50 marathon pace for CIM 2010 and then 2:45 for Boston 2011. He’s choosing to train at 2:50 paces this season or where he is for CIM versus where he wants to be for Boston. He’s going to get fitter and as he gets fitter drop his target as he reaches milestones in his fitness assessment. It’s very difficult for most of us to have that patience or discipline but I think essential to long term success.

So my answer to the question is train at where you are with the following caveats:

  • Don’t sandbag
  • Where you are today is a range not a specific number
  • Keep that range reasonable

SiLabs Austin Marathon Relay Recap

September 26, 2010

This morning was the SiLabs Austin Marathon Relay and a few of us in Team Rogue decided to run it as a mixed division team. Chris had the bright idea on Tuesday I think. To be honest I thought it was a crazy idea. We just ran a race prep last weekend and that was a marathon for me and Asia that marked four up weeks with long runs over 20 miles. I was really looking forward to the recovery week this week and 16 miles on Saturday was a nice and needed change from the 20+ mile slog. But then Chris convinced me, Damon, Asia and Niccole to run the relay today.

Good thing he did convince us, none of us could really hit our expected race paces at the distances we ran today (Damon probably came the closest on his leg) but that was still good enough to win the Mixed Division and have the 3rd fastest overall time for the day. All in all a good day and a job well done representing Team Rogue.

The Team Basking in Some Well Deserved Glory in New Under Armour Uniforms

Defining your long run

September 25, 2010

I was grabbing lunch at work this week and ran into a runner at NI and we were talking about our training (my marathon training and his Ironman training). Somewhere along the way he mentioned long runs and how for his Ironman he isn’t really going to run much farther than 15 miles for his long runs, very different from the three 20+ mile long runs he used to do for marathon training. He made a point about the intent in his training for the Ironman, to survive the distance versus training for speed when focusing solely on the marathon. The risk of the higher mileage with all the additional training he has to do for the Ironman just makes longer runs impractical for him.

His comment about 3 long runs over 20 miles got me thinking about my last two years training with Team Rogue, a program Steve Sisson started at Rogue two summers ago. During my training for the Portland Marathon last year my log shows me running 10 long runs over 20 miles with a good deal at 22 or 24 miles. This season for CIM I should be around 15 long runs over 20 miles. 3 years ago I would have been amazed to run 3 long runs over 20 miles. It’s been interesting how at this point after the two years being on Team Rogue running 20 miles just seems normal, a down or recovery week results in a 16 or 18 mile long run on the weekend. This may sound crazy to others in training groups or designing their own training plans, but the results really have been great for me. It didn’t just happen overnight, it took me a while to realize there were many things I needed to do to train at this intensity.  It’s taken two years to be a this point where I feel like my body can handle it. The strength work, focus on nutrition, regular massages and icing have been essential to get to this point. The amount of discipline it requires to train at the intensity Team Rogue demands can be daunting and I often question just how long I want to keep it going. It’s difficult to think that after CIM this year I may not train with Team Rogue, there are many friends I see every other day that train at this level and just unplugging will be difficult. At least I know there are other training programs at Rogue that aren’t quite as demanding as Team Rogue I can slide into when I need a break and still be part of the community.

Oh did I forget to mention I got engaged last night. Well I did 🙂

The Fox Cities Marathon serves as a stepping stone to CIM in December

September 20, 2010

This weekend was a fun trip to Madison and Appleton, WI. Yes a place near Green Bay can be fun. Asia and I made the trip to run the Fox Cities Marathon. The original purpose of the trip was to use the race as a Boston qualifier for Asia. Since Boston filled up last year in late October or early November we wanted to have her qualifier before registration opened. It was going to a long run but as chance would have it the race fell on the same weekend that Steve planned the first race prep for Team Rogue. The race prep and the marathon deserve some assessment. I’m sure Asia’s post will be much more entertaining.

The prescribed race prep was 3 x 5 miles at marathon goal pace (MGP). I ended up running a modified version of the race prep during the marathon, starting pace work at the 5 mile point in the race. My current MGP for CIM is 6:18 minutes per mile, my average pace for the 14 miles at MGP ended up at 6:14, the different sections were:

  • 5 Miles – 6:21, 6:24, 6:19, 6:12, 6:15 (6:18 average)
  • 3 Miles – 6:16, 6:26, 6:20 (6:20 average)
  • 3 Miles – 6:30, 6:08, 6:02 (6:13 average)
  • 3 Miles – 6:06, 6:13, 6:06 (6:08 average)

The Fox Cities Marathon

This race had a great feel to it. The only marathon I’ve run with a small community feel to it. We drove from Madison to Appleton with Asia’s mom and the expo and packet pick-up was at a community college. We could have really just gone in and out in under 10 minutes. The number of people running the marathon and relay must have been 1000 with more doing the half (which started an hour before the marathon). We got to the start and 10 minutes before the gun at 8:00 could have lined up in the second or third row without any problem. Really pretty cool to not have the craziness of larger marathons. The only downside to the smaller race is if you’re running faster times (3:10 or faster) you may not have a lot of company to run with which can mess with your mind. Of course seeing people break down and walk from mile 20 to 26 can mess with your mind too so maybe fewer people isn’t a bad thing after all.

The goodie bag was a mixed bag. The great things were a GU and stainless steel bottle. The, well not so great was a set of tampons and depends for women.  One of the sponsors of the race was Kimberly Clark so that explains the Kotex and Depends. On the plus side it did mean the toilet paper was Scott brand and other nice soft stuff.

The Good Part of the Goodie Bag

Could Have Left This Out

The race started exactly on time, very cool. Not sure when that has happen in Austin lately. The course was reasonably flat, some rollers etc but an honest course. There were a few turns that were confusing, a quick right where if you weren’t paying attention to the arrows on the ground you’d miss the tunnel that goes under the highway and then one section where you just ran into a park; in general a good course. The weather was great, 50 degrees at the start and 55 at the finish. Oh, and the area was very reasonable to stay in, not crazy expensive like Boston or other big city races. I would gladly recommend this race to people.

The Race Prep

The fastest pace group was for a 3:15 marathon at the race and that’s a 7:25 minute/mile pace so Asia and I decided to start with them. The cooler weather made it difficult to hold back but the pace group was a good check on us. At mile 2 I looked down at the watch and thought, I bet the pace group leader freaks out and tries to make up time … he did, very predictable and ran the group into the ground with a 7:08. It was just funny seeing him react to a mile that was off just a little and over correcting. It’s much easier to observe others doing that then being aware of yourself in a race, as I showed during the race prep.

Going into the race we decided on running our first set of 5 at 5 miles, the second set at 11 and the third at 17. As we started the first set I was very aware that my legs just aren’t used to the faster paces yet. It seemed very forced to move my legs faster. It wasn’t a natural or even motion. I kept felling like the effort was too hard for MGP but as we clicked off the first mile at MGP it was 6:21, my mind was a little taken back. This is only two weeks after the end of our base phase so it’s expected. I don’t think I would have kept the effort going if Asia wasn’t ahead of me and keeping me honest. Our overall pace for this 5 mile set was 6:18 so right on target.

We started the second set well at 6:16 and then during the second mile the race prep went a little off plan. There are so many things I do during a run or race that just happen. Simple things like how to drink water while running at MGP. Well, Asia has been running track or cross-country till now. She’s never had to take water this way before. Well she took some Gatorade and … down the wrong pipe it went and she was choking on it.  Somehow she managed to keep going but the gasping and restricted breathing had an impact. We finished the third mile of the set and she had a cramp she just couldn’t get rid of. I was impressed that she kept going after the choking. We both started walking to make sure she was ok and we decided to make an audible on the race prep and try for another 2 sets of 3 miles to make it 14 for the day and hope the cramp would subside. We’d talked about what to do if one person wasn’t having a good day and the other a bad one before the.

Then the next two sets of 3 miles. Asia upped her effort but getting under 6:20 was just too painful so she did what she could. I’m just really impressed. I know if that was me I would be walking or just doing a death march to the finish, not trying to push as hard as I could. That mental part of the race prep is something that I give a lot of credit to Steve for working into Team Rogue. During race preps he’s teaching us to reach the edge but not cross over it, and if we do to back off and try again. Nothing prepares your for the crappiness your mind inflicts on you during a race except for a race, the race prep is the next best thing.

My legs started to really loosen up and I was feeling a little guilty at not running 3 x 5 miles at MGP and the audible so decided I’d try and run somewhat under 6:18. That ended up being 6:13 and 6:08 for the next two sets of 3 miles. They weren’t forced, just hard effort.

Asia and I ran the rest of the marathon and crossed the finish line together, in a time of 3:02:44 This was her first marathon and first race prep (for her own race) and I think an invaluable experience. It’s a little crazy to think she just ran her first marathon in 3:02 as a workout, at a sub 7 minute per mile pace, qualified for Boston ,and by the way, finished 4th overall female.

Training logs are such a useful tool

September 12, 2010

I won’t go into all the pro’s of having a training log but I do think for anybody that is serious about their training, a log is an invaluable tool. I’ve tried a few online versions but have settled on an excel calendar template where I use comments for any special notes.

Training Log Excerpt from 2009

The thing it’s helped me do this season is get a feel for how my training is going compared to the last few seasons. It was relatively easy to notice that my base phase went from 600 miles in 2008 to 1000 miles in 2010. That’s simple though what’s more interesting is comparing paces to see where I am relative to previous seasons, and also how I’m doing based on the cycle or phase of training we’re in. On average my easy paces are 10 seconds a mile faster than when I was training for Portland, which is good. This means I’m right under 2:50 marathon shape. I’ve also been able to go back and look at the base phase to steady/tempo phase period. Last season the first two weeks were rough, it wasn’t easy and I eased into steady runs and ended up running marathon goalish pace. Same thing this season so that’s a good thing. This week I’ve also felt really tired, paces a little slower and effort a little higher … well that pattern shows up in spades too. In a two week up phase the second weekend was always very tough. My past three weeks have been 69, 73, and 83 miles respectively so it makes sense that I didn’t feel like I could go and run at speed during yesterdays long run. With the race prep next week bringing another 80 mile week I expect it will be extremely tough, good to get the mind prepared for what will be a very tough run if I end up trying to run 3 sets of 5 miles at marathon goal pace. I’ll give it a go but wouldn’t be surprised at a spectacular flame out with the race prep coming at the end of 3 weeks above 70 miles. You’ll hear all about it next week … good or bad 🙂

Wow that’s a lot of shoes

September 11, 2010

I finally decided that the Green Silence just don’t work for me. The way the laces come over on the top just digs in too much. I took 2 of them and another pair of Mizuno’s to Rogue so they can use them for any donations and recycling programs. The shoes I now run in are the Brooks Launch and Saucony Kinvara. Here’s the current collection I have at home.

So many shoes

By CIM in December I should have gone through 6 of these shoes. One pair for the gym and two for just wearing around and a pair of trail shows. Yes, I guess it’s a bit of an obsession.

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