Saturday, March 31, 2012

Training and Hunger Games and stats

This week will go in the books as perhaps the highest quality week I have ever done. Monday hosted a 10 miler with 4x1mile @ sub 10K pace. Tuesday hosted 3X (1', 1'15'', 1'30'') hill repeats on a hill with a 10-10.6 grade. Thursday hosted 5x1000m on 400 active recovery @ sub planned 5K pace. Saturday hosted 13 miles @ 7:07 with 3 miles aerobic pace, 3 miles in way sub 19 min, 4 miles aerobic pace, 2 miles in way sub 13, and 1 mile cool down. There were also 3 recovery runs in there, and 2 more tomorrow. My legs continue to impress me, but I think this has more to do with my smart coach. He knows his thing and he has gotten me here progressively. Lets just say that my MAF test in early February was done at 9+mile min/pace. Can you says LOTS of improvement?

The nice thing about how I am training right now is that it is more...pleasant. I am not going all out unless I have a TT, or I need to hit paces in 20+MPH wind (when really I should just slow down, ha!). These workouts are crafted to keep me challenged and motivated, but also to show me that I am getting faster and closer to my goals. It is amazing to me that last year around this time I was chasing a sub 20, and now running a sub 20 seems so easy, and here I am , chasing a sub 19. At 38! Love that! Age is really just a number (BTW, Melanie McQuaid just won Oceanside 70.3 @ 39. Boom!!!).

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Last night Chris and I went to see "Hunger Games". I have not read the books. I am a nonfiction type reader and generally stay away from popular fiction books (maybe my loss here, who knows!). The movie was good, but it left me a bit sad. I may be reading too much into this, but I can certainly see us, as a society, 10-20 years from now no longer being satisfied watching "Survivor" or "Fear factor" (OK< I have never watched this one) or other such shows. Could watching people kill each other on a live TV show become the new "reality show" in vogue someday? Perhaps I am just getting old, ha!

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And just because, some stats for those with such interests:

Current running streak: 43 days (about 2-4 doubles/week); 435.7 miles. (by the way, I have no streak goals here and could really care less about this).
2012 mileage: 862.3; 7:48 avg pace
March so far: 307.2 mi 36:06:55 7:46 / mi

Things are good!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Training thoughts

I think when you push your body hard 2 things can happen: you either adapt and get stronger, or break down and need rest (not necessary get injured, but that is a possibility). Last week I had my first week with full on speed: track, progression/tempo in addition to a long run that ended up being fast. I was tired. My body was tired. The runs went well, but the track was harder than I expected. I was a bit concerned about the fatigue. Tim had promised to take me to my breaking point and then rest me well, so I thought I was getting close to that (and was slightly disappointed, ha). But I turned a corner this week. I ran hills, a 6K track workout (without the active recovery) at, below, and way below planned 5K pace and felt great. I than ran a long run @ aerobic pace with 4 mile repeats @ sub 10K pace interspersed in there. I felt super. Much, much better than last week. Me thinks I adapted! Phew!

And this is where, my friends, having a coach becomes invaluable. We are all different. We handle long vs track vs hilly runs differently (did I mention I was sore after my hill repeats and I never get sore these days???). A coach can learn that about you and then push you or slow you down when needed (OK, mine is probably pulling his hairs because I am a wild one and once in a while I misbehave aka go too fast). Do we all need a recovery week every 3 weeks? Do we all need the same amount of long runs, or the same amount of speed work? Do we all have the same weaknesses and strengths? I think not.

I have witness such an increase in my fitness in the past two months since I started with Tim. I have not raced yet, so obviously I don't have any concrete results to show for, but I am feeling so strong, so happy and excited running these very fun and complicated (yet simple!) workouts and I never get bored with running. I am truly surprised that I like being coached so much!

And just for fun, here is what I've been up to. Notice that during the past week the speed increased, the mileage decreased and there is a lot of black (recovery) in there. I have become such a fan of recovery runs. I go into them with rough feeling legs, and finish them springy and ready for a hard effort the next day...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

We are not in Kansas anymore...

This week the $hit hit the fan (so to speak) in my training world. We got down to business to get me ready for a couple of 5Ks and a HM in the future months. I went from la, la, la aerobic, steady running, to hard, sloooowx2, hard, sloooow, long, sloooowx2 and it was an adjustment for my body and mind. I felt super tired this week. I have also been struggling to kill this low grade cold that shows up mostly at night but does not interfere with my runs at all. My legs felt tighter than usual, so I rolled, "sticked" and massaged them daily and they did not fail me one bit.

The track workout surely shocked my mind a bit. Man, running fast at the track is hard. I was humbled but emerged with renewed motivation to work on my mental game (because I think this is so important in the 5K!). The thing is, I always make my paces in training (the faster range of my paces, the higher end of my HR) so I need to believe things will come through for me come race day.

My hard/long workouts this week have been faster than I have ever gone before (except the track, that was slower/shorter). I rocked a 17 miler with Katie today and ran it faster than ever before, while keeping it within my aerobic HR zone. I rocked a progression/tempo/HARD finish run on Thursday. I rocked my recovery runs on trails or treadmill. On top of it all, my legs feel good! I am on a roll:)

I have also started working the mind and experimenting with various strategies to see what fits me. I know I need to do this work now, so that I can practice what works and make it automatic. I can't wait until race day to do that work if I want to see results. The sub 19 5K is mostly a mental barrier for me. I know I can do it. I just freak out when I see a sub 6 pace on my watch. I can't do that. I need to get my brain habituated to that pace. It is so much easier for me to run by heart rate because I do not have these associations with paces. The HR number is just a number, while the pace is so much more. Five more weeks until the first 5K. I know what I need to do, and I will just execute it.

Oh, and I have my prediction all ready for Katie's marathon. She rocked her 20 miler today, probably a PR 20 miler for her on tired legs (faster than any 20 miler she or I have ever done before)! So fun to have such a strong and fun training partner!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The track

I was fortunate to have my first track workout of the season this afternoon, in 73 degrees and 20 MPH wind. Everyone at work was thrilled with the weather this morning, while I was mumbling under my breath about how this is going to mess up with my run.

OK, so I was really excited about going to the track. I love the track, or better, I love having done a track workout. Whatever! I was excited for some speed action.

Tim wrote a workout with a bunch of 200s, then 400s and then faster 200s, with plenty of recovery, and I thought this would be easy peasy.

I warmed up for 2.5 miles, building the pace, then took my shirt off, got my iPod set

"This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
And 100% reason to remember the name"

I hit the first intervals faster than I wanted (the goal is to NOT go as fast as I can on these, and learn pacing) and it was hard. #$@% . I did the second one and it was hard too. Welcome back to the track, AM. Reality check. You are not in track shape (of course, I have not gone to track since November, and the temps and 20 MPH wind did not help). I plugged along and completed the workout happy for the long recoveries that Tim set for me. Objectively, I hit some pretty awesome paces today, similar to what I was doing in November, just fewer intervals and more recovery. And I do feel great to have done the workout. And, like childbirth, I already forgot about the "hurt" and am so excited about building up my speed during the next six weeks before my first 5K. Bring it! I am ready for MORE!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The mystery of the human body

I have not taken a rest day in 26 runs or 330 miles.

This is a first for me. I have always taken one rest day from running every week, when I would swim, bike or do nothing.

I feel great! My legs feel great.

These runs have mostly been within my aerobic zone, with the exception of a few progressions, 2 tempos, and regular strides. One or two weekly runs are done within my recovery heart rate zone. I have not done any intervals, or really hard running (with one exception, a time trial) and my longest run has been only 16 miles.

Why did I not get injured?

Honestly, I think I am not injury prone. I think I have a pretty efficient stride, and am just lucky. I don't do anything special to stay healthy. I do eat well most of the time, and I do sleep a lot (9+hours this week as I am nursing a "who knows what bug"). I also do a lot of plyometrics and strength now, to ensure that my glutes don't get lazy again. I have not been doing anything crazy, like running on super tired legs, increasing mileage and intensity at once, you know, common sense stuff.

BUT...

Many people do what I do and get injured. And it is frustrating. I think many believe that getting injured means that you messed up somewhere in your training. I think that is BS. Messing up most likely correlates with training, but it does not always lead to injury, just as not messing up can lead to injury. Messing up can be stigmatizing, it can mean that you are to blame for the injury, and that is just not right and not helping.

I think it all comes down to finding your own recipe for injury free running. Sure, if you run easy all the time, you will not get injured, and that is fine as long as that is your goal. But in order to get to your potential as a runner, you need to push your limits, you need to find your limits. Looking back at my past injuries, I know that they were all "mess ups"; I do not blame myself for them, however, because I did not know that I was messing up at that time. I have never gotten an injury that puzzled me and had no idea where it came from. And I learned from my injuries, at least I think I did (my coach might disagree with this one, ha!). So, I don't really know my limit thus far...how many miles a week I can handle, how many key workouts/week I can do, how many runs/week would be safe for me? I am very interested in finding answers to these questions, because, even though there is a risk in finding your limits (aka injury), in my book the benefits outweigh the risks! I have seen how quickly I came back from injury (and much faster!), and what a great learning experience that was for me (realizing that there are other things that I can focus on besides running).

I have no idea how long my streak will continue. I know coach has a plan to break me and then rest me well, so that I absorb all this training. Until that happens, I am running happy hoping I will not find my limit any time soon:)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bits of training

I often wonder whether there is a recipe for getting faster. I think not. I think there are lots.

When I first started running I was a strong believer in quality over quantity. I used the FIRST plan, ran 3X/week, maxed out @ 30 miles and BQed on my first marathon. It worked for me.

In more recent years I started to increase the quantity. I did this over several years such that I maxed out @ 80 miles (for one week) during my last marathon. I also believed that going all out at the end of the run is the way to go. It worked for me.

Now with Tim I am training very differently. For example, this week I ran every day, 73 miles total, only in my aerobic HR zone (aside from a recovery run set to max at the lower end of my aerobic HR). In fact, most of my runs since the beginning of February were like this. No speed (aside from a TT), only few strides. And I got faster. My aerobic pace now, the pace that I seem to be able to hold forever averages at 7:45, consistently over the past few weeks. When I started to increase miles after my injury, at the beginning of February, my aerobic pace was close to 9. Of course, I am not saying that my improvement is due entirely to aerobic running; I am aware that my base has not gone away for the few weeks when I was injured. But, it is amazing to me that simply aerobic running is working so well in not only bringing me back, but also improving my aerobic pace in one month flat. I am really excited to see what I can do once we add speed.

Which brings me back to training methods...I continue to believe that most methods work, high mileage, high speed, HR training. But I am starting to believe that I can train smarter, less "all out", and maybe achieve more than I was before. Time will tell. Racing will tell. For now, I am really having A LOT of fun running and being coached. Best thing ever for me, I think.

Here is what I have been doing for the past few weeks..