Monday, September 12, 2011

NYC Marathon Training Week 10: Mid-Training Analysis



My HR was 6 beats higher on Wednesday, the day I was supposed to do my hill work. I planned to do it after work in cooler temps but when I got home, “Little Bit” greeted me with, “Mama, you left early in the morning and I didn’t see you. Now you're going running? I don’t want you to go.” That was all I needed to hear so I scrubbed my workout. Seldom do I hear Little Bit making such a request. It was just as well since I felt like I needed one more day to recuperate. I felt pooped.  My legs felt okay, but my mind was exhausted. My heart wasn’t in it this day. I lacked motivation, maybe because of the heat, I don't know. It was 90 degrees in SLO whereas when I came home, it was a cool 65 in Los Osos and it was only a 20-minute drive between work and home.  Hill work was therefore pushed to Thursday and my window of opportunity was limited to my lunch hour.  Again it was hot, but thankfully for the Eucalyptus trees which offered great shade.  The training called for 6 x hill repeats of between 200-400m long.  I opted for the shorter 200m. But before starting, I ran 2 short hills about a tenth of a mile long to fire up the muscles before hitting the lactate threshold pace. After those, I started the 200s.  I was slow and sluggish as soon as the lactate crept up. By then end of the workout I completed 7 repeats instead of 6.  I must have lost track! Really? I couldn’t believe it.

In analyzing my hill workouts, I should have stuck to one hill so that I could compare notes from one week to the next. I should have also stuck with a certain hill distance. Instead, I ended up running 3 different hills on 5 different occasions, with varying distances on each weeks. Hard to make a comparison that way when so many variables are accounted for.   On the other hand, I did mixed it up. One good thing about that, is that the variances allowed my leg muscles to be introduced to varying pitch, distance and gradient.  I did run Lizzie hill in August and I do have one good data that came out of it where my pace was around 11:13. This time around my average pace for the 7 repeats were 9:58 pace—so in that sense I will take this as progress made.

Thank God for Friday, my rest day!

Saturday Pace Run

It went well. Finally I hit the pace I needed for the marathon at 9:09. It took this long, but the journey was awesome. I actually did not do a negative split. That would have been sweet had I done that! I was 19 seconds slower on the second half.  I had 2 huge hills on the way back so that accounted for the slow down. First four and a half miles was done at 8:59 pace while the last four and a half miles was 9:18 pace. Like I said before, when I run relaxed going into the run and feel no cares about the pace, I end up with a faster second half. When my brain knows I have to hit a certain pace, I end up tensing up and going out too fast. Much of my glances in the first half from my Garmin revealed paces in the 8:38s. I got to learn to relax!

Sunday Long Run

I was so happy with how I ran Saturday’s goal pace run that on Sunday, I didn’t care too much about pacing. In fact, the slower the better.  It was humid. I started early in the morning since Little Bit had a sleepover at our house.  Word on the street was, her friends love my banana pancake for breakfast so I was eager to get back home before they all woke up.

I started off at 6:15 am and headed out to San Luis Obispo. I started out very slow since it was still dark and I paid attention to potholes—I would hate to be this close to the marathon and twist an ankle.  The ol' body was a little creeky, muscles were too cold and sore.  I didn't have the desire to hit a negative split this day, I just wanted to complete the run. As far as I was concerned I had my cake yesterday. Poor planning though: I only had 4 water bottles with me, and had to ration it.  I also had 4 energy gels and I thought I lost one, but it was shoved way down my pouch that I went the last few miles wishing I had one more.  When I got back to Los Osos, I was short one mile. I ran one in my neighborhood to finish at 19 miles with a 10:17 pace. Compared to the olden days, I used to run a 10:25 for a 20 miler sandwiched by two full rest days! Today I ran this pace behind a 9 mile pace run! I think I have improved! 

Mid-Training Analysis

I’m well beyond my halfway point in Hal Higdon’s Marathon Training Plan-Advance 1.  So far it’s been great. For the most part I was able adhere to key work-outs.  I crossed off easy days sometimes when my body clamored for more rest. I squeezed in tune up races when I needed.  One time I participated in a race where I didn’t need to  which cause me to miss the "sorta long run".  In hindsight, I could have probably sit this particular race out. 

The reason I picked Hal Higdon's marathon plan was because of the inclusion of the medium long runs in the middle of the week and the pace run behind the long runs on the weekends. I also like the interchangeability of the yasso, hill and tempo runs every third week. I knew it was going to be a tad more challenging than my previous "Break 4:00 Training Plan" from Runner's World. But I was ready to push myself. Only thing though, I had little bit of trepidation about  Hal's recovery days. They were iffy for me, because I was used to a complete rest days from previous training plans. I wanted my full rest. I was not sure whether I would be beating the body more if I didn’t get my complete rest days.  There were weeks were I trusted the plan and ran the recovery days. I was fine after running it and was surprised. But then again, there were other weeks where I knew I had to rest thinking that there was nothing an easy 3 miler can do but tire myself even more and hamper the next workout. On the whole, I was careful with listening to the body.

My goal this training plan is to be able to stick to the plan without injury. Stick to the plan so that I can go on to the next training stronger. So far, I’ve had no problem with the knees, I’ve been religiously taking my glucosamine chondroitin for the past 3 years! I am swearing by this.  Also, I have had no problem with the piriformis, I’ve been stretching every night before bed and also within a ½ mile after the start of my runs. The Achilles have not been no problem.  There’s an occasiocal twinge, but I’ve been keeping an eye for it. I take a rest day if they are starting to bother me. I am so okay with one day off now rather than 3-4 days to let it heal. Learned my lesson--can’t ignore it.

As far as mileage goes, so far I have succeeded. I stuck to the majority of the key workouts and the ones that I missed were the less prioritized long runs in the middle of the week.  I may have  missed a couple of paced runs but the actual races made up for it.  I moved days around to accommodate other priorities happening in my life and it worked out. After 10 weeks my cummulative mileage is 343, that averages about 34 miles a week. Hal’s plan has 369 miles approximately at the 10th week mark. I am not too far off, considering I mostly scratched off the recovery days of 3 miles.   

When it comes to training paces, I’d like to think that I have done my best to stick to it.  Early on, the pace runs were easy. I hit the paces, but when the weekly workouts ramped up, the pace runs for the weekend got harder to hit. I struggled with the 9:14 and 9:15 in the 7 and 8 mile pace runs. It wasn’t until week 10 that I was able to hit the 9:09 pace and I had to monitor my Garmin much more to make sure that I was on target.

In the next 8 weeks of Hal's Plan, I would very much like to continue to push myself and at the same time listen to the body even more so. Toeing the line 110% healthy on Nov 6 is the utmost goal.
For Week #11, the week looks like this, slightly modified as we will be out of town for the weekend:

Mon –4 easy REST 

Tues –10 easy

Wed –45 Tempo (6 miles)

Thurs –5 easy  REST

Fri –Rest 10 easy

Sat –10 easy 20 easy

Sun –20 easy 5 easy 

Total 51 miles

As you can detect, there are a lot of easy days piled on top of one another with the exception of the tempo workout on Wednesday. That is the only speed workout scheduled for this week. What’s hard is keeping up the mileage. I’m on the 50 mile zone here, so technically this is not an easy week! If I can hang, that’s the most I would have ever done in my marathoning days. Whew! Keeping my fingers cross and hoping for no injuries!

Here's to happy running with no injuries!

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