Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Changes Afoot

I had a seminal moment this morning. I realized that I can run all the easy miles I want. I can run 130 miles a week if I feel like it, and I probably won't break down. All I have to do is slow down, just like I did to get to 100s and 110s and even my 124 mile week that I was soooo proud of. 1450+ miles of running in 15 weeks.

So where did that get me?

This morning I attempted a 6:00 mile pace workout (2 mile WU, 6 miles of 2min on/2min off at slightly slower than marathon pace). I failed miserably. My shins and calves basically locked up within half of a mile at that pace, and I had to stop.

While this is most certainly an isolated incident, one thing has been apparent to me for about six weeks. I have gotten slow. Long slow running does indeed create a long, slow runner. I have attempted a few other workouts at sub seven minute paces, and, invariably, I either can't complete the modest goals of the workout, or I complete the workout, only to need 2-3 full days to recover from the effort, usually at substantial reduction in mileage.

Needless to say, the satisfaction of running big miles is completely outweighed by the fact that I feel like shit running faster than 6:30 pace. At least before the big miles I could run 50 miles a week at a decent clip and still get in some fast workouts without completely falling apart.

So anyway, I have some thinking to do. Right now, I'm considering cutting the mileage for a couple of weeks to 80-90 and trying to get in a moderately fast workout that actually goes well. I'll post up some more details in the next few days as I figure things out.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Evan

It's not even March! You have 7 months until Twin Cities, and you have built a fantastic aerobic base.

Not sure how much strides or fartlek you have been doing over winter, but IMHO six miles of alternating two minutes is a reasonably ambitious first workout. A couple of weeks of strides every couple of days might ease the transition?

And it is amazing how easy 80 feels even after 100, so going from 110+ to 80 might feel better.

Happy running.

2/28/2006 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Sasha Pachev

Eric:

Good thinking. The purpose of running long miles is to make you fast. If they do not, you need to do it in a different way.

What I do to decide if something new I am trying in my training is any good is periodically run a workout that will accurately measure my fitness while still remaining a workout and providing regular workout benefits. For example, 2x3 miles on a fixed verified course at a hard but not quite all-out pace. To measure how much reserve I had left, pick up the pace on the last mile of the last repetition, and then try to sprint on the last 400. I race a lot, and noticed the performance on such a workout very strongly correlates with my race performance on all distances from 5 K to the marathon.

Long miles are not for everybody and not for every situation. The same can be said about fast miles, although I believe fast miles are needed more often that long miles to run at sub-2:40 marathon level. But everything must be done in proper balance.

2/28/2006 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Eric

Thanks for the encouraging comments guys. Much appreciated. I'm probably being overly dramatic about the whole thing. I'm sure it's going to come down to a bad day.

However...I like what Sasha says about the purpose of the miles. I've been thinking about why I've been running 100+ miles a week, and for too long, the purpose has been to see if I can do it. Obviously, I can. Got the checkmark.

So, I need to step back and ask again, why am I doing this? The answer is that I want run my first marathon in 2:29:59 or faster. Right now there is a huge space between here and there.

To answer your question Evan, I have done no fartlek, strides, or anything resembling speed faster than 6:30 pace, which is why I am where I am, I guess. I'm going to try adding in some strides this week, and hopefully lift my mood a bit as well as my knees.

2/28/2006 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Mike

You aren't hurt, you aren't burnt out, and you're starting the season with a huge aerobic base. Given your circumstances (a slow treadmill and terrible weather), you seem to have done very well. I'm tempted to agree with Evan about the workout being a bit tough to start. Would fartlek, strides and tempo have helped? My guess is yes, but that's in the past now. You know where I'm coming from when I say "miles make champions". I hope you don't do anything too drastic, I think you'll make the right choice for you.

2/28/2006 09:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Sasha Pachev

Eric:

Do not plan to run a sub-2:30 in your first marathon unless you have run a 1:05 half or a sub 30:00 10 K. Very few people are able to get what they are worth on the first try. Better run it relaxed with no high expectations. Do that a few times to learn respect for the distance. After you get to know the beast a bit better, then you may try to go out more aggressively and see what happens.

3/02/2006 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Eric

Yikes! I understand what you mean about being too ambitious, and I'm aware of the rigors of marathon running, albeit from research rather than experience. But, I have to say, when I can run sub-30 for 10k and 1:05 for a half, I will be running 26 mile training runs in 2:30! Unless by sub-2:30, you meant 2:18. =)

I think 2:29:xx is a reasonable debut goal given my previous times of 15:26(5k) and 31:48(10k). By October 1, 2006, I will have been training specifically toward the marathon distance for 11 months. The big question is, how quickly will I regain that previous level of fitness?

Also, if it doesn't work out and I fail to break 2:30, I will likely still run well under 2:40 in the attempt, which I would be satisfied with as a start. Either way, I won't be disappointed because I am executing a 7 year plan. Patience, patience, patience.

Thanks again for the comments, Sasha. I appreciate someone with your experience and ability taking time to offer support. Run well!

3/02/2006 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Mike

Eric, I'm anxious to hear about any changes you made this week. We also need an update on that new little boy of yours. C'mon man, I know you're out there now that you commented on my blog!

Sub 2:30 is mighty serious, and yes sometimes it takes awhile to get the marathon right (6 and counting but I'm not there yet), but I believe it pays to dream big. We as a species are capable of so much more than we realize, kudos for going for it.

3/08/2006 05:37:00 PM  

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