Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Long for the Long Run

I shared Mike's critique of my marathon training plan with my wife. Sharing similar concerns regarding the "too far/too soon" aspect, she passed on the following loving quote:

"When you get hurt with some weird injury, don't come whining to me because it's your own ridiculous fault."

So ... I'm tweaking the plan - and not just with respect to this, but a couple of other areas as well.

I did cut back slightly on the mileage this week, running 5 days rather than 6, and 44 miles rather than 48. My speed work day came pretty close to what the plan called for. I did find it difficult, and I think I would have hit it spot-on, but for a final interval+ cut short by an uncalled for trip to the nearest bathroom.

Another part of the plan that I had a concern with was the lack of true long runs, a staple of most marathon training plans. For example, here's what the training page from the Mount Desert Island marathon says about long runs:

"The most important ingredient to marathon success is the long run; it mirrors the marathon itself. "Going long" is a hallowed weekend tradition that is despised and loved, feared and revered, bragged and complained about. First-time and casual marathoners should gradually increase the length of long runs and complete at least three runs of 18 to 20 miles prior to the marathon. "

So the MDI site calls for at least 3 runs of 18-20 miles. The Pfitzinger plan I followed the last couple of years calls for five of these, and last fall in preparing for MDI, I ran six of these, including four 20-mile long runs. How many of these are in my current plan? Zero. In fact, there was only one week where the long run reaches 17 miles.

Here is what the Run S.M.A.R.T. folks said when I asked them about this:

"As for the long runs, Jack believes the risks of running longer than 2 hours and 30 minutes (regardless of pace) during a marathon build-up far outweigh the benefits. 17 miles at 9 minutes pace brings you to Jack's cap. I'm fine with you going 18 on that day and if you're feeling good at a slightly faster pace at that point in your build-up and you can hit 18 or 19 in no more than 2:40 or 2:45 then I think that's fine. But honestly, you don't need to run any longer than that. After getting through this schedule, if you pace yourself properly during the race you will be ready to reach your goal."

I do plan on running for 2:45 a few times during this training cycle, and we'll see where this takes me for mileage on those weeks.

Next week includes a couple of days with some marathon paced miles, with the rest of week filled with easy runs. Should be manageable. No real hill training yet ... more on that next time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Jack Daniels Man

I ran the St. Andrew's Father's Day 5-miler this past Sunday, Mike's annual race. In the four weeks since the marathon, I haven't run very much, and it showed in my finishing time of the race ... not quite breaking the 8 minute/mile pace. The course isn't easy at all, but that's a weak excuse for the poor time.

Cam ran a kilometer in the kids race prior to the adults, coming in at 5:24. Here's a picture of Cam giving it the final push just before he finished! He did very well!

Another picture of Cam, relieved to be done, hanging out with me before the "grown ups" raced.

Some speedy people I know have spoken to me recently about the importance of track workouts, and how it has improved their running. With this in mind, I decided I would include regular track work in my training plan for the Mount Desert Island marathon in October.

I've read a bit about Jack Daniels and his training plans, and I knew regular sessions on the track were part of his schedules (yeah... yeah... it doesn't make him particularly unique, I know). Also, since I've followed Pfitzinger for three training cycles now, I thought I would do something a bit different just to mix it up. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see how it affects me compared to my past training.

I registered for a training plan from the Run S.M.A.R.T. Project, which uses training plans from Jack Daniels. I gave them my recent running history, how many days per week I would like to run, anticipated mileage, and marathon and intermediary race goals. Based on this information, I was provided with an 18-week plan.

The first thing I noticed about the plan was how slow the pace of the easy-paced runs were, with paces of 9:15 to 9:45 per mile. To me, that seems quite slow. However, I've thought for a while that my slow paces are too fast, when comparing to my race times, or when I measure my heart rate on these runs as a percentage of my maximum heart rate. My long runs in the past have always come close to my marathon pace. I hear others speak of tough "marathon pace" long runs, and I think to myself "What's the big deal about that? All my long runs are around marathon pace!"

I think I'll stick to the plan, pretty much as prescribed, and see how it goes. I'll post regular updates here. Here's what the people from the Run S.M.A.R.T. Project said when I asked them about the pace of my easy runs.

"The suggested easy paces are appropriate for your goal time. That is a sign you may normally be running too hard on your easy days. Remember, easy pace running is to strengthen your heart and increase cellular adaptation to help you build a nice base for more stressful training. Those paces are as fast as you need to go to reap 100% of those benefits so running any harder only puts you at higher risk of getting injured."

So tonight, on my first run of the plan, I ran seven miles at a 9:07 pace. The plan has a suggested pace between 9:15 and 9:49! I can't imagine running a 9:49 pace for seven miles. The route I ran was fairly hilly, and my average heartrate was 149, which is about 78% of my maximum heart rate. This tells me that I probably could slow it down even more.

Tomorrow ... speed work, with 13 miles in total, including 2 miles at tempo and 3 km repeats. It will be interesting to see how I make out with that. I'll report on it in my next post.