Sunday, November 11, 2012
WEEK 18 (of 21)
Goal Race: California Marathon (12/2/2012)
Goal Time: 4:25 (BQ)
Goal Pace: 10:06 /mi
Miles Last Week: 35
Target This Week: 40
Distance: 3 miles
Intervals: None (1); :60/:10 (2-3)
Splits: 9:31 / 9:46 / 9:56
Notes: After Sunday's run, where I ran "free form" intervals, just focusing on staying comfortable, I decided to try a race pace experiment today. When I reviewed the pace graph of the free form miles in Training Center, I noticed that even in miles 4 & 5, where I slowed down the run to be comfortable while it was still muggy and the average mile pace was around 11 minutes, I was actually running at the fast end of race pace (9:45-9:50) when I was running. And that running pace had felt very easy. During mile 6, when it started to cool off, the pace during the run segment was consistently HMP (9:20), with 3 walk breaks during the mile. In mile 7, the running pace was solidly 9:30 with one walk break. In mile 8, I was almost up to 10KP (9:00) with one walk break. (Actually, in both of the last 2 miles, it was a water stop rather than a true walk break.) In all cases, I was not pushing the pace and it felt comfortable, even easy, when I was running.
So today, I decided to run the first mile straight, but make it a very easy pace. I was curious to see what a very easy pace was without the additional slow down from walk breaks. And the answer was -- faster than race pace. So I did some quick mental calculations and decided to see if adding a 10 second walk every minute, combined with that same slow, easy pace, would give me race pace. And it did.
Even though the pace felt easy without walk breaks, I know that over 26 miles, my legs will benefit from the regular recovery break. But it's also good to be able to slow the actual running down as much as possible. Of course, this was only 3 miles.
Specific Endurance Intervals
Distance: 8 miles
1 mile easy
2 x 2 miles at HMP (9:20) w/ 2 min rec
1 mile easy
4 x 400m hills at 3K (8:00) effort
Intervals: 1:00/:10 (1); 1:15/:10 (2-5); 1:00/:10 (6)
Incline for hill repeats: 3%
Splits: 9:29 / 9:05 / 9:06 / 9:09 / 9:15 / 9:38
Hill Repeats: 2:00 / 2:00 / 2:08 / 2:10
Notes: I'm not sure what I'm going to do with Friday's run where I'm supposed to do 1 mile easy before my 2 miles at race pace, since "easy" now seems to be faster than race pace. I guess that's a good problem to have.
I continued with the strategy of combining a long run segment (run at a very easy pace) with a short walk segment to give my legs a quick recovery. The specific endurance intervals really were very easy today -- I never felt as if I were pushing or running that hard. The hill repeats, on the other hand, were challenging, especially coming after the 6 miles. I managed 3K effort on the first two but had to slow the second two down a bit.
I have been reflecting on my training over the past few weeks as I work out. I'm beginning to better understand what the different components are designed to do and to see how they work to that end. The key workouts come from Brad Hudson's book, "Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon." The marathon a month comes from Jeff Galloway.
In "Run Faster," Hudson talks about developing race-specific aerobic support -- the level at which your aerobic system must be able to function to prevent oxygen delivery from limiting your performance in racing. For the marathon distance, the optimal level of aerobic support is half-marathon pace. In other words, if you are well adapted to half marathon pace, marathon pace will be aerobically easy.
In fact, he says, "Because the endurance challenge of the marathon is so severe, your goal marathon pace has to be a virtual cakewalk, aerobically. Training your aerobic system for optimal performance at the aerobically more challenging half-marathon distance is the best way to ensure that it sails through the full marathon, even if your legs don't (and they never will!)."
The other thing about his key workouts is that they are almost all progressive, i.e. include multiple paces with the faster pace coming towards the end rather than the beginning of each workout. So after running at half marathon pace, you must do some 10K pace as well, asking the legs (and brain) to speed up when they are already a little (or a lot) tired. While this may seem just more physical conditioning, I can now see that that component of the training is really about training the brain. It mimics the last miles of a marathon, when those legs are always tired.
Finally, there is a confidence building factor is the slow, but steady progression. I actually found myself thinking, when I looked at today's workout before I left for the gym, that it looked easy. Wow, did I really think that? But it was easy (except for the hill repeats).
The most elusive and necessary component of a peak marathon, imho, is to believe that you can do it. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm beginning to see how I might actually get there. It has been hard to imagine -- and still is a little.
Distance: 4 miles
Splits: 9:37 / 9:35 / 9:14 / 9:36
Notes: Today's run felt very comfortable. The next two workouts will definitely be challenging, however, especially Sunday's long run.
Distance: 8 miles
1 mile easy
2 miles @ MP (9:50 - 10:06)
.5 miles easy
2 miles at HMP (9:20)
.5 miles easy
1 mile at 10KP (8:50)
1 mile easy
Intervals: 1:00/:20 (1)
Splits: 9:53 / 9:19 / 9:30 / 5:05 / 8:58 / 8:40 / 5:10 / 8:21 / 9:42
Notes: I felt awesome today. I won't say that the run was entirely easy, but it was definitely comfortable and even fun. I still felt great in mile 8 -- which is evident since, even though I switched down to 1:00/:30 intervals, I ran it faster than I did mile 1. I still had plenty of "gas in the tank" at the end of the run. Sunday should be interesting.
Marathon Pace run
Distance: 18 miles
6 miles easy (11:00) -- 1:00/:45
4 miles @ MP + 30 sec (10:20 - 10:36) -- 1:00/:25
8 miles @MP (9:50 - 10:06)
Intervals during last 8 miles:
10:46 / 10:40 / 10:42 / 10:50 / 10:52 / 10:51
9:59 / 10:06 / 9:35 / 10:22
9:27 / 9:33 / 9:35 / 9:31 / 9:32 / 9:31 / 9:25 / 9:13
Notes: I did it, even over achieved. I may actually be ready.
While I can't say that this run was easy, it wasn't hard, either. By mile 18, my legs were getting tired, but not overwhelmingly so. I actually found it easier on those last two miles to shorten the run segment and push the pace a little. That kept my brain energized. One of the things I learned during speed work is that picking up the pace when you are tired can actually make it easier to keep going. If you let yourself slow down, your brain sometimes starts to shut down. On the last mile, I skipped the final walk break.
The reason for the 9:35 in mile 9 was that there was a shift change at the gym and, after a morning of blissful silence, the sound system suddenly was turned on at very high volume. Not my choice of music, either. There are speakers right above the track where I run so it is particularly loud there. I sped up, partly because I was irritated but also because I missed some walk breaks. I finally shouted down over the railing at them that it was TOO LOUD and they turned it down. I slowed mile 10 down a bit to compensate. I was worried that I would run out of gas. But that didn't turn out to be a problem.