Sunday, October 25, 2015

Training log - week ending 10/25/15

This week was 85 miles of running, 19 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

This week my schedule got mixed up a bit.  Normally I run intervals on Tuesday, tempo on Friday, and my long run on Sunday.  However, this week my long run shifted to Saturday (the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday basically shuts down my regular long run routes).  As for my normal weekday track workouts, the two were combined into a single workout on Wednesday morning - the "25x400."

The workout is (as you would expect) twenty-five repeats of 400 meters each.  Normally, when I do 400m intervals, I run them at mile race pace (~85 seconds) with a very slow jog for 200 meters after each to catch my breath.  But for this workout, the goal was to run each repeat at 10K race pace (around 95 seconds for me), with short recoveries of 100 meters after each.  Furthermore, each recovery was to be run in 30-35 seconds (8:00-9:20 pace), substantially faster than the shuffle-jog I normally use to recover. 

The workout has two purposes - one is as a lactate threshold ("LT") workout.  By alternating paces above and below your lactate threshold, you are able to average LT effort for a longer time than you would during a continuous workout.

The other purpose is mental callousing.  It takes a lot of focus to run 25 repeats on the track, especially when you can't check out mentally during the recovery, both because the recovery is so short and because you can't slow down too much during the recovery. 

You never get to use the brakes during this workout - you just alternate how much pressure you have on the gas.  And while recoveries are a key aspect of any workout, they were integral here - requiring as much concentration and work as the interval itself.

And there's also the fact that, at the end of the workout, you've run 31 continuous laps on the track - a bit less than 8 miles.  This is because, after completing each 400, you run the 100 to the next corner of the track, so that each repeat starts and finishes at a new point on the track.  As my coach put it, the workout is a head game.

It's also a good simulation of the marathon in many ways.  A good friend who had done this workout several years ago advised me to start it conservatively and feel my way in - it's a long way to run, and if things go bad halfway through, you'll be suffering for a long time.  Just like a marathon.

And at multiple points during the workouts (starting about seven reps in, if you're me), you realize just how far you still have to go.  Just like a marathon.

But the beauty of the workout is that it also sets you up for success.  You just focus on running the current interval, and since each interval is just one lap of the track at 10K effort (or 100 meters at 8:xx pace), each interval is easily manageable and not that imposing on its own.  So you work your way through, taking one rep at a time and then you're at the last lap and it feels awesome.

As for how it went?  Fairly well, I think.  I heeded my wise friend's advice and made sure not to start too fast - this was pretty hard to do, since the pace feels so stupid easy during the beginning (again, just like a marathon).  I tend to be a rhythm runner, so once I got my feel for the pace of the interval and the recovery, it wasn't too hard to shift back and forth.  Not every interval was exactly 95 seconds, but they were pretty darn close, and I had enough left to "kick" into sub 6:00 pace for the 25th and final rep.

There was one hiccup: I realized early on (after the first rep) that I didn't know where the other 100m lines were on the track.  I was only familiar with the mark my team uses to start/finish our workouts, not the other three.  And in the darkness of the early morning, it was really difficult to see where the track was marked.  So I ended up working off of other things in the area where the 100m line should be - generally painted markings on the infield bordering the track.  Doing this way probably means that some of my recoveries were a few feet longer than 100m, while others were a few feet shorter.  I don't think this really mattered - what was important was that each 400m lap stopped at the same point it started and that the recoveries averaged out to 100m.

I did have one question about this workout.  It's done by runners with a range of abilities - on the one hand there are those who run 10ks in roughly 32 minutes, and so run their repeats in around 75 seconds.  On the other end, you have myself.  I run a 10K in about 40 minutes, and my repeats in 95 seconds.  So why do all runners get the same recovery of 100m in 30-35 seconds - a pace that is relatively much quicker for me than for them?

After thinking about it, I realized that it was because this is a lactate threshold workout, and we are trying to average LT effort.  Lactate threshold is generally defined as the pace one can hold during an hour-long race.  So...if you race 10K in 32 minutes, your 10K pace is a lot faster than your LT pace - there's a wide gulf between 32 minutes and 60.  On the other hand, since I race a 10K pace in 40 minutes, my 10K pace is closer to my LT pace.  In order for both runners to average to LT effort, the 40 minute 10K runner needs to keep the recoveries more active.  The 32 minute guys are running their repeats harder, and so get relatively easier recoveries to balance out the effort.

And that's probably also why this is not a workout that will work for runners of all paces.  At some point, a runner's 10K pace is too close to the recovery pace, and so the recovery pace is too fast for them.  At that point, it makes more sense for that runner just to do the standard continuous tempo.  The other option would be to give that runner more time for recovery, but if you do that, then the average effort for that runner won't be lactate threshold.  And the runner will also be on the track for a very long time.  The workout itself, excluding warm-up and cool-down, had me running continuous circles for ~52 minutes - I don't think it's a good idea for most runners to be running continuous circles for too much longer than that.  Crazy ultra runners, as always, excepted.

One more week of hard training, and then I taper.


Monday:   Upper body weights, yoga and 7 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning; 3 "miles" easy pool-running and foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Tuesday:  6 miles very easy to yoga (9:28) and yoga.  Later, another 6 miles very easy (8:48), followed by drills and two strides.  2 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling in afternoon.

Wednesday: 14 miles, including 25x400m at 10K pace with 100m active recovery on the track.  I'm not going to list out all 25 splits, but the first 24 repeats averaged 95 seconds, with most being between 94 and 96 seconds (two outliers at 93 and 97).  Kicked on the last for 88 seconds.  Recoveries averaged 31 seconds.   The full workout, with splits, HR, cadence, etc is here.

Followed with lower body strengthwork and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday:   8.5 miles very easy to yoga (9:35).  Later did another 5.5 miles very easy (8:42 pace), followed by drills, two hill sprints, and two strides.  3 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon and foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12 miles very easy (8:56) and then some upper body weights work.  2 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon and foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  18 miles, including a 4-3-2-1 workout - intervals of 4, 3, 2, and 1 mile at marathon pace feel, with one mile recovery between each.  Splits were:

4 mile - 28:08 (7:08, 7:05, 6:58, 6:57 - gentle rolling hills)
3 mile - 20:49 (6:59, 6:56, 6:54 - gentle rolling hills)
2 mile - 14:11 (7:10, 7:01 - slight uphill)
1 mile - 6:44- slight downhill.

Averaged 7:00 flat pace for the 10 miles.  Followed with lower body strengthwork and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday:  8 miles running to the Marine Corps Marathon to cheer, another 3 miles running to other spots on the course, and then 4 miles back home.  All very easy.  Also did some upper body weights stuff.  In the evening, 2 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Training log - week ending 10/18/15

This week was 86.5 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Well, this was a nice week.  Army 10 Miler really didn't beat me up, so recovery was relatively uneventful, and I was feeling relatively fresh (for marathon training) by Wednesday.

For the end of the work week and the weekend we had perfect weather.  Friday I was rewarded with one of the best tempos I've had in a while.  The splits my coach was calling were much faster than my perceived effort, so I just let myself cruise, reluctantly stopping at 5 miles since my coach didn't want me going longer.

On Sunday, I did "the loop" for the first time for my 20 miler.  The loop is my team's traditional long run route, which features a steady, sometimes sharp descent for the last five miles.  While I've done many 20 milers, I had previously avoided the loop due to the pain the long downhill finish caused my right groin/hip.  But that was before I had several rounds of PRP/prolotherapy to that area to heal a chronic tear in my groin.  I had tested running fast on that section a few months ago, and found that it no longer caused pain, so the loop was now an option.

And it was the easiest and most fun 20+ miler I think I've ever done.  Part of it was that I had a running buddy for almost the entire route - since I've historically done a separate route for my 20+ milers, I've always soloed the last 10-15 miles.  Having good company made the miles fly by.

The long downhill stretch at the end (plus tailwind) also made it easier.  I ran the final five mile section at perceived marathon pace effort, not checking my Garmin.  As it turns out, I ran it substantially faster than goal marathon pace, so I guess that's an oops.  But I don't feel terribly beaten up or trashed, and the effort was conversational, so probably no harm no foul.

New stairs
So yay for a successful week of training.

In other news, I'm adjusting to life in our house and new addition (not to be confused with New Edition).  The unifying theme of the house is stairs - it seems that any time I go anywhere in the house, stairs are involved.  I expect my hill running skills to improve substantially.

More new stairs, plus more boxes to unpack

old stairs.

And... a picture of our shower, which is our "party piece" in Brian's words.  Two person shower, with a central rainhead and a wand.  And in black with black grout, so I can dye my hair without too much worry.  We spent more on the shower than was practical, but it was worth it - I grin every time I use it.
I love this shower.


Monday:   Upper body weights, yoga and 7 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning; sports massage at night.

Tuesday:  7 miles very easy to yoga (9:24) and yoga.  Later, another 7 miles very easy (9:22).  1.5 "miles" of pool-running (pool closed early) and foam rolling in afternoon.

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy (9:16) to yoga, followed by yoga.  Later did another 8 miles very easy (9:04), followed by drills and two strides.   3 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday:   6 miles very easy to yoga (9:27).  Later did another 4.5 miles (8:48 pace), followed by drills and two strides, and then some upper body weights work.  2 "miles" easy pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Friday:  12.5 miles including an 8K tempo on the track in 32:37, split as 6:38/6:31/6:28/6:32/6:27, followed by injury prevention work and 1650 yards of easy swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  12 miles very easy in the morning (8:45).  Later did upper body weights and 2.5 "miles" recovery pool-running, plus foam rolling.

Sunday:  21.5 miles progressive, split as first 2 miles at 9:52, next 5 at 8:41; next 7 at 7:47; next 2 at 7:23; last 5.5 at 6:38 (downhill with tailwind).  Followed with some injury prevention work.  1350 yards recovery swimming and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Training log - Week ending 10/11/15

This week was 55 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Tapered for and ran Army 10 Miler this week, which went well.  This upcoming week I have a 20 miler, plus lots more unpacking from the move.  Moving sucks, kids.  Especially when moving into a house that's still under construction.


Monday:   In the morning, some upper body strengthwork, yoga, and 7 "miles" easy pool-running.  2.5 "miles" easy pool-running and foam-rolling in the evening.

Tuesday:  12 miles, including a workout of 6x800 (split 3:07, 3:08, 3:04, 3:00, 2:58, 2:58)  followed by some injury prevention work and 1150 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in evening.

Wednesday: 6 miles very easy (9:19), followed by a yoga class and then another 4 miles very easy (8:37 - not sure why so fast), followed by drills and four strides.   2 "miles" easy pool-running in the afternoon.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   8 miles very easy (9:24), followed by drills and four hill sprints.  1.5 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling at night.

Friday:  5 miles, including a mile up-tempo at 6:15.  Later did another 2.5 miles very easy (8:40 - downhill).  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  4 miles very easy (8:54) plus drills, two strides, and two hill sprints, followed by foam rolling. 

Sunday:  2.5 miles warming up, 10 mile race in 66:27.  Followed with a lot of unpacking and 3 "miles" pool-running plus 850 yards recovery swimming in the afternoon.  Foam rolling at night.

Race report: Army 10 Miler, October 11, 2015

I ran The Army 10 Miler yesterday, finishing in a time of 66:27.

(this will be a fairly brief race report, as I'm still spending most of my free time unpacking and dealing with new house stuff, while trying to also balance work and marathon training)

I'm pretty happy with this race.  After the blow to my confidence from the Navy Half last month, what I really wanted was a race that went smoothly - fast but controlled.  And that's what I got.

I did try a different taper for this race.  For the Navy-Air Force half, I cut my running mileage some, and cut my evening pool-running completely, basically reducing the number of workouts I did.  This time, I decided to keep to my same schedule, including evening "doubles" in the pool, but instead cut the volume of each workout.

I think this worked well - I showed up to the race with my legs reasonably fresh.   I wasn't totally sharp, but I've learned that I really don't race my best at any thing shorter than a marathon when I'm marathon training.  I think it's a combination of legs that need a lot of time to shake off the residual fatigue of high mileage and also the fact that I seem to need to "train my gears" - it's hard for me to run at a specific pace if I haven't doing much training at  that pace.   And looking back at my training log, I've really done very little work at or near 10 mile pace - my focus has been on marathon pace running, interspersed with tune-up races.

More specifically here, I had the distinct sensation that the pace was relatively easy, both from a breathing and muscular perspective, I just didn't have any higher gears.  This would have been upsetting if Army was my goal race, but as a tune-up race for a late fall marathon, it was actually a really good sign.

After the mental downer that was the Navy-Air Force half, it was great to finish a race feeling strong, in control, and like I could have gone further.  And getting an age group award (3rd in women's 40-44) was a nice bonus.  I believe I was also 4th master female overall (I write believe because there's a few women ahead of me, but I suspect they were men running with women's bibs - this is why bib-swapping sucks, folks).

Mile 1: 6:51
Mile 2: 6:41
Mile 3: 6:52
Mile 4: 6:27
Mile 5: 6:38
Miles 6-7: 13:20
Mile 8: 6:38
Mile 9: 6:36
Mile 10: 6:25

My splits were a bit uneven, but I think that reflects even effort on a rolling course.  Army can be a very fast course, but it's NOT a flat course, and you have to be able to work the moderate up and downhills on the course.

Other notes:

  • Left at about 6:05 to get to the start, just to allow plenty of time for traffic, other delays, etc. 
  • Took a Maple Bacon Gu (very slightly caffeinated) during the race - 1/2 at mile 3, and 1/2 at mile 7.  In retrospect, I wish I'd taken it earlier in the race, since the peak of the caffeine buzz hit me post-race.
  • Didn't carry a water bottle this time since it was so cool and dry.  Just hydrated very well beforehand, and resolved to use a water stop if I needed one.
  • It was a very bright, sun-shiny morning.  I was massively grateful I wore sunglasses.  Temperature and dew point were perfect, though - low 50s.
  • Because of my struggles with allergies and related asthma, I swapped back to using Dulera as my long lasting inhaler.  Helped a lot - despite the pollen being present, my breathing felt pretty good.  But hopefully first frost will come soon.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Training log - Week ending 10/4/2015

This week was 82 miles of running, 7 "miles" of pool-running and 4000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.

Moving week - I moved from my apartment to our almost-finished-construction house a half mile away.  Though the distance was short, moving is still moving and it sucks.  It was further complicated by the fact that our house has stairs.  Many stairs.  Which are architecturally appealing, but a pain for moving boxes around.

Fortunately, my coach and I had decided some time ago to build a "whatever" week into my schedule - a week with no major "must complete" workout, or big race.  So I scheduled my move for that week. It was nice to be able to move without any "MUST DO" workouts to worry about.

Even though I hired professional movers, there was still a lot of work to be done on my end - installing shelves in closets (I *love* Elfa), opening boxes and carrying stuff around, etc.   Plus, due to concerns about flooding from an imminent hurricane, I spent Thursday relocating many of my boxes from a seepage-prone basement up a flight of stairs.  Hurricane Joachim did decide to take a right turn and skip us - everyone in the mid-Atlantic can thank my and my box moving for that.  I assure you that we would have had a direct hit, had I left my boxes in the basement.  The end result was that I was pretty tired, with dead legs.  Lesson: don't expect to have a good track workout if you do an extended "stairclimbing with weights" workout the day before.

As you can see from the log below, I kept my running mileage up this week (with the exception of a shorter long run) but cut out a lot of my normal cross-training, including yoga, evening pool-running, and upper body strengthwork.  Part of this was that I only have so many hours in the day, and moving took up many of them.  Additionally, moving is a LOT of physical work, and reducing the cross-training kept my overall physical workload fairly consistent.  I think this was the best balance to strike to keep the marathon training moving forward without digging myself into a hole.

This coming week is a cutback, as I race Army 10 Miler on Sunday.


Monday:   Yoga, some upperbody strengthwork and injury prevention work, and 7 "miles" easy pool-running in the morning; foam rolling at night (plus packing).

Tuesday:  14 miles, including 3x (1600, 800) with half distance recovery (6:16, 3:01, 6:11, 3:01, 6:08, 2:54).  Then did some injury prevention work and 1500 yards easy swimming.  Foam rolling in evening (plus packing).

Wednesday: 7.5 miles very easy (9:39), followed by a yoga class and then another 8.5 miles very easy (9:26), followed by drills and two strides.  Moved that afternoon.  Did foam rolling at some point.

Thursday:   10 miles very easy (8:57), followed by drills, 2 strides.  Also moved lots of boxes up stairs.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  14 miles, including a four mile track tempo in 26:47 (6:48/6:42/6:45/6:32) - legs just didn't want to move.   Followed with some injury prevention work and 1250 yards easy swimming.    Foam rolling and unpacking at night.

Saturday:  12 miles easy (well...high end of easy - 8:27) plus drills and two strides, followed by more unpacking.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday:  18 miles progressive, split as first 3 miles at 9:02 pace, next 4 at 8:30, next 3 at 7:40, last 6 at 7:10.  Followed with yoga.  Later did some injury prevention work and 1250 yards easy swimming plus foam rolling.  Also lotsa unpacking.