Posted by: bradhammond | February 23, 2011

Training Update, new training PR!

I think my training is going pretty well right now, but every now and then I need to reassure myself with a little demonstration that I am actually making progress.  Usually I get my reassurance when I do my long run of the week, but sometimes that doesn’t work out to be a really reassuring experience.  On Super Bowl Sunday I had a really good 16 mile run, and this past Sunday I decided to go 16 again.  This time I went around the South end of Lake Sammamish, past the State Park and boat launch.

I started out at a pace that felt comfortable, and it turned out to be at least 1 minute per mile slower than I had done a couple of weeks before.  I quickly started revising my goal pace – “O.k.  11:09 for the first mile.  It has a bit of uphill, but I’m not going to average faster than 10 minute miles.  Maybe 10:30 or 11:00 this week…”  To make a long run into a short story, I pushed about as hard as I felt that I could, but I was consistently slower in the beginning, middle, and end and it took me over 3 hours to finish.  At several points in the run my lower back bothered me a lot, and I was afraid that if I pushed any harder that my lower back would totally give out on me.  Even though I went from running 16 in 2:38 at the beginning of February to about 3:03 I managed to not get totally discouraged – I told myself that my back was the major limiter, and that it was probably tired and sore going into the run because I had done a lot of yard work on Friday and Saturday.  I was pretty sure that if my back was well rested and feeling good it would not usually limit me like that.

I stood in the lake for about 6 minutes after I finished to ice down my legs – I am totally sold on cold soaks after runs to help my legs recover.  I’m certainly not doing it for fun, and the contrast between times when I haven’t done it and when I do has me convinced that it is worth it, even if the neighbors see me standing in the lake and wonder if I’m crazy…  I also got in a lot of hot tubbing Sunday – it seemed like a good thing for getting my back feeling better again.

I must have done something right, because I felt really good working out on Monday.  I did a mile in the pool of alternating swim /  kick with fins / pull, and I was under 33 minutes – last year I could do a mile of that under 30 minutes and 2 miles in an hour, but I have been swimming slower this year and I expect to be slower the day after a really long run.  I did 45 minutes on a stationary bike as well, and I was really happy with how my legs felt and how well I was able to keep my cadence fairly high.  I figured that if I avoided pulling weeds and lifting heavy stuff I might be able to set a new PR for running to Marymoor Park and back later in the week.

On Tuesday I had my triathlon swim class.  I took several months off from it after the end of last season and started up again at the beginning of February.  I think it will help me get back up to speed by the start of triathlon season.  I was in the second fastest lane with Kim, Amy, and Miko.  They can all swim faster than me for 50 or 100 yards, but I seem to have better endurance than Kim right now.  The main set had us swimming 5 x 225 with first 25 fast, 50 slow, 75 fast, 50 slow, and last 25 fast.  Just the sort of thing I never bother to do on my own, and probably just what I need to improve.  After swim class I biked for an hour inside, then I ran a mile on the treadmill at 6:53 pace.  None of my muscles were hurting, but I was definitely breathing hard and blowing the air in and out that fast seemed to really dry out my throat.  After I got home, I ran another 3 miles to pick up one of our cars from the Toyota service department.  In the evening I did my normal routine of watching TV and doing sets of hamstring curls on the stability ball, balance / ankle exercises on the Bosu ball, planks, etc.

I had pretty much made up my mind that I was going to go hard Wednesday morning and see if I could set a PR on my run.  This is sort of change in training philosophy from a couple of years ago.  When I was training for an Ironman in 2009 I was following the advice some people give of “Long aerobic run is important, no such thing as doing it too slow, learn your heart rate zones and don’t train in zone 3 – mostly zone 2 with some zone 4 when you start adding intensity”  I felt like I kept running longer and getting slower, and I would often have about 50% of my total running time coming in my weekly long run.  This time around I am doing more training runs that are sort of long and about as fast as I think I can go.  I am more concerned with total running volume, and if I see myself getting slower then I will either cut back the volume or keep it constant until I’m not slower any more.

I felt good this morning – got up around 6, did my back exercises, stretching, etc. and got started running just before 7.  I was a little concerned that if it was cold and slippery it would slow me down, but the footing was actually pretty good.  There had been a tiny bit of snow in the night, but it didn’t stick on the roads.  It was kind of cold, so I wore a windbreaker over my long sleeve shirt, a hat that I kept on for a couple of miles and gloves that I kept on for the whole run.  Since I started keeping track a few years ago my best time for running to Marymoor and back is 1:29:20 this January.  (My car odometer says it is 10.6, but the Garmin usually calls it about 10.3 – I think it short changes me on the U-turns.)

Starting off, my legs felt very good so I leaned into it and pushed the pace to the point where I was feeling slightly short of breath.  The first mile is slightly uphill, and I thought my Garmin said 8:17 (actually said 8:11) which I was happy with.  The next two miles are easier, and those splits were 7:59 and 7:43.  I had some pain to push through, but nothing to make me worry about injuries – I had a tooth extracted over a week ago, and sometimes it really throbs when I am exercising; also my left ear has either water or mucous in it and the pressure won’t go away.  The 4th mile is always slower, often the slowest on the way out, and I was happy to do that in 8:17.  I used to think that I was losing focus in the 4th mile, but I now I blame it on the gentle uphill stretches.  The 5th mile was 8:11, and I hit the turnaround point at about 41:30.  I thought this was about a minute faster than when I had PR’ed in January, so I figured that I had a pretty good chance of going faster.  I am definitely not a “negative-split” guy, I have more of a front-runner mentality – if I see disappointing splits than it is very hard for me to keep up the intensity, and if I see splits that I am happy with I tend to slow down less than if I start off slower and try to save my energy.

My splits for 6 and 7 were 8:38 and 8:34, which were slower than any of my splits going out, and I would have been a little happier if I could have kept those below 8:30, but I was still pretty happy with how the run was going.  I knew that mile 8 would be the hardest and slowest – it has a really long uphill stretch – and I figured that if I could do that in about 9 minutes then I should be able to go about 8:45 and 8:30 for miles 9 and 10.  My pace was 8:50 near the bottom of the big hill, and I managed to push hard enough that it was 9:00 for mile 8.  I was still feeling good enough to think about form a lot – lifting my heels up towards my butt and keeping my knees fairly high to help keep my cadence up, starting my foot back slightly before landing with my foot directly under me, that sort of thing.  My pace for 9 and 10 was 8:26 and 8:23, so that was slightly better than I expected, and I kept going fast for the last few tenths of a mile back to the house.  Total time was 1:25:32 – almost 3 minutes faster than my best time for January!



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