Sunday, August 21, 2011

Taper Time

I was super excited to receive my Team USA gear this week.  Thanks USATF!

Throughout my running career, I’ve heard many folks complain about how difficult it is to back off the training and rest.  They claim to get restless and fidgety, bouncing off the walls with excess energy that is usually absorbed by intense training.  They can’t wait to be done with their break and get back to work.  I don’t understand.  I certainly don’t have this problem.  I’m beat and it’s time to taper.  And you know what?  I am absolutely looking forward to the rest.

If you are one of those people who can’t seem to enjoy your recovery, maybe you weren’t training hard enough in the first place.  Or maybe you need your head checked.  Maybe it’s the fact that downtime for me still means at least 50 miles a week and not stepping completely away from running.  Maybe you don't understand how important proper recovery is to advancing your fitness level.  Or maybe it’s just me.

I’m ready to not feel like a zombie anymore.  I’m looking forward to having fresh legs again.  I want to step out the door and run easy because the schedule says I’m supposed to, not because my body gives me no choice.  And I’m looking forward to the easy runs that turn into light tempos just because it feels good.

Rest is an integral part of the training plan.  If you train hard, but don’t allow your body to recover, then you never have a chance to rebuild and become stronger.  So go ahead, relax a little.  And don’t feel guilty.  You've earned it, right?  I know I have.

That’s my rant for the week.  Now let’s talk shop...

Monday was just easy mileage coming off of last weekend’s back-to-back long runs.  I headed to the track Tuesday but kept things very controlled.  6x1600m w/400m jog recovery averaging 5:10.   The legs were definitely tired, but it wasn’t a hard workout. 

After an easy run Wednesday, I cranked out another quality workout on Thursday.  3x5k in 17min (5:30 pace) w/2min recovery on a flat bike path.  That was a toughy.  Lots of little things were conspiring together trying to ruin this workout.  I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that I had to push a little harder than I would have liked to keep this one on pace.  I did this workout as a dress rehearsal in my Team USA uniform just to make sure no unexpected issues cropped up on race day.  That was very motivating for about half a mile, but reality set it in shortly thereafter and I found that the team USA singlet unfortunately does not confer superhuman abilities. 

I took it easy Friday and got in 20 miles on Saturday but actually felt a little better.  Sunday was a 25 mile long run which I normally would have tried to run in a progressive fashion, but felt that a little discretion would be wise on this particular day.  I thought there would be little to gain and a lot to lose if I tried to force my tired legs through a hard effort this close to the World 100k.  I was tired, but I made it through with a little help from some friends.

That closes out one of the most aggressive weeks of training in my running career reaching 110 miles including two hard speed workouts on just 7 runs.  But more than that, the past 3 weeks have been an incredibly solid period of training that has left me understandably tired.  It’s now time to bring down the mileage and ease off the speed just a bit. 

I’m confident, fit, and excited about the 100k.  I really believe the US men’s team has a good chance to improve on last year’s second place finish to Japan, and I hope I can be a scoring member of the team that brings home the gold.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Strictly Business

With less than one month to go before the IAU 100km World Championship race, the last couple weeks of running have been the heart of this training cycle.  I have one more week of big miles and tough workouts before I start my three week taper for the race.  Although the last few weeks of training have been some of the most aggressive that I have ever done in my career, I feel quite good and I am very confident in my fitness.

Last week, I touched 100 miles (in singles, of course) with three quality runs.  The first was 3x3200m on the track with 400m jog recovery where I averaged 10:45 for each interval.  With just a single easy day after the track workout, I did a 9 mile marathon pace run on a flat bike path.  Although I managed a decent 5:38 pace for the workout, I was uncharacteristically inconsistent in hitting my splits.  To cap off the week, I followed an easy 17 miles on Saturday with a 24 mile progression run on Sunday.  The Sunday progression run started pretty mild as I was just enjoying the company of the group run, but I began getting to work after half way.  I averaged 6 flat pace for the last 10 miles and closed with a 5:30 final mile.  The weather really started to improve toward the end of the week, and I acknowledge that I probably couldn't have pulled off this level of quality running if the temperatures were still in the 90s.  

The past week, which ends today in my training log, was a great week of training as well, but with only two quality workouts.  On Tuesday, I did 4x2mi on the roads with 2 minute recovery jogs.  The average pace wasn't quite as impressive on paper as last week, but when you consider the fact that I did full 2 mile repeats on a lightly rolling road course, it was really a pretty good workout.  Not to mention an additional interval.  I took three easy days before doing 12 miles at marathon pace (5:37 avg) in the middle of a 20 mile run (6:06 avg) on Saturday.  That was a big step up from my last marathon pace workout which was just 9 miles long and I maintained the same pace.  But, it's not 100k training until I follow that workout with a 25 mile long run on Sunday.  I was very pleased to be able to maintain 6:43 pace today and log 106 miles for the week.

That's how I do 100k training.  206 miles over the last two weeks averaging 6:30 per mile pace.  I don't get caught up in the super long training runs, but rely on consistently high mileage at relatively fast paces to condition the body.  I guess we'll find out before too long how well my training philosophy works.  I'm healthy and confident right now, and think I'm faster than I was in April, but I'm not ready to make any predictions just yet.  One of my teammates on the US 100k team, however, is setting some serious goals.  Andy Henshaw has his sights on the American record of 6:30:11.  That's a cool 6:17 pace for 62 miles, folks.  The course and competition will be conducive to taking a shot at the record, but I don't think I'm ready to be quite that aggressive.

On a side note, I wanted to mention that I've been trying out the Saucony Kinvara 2's in my faster workouts to see how they might work for me in the 100k.  At 7.3 ounces, the Kinvaras are significantly lighter than the 11.6 oz Nike Pegasus that I wore at Mad City.  I was looking for something in the lightweight trainer range because I don't feel comfortable going to a racing flat for the 100k.  I've got about 50 miles in them so far and they haven't resulted in any deal-breakers like blisters.  The lower profile has caused a little tightness in the calves, but I think that will dissipate as I get used to them.  I'll keep you posted.

I'll check back in a few miles down the road...