Saturday, January 16, 2010

The double bubble

I am well into the weeds of my latest marathon cycle and am starting to see an increase in both volume and intensity of workouts.  I mentioned the main differences between my past training cycles and this one in this post.  One change was the addition of up to 5 double running workouts during the week. This week is my first 90-mile week, and I had 5 doubles scheduled on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  In my first week of many doubles, I believe I hit the double bubble.

[Nerdy side bar]: Actually, I have run 104 miles in the last 7 consecutive days (this is a fun game I play with myself).  Last week's schedule got a little buggered up, and I ended up doing my 23-mile long run on Sunday.  With 21 miles today (Saturday), I will have a 104 mile "week".  I am always intimidated by my 100 mile weeks and am quite pleased right now with how good I feel.  My body seems to be asking, "is that all you've got?"  To which I retort, "Slow down there big fella'.  There's a lot of asphalt ahead."   

In the past, I've normally done 3 doubles, maybe 4, during my 90-100 mile weeks.  The reason for the double is explained well by Pete Pfitzinger in this article.  I also like that he cautions against the double for most athletes and gives rules for when you should introduce them.  The bottom line is, when you're doing high mileage, two shorter workouts allows your body to recover more quickly than the equivalent mileage lumped into one run.

Since my mileage has gone up along with my intensity, doubles make a lot of sense.  However, they are a pain in the butt to schedule around everything else in my life not to mention that 12 running workouts requires 12 changes of running clothes (I'm not yet willing to recycle clothing from my morning run for the evening run).  I was able to knock out Monday and Tuesday's double days without a major problem, though the 13-mile treadmill workout that I finished at about 8:30 Tuesday night was no fun.  Getting up the next morning at 4:45 for my morning Rave Run with the girlies was even tougher.

There's only so far I can push my body, particularly when it comes to sleep depravation.  I hit that limit Thursday morning when, after going to bed at 10:30, my dog, Tunavicious, decided to throw up at 1 a.m.  I heard the telltale heaving and knew she was on the only square of carpet in the hall way.  Determined to arrive on scene in time to push her onto the hardwood floors and save a carpet cleaning, I jumped out of bed and started pushing her butt forward just as she let go of the last nugget onto the edge and fringe of the carpet.  Sweet.  It was relatively fresh food, and I knew she'd want to re-eat it, so I left her to clean it up (is that gross?).  By the next morning, you couldn't even tell she'd puked.  She's such a good girl.  Nonetheless, the shot of adrenaline that coursed through my body in that few seconds from bed to hall left me restless.  I didn't get back to sleep until 2.  As I tossed and turned, I shut off my 4:45 a.m. alarm and decided I'd be better served by sleeping in.

Thursday's plan had me running 9 miles in the morning (including hill repeats and hill bounds) and 5 (including strides) in the p.m.   Of course, I had to work all day too.  I got up too late to get even the 5 miles in and still get to work on time, so I made a command decision to lump these workouts and run 13 miles in the evening after work.

I also realized that I needed some rules about lumping and splitting workouts to help me make decisions on the fly when necessary.  I know that my coach puts a lot of careful thought into my workout plans to maximize my training and decrease risk of injury.  I sent her a message explaining what had happened and asking for some rules.  Her first question was, "Is there any way you can quit your job for 3 months?  (Just kidding!)"   A running sabbatical.  That's what I need.  She gave me some great advice, as usual, about when it's okay to lump and split and how to go about it.

This week's long run

For today's long run, I had the pleasure of starting off with a large group of women that had gathered to celebrate the "coming of age" (40th birthday) of one of our fellow runners, TP.  I ran 8 miles at a moderate pace engaged in quality conversation with Sprinkles and then headed in for a date with my favorite treadmill, Tready.  My morning workout was 17.5 miles and included:

  • 8 mile warm up
  • 10 minutes up a hill at lactate threshold (LT or tempo) effort;
  • 2 minute jog
  • 15 minutes at 1/2 marathon effort
  • 3 minute jog
  • 10 minutes up a hill at LT effort
  • 2 minute jog 
  • 15 minutes at 1/2 marathon effort
  • 4 strides
As you can see, this one is not really possible to complete on the roads, even if you have a 10-minute hill nearby because of the short rests in between.  So, I ground out 9 miles on Tready.  I generally keep good track of what my settings are on the treadmill when I do hill workouts, so I looked back to a similar workout from last August to get the settings I should use: 4.5% grade and 8.3 mph (7:13 pace).  That turned out to be just about right for today.  I ran the 1/2 marathon effort segments at 6:03 pace and that felt quite comfortable.  Now, I just have another 3.5 miles tonight with 1 mile at goal marathon pace to complete my last double for the week.

My legs will see 94 and 103 miles over the next two weeks, and many more doubles.  I'm going to try to run my plan as written but won't sacrifice (too much) sleep to do it.  My coach's advice was to forgo the second run of the day if there's a choice between running and sleeping.  She told me my body would thank me for the extra sleep by ticking seconds off of my racing times, and I bet she's right.


  1. Two words for you: Hard core. Not lying!
    I was wondering what the rules were about lumping workouts together... glad you clarified what your coach said at the end. I'm a big fan of sleep. :)

  2. your night with the barfing dog sounds similar to what we parents with little kids go through! even if you fall asleep at a decent hour, getting jarred awake by a kid's blood curdling scream (or a dog throwing up near carpet!)makes it very hard if not impossible to just go back to sleep!
    and the thing i dislike about doing a lot of doubles in a week is all the damned showers! and the laundry...oh, the laundry!!!

  3. I'm sure doubles can work well, and are necessary at the elite level. Good rule from the coach not to sacrifice too much sleep. And yes, 3 months off would be nice - I remember reading that Julie Isphording took time off to train for the '84 trials and made the team. Have a good week!

  4. Great LR! And why is it that animals love puking on carpet? Lol, letting him eat it up again, wish my ex's cat would've been into that.

  5. So, Glorybelle, the major rules are pretty simple: don't combine doubles on the hardest days (Tuesdays/Saturdays for me). Don't run more than 13 consecutive miles on Thursday or Friday if I combine workouts on those days (so I'm rested for the long run). If I have an easy run between two hard workouts, don't run more than 8 consecutive miles on the easy run. She does caution that there really are no "rules" and a lot depends on how I feel.

    t-meat: I wish I had a shut off button for my brain sometimes when I find myself wide awake at 2 a.m. I have a big ass pile of laundry in my garage right now waiting to get washed after this week. I don't mind the washing part. It's the putting away that sucks. I refer to the pile of clean clothes on the drier as Vesuvius. It's always there, exploding with running clothes.

    Thanks, Ewen. It's going to be rainy and windy week here in Sacramento, so I'll probably be complaining a lot about running on the treadmill. I do like the idea of taking the time off, but the pay thing is the important part. If I could just find somebody to pay me to run…

    GIM: I have no idea why animals are such carpet pukers. I know it's gross to have an animal eat its own puke, but I want to think that's what they'd do in the wild. They'd probably still puke on the carpet in the wild too.

  6. not just dogs eat dog puke! jen pfeifer's baby son ate her dog's puke off the carpet, too! maybe there's something about puke on carpet that is just yummy. sorry jen, but i just had to tell that story. ;P

  7. Oh boy, t-meat. I'm sure Jen will appreciate you posting that.

  8. what? isn't it just between you and me? ;)

  9. I'm always so impressed when I hear people talking about 100 mile weeks. It has to be tough fitting in that much running time among work, dog vomitting, etc. Nice work.

  10. I'm amazed that you don't re-use your clothes... even in the middle of winter when you're not sweating that much?? Impressive :)

    Oh and all the miles are impressive too :)