Sunday, August 30, 2009

Climbing on the wagon

I got a wake up call earlier this week from my coach after sending a quick check-in message to her. While she applauded my progress, she strongly suggested that I lay off the alcohol until after Twin Cities. She said that it is compromising my training. No more Go Jobs for this Go Girl. She reminded me that this is a chance of a lifetime opportunity for me and that I need to do everything that is within my control to increase my chances of achieving my goals. She's right, of course.

I know that she reads my blog, and I (obviously) don't filter. I've never understood the logic behind keeping such things as bad workouts, missed workouts or even nights of drunken celebration from your coach. Your coach is one of your biggest supporters and the person that is qualified to give you the advice you need to be a better runner. Being given and executing good workouts are only part of what makes you a successful runner. Lifestyle plays a role too.

Of course, she is offering me advice, and it is my choice as to whether or not to accept it. Her words made me realize that I don't want to be the person that is always talking about how I did this and that workout or raced this or that time despite x, y and z. The psychology behind this is interesting to me. If you do all of these things that have the potential to detract from your training then you have a ready-made excuse if you don't achieve your goals. But, why not do everything you can to increase your chances of success? I guess for some it might be hard to face up to the fact that you did everything possible and still didn't hit your mark. With a marathon, there are so many things that are out of your control that can have a huge effect on race performance that it only makes sense to do whatever you can to set the odds in your favor during training.

So, I am following her advice and will no longer get my drink on (until after Twin Cities, that is). This wake up call has also made me adjust some other things. I realize that I need to give my body more recovery while I'm awake and when I'm sleeping. I am making better choices about both, starting with ensuring that my easy runs are EASY. They had been creeping up into the 7:00 to 7:30 range and that is too fast. I am keeping them in the 8:00-8:30 range to make sure my heart rate stays low.

I am also trying to get more sleep by arranging my work and social schedule to make sure I maximize pillow time. I know I can survive and still perform with the 5-6 hours I generally get, but why not try to get a little more for the next few weeks?

This weekend, I decided to work on both of these changes. I slept in after Friday night's race/workout--way in. While it felt good to get more sleep, the temperatures soared into the 100s in the afternoon. I wasn't able to start my run until after 3, so I made a smart choice to run my easy 8 miler on the treadmill in the air-conditioned gym. I also hadn't done my weight workout at all this week, so decided to fit that in too. The beauty of the treadmill is that you don't have to worry about pace creep since you have complete control. So, I dialed in 7 mph and didn't touch the controls the entire workout. My heart rate stayed in the mid 120s the whole time. Perfect.

I also made a great discovery in that workout. I was pretty jealous when I read that Tera Moody is able to read while on the treadmill, which I cannot seem to do. So, I decided to try listening to a book instead. I tested this out with a fascinating audiobook that I started last week. The book is Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. During my workout, I got to listen to the story of Ann Trason and the Tarahumara runners battling it out in the 1994 Leadville 100 ultramarathon. I was captivated the whole time, and the workout went by very quickly.

The weight workout was a lot more of a challenge, and I had to turn off the audiobook for it. This is a new program and by the end of three sets, I had done:

60 hanging leg raises
60, each leg, laying glute extensions
60, each leg, cable single leg raises
120, each leg, one-legged squats
185 push ups
60 walking lunges
120, each leg, step ups
60 lat pull downs
120 arm swings with weights
60, each leg, calf raises
180 ab reps of various ab exercises
40 back extensions

My legs hurt today when I woke up, and they felt like bricks for almost my entire long run. I got a late start on that run (again!) mainly because I was feeling lazy this morning. This left me with hot and windy conditions for the 16 miles. I know that I wasn't completely with it today because I just realized that I skipped over the circuit drills (Antelope Explosion) that were part of my workout when I programmed the workout into my Garmin. In hindsight, I think it's a good idea that I didn't go out and bounce around on tired legs in the hot sun. Plus, the run was hard enough without the prance fest. The temperature when I started was about 78 and would climb to 85 by the end of the run. The direct sunlight was torture.

While I think training in the heat is a good idea for acclimation, it definitely takes a toll on the body and doesn't allow you to run to your potential in a race or workout. This link offers a nice piece of writing on heat acclimation for runners and offers this quote from Greg Loomis that explains how the body adapts to the heat:

  • Human's ability to sweat allows us to cool our bodies even when running in extremely hot environments. However, the need to circulate blood out to the skin periphery for this cooling draws this much needed blood away from working skeletal muscles and causes a lower cardiac filling and stroke volume leading to higher heart rates at any given work load. The loss of electrolytes and fluid via the sweating (without adequate replacement) will lead to a decreased blood volume and add additional demand on an already taxed heart.

So, I'm not doing myself any favors trying to run goal pace in these conditions. My 16-miler was a cutdown workout starting at no faster than 1 minute slower than GMP (7:30ish pace) for 5 miles, and for the next 10 miles cutting the pace down by 10 seconds every 1-2 miles starting at 7:05 pace and ending at 6:10 pace. I did the workout as prescribed and that was a struggle. When I turned at the 8-mile mark, I felt the 10-15 mph headwind that had been at my back on the way out. While it cooled me down, it was a beast to run the fastest part of this progressive workout into.

Next week, I run 102 miles with 21 miles on Tuesday, 17 on Thursday and 26 on Saturday. Tuesday will include 8 miles at 6:05-6:10 pace and Saturday will have 12 at GMP--that's 20 miles at faster than GMP. The weather is supposed to cool off, and I am grateful to not have the heat to work around. While I am going to be one tired puppy next week, I know this for sure: I will give myself the recovery and fuel I need, and I do plan to stay on the wagon.

1 comment:

  1. I learned a lot from this one. I like your attitude about what Nicole said. Why not do it ALL by the book. Hope you get the results you want. Now I'll have to hook up with you on a easy day for a truly easy run. See you on the trail! Tracy