Training, December 12 - 18

Monday: PM - 3 mile w/u, light drills (heel-to-butts, A skip, B skip), strides, 200m in 31.11, Aussie Quarters [8 x (400 hard, 200 moderate)] - 70, (41), 72, (42), 71, (41), 71, (43), 70, (42), 71, (43), 70, (41), 73, (42) = 15:11 for 4800m, 4 mile w/d (10 miles total); GS1

I was pretty happy with this for the first Aussie Quarters session in a while.  It's a great workout to inject a little speed and anaerobic work into your training, but it's also quite challenging aerobically, as is quite obvious.  I did this workout 5 times over 8 weeks in my buildup to Grandma's Marathon, progressing from 15:25/15:30 the first couple sessions to 14:57 the last time.  So hopefully I can get this workout back under 15:00 eventually.  It was a bit windy out, but not too bad and temps were great (low 40s).

Tuesday: No run = no good.  I'm still struggling mightily to get up for morning runs.  Had a firm/client holiday party at night and ended up going out for a friend's birthday as well, so didn't get it in.

Wednesday: PM - 3 mile w/u, 6 x mile at anaerobic threshold (AnT) w/ 1:00 active rest (Daniels-style "cruise intervals") - 5:01, (:58), 5:14, (:58), 5:09, (:58), 5:17, (1:00), 5:06, (1:00), 5:13 - 3 mile w/d (12 miles total); GS2 

While the temps were quite nice, it was very windy and I had to deal with a 20-30 mph headwind on the even numbered reps (as I do these repeats back and forth on the Lakefront Path... no accurate track within 5 miles of me).  This wind (and lack of track) makes running in Chicago quite a challenge at times.  Generally, as I'm not in a Specific Phase right now, it's the internal load of the workout—the effort—that matters.  Even still, the problems with that are (1) mentally accepting that a 5:30 into the wind can actually be AnT work, and (2) there is some muscular trade off, so you don't want to be going drastically slower than you normally could, as you start to lose the muscular benefit.  So I end up muscling through the "slow" reps a bit to keep the pace externally honest, but that can get you in a bit of a hole, because you're working too hard, and it slows/messes up the other reps and the whole workout a bit.  Not the end of the world, just not ideal.  I have no doubt that on a windless day on the track, those all would be sub-5 with the same effort.

Thursday: AM - 7 miles easy
PM - Firm holiday party #2, no run - glad I managed to get my ass out of bed for the morning run, need to make that a habit. 

Friday: PM - 10 miles moderate w/ 12 x 100m strides, 100m jog rest - followed by holiday party #3, Have Yourself a Merry Little Fitness.  Way too much drinking and eating this week; ah, holidays.

Saturday: PM - 8 miles easy

Sunday: PM - 3 mile w/u, 6 x mile at MP w/ 1/2 mile recovery (20-30s/mile slower than MP) - 5:15, (2:47), 5:21, (2:45), 5:26, (2:53), 5:25, (2:50), 5:18, (2:46), 5:21, (2:49) - 9 miles total in 48:58 or 5:26 pace - 3 mile w/d (15 miles total); GS1

Pretty solid workout, introduction of MP work.  Running into a decent wind on the third, fourth, and sixth reps made things a touch more difficult.  I was really cruising on the "recoveries" too, running as fast at 5:30 pace, which certainly kept things honest.  Intentionally backed off a bit on the third rest interval to keep from digging myself into a hole.  With the quick rests, I was able to average a very good pace (5:26) for the whole workout, which is probably 98% MP or so.  I've seen Canova do something like 6 x 6:00 at MP w/ 3:00 recovery during the Special Phase, extending the workout to 6 x 7:00 and 6 x 8:00.  It's easier for me (with no track) to do this type of work structured by distance though, not time, so the plan is just to extend the number of reps when I repeat this in two weeks.

Summary: 62 miles, 3x GS

A quick note on notation:

- When I say "easy," I typically mean 7:30-8:00 pace—pure recovery and capillarization, no real aerobic benefit here. 
- "Moderate" refers to about 80% MP (or equivalent effort), so roughly 6:20-6:30 pace.  This is the slow end of the spectrum where you're still getting an aerobic benefit.

I think this week was a relative success for my first week back to focused training.  I got in three quality workouts; none of them were killer, but just the kind of solid work I need right now.  I'll repeat the AnT and MP workouts two weeks from now, hopefully going longer.  I'll be hitting the Aussie Quarters every week during the Special Phase and probably every other week or so during the Specific Phase for maintenance.  Based on this week, how I felt at various paces, I think sub-2:20 is a realistic A Goal for the Albany Marathon.  The B Goal would be a PR (sub-2:22:53).  So those basically correspond to MPs of 5:20 and 5:25 per mile.  It will be very difficult to actually do all my MP work in that pace range, such are the challenges of winter and tough external conditions.  But so it goes.  I'm also hoping to get my mileage up into the 80-90 range (and keep it there) in the coming weeks.

As I think I've made clear previously, I generally follow Renato Canova's philosophy of training.  One of the main tenets of this philosophy is working by extension; for most workouts, rather than getting faster each time you repeat the workout, you go longer (whether that means more reps, longer reps, or just longer total distance).  So for this Special Phase, I'm doing two, two-week blocks that are more or less the same, with the goal of going longer for each workout in the second block.  (The Aussie Quarters are an exception, where my progression will be intensive.)  The same thing will happen once I start the Specific Phase.  The workouts will be structured mainly in two-week blocks, with the idea of extending the work with each repetition.

I've learned about training, generally, from reading copiously on the subject and through my own trial and error.  I've been most strongly influenced by Canova's marathon pamphlet produced through the IAAF (a must have); Letsrun threads on which Canova posts; Nate Jenkins' blog (an incredible resource); and Joe Vigil's book, Road to the Top.  Am I making mistakes?  Surely.  But the amount I've gained and learned by taking real ownership in my running far outweighs any mistakes I've made.

Finally, I've been putting quotes up at the end of my posts recently.  This one is outrageously long, but I liked it a lot.  It's Nate Jenkins' response to some asshole going by "Mel" who's been trolling his Running Times blog on and off for a few months:

"Mel- I wish you wouldn’t piss Melissa off. She is stressed enough as it is. My point had nothing to do with whether I’ll go faster or not. My point is this. If you quit you will never grow, never get better. You know that for sure. I’m running pretty well right now, much better then 6 weeks ago, better still then 6 months ago. Why would I even think of quitting while I’m improving? Still this is what most do. The task seems to hard so we walk away before we find out what we can do. This is the biggest mistake we can make. Never give in, never give up. It doesn’t guarantee success, nothing does, it does give you the chance of success and the chance to find your real limits. People started telling me to quit running when I was in elementary school before I was even running year round. They told me my knees would be shot by the time I was 16. That I had no talent, no hope of succeeding. This voices only got louder and more common as I got older. I would burn myself out, I was wasting my time. I should just walk away. Quitting is the easy way out, just give up and tell yourself you did the best you could. Tell yourself you just didn’t have the talent to compete. Thing is that is a soul killing lie. This isn’t a video game, this is life, you get one shot, just one. If you chose to quit early and accept defeat at the first sign of difficulty you will never get any where and you can live a sad middling life unsatisfied and unfulfilled. Or you can fight, you can refuse to give in until your crushed. You can keep coming back no matter what. No matter the odds and not give in ever. You will be stopped at some point, you will be beaten but you will KNOW you have given it your all and you will be light years further down the road then where you would have quit. I should have quit when it took me 4 years of year round training to break 5mins in the mile. I should have quit when running more and harder then anyone I could find made me only about the 25th best running in my state in HS. I should have quit when working harder in college lead to so many injuries that entering my senior year I had only competed in 2 out of 9 seasons and my PRs were essentially unchanged and not even world class by female standards. No one would have blamed me, no one would have noticed. No one would have said man that guy could have been something. I would never have qualified for a national championship. I would never have qualified for an Olympic trials. I would never have travelled to asia and europe. I would never have to be honest gone to college, got a degree, left my hometown, met my wife or got on a plane. I certainly would never have had the honor of representing my country in international competition. The fun of traveling the country to meet and race people who I consider absolute celebrities and hero’s of mine. I would never have had the experience of signing an autograph or seeing myself on TV or doing an interview. The neat experience of speaking at camps and getting a chance to encourage young people who just need a pat on the back and good word from someone who they only know via the internet or magazines. Point is I’m about the happiest person you’ll ever meet and I’m not naturally that way. Being born into my family I inherited a pretty good bit of the black dog but not quitting has given me gifts so far beyond anything I deserved or could ever have bought that if I drop dead tomorrow I can honestly say no regrets. So my suggestion to you is to read Melissa’s post. Read it carefully. Really dissect it and try to understand what Teddy was saying. Then pick your battle, pick your goal and go after it with REAL focus, REAL will, don’t TRY. Instead DO!"
Nate Jenkins

And the aforementioned Teddy Roosevelt quote:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

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