Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's all downhill from here...

So I did the LHWBTM last night (the Last Hard Workout Before The Marathon): two lots of 8km at close to anaerobic pace (15.5-16.0kph) on the treadmill, with the fan on full blast and Saw II playing in the background to distract me from my own suffering. After each bout I went out into the garden to cool off - there was so much steam rising from my body it was like putting my face over a boiling kettle. About halfway through the second set, the brilliant idea of stopping occurred to me - usually when this happens, I enter into a conversation with myself rather like the one I described in this post - but this time I managed to shut myself up and struggle on to end. Even though I ended up both times with my heart rate around 177-181 (which is where my anaerobic threshold was last time I had it measured), it didn't feel too hard. Let me qualify that. I mean that my legs didn't feel tired and my breathing was not overly laboured. So why did I want to stop after only 15 minutes? The reason is that I get so hot that it becomes stifling.

I did a fairly heavy weights session on Tuesday (75% of maximum) - in fact, as I was cooling down on the spinning bike, the instructor came over to congratulate me on how much I was squatting (120kg + 15kg bar). I also have another weights session today (60%). A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine who is also running the Marathon in Valencia (somewhat faster than me) was surprised that I was still doing weights even back then, so close to the Marathon. On the other hand it makes a lot of sense to me, as long as you are careful not to lift above your ability. I followed a protocol set out by my trainer in order to determine my maximums - how much can I lift only once before failure. The idea is to estimate this without actually provoking failure, which can lead to injury. The point about the taper is to reduce the training load so as to allow your body to recover and adapt, and to restore your energy (glycogen) levels. On the other hand, doing weights is a very important aspect of Marathon training, and one that doesn't burn much energy. As you get tired in a Marathon, your muscle fibres fatigue and new fibres (and other muscle groups) start to get recruited. The only times that these "secondary" muscle fibres get put through their paces is when you do a long run, when you run on tired legs or when you do weights. Gadgets like vibrating platforms and electrostimulators promise to recruit 100% of your muscle fibres but I've yet to be convinced that they are as effective.

All that's left to do between now and the Marathon are a few short, easy runs, just to keep things ticking over and a lactate test (more on this soon) to help establish a pacing plan.

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