My cold did go south in the end and I slept like crap on Monday night because of a sore throat. I decided during the night that I would not train the next day but I took my kit along to work anyway, just in case. Digging around in the vast source of information more commonly known as the internet, I discovered that it was generally accepted that while a head cold was just that - a cold in your head with symptoms no lower than your shoulders and without accompanying temperature or swollen gland - it was OK to train light. Training heavily, however could put my immune system on hold leaving me open to an incursion into my lungs.
Sod that. I went ahead and did my tough workout of 4 x 200m @ 19kph + 3 x 1,000m @ 17.5kph + 2 x 400m @19kph anyway. It may be true that, under the circumstances, the training effect may have been negligible or even detrimental, but there is a psychological benefit to getting the work done. (I didn't feel bad at all doing the workout although the slight lack of conviction to finish it made it mentally harder to complete, which I did albeit with a long break in the middle.) This irrational need to feed my ego is something I need to work on as I am currently reading in "Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon" - Brad Hudson's book on "adaptive training". More on this another day.
I noticed something strange about the sets of 400m: they actually felt easier than the sets of 200m which I ran at the same speed on fresher legs! I realized that the distance of 200m made me think that I should sprint it as fast as I could, even though the treadmill was set to 19kph. This I did by wildly flapping my arms up and down and my feet hardly touching the belt. In fact, the speed wasn't that much greater than the 17.5kph I ran the sets of 1km at and it really wasn't necessary to run them so wastefully.
As well as having run a kilometre with Fernando Alonso I've started to go running with my dog after work. We have a female Boxer which is so full of pent up energy that she is driving us all crazy by jumping on everything that moves and eating everything that doesn't. It is quite simple: either something changes or we'll have to get rid of her (I mean have her adopted). It is still a bit dangerous running with her because she has a tendency to cross in front of me (which could end up in a messy human-canine pile up) and sometimes she stops dead without warning to pee or pooh en route. The previous version, Sushi, died earlier in the year but was nowhere near as nervous as Emma; also she was terrible at running - she would drag me along for the first half and I would have to drag her back home for the second half. Emma is showing some promise - so far we have only run a couple of kilometres but we managed to maintain a reasonable pace all the way. At this rate I might actually end up liking her.
By Wednesday, I had completely lost my voice but I was still able to keep up my training. My second tough workout was 4 x 1000m @ 16kph, 2 x 1000m @ 17.5 kph and 4 x 200m @19kph. My the time I got to the 200m sets I was so befuddled that I actually did four lots of 20 seconds rather than 200m, all the while marvelling at how easy it seemed and how much I must have improved. I decided to let this count as one of the series of 200m and did three more instead. I have to say, I like these workouts where the intensities are all mixed up. I do notice, though, that I am much less taxed by the training load than I was when I was preparing for the New York Marathon that never was: I would go to bed after doing series feeling quite tired and the next day my legs would feel heavy. Even so, I felt very satisfied when I finished my workout, especially as I haven't been at my best with this damn cold.
On Saturday I went to pick up the stuff (t-shirts, chips and race numbers) for San Silvestre. My wife will be running again this year and, for the first time, there is actually a special corral just for women, although I don't think that she'll be using it. I was excited to get my international edition t-shirt which you can see from a photo I took in the toilets of the cinema (where we went to see The Hobbit)...
That evening I did my final quality session of 3 lots of 3,200m at 16 kph which didn't feel too bad at all. In fact, looking at my heart rate it was significantly lower than the last time I ran at that speed. I don't completely trust the treadmill at home anymore: my training at home used to be much more predictable than on the work one where the ambient temperature would depend on how many other people were training at the same time and this would in turn affect my performance. Whatever the case, I've done some pretty good speed workouts over the last few weeks which I'm sure will come in handy on the day.
The long run on Sunday was much harder than usual because I ran on tired legs from the evening before. I think that this is a good strategy and that the training effect was much more significant than it would have been had I run it faster on fresh legs.
I still haven't got over my cold as I write this and I can't help wondering if perhaps, had I not trained, it would be better by now. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure I'll be better before the race in two weeks time.