Tuesday, July 9, 2013

In a village of La Mancha...

This weekend we were in Don Quioxote territory with a wine tasting in a bodega in Tomelloso - the birth place of my wife - and a weekend with the suegros who live in Ciudad Real ("Royal City"). To avoid the searing heat, I dragged myself out of bed on the Sunday and went for an hour run, at around 4:05 per kilometer. This is part of my current plan to train fairly little but always at speeds at around or above my Marathon pace. This time last year I was cycling and even swimming more as an alternative to running in the scorching sun.

I only did one day of interval training but I managed to extend it from 8 lots of 1 km at 17.5 kph to 8 lots of 4 minutes at the same speed (which works out to be about 15% extra). Other than several 10K runs in 40 minutes on the treadmill, I did a reasonably demanding spinning class with "El depilatorrrr" as I call him, as well as some plyometrics and hill runs. The steep hill sprints are a favourite of Brad Hudson, whose book I read towards the end of last year and which formed the backbone of my training plan for Seville Marathon. He never has his athletes pump iron but instead sends them out to sprint up 6-8% gradient hills in bursts of 8 seconds. As he recommended, I started off by only doing two of these; next week I'll move up to three and so on.

Plyometrics are another thing I want to incorporate into my training plan for New York Marathon once it gets in full swing. I have become convinced that a large part of my recent improvements in running are due to strong, elastic tendons in my lower legs and feet. Plyometrics have been shown to strengthen the tendons as well as to increase their stiffness and this, coupled with the knowledge that this stiffness appears to be a differentiating factor of elite Kenyan runners over their white counterparts, means that there is every reason that the could help me improve my speed and endurance. Even though it may seem trivial to simply hop up and down, it is important to warm up properly beforehand because it is quite easy to get injured if you are not careful. It is also important to execute them properly, springing back as reactively as possible, otherwise the required training effect will not be obtained. The best article I have found so far on the subject can be read here.

On Wednesday evening I set out to do another one of those 40 minute 10K runs on the treadmill but felt dizzy and lightheaded after about 25 minutes. It was strange: my legs didn't feel tired and I was breathing as I would normally on any aerobic run. It is true, however, that I often get funny signs in my eyes in the first 10 minutes or so of running. I put it down to running in the dark while watching a film on the projector - perhaps the LEDs from the running machine burn into the peripheral areas of my retina, although it does also sometimes happen when I run outside. Another more probable explanation is that I should warm up before launching into my run, even if I am considering it to be an aerobic ("easy") run. I shouldn't kid myself: I checked Jack Daniel's training tables and a 4:00 per kilometer easy run is something a 2:20 Marathoner would do (obviously, this would be part of a much higher volume plan). Anyway, it felt as though I had "bonked" after just 25 minutes of running!! I frantically stuffed any cereal bars I could find in the cupboard into my gob, including some I remember being given free at the end of the San Silvestre race back in December. I managed to finish the remaining 15 minutes without any problem but it served as a warning to me that some carbohydrates are necessary if I am going to insist on moderate intensity training.

Monday: -
Tuesday: 8 x 4' @ 3:25
Wedndesday: 25' + 15' @ 4:00
Thursday: spining
Friday: hill sprints, plyometrics
Saturday: 40' @ 4:00
Sunday: 60' @ 4:05 (outside)

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