Sunday, September 1, 2013

New York City Marathon Week 2 / 11

Monday: plyometrics + core + achilles
Tuesday: 7 km test 26:08 (169 bpm average)
Wednesday: 8 x 1 km @ 3:25 + achilles
Thursday: 60' @ 4:25 + achilles
Friday: 25' @ 4:00 + achilles
Saturday (evening): 60' @ 4:20
Sunday (morning): 21.1 km in 1:37 (4:36)
Total kilometres: 73

Monday was effectively a "day off" although the kind of day off that you feel stiff from the next day. All I did was an easy 10 minute warm-up run followed by some plyometrics (200 jumps in total), some core stability exercises ("planks" and so on) as well as some eccentric heel lowers in order to strengthen my Achilles tendons. But precisely because I'm not (yet) used to this routine, I felt it the next day when I had planned to do my aerobic test.

Every so often I run 7 km around the track (at work, if possible) keeping my heart rate as close to 172 bpm as possible. Any kind of sub-maximal test is going to be subjective and this is no exception: it takes about 8 of the 20 laps for my heart rate to get anywhere near 172 bpm so I really have to go by "feel" and hope that I don't have to slow down considerably over the remaining 12 laps. Having done the test several times before helps, of course, and it is useful information in itself if I find myself having to slack off to keep my heart rate down. To avoid the heat I got up early and started my run just before 8am, when it was "only" 17 degrees (compared to 7 or 8 degrees when I last did this test). The magic number of 172 is supposed to correspond to the pace at which I would run a Half Marathon, so a rough indication of my projected Half Marathon time is to multiply the time it takes me to run the 7 km by 3 (and a bit). I didn't do my fastest time - this was 25:39 just before the Lisbon Half Ironman - but it was, I think, my second fastest time of 26:08 which bodes well for the start of my training cycle and corresponds in theory to a projected Half Marathon time of 1:19:09 (my best time is 1:19:03). More than anything it is a useful benchmark against which to measure my progress over the following weeks leading up to the Marathon.

I must have done the plyometrics right this time because I was still stiff on Wednesday - otherwise known as "series day" (both in the sense of television and running). In fact, the last time I felt like this was after running a Marathon! There is something satisfying about "DOMS" (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) as it isn't usually all that painful but you feel like you are rebuilding your body and - if you care what other people think - you even get some sympathy and attention for the resulting limp. The downside is that you can't return to doing the same exercise safely until you have fully recovered so, in balance, the training is probably less effective than the "minimal effective dose".

Don't you f*cking look at me!
I've also started to use my PowerBreathe device again - 30 breaths until failure, twice a day. The image of Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet always comes to mind while I am sucking the air in. I find it quite embarrassing to use in public and yet I often forget to use it at home, so I have struck on the idea of using it in the car (not while driving, obviously!) as people tend not to look inside parked cars unless they themselves are up to no good. On the other hand, it is harder to do and probably less effective when sitting down rather than standing up. In spite of not having used it for 6 months, I'm already on level 3 (out of 10) - I started back in March on level 1.5 and managed to get up to level 4.

This summer has been the summer of things breaking: the treadmill, my moped (twice), a Kindle and a camera (this probably had something to do with my wife dropping it). It turns out that my treadmill has been "deaded" again. A month or so ago I replaced the console which gave up the ghost after being bathed in my sweat one time too often; now it is the board over which the belt runs that has split along the middle, so that it feels like I am running in a perpetual ditch. I hadn't realized that it was getting progressively worse until using it after the pounding I gave it this week, running at its maximum speed. By the end of my hour run on Friday, it was starting to bother my feet and I found myself swerving from side to side depending on exactly how I trod, something which is generally not recommended on a belt which isn't much wider than my hips. I'm getting this fixed, too, but I can't help wondering if I am throwing good money after bad and what will be the next thing to "go" - the motor, maybe?

I rather unwisely decided to try for a 40 minute run at a pace of 4:00 min/km on Friday, over and above what I had planned for the week. Had my treadmill not died this might not have been such a bad idea but, as it was, I had to choose between running outside in the heat or running inside in the heat. The first 20 minutes I ran on the track outside but it started to feel harder than it should. I could have finished it but it would have required such an effort that it would have turned into a different type of training altogether and put my workouts at the weekend in jeopardy, as well as creating a mental association between a high level of discomfort and running at what was, after all, the pace I ran my last Marathon at. I went back inside to try to complete the second half but I still found it too difficult. It turned into one of those demotivating conversations with myself where I alternate between beating myself up mentally and beating myself up physically. It really felt like the worst workout I've done in a long time and I ended up telling myself I would do such-and-such to compensate, then pulling out of that and then telling myself I would do this other thing and then not do that either. Very unsatisfying. The only good thing I can say is that it is worth being reminded every so often not to get complacent and I'd rather be reminded of this in a training session than in a race.

The kids spent the whole week with my in-laws, while my wife was in Kenya. I went to pick the kids up from Ciudad Real and spent the weekend there. Two consecutive weekends with the suegros is not the best way to keep my weight under control! Although it doesn't really have anything to do with my training plan or indeed anything to do with this blog, I can't resist including this video of a water rocket (thanks to Juan Alberto, its creator) that we launched in a nearby field:

As far as actual training went, I deliberately left my Saturday run until late on in the evening, partly to avoid the heat, partly to give myself a bit extra recovery from my aborted session in Friday and, more importantly, to make my long run on Sunday that much more challenging. That it was - I was really quite tired by the end. It wasn't the first time that I did the arithmetic wrong and divided 21.1 by 2 and got 10.05. This meant that I had to tack on a little bit at the end but it also tricked me into thinking I was running a lot faster than I really was - that I could have believed I was running at a 1:31 Half Marathon pace when it was more like 1:36 shows just how tired I must have been. One takeaway was to remember to start putting some vaseline "down there" - even if 21 kilometres doesn't register anymore as a "long run", after months of not running any further than 15 kilometres at a time, it's not all that surprising.

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