Monday, September 16, 2013

New York City Marathon Week 4 / 11

Monday: core
Tuesday: 2 x 15' @ 3:45 w/ 3' active recovery + core
Wednesday: 60' @ 4:18 w/ hills + hill sprints + plyometrics
Thursday: 8 x 5' @ 3:25
Friday: 60' @ 4:41
Saturday: (evening) 60' @ 4:29
Sunday: (morning) 3 km easy + 22 @ 4:17 + 3 km easy (average 4:25)
+ achilles + Powerbreathe (most) days
Total kilometers: 88

Wow, 4 weeks already under my belt and "only" 7 to go. I'm quite pleased with how things are going so far. The trick is to judge that fine line between not stressing your body enough for it to adapt to the stimulus and stressing it so much that it breaks. Maybe this is a sign of having reached a new level of maturity but I find that if I run really well on a particular day then, of course, I am happy and think that my training is going well; if I am very sluggish - like how I felt at lunchtime on Friday - then I think I am doing a good job in tiring myself out.

I was a bit nervous about my impending long run at the weekend because I ended up "having" to do my run on Saturday the evening before as a result of family commitments. In my preparation for the Seville Marathon, I decided to alternate between two types of long run: one aimed at ├Čncreasing my fat-burning abilities that I would run on an empty stomach and tired legs from the day before, and one aimed at activating the fast-twitch muscles that come into play at the end of a Marathon by including higher intensity efforts. Although I did at least have breakfast before going out of the door, Sunday's run ended up being a bit of both, so I couldn't be sure that I wouldn't end up running out of steam halfway. This would have had two serious consequences: I would have taken many more days to recover from the muscle damage (i.e., stiff legs) and I would have been late getting back to the casa rural where we were staying with a bunch of friends and made my family miss out on the canoeing. We go to this house every year around this time and I did a slightly longer version of the run I did last year, coincidentally in the same week (4) of training for the New York Marathon that never was. I was pretty pleased with my run as I was able to keep safely under the Marathon pace + 20' (4:20) target I had set myself for the middle 22 kilometers even in spite of the wind (there are hardly any trees in Segovia for some reason that I have forgotten) and the moderate altitude (900m).

Maybe some of the credit is due to the amino acids I have started to take that I picked up in London along my run from the office to my brother's house. Since the Ironman I did over 2 years ago I haven't taken any supplements of any kind (unless you count gels in a race) but I have recently noticed that I haven't been recovering from one workout before having to do the next as well as I would have liked. Of course, it's impossible to tell whether it is the training effect or indeed the placebo effect but - what the hell - I quite like the flavour so I am going to keep taking them for the time being. Something I have noticed these last few weeks is that I find the quality sessions psychologically less taxing than the "fillers". I find it easier to do something challenging as there is a reward for having managed it; there is little gratification in completing an hour long "easy" run (unless you can enjoy the company of other people). Also, I find that I am usually more tired before the easy runs from the previous day than I am afterwards.


Another aspect of my diet is that I've been told by the doctor to cut down on my cholesterol. If I don't manage to reduce it there is a chance that I get prescribed statins which have, amongst their side effects: muscle soreness and weakness. My diet has been going towards more fish and less fatty meat of its own accord but fried fish is out, of course, as well as most sea food, milk, cheese (no!) and chocolate (!!!). The internet is a wonderful place where you can find whatever you are looking for, including articles that actually claim that jam├│n serrano is in fact good for your cholesterol. I'm not sure whether I buy that but I will allow myself to eat a little - life in Spain wouldn't be the same without it. On the other hand, dark chocolate does seem to be widely recommended although the idea is not to pig out on this either. In the end, my diet is similar to the one my youngest son follows as he is either lactose intolerant or unable to process milk protein. It's also a pretty good diet to follow for keeping trim but I have to make sure that I get the right amount of carbohydrates to fuel my training. The weekend in the casa rural was torture as it turned out I could eat practically nothing of the huge spread of tortilla, cold meats, roast lamb, seafood paella, cheese, biscuits, etc. I positioned myself on the kids table - who were mostly eating pasta - to remove myself from temptation: I am quite disciplined when it comes to choosing what to eat but not if it is put on a plate in front of me.

I'm still not quite making my desired quota of plyometrics, hill sprints or core exercises. Especially with the former, I have to be very careful not to injure myself so I avoid doing them unless I am feeling in good condition. The same goes for the hill sprints and core exercises: I wait until I am no longer stiff from the last time. In practice, though, I find that I either don't have enough time or motivation to do them regularly. Still, I am seeing an improvement and, as they get to feel easier, the motivational aspect will improve.

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