Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Madrid Marathon Week 5/18

The good news is that I seem to be getting fitter - my resting pulse continues to come back down and my % fat has leveled off and will hopefully follow. After last week's debacle, I ran very conservatively on Monday and my speed session on Tuesday went according to plan (5 x 1,000m @ 3:25 - 3:30 /km). But I fell back into my old habits on Friday and Saturday, running at a pace oof 4:15 - anything slower just feels inefficient and boring.

I don't know whether it was as a result of this or something else, but my supposed long run on Sunday was a complete disaster. I think that I didn't eat properly the day before because it started off OK, but I felt drained after just 8 kilometres!! It was also an unusually hot day (20 degrees in January!) and I was a bit down in the mouth as my wife was going to Mali - not the safest place in the world right now - and my upper back and neck had locked up on me. My back usually gets better with running, but I cannot deny that my back problems are linked to increases in training volume. This time it locked up on me suddenly and surprisingly, during me run on Friday, as I turned to spit. Maybe it was a punishment for unhygienic behaviour.

I reminded myself that this training period and Marathon were a kind of "dry run" for the Chicago Marathon and that it was important to learn from the mistake and move on. As the plan I am following has a "long run" (referring more to the pace at which it should be run than the distance) every other week, I decided to do a switcheroo and run it instead the following Sunday. It might make more sense as I did jump straight into week 4 of the plan without much of a warm-up.

Monday: 10 km @ 4:51
Tuesday: (speed) 5 x 1,000m w/ 500m recovery @ 3:23, 3;29, 3:24, 3:26(?), 3:28
Wednesday: -
Thursday: (tempo) 10 km @ 3:54
Friday: 11.3 km @ 4:16
Saturday: 10 km @ 4:14
Sunday: supposed to be 20 km @ 4:17, instead was 10.5 km @ 4:27
Total kilometres: 63.4

VO2 Max (Garmin): 62 ml/kg/min
Resting pulse (average): 39 ppm
Fat (average): 7.6%

Monday, January 18, 2016

Madrid Marathon Week 4/18

As usual, I "ran" the San Silvestre 10K on New Year's Eve accompanied by my kids up to the 4 km point (a new record for them) and by my wife to the finish line. A few people recognized me as "the banker from hell"

...and yes, I ran all the way carrying that bloody suitcase (which contained warm clothes for my wife) and wearing that damn mask. The sweat built up so much in the mask that my tie was sopping wet by the end, not to mention my suit (in fact, the metro ticket in my pocket was rendered unusable). I enjoyed the "race" and at the same time suffered just enough to feel I deserved to stuff myself with food and drink afterwards. Something that I continued to do for the next 10 days in Asturias, arriving back to Madrid with a few extra kilos "excess baggage". Surprisingly, my legs were quite sore for several days afterwards - especially my left hip - probably due to running the 10K with a strange gait from having to carry the briefcase.

This week it was back to work both in the office and in terms of getting my fitness back. It's amazing how quickly you lose it - I found running really quite hard work even at a pace I would have considered quite pedestrian only a few months ago. But that is all part of the bargain and it makes it all the more satisfying to be starting the hard graft again.

For my preparations for the Madrid Marathon, I've decided to try out the Hanson's Method which is supposedly "renegade" due to its relatively short long run of only 16 miles (in case you are wondering if you have missed something, I had to jump in at week 4 to make it in time for the Marathon which is on the 24th of April). In terms of weekly mileage, though, it requires more than I put in for New York, although the peak is roughly the same. Most of the miles are run at an easy pace which, for me, translates to between 4:28 and 4:48 /km (but with the long runs at a more snappy 4:17 /km). I still struggle to fully believe this and often end up running faster than I should (apparently the Hanson's dish out press-ups as a punishment for anyone caught running too fast). Every argument for easy running seems to hinge on avoiding injury or jeopardizing quality workouts. My feeling is that I am limited by the time I can dedicate to training, so I can afford to do that training at a higher intensity. On the other hand, I almost must recognize that it is not the same running on the treadmill as it is outside and, as my treadmill is currently broken, I have no choice at the moment. My treadmill may be dead, but at least my new running shoes arrived with perfect timing to my desk just before lunchtime on my first day back at work.

I soon had a good reason to believe in easy running because I found my speed session way too difficult (planned: 6 x 800m @ 3:20 /km). This was no doubt largely due to the fact that I hadn't run faster than 4:00 /km since the Marathon, over two months ago (not to mention those extra kilos I mentioned earlier). Even my gadgets concur with my assessment: my resting heart rate has been around 45 bpm for the last few weeks (compared to 38 for the weeks after the Marathon); my estimated VO2Max has gone from the lofty 67(!) on the day of the Marathon down to as low as 53, and my percentage fat is around 7.4% (up from 4.8%). I think I will keep track of these metrics over the weeks leading up to the Marathon to see how they respond to my training and how good a guide they are to my state of fitness and recovery. I also have to adjust the pace at which I run my intervals because it was clearly way too ambitious (I'm fairly sure I could have run them at that pace on the treadmill, though!).

My resting heart rate seems to be coming back down again...
...while my V02 Max seems to be going back up.
The other quality (or "Something Of Substance") workout this week was a tempo run at Marathon Pace of 6 miles (or approximately 10 kilometres) which I did on the track around the football pitch at work. Had the Hanson's been around, they would surely have dished out press-ups, as I ran this at a pace of 3:48 /km (target: 3:55 /km for a flat course). Nevertheless, it had the effect of restoring the confidence that I lost during the speed session. I think it will be very interesting to see how my heart rate responds during these controlled tempo runs, especially as they get longer. It's not too surprising that I have some difficulties in pacing myself as I have relied for too long on the treadmill to do that for me. I'm going to try to do as much running as I possibly can outside.

By Sunday, I was already starting to feel fitter. In fact, I enjoyed running for pretty much the first time since (before) the Marathon and didn't mind the fact that getting lost in the Casa de Campo turned my 13 km run into a 15.5 km one.

Monday: 10 km @ 4:29
Tuesday: (speed) 6 x 800m w/ 400m recovery @ 3:22, 3;23, 3:31, 3:35, 3:36, 3:41...
Wednesday: -
Thursday: (tempo) 10 km @ 3:46
Friday: 10 km @ 4:20
Saturday: 12.9 km @ 4:24
Sunday: 15.5 km @ 4:24
Total kilometres: 68.4

VO2 Max (Garmin): 62 ml/kg/min
Resting pulse (average): 43 ppm
Fat (average): 7.7%