Spring Training: Week Ten

I’m starting to feel like a real runner again.

Now that I’m plunging into a few months of frequent racing, my training has taken on a different structure and quality. The most noticeable change has been in the number of workouts per week. They have generally dropped from three (tempo + speed + easy long) to two (tempo or speed + hard long or race). The mileage is, by comparison to last year, also a lot lower most weeks, with last week in the mid-30s.

I was very tired on Monday, so I just took it off. At this point, I’m seeing lots of evidence that the training is resulting in steady improvements. So recovering from those workouts has become equally important. I don’t want to either fizzle in the workouts or races, or drive myself back into a ditch of overtraining. Not when things are going so well. So I won’t hesitate to take a day off if my ass is dragging.

We’re trying to put a minimum of two rest days between a hard session and a race. This week, since I skipped the Saturday “Manhattan Monsoon” race (the NYRR 8000), I got three recovery days. That extra day didn’t seem to make me stale.

The nature of the workouts is also changing. This week my speed session featured 800m repeats, but with a twist: I was to run the first 600m in 2:30 (6:40 pace), then drop the hammer for the last 200 and run that in 45 (6:00 pace). This was a tough workout, not the least of which was because I was sharing the track with the entire Bronxville High track team (and it was, as usual, windy). But it would have been tough on an empty, windless track. Running uncomfortably fast for a few minutes and then running even faster proved a challenge both physically and mentally. This was also the first workout that I can remember in awhile that I felt slightly pukeworthy at times. However, I managed the paces, more or less. But I was fried afterwards.

The next few days were very easy because I thought I was going to be racing on Saturday. When I realized I wasn’t, I nevertheless cut back the planned mileage for Saturday from 10 to 6. I reasoned that if I was going to make the 2 miler my focus now, I might as well be as fresh as possible for it.

My legs felt great for the 2 miler, and I ended up with a few extra miles around it for warmup and jog cooldowns.

This week the mileage is back up into the 60s and I did a very challenging workout on Wednesday — a new sort which Kevin referred to as a “rite of passage” workout. More on that coming up in this week’s training recap. Next week features another surprise: my first “cutdown” workout on the track (1600, 1200, 800, 400 — all getting progressively faster). Then the Colon Cancer 4 miler next Sunday, where I hope to break 7:00 over that distance at last.

I’m also once again attempting to shed some of the extra baggage I’ve acquired in the past few months. My scale tops 134 now. Twenty months ago I weighed 126 and I felt a lot more comfortable at that weight, especially when running fast. It was very difficult to lose weight while running high mileage last year. I don’t know what the hell happens metabolically when you’re doing 90 mile weeks, but losing weight was all but impossible for me. Now I’m figuring that with relatively low mileage demands at the moment, my need for fuel should be on more of an even keel and perhaps my metabolism won’t be so inclined to demand calories every 90 minutes and then store them so enthusiastically.

Unfortunately, a concerted effort to lose the flab means scaling back on my usual gluttonous birthday plans in a few weeks and teetotalling most evenings. Moreover, my day gig’s team status call has been moved from Monday afternoon to the cruel hour of 8AM on Monday morning. This means I can’t get moderately inebriated on Sunday nights anymore and count on having half the day Monday to let a mild hangover seep out of my system. This is probably a good development, although I wish I’d had some say in the matter.

3 Responses

  1. Wow, that’s a big shift from your training in the past. I think you’re smart to switch things up rather than just continuing with the same approach and getting more frustrated.

    The “Manhattan Monsoon” ended up being lots of fun. Too bad you missed it.

  2. It’s good that you’re feeling like a runner again. And a racer! Mixing things up a bit (like the more frequent racing you’re doing at the moment) ties in well with the theory of the need for keeping stimulation happening with training (especially for older runners). It’s easy to fall into non-stimulating training rut at times.

    By the way, “the first 600m in 3:15″ should be the 2:30 you have in the table ;) My ‘elite’ 50+ friend Kathy is a big fan of those speeding up intervals.

    • Ah. Good catch. Corrected.

      Yes, doing some shorter racing and taking a break from marathon training is the best advice I could have taken. What I’m going to be very interested to see is how I do in a half marathon in early May, considering that most of the racing I’m doing is at well under half that distance.

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