Saturday, April 12, 2008

Final preparations

I'm just going to make a few notes on my last few runs of substance before I get to go completely stir crazy on a diet of rest days and easy runs. Despite being called a taper there is still running involved which is either faster or longer than normal. What is a normal no-stress run for me? That would be typically anything less than an hour in length and usually slower than marathon pace. You might think that marathon pace might be a little fast but my usual easy pace tends to be only 30-45 sec/mile slower than MP and seems to be where I'll settle in on auto-pilot.

I've been following the Pfitzinger Advanced Marathon 70 mile/week or less, 18 week schedule and all his schedules has you doing the following workout at 10 days out from race day: VO2max, 8mi w/3x1600m @5k race pace, jog 2 min between. I've done this workout over many marathon buildups and it's never been much of a problem but you do wonder why you're running this fast so close to the end. Even Pfitz says in his book 'VO2 max sessions have their place in marathon preparation but they should be included sparingly'. My pet theory is that this is just a not so gentle reminder to my limited (lazy) fast twitch muscles to wake up and start producing mitochondria and glycogen or something like that'.

So... on Friday I tentatively headed out for my 8 miles with 3x1600. It was a lovely sunny day but there was a cool northerly wind so I dressed in shorts and a long sleeve shirt. After the 1st easy mile I stopped for about 5-10 minutes of stretching before continuing along. I used to do this warmup and stretch routine in the past but it gradually got lost in the shuffle mostly due to time constraints and not wanting to stop. However, the recent benefits have shown me the routine is well worth the extra time. I've found that my legs feel much better on restarting the run and there appears to be some improvement in range of motion and stride length.

After another mile of easy running I then eased into the heart of the workout as I did the 1 mile repeats back and forth on a fairly level stretch of road on the town Point. The only issue with this route was having the wind either at my back or in my face for about 1/2 of each interval. I imagine this must even out but it's never fun running hard into a tough headwind.
The first mile went by in 6:44 (avg hr 150) and felt like a controlled hard but not all out effort as I carefully monitored the hamstrings and breathing throughout. There were a few minor twinges but no pain or feeling of restriction from overly tight legs.

After a 2 minute walk/jog rest the second mile started out exceptionally well as I floated along (slightly downhill with the wind at my back) at under 6:30 pace for the 1st 1/2 but then reality set in as I slowed in the headwind with a 6:39 final split (avg hr 151).

Another easy 2 minutes and I was off on the final effort. This time it felt like more work and took concentration to not daydream and fall off the pace. The legs were still feeling fine and only slight twinges if anything as I struggled in with a 6:45 (avg hr 150). The rest of the run was just easy running to fill out the 8 miles and I've had no soreness or after effects since then.

Today, Saturday was just a 5 mile easy run around town. It started out in a light rain with a cold temperature of 3C. As usual I stopped and stretched under some convenient cover after the 1st mile before hurrying along to keep warm. No planned strides today as I wanted to get out of the cold in my light garb of shorts, shirt and rain jacket but still a nice finish to the week. Weekly total of 49 miles in 6hr 30min on the roads.

And that's all he wrote. Take care and have a nice weekend!


Andrew said...

That stretching is a good idea. I do something similar by running a very slow first mile if I feel tight (10+ minutes).

Thomas said...

Mitochondria take 6 weeks to grow, so that can't be the reason. Whatever the reason, Pfitz must be pretty sure of it, because, as you said, that workout is in every single one of his schedules.