Monday, March 29, 2010

Over the Hump

There are just 4 more weeks to go (today) before Big Sur (click here for a great video tour) and it's all downhill from now on. My build has been good but not up to my standards as in previous years due to various issues. There were the usual 'life is too busy' excuses, some unexpected travel, cursed dental visits but the main one was my lack of energy and resulting poor performances in regular training runs. And just to prove that I'm not making this up or 'talking though my hat' (where the heck did that come from?) here is some solid evidence with my average pace per week over the past 15 months.
You can see my 2009 Boston training and race where the paces were in the mid 8:30's, followed by some downtime and run-walking as I came back from surgery. Then things were stable with a slight improvement as I did the PEI marathon in mid-Oct but since then it's been a steady climb in the wrong direction, despite (or maybe because of) the increased training and mileage. While I understand that you have to run easy some times and can't expect training paces and race paces to come together, it has been very frustrating to not see much in the way of training effects over the past few months.

It turns out that part of my 'problem' was an iron deficiency resulting in anemia which my doctor is so far attributing to a diet lacking in red meat and enough of the leafy greens like spinach. He's been checking out the other possibilities which are not so good which might be causing anemia as a result of internal blood losses but put me on iron supplements in the meantime.

{from US Gov Office of Dietary Supplements (would you believe?)}
Iron and intense exercise:

Many men and women who engage in regular, intense exercise such as jogging, competitive swimming, and cycling have marginal or inadequate iron status [1,81-85]. Possible explanations include increased gastrointestinal blood loss after running and a greater turnover of red blood cells. Also, red blood cells within the foot can rupture while running. For these reasons, the need for iron may be 30% greater in those who engage in regular intense exercise [1].

Three groups of athletes may be at greatest risk of iron depletion and deficiency: female athletes, distance runners, and vegetarian athletes. It is particularly important for members of these groups to consume recommended amounts of iron and to pay attention to dietary factors that enhance iron absorption.

I guess I'm in the category of distance runner on a not so perfect diet (too many carbs and not enough protein) but getting back to the hump thing... it seems that those little red pills are finally starting to kick in with an excellent long run last weekend and a decent mile repeat workout this weekend. The repeats went well considering and my running log goes like this:

"Bitch of a workout with 10x1 mile at MP+30sec or so. Weather didn't help with the cold and wind but I had waited all day for it to improve. Started out -11C and very windy in AM. After short warmup got into the drill of 1 mile with .25mi jog rests or ~2:00. Tough going and was starting to feel like cutting it short but ran into A. Cooper who did mile 5-8 with me. Last 2 miles alone were not easy but still reasonable around 8:00 pace then very easy crawl home. Glad this workout is in the books but it was worth doing! Avg pace of 7:57 was an improvement from previous workout."

There are only 3 hard workouts (long run, MP run, repeat of above w/o) and one 5k race left before flying the coup for our nice holiday break. The closer it gets the more excited I'm getting which is a strange because there are no plans to race hard at Big Sur. The plan is to run 'well', have fun, take lots of pictures while enjoying the scenery and the course. The racing part will have to wait until later in the year.

Have a great week and keep on keeping on!


Ewen said...

It's a spectacular marathon course Mike, so remember to enjoy it while running 'well'!

It sounds like you're getting the iron sorted going by how you handled that last workout. Good luck with the remaining hard ones.

Ms. V. said...

So excited for you!!! I wish I was going to be in town, but in LA for ragnar volunteering...

THANKS ALWAYS for your comments, and now I get to support YOU!!!

Thomas said...

Well, isn't that weird, because I think I'm anaemic as well at the moment. Maybe it's our old age.

The marathon looks truly spectacular. I'm sure you'll have an absolute blast!

Trevor said...

"Many men and women who engage in regular, intense exercise such as jogging"... hmmm ... I'm guessing that author from the US Gov Office of Dietary Supplements is not a "runner", or that may have been phrased differently.