"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rough patch; more theory than practice

"Trouble ahead, trouble behind... and you know that notion just crossed my mind." - Grateful Dead, "Casey Jones"

This past week was a bad one for my training. I was battling a minor infection, having trouble finding the time to get out and run, lacking motivation, and so on. Then I saw that the whole of this week was supposed to be frigid temps, after a warm weekend; so the plan became to run long on Saturday and do what I could on Sunday.

Saturday's forecast, as of 10 PM the night before, was to be in the mid-20's in the morning, warming up to about 35. When I awoke, it was 14, but the television meteorologists were all saying that the temperature would be 25 before noon. Three hours later, it was 19 degrees and windy (wind chill 11), yet foggy to the point of zero visibility (and I thought you couldn't have wind and fog at the same time). It was time to get out the door. I dressed in expectation of the temperature climbing quickly - wrong! - and started off slowly and comfortably. I ended up pulling my hands into my sleeves because I was freezing and frost formed thickly on my beard as the fog froze on contact. At 15 miles, I was slowing unintentionally and getting that depressed "the whole year is unravelling in front of me" feeling. I got to 19 miles in 3 hours and tried to push myself back out to do 22-25, or at least an even 20, but I just stood still. I was done.

Sunday was better weather, proving you "don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." [Wow, do I have old songs on the brain!] I was tired from Saturday's run and I was running on worse footing, but I still managed to get in 18 miles in 3 hours.

That's my two longest runs since last May, back-to-back. I still figure I'm looking at finishing the Superior 100 in 32 hours, but it's time to make some radical changes in training. Not having run much the past week and this week promising to be bad until the weekend once again, it's time to look at training theory and practice again.

The  "run a lot every day" thing.  I was doing 11-12 miles per day and almost every current coach suggests breaking that kind of mileage into two-a-days. Jack Daniels suggests two runs once one is over 50 miles per week. Brad Hudson says "10 or more miles per run is too stressful." It depends entirely on the speed one runs; after all, the guys doing the Self-Transcendence 3100 do 60 or more every day for almost two months and the Tendai monks of Mt. Hiei do 54 miles per day for 100 straight days. Still, 11-12 per day is not exactly specific to running 100 miles. I think I've gone as far as I can with this kind of training before falling apart or going nuts from boredom.

Hudson says that building mileage for more than 6 weeks means you're aiming too high, but I think that, as I was running the same amount of time and increasing mileage as a function of increased pace, I could've kept it up for much longer (weather permitting).

It's time to start doing the long runs and to base the week around them. The next phase for me is to build the Saturday run to 4-4.5 hours. When I can do that, I'm switching to a two week cycle, where I'll be doing even longer runs, but less often.

It's not just the length of the runs that concerns me, however. The Superior course is hilly and technical and I need to work on that aspect as well, but I'm not ready to jump into it just yet. While hills and trails are specific strength training, I'm doing non-specific training first, to try to ease into it. I was doing a lot of core work and some basic bodyweight strength training as that's a weakness I can address early in the season. The plan is to then move on to doing running drills and strides at 1500 meter pace. For those who don't know what drills are, here's a pretty good video:

Doing nothing but long slow runs tends to decrease mobility and flexibility, which I'll need for skipping over tree roots and rocks at Superior. This is a good place to start before the trails are suitable for running. I think that this will also aid me when I start doing hill work; before I start doing anything like Hudson's hill sprints or my own crazy repetitions (remember: in February 2008 I did 50 miles up and down one hill!) I'll need to get the muscles ready. First the non-specific weight training, then the more specific drills, finally the very specific hills, so there's a progression there, as well as in the long runs.

I actually have a method to my madness.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

I still am not up to commenting on blogs yet, but I thought I'd stop by and say that just so you know I'm still reading anyway - just have noting to say.

"When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed." -Talking Heads

Matthew Patten said...

I had some serious Winter downers in the past month.

Slowly getting it back. And getting serious heckling about Zumbro

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Just stopped by to thank you once again for your various kindnesses during this latest family ordeal of mine. I really appreciate it, Steve.

I am hoping to be able to get back to blogging and commenting in my usual dickish way soon. I guess I can start by pointing out that the first commenter misspelled "nothing". The fuckwad.