Thursday, June 14, 2007

To everything there is a season

Another week, another Wednesday at the track trying to pop a foo-foo valve.

Funny how we go through these phases. When I first joined Namban Rengo it was my introduction to interval workouts. Hell, I didn't even know you called running "workouts". That sounded kind of weird. I thought you did workouts on a weight machine in a gym or in front of a TV screen with Jayne Fonda yelling at you. But I got into these lung-busting sessions and quickly enough got used to calling them workouts. The first few I went to certainly worked me out. Or over, or something. And I enjoyed it in an S&M kind of way. It reminded me of those nasty "one lap of the oval" things we would do at footy training when I was a kid. I think I progressed quite a lot due to the dual approach of intervals on Wednesdays and long runs on Sundays with Team Touch of Grey.

But then two years ago I discovered heart rate training. I became a slave to the HRM. Building mitochondrial density. Racking up the miles at sub lactate-threshold pace. And it got results too. I largely eschewed intervals and anaerobic speed training, though I would still join the occasional track session or do a couple of 1600 m repeats by myself.

So this spring, after an ever so slightly disappointing string of fall and winter marathons, I resolved to spend the spring and early summer putting a bit more focus back on speed work with a view to going into the next aerobic base building phase with increased leg speed.

A few good sessions at the track through May led to the 17:47 around the Imperial Palace in late May. And ever since the 5 x 1200s the Wednesday preceding that race, I have felt the interval sessions starting to have more quality about them. So it is all starting to feel like things are going to plan.

After last week's 6 x 1000s session, Ewen suggested that some shorter reps wouldn't hurt. So in amongst a 10 k run last Saturday I did 5 reps of 80 m stride outs, building up to top speed for the middle 50 m. I'll do some more of that and would like to do a session of 200 m to 400 m repeats one day soon. I've never really done any significant number of repeats that short.

Last night club leader Bob set us the menu of 800 m, 4 x 1200 m, and a final mad dash 400 m. The 800 was supposed to be more or less a warm up. My times were 3:11, 4:09, 4:16, 4:14, 4:19, 1:12.

I'm a little bit disappointed with the spread of times on the 1200s, but I was slightly distracted supervising a couple of other runners I am helping at the moment, so that's OK. And they were faster overall than the five x 1200 last month. The 400 was flat out and I recorded a higher heart rate than I've ever seen before, 186. I guess that's my new HRmax.

In contrast to all that, I went out at lunch time today for two laps of the Imperial Palace (5k per lap). During the first lap I worked my heart rate up to high 140s, approaching 80% of HRmax. That all felt quite comfortable despite a reasonably brisk average pace of 4:17/km. On the second lap I decided to maintain my heart rate at around 150 as much as possible. If it got up higher, I would slow down. This is what I will be telling the people I coach to do, so I have to do it myself. It felt so slow, but with a 24 C humid day, the heart rate and breathing were always threatening to race away into "hard" territory. In the end the lap pace wasn't that slow at 4:29/km, but it was definitely a big slow down from the first lap and an average HR of 150 versus 145 for the first lap.

So I think the story overall here is that I am getting a clear indication of how difficult it is to train or maintain two energy systems at once. Right now I'm getting faster, as far as interval and 5k type race distances are concerned, but I'm losing aerobic endurance. To everything there is a season...speed work now, aerobic endurance later.

I can also report that my left leg injuries are relatively good right now. They can feel a bit niggly after a run or workout, but are much better than they were right through the winter. Fingers crossed.


Rachel said...

Had to laugh when reading about the dreaded one lap of the footy oval! Oh, it was such a long way back then!
Glad to read you train by your own example too. We all know what's right, but I wander how often we follow it through!

Scott said...

Yes I agree with the "to everything there is a season" logic and it is bloody interesting how one balances the two. If you could maintain running such good speed work sessions through the summer here and start Sept and Oct with 400kms per month you would seriously be in good shape for a marathon in December.

There is a fast one in Miyazaki this December, why don't you join me there?

Ewen said...

Interesting thoughts Steve. Although never following periodised training, I've always tended to be a 2 season runner - cross country/track.

Have you seen this interview with Renato Canova? One of the best I've read. It prints as 16 pages. The explanation for Rop's bad Amsterdam marathon was interesting... he did the same prep as for Boston (max 2 hour runs), but as nothing had changed, he ran slower. We need the stimulus of different things in training.

By the way, you should run much quicker for 400! One day try a fresh one, as though it were a race. Go out hard with the aim of hitting the wall at 350. You'd probably run 65.

Tesso said...

Interesting stuff.

Wish I had a dollar for each time I've told myself one last long race and then I'll focus on getting better at the shorter stuff.

Pity we can't have it all.