Monday, November 24, 2014

hansei-kai 2014

In studying for my CPIM certification exams, I have come across the concept of hansei, one of the twelve pillars of the Toyota Production System (TPS, a structure of management philosophy and practices) and more generally a characteristic of greater Japanese culture (or so I've read).

hansei –“reflection,” or "self-reflection," becoming aware of and acting on opportunities for improvement.

Photo Credit: Michael Martineau

In the TPS, both successful and unsuccessful initiatives are followed by a hansei-kai or reflection meeting. The UK Toyota blog elaborates a bit on this:

"An inability to identify issues is usually seen as an indication that you did not stretch to meet or exceed expectations, that you were not sufficiently critical or objective in your analysis, or that you lack modesty and humility. Within the [h]ansei process, no problem is itself a problem."

Lest we become fixated on our failures (even to exceed expectations), it is important to note that the end goal is ultimately to drive positive change. Let me restate this, the goal of hansei is to improve.

For me it can be easy to get stuck in the first step of uncovering and accepting responsibility for failure, but miss the end goal of positive change. One western blogger living in Japan describes hansei in action. He notes how that the goal was not to place blame or make apologies, but, after accepting responsibility for failure, to improve the team.

All of this is a long way to introduce this latest blog post reflecting on my running in 2014 and my preliminary plan for improvement.

I want to keep this initial, annual reflection short as I already include periodic reflections (this of course being one of the purposes of blogging one's training/racing), and I want to emphasize the changes in place and planned. Since the focus of training is racing, I will focus on racing performance.

Early in the year, I started on par with a decent (for me) 3k indoors and my fastest Shamrock Shuffle to date. With these exceptions, I struggled a lot at races that weren't marathons, failing to run faster than 16:27 in the 5k, posting a mediocre 56:17 at 10 miles, and running only marathon pace for the half-marathon. At this juncture, it is important for me to post some faster times at shorter distances both from a physiological as well as psychological standpoint. My result from the Chicago Marathon underlines this point, every mile split was between 5:40 and 6:00. My aerobic strength pulled me through. To capitalize on this strength in 2015, I need to get comfortable running at faster paces.

My plan to get myself to run faster paces features several key components:

1) Establish race goals at non-marathon distances.

In the near term, I am focused on getting into the best 5k shape possible for a 5000m race at Lewis University's Illiana Invite on January 16th. This involves using long runs for aerobic maintenance (instead of race-specific training) and introducing 5k pace and faster repeats, a bit more on this later. Looking further out, I would like to break 26:00 at Shamrock Shuffle. As the season progresses I will set more specific goals, but I plan on running the Soldier Field 10 Mile, the Big 10 10k, and the Bix 7 later in the year.

2) Support faster pace running with a stronger chassis and safe environment.

Injury has been one of the primary factors preventing me from achieving the best of my ability. I am implementing Jay Johnson's now famous Pedestal and MYRTL routines in an effort to strengthen my core and hips, the "chassis" that allows you to take advantage of your aerobic "engine." [This analogy appears in Jay Dicharry's Anatomy for Runners].

I am also going to spend some money and time doing key workouts indoors at DePaul's Rec Center, purchasing the 10 Visit Package (for $110). After experiencing soreness after running sub-7 minute pace earlier this week while it was 15 degrees outside, this plan is only further validated. It is difficult to get fully warmed up when the temperatures drop leading to additional muscle soreness and potential injury.

3) Establish a plan for running faster.

I've not been a huge subscriber to laying out a week-by-week season plan as I've felt like incorrectly calibrated, these types of plans have contributed to disillusionment and injury. That said, I have received benefits from following a rigid schedule when participating in the Boston 365 program (which I'll be co-coaching for 2015!).

Here's the plan I've outlined (based on a Jack Daniel's program) for the following weeks (weeks start on Mondays):

11/24 - 5k cross country (Turkey Trot)
12/1 - easy running w/ strides and chassis
12/8 - 7 x 1200 @ 5k pace w/ 400 jog recovery, 8k road (Rudolph Ramble)
12/15 - Fartlek, 6 miles (hopefully it will be warm in Memphis for this one)
12/22 - 3 x 1600 w/ 4 min recovery, 3 x 1000 w/ 2 min recovery, @ 5k pace
12/29 - 20 min @ tempo, 3 x 400 @ mile race pace w/ 400 jog, 2 x 1 mile @ tempo w/ 1 min recovery, 5000m time trial(?)
1/5 - 2 x 2k @ tempo, 5 x 1000 @ 5k pace, 4 x 200 at mile race pace
1/12 - 4 x 1200 w/ 2 min jog, 4 x 200 @ mile race pace, 5000m indoors (Illiana Invite)

What actions are you taking to make 2015 better than 2014?

Also don't forget, the fourth installment of Two-Something: The Backgrounds, Beliefs, and Secrets of Sub-Three Hour Marathoners comes out tomorrow!

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