Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Boston 2015 Specific Period (Training 2/2-4/5)

Since this is a recap of nine weeks of training (catch up on the previous 11 weeks of "global" training), I thought some data visualizations would be a helpful starting point.

First off, here's a mileage bar chart of my last nine weeks of training. I'm still working out using Google Sheets for these visualizations (I also tried SAP Lumira, but Sheets was easier for these basic visualizations, I should probably just use Excel but it isn't currently installed on my home computer) so the key weeks are missing data labels, but here are some details:

Total for the Period - 673.2 miles
Average - 74.8 miles/week
Maximum Week - 88 miles
Minimum Week - 65.4 miles (race week, I ran terribly)

I've dealt with tightness/pain in my left quad for much of this training cycle. This really began to effect my training about 7 weeks out from Boston, a very critical point of training, when workouts really start to get long and more marathon specific. I decided to go see Dr. Ryan Verchota who practices out of Active Body Chiropractic in the South Loop and Edge Athlete Lounge. My teammate, Ian La Belle, had recommended Dr. Ryan and after treatment, I felt much better, and was able to run the next 4 weeks without taking a day off! Tapering healthy feels great! I haven't gotten through my training without feeling banged up since 2010.

I segmented this mileage over the last nine weeks using Strava's Run Type field. Strava allows you to categorize your runs by four basic "types." This isn't the most accurate as some workouts were as long or longer than long runs and sometimes to adjust for GPS or user error generic "runs" were logged, but it does outline the mileage I've been logging.

Mileage Run Type

This chart shows the Run Type breakdown of the miles logged during this period. Below, I will cover a few thoughts on each Type for this cycle.

My Best Run in Barrington Ever?

Long Run -119.5 mi
Long runs this cycle were fast! It makes such a difference to go into a training cycle healthy! In 2014, I started the cycle swimming on my easy days to keep my shins happy. My Barrington long runs were more about surviving and making sure I got in good time on my feet. This time around, I knew I had to really hammer my legs on the downhills to prepare for what I might feel like in the later half of the course in Boston. It also makes a big difference having a group of faster guys hammering along side me on these runs.

While I say the long runs this cycle were fast, I was also trying to shift my mentality a bit around long runs and pace. While training for the Chicago Marathon, I did one 22 miler with 18 miles at about 95% marathon goal pace. I thought this was a "fast" long run. This cycle, many of my long runs were done at a similar average pace with the mentality that for a faster marathoner, 6:00-6:10 pace isn't that "fast."

I take a lot of confidence from hammering almost every long run, but at the same time, I think I really sacrificed some of my Wednesday workouts, but we'll get to those later. I plan on running a faster long run every other weekend versus every weekend in the future.

Must beat Manpri
photo credit: Eric Baum

Race - 20.6 mi
It's hard to believe I'll be racing more miles on April 20th than during this entire 9 week period. The highlight was probably the 16:18 I ran at UW Parkside on February 7th, 11 weeks out from Boston. This race was supposed to cap the "global" or general fitness phase of my training. Coming from a year where I never broke 16:20 in the 5k, the Parkside race was a nice confidence builder. That said, I bombed my next race, a terrible 16:45 at UChicago.

The other two races I ran, the Shamrock Run 15k in Portland, OR (my BibRave Review) and BoA Shamrock Shuffle 8k were ambiguous gauges of Boston fitness as I ran both prior to the Marathon last year. Shamrock Run 15k is hilly and I was about 20 seconds faster than the year prior. Shamrock Shuffle is fast and I was about 20 seconds slower than last year.

I believe I'm in much better shape than at last year's 2:42 in Boston. I may not be able to race fast (in relation to my PRs) over shorter distances, but I'm confident in my ability to run reasonably fast over the marathon distance.

A Typical Run Commute

Run - 430.9 mi
I'd say close to half of these miles were done to or from work and quite a few of these with teammate, Eric Baum, who is also training for the Boston Marathon this year. This was the first time I really ran consistently with a pack which I fabricated myself (more on this another time? Comment below if you'd like to learn about my pack).

I feel like every runner has a distance that is their "perpetual run distance" or PRD. This is the distance they can cover without much effort almost every day. It is the ideal distance for easy days during marathon training. For me, in high school, this distance was probably 6-7 miles. Since then it's crept up to 8-10, but really settled around 8 miles after dealing with years of injury. Enter the run commute of 9 miles door-to-door. Forced to extend my PRD by necessity, I slowed down and took my time, ultimately adapting well to this new distance.

Workout - 99.1
As I alluded to earlier, I feel that my workouts were significantly hampered by the fact that I hammered virtually all my long runs averaging under 6:20 for pretty much all of the major long runs. It's not a great feeling to bomb mid-week workouts, but that's kind of been my story now for the last 18 months. Healthy and strong, but completely lacking speed. I tried to take this in stride as much as possible, focusing on my key workouts and performing decently when I prioritized them.

The capstone workout was 3 x 3 miles with a half mile recovery run between reps. I was very pleased with this workout and couldn't have done it without the help of Kyle, Austin, and Mark. We did this run sort of in the place of a long run (I ended up covering just over 19 miles total), warming up to Fleet Feet Sports - Old Town then running the first 1.5 reps south. I ran 16:50, 30, 30 or so for about a 5:33 average. When I performed this workout last year prior to Grandma's Marathon, I averaged about 5:40 so this is a big improvement from that effort. For Grandma's this ended up being about 10 seconds per mile faster than goal marathon pace. Now, I'm not convinced I'm in 2:30 marathon shape (5:43), but I am happy with the effort as it shows that I am developing some decent fitness.

 Strength Training
I would be remiss to leave out the final (new) piece of the training puzzle that Eric and Lyndsey Baum introduced me to: Dr. Yessis' running specific resistance band exercises and the 1x20 Program developed by their friend Amber for their marathon preparations.

I had been doing Coach Jay's Pedestal and MYRTL routines, but I hadn't really lifted regularly since high school (I was also injured less in high school so there's that...). While I didn't really log this activity in Strava, I lifted a total of 6 times during this cycle, typically on Tuesdays, run commuting from work with Eric. This additional stimulus has helped develop much needed stability and general strength which I believe has helped keep my healthy. I really do notice this on my easy days as well as workouts and races. I even noticed the difference riding my bike! That said, my legs are usually trashed after doing squats and Romanian dead lifts, yet another contributor to my less than stellar Wednesday workouts.

This cycle featured:
-Professional prehab/treatment of a nagging minor injury (+1 for taking care of one's body)
-Consistent, moderate, and (mostly) healthy mileage
-Faster group long runs (6:20 pace and faster)
-A good indoor 5k among otherwise mediocre race results
-Run commuting
-Perpetual Run Distance (PRD) extended to 9 miles
-Generally bad faster workouts
-A good 3 x 3 workout
-Sport specific and general strength training
-Support from teammates and others

Overall this has been one of my most successful marathon cycles ever. I have learned a lot and become much more consistent. I'm still not where I was in the fall of 2010, but I believe I'm well on my way to a successful and healthy 2015!

How has your training been going?

What new stimulus have you introduced recently and what has its effect been?

Leave a comment or question below!

Shameless plug: I'm running the Super Sunny 5k on June 6th which benefits Garden Center Services, a Chicago-area agency that serves people with developmental disabilities. You should join me!

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