Methods of Endurance Training: Results Part 3

So as I mentioned in Training the Obese Beginner: Part 4, finishing up last Friday over two parts was useful in that it fit my travel schedule but I didn’t expand on that.  And since my travel prevented me from actually writing the final part of the series, I’m going to do the same irritating thing I did during the overtraining series and take a quick break today and Friday to write about something else. Effectively, this is a continuation from Methods of Endurance Training: Results Part 2.

In any case, as some of you might have guessed, I was travelling to an inline race and I want to do a quick update on both my training and the race results. I’ll do the final part of Training the Obese Beginner next Tuesday.  As with the previous diversion I’ll do two parts with today discussing some physiology and training concepts and continuing Friday with another self-indulgent race report.

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After the Road Rash

Normally after a hard race you might take a bit of time to rest.  I did not.  The Road Rash wasn’t ever meant to be more than just a training session for me even if it did turn out that I raced it and made the podium.  But it wasn’t honestly that hard.  Just a good old workout so far as I was concerned.  So I jumped right back into my normal training immediately afterwards.

Originally I had had a race scheduled in London 4 weeks afterwards but couldn’t justify making the trip to race a half-marathon; as it turned out there was another half/marathon in Napa, California a couple weeks after London.  At the time it looked like I might have business there (fell through) and some folks I knew from Salt Lake city were coming down.  I’ve also got friends still living in the area and I planned to meet Alan Aragon (he of the smug jib) face to face.  So I decided to target that instead.

That gave me 6 weeks to prepare for the Napa event although my intention was still to race in the open division at the half marathon distance so it wasn’t as if much needed to change.  As I noted previously, this first year is getting back on my skates and getting used to race dynamics, if I do a full marathon it will be in Houston at the very end of the season after I’ve put in the time on my skates and can race it well.  I’m still not clear on what you do to move up to pro/elite at this point or if just you sign up for that category.   If I continue racing the as well as I am, I’ll do that next year I imagine.  I’m no sandbagger.

Oddly, or perhaps not, almost immediately after racing the Road Rash, I experienced an increase in average skating speed.  Whereas I had been averaging 17-17.1 mph at a HR of ~156 on two different courses before the race this jumped immediately to 17.5-17.6 mph at the same heart rate (with some laps on those courses in the 18.0 mph range) within a workout or two afterwards.   And yes I had switched back to my training wheels and off of my race wheels so it wasn’t an equipment thing.

I’m not honestly sure what caused this to occur.  My best guess is that it’s a neurological adaptation that the race locked in by working at a higher intensity and average speed.  Or something about the race locked in some physiological adaptation (in this vein the German track cycling team I keep prattling about used stage races to intensify their training and push/solidify adaptations from all of the volume).  Regardless of the mechanism, I was going faster at the same heart rate and effort level.  This boded well for my next competition since I now got to lay in some volume at the new race speeds and get ready to make the next fitness jump.

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Changing My Training

I also decided to change my training after the Road Rash.  My initial idea was to add another day of skating and a fourth tempo run but then I did some thinking and realized that was dumb: how long have I been prattling about not working harder than necessary in training?   Or how the volume of low-intensity training has the biggest predictive effect on endurance performance.  So I took a step back and asked myself what I’d suggest anybody else do.

And having answered that decided to add MORE low intensity volume.  My plan was to add an extra 30 minutes to my easy aerobic workouts (making them 2 hours 3X/week of 30 minutes run, 60′ EFX, 30 minutes run) and bump up my total weekly volume initially and go from there (I’m still contemplating adding more sessions, probably slideboard work).

Honestly, this was pretty mind numbing but I had finally realized that while I can’t read running I can read on the EFX.  This allowed me to finally catch up on all the papers I’d been steadfastly avoiding in the pile on my floor.  The second 30 minute run was still pretty mentally draining, after 90 minutes indoors, I was ready to be done.  At some point in the future, I’m going to write an article about dealing with tedium of indoor cardio.  Right now my best suggestion is this: go outdoors.

Unfortunately, something else happened after the Road Rash event: I got sick.  Ok, not so much sick more of an allergy, there’s a lot of crud in the air in Austin and I had been told for years that if you live here long enough you will get allergies.  Well, I had lived here 7 years previously and never gotten them; then again I never left the cave much since I was depressed.  It’s hard to get outdoor allergies when you rarely go outside.

In any case, shortly after the Road Rash I developed this awful deep cough with all kinds of interesting green stuff coming up in my spit.   It didn’t make me feel bad and my performance didn’t suffer.  But I couldn’t sleep and nothing I threw at it would make it go away.   I did have one night of chills and fever and actually took a day off after that but after 2+ weeks of coughing my brains out, I actually went to the doctor (something I never do), got an antibiotic and killed it dead.

After the day off, I cut my volume back to get recovered and then ramped back up to where I had been prior to the Road Rash.  Clearly what I was doing was working, and I saw no real reason to change it.  So I was back to exact the same schedule I presented in Methods of Endurance Training: Results Part 1.  You dance with who brung ya’ and don’t mess with what isn’t broken, right?

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Final Race Preparation

With two weeks to go to to the Napa race, I did intensify my training a bit.  I’d love to tell you that this was part of this brilliantly planned out scientifically based training cycle.  But, in all honestly, mostly it had to do with being exhausted at the end of a long training week and not being able to mentally face a full hour tempo run.

So I decided to make that workout a 20 minute threshold run just to get it the hell over with.  That means 20 minutes at roughly 180 heart rate rather than an hour at 160.  While physically harder, it’s just less mentally gruelling since the workout is so much shorter.

And it was actually about time to start bumping my aerobic intensities toward the higher end anyhow, just as I’d done in my winter base period.  Making one of them towards the highest end of aerobic levels made sense even if I was just justifying my own mental weakness after the fact.  I can live with it.

But then I had the idea to go ahead and include that as part of my training.  After the Road Rash it was clear that I was at least physically capable of effectively time trialling the full half-marathon distance with about a 40 minute finish time.  I’m basing this on skating 13 miles in about 48 minutes aerobically and assuming the same 10 minute drop for race pace from the Road Rash.

This is of course assuming that the same 10 minute differential holds which might not have been a valid assumption; I guess I’d find out soon enough (worst comes to worst I can sit in a pack).  In any case, I wanted to know that physically and mentally, if need be, I could race the entire distance by myself at threshold pace and hold that for 40 minutes.  So I decided that every other running workout I’d add 10 minutes finishing with a full 40 minutes at threshold a week before the Napa race (that Sunday would also be my last full volume workout as shown below).

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The Taper

I also decided to do a proper taper going into the race.  I’d been hard at it for 11 weeks including the Road Rash and was feeling a bit beaten up (not sleeping well isn’t helping).  An added dynamic has to do with my overall annual plan and where certain events fit in but that’s just too boring to write up right now.  Just accept that it made sense to have a 5 day ‘break’ about now rather than waiting much longer.  So it served both the purpose of freshening me up to race well and giving me a touch of recovery to start the next training block after the Napa event.

This is what my final week’s preparation looked like.

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Friday Off
Saturday 90′ easy aerobic (15′ run/60′ EFX/15′ run)
Sunday AM: 60′ skating PM: 40′ threshold run (180HR)
Monday 60′ easy aerobic (10′ run/40′ EFX/10′ run)
Tuesday AM: 45′ skating PM: 40′ aerobic run (140 HR)
Wednesday 40′ easy aerobic (10′ run/20′ EFX/10′ run)
Thursday AM: 20′ aerobic run (135 HR)
Friday Off/Travel
Saturday 30′ Easy Aerobic/Drive to Napa from LA
Sunday Race

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Nothing terribly exciting, really, just a fairly stock-standard volume reduction taper.  On Saturday and Sunday I did my final full volume workouts.  Interestingly, I had another big drop in heart rate on both the treadmill and EFX during the Saturday workout.   Every once in a while this happens and it’s always tough to tell if it’s a ‘real’ adaptation.  Maybe the machine was different that day (though it would be odd for both the treadmill and EFX to have been underloaded), maybe a bunch of things.  So I don’t usually pay attention to single workouts in terms of resetting intensities or whatever.

But the very next morning I had another skating adaptation, with an average speed of 17.9 mph at 156HR (one of my two standard courses) so clearly my aerobic engine had taken the next jump.    If I did the math correctly, that means that I can cover 13 miles (21 km) in 43.5 minutes at an aerobic pace.

The winning time last year in the open half-marathon was 45 minutes although I couldn’t expect the course to be identical to what I train on (I know there is a big climb and two odd 180 degree turnaround that will slow things down).  But it sure made me pretty comfortable regarding the race going in.  I was expecting to go sub 40 minutes although I couldn’t say how sub it would be.

The rest of the week was just a gradual decrease in volume.   I probably could have done a bit of intensity on Tuesday or Thursday but I was pretty beaten up after Sunday; my legs still felt a bit beat up on Tuesday’s skate which is why I cut back the other runs to aerobic range.   I wasn’t going to lose fitness and being fresh was more important than anything else.

I also took a couple of epsom salt baths followed by some foam rolling to work out some stiffness and tightness.  By Wednesday, my legs were feeling really good.  And the only reason I didn’t do a skate on Thursday morning (which I had planned) is because it rained.  So I did an easy run in the morning, and that was it.

Since I’m used to doing a workout on Saturday morning and wanted to open my legs and lungs up and reset circadian rhythms, I just did an easy 30 minutes aerobic workout in LA while Alan worked on his jakkedness.

How did it go?  Tune in Friday.

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