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What gives? (warning: long)

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What gives? (warning: long)

Post  EugeneGreenie on Sat Jun 30, 2012 2:07 am

Hi everyone!

So nice to see some veterans from the HH days and some newbies.

Here is my question/quest with a little history:

As most of you know I am in my 50s and have been running for about 8 years. Before that I competed in endurance riding on horseback. Moved into town, sold the horses. Here we are. In high school I ran hurdles, badly.

going backwards:
Eugene HM 2012 in 1:49:28 (at 85% effort)
NYC Marathon 2011 in 4:03:20ish (not my day, too many people)
OTC 10K 2012 July in 47:30 (PR)
Boston Marathon 2011 in 3:57:23 (PR)
EWEB Half Marathon in November 2009 1:46:50 (PR)

Here is the dilemma: All the shorter distances point to a marathon performance of 3:50 or better which I have never been able to achieve. I hit the wall and my brain checks out. Boston was my biggest accomplishment and I have to say it was because of the crowds, and a big talking to that I gave myself in a portapotty at mile 21.

Training: between cycles I run about 30 miles a week with mostly easy miles, one marathon pace run of about 6 miles, and a speed work session which is moderate volume. My performances in those workouts are right on the money as far as McMillan pacing. I do my work. I run 5 days a week with one complete rest day and one strength training day. I walk often and ride my bike when possible (which is to say that I do not train and then spend the rest of the day on my butt).

For Boston I used the 18-week, max 55-mile/week plan from Pete Pfitzinger's book Advanced Marathoning. For NYC I hired a coach with mixed results.

So here is the question: If you were going to change one thing in my training, what would it be? More miles, longer long runs, less speed work....there is something lacking, and I cannot figure out what. I am not into banging my head against walls, but if my goal is doable, then darn it, let's do it!

So, what is the goal: I REALLY want to go sub nine minute miles (3:55 and change) at my target marathon on October 20. It is the Humboldt County marathon. I have looked at the route and elevation chart. The first half is an out and back and is flat. the second half goes out and back the other way and has a hill similar to Boston, with a downhill finish. The only drawback I see is that I could despair at having to run away from the finish for the second half. I chose it because it is a really small marathon. I have no desire to run Portland, and honestly, I am looking forward to a small crowd after NYC. Dodging through thousands of people just plum tuckered me out Smile I may ask a friend to pace me from Mile 18...I would pay for her of course.

But I digress: what say you, wise veterans? How can we mix this up for maximum gain, or am I just past the point of improvement considering age and ability.

Thanks for all input.

E Greenie<--where the running is easy when it is only 60 degrees outside
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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  KBFitz on Sat Jun 30, 2012 3:59 am

Mo miles Elz, mo miles.
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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  Julie on Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:32 am

I wouldn't give up. My half marathon and 10K time both predict a faster marathon, too. I do like Pfitzingers 18/55 program and I am using that now but if you need to run more miles, maybe look at his next higher mileage program if you have the time for more running.
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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  Mike MacLellan on Sat Jun 30, 2012 11:49 am

What Kevin said. If your longer distances are suffering, it's endurance.
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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  Mark B on Sat Jun 30, 2012 12:59 pm

Another vote for working on endurance. If your longer distance times don't match the predictions offered up by times at shorter distances, that's usually the reason.

If you want to read a little (okay, a lot) more about the benefits of more low-intensity miles on performance, here's a link to Hadd's Approach to Distance Training. It's quite the tome, but it does a good job of explaining the physiology behind that mismatch between shorter-distance speed and longer-distance fades. And more importantly, it talks about how to get them better aligned.
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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  EugeneGreenie on Sat Jun 30, 2012 2:43 pm

Thanks, Mark! I will read it. I have also been perusing my sons book "Healthy Intelligent Training", which is based on Lydiard principles. It is geared more towards middle distance runners, which is what he is, but the principals are the same. There is even a web site where you can buy a Lydiard plan for $40. They are designed by Lorraine Moller, one of Lydiard's proteges.

I have been thinking alot about if I ran more miles, how I would do that. A 13 miler almost every other day seems daunting. At easy to mid pace, that is almost 2 hours of running daily. I can see that the long 18-22 milers have to be done in one stint to have the benefit of time on your feet...

So, here is another question: do you think I would still reap the benefits of more miles by doing doubles: running an easy 30 minutes in the morning and then 60-90 minutes in the afternoon? Does doubling afford the same adaptation effects as one long run per day?

It is fun to talk about running again Smile

E Greenie<--who tried the new Lunar Glides and a NIKE GPS watch today and has to admit they were FUN!
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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  Mike MacLellan on Sat Jun 30, 2012 3:43 pm

Don't do doubles. No need yet. Each week, you should have a long run and a sorta-long run. Try to do at least 2-3 20mi runs during your cycle (last one 3 weeks out) and build to 15mi for the sorta-long. That alone should get you sub-4 no problem.
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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  Julie on Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:48 pm

I'm not fast, but I can vouch for mid-week sorta long runs, although my sorta long runs mid-week don't get longer than 12 miles but a good 10-12 miler each midweek really has helped me in the past and I hope helps me again this summer.
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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:00 pm

More miles will help, but if it makes you feel any better, I run more miles (50-55 per week during training, 40+ in the off periods), but some of us are just middle distance runners, and that is a fact. My 5K, 10K, 10 mile, and half marathon times all indicate that I should run a marathon easily 10-15 min (or more) faster than I do even in top form, but for me, I just don't think that 10-20 min is there. For myself, I'm sure I do not do enough long runs (over 16 miles), but I lose my motivation to do more than 2-3, and I don't do many longer runs during the week. When building up for Boston this year, I did do a mid-week sort of long run of 10-12 miles and I felt like I was in better shape than I had been in years - of course, that shape did not account for 89F temperatures!

So, that being said, try to bring your mileage up to the 40-50 mpw range and add a mid-week sort of long run. I think it will indeed help you get that sub 9 min mile goal.

As for me, I'm making sure to begin to add that sort of longer run mid-week for NYC and seeing if it helps me.

For both of us (since we are not young whippersnappers), we need to make sure that we do list carefully to our bodies as well.
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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  Liz R on Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:24 am

Reading over your history, I think you look on track to achieving your goal. Confidence and a few tweaks to training ought to get you those three minutes. More miles, yes, but not a crazy increase, not like going from 40 to 70 mpw. A mid week longer run, especially if you could do it as a pace run, would help, as would finishing your long run with a pace pick up. I forget what it is called, but sometimes you could finish your long run with three to four miles of uptempo running.

I wonder about doing some "managing the discomfort" runs, runs in which you get used to pushing through when you want to quit or slow down. Longer pace runs or longer tempo runs would serve that purpose. Those would help build your confidence.

Does it make sense to experiment with your nutrition? Would an extra Gu late in the race help?

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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  carleenp on Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:01 pm

@Julie wrote:I'm not fast, but I can vouch for mid-week sorta long runs, although my sorta long runs mid-week don't get longer than 12 miles but a good 10-12 miler each midweek really has helped me in the past and I hope helps me again this summer.

I had the same experience. Last time around for me, I took 18 minutes off my marathon PR and had the first marathon where I felt darn good for almost the whole thing, and really the only change I made was increasing the number of sort of long runs. I was on a 10 day "week" for part of my training, so I could fit more of those in and I also lengthened them to 10-12 miles when before I might have gone 8 or so. I thought they helped immensely, not just with my marathon performance, but also with how I felt during my longs runs.
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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  EugeneGreenie on Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:31 pm

Hi Carleen!

I have been thinking about extending my "week" to more than 7 days. It is interesting to me that we try to fit our training into blocks of days. I think for me the reason is because I have certain groups that I meet with on certain days of the week, like tuesday is always speed...

I started thinking about this a while ago after seeing a project chart that someone had created that ran around a room as one long string of days, instead of being in a monthly calendar. It made me think about the fact that time is linear, not columnar.

This whole thought process is really an aside, since I may or may not change what I do, but it did get me thinking about why I couldn't run a long run one "week" on a Tuesday, and then next one on a Saturday...it would highlight the fact that training is really about lots and lots of miles done at an easy pace, with "events" that create milestones along the way...

thanks for the reminder.

E Greenie <--who is heading off on her bike right now to check out the "Victory Village".
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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  kath on Sun Jul 01, 2012 5:20 pm

I am 49, my 10K and HM PRs are comparable to yours, and my training sounds similar. I have only done three marathons, but I just improved to 3:50 from 3:58, so maybe my experience will be helpful.

My training plan for the latest marathon was very similar to the year before. My typical pattern is short/sorta-long/short/off/pace or sorta-long/long or long with fast finish/strength or cross train. I do a Hal-style stepback week every third week. My weekly mileage increased only slightly, peaking at just over 50 mpw compared to just under 50 mpw, because my weekday runs were a little longer(for example, 10 miles for the longest sorta-long run compared to 9). However, I did more high-mileage weeks. So, last year I had four weeks over 40 mpw (44,47,48,49) whereas this year I had six (43,43,42,51,50,50). Last year I did five long runs over 16 miles (17,18,20,21,22), this year I did six (18,18.6,20,22,20,21). I started off the training cycle at a higher mileage so it didn't take as long to build up. Training paces were the same or slightly faster. So my advice to to think about increasing the number of miles you run over the entire training cycle, rather than focusing on increasing miles per week. Personally I am unwilling to do more than about 50 mpw. I like the 5-day-a-week schedule, as it allows me to schedule around family commitments, and I think if I tried to do more I would end up stressed out and over-trained or injured.

I think where the extra miles made a difference is that I felt strong through the second half of the race. All my splits were under 9:00, and I even sped up in the last 5K. Good luck!

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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  EugeneGreenie on Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:17 pm

Hi Kath,

I would love to see your log! It sounds like we train very similarly. Did you keep a blog on this site.

Liz, I do also think my fade might be partly nutrition based. I have had potty issues in the past which means that (a) I waste time in the potty, and (b) I am worried that anything I take in during the race will go right through me...I am thinking of going to a liquid based nutrition system and to do most of my runs without fuel to teach my body to handle the metabolism of fat to fuel. But I also understand that I may have to spend some time behind a bush, and that i have to plan accordingly pace wise Smile

Thanks for all the good thoughts. I love visiting the boards and seeing how much knowledge there is.

E Greenie<--who just sang "Happy Birthday" to Carl Lewis, along with 16,499 other people at the Olympic Trials at Hayward Field.
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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  carleenp on Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:01 am

@EugeneGreenie wrote:Hi Carleen!

I have been thinking about extending my "week" to more than 7 days. It is interesting to me that we try to fit our training into blocks of days. I think for me the reason is because I have certain groups that I meet with on certain days of the week, like tuesday is always speed...

I started thinking about this a while ago after seeing a project chart that someone had created that ran around a room as one long string of days, instead of being in a monthly calendar. It made me think about the fact that time is linear, not columnar.

This whole thought process is really an aside, since I may or may not change what I do, but it did get me thinking about why I couldn't run a long run one "week" on a Tuesday, and then next one on a Saturday...it would highlight the fact that training is really about lots and lots of miles done at an easy pace, with "events" that create milestones along the way...

thanks for the reminder.

E Greenie <--who is heading off on her bike right now to check out the "Victory Village".

I loved the 10 day cycle I had myself on. I recover slowly from long runs, and I wanted more medium long runs, so stretching things out worked well for me because it allowed me to do that while also having enough recovery time. I had the flexibility in my schedule to be able to do long runs on just about any day of the week, so it wasn't difficult to plan. The one downside though was when I had a mild in jury (I cut my foot) and couldn't run for a week, it made it so that there was almost 3 weeks between long runs, which was not ideal. It also required a longer overall training cycle since I wanted the same number of longs runs as I did previously, but now it was stretched out over more time. I did revert to weekely toward the end so that my taper would not be longer than 3 weeks and because I was inserting cut back weeks between all runs over 18 miles, so I didn't need the 10 days length as much then.
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Re: What gives? (warning: long)

Post  EugeneGreenie on Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:47 am

Update.

I revisited the Pfitz 18-55 plan. I decided to copy it onto my calendar. As I did, I felt a big sense of relief that I had (a) finally chosen a plan and (b) had chosen something familiar. As I copied in the words and the mileage, it felt like coming back to an old friend.

So there we are, 18-55 it is. I will increase a couple of long runs to over 18 (instead of at or slightly below 18) to give me more chances to push into the 20 mile area, and focus on nutrition and pacing.

Thanks everyone...I will keep you posted.

E Greenie<--fireworks already...please make sure your pets are in a safe, stress-free place.
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