Another week down and another closer to my self-imposed deadline. With time running out to fulfill the challenge I have thrown down last week’s takeaway was critical. If you missed the previous report last week’s takeaway came down to building confidence. Having identified what needed to be done allowed me to focus this week and benefit from being secure enough in myself to go easy.
That is not a typo, I do mean easy. Read on to find out how toning down the pace is helping get me in striking distance of my fastest and strongest performances.
I am so glad to have you joining along as I work to break a personal best of mine that has now stood for over 10 years.
Each week I’m posting updates on my progress, insights I learn along the way and sharing the training strategies I’m depending on to reach my goal.
If you want the full back story you can read about it in another post.
The quick and dirty is that recently I got stuck sick in bed for almost a week. This could have been an excuse to bail on my goal, but instead I doubled down and am now documenting my final training weeks leading up to my deadline of June 2,2017.
It is my intent that by posting the details of my experiences learned along the way I will better help you as you work on your own improvements. Maybe it can even be a bit of motivation to challenge yourself to consider taking on a fresh fitness goal of your own.
Not to mention it is some extra accountability for me.
Disclaimer: Sometimes I use “mile” and “1600 meters” interchangeably. I do know these distances differ by 9.34 meters. My previous PR was completed on a standard 400m track thus if 5:00.0 is run at a true mile road race the previous record will be beat and my goal accomplished.
The goal is simple, break my personal records for the Deadlift and 1600 meter run within a week of each other. For me that is lifting 300 pounds and running sub five minutes. These are long standing personal limits for me. If I can eclipse them I will arguably be at my fastest and strongest!
Not to mention my oldest 😉
TRAINING WEEK: MAY 8 to 14
In my last report I was feeling a waiver in confidence. We all know the roller coaster of life. Feeling great one week and struggling the next. The progress was not coming as quickly or noticeably as weeks past. It was also a recovery week and I was not feeling particularly recovered. After failing to finish my time trial I set the focus of this week on building confidence and working my way out of this pause in progress towards my goal.
More specifically I was re-focusing on building confidence in running at five minute pace.
For full transparency below is an image from my personal training log for this week.
(Click for bigger view)
The week started with an immediate test of confidence. Still not feeling great I listened to my body and passed on the long run planned for Monday. It would have done more harm than good. This decision was supported by Tuesday’s speed session.
The track workout was to be the same workout I did a little more than two weeks ago with slightly quicker paces. If I could run faster paces for the same workout I could claim progress.
The workout called for two rounds of intervals. After the first round it was clear a second was not in the cards. Something was off. I was hitting comparable splits to last time, but the effort was much harder and I just felt sluggish. Knowing that all out speed was not happening we salvaged the session with a mile at Doug’s race pace to see what it would feel like when we were beat up from the earlier intervals. This would be what miles would feel like late in his half marathon.
So the week started less than awesome, but made a full switcharoo when I re-committed to my easy days. Generally Wed, Fri, Sat in my schedule.
My easy activity of choice has been cycling. While biking uses the legs it is a low impact activity and you can adjust how much work the legs do by selecting easy gearing and keeping a zone alarm set on a heart rate monitor. When it goes off you slow down or use an easier gear.
I also like riding my bike 🙂
In my recovery week I had opted to skip some of these easy cycling sessions.
Instead of active recovery I did nothing. This was a mistake.
Many people downplay the importance of the easy day. I think it comes from seeing easy sessions as wasted time. Feeling we are not really getting anything out of them other than to go through the motions.
Unfortunately this is a bad rap!
By valuing easy days and actually taking them easy we can reap great benefits. Quicker recovery is probably the most valuable, but this is only possible if we go EASY.
For those uneducated in fitness science, or for those that could use a reminder, hard workout days leave your body trashed. The harder you go the more waste and repair there is to “clean up”. Metabolic byproducts left in the blood stream. Muscles with micro-tears. Depleted energy stores, low hydration volume and imbalanced electrolyte levels are just some situations requiring recovery to get back to full capacity.
One of the best things you can do to remedy these issues is increase the delivery speed of resources to the parts of the body that need them to restock, rebuild, repair, etc.
How do you do that?
Move, but not so fast or hard the activity causes more breakdown.
This is vastly simplified, but physical activity increases heart rate which literally is an increase in blood flow throughout your body. Increased blood flow, increases how quickly needed nutrients are delivered and waste is picked up and processed.
So if you do what many people do and try to sneak a higher intensity workout into a recovery day you are not letting this restocking, rebuilding, repair process happen. You are doing the opposite, trashing your body while it should be cleaning up. Do this enough and you end up in the overtraining pit of despair.
Not a fun place to hang out.
No smiley face.
I was skipping my recovery sessions.
This meant I was not trashing my body, but I was not encouraging it to recover either.
Slower recovery combined with high expectations for performance equals a recipe for disaster. I expected my body to progress and keep performing at a high level, but when it was not fully recovered and my efforts were falling short of my expectations I was struggling with my confidence in attaining my goal.
While much of this post has been about the value of recovery the real take away for me is the importance of awareness and curiosity.
I had already known the importance of letting my body recover. I knew the toll hard runs would take on my body. My confidence was was dinged because I knew these things and thought I was addressing them, but was not getting the results I wanted.
It was my awareness of how I felt and the openness to ask why and how that I could move past this dip in the roller coaster of training and continue on towards the next peak.
P.S. Doug and I finished off the week with a preview run of his target half marathon course. We ran it comfortably for the most part with a few efforts at his goal pace. Despite taking a couple breaks we still clocked it just thirty seconds slower than our 13.1 race in April feeling great.
Progress? I think so!
Progress is best achieved by making smart efforts, not necessarily hard efforts.
While this week showed good gains in endurance with Sunday’s run the key to my goal is still speed. I need to continue building confidence at five minute pace and faster. While this week’s track session was not ideal it was not a bad omen either. With 3 weeks left to hit my goal speed is still the name of the game.
Run a total of 2 miles at 5:00 pace or faster in a track session
Add 4-6x 200m at the end of my tempo sessions to teach the body speed even when tired
Maintain strength and stretch routines
That wraps up this week’s report. Stop by next week to see if things go better on the track. If you want to get update notices about this experiment and other great training opportunities coming out of TGB go ahead and submit your email below.
If you have taken on your own PR chase I’d love to hear about it. Drop a line in the comments below, and let me know what your go to workout is.