Wednesday, June 1, 2011
The Fall 2011 Decision
June 1, 2011.
As hinted(and already on my racing schedule), I have come to a fall 2011 racing plan.
Spring is past and the hot summer is here. It's time to put in the miles again. It's time to think of new goals. And it's time to come up with a fall racing plan.
This has been one of the most difficult decisions in racing I have ever made, because there is so much screaming at me "NO!" of my decision.
But I've thought, and thought of alternatives over and over to the point of obsession, and I could not come up with any that felt right to me.
So, I've put it together and decided to give it a shot...
This fall, the focus is simple: 2 races. The first, will be the much anticipated race I've wanted to do for a while, known for a loaded field, world class times, and competition, the Philadelphia RocknRoll Half Marathon on 9.18.11. At this point I am very familiar with the half marathon, I have learned how to race it well, and I have achieved a competitive time that gives me confidence to enter this elite race. Though my 1:10:04 would've only placed me 42nd overall male from last year, the idea is that many of these elite and sub-elite runners like myself will push me to run a fast time. A fast time and PR is very common at Philly, being a fast course as well. There will be a dozen 1:07-1:08 guys to push me, another dozen in the 1:03-1:06 range, with the winning time just over 1:00. This race brings me the opportunity to get one step closer to qualifying for the Olympic Trials standard of 1:05:00.
And the 2nd?
Once I realized I was definitely going to do the Philly RocknRoll half, I began to look at my options. I could, find some shorter races to do and try for PRs again. Repeat the Spring pretty much. My Spring certainly was successful...
I really like Brad Hudson's book(Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein's former coach) "Run Faster-from the 5k to the Marathon." Hudson uses methods of what's called adaptive running in his coaching, which in he quotes, "is my belief that a responsive, evolving, creative approach to training is better than an approach that is too structured and formulaic. Simply put, there is no single training forumla that works perfectly for every runner.... What's more, even when a certain formula works well for a runner, he or she changes as a result of using it, so the formula must also change to produce further improvement."
In other words, things are constantly changing and adapting.
Hudson also quotes later on about training cycles. "When you begin a new training cycle, you are not the same runner you were when you started the last one. Therefore, you should not train in precisely the same way that you did in your last training cycle, no matter how successful it was. In fact, in some ways, the more successful your last training cycle was, the more you can and should change the next one"
He's not saying you should change everything either. An example of this that Hudson points out is that when you run on a certain amount of mileage successfully, the next cycle it's probably a good idea to increase that mileage. "The summit of your recently completed training cycle is now the foundation for the next," as he states.
I value Hudson's coaching principles and believe they make a lot of sense for the way I train and coach myself. In fact, as I look at my past cycles, it's been very common for me to make changes. Last Fall, after the Chicago Marathon, I moved in the direction of the 10K for the end of the year, and it was a positive outcome. This past Spring, I focused on 13.1 miles and below all the way down to the 5k, averaging 70 miles per week, and it was a huge success. A good idea now as I start up again is to add more volume, keep the things going that helped me improve this Spring(i.e. track workouts), and focus on 13.1 miles and above. So, the fall plan certainly isn't to repeat the spring, but it will be using some of the tools I have gained at the same time.
So what am I going to do after Philly? Run a Marathon-and the reason is because I want to.
Following the Philadelphia 13.1, I have decided to tackle a fall marathon again, and there is none other more ideal than Marine Corps. Back in 2009, I ran Marine Corps, and though I wouldn't say it was a good race for me, I got a chance to experience it and loved everything about it. 2:57 was my time. yuck.
The Marathon has been the toughest event ever for me by far and challenges me physically more so than mentally. I'd like to think that I am very good at handling pain, and can push through it pretty well. Sure, I can run a marathon any day, jog it, whatever. But to race it, that's a different story. The problem is my body hasn't reached the physiological adaptations yet to perform what it can be capable of.
My recent times this Spring indicate a conversion of 2:25:00-2:27:00 for the marathon. My best time in the marathon is from 2005, which was my first, in 2:38:48. My body was adapted to 6:03 miles back then, which seems pedestrian to me now. But still, I was adapted to 6:00 miles. I was used to the pace, so I was able to maintain it. So for 2005, I was happy to break 2:40. It was my goal. My 13.1 time was also only 1:16:00 back then...
My most recent Marathon, The 2010 Chicago Marathon was my biggest dissapointing marathon race I have ever run. I felt it in me that I had a sub 2:30:00 that day, but my body just wasn't there after 16 miles. It dropped like a fly and I finished in a 3:04.
It is a risk of dissapointment, no question. All fingers are pointing NO to me based on recent marathons like Chicago that I've run and my success in PRing in the shorter distance races. Jake Klim, aka the Red Fox, who is a very knowledgeable runner has told me to not run a marathon this fall. Yipes.
But again, I will focus on the Philly Half as a key race, and look to run a major PR there. So following that, what makes sense? Do another 10K race season and forget the marathon? Or, simply try again, and give it another shot?
At the end of the day, I'm going to do Marine Corps because I WANT to. That, I know is important. Running is an enjoyment. And as much as I am a competitive runner, I also pick certain races because I enjoy them.
Marine Corps is a huge race, no question. But it isn't a World Class Race(meaning its not Boston, New York, or Chicago). There will be no Sub 2:10:00 marathoners in this one. It is a great race and is typically won in about 2:22:00. Top 5 are usually around 2:25:00-2:27:00. Maybe I could be top 5. Maybe I could even win it.