So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An "Ask Coach" Moment - Can You Hear Me Now?

I usually take a week off or so after running a half-marathon, then start another training plan from the beginning. I was thinking on the long drive home yesterday from the Surf City Half it would make more sense to take off a few days & start where the training plan ended. I think I've told you I had used Hal Higdon's beginner plan, just increasing the speed at which I train.
What if I started back in at week eight or nine instead of going back to week one & starting over? That way I can do more long runs &, most likely, be in even better shape when event time comes around? I also thought about trying the Hanson's training plan you showed me.
Oh yeah, I need to really make an effort to quit going out so fast & burning myself out. I planned to go out at a consistent 9:00/mile pace at Surf City. I looked at my watch at 5 miles & noted I was running 8:15-8:20/mile. Naturally, I felt like $#!+ when I got to mile 10, 11, 12. The "rule of thumb" usually is a day of no running for every hour, & a day of no hard training for every mile for the event. So, a couple of days of walking or elliptical after a half, followed by the next eight to ten days of easy running is usually a good recovery. After the recovery period I would look at what the next target event is going to be & structure your plan accordingly...working from the end backward. If you don't have an event planned, then I would either use the sixth week of a training plan as a baseline, or figure out how much time you can commit to run training without adversely affecting the rest of your life. I bet if you look at all the other aspects of your life you've probably let some work things slide, some family things slide and some other responsibilities go on the back burner. This would be the time to go back and mend those fences. The good thing is that you trained for a half-marathon, which doesn't take nearly the time/effort a good marathon training cycle does.

Reverting to a baseline training week, even at a lower intensity, will allow your body to recover from the past 10-to-12 weeks of training. Remember, racing (especially racing long) is NOT natural; you're putting damage on your body above & beyond normal fitness running. The hardest thing to learn - I've dealt with it way too many times over the past seven years of coaching myself & others - is pace discipline. For an example, I went out 6:05/6:07 for the first two miles of the last half-marathon I raced in Dayton, OH. When I hit mile two I knew it was a choice between backing off a notch or dying a horrible death at mile 10. I managed to back off the pace for the next four-to-five miles. If not for the fact I was just outside of the top-20 I would have maintained that pace & "mailed it in." However, I wanted to finish in the top-20; I hammered (suffered!) the next six miles to catch a couple of guys in front of me - at mile 12 - & stayed strong until the last mile (actually entering the stadium parking lot) where everything went to hell...but I ran a personal best of 1:23:45.
A good way to deal with the "go out hard early, feel like $#!+ late" syndrome would be to do something like the Yasso 800 workout once every couple of weeks...but cut the distance in half for the sake of half-marathoning:
Go out & do the typical warm-up for your workout. I have my folks do a mile easy, recover for a couple of minutes, then another easy mile, recover a minute, then 10x100 striders to warm-up.
The workout is 10 x 400, with 400 jog recovery - goal pace for the 400s should be the target time for your half. So if you want to go 1hr 50min for the half, do the 400 in 1:50. If you go out too hard you're probably going to feel really good for the first five, then friggin' DIE by eight or nine. Jog an easy 400 after, with 10x100 striders to cool down.
You'll learn your lesson after a couple of those workouts. I had one of my guys do a few Yasso 800 workouts in the last month leading up to the FirstLight Marathon in Mobile. The first time he ran them he went 10-15 seconds too fast for the first 800, & everything fell off after the point where his last one was barely on time & he was hurting big. The next time I told him to remain on his goal pace; he felt like the first ones were too easy, but managed to keep all of them on goal. He developed the patience & pace discipline to go out comfortably in the first 10K, & subsequently ran a Boston Qualifying time.
The workouts weren't the key, only part of a good training plan...and a well-executed race plan.


Jameson said...

I've definitely found recovery to be oe of the more difficult things to do. Even when just training, you feel great for 4 days straight so you think why not a fifth...then you get injured. Awful cycle.

Michael Bowen said...

Recovery is difficult. You have to have the discipline to take advantage of it. And there are so many "levels" of recovery, from easier/shorter efforts to regeneration to complete rest altogether. A lack of day-to-day variety in your workout is a fast track to injury...maybe not after five days, but somewhere up the road.

Thanks for your comment!

Dale said...


You (most) can run the half hard and recover in 2 weeks of easy recovery and training and you can pick up your training at the point where your race taper started. Of course this is as long as your training has been consistent. You know the routine.