Monday, March 21, 2011

Training Week 3/14-3/20 / The State of My Fitness

The week of 3/14-3/20 started well and ended with me sick and attached to the sofa. While I had very good showings with my intervals on Tuesday and tempo run on Thursday, by Friday I was feeling something coming on--a virus, fatigue, something. I was functional on Saturday but Sunday's long run was a disaster--I aborted after 15 miles. Whereas lately I've been powering up the hills, on Sunday I had to walk many of the climbs, felt totally destroyed in the face of the high winds and was basically out of breath in spots (very rare for me). Clearly I had something--a virus--coming on, but I still managed to log 80.3 miles for the week and extend my little running streak to 47 days (48 as of today). More below. Here's how the week went.

Monday, 3/14 - EASY
AM: 7 miles/55:26 on the treadmill at home. Legs a little tired but functional.

Tuesday, 3/15 - INTERVALS
AM: 10.25 miles/1:14:21 on the HOA treadmill, maxing the damned thing out on speed. Pretty tired since Noah woke up at 1:00 a.m. last night screaming (but quickly settled down and fell back asleep). Was very unmotivated to do my intervals but still managed to get in an excellent workout. 3x1 mile at 6:00 each, plus 2x800M at 3:00 each. Felt very strong and good. With daylight saving time just kicking in, it's too dark in the AM to get to the track. I can't wait for the day I can run my intervals at the high school as fast as I want and without a 6:00/mile cap.
PM: 31:09/4 miles on the treadmill.
Total miles for day: 14.25 miles

Wednesday, 3/16 - EASY
AM: 6.1 miles/47:47 around the neighborhood. Had a 7:30 a.m. meeting so couldn't run any longer. Sucks!

Thursday, 3/17 - TEMPO RUN
AM: 1:28:28/11.15 miles. Tomahawk, East Parker Road (going west), Canterberry, Riva Ridge, path back home--not an easy course at all! This was an excellent workout and, if I do go sub-2:55 at the Eisenhower Marathon, I'll look back on this workout as critical. Despite a horrendous cold-front blowing in during my run (temp literally dropped 14 degrees while I was out), I felt good the whole way. Splits were: 1) 8:30 (warm-up); 2) 6:32; 3) 6:29; 4) 6:39 (uphill); 5) 6:22; 6) 6:38; 7) 6:30; 8) 6:39; 9) 7:06 (about 3:15 for first half); 10) 7:42; 11) 8:01; 11.15) 1:14. All of that was between elevations of 5,850 and 6,250 feet with 1,110 feet of vertical and about the same for descent.

Friday, 3/17 - EASY
AM: 1:13:17/9.45 miles on the Tomahawk loop. Pretty tired but functional. Legs OK. Foot a little sore at first but got better.

Saturday, 3/18 - MEDIUM LONG RUN
AM: 1:33:55/12.25 miles on the Tomahawk loop. Wind from the south horrendous. I'm really sick of this wind! Didn't have any more time since Anne had to go into work, but an otherwise decent run.
PM: 39:06/5 miles on the treadmill while Noah slept. Planned for 4 miles but got in 5--always a good thing!
Total miles for day: 17.25 miles.

Sunday, 3/19 - LONG RUN
AM: 15 miles/2:04:04. East Parker Road/Buckboard and back. Worst run I've had in a while--no lung capacity, weak against the wind and very little energy. Horrible on the hills. First 7 miles pretty good, but last 8 miles a death march. Wind made things even worse. Not sure if I'm fighting a virus or maybe I'm just worn down. But I was definitely not myself on this run and my appetite hasn't been good either. I think I caught a virus from Noah because we saw similar signs in him earlier in the week (not eating lunch, no dinner, etc.).

Totals for the week:
  • 80.3 miles running
  • 10 hours, 27 minutes
  • 9 total runs
  • Stretching, yoga exercises, core strengthening and push-ups.
For the year: 731.38 miles

So on Sunday, like I said, the first 7 miles of my long run went pretty well. But then I started feeling pretty rough and noticed very diminished lung capacity on the hills. The strong wind from the west only exacerbated the problem. I ended up walking a lot of the hills and basically just mailed it in for the day. I'm experienced enough to know when I have it and when I don't have it, and on Sunday something was wrong. At least I finished! Anyway, when I got home I was barely able to eat and then, after showering, collapsed on the sofa for the balance of the day, read and napped a little. This is very uncharacteristic. Usually on the weekends I'm very active. I had no energy, was achy and basically felt drained. I managed a pasta dinner on Sunday that tasted good but, really, I haven't enjoyed a meal in a few days now.


I think my fitness right now is pretty solid. Unfortunately, it's very hard to draw solid conclusions from the times I'm hitting, because the Eisenhower Marathon will be the first race since moving to Denver last April that I've ventured to sea level for an event. Here's what I do know from the past:
  • Current marathon PR is 2:58:28 (6:49 pace), set at the 2008 Cleveland Marathon. Since then, I've run two road marathons at 2:59 each.
  • My tempo run pace at the time and while we lived at sea level was around: 6:15/mile.
  • I knew I was in pretty good shape when my mile-repeat time was around 5:35 for 3 repeats (interestingly, my 5K PR is 17:39, which is 5:41 pace, which makes me think my repeat time were too slow...or maybe I just get "up" when I race).
  • Again, that was all at sea level.
Here's what I'm doing at elevation:
  • Right now my tempo pace is about 6:28/mile--at 6,000+ feet.
  • I'm on the treadmill for my repeats, which are at 6:00/mile - maxing out the treadmill's speed. 6:00/mile is pretty easy for me, but not too easy.
Now for the intangibles. After a rough 2010, I'm PISSED OFF and want to have an amazing 2011! Plus, I haven't run a road marathon in nearly two years and I'm ready to give it a hard go! I'm 37 years old and I don't have forever to set a new marathon PR. This is it! Such desire has to be a factor.

That said, it's hard to say what training at 6,000+ feet will mean when I venture to Abilene, Kansas in a few weeks to run in a marathon that is a mile below where we live in Denver. Judging by the above numbers, living at elevation means I'm running my tempo miles about--we'll say--15 seconds slower than I did at sea level. In Kansas, the oxygen will be thicker and the land will be flatter than here in Denver. Oxygen is critical to maintaining intensity. I've been training at altitude for a year now. So I can't help but think that, when we get to Kansas, I'll benefit immensely from my altitude training and should capture a new marathon PR as long as I run a smart race. Do not go out too fast!

The huge question mark in all of this, of course, is the weather. If I'm running the marathon against the wind, I'm dead as far as a PR. Look, I'm just being honest on that. But I can't ponder the questions; all I can do is train my hardest and do my best. With pretty good volume and excellent quality, I'm establishing an amazingly strong base for the rest of the year's racing. My efficiency is good, my turnover is very solid and I'm confident.


With the Eisenhower Marathon now a little less than three weeks away and this virus still hampering my performance and overall state, my goals for this week are:
  • 65-70 miles
  • 3x1 mile hopefully at the track
  • 6-7 miles at tempo pace
  • Long run of 20-21 miles on Saturday--hopefully the wind won't be a factor
  • Mid-range run of 10-12 miles on Sunday

I got word over the weekend that I will in fact be able to run in the Mount Evans Ascent on 6/18. We had a potential scheduling conflict. I am so stoked about Evans. You run up one of Colorado's great 14'ers in what is one of the nation's premier mountain races. I plan to run back down Evans (most runners will take a shuttle back down), giving me 29-30 miles for the day--all at 10,000+ feet. Training for Leadville, it doesn't get much better than that. I'll also be venturing to Leadville on 7/2 for the Leadville Trail Marathon. It's easy for me to sit here and say the LT Marathon will be a quality training run and not a race, but that's not my way. I'll be looking for a solid time and some revenge.
Challenge Yourself. Go Long. Push Your Limits. Discover Your Inner Champion.


  1. Actually, at your age you still have plenty of time to improve your marathon PR.

    I'm just about to run my 19th marathon (including ultras) and am reasonably confident that I'm going to run a big new PR - at the age of 41. I'd say you're good for another while.

  2. I'd say for you it is less about age on the calendar and more about running age (which I think is still young for you?)