Friday, August 24, 2012

The Part Where I Wish I Was an Exercise Physiologist

I've been pulled in so many different directions since my last half that poor Santa Rosa has become sort of the redheaded stepchild of this year's races. I even hesitate to refer to the running that has happened as "training."

So, as with Summer Breeze 10K, my expectations are pretty low. Where I once had aspirations of going sub-1:40 again & getting a PR, I think I will have to be pleased with myself if I manage sub 1:45. That's not to say I think the original goal is impossible (I mean, hey, look at PrideRun & Summer Breeze); just that the odds are not great.

It's times like these that I lament my lack of deeper knowledge about how conditioning and de-conditioning really work. I mean duh, running more generally makes you faster and running way less will eventually make you slower. But how quickly? And how much less counts as "less"? How long is the lag between a drop off in workouts and the inevitable resultant drop off in performance? How much can I back off and still maintain my current level of fitness, even if I'm not getting faster?

Questions, questions, questions.

I ran 10 miles last Thursday with 7 at HM pace, and though they weren't as effortless as the ones I'd run a couple of weeks before (ie, pre-vacation), they were reasonably comfortable at the pace I'd like to be running. On the other hand, I haven't run more than 10 miles at once since July, and my runs this week have been somewhat dubious. The six on Tuesday (2 wu + 6 rounds of 400m at 10K pace / 400m easy + 1 cd) left my calf muscles super achey & on the verge of cramping, and the six on Thursday (2 wu + 3 @ HM pace + 1 cd) felt disturbingly tough. Seriously -- during the first HM mile when I was fighting for a 7:45 pace, I'd half decided not to run at all. The next two miles were easier and faster, though, so ultimately I got over it.

It hit me later on that people don't go from PR 10Ks and amazing tempo runs to walruses with emphysema in the space of three weeks, even if they cut way back on training. Lose the edge a bit? Sure. But realistically, I should still be pretty fit.

And that holds up. Once I got warmed up into the faster paces, I was cardiovascularly fine on those runs, and didn't feel afterward as if I'd worked all that hard. I think the real issue is actually the toughness of some of my smaller muscle / connective tissue groups, particularly those between my knees and feet. That's were I've been sore, and I know from experience that any kind of weakness there (and I think I do tend to be weak there in general) tends to work its way up the kinetic chain and cause me to run less efficiently. Which makes it feel harder, even if I haven't lost much fitness cardiovascular-wise.

So I don't really know what will happen Sunday. I very well may find myself running 1:4x, and if that's the best I can do, that's fine. There will be other halfs. However, I can tell you that I am not planning to pre-emptively set myself up for a 1:4x. I'm planning to run this race as if I have a legitimate shot at sub-1:40 for as long as I can.

If I were a bookie, I'd give myself good odds of staying in the 7:35-7:40 range for the first 10 miles. The truth of this race, I think, will be in the last 5K. I doubt I'm in good enough shape to pull a Windsor Green & floor it for 3 miles at that point; the question is probably whether I'm strong enough to hold a 7:40ish pace all the way through or not.

My guess is no. But whatever. If nothing else, it'll give me a sense of how much work I have to do before Healdsburg Half in October. And YAY for being done with the traveling & driving & getting settled in my new office! It's looking like I might even have the time to actually train for it. :)


  1. I think you're right...just to give this your best shot and then use it as a benchmark for Healdsburg. Summer Breeze showed you that you just may surprise yourself.

    I'm so excited about Healdsburg! But I had to laugh, you'll have time to finish, stretch, have a glass of wine, go to the loo and then stroll over to the finish line to watch me finish, you're that much faster than I am. Also we're booked into the Sandman Motel in Santa Rosa the night before, so if you're staying over before the race, it would be really nice to meet you and say hi.

    1. Yes!! We totally have to arrange something as it gets closer. I'd love to meet up!

  2. Good luck at Santa Rosa! I also think you'll surprise yourself.

    I also went on vacation recently for 3 weeks and it took a huge toll on my speed. Recently, I ran 400's at a slower pace than I was running 800's pre-vacation. Ugh. Anyway, I'm sure you'll have it figured out by Healdsburg. I'll be there too, hoping to run a sub-2:00. :)

    1. That's awesome! We should totally meet up. :)