Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Spring Training Review

With my last race of the season under wraps, it's time to analyze my training to reflect on what worked well, what didn't and what needs to change in the future.  If you are going to grow and improve yourself as a runner or as anything in life, it's important to take an honest look at the road that led you to the present.  I've always welcomed constructive-criticism because if you don't know what you're doing wrong, you're limiting what you're capable of and are holding yourself back from your goals.  This is primarily old-man rambling without much direction but it's primarily for my benefit so I can go back to it in the future and remember how I need to fine-tune things.

Missing so much time with the ghetto knee, as well as coming down with the flu right after starting back resulted in a lot of missed time.  However, I've been training consistently for just under three years, with two of those years being more "serious" type training.  I've been chasing goal after goal, without taking a long break, so long-term, I'm sure the extended break I had this winter will do me well down the road.

If I'm not training for a marathon, I like to have a little more fun, make things less structured and jump in a lot of races.  It's not ideal for performance but when it comes down to it, running is my hobby and if I was always in hermit mode and focused entirely on training and performing my absolute best, I'd get bored and quit.

My main mistake was racing way too much.  Coming off a non-existent base period, I raced three half-marathons in seven weeks.  That not only sacrificed some quality training time, but was a huge stress on the body.  Most of the top guys race three marathons a year, so three in such a short-time period was a little much. 

Focusing too much on the Music City Distance Carnival 5000m probably wasn't ideal when I was focused on the half-marathon distance.  I didn't make any huge changes to my training, but I let that race consume my mind and mental energy for a few weeks.  I ran too many workouts on the track to learn different paces rather than running my workouts on the road.  When I run on the track, I'm checking my watch every 200m in order to keep my pace in check.  My mind isn't on gritting down and making things ugly, it's about becoming a smooth, efficient machine.  That's perfect for the track but not for the roads.

And an additional side effect of focusing on that 5000m was that I became too relaxed at faster speeds.  When 4:40 pace feels easy, 4:55 pace feels really easy.  That's probably one of the main reasons why my 4:41 at the half-marathon championships felt so easy, which was the biggest nail in the coffin in that race.

If you want to be a killer at the half-marathon distance, you need to be tough over 10k and the marathon.  I was getting my 10k workouts in, but I did very little work at marathon pace.  I did focus exclusively on the marathon last this past fall, so I felt some of that fitness would carry over but only getting in one or two marathon-type workouts was a mistake. 

Lastly, my training the last 6-8 weeks was a little bit scatter-brained.  I went after a fast 5k, I ran a lot of 5k races as workouts and I didn't do enough work at half-marathon pace.  I've always felt that when you get close to your key event, you need to train at paces that correlate to that event at least once, if not twice a week.  I was spending too much time running 5k races at a controlled effort and looking back, I could have still done those races, but I should have adjusted how I ran them.  Instead of running them at 10k effort and only getting in 3.1 miles of quality, I should have slowed down the pace about 5-10 seconds a mile and run an additional 3-4 miles at that pace either right before or right after the race. 

I was more than pleased with my 64:39 at the Louisville Half-Marathon but I felt like I was a ton more fit in May and June, but I never got to show that.  I usually peak really well but seemed a bit more fizzled at the end of the season this year. Again, that was a result of less than ideal training, which will be fixed next time.

After nitpicking everything, I honestly can't see too many things that went really well.  My mileage was a little bit lower than I wanted but part of that was having to cram in a lot of doubles, without much rest and just my life schedule in general.  However, I felt like I made some big fitness gains that will prepare me for the fall.  It's important to always build something new in training and with my development this spring, I feel like I will be able to train for the marathon at a much higher level than I did last year.  

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