Posts Tagged ‘adaptation’

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It didn’t last long…and it wasn’t easy.

Confidence was not the word of the day. Adaptation maybe a better choice. I read some running article the day before the race that said runners who were prepared for difficulty would handle the challenges of the race a lot better. My challenge was getting in a mindset where I was prepared to hurt (a little) to get what I wanted.

In any case, I always try to race on my brother’s birthday, or at least that weekend. It’s good luck. Last Saturday, was dead on (Apr. 25). Even better. After setting my PR in March, I’d identified the 5000m race as the next opportunity to do something special – at least for me – break 17 in the 5K.

Since the training leading up to the March workout was successful in getting me to 17:22. I did the same sort of training leading up to the April race as well. Only just a little bit faster for every workout.

March v. April Difference (some examples)
“Easy Runs”: 6:42 v. 6:35 pace.
Steady State: 6:11 v. 6:03 pace.
Mile Repeats: 5:26 v. 5:17 pace.

For three weeks in April, training went to plan. I performed better than I had leading up to the March race, and I knew that I had a realistic shot at going under 17:00 on race day. The last week, the taper week, didn’t go as well though. I’d stopped eating as much as before, stopped doing strength workouts at night, and the weather was getting warmer throughout. Not sure why. Boredom? Fatigue? Silly, really. Even though I had cut my mileage in half for the week, the Wednesday (3×800) speed session didn’t go so well. I’d done a similar session, twice as long (6×800) the week before. How could I be struggling so much on a down week? I was having a hard time sleeping as well, getting around 6 hours per night for the week. Even worse, an ill-conceived experiment with long striding left me with throbbing shins and a sore left buttcheek.

Going into Friday, my recovery plans amounted to taking Friday off from running, drinking as much sugar as possible and getting to bed early. Check. Check. Check. Nearly 10 hours of sleep Friday night had me feeling OK by Saturday morning. Packed the workout drinks and drove off to the race.

I’d gone over my strategy well in advance this time. A 5000m race is really 25×200 meters. About the longest period I can focus at one time. As early as the night of the March race, I knew what my splits would be for the April race. Every 200m: 40, 41, 41, 41. 40, 41, 41, 41. Cross 1600m in 5:26. 3200 in 10:52. 4800 in 16:18. Sprint to the finish in 16:58.

I was happy to see at the check-in that three runners from one of the local universities would be in the race. While “The Kid” wasn’t returning, I was sure that local university runners would push (or pull) me to a great finish. Business as usual from this point. After drinking my usual pre-workout drink and warming up, I was informed that there would be two heats of the 5000m instead of one. The women would run first and then the men. This is the first time this year, that I’ve warmed up and then sat afterwards for 30 minutes while waiting on my race. Rather than re-warm up, I decided to keep my windbreaker pants on, sit down and continue to drink fluids.

Actually had a good time talking to the other runners as we began our final check-in at the starting line. People always have the same question: “How fast are you going to run?” Nervous types, I guess. For once, I genuinely didn’t care to hear how fast they were going to run, I assumed it would be good enough to help me. Fortunately, their coach (or friend) asked me what splits I needed to run to get my goal of 17:00 and agreed to call out my times as I passed by. This would be crucial later.

Gun goes off. College kids take off towards their planned pace of 77 seconds per lap. I need to go a little slower at nearly 82. In fact, I should come through 100m in 20 seconds or so. I looked down to check my watch for early confirmation and quickly discover that I didn’t press start hard enough at the gun. I start the clock at 100m but my splits are off entirely now. Memorized splits won’t help me now, and I don’t feel like doing a bunch of math during the race. Good thing the coach agreed to read my times out.

With the coach’s help, I figured the first 1200m left me slightly behind pace, but I made it up to get to 5:27 at the 1600m mark. Good, only a second behind at this point. The trick then, was to keep my cadence up around 180 spm and not overstride as I tired. While striding quickly helped, the benefits were easily countered by warmer weather (75 degrees), high humidity (83%), moderate winds (10 mph against on the backstretch), and an increasingly nosy sun that chose to peep from behind the clouds. Ran a couple of the laps squinting until I got enough courage to slow down and wipe the sweat from my face with my shirt. Much better. At the 3200m mark, I was 5 seconds behind pace at 10:57, but not too disheartened. A very nice lady was yelling that I had the freshest legs left in the race. Good to hear. While 40, 41, 41, 41 was out of the picture, I felt that if I just ran hard enough, I could give myself a chance in the last 600-800m of the race.

And so, I looked away from my watch and looked up. The lady was right. The three runners from the university were all having a tough time of it. They’d planned to run under 16:00 that day, but it was clear that they weren’t going to make it. All were within 150m of me. The last in the group was only 50m to 75m ahead. I decided to close on him. To be honest, I don’t remember much of the last mile. I just kept the last kid in my sight and tried to get within striking distance. With 200m go, the coach yelled out, “16:24…16:25…”. I was 6-7 seconds behind pace.

The math came to me quickly. I needed 34-35 seconds to break 17. A whole month of training for this. I worked too hard to go home unhappy. Time to cut loose. Catch this guy in front of me. As the others were finishing, I caught the 3rd kid with 75m to go. To his credit, he didn’t give up and just edged me at the tape. Great response on his part as we sprinted to the finish line. I stopped my watch in 16:39, but I knew I’d started it late. What was my official time?

I asked around but no one was clocking me. Then I walked into the timing booth. The team manager already knew what I wanted.

16:58.91.

Bam! 34 seconds to close the run. Great surprise on a very tough day. I called my dad to tell him about the news. I’m still having trouble associating myself with the 17:22 5K time – let alone a sub-17. Dad’s response was don’t get used to it because it’s going down again.

We’ll see. May 23. Road race. Fort Worth, TX.

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Workout: 3 miles @ 83 to 88%; core work. Weather: 61 degrees, sunny.

Recap: Mildly disappointing, but lesson learned…too many short runs at too high intensity. Received a helpful tip in yesterday’s comment section. The idea is that certain runs force certain adaptations. Time to mix it up a little. Going with the Runner’s World SmartCoach plan to finish off the summer. Good mix of easy runs, speedwork and long runs. Gonna see if 17:30 is possible in two weeks. If it works, I’ll use the SmartCoach again in the Fall. Fun times ahead here.

Have a great day and thanks for reading!

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Workout: 2 miles @ 6:10 pace; core work (66%). Weather: 75 degrees, sunny.

Recap: Went out with the mindset to attack in the heat, and that’s what happened. Feeling pretty good out there for the most part. The good news is that the Midwest “heatwave” (try not to laugh too hard Southerners and West Coast-types) is supposed to go through Friday and then the temperatures drop about 10 degrees on Saturday. Mentally, this is a big edge for me. I want to adapt to the heat and humidity as much as I can this week. Feeling a little bit of something in my front right shin, but I think it’s just shin splits. Nothing that hurts enough to stop any run. Core work went well. Feeling stronger and more powerful.

Good to see other people outside in the morning as well. If you’re running for times (or even fitness) this work is really going to pay off in the Fall when it cools down. Keep going strong.

Have a great day and thanks for reading!

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