Coaching Update #3

The weekly updates:

2011-01-10 to 2011-01-16

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 95 km 3:10:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 10.68 km 1:37:00 13:00 9:05 5:38 min per km
Swim 3300 m 1:30:00 2:44 2:44 2:44 min per 100 meters
XC 35.25 km 4:05:00 8.03 8.63 10 kph
Total Time 10 hrs 22min Two Days Off

2011-01-17 to 2011-01-23

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 60 km 2:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 5.3 km 0:24:40 4:39 4:39 4:39 min per km
Swim 4000 m 1:27:00 2:24 2:11 1:48 min per 100 meters
Telemark 0 km 13:00:00 0 0 0 kph
XC 10 km 0:44:00 13.64 13.64 13.64 kph
Total Time 17 hrs 35min Zero Days Off

2011-01-24 to 2011-01-30

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 90 km 3:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 55.87 km 5:09:08 6:22 5:32 5:12 min per km
Swim 3200 m 1:00:00 1:52 1:52 1:52 min per 100 meters
XC 13.53 km 1:04:35 12.57 12.57 12.57 kph
Yoga 0 mi 1:00:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 11 hrs 13min One Day Off

2011-01-31 to 2011-02-06

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 60 km 2:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 38.15 km 3:32:30 7:08 5:34 5:00 min per km
Swim 6500 m 2:25:00 2:14 2:14 2:13 min per 100 meters
Total Time 7 hrs 57min Three Days Off

2011-02-07 to 2011-02-13

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 90 km 3:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 29.43 km 2:28:56 5:21 5:04 4:49 min per km
Swim 2800 m 1:00:00 2:09 2:09 2:09 min per 100 meters
XC 55 km 4:26:00 12.41 12.41 12.41 kph
Total Time 10 hrs 54min One Day Off

I did at best an acceptable job with sticking on a training plan during the past period of time. I’m not exactly proud to be posting these stats as it makes it evident that I haven’t been out running nearly as much as I said I was going to be running. I’ve had a few periods of good success, and one week of perfect execution on the run which occurred at the expense of one swim and a day of skiing. It was followed up by a good week of running which then crumbled on the weekend with a total of zero hours logged and coming up significantly short on my mileage target. The causes have been largely due to commitments surrounding the completion of my degree, with a few long weeks of work and relatively high levels of stress that were making it necessary to dedicate 10 hours of sleep per night to be able to function during the day. The result of that is time rapidly disappearing from training. I’ll also take a bit of personal responsibility for not treating these issues with significant enough urgency to solve the problems before they arose. Militantly defending little bits of training time throughout the week has a pretty poor return on investment and so when push came to shove I dismissed the necessity of training in adverse conditions as well as unfortunately trying to save time by making relatively poor dietary choices.

There have been periods of great success sprinkled amongst these frustrations. I marked an improvement of another 15 seconds per kilometer on my MAF run pace later in January (to the 4:40-4:45/km range). Since putting in the period of 11 days of fantastic consistency I saw an improvement of my default pace from around 5:20/km to about 5:00/km which is nice. I was seeing a default pace (~140bpm HR) of about this speed during my 40 runs in 40 days challenge in May last year. At that point my MAF pace was around 4:15/km. I don’t believe that I’m going to test at that pace this coming week with a MAF run test so that means an interesting thing. I’ve somehow narrowed the gap between my MAF pace and my default run pace. The only thing I think I can attribute this to is my transition into a slightly different style of stride with much more of a midfoot strike. This may not contribute to me going a lot faster when running at a MAF limit but interestingly it is making me faster a very submaximal paces. I think this is good because it likely contributes to improved efficiency at those faster paces at a more rapid rate than if I have a large discrepancy between the two sets of paces. Maybe this isn’t happening, I haven’t tested my MAF pace in three weeks, it could be that I’m already at the aerobic fitness required for the 4:15/km pace which would be nice because that would be goal marathon pace already, nearly 70 days prior to the start!

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

The PMCs at the left show that I have been able to keep building fitness over the past period of time (ATL is ahead of CTL all the way) and so despite really mentally feeling like I wasn’t giving my attention to training the same way that I wanted to I was still progressing. This is a comforting sign and it’s a reminder to me that I need to keep taking stock of where I’m at numerically and in testing rather than just how I feel. It’s fine that I’m not able to be throwing down a bunch of 18-20 hour weeks the same way I did last February, because my fitness is in a different spot and I’m progressing it from there. That said, my training stress balance is not as negative as I know I can handle at this period of the season and so I could be training a bit harder. That’s also OK for this period of time. The snapshot shows that I keep pressing onward with my general fitness for the next period of time until the second week of March which is a bit of a breather (my training stress balance should “come up for air” at that point) before getting into a period of 3 week “Lactate Threshold Phase” and then moving in to what the Pfitzinger plan calls the “Specific Prep Phase” which continues on with the Lactate Threshold work but is directed to helping me dial in the marathon pace. That leaves me with a two week taper into the race. This is on the shorter side as far as tapers could go but I believe that because I am not trying to dig a huge hole it shouldn’t take so long to climb out. I’m training with the focus of getting fast during the final period of time, not trying to get outrageously fit by loading up on volume so a gigantic taper should be unnecessary.

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

At right is an indication of my planned run fitness which shows a progression in training stress from -1 unit to -3 units. I know that this is reasonable to expect of myself, but it’s important to note that I plan to maintain a training stress balance of overall fitness hovering right around zero the entire time while I do this. This is done by paring back my commitments to other sports (skiing is no longer scheduled at all past mid-March for example).

Wrapping up this post

I began writing this post on Monday but didn’t have the focus to keep writing so I put it on hold. Then I got distracted by the very interesting statistics from the VO2 test on Tuesday and writing up a blog post on that. At which point I needed to buckle down and focus for a successful thesis defense on Thursday. That little delay enables me to conclude this post by answering my question posed a few paragraphs higher up about what my MAF pace is at the moment. I tested today indoors (because it was -22oC outside) and stupidly calculated which lane I needed to run in on the track doing 1 minute laps to get me running at 4:15 pace (Lane 6 on a 200m track in case you were wondering). So, needless to say this caused a bit of strife because I set out to test my HR at 4:15 pace instead of following the normal MAF testing protocol which is for me to run at 161 bpm and then measure the resulting pace. After warming up I ran 1500m at that pace at which point I had received enough feedback from my HRM and my breathing rate that I was not in the kind of shape required for 4:15/km at MAFHR fitness. I wouldn’t call it a botched test, it was interesting to follow that kind of testing design and I think I learned a few things from it about pacing (I think this kind of testing protocol would actually be pretty useful on the bike riding in rolling terrain with a powermeter) but I was also able to then dial back the intensity on the run and still salvage a better estimate of MAF pace which scored me around 4:25-4:28 per km. That’s alright, it’s a good progression in the past few weeks so I’m satisfied.

To wrap up I’ll post two tentative schedules. The first is for the next three weeks (well, this week is more than half over already) and is the final three weeks dedicated to aerobic development. I know already that I am going to come up way short this week on running mileage which is frustrating but I’m going to go skiing anyways for two days and enjoy it, I’ll be just fine for hours as a result! I am also posting a tentative look ahead to the following three weeks which the Pfitzinger “Advanced Marathoning” book describes as a Lactate Threshold phase. I currently have this set out according to the second “level” of mileage targets in the plan design and before I start into the next phase of training I’m going to assess whether or not I’ve been successful enough during the current aerobic phase to tackle that or if I need to scale back my expectations for myself (basically determined by if I can put together good consistency for the next two weeks). I’ll post again in three weeks on the subject of doing that mid-build self-assessment.

If the pattern I’ve been monitoring with my MAF testing continues as it has been going I will have a MAF pace that is very closely correlated with goal marathon pace by the point in time that I begin Lactate Threshold focus. That would be ideal. The result would be that my race-pace work is going to be right on the edge of being aerobic so it should be manageable. It also means that all of my lactate threshold work will be above race pace instead of (say, if I switched into that phase of training at the moment) being at around race pace and so will be training my mind to think of marathon pace as the relatively manageable. That’s a big coup. I know that when I was running lots of my shorter aerobic runs at around 4:45-4:50 pace during June and July in 2010 and staying completely aerobic throughout their entire durations I was really developing a strong belief in my ability to take on the 5:00/km goal pace at Ironman. Training that perception in advance of the marathon in Vancouver is important to me as I know it will make a difference in how well I am able to stay focussed in the race-situation.

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