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A lazy post

I walked for 40 minutes today. With surgery coming next week and no serious exercise until mid-April, I’ve been free of the where-to-run concerns that normally would occupy me this time of year, a not unpleasant development given the current weather.

So I’ve gotten lazy. My weight ballooned to 180, where it has never been, so I have to get back to at least getting some exercise.

Today, as I turned on Sherman Street in Bronxville, I had a wave of recollection. Like a whiff of a perfume that reminds of a long-ago lover, I was suddenly turning onto Sherman on a chilly winter’s night — to keep off main roads I had a plethora of complicated routes — with a smooth stride and going fast as I entered the final mile-and-a-half of my run. It’s these little things and not so much the complexity of a race experience that are the foundation of my running. So I hope to re-kindle that come April.

One thing I won’t be doing is Paine to Pain. Too “technical” and risky for my money, much as I’d love to wipe my disastrous experience away. But RD Eric Turkewitz put me in touch with Trail Runner Magazine, and I wrote a short piece on the race. I don’t have a copy, although Eric posted a photo of the article on Facebook.

I got into a debate about theories of training in a post entitled A Conspiracy Of Silence – Part I: Training, by Allan Besselink, a PT in Austin. I got there via one of those crazy LetsRun threads.

As far as I could tell, he claimed that the conventional wisdom about training was wrong and that there was a “conspiracy of silence” keeping the truth from being known. I became involved because I pointed out that the analogy he drew — that the earth was flat until people figured out it wasn’t, which I had read about in, I believe, a wonderful book about Agincourt (made famous in Henry V) entitled Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle that Made England by Juliet Barker.

Anyway, I thought the initial posting was long on theory and histrionics and short on specifics, particularly about what this new theory was all about. I got the general picture, i.e., you train in 2 to 3 week cycles because the anaerobic system is the first to go and you need to maintain it throughout training.

In part, he was speaking of upping mileage too quickly and causing injury. Hardly a revolutionary concept. But to the other part of the types of training, I just couldn’t get an answer from the guy. At most he referred to two types of workouts for marathoners, Marathon-Pace and Intervals. (And no junk miles.) But when I pointed out that, for example, “intervals” with only 1 variable (pace) and not distance, recovery, and number was useless, he figured I was trying to get a free training-plan from him.

He suggested I buy his book. I’ll pass. I engaged in the discussion because I thought it interesting. I tend to take a Daniels approach to things. So each of the various types of speedwork has a purpose, as do long runs. I think I understand the purpose of each. As far as this “new” idea is concerned, as best as I can figure it eliminates the base-building phase (although I’m not sure whether that’s to minimize the chance of injury or because it’s effort taken away from the quality workouts one needs to maintain anaerobic fitness) and has quality days and rest days. Daniels, of course, has three quality days a week plus recovery runs at a decent pace (which Daniels thinks have a specific purpose). But instead of the long-run quality stuff one does Marathon-Pace for some unspecified distance, which gradually increases.

In fairness, one of his followers said that you put long runs, tempos, repeats, and intervals all in a two-week cycle, which you repeat year-round (or at least in your 24 training period) and that the paces improve over time.

But my experience is that I can get my pacing on the track pretty fast pretty quickly and well before target races. A premise of Daniels is that your target pace for a workout is your current fitness (and you can get that number from his charts or from RunWorks). The point is not to run the workouts as fast as you can but as fast as necessary to stress the system on which you’re focused in that workout. Going faster is a waste and increases the risk of injury.

Back to the original point. Year-round “intervals” (at 10K pace of some unspecified distance, with unspecified recovery and in an unspecified number — all available in the book), runs at MP, and lots of rest. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but that’s old-school thought.

Of course, in the end he said the article was “not about training.” Maybe I expected too much.

Edited to add: Re-reading this, I think my frustration was that before I could process the principles, I wanted to know the meaning of certain key terms he used. Also, I see that a couple of useful comments have been added to the post.

I had surgery on my elbow exactly 3 months ago. Physical therapy is a long, slow process, trying to get the elbow to move and the fingers to work again. The elbow only as a range of maybe 40 degrees, and almost none of that is up. The hand, which was affected because of the loss of circulation following the accident, is coming along a bit more quickly, although the pinky and ring finger are hard to bend.

At my doctor’s suggestion, I joined a club in New Rochelle, using a two-week trial, that has a pool. I’ve been there three times so far, and simply work my elbow while leaning against the side of the pool for leverage. It’s a slow process.

But I have been able to run for nearly a month, and feel that I’ve crossed the line into being a runner again. By that I mean that the form is coming back and I fell comfortable at speed. Yesterday was up to Crestwood Station along the Bronx River Parkway, a standard run for me of about 7.5 miles. Good, solid pace of between 6:45 and 7:05 (according to my Garmin). More important was that it was relaxed, as was today’s 6-miler, also up the Parkway.

Given concern about running outdoors at night, I bought a treadmill. I’m up to 40 minutes and feel I’ve broken a barrier there as well, running relaxed. I discovered at the club the other day when I used a treadmill before the pool that things go more quickly if I vary the pace or the incline. I was able to get to 4.5 for 5 minutes. That concentrated the mind.

Today was the Mamaroneck Turkey Trot, long one of my favorite races. But I am not ready to put a number on and race. And I can’t trust myself not to race if I put a number on. So I stayed away, although I regret not seeing some former teammates who ran.

For the week, just under 30 miles. 2 days on the roads, 3 on the treadmill, and the other 2 at PT (which lasts 2 hours). I will try to increase the distance of these going forward as I try to build for the spring. I will focus on Club races, although I’m probably not going to be scoring very often. But there is something special about the NYRR Club series, which I’ll get into at another time.

Pascal Lauffer is a Warren Street teammate and one of our top masters. He ran the NYC Marathon and wrote a wonderful race report (PDF). From my experience in 2006, when I ran 2:48:10, I can relate to most of what he says. I, however, took the approach of stopping to muster the energy to continue, at 21, 23, and 24.5.


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