Thursday, March 14, 2013

Liar, Liar

Late last year, I posted a series of running goals on this blog. Then I posted a series of races I planned to run this year.

I'm a liar. I haven't run any of the races, and I doubt I'll attain any of the goals I set for myself, either.

I don't care. I've been running without injury for three months (with a two-week holiday in the middle). I'm logging about 40 miles a week and that feels good. There's a 5K on the calendar next month and it looms like a 50 miler. I'd like to break 18:30. But I'm not sure I have it in me yet. And that's ok, too.

The big debate in my head is whether to sign up for the Pikes Peak Ascent. It'll likely fill up soon, and so the clock is ticking. On the one hand, I've never done Pikes, and I've always wanted to do it. On the other, I'm not sure I want do it in a year when I know I won't race to my potential. But I would like to get out for a few races, and Pikes will serve as motivation to get moving.

I've set Monday as a deadline for myself to set an end date for my indecisiveness. Hopefully the race will still be open by then.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Periodization v. Consistency

When I first started running in junior high, high school, and college, periodization came without effort. There were distinct seasons, and they shaped when you ran hard and when you didn’t. Cross country began when school started and ended right before Thanksgiving. Track started in Spring and finished about the time school ended. After each season you took a little time off, maybe played a different sport for a few months and then ramped up to get faster again. Rinse, repeat.

Since I started running kinda sorta seriously again in 2009, periodization has followed a different pattern. I usually have a goal race in mind. That race provides the focus to keep me motivated for training. After that race is over, I take a little time to chill, but then I ramp up again.

But, unlike when I was in high school, these races have not fit into neat biannual patterns. And I haven’t been as good about resting in the off season.  After my first 50 in 2010, and after my 100-milers in 2011 and 2012, I struggled with injuries for months after the races when I started ramping up again. I don’t think I rested as much as I should have, and it set me back months. In fact, it’s entirely likely that the injury that dogged me at Leadville was an injury that I initially got two weeks after finishing Pinhoti.

I just tried to add on the training on top of training. And it didn’t work.

I was recently blown away to learn that Alberto Salazar insists that his big guns (Galen Rupp, Mo Farah) take two weeks off, following by two weeks of jogging, twice a year. That’s one full month of rest and one full month of jogging each year.  Two guys who are absolutely setting the world on fire with their running start from nearly from scratch twice a year. Hum.

Biannual rest periods. Peak twice a year. Just like high school kids do.

Most ultra folks value consistency, and for good reason. Getting better at long-distance running (or really, much of anything) requires consistent effort over the course of many years. But I think most ultra-runners I know follow an 11-month season where a fall race is the culmination of an enormous training block that goes on forever. And, like me, they don’t take as much time off as they should after that big race.  

Part of me thinks that these kinds of runners (like me) could stand to gain from consistency in periodization in their training, and not just consistent running.