Monday, June 13, 2011

Balancing Act

As I touted my wisdom of doing shorter, more intense workouts in my last blog post, I quickly learned a valuable lesson. You can't go short and fast for too long and expect to be able to go long.

A buddy is about to leave on a trip to Africa to do the Safaricom Marathon in Kenya with Marathon Tours. Saturday morning was his last long run before departing on the trip. I agreed to accompany him on his last long run along A1a. I hadn't run long since the half marathon run as part of Florida 70.3 on May 15th. Not so long ago, I figured. With the treadmill speed work I been doing, I figured I was good to go. I ended up running about 12.5 miles. We ran at a reasonable 9 to 9 1/2 minute per mile pace. While I was feeling a little gassed the last mile or so, I made it through feeling fine.

Well, the next day, I slept in. I had insomnia the night before the run, so I figured I was making up for lost sleep. However, as the day wore on, I realized my leg muscles were sore. My legs needed some recovery time from that long run. It was like going from lifting 50 pound weights to lifting 100 pound weights. There is a price to be paid the day after a step up in effort. Thus, I may have to tweak my summer training schedule to keep within striking distance of a long run. Perhaps an occasional mid week 10K run to keep the long runs within reach. Meanwhile, I'll try to keep doing some faster stuff on the treadmill. The experiment of one continues.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Going Shorter

I read with interest Runner's World editor Amby Burfoot's post about his mistake in boosting his training mileage by 300%. Amby is both a better runner and writer than I'll ever be. He won the Boston Marathon in 1968, has run more miles and races than I could ever hope to run, and is a professional writer. Me, I'm a age group runner turned triathlete competing against my buddies and my prior times. As for writing, this blog is about as far as it goes. What we do share in common is both of us tearing in the meniscus in our knees. In deciding whether to have surgery or allow the meniscus to heal itself, I read Amby's prior from last summer about his knee surgery. Amby went in for the surgery, I opted to allow the meniscus to heal naturally.

Both of us had to take time off of our training, and both of us had to be careful in coming back into race shape. I was forced into six to eight week layoff of training before trying to quickly ramp up to marathon shape for the London Marathon the third week of April. I then had to quickly ramp up to 70.3 triathlon shape for the Florida 70.3 in mid-May. The comeback was a fine balance of pushing myself to the limit of my abilities without pushing so hard that I blew out my rehabilitating knee.

During these two events, I did feel some knee pain and it caused me to keep from doing either event full-bore. Since then, I've decided to ease up in my mileage to give the knee adequate time to fully recover. As endurance athletes, I believe we tend to keep adding to the work load, going longer and longer in our training. It is the old "what doesn't kill me, makes me stronger" mentality. With an injury, I think it best to take time to heal, then slowly build back up. That's where I am now. With no events that I'm scheduled for until October, I've backed off mileage and am doing 5K treadmill workouts for a little more speed. Last Sunday, with most of my friends either doing killer long rides for an Ironman event or out of town, I decided to do a sprint brick. It felt good to keep it shorter and a bit quicker.

From reading Amby's post, it looks like he went the other way. He tripled his weekly training mileage from 25 mile per week up to 75 miles per week. While his knee was fine for the first 6 weeks, it started to bother him. His meniscus appears fine, but the area surrounding the knee hurt. He began to hobble through his runs and now regrets breaking the 10% rule that says to only increase your mileage by 10% per week of training. I think Amby has relearned an old rule the hard way. I too noted after my knee recovery that it wasn't the meniscus that bothered me; it was the area above and below the knee that got sore. I think there may be a compensating fatigue in the area surrounding a healing injury.

In any event, Amby's blog entry reaffirms to me that I'm doing the right thing in backing off and keeping my workouts shorter for these summer months. I'm hoping that this approach brings the knee back fully for the fall. With the focus away from endurance and more on quickness, perhaps I'll get a little faster. That's the hope anyway.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Driftin' & Dreamin'

"Compass card is spinning, helm is swinging to and fro. Oh, where is the dog star, oh, where's the moon. You're a lost sailor, been away too long at sea." Lost Sailor - The Grateful Dead

With the decision to forgo Ironman Coeur d'Alene, I've become adrift in my training. I never realized how much I depend on scheduled events to dictate my workouts and training until I had nothing on the books. My next scheduled event is Austin 70.3 on October 23; but that's it, and that's a long way off. It's getting a bit too toasty here in South Florida to go too long if you don't have an event forcing you to go long. Thus, I've kept my weekend long rides under 40 miles and my long runs under 10 miles. Meanwhile, a good number of my friends are training for marathons, Ironman events, or ultra events. While I feel a little guilty that I'm not training long, I don't feel guilty enough to train long in the heat.

After a couple of weeks adrift, the wandering mind starts to ponder the summer and fall possibilities. Our local summer triathlon series of sprint & Olympic distance events sponsored by Mack Cycle announced that they are moving the series from Crandon Park on Key Biscayne to Miami Marine Stadium. While the bike ride is essentially the same, I consider this a brilliant move. Miami Marine Stadium's swim area is in a protected bay, which keeps the water fairly calm even on a rough surf day. Also, the run is on a tree shaded trail. Thus, I think I'll sign up for one or two of these events to give me a focus for the Summer.

The mind then turns to the fall. Should I sign up for a fall marathon? NYC and Marine Corps sold out, but Philly in late November is still open. My doctor would like to see me give up marathons completely, but I'm not sure I'm ready to hang up the running shoes just yet.

Then the mind turns to the spring of 2012. I've had the Rome Marathon in mid-March penciled in for the last couple of years. However, as registration for going with Marathon Tours is now open, I'm not sure how long of a trip to plan. My wife, Salome, has never been to Rome. Do I plan a week trip including a side trip to Florence? Or do I make it a longer trip and include the Amalfi coast and maybe Venice? Any of my running friends have an interest in coordinating a trip? Let me know.