Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Getting Ready to Race, Maffetone Seems to be holding up

Firstly, apologies to my reader for my absence here.  It’s just been one of those months where I’ve been flat out working and trying to keep the training load up as well.

In this case, flat out with work includes regular trips to Aberdeen and a week of windswept and bleak railway maintenance depots two weeks before Christmas.  I’ve also been suffering from a failure of my Garmin 310 XT.  For some reason it decided to stop uploading data to Training Centre or Garmin Connect but would repeatedly try and transfer data and fail every time.  With a bit of research into this on the Garmin forums and asking around, I found out that this is not an uncommon problem.  Basically a time stamp on one of the workouts gets corrupted and it never transfers so it just gets stuck in a loop.  There are two types of reset described in the manual, a soft reset and a hard reset that wipes all user data.  Neither of these worked, but then I found out that there is a third deeper reset that basically wipes all non-firm memory.  That finally worked and I also took the plunge to upgrade to the latest firmware at the same time, and re-enter all my settings for about the fourth time in a week.  I was not a particularly happy bunny at the time, but all seems OK now.

I’m not going to bore my reader with a full breakdown of what I’ve been doing since the last entry, but I’ve been mainly keeping up a mix of 4-5 sessions a week of biking, running and yoga, and a mix of huaraches and trail gloves for the running.  The only time I’ve gibbed on the running is when I’ve looked out of the hotel window on a desolate scene of wind, rain, sleet etc, nit because I don’t fancy the run, but mainly because I’m going home that evening and I don’t fancy carrying a suitcase full of wet running gear around for the rest of the day.

I’ve been following this Maffetone method since the beginning of September now, with all workouts aiming to be within an aerobic threshold.  For the most part I’ve been successful, apart from a few where things have just not worked and mainly external factors have conspired against me.  I’ve had one or two workouts where I’ve deliberately pushed it, but I can count those on one hand.  What I have noticed though with this Maffetone method is that:
1)      I’m running or riding slower than I used to
2)      I’m definitely running further
3)      I’m recovering better, which means that overall my training load is higher.

The only nagging doubt in my mind though, with a 10K road race coming up in less than two weeks now (New Year’s Eve), is whether I can go fast.  So with that in mind, I deliberately set out last weekend to see whether all this slow running had affected my top end speed, or whether all of this aerobic training had truly worked to shift my threshold and give me a bomb-proof base.  I also wanted to see if I could run fast in huaraches, as if the weather is good enough I plan to race in them on NYE.  I set out to run the race loop from my house which joins it at about the 1km mark.  The plan was three miles steady and then let it go, not up to max, but just up to tempo type perceived effort.

The day was awful, cold, overcast, windy and threatening rain, which arrived duly just as I started the faster section and lasted about a mile and a half. It felt good to run fast again, and looking back at the data, the perceived effort seemed lower than the HR trace would suggest.

1) 7:57 / A137 / M161 – max HR from futzing around with the strap that kept slipping
2) 8:35 / A148 / M158
3) 8:48 / A148 / M152
4) 7:27 / A166 / M171  - started the push here, into the wind and rain
5) 7:15 / A170 / M176 – up the hill
6) 6:43 / A172 / M176 – last hard mile, no wind in the way here
7) 2:48.5 / 0.37mi / 7:36 / A160 / M171 – cooling down

Total) 49:33.1 / 6.37 / 07:47 / AHR 156 / MHR 176

Overall, those three hard miles were pretty decent on no speed work for three and a half months, and I was very impressed that Maffetone seems to be delivering what he promised.  That Max HR on the hill on the course was the same as the race last year, but was faster.  The last hard mile was only slightly slower than the finishing quarter mile spring in last year’s race. 

Overall though, I’m pretty impressed by the way this method has helped me to run further, slower, but still keep my top end speed.

I’m definitely sticking with this now, long term.  The other resolution I’ve made, in my mind at least, even if not yet on paper is to run in my first ultra marathon next year.  I’m intending to make it the 70-miler run on the same course as I did this year’s half marathon on.  It’s a nice 7 laps of the 10-mile course with the ability to go back to the car each lap.  The intention is to finish, speed/pace is irrelevant.

Back soon, I hope.

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