Monday, 20 August 2012

#79 Revolution 9

The Beatles wrote a lot of songs, a lot a lot of songs! Most of them are awesome and if you haven't heard them you're probably either 7 years old and I am thus amazed that you're reading this right now. Or maybe there's just something really wrong with you (perhaps you like rap music... again why are you reading this blog?!) Anyway, despite a seemingly endless list of song titles to choose from, it's getting increasingly difficult to find ones that in some way, shape or form relate to the content of my blog (which as you now know is either about running, training and racing or something totally ridiculous and controversial). This week it's about the former and due to a limited number of songs related to that topic, I've chosen something totally random: 'Revolution 9.' Number 9 number 9, number 9...

NYC Training Week 4. Time to get serious.

After a less than legendary training week of only 110k and a subjectively sub-par performance at the Toronto 10-miler, I decided to take my training to a higher level this week by bumping up the mileage and being more consistent.

It started with an easy/aerobic run on Monday to help speed recovery from the race the prior day. While some people choose to recover passively by taking a day or two completely off running following a hard race or workout, I/we have embraced the concept of 'active recovery' which is essentially easy running at aerobic pace. This acts to flush the muscles with blood and remove the 'junk' in the legs while also increasing the ability to burn alternate fuels (fats) and provides a neuromuscular stimulus when fatigued. In case you haven't heard, the 'secret' to running faster, further, stronger is... to run more!

On Tuesday, I ran longer (21.1k) and faster (1:31) than planned as I was doing some reconnaissance work for the LB Ekiden relay race I am organizing which is coming up in September (Wed 05). The challenge is trying to find an appropriate spot in Cherry Beach to act as both the start and finish line and that also accommodates three turn-around points at 2.5, 3.1 and 5k (for the 5, 6,2 and 10k legs respectively) but that doesn't require road-crossings or extensive marshalling. Organizing a race on the cheap (for free) is proving much more difficult than I had imagined even though all I'm really concerned with is having an accurately measured and precisely timed course. Everything else is just icing and I'm hoping it will all come together in time. If it does, it will be awesome.

On Wednesday, the crew got together for it's typical club run but rather than run the MGT/Lakeshore west, we headed north to Poplar Plains Rd to run some hill repeats. It turned out to be a really good workout and the length and grade of the hill was perfect for our purpose (type 2B activation). We did 3 sets of 3x90sec hills and as usual, managed to go a bit faster than planned (via the group effect). In the end we did 19k for the day and everyone seemed to look and feel good.

Thursday turned out to be much more eventful than I would have liked. My early morning easy run on the Lakeshore was cut short when the new shoes I was wearing (a brand new pair of the New Balance 890 v2... the same shoe I have been wearing without incident for 2 months) absolutely destroyed my feet and gave me numerous bad and bloody blisters. After stopping a number of times to evaluate the deteriorating state of my feet and even attempting to run barefoot for a short distance, I painfully limped my way home for 12k. I attended the best I could my ailing appendages and wrapped them up and then put in a full day of work at the 'ol shoe factory (New Balance). I then stubbornly ran 8k home later in the day only to re-aggravate my battered blisters and once again experiences a few k's of agonizing pain. It was perhaps the worst day of running in recent memory. Never underestimate the damage that can be caused by mechanical malfunctions and problems to your pedestals. Time for a pedicure perhaps.

After once again attending to my pathetic paws, I anxiously approached the Friday run with apprehension. I wrapped and bandaged the blistered areas the best I could and was hoping for the best. The crew met in High Park for what was supposed to be a simple 16k run with a middle 10k at mid-tempo pace (about 4:05/k). Instead we constantly pushed each other and the pace, and ended up completing the 10k section in ~38:20 (3:50/k). More impressive considering all the hills and the already accumulated miles in our legs. The best news though was that my feet held up and did not cause any issues.

We followed up the run with a good discussion/debate at the pub on the merits of WMA (World Masters Association) age and sex-graded scoring for race results which our club has an odd fascination with. The basic idea behind it is to 'level the playing field' by standardizing results and accounting for differences in age and sex. It does this using a complex mathematical model that incorporates the world's fastest time for each respective age and sex for any given distance and then presents your race result as a percentage of this. Simply, for a particular distance you take the world's fastest time by someone of the same age and sex and divide that by your own race result. As a simple example, if the fastest time recorded for a 25 year old male to run 28 kilometres was exactly 100min and I ran 120min, I would score 80% (100/120). If the fastest time for a women aged 50 was 140min and you as a 50yo female ran 175min, you would also score 80% (140/175). That's a very crude way to explain it, but essentially how it works. As a real example, the age and sex standard for a male 25yo for 5km is 12:54. If I ran 15min flat, I would score 86% (12.9min/15min).
Ultimately, our debate focused on the potential 'bias' such scoring has in favour of older/Master's runners (aged 40+) given that anyone 20-35 is basically being compared to the absolute best (ie fastest) in the world who are training very specifically to be the best while the records for Master's runners are relatively less competitive and the overall sample of older runners contributing to the age and sex standards are far fewer. Yet, I digress...

Saturday was an uneventful 16k easy run in the early morning to provide maximum recovery time for the Sunday long-run.

Sunday's run was a soon to be standard 32k (we have 8 more to do) with some pick-ups thrown in the mix to keep things interesting. The pace started slow and gradually increased through-out, mostly due to one seemingly invigorated individual (not me!). The first few k's were all 5+min/k while the last few were all well under 4! The 16k out and back route up to the Beltline, through Mt Pleasant 'Park' and down the Moore Valley Ravine was both conveniently sheltered from the sun as well as easy on the legs. In the end, our pace averaged under 4:20/k for the 20 miles and turned out to be well-executed workout. The slurpee from 7/11 at the end was the perfect reward for a successful week in which I hit a total of 140k.

The week ahead will again be disrupted with not one, but two races. The first on Thurs, the Sunset Shuffle 6k, over on Toronto Island and organized by our very own Steve Metzger on behalf of LB. The second is my home-town 10k in Ingersoll on Sunday. I'll still aim to keep the mileage relatively high (~140k) as training consistently (and not clocking PBs) is now the primary focus for the next few weeks until the next real test of our progress occurs at the Oakville Half.

Bored of my training blog yet? I would be! And there are still 11 weeks to go...

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