Sunday, January 15, 2012

Good training leads to a bad race

I try to embrace poor races because they usually teach rich lessons. I ran a 3000 metre track race Thursday night — this time finishing fourth-last in a time of 13:34.93, around a minute slower than I expected. I ran at the pace (4:31 per km) that I'd hope to hold for a 10k race. I was lapped twice by the winner Marty Dent (8:38) who I guess only ran at his 10k race pace; but he had the excuse of winning the mile an hour earlier in 4:25! The lesson I learned from this race goes back to the training I did with the Speedygeese on Monday night...

I've felt for a while that my fast-twitch muscles (and leg turn-over) could do with a boost. If it's not possible to run comfortably at 48 seconds per 200 metres (4 minute kilometre pace), then it's going to be bloody difficult to race a 5k in 20 minutes! I modified the session that Geoff had set out to give myself sufficient recovery to run at close to maximum speed for 200 metre repeats. These were run on a smooth grass foot-path with a favourable slight down-hill slope. I ran 11 repeats, walking back to the start each time in about 2 minutes. The average time for my 9 best runs was 42.1 seconds, which works out to be a tad over 3:30 per kilometre, so quite a change for my legs compared to my normal running speeds.

On Tuesday I ran 10k in 58:28 with legs that felt a bit ordinary. Wednesday another 10k in 57:55 but with a noticeable case of DOMS! Did those 200s do that much to my legs? On Thursday night I jogged a very easy 5k warm-up with Ruth — legs all the while feeling like they didn't want to be there. After the split start I ran a little bit behind Hugh, Carol and Amanda with Bob just on my heels. After two laps Bob eased past (he ran 12:57) and I gradually lost ground for the remainder of the race. My legs weren't agonisingly sore — they just weren't responding as I would have liked. Splits were 4:22, 4:38 and 4:34. So I guess the lessons from my bad race are that I do need to keep working on my speed and not to expect to race well with sore legs. My week's training will total 80k, including a good 'long' 15k run around Lake Burley Griffin yesterday and a pleasant recovery 13k run on the grass out at Stromlo Forest Park this morning.

At the track with Yelena
Yelena, now 30, can race on the track against old people!


Blogger plu said...

"I try to embrace poor races because they usually teach rich lessons"

Love this comment.


6:41 pm  
Blogger Jon in Tokyo said...

Hang in there.

8:20 pm  
Blogger TokyoRacer said...

I think your two lessons from that race are spot on.

10:33 pm  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

Definitely don't expect to race well on sore legs. Especially for short fast stuff where there's no catch-up time. Love the photo, very cute.

12:09 am  
Blogger Thomas said...

I found a few weeks ago that a few sprint can make the legs very sore indeed. I was surprised by this as well.

However, I find that slightly sore legs are not a problem in a race. Granted, I don't do the 3000, but basically I find I can run the same race times on slightly sore legs as on seemingly fresh legs.

5:40 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now you know why you were heel-striking in the photo attached to you previous post! I bet you weren’t heel-striking while going down the more gentle slope on Monday. That was great on a gentle downhill, but the added eccentric load on your quads left some residual effects that lingered till Thursday.

5:44 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Plu!

I am Jon. Thanks for reading.

Bob, thanks. I was quite surprised how much sore legs put me off. I've 'trained through' races while running mileage and not had the same problem.

Flo, yes, it's quite disconcerting from very early on too, which has a negative psychological effect as well.

Thomas, that's interesting. Regarding running 'OK' on sore legs, my guess is your marathon mileage helps to even things out.

Canute, I agree with that observation. Although modestly fast I was probably running at my 800m race pace, which definitely took me off my heels (and gave the quads an unfamiliar workout)!

3:35 pm  
Blogger Black Knight said...

The lessons are always important but you cannot compare this race with your goal.
Different situations and a different pre-race (the race of the goal I mean) week.
You put strength and speed in your legs and this is the only important thing.
Go Ewen!!!

11:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Between the 200m repeats, a 10k race, another 10k race, and then a 3000m race... that's a significant load of racing "pop" taken out of one's legs before a 3k. Could be that undertaking such a "speed load" every few weeks makes you stronger in the long run (assuming you keep paying good mind to recovery, of course).

Also, what a great first line to this post.

12:17 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Stefano. I'll regard it as a 'training race' - one more step towards the goal.

Thanks SK. However, the two 10k runs weren't races, just training runs. The soreness, as Canute points out, was due to the downhill nature of the course I ran the 200s on. I think I will become stronger, once the recovery catches up!

10:20 pm  
Blogger strewth said...

That's one of my favourite photos. Yelena looks so little:)I wish I could run at your 'slow' pace! Wonder how you'll go this Thursday after Monday's session!

8:40 pm  
Blogger Robert James Reese said...

Glad you were able to take some positive lessons away from it.

11:22 am  
Blogger Lize Brittin said...

I agree that you seem to have a good outlook about this kind of race. It's hard to get a good response from tired/sore legs. Good job getting through it though! I'll be interested to know what you can do with fresh legs. :)

10:12 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Robert, thanks. Sometimes I wonder if I'm too philosophical at times. I should keep in touch with my angry side.

Lize, same here! When I feel my training is going well I plan to try a 3-day taper to get those fresh legs.

10:06 pm  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

It's true a good training session leads to a poor race!
I'm beginning to think Steve Magill was right!
On race weeks only do ONE hard session!
As we get older we can not recover as fast!
I know it's hard to take BUT no matter what we do it turns out true!
Ewen, I think its time to train in a different way!
In the way of the master!
You have built up amazing endurance over the years, so now refine it!
Allow more days for recovery, only train hard two days a week HARD and make one of those days really count!!!
On your other days relax and enjoy some easy running :0]

1:01 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Rick. Don't tell Scott Brown I said this, but I think you're onto something there re the ways of the master. Interesting that Speedygeoff ran his best 3k for two years off a build-up of steady mileage (100k weeks), long runs, and no hard sessions or races.

8:34 pm  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

You are getting there. Some big results around the corner. IMO the speedwork was a good idea, just the timing of it was perhaps less than ideal. Sometimes you need a few races, or sessions that feel like you are not improving much before you find the gold nugget of a breakthrough performance...One thing I heard an olympian (one of the greatest runners Australia has had by far) say to another runner once was "don't keep checking the cake before its fully baked", in other words if you are doing the right training the results will come when you get it right in a race, but sometimes we have to be patient, as we can't get peaks in every race we do, and sometimes we even race too much...Sounds like the gold nuggets are just waiting to be uncovered.

8:15 pm  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

some of the best races are done when you are *angry* or almost miss the start, start too fast, or at other times when you don't feel ready, maybe partly cos of the extra adrenaline release. I run 200's in about 34 to 38secs on a bumpy grass track, and on a good track I think I'd be capable of 29-31secs (nowhere near the 26 I did as an 11 year old), reckon if you want a good 3000m time you need to be doing something under 45 seconds for a 200m, but maybe just 4 or 5 instead of 11 or 12 perhaps...Can do at end of a session of 800's or 2k reps or something too...i.e 5x2km and 4x200m at the end...Agree with the comments that as we get older it gets harder to you need to do your recovery well...

8:23 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Jonathon, good analogy about not checking the cake before it's baked. I think I could get down to having 37-8 sec 200s feeling comfortable. Would need to gradually progress there over a number of months though. Recovery is very key to consistent training and racing once you're on the right side of 50 ;)

9:32 pm  

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