Friday, March 13, 2009

My Thoughts on the Great Debate and A Glorious “Quality” Half

(I apologize in advance that this post is a day late because the run I’m about to describe actually happened yesterday. Yeah, what else would you expect from a master procrastinator…)

Thank you all so much for all the insightful comments left on the previous post. It gave me and my running buddies so much to think and talk about the last day and half. I guess the consensus is that in terms of marathon training, quantity is what we all strive to achieve but in actuality, because of substantial time obligations and mitigating health concerns, higher quality (but lower mileage) becomes a more realistic and practical goal for us recreational marathoners to focus on. This is not to say that I don’t believe in running high mileage or have doubts that running more will likely make me stronger and probably even faster, because I do. It is just that I believe more that the risk to benefit ratio isn’t in my favor enough to warrant stepping outside the bounds of my comfort zone and tempt fate until I’m stricken with an overuse injury (or just the potential of one) enough to jeopardize my running future. Having said that though, I am still going ahead and slowly stepping up the mileage in the subsequent three weeks to numbers that my training log has never yet seen before. So yes, although I know I’m not training as hard as what “my talent” should or could do (apparently, my running is now referred to as a talent even though a more apt description would be average competency if you ask me…) I am doing as best as I can with as much mileage as I can within the limits that my body has taught me that it can handle from past experience. I sincerely apologize to those who may think I’m just “wasting my talent” by not running as far or for as long as what is expected of me at this stage of training.

From the above discussion, it is apparent that I’ve been feeling somewhat defensive about my marathon training the past couple of days. I don’t know why, but whenever I’m hanging with other marathoners in training or reading blog posts from other sub-3:00 marathon hopefuls or even just perusing the forum messages on Runner’s World, I feel so insecure about my training and my chances in Boston, even though by every objective and subjective measure, I know I’m running stronger and faster now than ever before! All of these conflicting psychological battles I have with myself are so bizarre to me. It’s not really like anything I’ve ever experienced before.

It is with these crazy thoughts rumbling through my head that I trudged out to the park today for my midweek general aerobic 12-mile run. Because of a patient emergency that kept me at the office about an hour and half later than when I originally intended to leave, I didn’t get to start my run until about 6:30pm. Although the weather during the day was slightly cold but pleasant, the temps had dropped a few degrees and the wind picked up exponentially by the time I got to the park. I cursed myself for starting this run so late and thought about going home, but I knew it likely won’t happen tomorrow either if I didn’t suck it up and face the elements. Besides, I had been feeling somewhat dejected and doubtful about my training techniques after reading some of the messages I had received on my blog post and really just needed to run to make myself believe in my training again. So I made myself a plan to just run slow and just see what happens. If need be, I could just run one big loop (6 miles) and do the rest inside on the treadmill.

Because I wanted to run against traffic and have the tougher Harlem Hill at the end of the run instead of at the beginning, I started running in a clockwise direction around the park. At first, it was somewhat painful. I was not dressed appropriately for the wind, my hands were cold, and I was getting frustrated with the large running groups taking up the whole rec lane forcing me to swerve onto on coming car/bike traffic or onto the sidewalks to avoid them. But somewhere between miles 1 and 3, either because I saw a few Flyers running in the opposite direction which lifted my spirits, or because I felt as if I needed to prove something to myself, I picked up the pace and turned a scheduled 12 mile steady state run (7:05-7:15 pace) into a 13.1 mile 2-loop marathon paced (6:52) run. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Total Distance: 13.1 miles
Total Time: 1:28:13
Average Pace: 6:44 min/mile

Mile by Mile Splits:
1 – 6:50
2 – 6:45
3 – 6:52
4 – 6:42
5 – 6:38
6 – 6:53
7 – 6:48
8 – 6:34
9 – 6:39
10 – 6:42
11 – 6:38
12 – 6:42
13 – 6:39
13.1 – 0:43

What happened to my general aerobic pace? Does my Garmin need recalibrating or is this my most glorious training run ever? Not only was this half-marathon run 8 sec/mi faster than my scheduled marathon-pace (in a negative split no less), not only is this by far the fastest I’ve ever run 13 miles in training (previous best was 1:35:42 sometime last year)…this training time is faster than my Manhattan Half Marathon race time of 1:29:06 run on the exact same course less than 6 weeks ago! How’s that for some quality! And to be honest, the effort wasn’t even all that difficult, as evidenced by my average HR of 143bpm with a max HR of 165bpm, which is about where I am on a typical long run. Wow! Looking back at my training log, I was shocked to find that previous to this run, I’d never run below 7min/mi pace for any run longer than 10 miles ever before in training! Crazy!

I know everyone is thinking I’m being facetious, but honestly, I really am mesmerized by my own running progress. I never imagined that I’d be training so well in the depths of the coldest winter I’d ever known. I’m not saying I’m going to tear up Boston in 39 days because I don’t have a good track record of running well in marathons outside of NYC (a topic for a future post!); all I’m saying is that I’ve never felt more prepared to run a good marathon than I do right now.

Oh yeah, and about these extra “quantity” miles that I should be running…totally overrated in my book. Haha!

Have a good weekend all, and thanks for reading and celebrating with me!


Anonymous said...

woot! woot!

Mr. Petes said...


Thanks so much for the kind words and for the 10 miler information, I really appreciated it. I have added you to my blogroll which hopefully isn't a problem. As of now, I don't have any spring marathons but I have been thinking about signing up for one in May or June. Additionally, I love the layout of your blog. Might you remember where you got it?

Anyways, again, thanks for the nice words. Keep up the good runs!!

Michelle said...

WOOHOO Leslie! Your doing amazing running!!

I am so proud of you bro!!!

Irish Cream said...

GOOOO QUALITY!! Haha! Awesome job, Lam! It is SO amazing to me as well that you have made so much darn progress recently. I always feel like it must be so much more difficult for fast people to get faster (you are fast, trust me!) than it is for us slow peeps, but you make it look easy! Keep up the great work! And I predict that you break the streak of not so awesome "away" marathons and break 3:00 at Boston. WOOHOO!

X-Country2 said...

Just like some runs are total crap for no good reason, some runs are totally amazing for no real reason. Running just screws with your head like that. :o)

Running and living said...

Congrats on another great quality run. I completely share your perspective on quality vs quantity, and blending running with work, social life, family, etc, so as to keep life balanced!
I, too, think you are going to break 3 h in Boston. Ana-Maria

Anonymous said...

You are doing great. I think there is a point in your life when you have to weigh your training options. How much to sacrifice (work, time, family, etc)to reach a goal which may hold various degrees of importance. I don't think you are wasting your talents. If you were under contract with Nike and running was your job, then maybe someone could find an argument. But, reality is, your a doctor, you have a full time job, you are a friend, a coach,a son, a brother and a runner. Running is for you and you alone.

Anonymous said...

I just saw your prior post. I must again be a contrarian. Your recent workout shows that you are in good shape. To a point.

I consider myself a low mileage guy, but before NY 2006 I got into the 60s, with 3 20 milers at 6:50-7:00 pace in the run-up to the race and one weekly speed session (usually tempos). None of my miles was slower than 7:20 (except maybe the first one of a run), even on easy days. In the race, I started losing it big time at 21, running 1:20/1:28. After the race, I thought the lack of a 13-15 miler during the week hurt me together with no doing enough MP runs.

So my plan was three quality workouts a week: a bunch or 20 milers or long MP runs, a tempo or other speed workout, and a mid-week longish run (and one day off), although my accident ended that.

To you. I don't think that 40 miles a week is enough. You may slide by, but any problems and you're dead. Your 13.1 workout suggests the ability to go much faster than 3 in theory (I did a 2:48 and would be hard-pressed to go much faster than you did in that workout), but without the base, I don't know.

If you can't get in the mileage because of time or injury issues, the choice should be whether you should be doing a marathon at all. If you put in the work and could get low to mid 2:40s, what's the point of doing, say, 2:57?

Nothing wrong with focusing on 5Ks to HMs, doing the occasional track and XC race and not sweating the mileage issue. That's what I'm doing now, probably not running another marathon until NY 2010.

Of course, you'll know a lot more after Boston. It's a constant learning process.

J said...

Great job on the run! I can't wait to see how Boston goes for you!!

Run For Life said...

You are hysterical! I was ready to give you a little comment lecture halfway through the post. Keep trusting yourself, you're doing awesome! (Also, I have never thought you have come across as facetious.)

sRod said...

So you're generaly working toward breaking the sound barrier, right? That's the trend I'm seeing. Good work friend.

joyRuN said...

Your speediness is mesmerizing!

And it's sick, just SICK that you pull off an avg 6:44 pace with avg HR in the 140s. Is your resting HR in the pacemaker/atropine range?

Lindsay said...

wow awesome run! i wish sub-7 was non-death pace for me!

Meg said...

What a great year you're having! Congratulations!

And - you are not of average competency..definitely not middle of the pack!!

Clicky Web Analytics