Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Long Run...

I am a firm believer that one of the most important workouts for endurance athletes is the "long run". For me the weekly long run is typically on Sunday. The term "long" is very relative. I believe that all endurance athletes, whether triathletes, or strictly runners benefit from running long once a week. The reason the term "long" is relative is due to the wide range of levels individuals training for endurance are at. It is also relative to the event that people are training for. A long run for someone training for the 5k will probably look different than the long run of someone training for an Ironman. The long run for someone just getting started in running will look different than the long run for somone who has been training for months. For me, the long run is a staple in my workout plan. Unless I have a Sunday race that is the day I run long. When I began training this year on November 1 my long run was 60 minutes. I slowly began to increase that time with a goal of getting to 2 hrs. 15 minutes by Ironman St. George. I believe it is important to keep the long run at an easy pace...something you can sustain for well...a long time. Early on for me the long run also served as a recovery run. Although it was my longest run of the week it was at such an easy pace I was able to work out hard on Monday. That changed a bit when I began doing my long runs with my training buddy Adam Bohach this winter. He is such a strong runner and his easy pace would leave me tired by the end. 2 weeks before Ironman St. George we ran 17.5 miles and went through the 16 mile mark at just under 6:00/mile pace. This effort took me a few days to recover from. I am typically between 6:30/7:10 pace when I'm doing my long run. It varies based on the weather and the course I choose to run. I believe the benefits of the long run are many...mental toughness, fat burning, increased aerobic abilities, improved running efficiency...etc. When I run long my goal is to run for a long time. I don't really are about what the pace is. I think longer time just as good of a measurement as the mileage covered. My longest run prior to Ironman St. George was 23 miles or 2 hrs 30 minutes. I also had a 21 mile run and a couple 17-18. Over the past 6 weeks I've had one at 17.5, one at 19.5, one at 14.5 and then today I ran my longest ever...although it wasn't exactly planned that way.

We've had a really bad heat wave going through the midwest...actually I think it's gone through the entire country. Our heat index hit 121 degrees on Tuesday. I spent the first few days of the week getting recoverd from last Sunday's Ironman Racine 70.3. On Thursday I started getting back into regular training and I was actually feeling really good. I had the best swim workout of my life on Thursday. I had really high intensity bike workouts on Thursday and Saturday. Then on Sunday I planned my long run. It was storming out like crazy when I woke up to begin the run. I knew Monday was supposed to be an end to the extreme heat so I debated running 12 today and then doing about 20 tomorrow for the long run. I began watching the live streaming of Ironman Lake Placid in the morning and I decided I would do the run on the treadmill while watching the race on the computer. The tough part was figuring out how to hook the computer to the treadmill so I could see it. I used a really cool green theraband to tie it to the treadmill and I was off on the run. The computer covered my speed, time, and distance which was an added bonus because watching that on a treadmill is the worst part of treadmill running. I got settled into a nice rhythm not even knowing what my speed was. I had a bottle of fluid and 1 GU with me. After awhile the bottle was empty and my GU was gone and I began to feel like some salt tablets. I paused the treadmill and took a 3 minute break to refill my bottle and get the salt tablets. I decided to take a peek to see where I was at. I was at 12.48 miles and it had been 1 hr. 28 minutes. I got back on and continued running and soon Super Mom was home. My bottle was empty again and I wanted more salt tablets so I called her down to help supply my aid so I wouldn't have to stop again. It was really awesome being able to watch the Ironman and it kept my mind off the run. I was varying my pace without knowing what it was. I would increase it for 5 minutes by 5 "faster" clicks and then back it down after that. I varied the incline some to keep my legs from getting into that flat rhythm for too long. After 3 bottles of fluid and 2 more GU Roctane gels I looked again and saw I was at mile 22. I still was feeling great. Jen asked how long I was going to run for and I said, "until I get tired." I was secretly hoping that "wall" I've heard so much about would hit me so I could find out what it felt like. I kept running and it never hit me. I moved the computer slightly so I could see the mileage and at mile 25 I realized I was going to go through my marathon (26.2 miles) in just under 3 hours...NO!! I did not want to break 3 hours in my first marathon. I slowed the pace down knowing full well I wanted to save that day for Ironman Wisconsin on September 11th. I went through 26.2 in 3 hrs. 22 seconds. After I hit that mark I increased the speed to 6:20 pace and it felt great. I ran this pace until I hit 27.5 miles and called it a day with the new longest run of my life. 3 hrs. 8 minutes 38 seconds. It was a big confidence booster to know I could go that far without feeling any negative effects. I carried this confidence with me for a few hours until I was defeated by my 3 year old daughter Payton when she beat me in a game of Candy Land and then taunted me afterwards. I won't be running that far again before Ironman Wisconsin. Maybe 1 or 2 more at 20 miles. Watching Ironman Lake Placid was awesome. TJ Tollakson, the pride of Iowa, won the race with a super impressive performance. It was his first career Ironman win. I was really excited to see him represent so well. The television commentators kept saying it was only a matter of time before last year's winner Ben Hoffman would catch him on the bike or the run but TJ is in tremendous shape and is running better than he ever has. I had a feeling he would continue his great running today and he sure did by running the marathon in 2 hrs. 56 minutes...after averaging nearly 24.5 mph on the bike for 112 miles. I was also rooting for Indiana pro Daniel Bretscher who finished in 5th place! He was steady through the entire race and ran a very good marathon to solidify his paycheck. The race certainly got me excited to race this distance in 7 weeks.

The week was a good one considering how sore I was on Monday and Tuesday. After seeing Laurel Darren on Tuesday afternoon for a massage I was feeling pretty good by Wednesday and awesome by Thursday. I swam over 20,000 yards this week for just the 2nd time this summer and I'm still feeling like my swimming is getting better every week. I was originally planning to do a 5 day training camp starting tomorrow but after analyzing my race last weekend I decided against that. I feel what I need right now is a lot of high quality bike work. It is very tough for me to get any quality during a training camp due to the volume of work I'm putting in. Much of this quality will be back on the bike trainer. With my Cycleops Power Beam pro I am able to pre-set my wattage levels for workouts and I have found it difficult to simulate this intensity on outdoor rides. On Saturday night I did my favorite bread and butter workout...5x5 with Jen. She ran her 5 minute periods on the treadmill while I did mine on the bike. I was able to do 5 of them at 330 watts which was my highest ever for this workout. In my build for St. George I maxed out at 320 on the 5x5. I had not attempted that in a few months and the last time I did it I cracked. I could not pedal the entire period at 320 watts. This is why doing these workouts on the trainer has been so beneficial. When I pre-set the wattage I am either able to hit it by pedaling the entire time or it gets so difficult I can't pedal at that power any more. Saturday I was able to complete all five of the 5 minute periods at 330 watts and it didn't kill me. Jen ran her 5 minute periods next to me at a very impressive 5:40/mile average! I know I adapt very quickly to quality on the bike so I hope that by Ironman Steelhead in 3 weeks I'm able to ride a faster bike split and not be so far behind when I get off the bike.

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