Checking In 2/1/2022

Happy Chinese New Year (of the Tiger).

This Sunday’s 14 miler went straight to hell, and it was the first long workout of the plan that I did not get done.

After morning coffee, I discovered I forgot my water bottle. Going back home for it would mean a 9:45 or 10:00am start, too late in the morning to avoid excess overhead sun exposure. I had been timing weekend runs to start around 8-9am for various reasons (matching the Vancouver Marathon start time, giving time for pre-run fueling and coffee, plus admittedly the early mornings are rather cold). The time will come for 6am long runs, but that time is not now.

I decided to take it easy and try doing the run on the treadmill later than morning, which of course hadn’t gone well in the past due to the underratedly warm conditions of indoor treadmill running. The 73-78’F and 30+% humidity with no passing breeze combined with no natural pace adjustments can get the perceived heat index into the 90’s in a hurry. Plus, being indoors in a public gym, I can’t remove my shirt to cool off, which often helps a lot.

Still, I do eventually need to re-acclimate to warmer running, and while April will provide ample opportunity for that, I decided trying it now was worth a shot.

Long story short, it ended up not working out. Running-wise, I didn’t feel too bad. But I got hot in a hurry, and my heart rate (which I’m now trying to closely monitor on aerobic runs) quickly jumped to the 140’s (76-82% max). The laborious indoor heat took its tool and once my HR hit 150 about 35-40 minutes in, despite ample fluids, I stopped it there and decided trying to find a shaded route and take the rest of the run outside would be worth the trouble.

I had remembered that my Paseo Verde route in Green Valley had ample shade, and I hurried there. Alas, I was only half right. The north and east portions of the route are tree-lined and very shaded. But the west and south portions have no shade and full exposure to the mid-day sun. Add in that it got unusually warm for the time of year, and I had to stop about 2.9 miles into that to cool off under whatever shade I could find before continuing.

I got 5.3 miles into that Paseo Verde run and realized that was all I should do that afternoon. I had considered running out the 5.2 miles I hadn’t covered later towards the evening, but when I returned home I found I was quite tired from it all, and decided to call it that day after 8.8 miles between both runs.

Yesterday I took my first work break runs in weeks, making up about 3.6mi of the lost mileage from the weekend on what would have otherwise been a rest day. My Chops metrics indicate I didn’t lose much fitness thanks to that mileage plus what I did Sunday.

I’ve been reviewing and referring to Runalyze‘s Marathon Shape metric to not just gauge the shape I was in during prior training cycles, but also get a general guide for what I need to do to get in full shape to run the marathon to my best ability.

Marathon Shape is a percentage score, 100% obviously meaning you’re in needed condition to run your goal race, and lower percentages meaning you aren’t quite ready to run your VO2max-projected time, and you’re probably going to run slower if you did run today. VO2max indicates I’ve got a 4:10 marathon in me right now, but in my current shape of 28% the end result would be more like 5:35 or so. That seems about right.

Runalyze will take your projected VO2max and spit out a running volume in miles per week plus a desired long run length that per them is needed at minimum for you to get in 100% marathon shape. I’m still not totally sure how this is calculated, but for me right now they say I need 36 miles per week (mpw) and a long run of at least 16 miles. I’m close to the former, and still haven’t yet run the latter.

Based on those benchmarks, Runalyze calculates your marathon shape. Their metric compares your average weekly mileage over the preceding 182 days against (in this case) 36 mpw, and your long runs over the last 70 days against the 16 mile benchmark, counting every long run mile over 8 miles.

Given these parameters, it in theory doesn’t matter nearly as much now how long my long runs go as it will within the final 10 weeks before Vancouver 2022. Right now, I’m still about 13 weeks away. Yes, I need to run long and build the conditioning to go 16+ on my long runs in the present. But if a long run goes to hell now, it’s not a killer as long as I nail the next long run, and it’s not nearly as bad as it would be if I botched a long run, say, 6 weeks before the marathon.

It’s probably not ideal that the previous weekend’s long run was shorter (because I ran a 10K the day before), so I’ll have gone 3 weeks between long runs and will be running a good deal longer (16mi this weekend, in fact) than the last longest run (13mi). But I’ll take it easy and, just like prior training cycles, my top priority on stretching out will be to just cover the distance.

Also, outside of 70 days, it’s more important that I accumulate volume than how long the long runs go. So, even though this weekend’s long run went to hell, making up any of the lost mileage would be a good idea. Hence, I ran out a couple of work breaks yesterday and after all was said and done I got somewhat close (within 1.5mi) to the total expected mileage from this weekend. I would have liked to get it all back, but by yesterday afternoon I was once again a bit weary plus had to run an errand for the office, so I called it good there.

This is not to say that ditching all my long runs and just doing short runs in their place is ideal (I still need to build the endurance to go 16+ once those runs count against the metrics). But this is a situation where, if a long run doesn’t work, ending them early and doing some easy short runs in the interim to get the volume in is probably not a bad idea.

I feel okay right now, if not a bit generally weary. Because Wednesday (my moderate run day) is forecast to be very windy, I have pivoted the midweek workouts a bit. Usually I’d run a shortish run Tuesday and Thursday, with the longer run on Wednesday.

Instead, I’ll take the longish run on Tuesday, take Wednesday off, then repeat the longish run Thursday before the scheduled Friday off. Even though tonight should start to get a bit windy ahead of Wednesday’s gale force conditions, it won’t be as bad as Wednesday and I should be able to handle a longer run in those conditions tonight.

I’ll discuss the Marathon Shape metric more later, my prior training cycles, as well as my ceiling for this one and what i need to do going forward to be in the best condition possible for future training cycles.

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