p pol The Adventures of Carboman: Pain Is Weakness Leaving Your Body

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pain Is Weakness Leaving Your Body

I've finally been able to nail down some consistency to my running by covering 11.5 (LT), 10.5 (Easy), 13.1 (LT) and 10.4K (Easy) since last Saturday. Although there's been no long runs so far (something which I need to remedy), I'm happy with the streak. Not all the workouts are fun and I had to disassociate from the discomfort in the early miles just to get through. The workouts were achieved under 6-minute pace but I'm not really concerned about it. I don't want to hit my stride just yet as there are many months to go. My primary goal for now is to get the miles and consistency in and the speed can come in later. Over the next couple of weeks however, I'll need to get my long runs to 15, 20 and 30K before the GE30K race on January 20th. The legs feel good and with the kids away till next week, conditions are there to ensure I stick to my workouts. One thing is for sure - I'll need to slow down (just) a tad, probably to a 6:20 to 6:25 pace (see section on Base Training below).

Read and Reading
I was reading Kristin Armstrong's (she has such a knack for writing that instantly connects the reader to her) blog posting about pain. She recommends this book Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long Distance Swimmer, by Lynne Cox as an inspiring read. Check out Kristin's blog. The book can be purchased online for about RM55 from Acmabooks.

I recently laid my hands on a few copies of Gary Larson's Far Side books. What a hoot these books are. I've always been a fan of these comics but I've never found it in me to part with close to RM50 for a comic book, no matter how thick it is. Thanks to the 2nd hand book market and a colleague who is intent on building a library of 2nd hand books (I think he's obsessed, like I am on running except that I don't talk so much about it as he does about the books), I now have a decent collection of Larson's gems, at a mere fraction of the cost. The Far Side comics have such a cult fan base that there's even a run in its theme, appropriately named "A Run To The Far Side"!

Listening/Base Training
Steverunner's podcast on Base Training, hosted this time by John Ellis. In a nutshell Base Training serves to build up the runner's endurance base utilizing consistent, easy paced workouts. Doing so will strengthen the connective tissues, build more mitochondrias, and improve fat-burning capabilities. You're actually training slow to speed up. John Ellis clearly draws from the teachings of Arthur Lydiard but at the same time realizes that even though normal people nowadays won't be able to hit 100K weeks, there must still be consistency (ie you must head out there at least 5 days a week), patience (to stay on easy pace and not lured into a speed workout) and focus in their training to achieve their goals. Base Training can take between 3 months to a year depending on which key race is identified. A gauge for easy pace would be the talk test ie you can take part in a conversation comfortably while you run, or running with a HRM at 70% max HR. You'll rightfully think, as I've found out, that Base Training is best done with a friend of similar capability - so that chatting isn't a problem while covering the miles. It's easy to look down on Base Training with one running slow, sometimes seemingly plodding along and being lapped by others. But in truth runners are a disciplined lot who know what they want, know the benefits of Base Training - you're building up your tissue, cellular and musculature strength, and improving your fuel utilization. The more Base Training you do, the more new cells are created in your leg muscles which will in turn make it easier to run long and faster. Contrast that to running too fast too often where you're tearing down more than you can recover and rebuild. John Ellis asks us to think of these cells as mini batteries - the more you have them the longer you can last, the faster you can run. The Trifuel article here concurs with this line of thought. So the next time when someone overtakes you on the roads, just let them be. You're the training for your race, not them. Read also RunningOnline's take on Base Training. Not forgetting Mark Allen's (yes, the Tri legend) advice - hey, you want to argue with Mark Allen? Check out what he says:

"And to keep from going over your aerobic limit you will have to slow your pace down, often significantly. This is where most athletes do not have the patience to stick with the aerobic training. You may have to slow down several minutes per mile from your normal everyday training pace just to keep your heart rate from going above the aerobic maximum. Your perceived effort can be very, very low while you are developing your aerobic engine. And this is when one's patience is tested. Workouts will feel the opposite of the mentality that says training should be painful and muscles need to burn to get benefit. This may be true later during the speed phase of the season. But right now, this is absolutely not correct. You will be getting huge benefit that will show up months down the road."

In other words, the adage "No Pain No Gain" does not apply at this stage. Leave the pain (usually brought about by anaerobic training) at the sharpening phase of your program. The body can't develop both the aerobic and anaerobic systems well at the same time, hence both phases need to be separated. Hence the need for specificity in a training program.

The Season 2 of The Unit. I've reached episode 20 and there are only 2 left till the end. Season 3 is currently showing in the US.

Today calls for an easy run and I should be starting at 5:30pm. Tomorrow will be a rest day but I may just do a 4-6K to loosen the legs and keep the momentum going before sending the wife to her massage session. Then we'll drop by 1U to check out a Transformers toy C1 has been hankering for. Friday will see us return to work and it will incidentally be my last day at work for this year, so there will be plenty of running happening!

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