Thursday, December 18, 2008

Off Season

That's the title because it's that time of year, so I've been thinking about it, about last season, etc., GZ posted something about it and even asked for feedback, and I actually worked-out for the first time since 12/7. But before 12/7 I was down from that cold so I've kinda been off for a few weeks now. Nonetheless, good timing for the post.

GZ and others like him (let's see, what does that mean. . .oh yeah, nuts) are still going strong. His blog roll is ridiculous btw and a few of those eastern seaboard doods are going pretty strong, too. But it looks like some runners are actually in the middle of a winter xc race series, or something like that. They all seem pretty fast, 5/10kers and they're just hammering away. If you're in the middle of a season, have at it, but a lot of us are in the off season. I suppose it simply means that target races are in the spring summer and fall, so this is a good time to chill and given the holidays, the weather and the fact that we probably just finished a season of spring summer and fall, well, time for a little R&R. But again, the break is totally dependent upon the race schedule.

Lucho has a great post today about this very thing. He's off. He's getting pretty smart about his approach to his races. First of all, he's targeting a 10k in January or Feb I think. I might've been reading the Science of Sport blog and back when Haile Gebrselassie broke the record at Berlin, they wrote a very thorough analysis of the marathon, speculating on the possibility of there being another record in the coming years. The authors basically hypothesized that success at the marathon generally comes via success at the 10k and from that premise they deduced that there really are not many great 10kers today, so, therefore, there isn't a legitimate candidate on the horizon (I'm paraphrasing and read it a long time ago, but one thing is clear: to do "well" at the marathon, one needs to be able to do "well" at the 10k distance). Lucho I think knows that. Tim also talked of the number of weeks one needs to really build and peak for a specific race (~20 weeks). In the end, his point is one does need to and should take time off to be able to really focus and be successful in that block of training. Otherwise, as he says, one reaches the point of diminishing returns.

Hell, read his post. The concept is pretty straight-forward. And he also mentioned one should be psyched to exercise again. That's what this is all about, no? That's why I worked out today, because I absolutely wanted to. That's it. It was meager, but it was nice. I didn't have to.

Now I don't know the science behind this great art of athletic performance (I think so much of it is common sense and rests on one's ability to maintain a good attitude and one's ability to suffer). But most teachers seem to agree there needs to be downtime. Reading Noakes recently, he was going over a forefather's 15 basic principles of training (or something like that), and one of them was something along the lines of "always train." We see people doing it. And it makes sense. I got pretty lethargic in just one week thinking about my hypothyroidism. In fact, from some of the feedback I got, exercise is good for those with such a condition. Hey, those who suffer from depression, or anxiety could certainly help themselves with exercise. My wife, a mental health therapist, is a firm believer in this. Eating and exercise can change the world! But we're talking about over-training. And Noakes, who summarized this gentleman's ancient theory of training, then politely disagreed, presenting some anecdotal evidence to support the current theory that includes a month off for most and in some cases two months. He closed a paragraph explaining how Mark Allen took two months off and then proceeded to spend 3 months in base, reminding the reader that Allen is one of the greatest endurance athletes in the world (Noakes).

All this to say, one should take some time off. But, again, it depends on the race schedule. Allen cleaned clocks in October. GZ is supposed to peak in August. . . uh, dude, take a day off now and then! In fact, GZ, if my memory serves me correctly, increased the load very shortly after doing the double. I'm not wrong. In fact, if you want to break 17 for 5k, you should look into a little break, dood!

So, I'm going to work my own schedule back into shape. Of course, I've got some nutrition issues and perhaps some other therapy to research and perhaps incorporate into the routine, but my training will consist of the following, in very general terms:

Almost all work-outs are building base. I will wear a HRM more often than not and not exceed 145 bpm through February. BUT I'm going to do one fun run a week where I wear no monitor and run harder, obviously on a trail. Hopefully I have exceptional company on those runs. An extended base building period is really really key for a long and injury-free season. That's what last year taught me. Build the engine, and proof the chassis. But the one tempo run a week will be important for the fat burning protocol and keeping it interesting. I may alter this a bit, but generally speaking, that's the general plan.

General plan: Gym rat during the week. Tempo and long runs on the weekend.

Today: 35 minutes easy run. A little core work/stretching. 10 min. sauna.

Next post: Racing and pacing in 2009!

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