Monday, February 27, 2012

Mini slump and explanation

The week of 2/20-2/27 was not a very good one for me training wise. Most observers would simply write it off as part of the marathon recovery but I know better. After Fargo, I took only one rest day the following week and actually PR'd at 5 Miles less than 2 weeks later. After Huntsville, I only needed one rest day then proceeded to run 40 miles the next week. This time, I took a whole week off as a planned break then managed only 34 miles while feeling sub-par in all of my workouts. It felt like I was operating at 95% and based on my workout times, that sounds about right. Even without interval training, I should have been near 5:30 in the Mile. Instead, I ran a 5:48 (about 5% off). I'm normally good for a mid-33 in a 5 Mile tempo but could barely manage a sub-35. Again, that's about 5% off time wise. None of those workouts, with the exception of Tuesday's debacle (2 miles in 16:32) would be enough to raise a red flag on their own but a string of yellow flags serves the same purpose. The best miler in the world runs about 3:45. A 5% drop off would result in a 3:56, the difference between #1 in the world and barely world class. In my case, it's a 15-20 second drop off and someone who saw me running reported that I looked tired and did not have the ususal spring in my step.

Let's go back to the Mercedes Marathon. I believed that before the race I was capable of a 3:15ish even on a moderately difficult course. Several times on the race report, I made reference to "not having my best stuff." In truth, that was likely the beginning of the slump but the decline was too insignificant to really notice. If I was operating at 98% as I claim, it would have cost me 4 minutes. Add that to the fact that I really did not give my all in the last 4 miles and it was windy at times. If I had raced Mercedes the day of 3 M two weeks earlier at 100%, 3:15 or 3:16 sounds about right. On the other hand, if I raced 3M at 98%, I would have been just over 1:30 instead of a low 1:28. Given the choice between an A+ performance in the full or the half, I would have chosen the latter.

This really does bode well for my BQ attempt in 2014. I missed the standard by 12 minutes but left 1 on the course and had 4 stolen from me. If I'm in tip top form and race a faster downhill course, I figure that I only need about 3-4 minutes worth of gains in fitness to have a realistic chance at a sub-3:10. I ran 2,092 miles in the previous calendar year. If I can get that up to 2,400-2,500 (6-8 more MPW), I really believe that I can do it. I sure hope so because I want to retire from marathons and would treat Boston like a fun run.

What if I left this problem alone? 98% two weeks ago turned into 95%, which would turn into 90% within the next 2 weeks. I'd struggle for a 6:00 mile and and it would take a hard tempo effort to run my usual easy pace. Before the diagnosis, I insisted that a sharp decline in my performances was evidence of a serious medical condition. Now, I still must stay on top of my situation and running remains the most effective barometer.

I believe that my magnesium is low relative to my calcium and early signs point to that being correct. I will have to take a new Cal/Mag supplement with a 1:1 ratio instead of 2:1. Again, I can live with that and it's nothing compared to what I've been through as recently as last summer. I still have a reason to hope that if I miss a dose every now and then, it won't hurt me and yes, God is still able to set me free.

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