Monday, August 13, 2007


Is it okay to hate your birth month? I truly despise August. Maybe I should rephrase that; I truly despise racing in August. Yesterday I ran a 15K, which happened to be my first race since Grandma’s. Let’s just say it didn’t go well. I averaged 6:30 pace. To put it another way, that’s 5 seconds per mile slower than I ran for 3.8 more miles in January.

Intuitively, “training through” some races makes sense. You can’t taper for ever race and expect to be in your best shape for your key race. But why does it have to be so fucking painful? And seriously, it’s not like a 75-mile week should leave me feeling totally spent – during my warm-up.

And I don’t mind a reality check in the form of a bad race every once in awhile – except when it makes me rethink everything I’m doing. Thoughts after the race covered the spectrum from wanting to cut my hard workouts and increase my mileage even more to wanting to cut my mileage and add more speed.

I think most people’s initial reaction would be to train harder, but I don’t know if that’s the right response. Looking back at last year, I ran a half marathon in August that was also my first race in months. I bombed that by barely breaking 1:30. Afterwards, I ran a few weeks between 75-80 miles and did lots of tempo and MP workouts – all which led to a so-so Chicago Marathon.

When I compare that training to what worked for Grandma’s, I see fewer miles (60 mpw with 1 day off every week) and more speedwork. Recently I posted that I responded better to more tempos and more MP workouts. Maybe I’m underestimating what speedwork does for me. Maybe I just hate doing speedwork and that’s why I tend to avoid it.

Another thing that has changed is that I’ve tried to get in more quality within each week. If you remember back a few weeks, I posted that I only averaged 1.7 hard runs per week in the 6 months prior to Grandma’s. Since that post, I’ve average 2.7 hard runs per week. On top of that, there was a stretch where I was only getting 6.5-7 hours of sleep a night. I need at least an hour more than that.

Here are the results. This race was added to the team series, that’s why you see so many awesome times for such a small race. It’s also why you see so many state age records. I came in 75th out of 191 runners and even worse, if you look at the age-graded results.

Quote of the day;

“The object of the game in racing is to find the pace that you can just hold, that you think is going to kill you but that doesn’t – quite. This is a species of self-torture that makes nonexercisers mumble the word ‘sick,’ but I don’t think it is.” – John Jerome


Patrick said...

I wouldn't worry too much about August racing. At least that is what I'm telling myself....

Evan Roberts said...

One bad race is an aberration. Two in a row is the start of a trend, and should make you more concerned. Three in a row is time to re-evaluate. You're at stage 1. If your workouts are good and you feel fine, don't worry about it.

Thomas said...

I just read about the same race in Patrick Russell's blog, and (despite what he just commented here) he said he had a bad race, too (he "only" came third). I guess a race on a challenging course in the summer is just bound to feel tougher than others.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I knew I would be on track in my TCM training if I could hit my planned marathon pace for this distance, this week. I was ~4 sec./mi. off that, and I consider it a good effort! Different perspective.

Let's face it, this should be the heaviest training month before TCM, and if you are not a bit tired, you could probably be training a bit more. I think you are on the right track. Shoot for the same pace at C.O.L.? That's my plan.

Chad said...

Pat, it's easy to say, but hard to convince yourself. My race would be like you running 51-flat. I can't let that slide without a little bitching and over-analysis.

Evan, the "only" problem is that after stage 3, I'd be 4 weeks from TCM. Then what the hell do I do?

Thomas, my comparison to my January half marathon included a challenging course and tough conditions - on the other end of the weather spectrum.

D., I guess the difference is going into a race planning to run 6:30s vs. thinking you're going to run 6:15s and ending up running 6:30s. Yeah, I'll try to run 6:30-6:40 at COL. It better feel WAAAAAAY better than on Sunday.

Evan Roberts said...

I don't think you'll get to three bad races in a row. You ran a good marathon. You recovered properly. Now you're getting back into it, and your first race post-marathon was at the end of a higher mileage week than you've done for a while. Unless you have other symptoms of malaise and under-recovery I wouldn't worry too much. That's easy to say when I didn't do the race, of course ... It's good to be disappointed because that's a sign of motivation and that you care to know how you're doing. Wait a week, do a hard timed workout and see how you feel on that. If that feels bad you're at stage 2.

Anonymous said...

When this happens, I take an extra day of a week. I like miles like the next guy, but when I'm not performing in training or racing I take the rest and sleep. Remember the Jack Foster quote? I run my 3 -15 miles a day? It sounds silly, but you gotta have sleep and rest. This is a hobby, we have other things we do. If I can run 1:30 or 2:00 three days a week, the rest is gravy on short hard runs and rest. I was also not afraid to throw a 3-4 hour run in there every 3 weeks.

Chad said...

Evan, I think you're right. The good news is I don't have "other symptoms". I feel pretty good and am happy with my current training. I just like to bitch once in awhile.

Double, good advice. I do need to focus on getting more sleep. If the severe weather siren would stop going off in the middle of the night, it would help.