Monthly Archives: October 2006

Redlining it to NYC

These last few weeks have been really interesting from a training perspective. I have experienced true “redlining” of my abilities in many of my workouts.
This has really shown up in my track workouts at trying to maintain a super high pace for a given distance, whether it’s 800 meters or distance tempo workouts of up to 4000m in length. It also showed up last weekend for the Long Beach Half Marathon where I could feel and, later, see my effort and heart rate rise to super high levels for the entire race.
It’s a weird experience being in a redlined state for a long time. At points during my track intervals, I have gotten to the point of almost feeling dizzy and passing out, and then backing off a tad to maintain as high a pace as possible. In the longer distance tempo workouts, I have focused on leg turnover and, in maintaining a certain leg turnover rate, my HR jumps to a really high level.
It’s good practice. Pushing my tolerance to higher thresholds allows me to keep performance high for longer periods of time and maxes my output.
It’s potentially bad in that one of these days I may push over some physical limit and pass out during a race. That would definitely NOT be good.
Afterwards, I find that my body is a bit slower in recovering after these workouts. I have maintained my effort so close to my lactate threshold for so long that I feel it in my lungs and body for days afterwards.
I don’t know of any other way of training to push my performance higher; I need to continually push my body to the edge to eke out that last bit of speed. As long as I don’t push over the edge, it seems that my body recovers and learns so that next time I improve and it’s not so bad.
I look forward to seeing what happens at NYC in two weeks when I will maintain this level of output at marathon distance.

Pulling with Paddles, Swim Training Controversy

These last few months I’ve been building up my use of paddles while swimming. It was hard in the beginning, as they put a lot of stress on my shoulders. Slowly, over several weeks, I built my endurance to use them to about 400m now. Over the same period, I’ve noticed the pull in my stroke has gotten considerably stronger, and consequently I have been able to hold high speeds for a longer period of time now.
At the end of every workout, whenever possible, I try to pull with paddles and really get a nice strength workout at the end of a normal Masters workout, and do about 300-400m of swimming. As I enter into my off season, I intend to get more into the strength building part of swimming in preparation for applying strength and endurance next year when the training season begins.
I have used stretch cords and also have done weight training for my catch and stroke. But I have not found that to be as effective as pulling with paddles in the water.
As I find this to be effective for me, I come also to think on all the books I’ve read and the coaches I’ve talked to about their methods of swim training.
It seems that so many opinions abound regarding swim training and the use of tools like pull buoys and fins, and what should one focus on and not.
Total Immersion coaches focus on body balance in the water and maintaining a good body position to keep the hips up as well as front quadrant swimming, where you should keep at least one arm in front of your head at all times while swimming. They say that pull buoys don’t really work but fins are ok.
Steve Tarpinian, writer of swimming books and producer of swim DVDs, says that each person has an indvidual swim form and they need to find that. He also has a strong opinion on which tools work and which do not.
Marc Evans, a triathlete coach in the Bay Area, is into constant propulsion swimming and actually shortening the stroke from pushing all the way down your leg. In this way, propulsion is constant and maximal.
So how do we, as athletes know what’s best for us? The only thing I can say is that I had to try about everything, and also get to know myself as a swimmer very well in terms of what my needs are, and how I swim and where my issues are. I basically had to try everything to figure out what would work best for my body, techniques, and methods.
Bruce Lee, in developing Jeet Kune Do, emphasized studying many styles and taking what works for you and discarding the rest. I believe that learning swimming is the same way, and that to broaden your knowledge base while getting to know one’s own issues and strengths is the way to go.

On the Way to NYC

Yesterday, I ran my favorite hill loop, the Coyote Trail, in Rancho San Antonio. Well, favorite is a controversial term. I ran the loop seven times logging in 17 miles, legs burning out on the last two loops as I up my intensity, and feet getting totally abused on the steeper downhill coming down off Coyote Trail back to the starting area. Total time, 2 hours and 42 minutes.
Although it hurts (got blisters on both feet from the downhill action), I can’t think of a better way to prepare myself for the five bridges in the NYC course – my nemesis on the last three NYC marathons.
The NYC course, sans the bridges, is relatively flat to rolling with long, gradual uphills at times. Some smaller steep hills exist as you cross into Central Park, but that’s about it. What makes this course hard is the fact that there are five bridges in the course which cross back and forth from borough to borough. These annoying bridges are relatively steep hill climbs and interrupt your normal tempo rhythm through the city streets. Last year, it was the 59th Street bridge which literally sucked the energy out of my sails, and initiated the longest “wall” I’ve encountered to date – about 9 miles worth!
My hope is that doing those hill repeats, I can get strong enough to tackle the hills at speed and have enough left over to finish the race. I am optimistic now that I’ve done 7 relatively strong hill repeats which are all steeper than the bridges by far.
Yesterday, I weighed in at 150 lbs with clothes on. Wow. Dropping fast. That means I am about 148-149 lbs without clothes on. Last year at the beginning of the NYC Marathon, I was 147 lbs the morning of. I wonder if I’ll be less this year with a month left to go, and the most intense endurance training coming up.
The less I weigh, the less I carry around with me, and I waste less energy because I’m not carrying around useless weight.
Onwards to more speedwork during the week, crossing over into long tempo sessions. Then, long endurance fartlek intervals on the weekends to round out the training.