Distance swimming days

The main MIT pool, where I’m taking the master swimming sessions, is closed for a yearly maintenance. The “Alumni” pool is open and I’m going there instead. There is no coach, so I’m trying to do a kind of “distance” workouts:

Warm-up:

  • 100 free 50 breast
  • 100  free 50 breast
  • 100 free
  • 100 free

First set:

  • 4 x 50 free on 60 sec
  • 4 x 50 free on 55 sec
  • 4 x 50 free on 50 sec

Usually I keep the actual swimming time around 42 sec, which is good. I wish I could keep this time for the main set.

Main set:

  • 5 x 400 on 7 minutes

Usually the actual swimming time is deteriorating from 6:00 to 6:20. Second and forth of the intervals I’m pulling, but somehow it’s not going much faster, just a bit easier. My swimming progress is very unsteady. Two years later and I’m still working on my form. I already starting to think there is not much wrong with my form and I just have to continue swimming to see marginal gains. At the end of next week I’m planning another 1650 test, we’ll see if I’m right.

Massage and foam rolling

I am always looking for new ways to improve my recovery. One of the methods I always overlooked was massage.

It was never clear too me if it’s something that I need. My legs are sore after hard workouts and then they recover. How to determine that the muscles are too tight and can be relaxed with a massage? Self-diagnostics in a form of curious self-touching doesn’t help! So a couple of weeks ago I decided to go to professionals.  I booked the first in my life massage session in a nearest Marathon Physical Therapy office.

So apparently in order to understand if your muscles or fascia are too tight, you need to push in one spot really hard. If you feel any kind of pain and it pain goes away after 20 seconds of pushing – it means it was a tight spot. Sounds pretty easy. According to the masseuse, my legs had an average level of tightness in them. But the tight spots relaxed pretty fast. In addition to that the tight spots were in all major leg muscle groups, which indicates no major imbalances in my running form. So far so good.

I’m not sure how often I’d like to go for a real massage, but the idea of foam-roll the tight spots sounds pretty interesting. I’ve ordered a foam roller via Amazon and will try to use it in the evenings after hard workouts.

 

Winter races

I just realized I had just three running races in 2016. I even had more swimming races than running! This is probably not the best approach. At some point I had a race every month, when I started to learn how to run.

For the next year, I planned just one – Rock&Roll DC marathon and now I see it’s not enough. So, first order of business – add 1-2 B-races before it.

There is plenty of races in New England in January and almost none in February. After considering my options I’ve selected Winter Warlock – a 18-mile race in Plymouth, MA on  January 15. There is nothing really convenient in February. The famous Hyannis half marathon is just two weeks before my target A-race and I decided not to risk. I have s slight tendency to be too tired on a race day.

The Winter Warlock will be a good test race. If I’m able to keep my target MP, whatever it is – 6:30, 6:40 or 6:45 for 18 miles, I will most probably be fine doing the same in the marathon.

Happy Merrython take 3. Not a PR

I just finished a Happy Merrython half marathon race. I really like this race and I’m going it already third time in a row. This time is was not my best race. My target was 1:25 and I finished 1:26:10, which is 2 minutes slower than my PR a year ago on the same course.

The race went relatively well. At the very beginning I started to feel that my target pace of 6:29 was very hard.  I kept more-less stable pace, slowing down on uphills and with headwind and speeding up on downhills. My legs didn’t really feel thrashed even in the end. The heart race was not maxed out either. I was just felt tired.

Comparing to the last year, my form is not the same either.

In 2015 I had 7 weeks of slowly ramping up mileage to 50+ mpw. This included two other half-marathon races. In 2016 I had just 3 weeks of aggressive ramping up after an A-race. My max mileage was 43 the week before and 50+ this week for a first time.

In 2015 I did taper a bit (no Wednesday workout). In 2016 I had a very hard training week. And a hard workweek as well.

In any case the result tells me that 6:30 for a marathon pace in 14 weeks is probably not feasible. 6:45 looks like doable. May be 6:40, depending on how the actual marathon training will feel like.

 

Test week

After I moved to suburbs, I had almost no track workouts. This Monday was probably the second track visit in the last half year. So far it looks like my short distance speed didn’t suffer much.

The workout consisted of (3 min hard 2 min moderate) x4 x2 intervals. Basically two 20-minutes long fartlek runs. I managed to keep sub 6 min/mile pace for the 3 minute hard parts.

It was hard, but the RPE was about the same I felt doing intervals right after Boston Marathon.

But the real fitness test will be this Sunday. A half-marathon without taper. I will try to hit 1:25, but this will basically show where am I before the start of the marathon training.

First 1650

One of the advice my swimming coach gave me when I asked how to improve my long distance swimming pace is to swim 1650s on time. Apparently its one of the typical long swimming workoutss. They even call it a “swimming mile”, even though it’s not a mile. Weird, but the actual distance doesn’t really matter. It could be 1500 meters, 1650 yards or 1 mile, the most important that it’s a long interval, that can be swam as a test once per 1-2 months.

I tried one on Friday. The result was expected, but disappointed still. While I think that 1:25-1:30 is a completely doable interval pace for me, the average pace for the whole 1650 was 1:34. Here are the 400-meter splits:

1650split

But more interesting is the pace. It looks like for the first 50 meters I’m capable to hold < 1:20, but it deteriorates quickly to 1:30+. I wonder what should I change in my swimming to prevent this deterioration

1650pace

Ramping up

So far the ramping up is going OK. I’m pretty happy with how the week progresses. For the last several days I was able to hit all workout goals. And this is a very short week, thanks to Thanksgiving we have 4 free days in a row. It is always easy to train, when you don’t have to spend 2 hours commuting and 8 hours in the office.

The long weekend might help to solve a small sleep issue I’m having. My sleep quality is not on par. Even after hard workouts, the sleep is disturbed. I’m closing in on the next step in my professional journey and it might affect me a bit. Nothing frustrating at this stage, but any kind of change is stress.

This week is the first one when I have 3 quality workouts since the last peak week. It might put me in correct state and improve the sleeping pattern.

Recovery period and ramp-up period.

Two-week recovery period is done. I’m feeling pretty good physically and may be around A- mentally. Last week I’ve done just 35 miles of running, 2 swim workouts and 1 spin session. Overall about 8 hours of training. It doesn’t sound like a completely recovery, lets call it “active recovery”. I even had a first quality workout – 20×20 hill sprints during this week.

Next 4 weeks will consist of slow ramp-up of mileage and intensity for the Pfitz 12/70 training cycle. I don’t have too many runs planned out, but there are 2 quality sessions and a 15 miles long run every week. There is also a test half-marathon race during this period. Depending on how rested will I be after 2 weeks of ramp-up, I’ll target 1:25 or something faster. But I’ll be perfectly happy with hitting 1:25.

 

Plan for the next marathon cycle

I rounded up the plan for the next marathon cycle. It will be very similar to the previous one, which was quite successful (a sub-3 hours Boston Marathon). The main goal for the cycle is a guarantied entry to New York Marathon, which means  a sub 2:58 marathon for me.

The base of the plan is Pfitzinger 12/70, a 12-week plan with maximum 70 miles per week. It is more aggressive than 18/70, but I think I can handle it.

In addition to the main plan I’d like to do 2 master swimming sessions per week and one recovery spin on Sundays. This will constitute the triathlon flavor of the plan.

There is one more thing that I’d like to try – Seluyanov-style strengths workouts. Basically he recommends to make short strides, hill sprints and some specific type of weight training the basis of the marathon training and reduce the aerobic volume. I’m not ready to sacrifice volume for this, but what I can do it include a bit more strides and hill sprints into the Pfitz program.

I have 5 weeks before the start of the program, and I’ll try to ramp up the mileage during this time. The first week of Pfitz 12/70 has 55 miles of running, I need to be ready for this. Also during this 5 weeks I have a test half marathon race. It will show if my running fitness decreased during the triathlon season or not.

2016 season review

The whole review is just one picture2016_season_reviewLessons learned:

  • stability beats crazy workouts
  • biggest problem in 2016 – mental, not physical
  • I can handle 800 rTSS or 700 combined TSS