#55 There’s no time to slow down, it’s Peak Phase

You gotta know when to hold ’em…..

To me, knowing the time to be patient and the time to push (and having the discipline to follow-through) are some of the key elements required for top-notch endurance racing.  It’s so difficult to predict how much you’ll have left “in the tank” and therefore how best to position yourself to peak at the right moment……

The bad news is, this is an antsy time for me……one which allows my relative inexperience as a racer shows through…I find this to be the confounding time when I start to question everything and try to put the final touches on many weeks of training in order to set myself up for that great racing experience so many go after and so few really obtain.  Lacking the experience to sit back and stay calm and not question every detail is a huge advantage, one I’m unfortunately not working with yet…..and so I press on.

The current status of things is good but not great…..I had a super busy work-week which really limited my training time and I only managed to get 3 workouts in.  After my 2-a-day session last Sunday, I decided (based on my trashed legs) to not recover on the roads, but rather to hit the pool……short swim did me wonders, I felt pretty good by Tuesday.  Tuesday evening, I did a 1200m repeat “ladder” workout (1 fast, 2 faster, 3 fastest, 4 faster, 5 fast) with a mile warm-up and mile cool down……and then nothing…..Wed and Thursday were super crazy days and with an only slightly less crazy day on Friday and my last “long” planned for Saturday AM, I just decided to go to bed early and be ready for “22” in the morning.

The 22 miler went fairly well……for the first 18.  I was just about where I wanted to on pacing and things were feeling pretty good…..and like clockwork, I started to get real tired.  I decided to allow myself to let my pace drop a bit (something I always regret a little b/c I wind up thinking I could-a, should-a) and finished up with some very very tired legs…..hmmm, enter the “questioning”:  

  • Did I push too hard in the early miles?  Possibly.  
  • Should I have taken some different nutrition? Possibly.  
  • Should I have taken in more fluid?  Likely.  
  • Different clothes to adjust for a cold AM and then more warmth by the end?  Perhaps.  
  • Was my pain appropriate for the distance and pace?  I guess.  
  • Should I start slower and push harder later on?  Almost always.

Well, there’s no changing it now….it is what it is….and now it’s time to work toward a peak. So I’ve decided to really try to focus on this phase to make sure my legs are fresh and pain is controlled (the hip and R lower extremity were pretty tolerable, but not great on the 22) and my fitness level is at it’s top.

3 Pronged Plan: Intensity, Nutrition, Recovery

In general this means crank up the intensity and down the volume, to give my legs some time to repair and “refresh” themselves, but at the same time work on that top gear a little……that’s the theory anyway.  Most people look at this phase as a “taper”, which sounds so much better b/c it implies a slow reduction…..however, I find that mentally, I do much better at staying focused in this part of the plan if I think of it as “peaking”, which is a concept often used by triathlon coaches.  

This week I’ll be trying to get in at least 4 and possibly 5 workouts, a couple of short-ones (30 minutes or less), a couple of pace sessions (speed work or the like but not more than 1 hour) and one tempo run (not more than 8 miles).

In case you’re wondering, I’m NOT on his diet plan

On the nutrition front, I’ve been increasing my percentage of calories from protein, to help with the repair from the increased pounding.   I probably need to make sure my micro-nutrients are in check (vitamins & minerals) too. 

As the volume decreases, even with the increased intensity, I’ll likely lower my caloric intake a bit to get toward race weight which translates to about a 3-5 lb weight loss over the next three weeks (doable).

In addition to speed work and nutrition, the final leg of my 3 pronged peaking plan will be REST.  I need to get some badly.  I can feel my semi-annual cold coming on (which says the seasons are officially changing and the air is drying out some) and, let’s be honest, I’ll be really pissed if I worked this hard to only be rundown walking to the starting line.

And on that note……there’s a foam roller calling my name.

To the summit,

Mike E.

P.S.  Shout out to my PACER teammates who completed the Philly 1/2 and Full Marathon.  Chris, Gina, Linda and Wandy…..great job!  Glad the race went well.  Thoughts and prayers to the racers and families who suffered losses today.  Heard the unfortunate news that 2 men suffered fatal heart attacks at/near the finish line and as many as 10 others were taken to the hospital.