The first half of this post, reflecting on my Kaiser race, may just be navel gazing. Please forgive me if so, and feel free to go straight to the second half of the post. But it’s been useful putting down in words my thoughts on what I did ‘wrong’ at Kaiser and how I can run better next time.
Reflections on Kaiser
I’ve said before that my ‘strategy’ for Kaiser was to positive-split the race, not the standard practice. I’ve mulled over this in the past few days but I still think this was the right plan – it’s pretty much inevitable due to the stonking great 2-mile downhill in the first half. I knew that the first half would be fast and fun and the second half would be tough. I was right.
Going into the race, I had the very distinct feeling that I was in pretty good shape, NEARLY as good shape as when I PR’d last year but I felt that I didn’t quite have the speed this year. I think I was proved correct. I was nearly as fast as 2014 but not quite. In addition, the last 10 days were EXHAUSTING. I was sleeping really badly, studying my socks off for my new courses and out late at classes two nights per week. I think that definitely contributed to a missed PR. Sleep = important.
I’ve wondered over the past few days about whether or not I pushed the first half too hard and thus had nothing left in the tank for the second half. Jess is an interesting comparison. She finished just 6 seconds ahead of me. I passed her in M2 and she passed me in M12 where she looked effortless and comfortable, whereas I was dying inside. Her splits were MUCH more consistent and she had a better race experience than I did.
I’ve mulled this over and I can’t decide. I definitely ran fast in the first half but I always felt comfortable with the speed I was holding. I think that my race fell down in two main ways.
1) Fuelling. I didn’t. I took half a chocolate gu at about mile 6 and could barely swallow it. So I didn’t take any more fuel on board. I need to experiment with other fuel in race environments.
2) I didn’t have the endurance. I just didn’t have the legs to stick it out. When all I needed to do was hold a steady pace for 6 miles, I did not have the endurance to do so.
Which leads me to reflect on 80/20 Running – the training plan I used for this training cycle.
Reflections on 80/20 Running training
Matt Fitzgerald would have a fit if he heard me claim to have done 80/20 running. I used the basic principle of 80% slow, 20% fast. I used a lot of his workouts. However I missed a lot of the ‘extra’ stuff he prescribed. I did no doubles workouts (apart from where I needed to fit in a missed run). I did negligible amounts of cross training. I may have done my last long run too close to the race. I think that all of these things made a significant difference to my performance.
I didn’t use a heart-rate monitor, using ‘feel’ to determine my zones. HRM are pretty crucial to 80/20 training.
Also, 80/20 depends on significant base mileage. My mileage increased by about 15 – 20% overall, but I think that I should have run many more miles to get the best out of it. I should have had some weeks of 40+ miles. Thus I didn’t build up the endurance which 80/20 should give you – and I felt that lack on race day.
What I liked about 80/20
- I liked how it got me running 5 days/week pretty much painlessly and without injury.
- I liked how it increased my overall mileage pretty much painlessly and without injury.
- I liked having a guideline at how much ‘hard’ running I should do. I started 80/20 after I overworked my legs and exhausted them. 80/20 is definitely a great way to avoid that happening.
- I liked some of the workouts that I found in the book. Always fun to shake things up a little.
- I like running at an easy pace. It’s so nice.
What I didn’t like about 80/20
- It takes a LOT of time. Slow runs require patience and take up more time than faster runs.
- Combine that increase in time taken with the increase of miles required and you are suddenly spending a LOT more time running. I was lucky that I was able to find that time. Now I’m studying, I literally can’t spare that time!
- If I’m honest, I didn’t quite trust the plan to get me race ready. Thus I modified it. I’m not sure if I was right or wrong to distrust it. I’m not sure the missed PR was 80/20’s fault or my fault. I wonder, if I’d followed the plan exactly and increased my mileage more, would I have run better? I think probably yes.
(Check out Tim’s comment on my race report. He followed an 80/20 plan in many respects – long, slow miles – and nailed his race).
So in summary – I actually have more confidence in 80/20. If I’d stuck to the plan properly and done it wholeheartedly, things may have gone differently. I definitely think it’s worth giving it a shot.
So what’s next?
I’m done with racing half marathons for a while now. I’m running a half with my lovely friend Nicola in Vegas next month but that’s for fun. I’m going to be concentrating on shorter distances until June or July. I’m aiming to do one 10k every month and training for that distance. I need to think a little more about how I’m going to do it. I am really excited about it, and kind of relieved not to be training for a half. It’s nice to take a break. First up will be the Oakland Marathon Relay at the end of March!
Welcome to the Spring of 10ks!!