On A Pedestal

A lot been going on lately.  Some decent training, a couple of races (well one).  I did a 5k this past weekend.  Last year I did this race a month before Ironman Arizona.  I went 18:41 for the race, this year in what I would term good shape, but not world beater shape, I went an 18:22.  It’s about 6 seconds faster then I went at the 5k on New Years.  Based on the terrain, I would say that it falls exactly in line, or just a touch faster then the VDOT (56) that I have been training at. 

Next week is 6 weeks from when I switched from 55 to 56, so I will likely bump it up to 57 for my training paces next week.  This basically means, that unless I do something fabulous at the South Shore Half in a few weeks, my 1:18 goal is a bet far fetched.  I will likely pace for and shoot for a 1:21 something.  Once I hit halfway, depending on how I feel I may crank it up.  Either way, that’s mighty fast – my fastest open half is 1:33.  My fastest halfs (including tri’s and straight up marathons) are: 1:26 (SORT ’06), 1:30 (Rockman ’07), 1:31 (High Cliff ’06) and 1:32 (Second half Chicago Marathon ’05).

I’ve also been working on doing updates for my website – as usual they are slow going.  I have decided on the general layout that I’ll be using, I just have to create the artwork and theming (i.e. color scheme).  Then I’ll have to do a few code updates for some new features I want to add.  Then of course I get to go and update Matt’s website with those!

Fitness is a strange thing – our mind has a way of putting our past on a pedestal.  "I was in such better shape last year" or "I can’t believe I’m only doing X number of hours, I did way more at this time last year"  Just lines above this, I made a comment along these lines.  While I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt my training volume for the last 4-5 weeks is less then it was a year ago while I was training for Arizona – fact of the matter is I am more fit then a year ago; maybe differently fit, but more fit in those places.

Fact of the matter is, reality rarely matches our perception – training logs are a great way to ground our perceptions to reality.  This can benefit us in many ways

  • Keep us from overdoing it by doing to much to soon
  • Build our confidence for upcoming races
  • Keep us from being overconfident for upcoming races
  • Remind ourselves of lessons learned – what to avoid, and what to embrace

Those are the main reasons I keep as detailed of a training log as I can (after documentation for E-peen contents, obviously).  Unfortunately all my years of swimming, I never thought to keep a log, I really wish I had it would be great to log back on that insanity.

Every year I have a small struggle that the training I am doing is not up to par – and that I’m going to hit the beginning of the "Training Season" i.e. May – in sub par shape; frankly it’s just not true – in fact it’s so untrue it’s not funny.  The volume and quality of my training, as well as my sleep patterns and weight at this point of the year exceed all years I’ve been tracking except last year; which is OK.  Surprisingly, that although this year is less then last year; it’s not nearly as far behind as you would assume when you compare a prep cycle to an IM training cycle.

So what does this mean, and what can/should you do when you think you are falling short of previous training?  Before you go and jack up the volume, or intensity of your training to compensate your perception – stop, go back and review your logs from years past.  Once you’ve done that, think about if you really need to up the training, and then think about if you can handle the increased level of training – before you increase.  Don’t blow yourself up, and then have 20/20 hindsight.