Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Truth Hurts

In my disappointment post, I declared that training (inadequate, ineffectual, insufficient) was to blame for last Sunday's performance. After reviewing my log since the beginning of the year, I couldn't have been more correct than that preliminary conclusion. I arrived at the training condemnation through the process of elimination - it was a nice day, good race, known course, good strategy, and feeling pretty good - it had to be the training. But now.... Now, the ugly truth is staring at me from the log. It shines a bright spotlight on my flaws in training, attitude, and discipline. It also questions my eyesight or intelligence. Quite frankly, I'm either blind or just stupid.

**The rest of this post may be distressing. Be forewarned that what follows is an autopsy.**

Subject: Marathon Performance
Date of Death: 5/7/06
Place of Death: Holyoke, MA - Mile 22 - 26.2

Executive Summary

Subject died while exceeding the body's ability to consume and transport oxygen while simultaneously exhausting all available fuel in the muscle fibers. The general cause of death is an apparent lack of conditioning and is considered an occasion of pity since this common cause of untimely demise is preventable. Considered common knowledge among runners, a certain amount of training, in proper order and avoiding injury, can prevent a tragic end to a training season. Also, it has come to my attention that the runner responsible for this Marathon Performance had all the necessary data that would have informed him that his then present course of action would result in severe muscle fatigue, pace reduction, and even total demoralization in the final miles of the Holyoke Marathon.


Upon examination of the subject and its logbook history since the beginning of the year, it was noted that sufficient time existed for a fully trained specimen. In fact, the time allotted was 18 weeks. Exploring the traces of these past 18 weeks, I found the following:

Long runs of 20 miles or greater: 6.
Instances of running "long" but failing to reach 20 miles: 8.

>>Comment - Runner may have believed that running under 20 miles for his "long" effort sufficed given the number of times this actually occurred. Diagnosis: Runner delusional.

Number of weeks that weekly mileage exceeded 60: 4.
Number of weeks weekly mileage was less than 40: 10.

>>Comment - Runner may have rested his entire performance on one small spurt of good training when his weekly mileage was at or exceeded 100 miles for 3 consecutive weeks. Diagnosis: Runner living in fantasy land.

Number of training days in an average week: 4.
The same average excluding the 3 good weeks in March: 3.

>>Comment - Runner did not train consistently. Resulted in an abnormal susceptibility to injury from overuse and sudden training regimen changes. Diagnosis: Runner is a rester, not a runner.

Number of instances of 3 or more consecutive days off: 9
Average miles run on day back from 3+ rest period: 14.5

>>Comment - Runner is shocking the system with large swings in mileage. Diagnosis: Runner is psychotic.


Runner suffered from delusion caused by an incredible ability to see good in all things including bad training. Runner has potential to avoid similar marathon fates if he can practice good discipline, remain focused, and train like he means it.

Respectfully submitted,

Post-Mortem Team.


Blogger Robb said...

Are you being too hard on yourself? I don't know. I think you put out a heroic effort at Holyoke. I can't imagine running that fast - that far.

5/12/2006 8:49 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

You are rather brutal in your assessment. I wish I could tarin so "badly" and still run at your speed.

It all depends on one's perspective, of course. You had an awfully high number of weeks under 40 miles. On the other hand, 6 runs of 20 miles or more are a decent number in my view.

Your training was certainly inconsistent, but injuries tend to do that to you.

5/12/2006 9:21 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Andrew - Yikes! I had no idea...

I guess this is what can be described as brutal honesty. Is there any other kind?

5/12/2006 10:44 AM  
Blogger Love2Run said...

Delusional, psychotic? Is it safe to be running with you on those empty backcountry Maine roads? 20 weeks and 1 day to go ;-)

5/12/2006 7:33 PM  
Blogger Chad Austin said...

Andrew, I think this is a great self-assessment. Sometimes you have to be hard on yourself in order to take it to the next level.

To be honest, I hate all this "heroic effort", "impressive time"-B.S. If Tergat or Radcliff run 3:09 is it still an impressive time? NO!!! Because as Thomas said, "it depends on one's perspective."

You wanted to run sub-3 and you ran 10 minutes too slow. You and I both know 10 minutes is a lot to make up when you're already running 7ish pace. So I think it's okay to be hard on yourself and make adjustments to your training.

I was surprised when you laid out your training like these. What stood out to me as you entered the marathon were the 100+ mile weeks you ran. Now after reading this post, it's the lack of consistency and the "low" miles that stand out to me.

The good news is that if you can get more consistent and increase your mileage, you have tons of potential. Keep in mind you don't have to run 100+ mile weeks. Maybe if you just stayed in the 70-85 range, you'd be more consistent and injury free. Then you'd easily be under 3 hours.

Okay, that was pretty much a blog entry disguised as a comment.

5/13/2006 9:29 AM  
Blogger edinburghrunner said...

Great analysis - if you can learn the leasons you've identified next time should be much better.

5/13/2006 12:09 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Thanks for the all the comments folks. Much appreciated.

Zeke - I like your comment about running 10 minutes too slow. That is the cold truth. But like most said and advise, there is hope yet. Consistency will produce the training effect I am looking for.

Robb & Thomas - I seem to feel a "limbo" zone going on. I am thankful for my current aerobic capacity to run a 3:10, but knowing you can run 20 miles "on pace" but can't sweat the last 6 - Ugh!!!! One thing I do like this time around, I can certainly change the outcome.

Marc - I'm all talk. You never know what the hay I'm doing. That's what you get for moving to NY.

Mike - Like a bear, I'm more scared of you than you of me. I mean, you are from St. Andrews. And you know what we hear in Eastport...

DGC & Edinburg - Thanks. The good thing about marathoning, you can keep at it! Here's to another training season.

5/13/2006 8:07 PM  

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