Monday, March 16, 2009

Season Recap

I don't really divide my training year into distinct seasons- thus, I have no set beginning and set end to "indoor track." I'll spare, then, estimations of total mileage and average miles per week- those figures are always misleading anyway, since an arithmetic mean doesn't take into account peaking or days off or (like I dealt with) sickness/injury.

However, we'll start with some statistics- my indoor personal records in November 2008 compared to my indoor personal records now:

Nov 08

400m: 52.2 (relay split)

800m: 1:56.7 (relay split)

1000m: 2:29.06

Mile: 4:10.44

3000m: 8:40.3

5000m: DNR

March 09:

400m: 52.0 (relay split)

800m: 1:54.11

1000m: 2:28.75

Mile: 4:08.62

3000m: 8:24.94 (unattached, so it's not on my direct athletics page)

5000m: 14:49.64

In terms of the clock, it was a successful season. I set personal bests over every distance at which I compete. Unfortunately, a poorly-timed illness caused me to miss 10 days of training- 4-5 actual running days and another 4-5 days of jogging and getting back into it. The workouts I missed were the bread and butter miler workouts- 10x400, 5x600, 20x200, etc. Fortunately, with a lot of strength and a little speedwork, you can run a decent mile (as I demonstrated when I ran 4:08 and 4:09 in the last three weeks). However, without that crucial "hold form when exhausted" work, I was unable to hit my goal of 4:05 for the season. These things happen.

More importantly, however, than a sickness I couldn't control, was that I came a long way this season in terms of training intensity. I've always raced above what my workouts suggest- the workouts of a 4:15 miler brought me to 4:10 last year, and the workouts of maybe a 4:12 guy brought me to 4:08 this year. I have been trying to work out according to my goals, and up to the point I got sick this season, I was doing a better job of that.

All in all, indoors was a frustrating season for me- I trained very hard and never really got to see the fruits of that labor since I got sick. It was a humbling experience to go from one day running mile repeats under 4:40 and just coasting along to not being able to walk up stairs a few days later. Being sick, though, allowed me to demonstrate to myself just how hard I'm capable of pushing. That DMR collapse was a direct result of me attempting to ignore the frailties of an infected body and if I had made it another 5 laps, I'd have looked like a genius. As it was, even collapsing and being unable to finish taught me that I can toe the red line with the best of them.

That being said, my training was far from ideal. Pete and I did a little comparison between my training and the stuff Jen Adams was doing last year. Relative to our personal bests at the 800, mile, 3000, and 5000, Jen trained much much harder and at a higher intensity than I do. Being honest with myself, I didn't push as hard as I should have in workouts (though being sick had a lot to do with that) and didn't do enough tempo-type stuff. Running-specific stuff aside, there was a lot of what Wilson Perez calls "the nitty gritty" I didn't do enough of. That includes stuff like core work, drills, strides, flexibility work, hurdle work, etc that you're supposed to do after your run but often gets skipped when its cold and windy and you just want to get in the shower. If I want to improve as an athlete, I need to be more consistent with my ancillary work as well as training harder and smarter.

So what's next from here? The long term plan Peter and I have for me has always been to move up. However, the way we see it, it's better to be a 1:52/4:00 guy running the 5k than a 1:55/4:10 guy. I know that, being a guy with limited speed, my best events lie in ones longer than I'm running now. There's still work to be done in the shorter distances, though, so while this outdoor season I might start to more seriously explore the 5k, my focus will still be on running well at the shorter stuff first. Being young still I have a lot of time to figure out where my best events lie, and in the spirit of exploration, this spring I'll be giving the steeplechase a try. When I get back to school I'll be relearning how to hurdle (I did last spring, but hurt my shin in practice and never got to try an actual steeple). I think the steeple will be a good event for me, but we'll see. I'm not sure how the racing schedule is shaping up so far, as Peter and I still aren't sure if we're going to go more 800/1500 or 1500/longer race yet. Right now I'm leaning towards a steeple/5k for a secondary focus but if I go 1500/800 I'll have a training partner in Najem, who will be trying to double at Nationals.

I hope the blog has been at least a little useful to anyone out there reading it. I'll keep it up through outdoors and see where it takes me. Thank for reading, everyone!



  1. Hey Craig great blog. This is unrelated, but I'm a 5K/10K guy, but I have a friend (1500 guy who dabbles in the 800) who sometimes complains about his coach's workouts/philosophy. You seem to be knowledgeable about this stuff, so I'm wondering what you think. The two things he complains about are
    a) lack of speed work ~ he says they do nothing faster than 1500 pace in practice except for 200's and very short hills that are either run at the very end of workouts or on easy days;
    b) for their non threshold workout days(repeat miles/1000s/tempo) they instead do very long pace workouts like 3-4+ miles of:
    -400s at Mile pace (w/ 90 seconds rest)
    -800s at 3K pace (w/ 2 minutes/2:30 rest)
    What do you think?

  2. sounds good to me, actually. I don't see any real issue with that workload.

    Running a good 1500 isn't about making 1500 pace feel slow by tons of faster-than-race-pace work. It's about being so aerobically strong that 1500 pace feels SMOOTH. Without seeing the full season's schedule, I think your friend has a good coach and a solid training program.

  3. Thanks for the fast response, I'll tell him that.