Can you complete/compete at the 140.6 distance w/ only 10 hrs of training per week?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

When to pull the plug

Training is awesome. There are days when you can feel like a rock star and then there are days when you can simply be lacking in all departments. So, how does one react to those days that seem so 'blah'? Those days when the wheels fall off 30 min into the workout. Those days when your stroke feels like absolute garbage. Those days when your HR continues to climb when pacing continues to deviate from the norm?

Today I wanted to share my 20 mile run experience so as to provide my perspective on 'when to pull the plug'. I eluded to this a bit in an older post (July 6 - "Bad Pain / Good Pain"), but wanted to get a bit more specific in this one.

Okay, so this Wednesday I toed the line on the HCP (Highland Creek Parkway) with the intention of going the big 20. Fluids/calories were in place on the Subie (Subaru) bumper, tri kit on, game face was there, and I felt poised and ready.

Lets get right to it. The first 10 miles were right on pace. HR response and leg turnover were settled in to where I always see them; 6:45 pace @ ~150 to 160 HR. Hit the 13 mark at sub 1:29 and things were looking good. No issues. Steady eddie baby!

Fastforward to miles 16 to 18. Here is where I was forced to evaluat the OVERALL value of going to the 20 spot. HR had begun to climb to the 180s and pace began to slow. Leg turnover went from mid 80s (I need to work on this indeed) down into the gloomy place of 82. Close your eyes, think NBC Ironman coverage at 16 to 17 hs, and there I am. Yep, wheels were coming off and I had to make the hard decision.

What will I gain by going another two miles at a pace that was working toward 8 plus and a cadence of low 80s (targeting 88 to 90/min). It was officially becoming a slug fest and I was hammering home wicked poor mechanics I'd want no one to see or experience.

Man was it hard to pull the plug Wednesday. Let me leave you with a key point that I will always stress to my athletes and to you. There is a time to really hurt. There is a time when you must absolutey dig deep and work through it. As you become more and more in tune with your body you learn how to handle the good and bad days. You understand the fine line one must walk (swim, bike, run) to not overload the body excessively. If you see HR increasing, pace slowing, and run cadence dropping I don't think it is worth working through it. Some may disagree and that is fine with this dog. I coud have gone 20 on Wednesday, but my likelihood of increasing my likelihood of injury and wasting my legs for the next key workout would have increased signficantly.

Friends, study your body daily. Know your numbers and play the game well.

Seize the day,
Coach L

P.S. It would have helped to see Jackie out there getting her groove on by the way. I was looking for her all morning (see July 25 post for details).


  1. So if you could do this run over again knowing how your body reacted, would you rather have run at a slightly slower pace and get in the full 20 or run at the goal pace for the workout and cut the distance short?

  2. Great question Mark! If I could have hit this run again I would have opened up at 7 min flat for the first 13 miles. I have found this to be a major weakness for me; going out too fast. That being said, I think it is very hard to run 'slower'. My optimal pace is in the 6:45 to 7 min range for long runs, but the heat and humidity worked me over here Mark. It got the best of me. As a case in point, fast forward 3 to 4 months from now and I'd be willing to bet that my body would not resist this pace for 20 miles. Thanks for the Q Mark!