Push and Pull: Heavy Runner Treads Lightly on the Speed Trail

Friday, July 31, 2009

The marathon euphoria for Sheer Will (SW) has now faded into blissful memory. He now sets his sights on a very special race (Kenny's Urbanite Run), where this time he intends to maximize the use of the ChampionChip and RunPix systems. SW has had this love affair with the 10K and he hopes to finally break the sub-60 minute physical and psychological barrier. So while most of his friends will be doing the short distances at chill pace (SW's usual pace of choice), SW will be doing race pace this time.
So how does one shift from a marathon pace of 7min/km to a 10K pace of sub-6min/km in a month's time? By sheer will, of course, and tons of help from friends and The Supreme Coach. If SW hopes to shave off 5 minutes from his personal best, he does need a lot of will, luck and help.
The Plan
Push and pull sum it up. Push one's limits slowly and steadily, but pull back before reaching one's breaking point.
SW thought pushing pace is hard. It turns out it is actually easy. It is pulling back that is harder. Hitting a pace of sub-6min/km is doable, moreso if one has already experienced running inspired and seemingly effortlessly at 5:30min/km during races while marvelling at elite runners on their way back from the turnaround. Having developed cardio-vascular endurance from swimming and long-distance running, SW simply has to train his running legs to bear the pounding that higher speeds rquire. That can be as simple as increasing the speed level on the treadmill where SW chooses to do speed training. He can actually hit 10kph, 11 or even 12, but he knows true suffering begins the moment he presses the Stop button. SW sometimes wishes he can simply run like hell, run his heart out, or run till he almost blacks out from exhaustion. SW wishes it is that simple - that is all about heart and will - for he had loads of these. But his legs will tell him it is not as simple as that. There is a process, and it is called training, not running your heart out.
Physical training is nothing but the deliberate and tactical application of stress plus the necessary recuperation and strengthening of muscles in response to the load factor. SW knows that 10kph means 2-3 days recovery period and 30 minutes of muscle stretching, that 11kph implies 3-4 days recovery and an hour of stretching, that 12kph can mean loss of form resulting in plantar fasciitis or shin splints, and anything beyond will only be worse. So when does he pull off the speed trigger?
Sheer Will learns that graduated increase in pace does not mean license to run every day at graduated pace. It means to graduate to a higher pace only when the muscles have recovered from the last stress load. He now asks himself: If I run today at my muscle condition, do I actually gain something in terms of speed, power or endurance? Or am I just racking up mileage for my run ticker, hoping to reward myself with a t-shirt or gadget, and digging a grave for my ominous running career in the process?
Sheer Will knows it is fun to run with friends in the outdoors but he holes himself up inside the gym, on the treadmill, ekeing out happiness from 3-5K tempo runs or 10K intervals. He pulls himself away from the merry company and off the road because the treadmill is less stressful on his legs. The increased speed on the mill is enough beating for the moment. He needs to rack up speed but recover fast at the same time. Hopefully before the race he will have come up to the desired speed and recovered fully enough to hit the road for tempo runs.
The Goal
While the sub-60 time is a nice goal to have, Sheer Will knows enough that obsession with numbers can be counterproductive. He trains for a sub-60 but actually aims for a higher goal. He knows he will never have the times of the best runners, but he can always aspire for what all great athletes have: a mastery of oneself, including knowing when to push or pull.

15 comments:

gerard July 31, 2009 at 2:17 PM  

Good luck on attempting the sub 60!

I too am gunning for that below 60 minutes finish!

see you sa urbanite!

Rico Villanueva July 31, 2009 at 2:59 PM  

Good luck to us, Gerard. I will be pacing with Luis (Gingerbreadman). Erick will be an official 6min/km pacer. So we know whom to run and pace with. Hatakan na lang tayo :-)

prometheuscometh July 31, 2009 at 3:32 PM  

Good luck! Kaya mo yan!

Rico Villanueva July 31, 2009 at 3:36 PM  

Thanks Prometheus Jay. I wish some of your Milo-caliber speed can rub off on us lesser mortals :-)

Sam The Running Ninja July 31, 2009 at 4:41 PM  

Goodluck Rick.

I too targeting a PR for this race. It's Improve or Die for me. Will try to look for you guys come race day.

Jan (musang) July 31, 2009 at 5:04 PM  

Hi Rico! As mentioned in the Takbo shoutbox, I'm also gunning for a sub-60. Can I pace with you guys?

Rico Villanueva July 31, 2009 at 5:54 PM  

Hey Sam, kitakits on race day! It better be Improve for all of us. Here's to more PRs for all of us! Cheers!

Hi Jan, let's run together. This time, we all PUSH! :-)

Gingerbreadman July 31, 2009 at 9:35 PM  

So.... Is it a GO? :P Rix we doing tempo training? Text me :P Wohooo :)

sfrunner August 1, 2009 at 8:01 AM  

Hi Rico. Nothing wrong with setting high goals. Having Jan, Sam and others always helps. Good luck on the sub-60!

Rico Villanueva August 1, 2009 at 9:18 AM  

Yup it's a GO Gingerbreadman. Almost there, man. So far, so good, I think. Haha. Will text you within the week for tempo run on the pace we agreed upon. Thanks :-)

Hi Wayne. I suppose high schools are there to be chewed a minute at a time. I hope we succeed :-)

Rico Villanueva August 1, 2009 at 9:19 AM  

(Wayne) What was I thinking? I meant high goals instead of high schools. Haha!

jazzrunner August 1, 2009 at 1:57 PM  

Good luck, Rico. I'm going for the same goal as yours,:-)

Rico Villanueva August 1, 2009 at 7:12 PM  

Good to hear that, Rene. Let us all party at the sub-60 pace then! :-)

Running Diva August 3, 2009 at 3:05 PM  

Wow, Rico! If you can make it (a big possibility) what will be your reward for yourself? ;) If there's a will, there's sheer will! Hahahaha! Good luck, SW!

Rico Villanueva August 3, 2009 at 3:25 PM  

Naku Roselle, I haven't thought of any reward. I have to meet the goal first! Hehe...If I recover soon enough I think it is doable. But I will party whatever happens. Haha!

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