On Tuesday, Mark and I ran the track workout with Deb, as she prepared for the Warsaw Marathon on Sunday. In the middle of our workout, Deb asked me: "Why the Lou?" I had a good answer but I couldn't articulate it at the time.
But before I can really answer it, I probably need to explain the "The Lou"
The Lou is the Lou Ristaino workout. The members of Somerville Road Runners have come to make this the track workout the Tuesday before the marathon. As Lou Ristaino himself described to me. It is meant to be something that gets you going but doesn't tire you out. Basically it's a workout that attempts to balance the old Rust vs. Rest argument.
It's basically a short - fast(er) progression run. 4800m coninuous, the first 800m @ marathon pace and each successive 800m 4 seconds faster than the previous.
As an example, this week workout
1st 800m @ 3:36 (7:12/mi or 3:10~ish marathon)
2nd 800m @ 3:32
3rd 800m @ 3:28
4th 800m @ 3:24
5th 800m @ 3:20
6th 800m @ 3:16 (6:32/mi or 1:25-ish half marathon)
Indeed, this is a fast workout but not a tiring one. Keeps you loose and doesn't take away any of your marathon.
You can never step in the same river twice...
Back to Tuesday... On Tuesday, I offered to run the Lou with Deb as her last workout before Warsaw and later in the day ran into Mark who also liked the idea. Instead of the workout Joe had planned for us, we did Deb's with her. The question is "why?"
I guess it goes back to understanding athletic training. Most people will have you believe it is a pure science. But, while I guess I can't totally disagree with that, I'll argue that it is more of an art. If I could calculate every variable, I could make it a science. But, not only can you not calculate all the variables, you probably can't grasp even all the variables to calculate.
The entire idea that doing the exact same thing you did last time is folly. Sure, it was successful but you were a different person. The Pali concept of annica comes into play. Every thing in the body is impermanent. We are constantly aging. Our sleep levels differ day-to-day. Each second how we think or what we do change us. The Buddha said it as, "All Created Things are impermanent." Heraklitius said it as "You can never step in the same river twice."
Homo economicus and marathon training.
As Deb was approaching the marathon, I knew that running the last workout with someone was far more enjoyable and mentally less challenging than running the whole workout alone. Mostly, I wanted to help my friend have a good marathon and this was one way to do it.
On the other hand, I don't think I was "sacrificing" myself in any way. Many people view marathon training as harshly as the neoliberal myth of homo economicus. The consumer who has: perfect self-interest, perfect price based rationality and perfect economic information. Homo economicus is an excellent tool to use as a starting point to judge the behavior of consumers. But it represents no consumers I know of.
The same is true with marathon training plans. The homo marathonus, should have a plan - even a specific one with daily miles. However, this homo marathonis shouldn't dogmatically stick to the every step of the plan. Annica says that we will be different than the baseline runner. Should we run a lot of miles every week? Yes. Should we run as many miles as Galen Rupp? Probably not. But, even more importantly, we shouldn't necessarily do everything exactly the same than before because we are different that before.
Additionally, the amount I would gain from this Tuesday's workout - especially since I was running Lone Gull on Sunday - was far less than the potential amount Deb could gain from Mark and I running with her.
But, also, I just wanted to help my friend.
On Saturday, I had the pleasure and honor of helping other friends and officiated the wedding of Joe and Andy!
Two amazing people who I have known individually and as a couple. And now are making the big jump to the shared present, future and past.
Race: Lone Gull 10k
Location: Gloucester, MA
Goal Time: 40:00
Actual Time: 40:51
So, yeah the wedding etc really slowed me down for this race. But half of it was faster than I ran the Lou.
Deb ran a 3:11:56 to be 16th Woman, 4th in her age group and first American of either gender.