This is not one of those coaches with an “online certification” from a magazine or the University of Phoenix (or equivalent). This is an actual, no messing around, I’m-here-to-bust-your-back old school muscle puller. No task is too big for Izzy. Thus, no task is too big for YOU. Izzy would rather wind up in a hospital than be told he cannot accomplish something. In the absence of all common sense, his approach makes the most sense.
I wish my coach was more like him. Instead, I’m stuck with this ruggedly handsome, surprisingly charismatic, never passed a mirror that didn’t need to be gazed into, impossible to please wanker. Whereas my coach, employs a “sensible” step-by-step approach to turning up the speed and distance over a prolonged period of time, Izzy would have had me going from 6:30 pace intervals to 4:00 within the same work-out. In fact, as soon as I accomplished one 800 at 3 minutes, he would have lifted his bullhorn, shouted “Time to turn it up a notch!” and demanded a 2 minute interval. That might be just the kind of crazy I need right now.
Here’s how the year normally progresses for me: I start slowly due to the long winter, finally getting up to acceptable speed around June/July, feel pretty strong into September/October and then precipitously fall off the speed wagon when the temperatures grow cold again. It takes so long to get back to where I was before that I can only enjoy it for a few months before I’m sliding down the back side again. Sure, who doesn’t like to slide down a back side – know what I mean – but you know what I mean.
This approach has kept me injury free for over eleven years of running but, I think, it’s also stagnated my race times. Every year around this time, I’m fighting just to get back to where I was last year let alone improve my overall performance. In summation: Winter sucks and I should move.
Or I should go with the Mandelbaum Plan. I normally run my 800’s in a high five minute pace (5:45-5:55). I’ve envied the low 5’s for awhile now from the safety of my 30 second, puke-free buffer. In fact, one of the strongest runners in Michigan trains up and down my same running routes. He’s a regular challenger for the overall win at statewide 5k’s, 10k’s and half-marathons. I see him busting out smooth and easy low fives all the time. Occasionally, he even smiles and nods (or is it sneers and mocks?) as I run by under the weight of middle class debt and anxiety. One can only go so fast with a metaphorical banker attached to one’s back whipping one's haunches like a working donkey. (Humans have haunches right?)
Lately, I’ve been passing this local star and thinking to myself: Think you’re better than me, huh? Yeah, that’s it. It’s go time. Step aside string bean. And then I accelerate waaay beyond my comfort zone…for about 10 glorious seconds before collapsing in exhaustion. Aaaaah, my back….my hamstrings…my pancreas. Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.
Or was it? It’s said that “practice makes perfect” and maybe that’s true. I doubt Izzy would give up after a few ruptured hamstrings and one minor heart attack. Maybe I need to “take it up a notch” a bit more often? How often can a hamstring snap anyhow? Doesn’t a build up of scar tissue eventually make it stronger than before? To that end, I decided to ignore my current male order coach and listen to my Inner Izzy during last night’s run. I started my 8 miler in the low 7’s pace, after two miles turned it up a notch to the 6:50’s for a few more, and then cranked up a few more notches down to 6:30’s for the last several miles. The final ½ mile was pushed to a 6:15 pace just to please Mr. Mandelbaum. I was tired but it was, in fact GO TIME so what could I do? I normally would have kept this run at a consistent 6:50-7:00 pace for the duration.
Any time you step outside of your comfort zone and spike your training time/distance you are rolling the dice and risking injury. But Nitmos v.2010 and Nitmos v.2009 think they are better than me. Well, it’s go time!
Or maybe I just picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue.
8 miles @ 6:47 pace.