Friday, April 08, 2011

The Mandelbaum Plan

One of my favorite personal trainers is Izzy Mandelbaum. I haven’t had a chance to work with him directly but I’ve long admired his training philosophy.

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.

Happy Izzying.

8 miles @ 6:47 pace.


The Sean said...

Go for it. I think injury stems from inadequate recovery after hard sessions. It's good to puke once in awhile, just not after each meal.

Leauxra said...

After rolling my ankle last year WALKING (OK, hiking on a mountain, but I fell on a flat spot), I am finally starting to run again. I was shocked at how slow I am after 6 months (where did the time go?). Being terrified of hurting myself again, *even though I didn't originally hurt myself running*, I have been really, really conservative. You make me feel like I should maybe turn it up a notch.

Ironman By Thirty said...

Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum!

I'm just disappointed you missed out the opportunity for your kids to buy you a #1 Dad t-shirt.

"It's go time!"

Jill said...

I'm convinced I've been side-lined for over a year now (yes, a year) due to never giving my body a rest in 2009. I think you're doing the right thing the way you're training...maybe you'll end up with your house covered in mirrors to boot!

Elizabeth said...

Way to yig-wee!

Ace said...

Nitmos-v10 and lower can just suck it. They are about to take a beatin'! Surgically remove the hamstrings and therefore no snapping. Should be good to go.

Chanda M. DeFoor said...

It's go time!

Adam said...

scar tissue and puke. That, is what real men are made of. Put the throttle down, let'er rip. No pain, no gain, **Insert whatever pep talk you want here, just get faster**

Robin said...

I think your 800 intervals would improve with Patches as your coach from Dodgeball. Have your kids throw wrenches at you as you turn each curve!

Drea said...

There is A LOT to be said for INJURY FREE! Damn- where are those striped fudge cookies! You are on to something!

Vava said...

Izzy or Rainer Woflcastle. Both would be worthy coaches in my opionion as both could supply good slogans when required.

Izzy: "This one's for real!"

Rainer: "Go past the max"

Izzy: "If you want to live in a butcher shop, I'm going to treat you like a piece of meat."

Rainer: "Master you ass!"

Izzy: "Alright, grab your jock....if ya need one."

Jess said...

I follow a similar pattern that you follow with your speed work, bust my butt all spring and summer so I'm ready to go for the fall, and the recoup in the winter.

I need that mental break from constant training. But it doesn't hurt to kick it up a notch every now and then so things don't get too easy.

Viper said...

I'm convinced I can just start running double-digit mileage even though I haven't logged more than 25 miles in a month this year. It IS go time--calf cramps be damned. Cheers!