Sunday, January 31, 2010

Week 8

Jack Daniel's is better shot than sipped. Learn new things every day!

It was a good week; the workouts went well, and i was smart enuf to take Thursday off when I felt my body was skirting the edge of breakdown. Nine workouts in a row, six of them either long (16 miles), intervals, or the 10 mile loop of Pontiac may have been enough to hurt me if I didn't treat my body with some TLC.

And the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday runs all went reasonably well or better, so I can't complain. 63 point something miles for the week, and that's all good.

i wore racing flats for the first time in a while today- the mile interval workout went fairly well, although i did get the shin thing again. I changed my form during the third of the five mile repeats, and- I don't know it was an epiphany type thing, or just something else- but things went faster. Noticeably faster. it's something I may want to work on in the future.

I could feel each stride where my feet were first coming into contact with the pavement. I worked hard for a mid to forefoot strike, because it seems to put less stress on my shin. And getting that level of feedback was interesting. I may have to practice it using my vibrams. I wonder if using the WBHS track is a possibility? Hm...

Next week... wow. 56 miles total. Q1 is 12-13 miles at marathon (8:00-8:15) pace. Q2 is intervals: two sets of 15-20 minutes at T (7:30s) with 3 minute rest intervals, and extra set at 10-12 minutes. Both do two miles up and two miles down; so 16-17 or so miles for Q1; maybe 12-14 miles for Q2. Good times! Oh, and I plan to run Running Fit's Superbowl 5K as a race to gauge fitness.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Good feeling...

Today, I've been plagued by good feeling. Kind of like when I was on SSRIs, only without the nerve tingling, nausea, weight gain, or other random side effects of Better Living Through Chemistry (tm).

The pessimistic part of me wonders if it's just the build up for some shoe to drop. A less pessimistic part of me thinks it's probably the 60 ounces of coffee I've had today. The runner part of me attributes it to the day off on Thursday, a great 16 miles trails yesterday, and an easy 8 today.

And the cynical part of me thinks that it's a harbinger of bad running. That cynical side believes that my level of contentedness and ability to indulge in constructive self destruction are inversely correlated. I have a harder time pushing through pain when I'm happy, and when I'm unhappy I can channel that into the pain to feel joy.

Sure it's anti intuitive, but it's also real. I can look with real satisfaction at the times when I've been (psychologically) broken during a race or a training run. At least, those times when I pushed through it. The physical eff-ups were not so good, but I haven't done my body any real damage. As of yet. So far as I know.

Tomorrow, I end the week with a modified Q run based on the one I should have run on Thursday, but decided my body would not have been happy to handle. If any, some, or all of the parts of me happen to be right, I'm sure I'll mention it in my weekly round up...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Spontaneous day off

My calendar says it's time for another one of my Q workouts... and, um, instead of my intervals being at half marathon pace, I guess (according to Daniels) they're closer to my 12K pace.

But whatever. I'm taking the day off- not because of mental fatigue, my more typical reason for wanting to take a day off, but because a few different signals my body's giving me that it needs a break.

Waking up after five hours of sleep when I could sleep in. Unquenchable thirst. Vague pains which only barely make it to conscious thought, but taken with the others are signs as well.

Hopefully not too little too late...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Changing gears

Up until last week, my program had distinct "this is speedwork" phases and "this is long run" phases. Speedwork was fairly specific. long runs were too, in the "Run 2.5 hours or 25% of your weekly mileage" type specificity.

Lines are getting a little blurry now... yesterday I ran about 16 miles (15.8, I think) with a warm up, four intervals of five minutes at about my half marathon pace with a one minute rest, an hour of easy running, and then 15 minutes back at half marathon pace.

It's fun, though exhausting. Typically, my long runs were long and my hard runs were hard, and I didn't do all that much in my program to merge them, working on different energy systems and so forth. But I think this is working on more- there's a mental discipline aspect, too.

Still, my body's going through a bit of a wringer. Because of certain scheduling issues, it's been nine days and 95 (or so) miles since my last rest day, and I'm thinking I won't get a day off till Sunday.

But that's part of the joy of running... figuring out how to get the miles in!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Losing weight

Losing weight during marathon training can be pretty hard. Appetite ramps up, there's a danger of shorting yourself nutrients which would hamper recovery, and making healthy eating choices at any time can be difficult. An exercise in self control.

Personally, I've never been all that adamant about weight loss. My attitude has almost always been "if it happens, great, I'll probably be a faster runner for it, and less weight will be less shock on the body." I have noticed, though, that I look a bit gaunt when I hit 165.

I'm okay with that. So anyway, looking back to when I started this season's training, I was coming in fairly regularly at 175 in November, which isn't that bad. A month later in December, my weights were averaging out to 172.

Lately, I've been hovering in the 170 area, sometimes a couple of pounds lower, sometimes a bit higher. So I'm at roughly a half pound of weight loss per week, which is pretty sustainable, I think. And healthy, to a certain point.

If I'm able to keep it up, and don't get injured, I might be at the happy weight of 165 at Martian again, which would be kind of nice. It'll be interesting to see what I can do- if fortune holds for me and I don't do anything stupid.

but honestly, what are the chances? :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week 7

Lots of miles this week, and not a lot of hard training. Getting me used to the mileage, I guess. its a bit hard to balance getting all of this running in, doing school work and doing the job, even if I've cut back my hours. Such is life, I guess.

Anyway, it was a good week- I only got 69.2 miles in, rather than the full 70, but I'm okay with that. Really. I mean, I'm not *that* compulsive, right? :) I was half tempted to do eight today, rather than 6.2, but it's a shrug worthy difference. So ya'know. Not really compulsive at all...

I am nervous about the behavior of my shin. Disappointed, angry- I had such high hopes that things would be better this training cycle. Perhaps Martian will teach me to blow off road races from now on- the damn thing only appears to happen on pavement, never on trails. Which might be a reason why I like trails so well.

This week- 63 miles with some interesting Q workouts. They are both T intervals, and both are in the 10-15 mile range. I'm curious to see how they work out!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mmmm... sunlight

I don't know how people who don't run during the winter do it.

Today is a bright and beautiful day, if a bit cold. The sky is blue, the sun is bouncing off the snow, and I feel my eyes greedily taking in as much full spectrum light as possible.

And there I was, running through the woods like I haven't a care in the world, except in trying to keep each step light and easy, fast but relaxed. I was out, and it keeps me from cabin fever. My blood was moving, endorphins were being released, and I was burning calories.

Pontiac Rec isn't the easiest course, but the past couple of days I've been able to run it without walking the hills or feeling winded when I got to the top of them. I don't mind walking hills- it's good ultra training, and when the terrain is treacherous it can keep ankles from being sprained and the like. But it feels awfully nice to have the choice.

And more- the miles rolled by like friends, not like a job to be done. I was no more happy to see my car at the end as to hit mile seven, or mile three. Though I gotta admit, the coffee, and later the shower, felt awfully nice.

tomorrow I run 16-17. I hope that they're as zen as today!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


the main reason I skipped training for a race in the fall last year (at least, this is what I tell myself) is because of my shin injury. I wanted to give it a chance to heal. I thought that, plus changing my form, would be enough to maybe keep the problem at bay and I wouldn't have to deal with the issue anymore.

Ah, the joys of delusion, wishful thinking and denial.

anyway, during my threshold intervals yesterday, the damn thing started up again. So I did what I normally did- stopped, massaged it, and cursed whatever came to mind- my genetics, chance, god(s), and the asphalt upon which I was running.

None of which did much good. I Finished the interval a bit slower than goal, spent the rest interval thinking calming and restful thoughts and sending RELAX DAMMIT! commands towards my Tibialis Anterior (the muscle herniating and causing the pain) and went through the next three intervals just fine.

maybe it could be a mind over matter thing.

or it could just be I'm wallowing in denial again. I'll let you know when I find out.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week 6

I like my step down weeks. Kind of a pity, because I only get one more till I hit my taper.

I call this week a win- I relaxed and my body felt lighter and springier, and I got to take two days completely off (!) with one day very easy day.

My intervals were exactly where I wanted them to be; easier than I thought they'd be, and great confidence builders. Though I felt like I had worked hard doing them, I wasn't being put through hell to get them done.

I'm learning to be content with my cadence. I used to beat myself up running through Pontiac in show wearing annoyingly heavy shoes. I've made peace with the idea that 170 steps per minute is harder work in those conditions than 190 on pavement wearing regular trainers.

Takes me a while to figure out the obvious, I guess. :)

I've pretty well firmed up the idea that I'll be shooting for sub 3:30 at Martian, with a race strategy of ~8:00 min pace for the first 20 and see what I have left for the final 10K. I'd love to run this race intelligently... or as near as I can approach it. My idea to hit 20 miles at 2:40 and then bust out a 45-47 minute 10K. it might happen, if things go well. Otherwise, I'll just go to have a good time.

I'm a third of the way through Daniels' program, and so far as I can tell, things are going about as well as can reasonably be expected. I do think the time I spent (am spending) working on form guided by the folks at Good Form Running has been amazingly helpful. So, kudos to them- it's helped my training a lot. So far. :)

Next week, 70 miles; and my interesting run will be 4X 10-12 minutes at T pace with a couple of minutes of rest between intervals. I'll probably rest Monday. Might possibly go up north for a snowshoe race on Saturday, though I'm not 100% sure I want to do that. I'll burn that bridge as I cross it...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Anti minimalism

One thing I appreciate about running is that it's relatively minimalist. Really, all you need is a good pair of shoes and a willingness to work. And if you're into the barefoot thing, you don't even need the shoes.

On the other hand, running gadgets are cool! :) especially when you want to do something kinda stupid. Like run hilly, snowy, technical trails at night. Comfortably.

So to bore you, I think I'd make up a list of all the crap I put on to get my run done tonight. It won't be as bad as it could be: I tried not to think about how much all of this costs.

Shoes: Saucony Razor (waterproof with a built in gaiter)
Socks: Smartwool 3/4 crew, light cushion
refective ankle things: brooks nightlife
Tights: Asics
Windbriefs: sporthill
top baselayer: hind sleeveless T
top midlayer: smartwool lightweight half-zip
gloves: sporthill
Race number belt (for light #1): amphipod
Light #1: Princton Tec Fuel
hydration vest: nathan hpl 020
reflective vest: brooks nightlife
red blinker: serfas
headband: mizuno
light #2: princton tech remix
GPS: Garmin 305

Sadly, I couldn't resist giving a ballpark figure on how much this all cost: maybe around $800, with the Garmin being over a quarter of the total.

Still, that's a lot of stuff to put one foot in front of the other.

Weirdly consistent pacing...

I know it doesn't really mean anything, but I gotta say, I find this a little odd.

My paces (according to Garmin) during my five minute LT intervals today:
7:35, 7:35, 7:35, 7:35, 7:28, 7:28.

My paces during the one minute rest intervals between each set:
9:06, 10:00, 9:06, 9:06, 9:06, 9:06.

I am not that consistent of a runner. for most of the LT intervals I started off too fast, saw that I was sub-7, and slowed down to something that would make the average pace near where I wanted it.

But I'm pretty sure that my garmin wouldn't lie, change the numbers because it likes symmetry, or whatever. it's just... curious. ~anyway~ :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

49 miles this week. An easy week. A step down week. A couple of hard interval sessions, a few easy runs thrown in for good measure, and I'm trying to figure out how to work in my group runs and the easy trail runs I want to do.

There just aren't enough miles in a step down week is what I'm feeling.

Tomorrow i'm looking forward to doing maybe 10 miles with a warm up, a cool down, and my threshold interval running session.

Tomorrow I'm hoping for as much fun as I had last week doing my threshold workout.
This week I'm hoping for a nice, relaxing, easy time doing my running.

Because when I say this week is a step down week, it logically implies that there's a step up looming over me like a barely scalable cliff, casting it's shadow over the training I'm doing now.

70 miles next week. it's a lot of miles for a middle of the packer like myself. It's what I chose for my max number of miles, and with 12 weeks left before game time, Daniels formula says it's time to do them.

I gotta say: I'm really looking forward to it. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Intervals!

Daniels suggests two kinds of intervals: interval pace (I) and threshold pace (T).

I intervals are roughly VO2 max pace, which is about the speed a person can go flat out for 11 minutes. Not sure why 11, but that's the way most of these things work.... if I remember my definitions correctly.

T intervals are supposed to be run at about the pace lactate starts to accumulate in the blood, or about the speed someone can hold for an hour, or so.

Anyway, yesterday was I intervals. Last week they had gone fairly poorly- about 20 seconds behind the pace I wanted. I thought with similar weather and traction conditions, it would be about the same.

It wasn't... it was better! Everything was at or a bit faster than my goal pace (7:02) and I had brief moments of thinking- "This is too easy- I must be going to slowly" when I was right on the money pace wise.

It was a good run- one of the best yet. And surprising, too! Though, interestingly, I'm starting a new phase of the program next week- and so far as I can tell, no more I intervals.

Which is all right, I guess... for all the wonderful things that can happen during them, they are a pretty bloody painful...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Week 5

Definitely had it's ups and downs.

Hit my weekly mileage goal, which I'm happy about. I did 45 of them in three days, which is a little less happy.

I've found that running on hills with snow and a traction device makes for some slow going. And it's helpful to run with others- if they're going slow it kept me from going faster than i should.

I learned that running with a hydration vest in the cold is not so good if the water freezes in the drink tube. I also learned that putting the vest under a more typical warmth vest can keep that from happening. it also keep sunnut butter and jelly sandwiches from freezing.

I learned dates are yummy. Even though they're sticky and have a sort of bug like appearance.

I found my speed intervals suffered a lot from poor traction, but my threshold intervals were fine. the latter gave me a good confidence boost, and leg me to a goal time for Martian, if everything goes well:

I'm shooting for a PR, meaning below 3:32. Fly goal, sub 3:30, meaning faster than an eight minute pace. It ought to be good...

Friday, January 8, 2010

A good training session...

I was supposed to do it yesterday, but was lazy and decided to watch a couple of episodes of Dexter instead. Also, i was tried from Tuesday and Wednesday's training sessions, but that's another story.

No, today I had lunch with some friends, got my car back, ran some errands, and did a 12 mile workout including a couple of 12 minute tempo runs with a two minute break between. These tempo runs were supposed to be right around my threshold pace- about 7:40 or so.

With the extra snow on the ground I figured somewhere between 7:50 and 8:10 would probably be in order. I mean, my interval pace went from a "supposed" of 7:02 to "in reality" of 7:22.

so i started off running moderate/hard. About a minute in a checked in at about 7:30 something, so I figured I was about on target. I'd get tired, or something would come up, and I'd slow down a bit. And I did... but only to average a 7:45 pace. And I felt... good. Like I could talk in gasps, but still talk. Everything was moving fine, and I didn't feel winded at the end of the interval.

I felt... strong. And it was awfully nice.

the second interval was very much the same- easier, because there were fewer hills. But my heart rate was exactly the same average for both, and my pace was a bit faster for the second at 7:39.

When I hit the end of the second interval, I thought: I can do this. maybe not for a full marathon right now, or a half, but I can get there. And that makes me feel confident, like running at a sub eight minute pace at Martian is a possibility. And breaking the 3:30 barrier would be plenty cool.

so, in light of my last post, perhaps my strength could be in the tempo run. i enjoy them more than intervals, that's for certain. But then, if I didn't have the joy of intervals to compare it to, perhaps the tempo run would be grueling, too. These things are kind of relative...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


So, i was rereading Daniels' chapter one, and in forming a training program for a runner he suggests getting to know the runner's strengths- whether they respond well to hard fast intervals or tempo runs at a steady state but moderate hard/hard pace, or long slow distance, or whatever.

And so I tried to think about what my strengths might be. I considered what training regimens in the past have been useful and helpful, or fun. What I've done in the past that's been most beneficial.

I couldn't really think of anything off the top of my head.

not sure why that is- maybe because I don't have any objective measure to compare it to, or something. But when I look to the races I've enjoyed the most, it's pretty much been a spontaneous signing up and doing for the fun of it type thing, with no real training scheme in mind.

i enjoy running miles, especially on trails. Not an easy place to do speedwork, especially during winter.

i got lots of speed quickly when I was doing speedwork regularly on a track with my group of running friends, but I was also on a knife's edge of injury most of that summer. And my legs were fresh and didn't have the miles they do now.

On the other hand, a few years ago running at 10:30, 9:30, and 8:30 had certain effort levels associate with them. right now, that effort level has shifted one place to the right, and I'm not as strong as I was 18 months ago. Or even eight.

Today's speedwork session had its moments. Five minutes hard, four rest, times five with a two mile warm up. First interval was at a 7:09, the other four were at 7:22. Part of it was the conditions and terrain. Part of it was mental discipline, and a lack of will. I felt like I was running hard, but perhaps I was just fooling myself.

it's not that I didn't enjoy the run. it's just I didn't do particularly well in my own mind. perhaps the 2X 12 minute tempo run scheduled for Thursday will go better. Um... if I have my car. :P

Monday, January 4, 2010

Maybe not so much with the fencing...

So, I've been trying to figure out different methods of cross training that would make me appreciate running more, and strengthen areas which running doesn't.

Yoga would be my first choice, if I could find a place that I could do it within my budget. I wish the studios were a little less trendy, but what can you do?

SCA fencing was my second choice. Lot's of lateral motion, and it's a game which requires a lot of thinking. Though speed and endurance help a lot, too.

The problem is, I hurt my right foot on a run a few weeks back. Nothing major, but just a pain in the arch. it's possible I've compensated a bit since I first injured it... the pain has spread to the outside of my foot.

None of it is to the point of worrying- it only hurts when I start moving after sitting for a long time, and its more stiffness than actual discomfort- most of the time. But the overall pain in my foot has gone up since fencing yesterday, and that worries me a bit.

So I'm probably going to can that method of cross training. And explore my options with respect to yoga perhaps a bit more...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Week 4

63 miles this week. Wish I had done more night trail running, because it's fun, but I can't have everything. Where would i put it?

My new running toys are quite wonderful; I'm very much looking forward to getting my money's worth out of them- or the gifter's money out of them, as the case may be. Both the Microspikes and the Hydration vest are wonderful addictions- I mean, additions- to my running gear.

I bought more car keys this morning to keep myself from having a fiasco like last Friday- my first run of the year was interesting, to say the least. Not a debacle, thankfully, but an appropriate outworking to the curse: may you live in interesting times.

And perhaps I've been unkind or evil enough to merit the curse. At the very least, it keeps me in good stories. I hope.

I'm still working on how to not overdress in temps below 10 degrees- even though the real temp was in the single digits and the wind chill was below zero, my windbreaker during my runs this morning was soaking with sweat. I think I may need to start using my vest, and save the jacket for temps significantly colder than today.

Still, seems odd to have a single layer on my arms in weather so brutal. But I guess pushing my 170# body around results in lots of waste heat, which I wish I could donate around.I know some of my friends would be grateful! it's a good thing, though, that I haven't spent a lot of money on heavy duty jackets and the like. I mean, I'd never get to wear them until it gets insanely, ungodly cold!

Anyway, next week should be fun. it's another 63 mile week, but with two fun Q workouts via Daniel's- a 12 mile run (or there abouts) with 2 miles easy, 2X 10-12 mins at threshold pace (~7:41) with a 2 min rest interval, and then an hour of easy running. the second fun workout will be about eight miles if I'm doing my math guesstimation right: 2 miles easy, 5X 5 min hard (~7:00) with a 4 min rest interval.

not that I've ever been precisely certain what "hard" means, according to Daniels. I haven't had it described as I've gone through the book, but I've been kind of lax in trying to read the book. Sad, I know, but I've got the lazy going. At least, with respect to actually knowing what I'm doing. Hopefully i'll run into someone who knows Daniels' definitions and will be able to explain it to me. Or find it in his book...

Last, but not least, I have 43 miles of easy running, probably broken up into group runs and two a days. Many, if not most of the solo runs will be at Pontiac, and hopefully a good number of them will be night runs.

I want more snow, so I can break out my snowshoes. I like my microspikes, but the snowshoes add an extra level of difficulty.

I want more cold, because winter just isn't winter without suffering a bit from the elements. when i was soaked with sweat, walking up a steep, snow covered hill unprotected from the wind this morning, I had to rate it mild to moderately uncomfortable. Certainly much better than running in 90-100 degree heat. Probably even better than running in rain on a 30 odd degree day.

lastly, I'm going to try my five fingers again in the snow. Since the water in puddles is probably all frozen, I should do better than last time. I may even try them with microspikes, because I'm a big fan of having traction...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

'Bit chilly out there today... time to overdress!

At 7:00 today, it was 12 degrees real temp, -4 with wind chill. So I dressed up in my usual cold weather gear, threw a windbreaker over it, wind pants over the insulated tights, and thought: "I'll be fine."

I wasn't fine. I was over dressed, dammit! three miles in I tied the windbreaker around my waist, and I was still sweating- which is a bit chill when the wind gusts up to 20 mph. Brooks paradox mittens when into my pockets, along with my hat. Kept the balaclava on, though.

Under armour coldgear mock turtleneck with a regular short sleeved wicking tee over it, and I was still sweating through. Could be the legs were just too warm. Hm...

Beautiful day for t a run, though. Sun was up, and I was running with friends. It's been a while since I'd joined them on a Saturday. Felt nice. Maybe I'll wake up early enough to join them on their 7:00 AM run. Ugh...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Um. oops.

I have a saying: "A little bit of paranoia can go a long way." I always like to check that I have my spare car key as I go running- it's disconcerting to get midway through a run and not find it. Or completely done with a run- that's not so good, either.

So I was trying a new Christmas Present: Nathan's HPL 20 race vest which may be my favorite hydration system evar. And I've used a few. But in playing around with it, I somehow managed to lose my key.

This wasn't necessarily a bad thing- It was 10 miles into a planned 15 mile run, and I was just going back to my car to grab my headlamp. Home wasn't *that* far away- a modest 5-6 miles, I figured. So it might work out well. the only issue is whether I had a spare key anywhere, and if I'd be able to find it.

turns out I did. And I was only mildly uncomfortable running around at night with a modest amount of reflective gear.

As for the backpack/hydration vest/whatever thing, it was super comfortable. Most of the time, I forgot I was wearing it. the only thing I didn't like was the complexity of the bite valve. I've always subscribed to: "the more moving parts, the more things can go wrong" philosophy.

So I substituted my camelbak bite valve to see if that goes any better....