Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Easy day

No running Monday as usual.  Did a lot of power exercises at the gym (dead lift, squat, incline bench, heavy leg presses, etc) in addition to one of my standard routines.  I'm beginning to transition the lifting routines from "strength" to "power" as the 5+ months of strength training has me at a good level to handle the power exercises.  These exercises should go well w/ the hill repeats which start on Friday.

Today I did my standard double w/ 4 very easy miles in the morning followed by 5-miles in the evening.


9/29:  No running.  Lifting (upper-A, core, abs, legs) plus dead lift and squats.  (moved dead lift up to 280 lbs)

9/30:  AM  4-miles @ 8:09
          PM  5-miles @ 7:13  HR - 150

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another Base Week in the Books

Surprisingly, the legs felt good today after yesterday's five T-paced miles.  I finished out the week w/ a nice 10-miler in the trails (the coyote was back - but this time we were running on the trail in the same direction for a few seconds until he turned off and ran into the woods)  

Next week the base training progresses to the next stage where a hill repeat session is added (probably Thursday or Friday) giving me another quality day to go along w/ the threshold day and the long day.  The tentative plan is to have the hill repeats go for 3 consecutive weeks, then take a down week w/ no hills and then 3 straight weeks of hills again. . . . and repeat this process until December or January - so probably 9 hill sessions in all.  After that, the heavier plyometrics and speed work will be introduced.  (and after that, it gets REALLY hard - why the hell is it that we do this again??)


9/28:  10-miles in 1:12:20 (7:14 pace)  HR - 152

Saturday, September 27, 2008

5 under 6, and an actual off day!

After the Wednesday debacle at the track, Thursday called for an easy 5-miler after a good workout at the gym.  Friday's usually one of my double running days where I do 4 miles in the morning and 5 in the evening, but I was looking thru the log book trying to find the last time my legs had an off day.  Not from running, I make sure I have an off day from running once per week, but that "off day" is usually my heavy gym day and the legs get quite a workout.  I was looking for a true off day - a day where my legs neither ran nor got in a heavy lifting day. . . . and I had to go back to August - over a month.  So I changed it up and took a complete day of rest on Friday.

Of course, being the devious one that I am, I'm sure that somewhere in the back of my mind, part of the reason for the off day was because I knew damn well I was going to go out there and run that Threshold workout again on Saturday.  No school sessions, no stupid 'walk around the track' PE class, no slow walkin' ladies organizations. . . . and hopefully no men over the age of 120 in lane-1!!

Ah yes, a normal day - a few walkers in the outside lanes, a few runners in the inside lanes that you knew understood the "rules" and would move aside as I came thru.  It was about 10:15 am and already there was not a square meter of track that wasn't in the sun and the temps were climbing already (75 degrees at the start, about 82 by the end) but no big deal - I'd rather lose a few seconds/mile in performance than run this thing at 8:00 am (I'm just not doing that on a Saturday, or really any other day for that matter)

Without all of the insanity, my focus was better today.  First 2-miler in 11:55 (5:57, 5:58).  Now, Wednesday's insanity aside, I learned that running this thing strictly as planned was not going to net me more than 4 to 4.5 miles at pace unless the temps are in the mid 60's or lower - and w/ that not being the case today, I needed to call an audible on the "arrangement" of the miles in order to get in the volume I was looking for.  So first change-up, I upped my rest from 2-minutes to 3.  (not sure how much this helped because the HR didn't come down much in that last minute).  Next change - just run 1-mile here, which I did in 5:58.  Then take the rest again. . . and then get ready for the hard part - a finishing 2-miler.

Originally it was supposed to be 2-miles, 2-minutes and repeat - and I figured I could do 4-miles plus about 1000m this way.  So that would have been 2-miles - rest - 2-miles - rest - 1000m to 1-mile.  But with the adjustment it became 2-miles - rest - 1-mile - rest - 2-miles.  So more of the rest in the middle, leaving the really tough part until the end hoping that by being that close to being finished I'd make it through.  

The plan was successful.  I got in 5-miles.  Now, the last 2-miles were a little slower than the first 3 (6:02 pace) but I was OK with that - I got in the volume I was looking for and the average pace was still slightly under 6-minutes.

So no badges today - you don't get those until you complete the workout as it's drawn up.  This workout is on the schedule every 3-weeks until I hit it exactly.  The reality is even w/o the Barnum and Bailey Circus out on the track w/ me - getting 5 to 6 miles in at sub-6 pace just ain't all that easy for me yet regardless of how I "arrange" the miles.  (well, I guess if they were all 1-mile repeats I could do it OK, but 2-mile repeats make for a much tougher experience)

End result - happy to get the miles in, but hope to do better next time.  I've got 10-11 miles planned for tomorrow.  


9/25:  weightlifting (upper-B, abs, legs)  5-miles @ 7:18

9/26:  Off Day

9/27:  6.5 miles including 5 @ T-pace.  2-mile (11:55), 1-mile (5:58), 2-mile (12:04) 3-min rests

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tough Day to Run

Yesterday's attempt to run my workout turned into a total fiasco.  For starters, the temps are up again, so that wasn't going to help.  Second, I tried to get to the track early to beat the heat, but that didn't work as #1 I wound up leaving the house about a half hour later than I wanted, and #2 this is a community college track and school just started this week. . . . so EVERY parking lot was full.  I literally drove around for 45 minutes going from lot to lot in order to find a spot.

So at this point, by the time I finish my warm up it's almost noon (as opposed to what I wanted to be a 10:30 start) - and it's hot as hell.  Making matters worse, there was some sort of Physical Education class at the track and their deal was to either walk or slow jog around the track - and there was about 100 of them!

They hadn't started their slog yet so I tried to get in some of the workout before the herd trampled the track.  I got in my first 2-miles @ 5:58 pace, took my break and then started the next run.  After another mile at the same pace the herd was starting and I was just in no mood to weave in and out of 100 walkers in that heat so I pulled the plug.

Needless to say I was pissed off - mostly at myself for not going ahead and at least finishing the 4th mile anyway.  A while later I came to realize that even though the workout didn't go as well as I'd have liked, the reality was I ran about the same workout as last week and the week before - w/ and extra 15-18 degrees of temperature.  

Looking at it that way, it wasn't a total failure - but still I felt like I hadn't done enough.  So later in the early evening I went back to the track to get in a few 800m reps.  However, when I got there the parking lot was STILL FULL - at 6:30pm!!  I only needed to drive around for 20-minutes this time, but I still wasn't happy.  Once I got to the track, things got worse yet again when there was some track club taking up all but the 3 inside lanes. . .  and then, get this - a ladies fitness club (about 50-60 of them) getting ready to walk laps around the only 3-lanes left - and they all had matching T-shirts and hats.  My first thought was - "these ladies probably paid a hefty sum to join this 'club' where they got shirts and hats ($15 value) and are essentially paying someone to watch them walk around a track".  Second thought was - "what the hell am I going to do now?"  

Well, if I didn't feel like weaving in between 100 college students who at the very least would attempt to get out of your way once in a while, I sure as hell wasn't going to spend my evening weaving in between a bunch of old ladies who I'm sure knew nothing of track etiquette and might not even be able to hear me!  

The gals were doing their stretching before the big walk-a-thon and looking at them try to stretch I figured they might be there for a while, so I said "let's get in a good 1200m run and go from there".  

First lap 1:11, right on pace - and then w/ the way my day was going was there ever any doubt. . . ladies decide to bag the stretching and start the walking.  Now I'm in my 2nd lap and I'm literally dodging left and right like a fighter pilot trying to stay out of the crosshairs of the plane behind me.  Totally broke any concentration I had, and at one point I actually stepped off the track entirely to avoid a 120 year old man who was not part of the group but I guess decided to join in on the fun and walk as slow as possible in lane-1.  No doubt he was deaf or very close to it.  Next thought that popped into my head "shit, I'm going to have to pass that guy again".  Then as I approached the end of the 2nd lap it suddenly occurred to me that "oh yeah, I'm trying to run a decent rep here!"  Second lap - 1:21, "dammit!"  I'd like to pick it up but there's just too many of them.  I managed to increase the pace a little, but now I'm zeroing in on the old man - I think he's aged 10 more years during the last lap, he looks to be at least 130 now.  Is he going to hear me coming, my guess is no so I plan to swing out to lane-2.  Just then the steps to his right and is now on the line separating the lanes and is essentially taking up two lanes - and then he stops completely and just stands there right as I'm coming up on him.  Great, swerve to the inside - off the track again.  Now I've got only about 150m to go and I pick the pace up as best I can .  Later a check of the Garmin showed the final 150m at a pace of about 4:15 - 4:20/mile, but the damage had long since been done.  Final lap - 1:14, Total time - 3:46.  Awful.  Just awful.

No way I'm doing that again - workout over.  Being that I probably shouldn't have been out there that evening anyway, leaving was not the worst thing in the world.  I was so irritated by the entire day - what a disaster.  I couldn't get one damn thing to go smoothly - and that's probably why I went back to the track - I just wanted to run w/ no interruptions and I figured it would be clear by 6:30 - 7:00 pm.  There's just something that I find very relaxing about running some reps in that 13-15 mph range - hoping it would take my mind off the previous session - but not even that worked out today.  


9/24:  5.5 miles including 3 miles @ 5:58 pace (2-min break between miles 2 and 3) and 1200m in 3:46

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Bobcat, the Wolf, and the Bear

No not on the trail (at least not today!)  Rather I'm alluding to the very difficult workout I've got coming up on Wednesday.  First a little background info - 

Anybody remember the Cub Scouts??  It was the precursor to the Boy Scouts for I believe 11 and 12 year olds.  Although I never went on to be a Boy Scout (no shocker there!) I did spend those 2-years in the Cub Scouts.  What I remember most about the Cubbies (aside from making and racing the wooden cars to see whose car could get down the ramp the fastest) was our little award system.  Towards the end of the first year, if you completed all of the requirements you got your first big badge - the Bobcat badge!!  Mom would sew that puppy on your little scout uniform and you wore it proudly.  Sometime during the second year you became eligible for the second and more prestigious award - the Wolf badge.  (which was sewn right next to the Bobcat on the uni)  And then at the end of the 2-year deal, you could obtain the single greatest award a Cubbie could receive, yes the incomparable Bear Badge!  (think Congressional Medal of Honor for 12-year olds)

Tomorrow is another Threshold day at the track.  Two weeks ago it was 3 x 1-mile w/ 1-minute breaks.  Last week was a 3-mile Tempo Run.  This week it's 2-mile repeats w/ 2-minute breaks.  This workout demonstrates the real value of Cruise Intervals - volume.  Tempo Runs are meant to be about 20-minutes in length.  Anything longer than that, and you're supposed to slow the pace down a bit.  For example - according to the Daniels book, if I run a Tempo for 25-minutes I'm supposed to slow down my overall pace 5-seconds/mile compared to the original T-pace.  If I run a 30-min Tempo, I should slow down about 8-seconds per mile compared to T-pace.  Not so w/ Cruise Intervals.  Here, regardless of how many miles I'm running, all of them are at the original T-pace.

So this workout coming up 3 x 2-mile gives SIX miles at T-pace.  Yes I get the two 2-minute breaks, but we're talking DOUBLE the volume of the previous workouts w/ no let up in pace. 

And that brings me back to the Cub Scout reference.   Typically the first 2-miles of this workout are tough, but OK.  Then the 2-minute break comes - after that the third mile is usually OK as you're just coming off the rest.  But Mile #4 starts to get tough towards the end because the total volume is more than what's been done before.  I call this mile the "Bobcat Mile".  The first mile that goes beyond what's typically done for Threshold pace (unless your T-runs are run @ 5:00 pace or better!)  Although the back half of this mile is usually pretty tough, you do have the next break to look forward to so getting thru this mile is usually doable.

The second break just never seems long enough, and before you know it you're back out there.  Unlike Mile #3, Mile #5 is not comfortable in the least.  The benefits of the short rest usually fade within 400-600 meters and then it's very difficult.  Knowing you still have 7-laps or so to go just makes matters worse.  As you might expect - I call Mile #5 the "Wolf Mile", the next step beyond the comfort zone and the next level of pain. . . . and that leads to Mile #6 which is just a Bear.  Tough to put into words how much this mile sucks.  Legs hurt, can't breathe, everything is in slow motion, and you're thinking of anything you can to get your mind off of the sheer hell even if it's just for 5-seconds.  Anything to get you through.  

Should you make it through this torture chamber, the confidence gained is immeasurable.  (I mean, you're running almost a 10k @ something only slightly slower than 5k pace w/o any race day adrenaline - that'll do wonders for your confidence!)  

However, this workout is so challenging for me that my first time thru I do not expect to get thru all 6-miles.  For tomorrow, I'll be satisfied w/ anything longer than 4-miles.  If I run a 2 x 2-mile and then say just a 1000m, that's OK.  It's still over 50% more volume than the previous workouts.  Should I get 5-miles in, I'll be very happy.  I don't expect to even begin the "Bear Mile" tomorrow.  And again, this is fine - this workout is on the schedule again in 3-weeks.  If I get at least 4-miles + 1000m in tomorrow, I'll attempt to finish all 6-miles next time around.

No matter how much volume I get in tomorrow, I know one thing for sure - this will be the toughest workout I've done in a long long time.  Wish me luck!


9/22:  No running,  Lifting (Upper-A, abs, legs) + deadlift and squat

9/23:  AM  4-miles @ 7:54
            PM  5-miles @ 7:24  HR - 149

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Coyote Encounter

During my 9-miler today I encountered a coyote up close.  What I found interesting about this was that the instincts of two totally different animals wound up being EXACTLY the same.  

I was about 3-miles into the run, heading up a very remote part of the trail which is about 8-9 feet wide at this point.  As I ran up the 4% grade on the right half of the trail I saw what looked like a medium sized dog coming down the trail right towards me - he was coming down the left side of the trail (his right)  I think we noticed each other at almost the same time.  An instant later I clearly recognized this "dog" as a coyote.

Immediately we both slowed down to about 3/4 of our original paces.  We made eye contact which then lasted for the entire encounter - even w/ the ups and downs of the trail, the potholes etc, neither one of us ever took our eyes off the other.  I instinctively moved towards the right getting to the outer most part of the trail.  The coyote did the same - he also kept his 3/4 pace but moved as far to his right as possible.  As we passed each other the distance between us could not have been more than 4 feet.  Even as we passed, we maintained eye contact until we were about 10 - 12 feet clear of each other and then at almost the exact same time we turned our heads forward and picked up our paces.  Very interesting and very cool.  Now, this was part of an out and back for me - and I was really hoping he wasn't going to go gather up a bunch of his buddies, as running into a pack of those boys on the return trip would certainly have made for a different type of encounter!

In regards to the actual running - I did do a Thursday run this week giving me 6-days for the first time.  The mileage for the week totaled 45 which is a new record for me.  Other than that, the only other thing of note is that I've been picking up the pace a bit on several of my easy runs the past 10 days or so.  I've just been feeling really good.  I've got the off day from running tomorrow and I'm going to make sure that Tuesday's easy day is VERY easy because I have a MONSTER of a workout scheduled for Wednesday.  (more on that tomorrow)


9/18:  weightlifting (upper-A, abs light legs) stretching 
          and rolling.  
          5-miles @ 7:30  HR - 147

9/19:  AM  4-miles @ 7:43
          PM 5-miles @ 6:52  HR - 154

9/20:  weightlifting (upper-B, abs, core)  stretching and rolling.
6-miles @ 7:05  HR - 152

9/21:  9-miles @ 7:12  HR - 154

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tempo Time, for my wife too!

My wife Joan is training for a half-marathon she'll be running in January.  She's done a couple of these before, but this time she's planning on setting a PR.  We got a nice program for her which gives her about 17-weeks to get ready from this point.  Today was going to be her first tempo run.  We were to meet at the track at about 11:40 this morning.

As I blathered on for about 5 paragraphs yesterday, I was not feeling great about my upcoming Tempo run.  The reason can really be boiled down to one simple statement I made yesterday:

". . . knowing how I approach these things, regardless of what I tell myself, I know once it's time to run I'm going to put that peddle down somewhere in the first 2-miles leaving me an absolute bear of a 3rd mile. . ."

When I arrived at the track I saw the football groundskeeper was working on the field.  The issue was that his John Deere was sitting in lanes 1 and 2 somewhere around the 50 yard line.  Meaning, that every single lap I was going to need to swing out into lane-3 and then come back in.  I thought, "great, just what I need, an extra few yards every lap".  

I finished my warm up and stretching before Joan arrived, which worked out pretty well.  I'd do my run during her warm up and then I'd be able to run my cool down along side her for her last 2-miles when I was sure she'd rather not be going around the oval over and over again by herself.  

My plan was to run the first mile in about 6:05 and then ramp it down to about 6 flat and see how it went from there - but like I said, I know how I run these things, and I knew deep down that there was no way I'd see a mile time starting w/ a 6 unless I got into trouble.  As I passed the John Deere on the first lap (about 150m in) I took a look down to see that my pace was somewhere in the 5:35 area - need to slow down.  I managed to correct the pace and I hit the first mile in 5:58.  (which was the EXACT pace I hit in the first cruise interval last week)  I held steady for the first half of the second mile and at that point I started thinking "when is this going to get uncomfortable - can I make it to the 3rd mile before it starts to become a problem?"

The answer was "yes".  Second mile split was 5:55 - the EXACT same time as my 2nd cruise interval last week!  Wow, this is a carbon copy of last week so far - but this time I'm NOT getting the 1-minute breaks between miles.  A quick check of the HR showed 167 - not too bad, only a tick higher than the max HR of the 2nd interval last week.  

Now on to the tough part - the last mile.  Last week, after another 1-minute break I hit a 5:51 to close things out.  I figure no way I can do that here, I'm just looking for another sub-6.  I started to feel it during the 2nd lap of the last mile, but just like last week it wasn't too bad.  I felt like I was holding the pace pretty well, and with about 600m to go I started picking it up just a bit.  I really didn't look at the watch for the final 2-laps, but when I crossed the finish and saw my time of 17:44, I quickly realized that my last mile split was, you guessed it - 5:51.  

I had run the EXACT same times for the each of the three miles in both workouts - but unlike last time where I got a 1-minute break between each mile - this time it was straight thru!  First thought at that point was to go check the heart rates - how much harder did I work to get that?  I was quite surprised by the result,  ave/max HR for each mile:

Cruise Intervals last week:  155/162, 161/166, 164/167
Tempo Run this week:  154/164, 166/167, 167/169

Of course the average HR of the 2nd and 3rd miles will be higher during the Tempo run because I'm not starting from a 130 HR or so like I am in the intervals - but the max HRs are very similar on those last 2-miles, meaning I really didn't work much harder at all!  That was quite a surprise.  Needless to say, finishing a 3-mile run in 17:44 felt pretty good!

Of course, when it was time for my wife to do her run the groundskeeper had finished up and was out of the way.  (yes I had to run around that damn thing 12 times!)  She did very well and ran each mile faster than the last.  We're going to monitor her paces and HRs closely the first couple of weeks and make any necessary adjustments, but so far so good.

Tomorrow's supposed to be an off day for running, but I may sneak out and get in an easy 5-miles in the afternoon.


9/17:  7-miles including 3-mile Tempo Run in 17:44 (5:58, 5:55, 5:51)  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tempo Run Tomorrow

Monday was an off day from running after my 13-miler on Sunday.  However, I did have a 2-hour session at the gym.  In addition to my usual core work, stretching, rolling, and one of my two upper body routines, Monday is the day where I do some heavier lifting on legs.  I've also started incorporating some of the weekly power lifting  which will be on Mondays as well.  Last week I added the deadlift - this week I added some light squats too.  (the deadlift and squat routines will get heavier down the line, but I won't up the weight until I can do so w/ minimal soreness as I don't want the lifting to hinder my running in any way)

Today was an easy day where I did my morning 4-miler and evening 5-miler w/ the 5-miler at a slightly quicker pace.

Tomorrow is Threshold day once again.  Last week it was 3 x 1-mile w/ 1-minute breaks.  Tomorrow it's a 3-mile tempo run.  (with a 2-mile warm up and 1-mile cool down for 6-miles total)  

This run will really tell me a lot about where I am mentally.  Last weeks average pace of 5:55 says I should be OK physically, but then I had the benefit of those little breaks between each mile.  Tomorrow, I won't have any breaks - it's 3-miles straight thru and being that it's my first tempo run in a long time I know there's a chance it blows up.  My plan is to alternate my weekly T-work between cruise intervals and tempo runs.  I know it's the tempo runs that will ultimately help me the most down the line, but I tend to run them right on the knife's edge and about 2/3 of the way thru if I've either started too fast or I'm just not mentally ready for the challenge, there have been times where the runs have been aborted.  (when this happens I typically suspend all subsequent workouts and re-do the tempo run the next day where I then get it right)

Anyway, I don't want to have to deal w/ that tomorrow.  The biggest thing for me is to complete the run.  Seven days ago, the pace for this run was going to be set at about 6:20/mile.  After last week's session I'd have to be really sand-bagging if I set a pace much higher than 6:03.  (and even that might be a sand-bagging pace)  Point is, I don't really know.  Was last week just a day where everything went right - I don't think so.  There's enough evidence out there over the past two weeks that says last week's run was real.  

However, even though theoretically you're supposed to keep the same pace for all threshold work that's under 20-minutes duration, the simple reality is if you do 3-miles w/ 1-minute breaks and compare that to 3-miles straight thru - you either have to slow down on the tempo run to keep the same intensity OR ratchet up the intensity to keep the pace because you're not getting the 1-minute breaks.  Averaging 5:55 on the tempo run is therefore out of the question unless I turn it into a Time Trial and that's not the idea of the workout.  

So - the plan is to run the first mile in 6:05 - 6:10 and bring it down if I can.  Where I don't want to be is running the first mile in 6:02, the second one in 5:58 and then early in the 3rd mile have the feeling that I just can't make it.  

Why am I this concerned about a silly little 3-mile tempo run?  I don't know.  I'd like to believe that my actual T-pace is now in the 6-flat range, but I that's probably just wishful thinking at this point.  While last week I had an enormous amount of confidence that I could run a great workout, now that the bar has been raised so to speak, and I've got a tougher workout on the schedule my confidence is just not very high.  And knowing how I approach these things, regardless of what I tell myself, I know once it's time to run I'm going to put that peddle down somewhere in the first 2-miles leaving me an absolute bear of a 3rd mile . . . . so like I said, tomorrow's going to tell me a lot about where I am mentally.


9/15:  No running.  Lifting (upper-B, core, abs, legs)  Also deadlift and squats.

9/16:  AM  4-miles, 7:58 pace
           PM  5-miles, 7:12 pace, HR - 147

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Half Marathon to finish the week

I was scheduled to do 13-miles to finish out my week, but being that Grellan and Thomas ran their outstanding half-marathons today in Ireland, I felt compelled to "up it" to 13.1 and join in on the fun!  (I know, I know - that extra 0.1, HUGE sacrifice on my part!!)

Slight difference in our paces, however.  Unlike those guys that "race" 13+ miles, I'm lucky if I can "finish" 13 miles.  Since coming back from the injury I have done exactly two runs over 9-miles, one 10-miler and one 11-miler.  This was going to be tough for me, especially since the course is in the trails w/ two 1.5 mile climbs at a 4.5% grade.  

I did my usual on longer runs and started slow and after a few miles started ramping up the pace a bit.  I was surprised how low my HR was for the entire run - average wound up being just 151.  For me, that's quite low at this point in my running.  

All in all, the run went fine.  I finished my "half-marathon" in 1:37:55.  (ave pace of about 7.5 minutes/mile) I'm certainly not used to this distance, I was feeling sore in a few areas shortly afterwards.  When I get to the point where I'm doing a 12-14 miler every week I'm sure this will get better, but for right now I just need to build up the distance slowly.

Speaking of distance, my week finished up at 43 miles which is a new record for me.  And several of those miles were run about or under 7 minute pace.  The running for the week shaped up like this:  (not including workouts @ the gym)

M:  No running
Tu:  9 miles, including 5-miles @ 7:09 pace
We: 6-miles, including 3 x 1-mile @ 5:58, 5:55, 5:51
Th:  No running
F:   9-miles, including 5-miles @ 6:48 pace
Sa:  6-miles easy
Su:  13-miles @ 7:30 pace

Congrats once again to Grellan and Thomas for a job well done.


9/13:  weightlifting (upper-A, abs) stretching, rolling
6-miles @ 7:28 pace, HR - 146  ** Note - this is about the same pace as last Sat's 6-miler, but the HR is significantly lower this week.  (last week - 153)

9/14:  13+ miles @ about 7:30 pace, HR - 151.  

Friday, September 12, 2008

Faster Easy Day

Planned day off for running on Thursday.  Just went to the gym to lift.

Today I did my running double w/ 4 easy miles in the morning followed by 5 miles in the afternoon, however due to a late start and up against dinner plans w/ the family, I needed to get that afternoon (actually evening) run in quickly. 

Started out a bit quicker than usual (7:05 pace) and kept upping the pace as I went.  Nothing too fast, and the effort level and HR showed that it wasn't a tough effort by any stretch.  The final tally was 5-miles @ 6:48 pace in the trails w/ an average HR of 154 or just 82% of max HR.  

Gym workout and easy 6-miles tomorrow, getting ready for the 13-miler on Sunday.


9/11:  No running - Weightlifting (Upper-B and abs) leg lifting, stretching, rolling.

9/12:  AM:  4-miles @ 7:40
           PM:   5-miles @ 6:48, HR - 154

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Threshold Miles it is

Woke up today and the left hamstring felt a little bit better - still tight, still a knot in there, but better than yesterday.  Unfortunately being the 2nd day after the deadlifts the right hamstring felt stiffer than the day before.  (this was to be expected)  So instead of one sore hamstring and one good one, I had two that were somewhere in the middle.  Good enough.  After all, this was just threshold work - not intervals, and certainly not reps.  I was going to be fine.

As I alluded to yesterday, I was really looking forward to this session.  Not so much because of the T-work as that's pretty standard stuff - but this would be my first real T-session since my Time Trial 600m/400m and that was a huge day for me.  Ever since then all of my runs have been faster and easier at the same time.  I believe part of it is due to improved running economy and form and part of it is just the central nervous system allowing me to recruit more muscle fibers (or however that works)  In any event, my running has improved by leaps and bounds over the past week or two based on my effort level / HR data, and today was going to be the day that I could determine just how much I've improved!

Another big help today - temperature.  I was going to be starting up at 11:00 am for a change and that combined w/ the break in the hot weather overall meant I was looking at 70 degrees at the start of the workout - big big difference from the 90+ I've been running in.  

I could tell I was amped up for this as my HR hit 101 when I walked out onto the track and I hadn't even done anything yet.  Next piece of evidence was that after a mile or so into my 2-mile warm up, I noticed I was doing my warm-up jog at 6:56 pace.  I finished the full warm-up and stretched both before and after to make sure my legs were loose.  I was going to just do 3 x 1-mile instead of 4 to play it safe - the break between intervals was going to be 1-minute.  Target pace was 6:16 - 6:20, but I figured I might be faster than that, which was OK as long as the HR stayed 170 or under to be true Threshold work.  I would keep track of my pace w/ the Garmin, but I decided not to start checking pace until I hit the half-mile mark as I wanted to run this thing on feel as much as possible.  However I did remind myself of three things before I took off - #1 don't run the first mile in 6:10, #2 don't run the first mile in 6:10, and #3 don't run the first mile in 6:10!  And then I was off . . . 

First lap felt quick and easy, same w/ the second.  At this point I looked down at the half-mile split - 2:54.  OK that's too fast.  Looked at the HR - 158, that's not very high.  Knowing I was just getting the 1-minute breaks and that I still had 2.5 miles to go I did my best to slow down some.  Second half was 3:04 closing out the first mile in 5:58.  Well that's certainly NOT 6:10! I remember muttering to myself, "way to keep it in check moron".  But at the same time, the HR was well within range and I felt fine, so I wasn't going to purposely adjust the pace for the 2nd mile - just go w/ it.

First half of the second mile came in at 2:56.  The genie was out of the bottle - there was no turning back now.  Unlike the first mile where I purposely slowed down the last 800m, I just let it go this time.  Second half of 2:59 brought me a 5:55 second mile.  Again, I felt fine afterwards and the HR was OK.  This was well above any expectations obviously, and I was really curious at this point - could I really throw another sub 6:00 mile up there w/ these really short breaks?  

After my 60 seconds of rest I was off on mile #3.  About 650m in I started to feel some fatigue for the first time - not a lot just something.  The reason for this became obvious when I checked my half mile split to reveal a 2:52.  At this point I said, "OK, you're not gunning this thing home - just run nice and easy and duplicate your 2nd half mile from the 2nd rep".  And for the first time today, I actually listened to myself and came in w/ a 2:59 2nd half, giving me a final mile time of 5:51.

Doing my customary 2-lap walk before the cool down I looked thru the data and I was very surprised at what I saw.  My HR never got above 167 the entire time - meaning I never hit 90% of max HR.  Average and max HR for the 3-miles were as follows:  155/162, 161/166, 164/167.

This wasn't some super effort I put out there because I was amped up - this was legit Threshold pace for this workout.  Meaning I was 21-25 seconds per mile faster than I was only 6-weeks ago, and the HR was lower this time.  

It's those fast reps, gotta be.  For whatever reason, my body just responds well to a few fast workouts - it makes everything else easier for me.  Tomorrow I've got a day off from running before a double on Friday, and easy 6-miler on Saturday, and then the 13-miler on Sunday.  Of course I've still got 2 more workouts at the gym this week as well.

Talk you you later, I'm off to get a couple of well earned beers along w/ some dinner - cheers!


9/10:  3 x 1-mile @ 5:58, 5:55, 5:51 w/ 1-minute breaks.  Ave/max HR:  155/162, 161/166, 164/167.  With warm up and cool down, total for the day was 6-miles.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Deadlifts and Beer

Monday was an off day for running, but I had a long session at the gym that included my first deadlifts in quite a while.  A Masters runner I know who specializes in the 100m and 200m does deadlifts once a week to build overall body strength and power to help w/ his speed.  I hadn't done deadlifts in years, so I after a quick warm up set I did two sets of 6-reps w/ just moderate weight (about 240 lbs)

Later that evening was our first "Monday Night Football" of the season so it was off to the Sports Bar to meet up w/ some friends.  There we feasted on food that you might not find on Ryan Hall's Top-10 list of "food for runners" (hey, it's the only time in weeks I've eaten such garbage)  And although the Pint is great, we here in America have evidently discovered that 24-ounces is even larger!  (soon we'll discover the liter just like they have in Germany)  So it was 24-ounce beers and low-quality junk food for dinner.

When I woke up this morning, the first thing I noticed was that the beer from the prior evening created no ill-effects  (excellent) . . . . but when I tried standing up, I quickly realized that the same could not be said for my first session of deadlifts.  I had the usual stiff back which was nothing more than muscle soreness, and some general soreness in the legs - but after further review I realized that the outside of my left hamstring felt like it had a knot in there.  Not good.  I tried to loosen it up w/ some stretches to no avail. 

I didn't think it was too serious, so I went for my easy morning run and although I could feel that it was tight on some of the downhills, it was pretty much OK.  Tried more stretching throughout the day - didn't help.  I ran the evening run w/ no issues.

At this point it's not any better and not any worse.  I think it's just more soreness from the deadlifts as it felt fine all day yesterday and before I went to bed.  The issue is that tomorrow I've got my Threshold work ( 3 or 4 x 1-mile @ T-pace w/ 1-minute breaks) and usually muscle soreness is even worse the 2nd day before it starts to get better.

So my week is now up in the air a bit.  If I feel a little better tomorrow I'll go ahead as planned.  If not, then I probably run easy tomorrow instead and put off the T-work until Friday.  I really hope things are OK tomorrow - the way my running has been going the past 4-5 days I think I'm set up nicely to put up some nice results on those threshold miles.


9/8:    No running - weightlifting (upper-A, and abs)  Deadlift - warm up, then 2 sets of 6-reps w/ 240 lbs, stretching, rolling.

9/9:    AM  4-miles @ 7:45
         PM  5-miles @ 7:09  HR - 152  (nice run, very very easy)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Closing out the Week

Saturday was supposed to be an easy day, but it wasn't as easy as I'd have liked.  Started out at the gym doing some stretching and rolling followed by upper body lifting and ab work.  Then I went through my routine on hip flexors, adductors, and abductors - and I hit these guys pretty hard.

When it was time for my easy 6-miler, I was dragging - just couldn't seem to get my legs up.  I wasn't sure if it was the lack of sleep the past few days, the fact that I ran two doubles this week for the first time - (although I saw no ill effects of that so far) or the more intense workout on the adductors/abductors/hip flexors fatigued them to the point where picking up the legs was a chore.  All I knew was that I was dragging.  Time and HR were OK as I finished up the 6 miles w/ an average pace of 7:24 w/ a HR of 153 in about 85 degrees.  I figured I'd know whether or not the doubles were the issue during tomorrow's 8-miler.

Sunday's the long day for me, but the long run is every other week for right now and this week was the "off week".  So the plan today was to do 8-miles at a comfortable pace.  I was interested to see how it was going to go after Saturdays session.  I got a good night's sleep for a change and I felt refreshed all day leading up to the evening run.  We got a bit of a break from the high temps too and it was only 78 degrees at the start of the run.

My target was to start at about a 7:40 pace for the first 2-3 miles (the first mile is downhill and the next 2.3 are up hill) and then as I come back downhill the pace would naturally pick up to about 6:50 - 7:00, and I expected to average about 7:15-7:20 for the entire run.  First mile was 7:10.  I figured I'd better slow down a bit as this was supposed to be a comfortable run and I really didn't want to be paying for it later, but the 2nd mile clocked in at 7:22 up hill.  At the very least I knew the doubling during the week wasn't the cause of yesterday's issue - must have been the combo of lack of sleep and the fatigue from lifting on those key muscle groups.  The 3rd mile is a fairly steep incline and I clocked 7:22 again; this was going to be a pretty good run.  The next 3 miles clocked in at 7:02, 6:41, 6:56.  (the terrain is far from even)  A quick check of the HR showed I was still comfortably under threshold levels so I upped the pace for mile #7 - 6:29, and then finished up w/ a 6:42 up hill to take me back home.  

All in all a nice run for me.  Average pace of 6:58 w/ an average HR of 158.  (this will hopefully come down a bit as I get into better shape)

Off day for running tomorrow, (will be heading to the gym however) and the forecast says the temps will finally be coming down this week. I'm certainly looking forward to that!


9/6:  weightlifting (upper-B, core, abs)  rolling, stretching.  
  6-miles @ 7:24 pace, HR-153

9/7:  8-miles @ 6:58 pace, HR-158

Friday, September 5, 2008

Age Grading

I really enjoy using the Age Grading Calculators.  I find the information very useful.  Obviously you can determine what event is currently your best, but it also gives you some solid information as to what your current strengths and weaknesses are.  That information can then be used to tailor your training a bit, as gains can be made more quickly in your weak areas then they can in your strong areas, provided that you are training appropriately for those weak areas.

For example, my recent time trial in the 600m of 1:36.7 during a workout grades out to about 79.3.  Meaning that if I had on spikes and ran it as a race - getting down to at least 1:35.6 - I'd grade out to just over 80.  Looking at equivalent times for the 800m and mile that would be 2:12.9, and 4:54.2 respectively.   I'm fairly confident that I couldn't run a 4:54 mile now, and in fact I don't think that at the present time I could break 5-minutes.  I just don't have the endurance at this point.  However, I believe I'd have a pretty good shot at hitting that 800m time.  

If I go the other way, the 400m equivalent is 57.7, and the 200m equivalent is 26 flat.  I don't think I could hit either of those times.  I don't have enough pure speed right now.  

So the info tells me a few things.  #1 I seriously need to improve my endurance.  (of course, this has been known to me for a while)  Being able to workout at the gym during my injury kept my speed up but obviously my endurance has faded.  Now entering my base phase, my program is really focusing on improving my endurance, so this should help bring my 1500m and mile times closer to the grade.  Additionally, the improved endurance will help my 600m and 800m times as well.

#2 is really the more interesting point - my "true" speed is low - because I can age grade better in the 600m/800m then I can in the 200m/400m.  That 200m speed specifically is a concern.  Unfortunately, the 200m was never a great event for me, but being that the 100m was my best event, I'm hoping there is some potential there that I can find a way to tap into.  That's where the plyos, leg lifting, deadlift, and hills come in.  I need to lay the ground work now because in the Spring I will be focusing on legitimate speed work, probably in high volume, so my body needs to be able to handle that workload.  That's why a significant portion of my base work will be focusing on strength and explosive power in the legs.

What I need here is a two pronged approach - I need to attack this thing both from a top down (improve my endurance) AND a bottom up (pure speed) perspective.  

Lastly, the #3 thing I can get from this is that at least I'm focusing on the correct events!  Right now my sweetspot is 600m-800m meaning that's just where I have the most natural ability at this point.  I don't have the endurance to be a half-way decent distance runner and I no longer have the speed to be a sprinter, but according to the Age Grader I seem to have some ability to maintain a decent level of speed thru 600m-800m even w/o significant training.  

So I've clearly got my work cut out for me.  I need to improve my endurance a ton, and I'd better get more speed out of these legs if I ever want to get halfway decent at this.  And that's the fun of it really - Analyzing the problem, doing your best to research and then create a possible solution, and then bust your ass to execute the plan.

And when your done, have a few pints!!


9/4:  No running - weightlifting (Upper-A and abs)  stretching, rolling, easy leg lifting

9/5: AM  4-miles at very easy 8:14 pace
        PM  5-miles easy at 7:27 pace

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's not the heat, it's the . . NO it's the damn heat!!

Temperature at the track today . . .  98 degrees.  Man, last night I went out at about 6:30 pm to do my evening run and the temp was "only" 82 degrees.  I felt like I was running on a late Fall day.  It almost felt cold!  I guess that's what consistent temps up around triple digits can do to you.  

Today's festivities included going to the track for my up-tempo day.  Most of these days are going to be threshold running, but being that my reps have primarily been in the 400m-600m range (w/ one 800m day) I decided to do some longer reps today before getting more into the threshold work - 1000m repeats, @ 3:20 - 3:25 pace w/ 6-minute breaks.  Picked a great friggin' day for it too!

I was scheduled to do 4 reps but the heat made me re-think that - I also had the plyometrics to do after the cool down, and I was coming off my first double-running day yesterday.  Three would be fine for today.

I told myself to make sure that first one was on the slower side as I could always crank it up on the last two if needed.  First one was really easy - came in at 3:24.  I felt fully recovered after 4-minutes and I thought of just jumping into the next one, but I decided to wait it out as the last two were going to be a little faster.  Rep #2 came in at 3:20 on the nose.  

I don't know if it was primarily the heat or just lack of fitness, but I was not recovering as easily between reps 2 and 3.  And due to there now being someone else on the track in lane-1, I needed to cut my rest short on this one to avoid having to lap them twice during the run.  So off I went after a 4:30 break.  Nice first 200m, but at 350m I already felt some fatigue - not a good sign.  By 450m I was already slipping above 3:20 pace.  But because I was only doing 3-reps instead of 4, I decided I was going to get this rep under 3:20, so that's what I did.  Came in at 3:19.2 to be exact.  Finished up w/ the plyos.

Combined w/ the warm up and cool down I totaled about 5-miles on the day.  Overall, I was satisfied w/ the workout.  I can't tell how much the heat affects things at this point but it doesn't really matter I guess.  Just do the workout as best you can - the times/HRs will come down as the temps drop.  

9/3:  3 x 1000m @ 3:24, 3:20, 3:19  Rest times of 6-min and 4.5-min.  Basic plyos afterwards.  WU and CD totaled about 3-miles