Sunday, November 30, 2008

Good Long One

I got a whopping 10+ hours of sleep last night - haven't had one of those in a long long time.  With a 10-mile run on the schedule today I decided to take advantage of the great rest, throw a Roctane packet in the back pocket, and pick up the pace.

First mile (downhill) in 6:32 before heading up the 3.5% grade for the next 2.3 miles.  I averaged about 6:58 up that portion and then came back down at about 6:20 pace.  The average was something like 6:43 for the first 5-6 miles and I just held it there for the remainder of the run.

Overall it was 10-miles in 1:07:15 - a nice run to end the week.  I'll be talking to JT (the coach) tomorrow where I'll pick up the workout instructions for this week's speed session.


Sun, 11/30:  10-miles in 1:07:15, about 6:43 pace

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Comfort" Workout

After scarfing down a few good sized helpings of comfort food on Thursday, I was not feeling up to running my 5 x 1000m workout Friday morning.  This didn't present a problem as I had allowed for this possibility ahead of time - I ran my easy run on Friday afternoon and put off the workout until Saturday morning.  

On tap was a threshold workout, 5 x 1000m w/ 60-second rests.  I call this a "comfort" workout because I've done so many threshold workouts over the past several months, and this one is the easiest one on the block - the entry level T-workout if you will.  Compared to 3 or 4 x 1-mile w/ just 60-second rests, or 3k/2k repeats w/ 2-3 minute rests, or worse still, the dreaded 2-mile repeats w/ 2-minute rests . . . the 1000m repeats w/ 1-minute breaks is, shall I say it . . . . downright enjoyable!  And being that it's just at threshold pace (as opposed to say interval or rep pace), it's also a fairly comfortable ride almost the whole way through - the perfect post-Thanksgiving workout!!

Weather was ideal this morning - 55 degrees with a very slight breeze.  A wicked looking fog had rolled in, and as I ran my warmup I could see each layer roll across the track at about ankle height.  Serene, quiet and peaceful; and with the limited visibility, it felt as though you could just as easily be kayaking out on a lake all alone.  Simply fantastic conditions to run a workout.

After opening with a 3:33 (about the target pace for the day), each repeat improved:  3:29, 3:26, 3:25, 3:23.  Here's a look back exactly 3-months ago (August 29th) where I ran the same workout:

Rep #29-AugAve HR29-NovAve HR

I should throw in the caveat that it was probably 8-10 degrees warmer that August morning, and as you can see the HR is up a few ticks here in November.  Still, the delta in pace/mile is almost 26-seconds.  I'll certainly take that in just 3-months regardless of temp or a slight HR difference.  (Incidentally, I believe the slightly higher HR here is due to the fact that I do my threshold runs almost entirely off of feel.  With the hill repeats and all the T-work between August and now, I believe I'm just more comfortable at a slightly higher HR, as running w/ a little lactic acid in the legs is less of an issue.  So although, I'm probably working a little harder here, the feel is about the same)

Very happy w/ the result - those 60-second breaks are short, but just long enough to keep a workout like this in the "comfortably hard" zone.  Tuesday or Wednesday brings my 2nd speed session, although I think I'm going mid-long intervals this time as opposed to the short 200m repeats.  Looking forward to it already.


Wed, 11/26:  6-miles easy

Fri, 11/28:  5-miles easy

Sat, 11/29:  5-miles, including 5 x 1000m (1-min rests) 3:33, 3:29, 3:26, 3:25, 3:23 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hill Repeats - #5

Today's hill session was a bit different than the standard 10 x 1-minute.  This time it was 3-sets of 3 repeats - each one (1-minute, 45-seconds, 45-seconds) w/ the 45-second guys having a faster leg turnover.  Between sets I had the luxury of 90-seconds rest at the bottom of the hill instead of the usual 3-5 seconds.    

Tough session.  As has been typical, everything was considerably faster than last time.  But unlike the past sessions, after what I thought was repeat #7 (of 9) I didn't feel like I could do two more so I cut it short.  I later discovered that my last rep had actually been #8, and had I known that, I'd certainly have found a way to get in one more.  

Not being able to count to 9 demonstrated what I already knew to be true; I just was not mentally ready for the workout.  However, being that this is due to the Thanksgiving holiday being upon us and me having to begin my cooking tomorrow (and of course having not yet completed the grocery shopping) I'm not going to beat myself up over this one.  It's tough to stay mentally sharp enough to nail the last reps of a demanding hill workout when you're trying to figure out whether or not you're going to use wild or basmati rice as part of the stuffing for the split acorn squash, or if you should garnish the cream of mushroom soup w/ some fresh black truffles.  (answers - basmati, and Hell Yes!)

So no big deal.  I've got an easy run tomorrow, off on Thanksgiving day and then a 5 x 1000m threshold run on either Friday or Saturday.  (back to the speed next week I believe)


Mon, 11/24:  5-miles easy

Tues, 11/25:  3-mile warm up, then 8 hill repeats.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


The day after my first hill repeat session I was sore, I mean REALLY sore.  The day after the 2nd hill session I was sore, but not nearly as bad.  After session #3, I was fine - no big deal.  Same w/ #4.

The day after my 12 x 200m session (first speed session in a long time) my left achilles was very sore.  I ran an easy 4-miler the next day w/ no issues but I made the decision afterwards to skip the PM run and just rest it until it felt better.  This gave me two ZERO days on Fri and Sat.  None of this was surprising.  It seems whenever I start something new, I've got to let my body adapt to the new stress - just chalk it up to part of the process in this first year.  I'm sure after a few speed sessions the post workout soreness will be minimal or nonexistent which is another reason to get some of these sessions in early.  This base period is meant to get me ready to handle the more difficult training that will be coming later, and adapting to these new stresses is part of that.

Today I felt much better so the plan was to do a 5-7 miler in the trails, but coach wanted me to turn it up a bit on the final 3-miles and turn that part into more of a threshold run.  For whatever reason I just felt fantastic.  The achilles was 100%, and I guess the two off days allowed a little nagging "something" in my calf to heal up as well.  I ran the first 3.3-miles of the eventual 6-miler at about 7-flat pace uphill feeling as strong as I ever have in the trails.  I really hammered on the return trip (with the benefit of the downhill) logging my first sub-6 minute miles in the trails.  Overall I covered the 6-miles in 39:48.  A good run for me, and I'm very happy that the achilles feels this good after just a couple of days.


Thurs, 11/20:  4-miles easy

Fri and Sat, 11/21-22:  Off days (unscheduled:  left achilles sore)

Sun, 11/23:  6-miles in the park - 39:48,  (7:03, 6:58, 7:02, 6:46, 5:58, 5:59)  Ave HR:  159, Max:  172

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Line 'em up Baby - 200s!!

This title comes from my sprint coach back in HS.  Once per week we'd get this exact quote yelled out to us at practice right after warm-ups.  "Hey coach, what are we doing today?"  "Line 'em up baby - 200s!!"  This of course meant that we'd be doing 200m repeats at a good clip for about an hour.  As soon as we'd get that line, you'd inevitably hear a collective groan from most of the group.  I think the fact that coach knew the groan was coming simply added to his enjoyment of yelling out the line - over time he'd alter his tone of voice upon delivery, think George Contanza's dad, "I'm back BABY".  

Today's in and out 200 session looked like this - 3 x (4 x 200m)  The 200m slow jogs back to the start took about 80-seconds, and between sets I was to take an extra 1.5-minutes.  Coach gave me my target paces that were to ramp down w/ each set and the simple instruction, "Don't kill it!"  (i.e. - I don't want to see any 29s)

Personally I was looking for a few things here myself.  Number one, could I feel any additional power in the legs from the lifting and hill repeats.  Number two, did my form feel comfortable. Number three, would I feel as though I could sustain the speed for a longer period of time.  One thing I knew for sure, I was NOT going to be gunning my leg turnover, that's a no-no at this point - too big a risk of straining a quad muscle.  These repeats were going to be nice and relaxed, not overly fast with moderate leg turnover.  Down the line I'll have to pick some spots w/ coach to work on cranking up the turnover as that will be a key component to resurrecting any speed I may have left.

Overall the workout went pretty well:

Set-1 34, 36, 35, 34   Set-2 31, 34, 34, 32   Set-3 32, 32, 30, 30

I was also able to derive some answers to my questions:  Yes there was more power in the legs, especially in the adductors.  In set-3 I made a conscious effort to try and open up my stride length on the last two repeats, while keeping the turnover the same; and I was pleasantly surprised how easily I was able to open it up w/ no loss in turnover whatsoever.  That 7% increase in pace (30 vs 32) is all stride length, and the adductors felt solid and strong throughout.  

In regards to form, it was somewhat shaky.  I'm not concerned about it, usually after 5-6 speed sessions it snaps into place.  I'm sure it will be fine.

For number-3, sustaining the speed - tough to say how long I could maintain those paces.  I felt fine at the finish of all of the reps but whether I could maintain those paces for 400m, 450m 500m, there was no way to tell.  I'm sure I'll find out more when we do the longer repeats.

Lastly, as expected the turnover was mediocre at best.  This was planned of course, but somewhere down the line I'm going to need to work on leg turnover extensively as there's so much to be gained there.  

A good first speed session - not too challenging and some good info came out of it.  I learned a good deal about where I'm at in several areas.  I can see some areas that need work, and I was pleasantly surprised w/ my leg power at this point in the training.  (I hope to make further improvements here when we hit the plyos)  


Mon, 11/17:  Lifting (Upper-A, abs) stretching rolling
**  Good power session on upper.  Incline-bench:  5-reps @ 150% body weight

Tue, 11/18:  5-miles easy

Wed, 11/19:  6-miles including 12 x 200m, paces above.  

Monday, November 17, 2008

Base Training Review

As promised, here's a review of my base training to this point.  The timeline starts in May as this is when I first started running following the ITB injury in February.  (Training actually started in 9/07 and progressed into 2/08 prior to the injury.  The injury lasted for about 3-months, and much of the gained fitness was lost.  In May of 2008 I started back up again very slowly)

The first table shows the monthly mileage along w/ the number of days and total sessions running.  What is not shown is the extensive weight training that has been done throughout or the x-training (bike and elliptical) that was done in May and June to supplement the meager running totals.

MonthDays RunningTotal SessionsMiles

* November - projected total by roughly doubling what's been done during the first half of the month.

The second table is a bit more descriptive as it shows a breakdown of the types of workouts being done along w/ a progress benchmark in the form of the pace progression of the T-workouts.  I'm using the Daniels definition of Intervals and Reps (i.e reps are faster than intervals w/ longer rest periods) H-wrkts signifies hill repeat sessions.

MonthT-wrktsI-wrktsR-wrktsH-wrktsLong RunsT-pace
November*21 or 21 or 2335:52

You can see that the ramp back up in May and June was VERY slow.  I was only running about 3-days/week at that time and typically no longer than 4-5 miles per run - most of it easy.

In July I was on vacation almost half the month so although the totals are small this was accomplished in only about 20-days so the rate was close to what I did in August.  I consider the base training "officially" started in mid-July.

The monthly breakdown looked like this:

May/June - Begin running again and use x-training to supplement.  Extensive lifting in all areas (legs, core, upper body) with special attention paid to core, lower back, adductors, abductors, and hip-flexors.

July - slowly ramp mileage - continue w/ the lifting.

August - continue to ramp mileage.  Run Rep sessions once/week to get running form locked in before progressing to the next phase in the base training (threshold running)  Lessen lifting on adductors, abductors, hip flexors.  Continue lifting on other areas.  Introduce some longer singles once every other week.

September - start adding running doubles to increase mileage.  Primary focus shifting to Threshold runs.  Add some distance to the longer runs.  Continue lifting.

October - Same as September, but add Hill Repeats as a 2nd quality day.  Back off on mileage slightly when introducing the hills so as not to shock the system too much.  Shift lifting sessions from focusing on strength to focusing on power.

November - Start bringing mileage back up to September levels (and beyond).  Continue Hills until 8-sessions are completed.  Finish up Threshold work and progress to preliminary speed work.  Continue w/ the long single and lifting.

One thing that certainly jumps out in my training is, "hey, where are the miles??"  Only 750 miles so far, and even if I count the miles I did pre-injury it's only another 500 or so giving a total of about 1200 miles.  A far cry from the guys that are hammering out 3000+ miles/year.  A couple of responses to that.  First, I'm just starting out for the most part, and I'm going to be conservative on ramping mileage too quickly so as to avoid injury.  My goal is to eventually get to a monthly run rate of 240-280 miles, but that will take time - perhaps another 12-months.  (once I get to March or so, I'll be heavily into speed work for the middle distance races so mileage increases will cease at that point until the following base season begins in 9/09)

Second, I'm much more a believer in "quality" over "quantity" - and I'm not talking about workouts or threshold running, I'm talking about the easy days.  Most of my easy runs average about 78%-81% max HR, but the peak during those runs oftentimes hits about 84%-86%.  I'd rather run 11-miles at 82% than run 15-16 miles at 76%.  As an example, if I run 12-miles @ 7:30 pace, I'm done in 90-minutes.  If instead I run 16-miles at 8:00 pace, I'm out there for 128 minutes.  More pounding, more wear and tear, more time needed to recover, greater chance of injury, and it may take more away from the tough workouts I've got coming up. I don't like the trade off, just personal preference.  Obviously if you're training for a marathon it's a bit different, but if you're training even for a 10k-15k type of distance, mileage for the sake of mileage  - well let's just say I'm not a big fan.

Real life example - Kevin Forde (masters miler) never runs more than 30-miles/week.  At 44yo he won the 5th ave Mile in NYC in a time of 4:17!!  Any day of the week the guy can go out and run a 1/2-marathon in 1:15 or less and he NEVER runs more than 30-miles/week.  IMO, unless you're training specifically for a marathon, mileage at the expense of working hard at training your other systems is HIGHLY overrated.  If/when I can get up to about 60-65 mpw, that will be plenty!

Progress - T-workout Pace:
I don't have all that many areas to benchmark my progress at this point, and the best metric I can use is my T-pace.  I could use HR data for specific runs but really, this T-pace data already takes HR into account.  The definition of T-pace I'm using is the pace at which I get to about 90-91% of max HR during the higher volume workouts.  What this amounts to more specifically is about 7-seconds slower/mile than what I'd run a 3 x 1-mile workout w/ 1-minute rests.  So for example, in mid-August I'd run a 3 x 1-mile in 6:07 average pace (w/ 1-minute rests) reaching about 90% max HR.  In a longer T-workout, say 2-mile repeats I'd hit a pace of about 6:11/mile for the same HR, but even that probably isn't true T-pace.  So what I did was add 7-seconds/mile to the 3 x 1-mile workout pace and called that T-workout pace.  The absolute definition doesn't matter much anyway, it's really the relative values that are important as I'm tracking month-to-month progress.  As long as the definition remains constant, it's good enough here.

Over the past 3-months, my T-pace has picked up about 22-seconds/mile which would translate to over 1-minute in a 5k.  Even over just the past 2-months, the improvement is about 12-seconds/mile.  I'm certainly satisfied w/ that progress.  I attribute a lot of it to the threshold workouts obviously w/ the other major factor simply being mileage and the consistency of doing the long single.  

Longer term (14-18 months) I'm shooting to get this pace down another 22-seconds/mile, however the 16 threshold sessions have likely brought me to a plateau for now.  It's definitely time to switch gears and work on some other systems while continuing to increase mileage and keep the long single.  

I'm very satisfied w/ the base training to date.  I've got a couple more months in the base phase before transitioning to more specific work for middle distance racing.  I've still got 4 hill sessions left, prelim-speed work, and more lifting to do.  Plyometrics will start up here once the hills are done to add some explosiveness.  I'll try to increase the mileage some as I go, but I doubt I'll be getting in more than 50-55 mpw during this go-round.  Next year I'll be building off a much stronger base so I imagine I'll be able to get the mileage up into the 60s/week next fall.  

I'm really looking forward to the next step in this base phase where the prelim- speed work starts - after a while the constant hammering of the T-sessions begins to wear on you mentally more than anything else.  Even though the speed work will be considerably faster, the fact that it's new and fresh will likely help me mentally, and as my coach said - "We've spent enough time working on your weaknesses, now let's spend some time working on your strengths."  Amen to that!