Monday, July 6, 2009

Breaking 2-Minutes

Here's an excerpt from this article that talks about training for the 800m.  

Best 800m = (400m + 6seconds) x 2
This seems to apply to the distance type runner quite well. The high school sprinter-type appears to lack the necessary strength to fufill this predictability equation.

This essentially breaks down the race into two components:  the all out 400m time (speed component) and the 'added factor' or (strength component).  Obviously, the more of an endurance trained runner you are, (800m/1500m type) the better you'll do w/ the strength component compared to the guy who is more speed oriented (400m/800m type)

While it's probably better to view this 'added factor' more in terms of percentage of 400m time (as opposed to an absolute number), 6-seconds is a good target for a time around 2-minutes (54 + 6) x 2 as this would correspond to about an 11% slow down vs 400m time.

Looking at many of the Masters 800m runners - this 'factor' varies from +9%, which would be excellent to +25%, which is obviously very poor and indicates that those guys are really 400m runners who just decided to do an 800m for the hell of it.  

Being that I don't have an exact 400m race time at this point, I can't say for sure where I'm at, but all indications are that I've got some work to do to get down to 6-seconds.  On the bright side, I believe my 400m speed is pretty close to the 54 target.  

While I'll never be an 'endurance' or 'strength' type of runner, I believe if I continue to work aggressively on this side that I can eventually get this 'factor' down into the +10-12% range.  And of course, if I can get my 400m time under 54, it will make things that much easier on the strength side of the equation.  

Consequently, to give myself the best chance to get to 2-minutes, I'm going to need to work hard on both speed and strength - so this training plan will have several components that work on each.  Although there is obviously some crossover benefit to certain components, this roughly divides the training into the separate compartments:

Speed:  plyometrics, box jumps, hill repeats, Rep/short interval training (mile race pace work down to 600m race pace work), power-lifting, sprint work (400m race pace work on down), lactate tolerance training 

Strength:  weekly mileage, long runs, steady runs, tempo runs, cruise intervals (5k pace work), long intervals (3k pace work), lactate tolerance training  (this training helps everything)

Each of these components will have their time and place where they'll be a point of focus, and the overall mix will follow a progression throughout the year.  The bottom line is that if I'm going to hit the target, I'm going to need to have the speed to run an all out 400m in the 53.5 - 53.8 range, and the endurance/strength to be able to hold close to 90% of that speed for the full half mile.  

This sure as hell isn't going to be easy - I'm going to need to make improvements in all areas, and I'm also going to have to work more on things like core strength, flexibility, etc in order to be able to train at the required intensities when that time comes to bring it all together.  At the very least, the journey should be interesting, and if (knock on wood) I can avoid any major set backs I should be able to make a pretty good run at this thing.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Enjoying my time off - birthday #41 came yesterday.  I've been re-reading Peter Coe's 'Winning Running' which goes through Seb Coe's typical training year - really good stuff for middle distance runners.  Coe's first phase of training every year was to take a month completely off.  (some guys took off more time than that)  I won't be taking off that much time (2-3 weeks for me) but the legs are feeling very refreshed w/ the 10-days I've taken thus far.

I've got a good idea as to how my training is going to be structured.  Some new things will be added that I haven't done before.  First off, I'll be adding swiss ball and BOSU exercises (stability half sphere that you stand on) into my core routine as well as assorted plank exercises.  Hopefully this will strengthen my core even more to reduce the chances of injury.  I've also added a stretching routine for the hip flexors to keep the hips loose.  

Additionally, I've gathered up several box jump and plyometric exercises that I'll be starting soon.  These routines along w/ the power-lifting exercises (squats, dead lifts, and power cleans) will add strength and power which should increase my speed.   

As I mentioned previously, there will be more of an emphasis on increasing my speed through plyos, box jumps, power-lifting, and sprint work (much later in the training).  Being that most of this additional work doesn't actually involve running (until the sprint work later), I'll be able to do much of this work while in the base phase where the focus will be increasing my weekly mileage from the 35-40 mpw up into the 50s or 60s.  (using De Castella's weekly training as a model w/ some influences from Coe and El Guerrouj)  So while the mileage won't consist of the very intense peak training - not all of those 50+ miles will be easy.  A lot of steady runs, hills, tempo, etc.  

My experience thus far has been that the paces from 5k pace and slower don't really wear on my body so much (I've run at a 'steady' pace of 6:40 or so every day - even on the longer 12-13 mile runs w/o it bothering me)  So the idea here will be to seriously work on both my speed (at the gym) and my endurance (on the trails) at the same time while strengthening my core w/ the swiss ball, BOSU, plank exercises, etc.  

Using Coe's yearly training as a model, I'll be able to break down the training into stages which will dictate mileage, intensities, etc for each time period.  I won't be putting together a detailed long term plan as this thing will be very flexible depending on how I'm feeling.  The important thing for me is that I have a good idea of how I want the overall training to go and I'll just operate w/ that framework in mind.

In the next post I'll break down what I believe it will take for me to hit a 2-flat 800m, and how each part of the training will hopefully do its part to get me there.  

Have a safe and happy 4th!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Difficult Decision

It felt great to get in a workout last Saturday.  A combo of controlled speed (2 x 600m @ 1:44) and some decent repeats in spikes (2 x 300m @ 45.5) after a warm up and a solid 2 x 200m @ about 28 per.  No issues w/ the back/hip, but unfortunately the left calf and adductor that have been very tight since the back flare up felt tight the next day.  Sure enough, during the session w/ the CMT on Monday those areas weren't the greatest.  

At that point, it became pretty clear what I had ahead of me this summer.  I could scale back my workouts and up my treatments for a few weeks and then try to get in a few weeks of sharpening (albeit after some fitness loss) in an attempt to perhaps get in one or two races at the end of the summer - OR - I could make the decision to simply pull the plug here, get some rest for a couple of weeks, enjoy the summer w/ the family a bit more and then get a head start on what will be a very elaborate build for next year.

Clearly I was disappointed that it was coming to this.  But to be perfectly honest, during those few hours when the back/hip thing came out of nowhere and I was wondering when I'd even be able to walk let alone run - the thought did enter my mind that this season at best would be compromised, and at worst could be in serious jeopardy.  

After examining my goals the decision became pretty clear cut.  The original goal for this season was to gain some experience, run about six 800m races and finish up running at Nationals in early August.  No shot at placing this year, just gain the experience of running in a big meet and be as competitive as possible.  I say 'August' because Nationals have been run the first weekend in August every year for a while - however I discovered in May that this year, the Nationals meet was moved up to July 9th.  Immediately I knew I would not be in good enough shape to feel comfortable running in that meet in early July, so the goals shifted to simply gaining some racing experience and have fun running locally w/ my 'big meet' actually being the first one on May 24th.  

Longer term, the goal was unchanged - get to 2-flat or better and look to be competitive enough for a top-5 finish at Nationals.  (I never posted these goals because I wanted to get one solid race under my belt first to confirm that it was at least quasi-realistic)

Being that Nationals were already out for this year, and w/ the limited training I'd be able to do the rest of the way, the chances of going 2-flat this season dropped from slim to none.  So what it really came down to was - would I rather enjoy running a few races towards the end of the season w/o the times being what I'd like or would I rather let the body rest up a bit, continue w/ the massage treatments to finish flushing everything out, and get about a 6-week head start on my training for next season.  (the last part obviously giving me a better chance of hitting my longer term goals)

So like I said, with the longer term goals taking priority, the decision became quite clear.  

I can't say it's the greatest feeling in the world to be pulling the plug on this season already, especially after the freak fall that screwed up my hand killed the winter season - but to be honest, I'm very thankful to have been able to run what was going to be my biggest meet anyway in May.  The experience I gained in that one race will help me tremendously next time out.

In the next post I'll go over the training plan.  There will be several additions to the weekly routine . . . 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

800m Race Photos (May 24th)

I look a lot more relaxed coming through that first lap than I do on the 2nd!  Actually very relaxed on lap-1 considering it was about a 58.3 . . . . . . gotta gain the fitness required to run the 2nd lap better.

Unfortunately, the photos don't show well on this thing.  I've posted a few of them below so that they're more visible:

Opening 200m

First Lap
(My wife's first comment after the race, "you need a tan!")

Feeling relaxed finishing up the first 400m . . . 

 . . . Not so much on the last last 50m
(obviously Brendan and I attended the same class on "Displaying your Race Day Face"!!)

The most important part of race day . . . . the post race beer!

Figured I'd throw one in w/ my wife (I even shaved for this one!)

Also, I was messing around w/ Flickr but was unable to have Blogspot communicate w/ the Flickr account.  So I just added a link on the sidebar under "Slideshows" that has my first one.  It's a show of our Garden/Koi pond in the yard - the photos were taken this week.  Let me know if you have any issues viewing it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Finally . . . . A Workout!

Exactly 3 weeks to the day since my last workout (and 3 weeks to the day since my hip/back got zapped) I was on the track for a quasi-legit session.  

I've been feeling much better these past few days.  However the calf/adductor combo that caused some issues going around the turns on the track is still present, albeit to a lesser degree.  

I had 3 goals for this session:

1.  Determine how far the calf/adductor have come along over the past 10 days.
2.  Get in some controlled speed work .
3.  If possible, get into the spikes for a few quick repeats.

I wasn't exactly sure where my fitness would be w/ about a week off and two very down weeks, but I penciled in the following wo as a target:

2 x 200m (at whatever the calf/adductor would allow - hopefully under 30)
5-minutes to re-stretch the trouble spots
2 x 600m @ sub-1:45 (3-min rest between)
8-minute set break
3 x 300m (in spikes) w/ about 90-second rests.  Pace TBD depending on how I was feeling.

I could feel the calf on the turns of the 200s, but I was able to get to a slightly quicker pace before they flared up, and the discomfort wasn't nearly as bad.  The 200s came in at 28.8 and 28.0.

The first 600 felt really good.  Relaxed, controlled effort and pretty even pace the whole way - 1:43.  On #2 I did what I usually do and let the pace come naturally.  Typically this means that #2 is faster than #1 and this was the case early on.  At 300m I was 2-seconds ahead of the rep-1 pace and I was looking for a 1:41-1:42 . . . but at this point, my fitness drop became apparent.  I struggled a bit through the 2nd half and finished w/ a 1:45.  Not that big a deal, it's probably going to take a couple of weeks to get that fitness back up - at least I now know where I stand.

During the set break I changed into my spikes and got ready for my 300s.  I figured I'd need to be careful as the calf issue was definitely going to be there to some degree.  On the first 300 I could feel the calf a little during the opening straightaway - this was new - I assumed it was due to being in spikes, but it wasn't too bad.  Thankfully, it didn't get any worse on the turn and I came through the finish in 45.1  After a 100m jog back to the start followed by an additional 1-minute rest I was off on #2.  I backed off on the pace just a hair to keep from flaring up the calf and surprisingly this worked perfectly.  No calf issues at all on #2 and I was still able to come in at 45.9  

At this point I decided not to press my luck w/ a 3rd rep - I had gotten everything I wanted out of this session and I felt it was important for me to leave the track on a high note w/ some precious confidence restored.

Overall things went very well considering I haven't done much these past 3-weeks.  My fitness is off obviously, but probably not by too much.  Clearly I did not feel like myself during the 2nd half of the 2nd 600 - but I guess that should have been expected.  The calf/adductor are getting better, but not all the way back.  This kept my speed from being back near 100%, but that was only because the tightness kept a lid on how hard I can push it.  The massage is helping tremendously here, but they were so locked up that it's going to take a few sessions to get these guys back to normal.  Hopefully I continue to make progress here in the coming weeks.

Finally - the hip/back gave me ZERO issues today.  Again, I'll need to be hopeful that this remains the case going forward, but so far so good.  

Easy day tomorrow - massage on Monday, and if all's clear, the next workout should be Wednesday.  


Fri, 6/19:  31-minutes @ 6:51 pace

Sat, 6/20:  2 x 200m (28.8, 28.0), 2 x 600m (1:43, 1:45), 2 x 300m (45.1, 45.9)

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Week That Was

Who knows what next week will bring, but as of right now things are improving.  I was back at the massage therapist on Monday where she worked through the trouble spots.  For the most part, everything was much improved - only one muscle in the left calf is still tight.

In an attempt to determine whether or not I've got any imbalance issues, I saw a PT/trainer on Wednesday.  He put me through several tests and determined the following:

1.  Flexibility was good.
2.  No obvious mechanical issues
3.  Strength was good in all areas (adductors, glutes, abs, obliques, etc)
4.  Balance not as good on single leg squats as it should be (knees tended to move inwards) 

This 4th point was essentially the only negative mark I had.  What came out of that was that I was given a few exercises to do at home that should hopefully improve this area.  In addition, I'm going to start doing several stability exercises at home. I figure I should do everything I can to minimize the chances of injury going forward.

On the running front, due to work and other things I wound up going every other day for most of the week.  I can tell I'm feeling better because the paces in the trails are picking up.  

I only had time for a short run on Tuesday, and I wound up hitting the last mile in 5:38 just to see how it felt and I was fine.  On Thursday it became obvious the body was itching for a workout when I hit the first mile in 6:47 and continued to pick the pace up from there.

The plan is to do an easy run on Friday followed by a workout on Saturday.  (I really need to get a workout in)


Sun, 6/14:  31-minutes @ 6:47

Mon, 6/15:  Appt w/ CMT

Tues, 6/16:  3-miles @ 6:34  (last mile - 5:38)

Wed, 6/17:  Appt w/ PT/Trainer

Thurs, 6/18:  28-minutes @ 6:37

Saturday, June 13, 2009


The good news is that the back/hip is continuing to improve - so much so that I don't even remember that it's not 100% except for a couple time per day when I stretch or loosen up.  I don't feel any discomfort during normal activities or running.

After an easy run in the trails on Sunday, I headed over to the track on Monday for a light workout:  in and out 200s at a moderate pace just to get the legs used to moving quickly again.  I did take the watch, but didn't look at the times until the session was over so as not to influence the wo at all.  The first couple of 200s went fine, but on #3 the top part of the calf and bottom of the hamstring on the inside of the left leg didn't feel that great around the turn - the straightaway was fine, but the act of turning at a halfway decent speed was not comfortable.  Same thing on #4.  I was reduced to running the turns easy and hitting the straights a little harder.  

Clearly I had some tightness in the hamstring and calf, essentially along one consistent line (starting mid hamstring down to mid calf)  I could run as hard as I wanted as long as I wasn't in the act of turning - but the curve caused discomfort.

Checking the watch later I found that the first two 200s were at 32, and the next two were at 29.  I then just ran some curves starting at a slow pace, and ramping up the pace on each one until I started to feel the discomfort just to see where the tripping point was.  

Later that evening I poked around and determined that I had some serious tightness along one line on the hamstring and the top of the calf.  This was confirmed on Tuesday by the massage therapist.  The tightness was way beyond the standard tightness I get normally from training, so I had her really dig into it to get the muscles to release.  

What caused it, I don't know.  I obviously don't feel any discomfort on my normal runs, and I haven't tried to run a decent curve since the hip flare up - and being that it's on the same leg - perhaps when the hip went, these muscles locked up to protect themselves.  I just don't know.  

The good news is that this can be worked out in a couple of massage sessions - it's already feeling better.  However, the bad news is that the clock is ticking and I'm still not able to run actual workouts.  

I took a couple days off after the massage as the soreness that followed was pretty intense.  (I hobbled around for 2 days - but when the tightness is that bad, it's the only way to get those guys to release)  

Yesterday I hit the trails for a short run.  Physically everything was good, but my HR was up some.  I'll have to keep a close eye on that over the next few days.


Sun, 6/7:  30-minutes @ 6:44 pace

Mon, 6/8:  lifting (upper-B, abs) rolling
PM - short track session, 4 x 200 (32, 32, 29, 29)  tightness in left calf/hamstring

Tues, 6/9:  appt w/ CMT

Wed/Thurs, 6/10 - 6/11:  Off (massage soreness)

Fri, 6/12:  25-minutes @ 6:48 pace