Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Coach" Mike?


Haiden in winter mode

So one of my favorite bloggers, "Marathon Thomas" from Denmark recently made the mistake of asking for my help in planning his own Lydiard method build for the Copenhagen Marathon on May 21st. Thomas is a good runner and an intelligent guy with a dry sense of humor, and since we are in similar territory (trying the Lydiard method for the first time), it seemed that two heads would be better than one. Thomas is planning his schedule with the help of Lydiard's books, "Run to the Top" and "Running with Lydiard", and I am doing what I can to help him make good decisions about his training. Do me a favor and help me keep an eye on him, will you?

The first thing I noticed when I started helping Thomas is how much more conservative I am with someone else's training than I am with my own. It reminds me of Nobby Hashizume's emails to me, where he usually urges more restraint. Just today he sent me a great comparison between what Lydiard's plan for Snell was in his run-up to the 1968 Olympics in Tokyo versus his actual workouts. He mentions how Snell had a leg injury about 10 weeks out and took almost a week off and still made good when it counted. Here's what he said about Lydiard the man versus Lydiard the coach. "Arthur was such an iron-willed person. He would be the kind of a guy to will through some problems; but he didn't necessarily did that to his athletes. He knew what to do because he was there. Without that, I'd tend to be a little more to the side of "if in doubt, do less." But I just wanted to show you this to let you know "it's okay to take it easy".

When I looked at Thomas's initial schedule, the first thing I suggested was taking it a bit easier from the get-go, and to worry less about effort level at first. If this sounds a bit like what Downeast Andrew or Simon Says Run's Zeke are doing, it's completely intentional. I've been reading both of their blogs and I'm envious of the long time frame they've given themselves for their mileage build-up. Unfortunately time is not on Thomas's side, and we are planning on slightly shortening the coordination phase at the end to give us 13 weeks for conditioning at the front. This is more like Lydiard's "Running with Lydiard" schedule and less like the most recent "Running to the Top" schedule I'm following. I think Thomas will do very well with this if he keeps the efforts easy to start (are you reading this Thomas?).

Oh yes, I'm still running too. I've decided to be a little conservative this week as well, and instead of three anaerobic efforts of a 5k time-trial, a 10k time-trial, and one day of 800 repeats, I'm doing the half-marathon at the end of the week and I did the 800's today. This is my second most important race of the year, and I don't want to be tired at the starting line. I figure that one really hard 13.1 mile effort can take the place of two shorter time-trials.

That being said, I did 5x800 today with a 400 rest (walking the first 100 of the recovery). I set out to do 4-6 of these, content to call it a day when the body told me I'd had enough. Again I was shooting for 2:28-2:35, and they came in at 2:34, 2:32, 2:31, 2:32, 2:31. I'm happy these were a little faster than last week at the same effort, especially after yesterday's long run. Just when I was thinking about whether to do a 6th, the high school track team that had been milling about off the track started their warm-up en-masse so I called it a day. No coughing/groin/adductor problems today (thanks for the anatomy lesson Ty).

Training: 10 miles, 1:13:01, 7:18 pace w/5x800 in 2:34, 2:32, 2:31, 2:32, 2:31. Good day

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Just won pwobwem..."

That's daughter Haiden's version of "just one problem", which sounds all the alarm bells for her parents. She's in the middle of potty-training, so this can mean an accident has happened, is about to happen, or maybe something else altogether. It can be "Daddy's special milkshake" spilling on her skirt, an ouchie, or other minor catastrophe. In short, when I hear this it's usually not good news.

While the running has been going well for me, there is "just one problem" that continues to bug me. I've mentioned the pain in my abductor before, and my worry that it's some kind of sports hernia or inguinal hernia. The pain is more towards the groin, and I've noted it flaring up in my training log on the left side in November of last year, on the left side in March of this year, and now on the right side, starting back about six weeks ago. Usually it's fine if I sleep on my back or stomache, and it only irritates me if I sleep on my side. Unfortunately, coughing brings the pain out a bit and I've been doing a lot of that lately. It seems that the longer the run, the more coughing afterwards bothers me. I've taken to adopting a sort of "standing fetal position", with knees together and bent with my hands on them. This makes the cough more bearable. Today's long run was the first time I actually had to stop twice for coughing fits, as it really hurt my groin to try to run through them and I didn't want to take any chances.

As luck would have it, Kevin Beck is back to running and writing about running in his blog, and the link will take you to a post where he laments a bilateral hernia he has been running with. Like many obsessive runners, I hate doctors. Why waste an afternoon in an office for somebody to tell you what you already know from searching running blogs on the internet? I am kidding of course. What Kevin describes does sound similar to what I have, and while it isn't debilitating and doesn't stop me from running, having to pause twice today gets me thinking more about it. It goes on my list of "things to take care of after the race", along with the neruoma and trying more minimal shoes.

With a half-marathon this weekend I resolved to take it easy on today's 22 miler and I did. Winter is still here, though it should be gone again by tomorrow. When I stopped at 7 miles in for my first drinking fountain I found it frozen solid, which meant only getting one drink for the whole run at 11 miles. Needless to say I tanked up there and had a gel, and when I got back to the first fountain it was still no go so I moved on. It must have been right at freezing for most of the run, though I ditched the hat and gloves about 3 miles in. I do tend to warm up quick, although I got many strange looks from the dog walkers, bundled up with their puffy jackets, hats and gloves. One woman looked at me so strangely as I approached that I wondered if I had a big snot trail on my face. As I got closer, all she said was "Brrrrrrr!"

So only one drink the whole way, but a nice relaxed run. I tried to keep the words of Ron Daws in mind for the "self-coached runner". He ran his Boston marathons with an imaginary coach on the sidelines, who looked at him and his effort level constantly throughout the race, saying "Can he keep this up for 26 miles?" This kept his effort level in check. In my case it was "Can he run slow enough to be fresh for speedwork tomorrow". Aside from the death-cough, it's a "yes".

Training: 22 miles, 2:35:15, 7:03 pace...so...thirsty...

Monday, November 28, 2005

This is a test...


Time flies, and I'm now 3 weeks through my 4 weeks of Lydiard anaerobic/track work, and I've finished 19 weeks of training for the January marathon in Pheonix. The past week didn't go completely as planned, with me skipping a track workout, but I'm pretty pleased with how the other two key workouts went. The first was the Turkey Trot, where I placed 10th in the 5K with a 16:48 personal best, and the second was yesterday's 16 miler.

I met up with my friend Lucas on the Rillito River trail at 6:15, about 15 minutes before sunrise. The plan was to run 10-12 miles at marathon pace, which for me is hopefully somewhere between 6:00 and 6:05 pace. This is ambitious, as my best previous marathon had me averaging 6:24 when I ran a 2:47:51 in May of 2004. Still, my race times at other distances, as well as the increase in my mileage makes me think I can hold this, so off we went to find out.

We warmed up for 5 miles, since we were both still pretty cold after 4 miles and the trail is a bit uneven until mile 5. After some water and a gel we started off, and while the first mile felt fast we were right at 6:02 pace. I brought along my Garmin GPS watch, which has a nice "average lap pace" setting where you can track your pace as you accumulate miles. So If you run your first mile at 6:30 and your second mile at 6 even, the watch will say 6:15. This is a great tool for race pace, and while I'm really into trying to "feel" the pace, this gadget keeps me honest. The run went very well, and we ended up going the full 11 miles back home at an average of 6:02. My watch read 66 minutes even, but I think we ran out of road with about .05 to go or so.

One thing I noticed is the amount of concentration it takes to stay on pace at this speed. This will be a difficult pace for me to keep for 26.2, but I like a challenge and my other race times, plus my improved fitness through running more miles lead me to believe I can do it. Sometimes I have second thoughts about posting my goal of breaking 2:40, but it's out there now and all I can do is get as ready as I can do make the attempt. I looked in my log at my training for my last marathon, and I failed a 12 mile race pace attempt at 6:08 pace at 9 miles in. This makes me feel better about yesterday's run, and makes me appreciate keeping a good record of such things. For anyone else following the Lydiard method I encourage you to keep a good log, as you will draw confidence from looking at how much you improve compared to your past years efforts.

As for today's run, well, winter finally hit here in the Old Pueblo. A windy, cold day yesterday turned into a bitter, cold morning today. I was forced to break out the hat, gloves, and long-sleeves as it was 28 degrees out. My winter running wardrobe rules- Under 40 degrees=long sleeves, under 35=long-sleeves and a hat, add gloves for under 30 and add windpants or similar for 25 and under. I think I've worn the pants maybe 5 times ever. Oh yeah, the run. Went 10 miles easy up the hilly road into Sabino Canyon. I'm doing the Tucson half marathon on Sunday, which has a lot of downhill, so I'm re-introducing some easy downhill running into my routine this week in preparation.

Training: 10 miles, 1:13:44, 7:22 pace, easy in Sabino Canyon, very COLD!
Yesterday: 16 miles, 1:45:13, 6:37 pace, w/11 miles at 6:02 pace. Great run
Total for the week, 88 miles in 8 sessions, the least since first week in September

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The cough and the crud

I won't call it a cold, I don't want to give it the satisfaction. Five-month-old Finn is over it, but my wife Kiera is currently afflicted and so is 3-year-old Haiden, our daughter. Lots of coughing, I mean LOTS, runny noses, and that yellow crud that needs to come out. I have it, but I won't admit it. My case is much lighter than theirs, though the lack of sleep is exacerbating my symptoms. Haiden woke up four times coughing and crying, and Kiera is coughing enough to keep me on the couch, where I tend to sleep on my side and aggravate my abductor, which is flaring up a bit today. I first felt it in a dry cough on my way up to Phoenix with my brother and his family after the race on Thanksgiving. My windpipe seemed a bit constricted, and it was hard to get a deep breath in, but I blamed it on the race. Now that it's Saturday and the cough and constricted throat are still there, I can't still blame Thursday's effort.

My plan for this week was compromised today, as I thought it might be. Lydiard's schedule had me running two 5k time-trials, along with a day of 3x1 mile repeats. I did the race as one time-trial, and I'm planning on doing 10-12 miles of marathon pace (6:00-6:05) during my 16 miler tomorrow for the other one. The mile repeats were possibly on tap for today (I didn't do them earlier in the week to be fresh for Thursday's race), and I called an audible after a lousy night's sleep and waking up feeling like I was breathing through a straw. I headed out early, figuring that if I started feeling better I could use my GPS watch to do the mile repeats on the road. Well, the throat never really opened up, and it was still pretty dark by 7 miles in so I decided to just relax and enjoy the run. Nobby's words about being careful replayed in my mind, and in hindsight the thought of a race on Thursday, 16 on Friday, 3x1 mile on Saturday and 16 miles w/10-12 marathon pace on Sunday seemed kind of crazy. I probably should have done the repeats earlier in the week, but I wasn't feeling quite up to it then either, which is why I took two easy days before the race.

I'm still hoping to do tomorrow's workout to the desired effect, and hopefully taking it easy today will help make that happen. I know you can't just always push, push, push with your training without expecting the body to eventually push back a bit. I hate backing down and missing my first key workout since I started this blog, but in my mind a hard race and a long marathon-pace effort pretty much equates to the two shorter time-trials and the 3x1 mile repeats...if I keep saying it enough.

Training: 11 miles, 1:20:27, 7:20 pace, aborted 3x1 mile repeats, and right abductor feels pretty sore today

Friday, November 25, 2005

Did I win a turkey??

I still don't know exactly how I did in yesterday's race, as the results aren't posted yet. What I do know and what I can say is pretty positive, especially coming from a usually self-deprecating runner like myself. Here's the story, and how Arthur Lydiard helped me-

My good friend Scott and I arrived almost an hour before our race, which was good because we had plenty of time to survey, preview, and run the entire course while warming up. The course was two loops, and featured lots of grass and dirt, plenty of tight turns, several small and two large hills, and also assorted hay bales and water jumps. It was fun to run as a twosome trotting along, but I was afraid of what would happen when 260 men ran it at the same time (the women raced separately).

My first thought was "don't get hurt". I've been corresponding with Mark Coughlin, who in addition to being a great composer/songwriter/musician, is a very speedy runner who has won the Atlanta marathon. He was racing this year's Atlanta marathon on the same day, only weeks after cracking two ribs after falling on a cross-country course like this one while coaching his runners. After 18 weeks of solid training, I wanted to be very careful not to fall or turn my ankle on the off-camber portions of the course.

Lydiard is famous for saying "Everything is important". Part of what he means is considering the course in relation to your strengths and weaknesses, exploiting the former while minimizing the latter. Now I have very limited experience in wide "box starts", and this starting line was 50 yards wide and funneled into a 10 foot wide section just 300 meters or so out. I also figured that if I had a pretty clear view of the course I could stay out of prairie dog holes, muddy spots, and other trouble that could derail my training and leave me with an injury. Lastly, I knew that of all the 265 runners out there, I was probably the only one who had spent 4 weeks focusing on hill work to the tune of 3 workouts a week. I was on the line, it was time to go.

With the crack of the gun I sprinted out as fast as I could to get a good spot, and found myself in the first 15 or so by the first turn, which was where I was hoping to be. All those striders, as well as starting some track repeats helped me move my legs enough to get there. We dashed along a shallow drainage ditch, running single-file with a few passes, and I pretty much tried to hold my place and keep my breathing from getting too hypoxic. First mile 5:14, crap that's fast for such a winding, curvy course. A few in front of me seemed to find great despair with this split, knowing they were in over their heads and perhaps letting the watch run their race. I made up some ground here without really trying as I passed two dying runners and slipped ahead of another who was still moving strong. Now the two big hills, and I'm licking my lips. Raise the knee, straighten the back leg and push off, just like I did for a month straight, and I'm making up ground the whole way up. Down is tougher, with a small rocky water jump interrupting the freefall on one hill, then two hay bales and two water jumps breaking up the second.

One loop down, one to go and the legs are feeling a little rubbery from all the hard cornering. I'm used to running straight, and I'm more of a large touring model with a long wheelbase, not one of these young, high-revving sportscars lining up behind. Mile 2, 5:25 and I'm not so sure three is the magic number anymore as I start to hear a few set of cross-country spikes dancing behind me as we cross a short concrete section. They're closer now than at the second mile-marker, and and a quick peek after a turn reveals there are four of them, most in multi-colored singlets so they're high-school team guys and no-doubt have a kick. But I turn to face the road again and smile, the two big hills and a few turns are all that's left. I can't leave it for a sprint after what happened at the last time, so at the base of the first of the two hills I give it whatever gas I have left and just bound away. By the time I'm at the top I don't hear them anymore, and as I round the turn to start the last hill I know they are gone and there's one guy ahead I can reach. I go to the well once more, get even with him at the top, and pass him at the bottom of the downhill, just as we are maneuvering the last two hay-bales and water jumps. From there it's just holding on to the finish, a straight shot of about 150 meters. I cross the line in about 16:50, which is a P.R. on a measured course, and I'm pretty happy considering all the twists, turns and hills.

So thanks Arthur and Nobby, you helped me run a good race. I actually took the time to make a race plan after seeing the course, and I was able to use the tools I've developed through following Lydiard's first three phases to execute the plan to pretty good effect. I also have developed the confidence to know I will not fail spectacularly in a race after running the prescribed time-trials on my own. After running two solo 5K's and one 10K, I was chomping at the bit to try my form in an actual race. This feeling might be part of the point of those efforts.

I'm still waiting for them to post the results, although I figure I was probably somewhere between 8th and 12th overall. I was part of the Workout Group's team, so hopefully I scored some points for them. As far as the turkey and my placing goes, I wasn't able to wait around to find out. Kiera and the kids had gone up to Phoenix for Thanksgiving with my folks a day prior, and I had to catch a ride with my brother and his wife and three kids from the race. They pulled up just as Scott and I were walking from the finish line, so after a quick clothes-change into the mini-van I went. Nothing like a nice sweaty two-hour car ride in leiu of a cool-down, eh?

Thanksgiving was fun in Phoenix, and we drove back to arrive at about 8:15pm last night. After putting the kids down I was hoping for a 4 mile shake-out run before bed, but I was just too tired from the race, the drives, and the holiday activity. Today's 16 miler was a run down to Scott's house to pick up my car before heading to work. I'm looking forward to my weekend, which starts Sunday.

UPDATE: My friend Matt commented below that I was 15th of 389, which is a much larger field than I figured. Guess I missed out on a pie too, and I love pumpkin pie!

UPDATE PART 2: The results are up, I guess I was 10th of 384 men, and second in my age group.

Training: Today, 16 miles, 1:52:57, 7:03 pace, a little tired at the end
Yesterday, 7 miles, including a 5K race run in 16:50 or so

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

17 minutes

Downeast runner Andrew recently wrote about "magic numbers" in training in his great blog. Three has always been one for me, three miles to be exact. Tomorrow I race a 5K for the first time in awhile, and the 3.1 mile distance, while difficult, has a special place in my heart. For my previous marathons, when I lived more central in Tucson, I did several tempo runs, as Pete Pfitzinger suggested. Most of these took place at Reid park, where there is a flat, paved 3 mile loop around its peremiter. These tempo runs started at 4 miles and grew to 7 miles by the end of my training program. I would also do some of my marathon pace runs on this same path. When I would get tired I would say to myself, "just one more time around the park", or "you can always run three more miles." Regardless of how many loops were left, taking the effort one loop (or three miles) at a time made it easier for me. The same holds true on my longer runs now, as I often repeat the same mantra when I come back on the road from "dog-poop trail" or the winding road the seniors use (depending on which direction I run my loop), where I have three miles to go until I reach the garage.

Tomorrow will be my ultimate 5K time-trial, complete with hay bales and water jumps. At least that's what the race website suggests. It should take 17 minutes, maybe a bit less if I have a great day, maybe a little more if the course is tough or if things don't go my way. Either way, it's only one more time around the park (even if this time it's actually through it). The goal is to have fun, run fast, and win something. Age group winners get a turkey, and second place gets a pie I think. I think I'd rather have the pie, especially after looking at the lack of space in our fridge.

Arthur Lydiard's marathon schedule has me running several 5K time trials; I've done one in 16:50 and another in 17:08, when I was pretty tired from the show at the gallery. My official P.R. is 16:58, which I ran back in May. Lydiard calls for running "controlled" during these efforts, but I'm giving it full-gas tomorrow. Wish me luck, I'll be wishing you a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Training: Yesterday's p.m. run changed from 6 by myself to 4 with Haiden in the jog-stroller. She really wouldn't let me out of the house without her, and it was fun. She is getting pretty heavy though!
Today: 8 miles, as I slept in too late to fit in 10. 57:15, 7:10 pace with 6x100 strides. Felt slow at first, finished feeling very fresh. Two days of only 8 miles in a row should leave me feeling fresh for tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Of helmets and thick skulls...

Some call me the space cowboy...
Finn get his cranial band

So two days after Finn's 5th month he has a new look. It's a helmet, more specifically a cranial band, and he will eventually be wearing it for 23 hours at a time. Yesterday was the fitting, then off for an hour followed by on for an hour. Each day the "on" time stretches out until he reaches the 23 hour point. We decided on the "galaxy" motif for some reason, though I thought it would be more blue and less purple. So far he hasn't complained about it, as it only applies "static" pressure and doesn't squeeze him at all, while encouraging growth in the "voids", or where his head is flat. If you didn't read it here before, Finn has a moderate case of plagiocephaly, which is a flattening of one side of the back of his head. It makes his face and ears a bit asymmetrical, and if left untreated can lead to scoliosis, jaw problems, balance issues and other things that generally freak nervous parents like us out. We tried repositioning him for about two months to "even out" his spot, but it hasn't corrected itself much. Hopefully the helmet will take care of the problem in anywhere from one to 8 months. Finn is an awesome kid who gives everyone a smile and loves attention. If you see a kid in a similar contraption, don't look away thinking there's something wrong with them or that his parents are embarrased of him. He's a normal, loveable guy with a goofy helmet is all.

Work is back to normal, sort of, so I've had a little time to catch up on emails and other things. One email was from Nobby Hashizume, who has been very busy promoting the Arthur Lydiard foundation and its home on the web, Five Circles. He noticed that my recent 22 mile run was under 7 minute pace, even with the anaerobic work and my current job situation. I hope he doesn't mind, but to paraphrase him just wouldn't do him justice, so here is a bit of what he said-

"...a word of caution; as you get fitter and with all the leg-turnover type workouts, you might feel like you're flying. But just be careful. For example, Snell and Baillie and those guys would do 22-mile Waitak in 2:15~2:10 during conditioning phase (when you push your aerobic limit way up high) but once they start doing track workouts, they actually slow them down to 2:20~2:30 range. Baillie explained to me as "the day after you either raced or had some tough track workout on Saturday, it's actually nice to just get up and go for a nice and easy 2-hour run around Waitak with my buddies..." As long as you feel strong, that's fine but your time to push those longs runs are behind you; you've got it well. Slowing down on those long runs shouldn't hurt you that much. In the coming weeks, you'd be doing those long time trials or tempo runs to prepare yourself for the marathon. You should really slow down the weekend long runs then. Remember, there's time to run hard; there's time to run easy' there's time to run long; and there's time to run short. Everything should be balanced. And one final word; it's always better to under-developed than over-developed. In fact, Nakamura used to say that the best way to prepare for the marathon is that you're 90% ready at the start "...and you come to 100% at 35km mark" he used to say. There's 90% coming up and there's 90% going down. Never ever be at 90% going down at the start of the race. You only suffer from there on."

This makes a lot of sense to me, and I'm kicking myself for not realizing it myself. This morning I slept in a bit since Finn slept until 5:30, then I took Haiden on a 4 mile muffin run instead of doing 10 by myself. I was still tired from yesterday's 22 miles, and my left foot hurt a bit on top of where I have my neuroma. Not a big deal, but I'm sure the run aggravated it, and running quickly like I did yesterday made me too tired to run all 10 this morning so I'm planning on getting in the other 6 tonight when I should be hanging out with the family. I need to get through my thick skull that the Lydiard anaerobic/track phase is about building speed while maintaining, not increasing, endurance. If I keep running my longer runs fast I won't be fresh for the upcoming time trials and races, which is really what I should be focusing on now.

To that end, I am taking it easy tomorrow as well in preparation for Thursday's 5K turkey trot. GASP!!! Two easy days in a row, I'm not sure I can take it! Seriously though, this week I'm scheduled for two 5K time-trials plus one day of 3x1 mile repeats for speed. I plan on going full-bore for the trot, and doing a 10-12 mile marathon pace run during my last 16 miler of the week (Sunday). So my week, starting with yesterday's run, will go- 22, 4/6, 10, 10(race), 16, 10(track), 16(marathon pace). If I don't feel up to it, I'll skip the 1 mile repeats and just go easy on Saturday (my week ends on Sunday), since I figure a 5K full effort and 10-12 miles of marathon pace pretty much equal two 5K efforts and the 3x1 mile repeats.

Nobby's words about 90% coming up compared to 90% going down are wise indeed, I hope I can be true to them.

Training: 4 mile slow muffin run with Haiden in the morning, hopefully another 6 easy by myself this evening.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thank goodness it's over!!

My week from hell is behind me. Art show week at the gallery where I work demands a great deal of time and effort, as does my running. When the two collide, the results aren't pretty. I'm still slammed at work shipping paintings out, so this will be short and sweet, as I should be packing now.

Friday I worked 14 hours and got to bed at midnight, only to be awoken by Finn an hour later. Then Haiden got up at 4:30 and did not want to go back to sleep. I was supposed to run 16 miles on Saturday, but because I left late I could only get in 11 before getting to work for an 11 hour day, which included the show itself.

Sunday I slept until Haiden got up (Kiera took care of Finn's feeding), and the two of us went on a four mile muffin run so I could catch up with her, since I've been gone so much. Sunday evening was a cruel test, my last 5K time trial of the week. I was so tired I really felt I could barely stand, but I managed to run 7 miles, including the 5K time trial on a hilly course by my house in 17:08. This was almost 20 seconds off my time of last week, but it was a difficult course run under tough circumstances so I'll take it. It was a victory of sorts just to get the run in.

Speaking of victories, 12 hours after my time trial yesterday afternoon I was able to run my 22 miler this morning. Finn got up just as I was getting ready to leave around 5:30, so I stopped to feed him before heading out. I managed a 6:47 pace for the run, but I was getting pretty rubber-legged by the end.

That's it for now, big sigh as I have completed my second Lydiard anaerobic/track phase. I did manage all three speed workouts, though I did compromise by cutting one 16 mile run to 11. I ended up with 90 for the week, and this week I have a 5K Turkey trot on Thanksgiving to look forward to. More later when I have more time, thanks for reading.

Last note: Finn gets his cranial band today, though with the show and such I can't be there for the fitting. This is difficult for me, but I really need to be here to ship 30 pieces or so out today before the holiday weekend. I'll post some pics of him tomorrow I hope.

Training: Today, 22 miles at 6:47 pace, tough at the end
Sunday: 4 mile muffin run with Haiden in the morning, 7 miles with a 17:08 time trial of 5 kilometers in the evening.
Saturday: 11 miles, should have been 16.
Total miles for the week: 90 in 8 sessions

Friday, November 18, 2005

Super busy


One of the 100 paintings in the art show our gallery is hosting

Short post today, as I'm starting one of two 12+ hour work days in a row. For anyone who wonders what I do, and why I'm so busy all of the sudden, I work at an art gallery in Tucson, Arizona. We are having a big show this weekend, which requires just about all of my attention. The gallery is called Settlers West, and we're attempting to sell 110 paintings this weekend as part of our Great American West show.

Finn waking at 2:30 this morning, then trying to stay up for an hour or so made the track session tough today. I had 4 x 1000 to do, and I was aiming to do them at 3:09-3:17. The first one was a slow 3:18, followed by a 3:12, a 3:13 and a 3:15. I was definitely ready to quit after the last one, but I was pretty happy with the workout overall. I probably won't post again until after the show on Monday, as I'll work until 10pm tonight, 9pm tomorrow, then probably 9-3 or so on Sunday.

Training: 10 miles, 1:10:37, 7:04 pace with 4x1000 repeats w/600 rest.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Dear motorists...

Dear driver in the red jeep wagoneer, talking on your cell-phone. You cannot kill me, I know your type. You zoom right through your stop sign, slow just enough to make sure no cars will run into you by looking left, then accelerate into your right turn, narrowly missing my foot while I run facing traffic and approach you. I am 11 miles into my 16 mile run, and you will not stop me. I missed kissing my daughter goodnight last evening because I had to work late, and I owe her a "special milkshake" when I get home.

Dear driver in the late-80's Monte Carlo with peeling window tint. You cannot kill me, I know your type. You pull a move similar to red jeep man, you are also on your cell-phone, but you are making a right out of your apartment complex. Why you need to be on the phone 20 seconds after leaving your house, I don't know, but in your distracted state you make a good attempt at plowing into me, even after I make eye contact with you. I am 12 miles into my run and concentrating on the hills, and you will not stop me. I have to get home to kiss my son hello, as I also missed saying goodnight to him last night.

Dear driver in the white Geo Metro, barreling at 50 miles per hour down the 25 mile per hour winding, sleepy street where seniors walk two-abreast. You cannot kill me, I know your type. I'm sorry you have to drive a Geo, but there really is no need to take it out on me. I ease over even more to the left, so I'm inches away from patches of prickly-pear cacti, and lean out to avoid getting smacked by your mirror. I am 13 miles into my run, and only one mile away from the slight downhill where I try to drop the pace a bit. No, that's not "half a peace sign" I'm flashing you as you pass. I have to get home to my wife, who has been doing more than her share with the house and the kids as I've been working and running so much.

Training: 16 miles, 1:48:56, 6:48 pace.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

How much is too much?

tb1 made an insightful comment after yesterday's post where I groused about my poor planning, and my inability to execute a workout when I felt I had to. Here's a bit of what he (or she) said-"Remember that in any endeavor (e.g., business, athletics, investing) all of the action is at the margins. With that being said it sounds to me like you are where you want to be (at the margin). With the little I know about Lydiard and your training history, the one thing that Lydiard stressed that sticks in my mind is that his methods are "guidelines" and the actual miles and intensity must be gauged by the athlete according to ability and age. The danger lurks in solo training without somebody to assist you in gettng the most out of each workout."

This got me thinking, especially the idea of gettting gains at the "margins". One thing I've learned through following Lydiard's method is the discipline to get up every day and run. This came easier than expected, as I found that I enjoyed running more as I increased my mileage. This discipline or work ethic cuts both ways though, as I experienced yesterday. I've found that I often am too eager, and will push myself too hard at the "margins", in order to make gains. Like Nobby has told me before, I don't want to be the fittest person watching from the stands, and yesterday's exhaustion, coupled with icing the top of my foot and feeling a tweak in my abductor gives me pause.

When I started training the Lydiard way, I told myself I would follow the program for a minimum of three years. Lydiard always took the long view with his athletes, probably to keep from burning them out. When he saw a brilliant high school runner, it is said that he would be more concerned with what the youngster would be running ten years down the road, while other coaches would be tempted to throw lots of fast intervals at him in order to bring his times down temporarily. This could very easily lead to burnout or injury.

So how do I behave? I want to run my best marathon in January, make that my best marathon to date. If I had to choose between having one good race and finally breaking 2:40, only to break myself down so much in the process that I wouldn't have the drive or ability to ever do it again, or gradually improving by degrees over the course of three to five years, I'd pick the latter for sure. During some of the more difficult workouts ahead, I'm going to try to think about this. While I'm training for January's marathon, Lydiard says what you do this year is really for next year.

With this in mind, and with yesterday's tough 22 miler behind me, I decided I could still get in all three "speed" workouts if I did a time-trial effort today. Noting yesterday's fatigue and problems, I decided to try running 10 miles, with 8 at marathon pace. Since I really want to break 2:40, that means 6:00-6:04 per mile. I'm glad to say that after the mile warm-up I felt very good, and I was able to manage 6:03 for the 8 miles without too much trouble. It was hard for me to imagine running that pace for 26 miles, but that's probably in part due to running 22 yesterday. I'm hoping by taking it a little easier today that I will be fresh for the 4x1000 repeats I have scheduled for Friday, as well as for my second 5K time-trial on Sunday. We'll see.

One thing I really have to focus on is getting enough sleep, but the kids are not cooperating. Today they devised a plan where 4-month-old Finn gets up at 4:30 (an hour before my alarm today), then 3-year-old Haiden gets up at 5:30 to delay my departure while I give Kiera a chance to sleep until 7. I guess I need to work on getting to bed around 8, but it's hard for me to unwind by then. A twelve-hour workday today might make me tired enough to crash though.

Training: 10 miles, 1:02:50, with 8 miles at 6:03 pace. Felt surprisingly good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The fast stuff takes its toll

I'm sitting here trying to remember if I was feeling this bad after the first week of my Lydiard hill phase. Running fast feels much harder than running up hills, or at least it does today. Looking at the comments on my blog after my 10K time trial, and reading Nobby's email had me feeling like I ran my first Lydiard anaerobic/track week too fast. Any doubts I had vanished after today's long run.

I was due for a bad day, and in hindsight I really set myself up for it. I originally planned to make today's long run a marathon pace run for the second half, in leiu of the longer time trial this week. Somehow this seemed sensible to me, even though it was planned for just two days after my previous 10K time trail that I ran pretty close to all out. For the first half of today's run I was planning on running 7:15 pace or slower, saving myself for a 6:00-6:05 pace for the way back. However, about 8 miles into the run I started to realize that attempting this workout, this close to the last long time trial and during a long run was probably not a good idea. So I started planning in my head how I could keep this run easy and still fit in two more 16 milers, one day of intervals, two time trials, and a day of strides into the rest of my week (my training weeks end on Sunday). I might have mentioned before, but this week includes three 12+ hour days at work, so I'm really struggling to fit life in, much less training.

With some creative math, I realized that in order to keep an easy/hard rhythm during these four weeks, and get a decent amount of recovery, the answer was simple. Each week needs to be 8 days long. This wasn't the answer I was looking for, but I did get a chuckle out of it. I decided instead to be a little less rigid about where I place my harder days, which in my mind gave me license to take it easy and try to enjoy this long run without gunning for marathon pace or even the usual 6:40-6:50 pace I have been running. As I hit the half-way point and turned around, I skipped my first gel, thinking that at this more relaxed effort I wouldn't miss it. By the time I hit 17 miles I did eat one gel and had a drink, and noticed that I was starting to feel kind of sloppy. My strides were starting to get shorter and a little choppy, and my legs were feeling a little tight and a little sore (I'm sure from Saturday's 10K effort). I struggled home, no longer really enjoying the run, which was my plan after putting off the marathon pace work, and I finished with a still-respectable 7:07 pace.

So now I face a dilemma, as I really stank up this run. I didn't run easy enough (or I wasn't recovered enough) to be real fresh for a marathon pace workout tomorrow, and I couldn't run hard enough to get the workout done today. I'm left with a fair amount of work to do this week, and I guess I'll just hope to feel better tomorrow.

When I emailed Nobby Hashizume about what kind of effort Lydiard is asking for during the time-trials, his response was "All the time trials should be 'challenging, but controlled'. Remember, it's ALWAYS better to underdo anaerobic training than overdo it." Wise words indeed. I think I dug myself into a little hole, but I'll try to keep Nobby's words in mind as I slowly dig myself out of it.

Training: 22 miles, 2:36:27, 7:07 pace

Monday, November 14, 2005

A little pain


A little pain, big sister style

For Sunday's 10K time trial I really put myself through the wringer, and while I'm happy I survived I realize that the real work in following Arthur Lydiard's method starts now. There's nothing quite like suffering at your own hands, where a workout becomes as much a test of will as a test of your conditioning. This was one of those workouts.

I had originally planned to do the New Times 10K for this workout, before deciding to skip it to spend some time with the family on what would be my only day off until Thanksgiving. Instead I was left with doing a 10K on my own, at supposedly a 3/4 effort, in the 82 degree afternoon. I used most of my usual 8 mile loop, which has several long rolling hills, so it would be difficult to keep a consistent level of effort. After a two mile warm-up I was off, running into the wind on a false-flat, imagining I was racing against others in order to keep the pace up. My goal of starting at 5:45 pace and working down evaporated as I came to grips with all the ups and downs of the road, and the first mile ticked off in 5:39, followed by a 5:48 second mile. By now I had crested the biggest hill, and the third mile passed in 5:38. At the halfway point I turned around, and headed back up the biggest hill. Mile 4 passed in 5:49, and I seriously thought about pulling the plug and quitting the workout early. I actually started imagining titles for today's blog entry, something like "crash and burn" or "a setback", when I finally crested the hill and got my wheels moving. I joke with my wife about almost quitting every bike race I've done well in, as well as most running races where I've been happy with the result. This was that point, and I had passed it, and I give partial thanks to my blog, where I would have had to explain myself. As it turned out, things improved after this point, and the last 2 miles passed in 5:36 and 5:38.

The total time was 35:13, which is considerably faster than my fastest "certified" 10K best of 35:51. I did run faster at the 10K I won earlier in September, but I think the course was quite short on that one so I can't be sure. I was quite tired afterwards, and after running a two mile cool-down and showering I was still pretty flushed. I felt like I had raced a 10K, which in hindsight probably means I ran it a little too hard. It's difficult for me to figure out what a "3/4 effort" is, and I figured that if I could average 5:37 for a 10 mile race, then averaging 5:41 for a 10K wouldn't be as close to "all out" as it was.

Today's workout was a very early easy 10 miles. I didn't feel as bad as I thought I would after running so hard yesterday afternoon, so that was good.

The rest of Sunday was great, I took Haiden to the zoo and the park, where there was a cyclocross race going on. Haiden really enjoyed watching all the riders on their "tricycles" running over the barricades. We also had a nice lunch out, so it was a pretty good day all around.

Training: Today, 10 miles 1:12:56, 7:15 pace
11/13, 10 miles w/10,000 meter time trial in 35:13, very difficult
Total miles for the week: 92

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Easy Day

Got a good night's sleep, Kiera took care of Finn's feeding and I didn't have to get up until 5:30. No soreness from the 800's yesterday, so I'm a happy guy. I met Scott down on the Rillito for 16 miles. Scott was doing his last 20 miler in preparation for the Tucson marathon, so I met him two miles into his run and left him with two to go. It was quite cool here this morning, maybe 48 degrees or so, but they air was clear and it was a wonderful time to be on a run. We took it fairly easy, and caught up with one another (Scott's new job doesn't allow him to send emails). When I left him to drive back home and get to work we had averaged 7:20, which was a nice pace for me. Tomorrow is another time-trial, and my final hard effort for the week, so a relaxed run today was just what the doctor ordered. I even had enough time for a "special milkshake" (fruit and yogurt smoothie) with Haiden. She ate half of my eggs too, which was fine of course. Just stay away from my waffles!

One thing I have to be aware of is taking it easy on the days I'm not doing track workouts, time trials, or my long run. Lydiard still seems to keep the mileage pretty high during this phase, so I'm trying not to focus on the watch as much on my 16 milers during the week. Hopefully this will keep me fresh for the hard days, like tomorrow.

I decided to skip the New Times 10K tomorrow and do a regular 6 mile time trial instead, mostly because of the travel and time involved. Sunday is my only day off before 10 days straight, and I only had one day off last week too. I'd rather spend the time with the family than travel 2 hours to a race, turn around, and come right back. I'm missing a chance at a personal best on a certified course, but there will be other opportunities I'm sure. Besides, I really need to cut the grass. Have a good weekend.

Training: 16 miles, 1:57:11, 7:20 pace

Friday, November 11, 2005

Back on the track

I haven't set foot on a track since late May, when I did my final 3x1600 workout ten days before my last ill-fated marathon attempt. So six months later I'm back again, doing 6x800 just before 6am, where I can just make out the lane lines in the pre-dawn light. My goal was to get up at 4:30, eat a bit and drive to the track for the workout, which would get me home in time to take the family out for breakfast. Things have been busy at work, and I already disappeared one night for the Hall & Oates show so I wanted to have some family time in the morning. Well, I got it, starting at 4am when Finn needed a feeding. He was a bit fussy so he didn't get back down until 4:45 so I had to rush to get out the door.

I've never really liked running on the track, but these kinds of workouts make it all but necessary. The night before I looked up my latest race time, the 10 miler a few weeks back I ran in 56:09, and used the calculator on the McMillan Running website to get an idea of what I should be running. According to their calculations, a "long distance runner" with that time for 10 miles should be running 2:28-2:34.9. I like this calculator, only partly because it says I should be able to run a marathon in 2:37:16 and a half-marathon in 1:14:34. I know I shouldn't take any of these numbers too seriously, but since it had been so long since I'd been on the track I at least wanted some idea as to how fast I "should" be running.

After a 3.5 mile warm-up on the roads around the Catalina Foothills high school I was off, clocking the first 800 in a slower-than-expected 2:36. For once I didn't go out too fast, which was good, but I could already feel the effort a bit in my legs. Since Lydiard doesn't give any rest intervals, I decided on an arbitrary 400 jog recovery. From what I've read, Arthur would probably say "Do another one when you're ready and not before!" or something like that, which really doesn't help a guy like me who is such a novice on the track. After the rest, the second 800 clocked 2:36...again. I just couldn't get my legs moving, it felt like my feet were just plain heavy today. I decided to walk the first 100 after the repeat and then jog the other 300, which gave me a little more time to recover (2:20 instead of 2:00 or so), and when I ran the third in 2:33 I started to feel better. Just like most races, I feel like grim death at first, then ease into it. Maybe a longer warm-up would help? Maybe some strides beforehand? No time to figure it out, because number 4 was coming up. 2:32, another good one, followed by another 2:33. The last one felt pretty much like the two before it, which was better than the first two, and I finished it in 2:33. A quick cool-down on the grass and a run back to the car gave me 10 miles for the day, all in all a good day's work.

With two out of three of my first week's speed training sessions done, I'm amazed to say the legs are feeling pretty good. The one small concern I've had is my right abductor, or right in the spot where my leg connects to my mid-section. I only seem to have trouble after I sleep on my side though, and lately I've been tired enough to not toss and turn so it's been fine. Sometimes I worry it's a stress reaction or a fracture, but it doesn't hurt when I jump up and down on that leg so I doubt it. Another thought is that it's an inguinal hernia or "sports hernia", but that's probably only because that was the "what hurts" topic in the latest Runner's World. It does hurt when I cough after a long run there, but not at other times, and I did have an inguinal hernia when I was three months old. I figure the abs, like everything else, get fatigued after running for 2.5 hours. I'm keeping an eye on it. I wish I had more time to do more of a strength/stretching routine, but unfortunately that seems to get left out when it's a choice between that or running.

We did end up getting out for breakfast at Beyond Bread, our daughter's favorite, and I managed to drink about 5 cups of coffee so work was...caffeinated, to put it mildly. 3-year-old Haiden can put away most of a small omelette, a potato pancake or two, and a fair amount of toast with jam in one sitting, so she's a chip off the old block for sure.

Training: 10 miles, 1:10:48, 7:06 pace

Lydiard's anaerobic/track phase

In Arthur Lydiard's "Running to the Top", the author writes the following about the next 4 weeks of my training:

"The heavy anaerobic period also lasts about four weeks and this is the time at which you develop anaerobic capacity to near maximum. It entails three days a week of heavy overload work and in this you can do any kind of anaerobic work you feel like. You can run straight-out long distance hard, say, three, five or ten kilometers; you can do hard repetitions over whatever distances you feel like; you can run hard on forest trails, if such luxuries are available to you."

"You can run your repetitions anywhere. On the road, in a park- you don't need to measure the distance you're covering or count the number of times you run it. Keep on doing them until you hit the wall; your body tells you when it's had enough so you go and warm down and call it a day. The repetitions should be longish, at least 600 meters, to get the best reactions."

If you're like me and you are used to just reading a schedule and following it, the paragraphs above are where Lydiard training throws you quite the curve ball, and at first it's frustrating. I've seen other quotes from Arthur similar to this, where someone asks him how far to run a repetition and he says "To the next tree". From emailing Nobby, reading posts from him and others on the Lydiard/Daniels thread on letsrun.com and digesting "Running to the Top" it seems that a runner can make these four weeks as complicated or as simple as he or she wishes. Yes, a marathon is primarily an aerobic effort, but for your best race Lydiard feels it is neccessary to train all of the body's systems to work in harmony. I've been known to go "into the red", or what I feel is anaerobic, late in a marathon, on long hills, or during a bad patch (or two) at some point in a race. This phase seems to be about training your body to withstand this higher effort, though the way you train it is somewhat up to the individual.

"Running to the Top" does have a schedule for these four weeks, it goes something like this-

Monday: Repetitions (800x6 or 1000x4 or 1500x3 depending on the week)
Tuesday: Aerobic running 90 minutes
Wednesday: Time trial (5,000 or 3,000 depending on the week)
Thursday: Aerobic running 90 minutes
Friday: Relaxed striding 200x6
Saturday: Time trial 10,000 meters at 3/4 effort, or 5,000 meters depending on the week)
Sunday: Aerobic running 120 or more

Here's what I'm planning for this week:
Monday: 22 miles
Tuesday: 8 miles w/6x200 easy strides
Wednesday: 10 miles w/5K time-trial
Thursday: 16 miles
Friday: 10 miles w/repetitions, 6x800
Saturday: 16 miles
Sunday: 10 miles w/6 mile time trial, start at 5:45 pace and work down

Nobby has said that you can change the workouts if you keep the purpose of each. Here I'm keeping the 800 reps, and doing my versions of the two 90 minute runs and the 120 minute runs. I'm doing the second time trial as more of a progression run, starting with tempo pace and hopefully going faster each mile. Why change at all? From what I've read about Lydiard, he would be the first to tell you that no two runners are exactly alike, and that his schedules are meant to be adapted to each individual, provided you stay within his framework and realize the goal of each workout.

I feel I've learned a bit about my body over the course of my short running career and the five marathons I have completed, and what I really think I need to finish my next marathon under 2:40 are these things- confidence in my ability and preparation, practice maintaining marathon pace for extended periods, improving my lactate threshold (or the maximum speed I can run before producing more lactate than my body can clear), and improving how my body deals with running while accumulating lactate and running out of glycogen.

As I go through this phase and do the workouts I hope to write about how these workouts (and the way I'm approaching them) will answer my "needs" list. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Running fast...with a family

So after 16 weeks of training, it's time to go fast. I've been doing "strides" and "accelerations", but those were short enough that I wouldn't really call them official "speedwork". So yesterday was my first test, a 5K time-trial run at close to maximum speed. This run is meant as a barometer of where my condition is at the beginning of Arthur Lydiard's track or anaerobic phase. I was planning on running a 3 mile warm-up, then the 5000 meter time-trial, then a 4 mile easy cool-down. Well, things didn't go as planned at all. After getting up to feed Finn at 3am I was tired, and instead of getting out the door before our daughter Haiden got up, we all woke up together at about 7. She was sad she couldn't run with me the day before (my abductor was a little sore so I didn't want to push any extra weight), so she started asking immediately to go for a run with me. I tried to explain that I couldn't take her, with the hard time-trial and all, but that doesn't wash with a 3 year old. So I decided to go an easy 4 miles with her in the morning, then do the effort after work.

Oh yeah, the effort. After work I drove down to the Rillito River trail (the paved part), where I could find a very flat course to run the 5,000 meters. After a two mile warm-up with some strides, I started...fast! I decided to go 2.5K out, then turn around and do the reverse for 5K total. After blasting off the line, I started feeling the effort after about a mile. At the halfway point I made an abrupt about-face and raced back towards where I started. I began to tie up at about 2 miles, but I forced myself through the last 1.1 mile, and stopped the clock at 16:50. This was a nice surprise, as my 5K personal best is 16:58, and here I had no one to chase, had already pushed my daughter 4 miles in the morning, and had run the trial in the warm evening instead of the cool morning. The bad news, I had gone out too fast, as my split had me averaging 5:20 for the first half and 5:31 for the second. It was difficult just going out hard like that, without any idea of how fast I was going. I guess that's the point, learning how to pace myself. Even though I wasn't thrilled about doing two workouts yesterday, it was nice to have a run with Haiden, I do hate to see her sad when I leave.

Today was supposed to be the standard 16 miles, but this morning was difficult, as Finn woke up at 4 (just before my alarm was set to go off at 4:30), and Haiden woke up for awhile too coughing (she's caught Finn's cold of course). I fed Finn and put him back down, but I was pretty sure Haiden wouldn't sleep for too much longer. I decided to run 12 by myself, then circle home and pick her up for an easy 4 mile muffin run to make it an even 16. I got back just as she was waking up and got her ready to go, and off we went. "Just one problem", as Haiden would say...no chocolate muffins today! She ended up with a chocolate glazed donut (one won't kill her right?), and we had a nice talk while she ate it. On the way back she announced she "had to go", so I released her from the jogger and she made her first "pit-stop" behind some bushes, just like her old man.

I read in Ron Daws' book that Emil Zapotek, faced with family duties and forced to stay at home instead of doing his long run, put some dirty clothes in the bathtub, filled it with water, and ran in place for two hours. Guess they didn't have baby joggers back then.

Training: 16 miles, 12 at 7:02 pace alone and 4 at 8minute pace with Haiden in the jog-stroller
Yesterday: 4 miles a.m., 31:24, 7:46 pace, 6 miles p.m., including 5K time-trial at 16:50

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My journey in a nutshell

I thought I would post a general overview of what this blog is about, so if you've started reading half-way through or just want a refresher on how I'm training the Lydiard way, here goes:

The plan is to arrive at peak fitness for the P.F. Chang's Rock'n'Roll marathon on January 15 in Phoenix, Arizona. In order to do that, I've switched from the training I've done in the past for my 5 previous marathons (which was usually a 12-18 week buildup where I've averaged 40-70 miles per week with one long run) to following the training methods of deceased master coach Arthur Lydiard. For over 40 years until his death in 2004 Arthur helped create Olympic medalists and champions, and introduced running for health to the masses. The links on the right of the page explain his methods, but this is the short story for a marathoner like me.

It all starts with a conditioning phase. For 12 weeks or as long as possible, increase your mileage to the maximum you are comfortable with, then increase the pace that you do your runs as you get acclimated to the mileage. All runs are done at an aerobic pace. One of Lydiard's schedules gives an example like this-

Monday 10 miles (15km) at 1/2 effort over undulating course
Tuesday 15 miles (25km) at 1/4 effort over reasonably flat
Wednesday 12 miles (20km) at 1/2 effort over hilly course
Thursday 18 miles (30km) at 1/4 effort over reasonably flat
Friday 10 miles (15km) at 3/4 effort over flat course
Saturday 22 miles (35km) at 1/4 effort over reasonably flat
Sunday 15 miles (25km) at 1/4 effort over any type terrain

My copy of "Running to the Top" lays the schedule out by time, with 2 runs of 90 minutes, one run of 120+ minutes, and the other runs of an hour or more with one day of striders.

After this comes a four week hill phase, where you keep the 2+ hour run and the two 90 minute runs, and add three hill workouts per week where you stride, bound or spring up a hill, recover at the top, stride quickly down the hill, then do some windsprints at the base before doing it all over again. Lydiard advises spending 15-60 minutes on the hill per session.

Then comes a 4 week track or anaerobic phase, which includes two "time trials" at a fast effort per week plus some strides and one day of "repetitions" or intervals, usually 800's, 1000's,or 1600's. During this phase you again keep the two 90 minute runs plus the 120+ minute run. This is what I'm starting right now.

Following the anaerobic phase is a 4 week coordination phase, where you work on putting together all the elements of the first three phases. During this period the mileage is reduced somewhat, but quicker, shorter sprints are added to enhance the neuromuscular pathways, and there is a long, 35 kilometer effort that should simulate the marathon. This is where you "sharpen" your condition and get ready for competition. You continue the time trials and the long run here as well.

It all ends with a two week taper, and culminates with your best marathon.

Sounds simple, eh? So I'm 16 weeks in with 10 to go, here are some stats on my progress so far.

On mileage: During my 12 week conditioning phase I averaged 90 miles per week, which is uncharted territory for me.
During my 4 week hill phase I averaged 96 miles per week.

These two phases focus on aerobic capacity and efficiency. The rest of the program focuses more on the anaerobic systems and neuromuscular connectors. That being the case, I thought looking at the average pace of my long runs so far would be a good indicator of how my aerobic system has developed with Lydiard's training. These are the paces of my long runs, starting with week 4 of my conditioning phase (the first week with a 20 miler). Runs of 20 miles have an asterisk, runs of 22 do not, and the run on 10/10 was 24 miles.

8/12*-7:37, 8/19-7:27, 8/25*-7:12, 8/31*-7:10, 9/8-7:44, 9/12-7:15, 9/19-7:21, 9/27-7:16, 10/4-6:46, 10/10-6:42, 10/18-6:51, 10/24-6:54, 11/1-6:45, 11/7-6:46

I've definitely made some gains, and my best marathon to date had me average 6:25 per mile, so my run of 24 miles the day after ending a 104 mile week at a 6:42 pace makes me gives me reason to think I've really improved with this program.

I know, enough with the blah, blah, blah and the technical stuff. I do get asked about this though, so I thought this post would act as a "cliff's notes" of sorts for this project. More on how I've adapted Lydiard's schedules for my needs to come.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A day off...almost

"Get up in the morning, look in the mirror.
I'm worn as the toothbrush hanging in the stand. My face ain't looking any younger."
-"She's Gone", Hall & Oats

That's about how I'm feeling. Long, long day yesterday, followed by an early morning. Took Finn for his helmet fitting yesterday morning, which went surprisingly quickly. They basically take what looks like a price-scanner at the supermarket and shoot a horizontal laser beam at his head and move it around him at all angles. He's wearing kind of a gauzy hat with his ears poking through two holes. While they "scan" his noggin, a 3-d model of Finn's head "draws" itself on the computer screen. It's fleshy colored, and looks like a very creepy ceramic doll. They end up with a model of his head that is accurate to 1 millimeter. We'll get the helmet in 10 days or so, and he'll have to wear it 23 hours a day.

After work, I drove two hours to Mesa, where I had dinner with my parents, then took my mom to the Hall & Oates show. I spent the night there, got up at 4, then drove back to Tucson this morning. Nothing like sitting in a car and a concert hall for 6 hours or so to really tighten up those muscles after a long run. I was very tempted to pass on the run this morning, but thought better of it since I'll be confined to the house this evening as Kiera has a class. It was now or never, so I did the 8 miles and the 6x200 easy strides on dirt.

I definitely felt better after the run, but then it was right off to work again. I'm short on time today, but I hope to share how I am tackling Lydiard's "track/anaerobic" phase tomorrow. So far the week has started like many, with a long run followed by an easy 8 miler. Tomorrow is my first "time-trial", and while the schedule says 5000 meters, I'm weighing the possibility of making it an even 20 minutes instead. I like the thought of running the time-trials by time so I won't be tempted to track my pace as I do them with my Garmin GPS watch, focusing instead on the effort alone. We'll see how it goes.

I'll end on another Hall & Oates quote. "Baby if we can't solve any problems, then why do we lose so many tears?" Anyone who has found themselves having the same disagreement over and over can relate.

Training: 8 miles, 57:37, 7:12 pace, easy with 6x200 easy strides on dirt. Started rough, but felt good at the end.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Short weekend


One day off this week, but I tried to make the most of it. Work will be insanely busy for me from now until after Thanksgiving, with a 6 day workweek this time around then 9 days of work straight until one day off for Thanksgiving. I'll be coming in an hour earlier each day until after Thanksgiving too. I have a great job, but it sometimes requires me to suck it up and work a ton. On the plus side, I do get four-day work weeks all summer to compensate, so I can't complain too much.

The hills are done! My last hill workout was Sunday, and it occured without much fanfare. A client rode by on his $5000 Trek bicycle and I encouraged him to ride up the hill while I did one repeat, and after about 50 yards he couldn't turn the gear over and had to head down! I guess I was right when I supposed that some people wouldn't be able to ride up the hill I used for my repeats. I did a little longer cool-down so I could cruise by the junior high track to see how many footsteps equals 200 meters in striders. It turns out it's about 120, which is good to know since my track/anaerobic phase has one day a week with 6x200 easy strides, which I'll try to do on dirt.

After the run Haiden and I took a trip to the nursery to pick out some winter-hardy flowers to plant in some pots for the backyard. H got to pick several different kinds, and I'm amazed at how purpose-driven and decisive she can be. She knows exactly which colors she wants, and later at home she did a great job arranging her choices in the pots. We'll see if they survive the trauma of H's "help". The day ended with a birthday party for one of Haiden's friends, and both H and Finn seemed to enjoy themselves. They served pizza, which helped me fuel up with cheese for this morning's 22 miler. I even enjoyed a beer at home, only the second I've had since Haiden's birthday party 5 weeks ago.

Today's run was much like last week, I once again turned my GPS watch to a "menu" screen so I couldn't see how fast (or slow) I was running, so I could get a better grasp on running by "feel". At a little over 13 miles in I had a nice surprise when a runner in town who has read my blog (I think there are only two of these folks) said hello and introduced himself as he was running the other way. Wow, blogging fame has arrived! This encounter did give me a bit of a boost, and I really tried to concentrate and finish my run strong. The last 3 miles flew by, and I finished about 30 seconds slower than I did the week before when I ran without looking at the pace.

Today Finn gets fitted for his cranial band (helmet) for his plagiocephaly, which should be interesting. I will be on Haiden duty, so while I hope to see the whole process I might have to take Haiden for a walk if it takes too long (luckily there's a cool toy store in the same plaza). Then after work I'll drive 2 hours up to Phoenix to take my mom to a Hall & Oates concert. Yes, you read that right. I never said I was cool folks.

Training: 22 miles, 2:28:52, 6:46 pace. Felt flat in the middle, then great at the end.
Sunday: 11 miles, 1:31:43, 8:20 pace. 4x hill circuits with 3 minute efforts and 3x100 strides. Longer cool-down
Total miles: 96 for week 4 of 4 for my hill phase.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Running with friends

If you read this blog often, you've probably realized that I am a creature of habit. Same breakfast, same routes (mostly), same routine. God, how I love a routine. I do about 90% of my running alone in part so I can stick to a routine, and do my workout as planned.

Sometimes though, like today, I'll run with my friend Scott or a small group of people from my club, the Southern Arizona Roadrunners. I had a nice leisurely run with Scott, who was doing a 17 miler in preparation for the Tucson Marathon in December, where I will be running the half in preparation for my marathon in Phoenix in January. Scott is single, a lawyer, a baseball-football-anyball nut, and he is quite funny to boot. I am none of these things, so we complement each other well. We also have very different training philosophies, so we never run out of things to talk and argue about.

Unfortunately, this does mess with my routine. Running with Scott means driving to meet him, leaving later than I would otherwise, and having to drink my coffee and eat my breakfast while showering, shaving, and getting dressed for work. In short, it makes for a crazy morning. Scott, like most creatures, gets Saturdays off so his only concern is getting home in time for kickoff, while I have to go to work. I wouldn't put up with this for a run with anyone but Scott, but I still limit it to once a week or so.

Todays run was a welcome break in a pretty difficult week. My legs have been somewhat dead from the race last weeekend, and perhaps knowing this was my last week in Lydiard's hill phase I have been dragging. Thankfully, Finn only got up once last night, so everyone had a pretty good night's sleep. Next week starts the track/anaerobic phase, which coincides with my work getting busier. I'll be working 6 days next week, then ten days in a row before a day off for Thanksgiving. I'll also be coming in an hour earlier. This next phase will definitely be a challenge on its own, and when I factor in all the additional time I'll be spending at work, it's a little hard to imagine how I will manage it. Where there's a will there is a way though, and I've come to far to turn back now. Wow, two cliches in a row, I must be tired. Last hill workout tomorrow.

Training: 17 miles, 2:08:04, 7:29 pace

Friday, November 04, 2005

Good and bad news

First the good news: we found out our insurance will cover (most) of Finn's ridiculously expensive cranial band. I mentioned before that he was diagnosed with plagiocephaly, and that after visiting our doctor, an orthopedic specialist, Finn's physical therapist, and the makers of the cranial band (or kid's helmet designed to straighten out their head) we decided that the cranial band was the way to go. We were very worried about the cost, and I have to thank Healthnet for coming around and doing their job in covering it.

The bad news? Well, that lousy night I mentioned yesterday was due to Finn getting a cold. Yes, last night was even worse and I was on duty for the midnight and 3 a.m. grousing. Needless to say, after two fairly sleepless nights I could barely pull myself out of bed. I had that "hangover" type headache you get when your body is desperately telling you to go back to bed, but with an infant crying and Haiden demanding her pancakes it was all hands on deck.

I finally got out the door at 7:15 for the day's hill work, and once I finished the first repetition up the vise-grip had released my head and I was feeling pretty good. I pretty much stuck to "steep hill running", and focused on the usual- raising my knees high and straighterning my back leg at takeoff. Four times through the 13 minute circuit, with the usual 3x160 windsprints at the end of each effort. All in all it was a good workout, I finished feeling much better than when I began. Since yesterday's 18 miler was hilly, this makes 3 hilly days in a row, so tomorrow's 16 miler will be pancake flat and slow...I hope.

I read over yesterday's post and I'd like to clarify one point. When I said I looked like a runner, I certainly didn't mean to place a dividing line between who is and isn't a runner. I respect anyone who laces up their shoes and makes the attempt, whether it be for one mile or fifty. Body type, goals and/or acheivements have nothing to do with it. The point I was trying to get across was that running is changing from a hobby to more of a pursuit. I no longer feel like I'm just playing the role of a novice taking on double the burden of training that I'm used to and trying to survive it. Instead, I'm slowly gaining the confidence I assume those towards the front of the pack just naturally have, and I give no thought to lining up beside them and believing that I am in the chase along with them. And when I say I blame Arthur Lydiard, I mean that by following his program and all the miles, effort, and consistency it demands I feel I am changed as a runner. I definitely have more endurance and more resolve, and instead of imagining all the ways I could gradually back off the pace in a race before I die a thousand deaths, I think about what it will take to drop the runners around me. In short, I feel like training Lydiard's way has really helped me, physically and mentally.

Training: 10 miles, 1:24:19, 8:21 pace, hill circuits with 3 minute efforts plus 3x160 strides x 4, felt pretty good.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A runner at last


Daddy's "delicious milkshake" recovery drink, as made by Haiden

A rough night's sleep last night, even though we went to bed at 8:30, I didn't drift off until after 10:20. I know this because at 10:15 Finn started grousing in his crib and I hadn't yet fallen asleep so I went into his room and tucked him in. Finn then managed to wake up again at 11:15, then again at 2:30 or so. He's usually such a good sleeper, so this was kind of a drag. Kiera knew I had to get up at 4:30 to get my run in before Finn's physical therapy, so she kindly took care of the feedings. Still, it was a very restless, short night.

Today was 18 miles, and again, it looked like the hardest of the week, coming the day after a hill workout and two days after a 22 miler. For a change of pace I headed up the road into Sabino Canyon, where there's a paved 3.8 mile very hilly road. After trudging to the "top", where the road ends, I headed back down. It was still dark, but the dirt shoulders let me know where the road actually was.

At the bottom I stopped for a drink and to use the restroom, and I started thinking about calling it a day early and heading back to the house with just 10 miles covered. I just wasn't feeling motivated and I was certainly tired, but then by chance I turned around after washing my hands and saw myself in the full-length mirror in the restroom. I actually had my shirt off (which I never do, but I chose a long-sleeved shirt that was just too damn hot), and it was still dark so my modesty (when you're a hairy ape you call it modesty but really I don't want to scare any children who might be out) allowed it. Anyway, in the mirror the guy I saw had lost the remaining lovehandles that curse the Salkowski males, and he actually looked like a runner. Not a "Runner's World" cover model mind you, but with the cheekbones, wrinkles around the eyes from squinting into the early morning sun, and the kind of leg muscles that look like you could actually do something with...like run, really far. It kind of hits me, running has become something more than a hobby for me. I'm on week 16 of 26 weeks of training, half of my running is done in the dark, I spend three days a week running up a hill many couldn't bicycle up, and I pester my wife to only buy "whole wheat" cereal. Something has changed in me, and I blame Arthur Lydiard.

After that simple realization there didn't seem to be a choice- I take the long loop, end up with 17.5 miles, and do a quick out-and-back to make it an even 18. Losing the last 8 miles probably wouldn't have hurt, but I feel good for sticking it out. I do hope to get more rest before running up those hills tomorrow.

Training: 18 miles, 2:08:14, 7:08 pace, very hilly

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Back on the hill

My first hill workout of my last hill phase week was today, and it was a bit tough after yesterday's 22 miler. I mentioned the three different hill exercises before; steep-hill running, hill bounding, and hill springing. Nobby mentioned that for a marathoner I would do well to focus more on the first, raising my knees high and powering off of a straight back leg with each short step. Since this is the last week and I've been at it for awhile, I tried to incorporate some of the bounding and springing motions on two of the four repeats. For this I tried to slow down the "loading" phase (when your knee bends as the weight comes down on landing), then springing up fast and high, focusing on ankle extension and raising my center of gravity with each step. If it sounds hard, you're right. I'm trying to get all the benefit out of this phase though, and after three weeks of heading up the hill my legs, feet, and ankles feel strong enough to change things a bit in this last week.

My warm-up and cool-down to and from the hill felt a little labored after yesterday's effort, and perhaps I still have a little of the race left in my legs, though my abductor seems almost completely healed (which is good).

I got a nice email from Nobby (my guardian angel and Lydiard expert), which emphasized taking good care of myself during this phase. He mentions all the good things runners should do-ice, massage, extra rest and easy supplementary runs (to remove waste products that will build with the upcoming anaerobic training), and a healthy diet. He mentioned eating a banana, which was funny as I just started making a smoothie-type concoction after hard runs consisting of OJ, cranberry/raspberry juice, yogurt, milk, blueberries, a banana and ice and was drinking it as I read the email. Haiden gets a small glass for herself and I drain the rest of the blender. She calls it her "delicious milkshake". Kiera won't touch the stuff, she doesn't like to drink bananas. I started craving this yesterday, and I usually try to listen to what my body is telling me. I'm also eating more eggs and fake sausage after harder runs along with some carbohydrate.

Nobby mentioned that it's rather easy to pay attention when things are going wrong with your running, but that runners seldom pay their training the same mind when things are going well. How often do you hear of an athlete turning in a few stellar performances, only to end up injured soon after? I hear it quite a bit, and I blame the siren song of "feeling good" and pushing a little too much. I've done it myself, running hills the day after I caught either a touch of food poisoning or a stomache virus. "Have the courage to take a day off", he says, if the need arises. "You don't want to be the fittest person (in) the stands." Wise words indeed.

Training: 10 miles, 1:24:46, 8:29 pace, 4 hill circuits with 3 minute efforts, 13 minutes a circuit

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

22 miles, now how many mini kit kats can I eat?


So Halloween was a big hit with Haiden, who got to do a little trick or treating on our street. For us it was a bit of a late night, and this morning's 22 miler weighed heavily on my mind.

I mentioned my inner-thigh, specifically my right abductor, was sore after the race. I could really feel it (along with the other one) straining a bit when I was sprinting to the line with John at the race on Saturday. I took the following day's hill work a little easier, running 10 instead of the usual 12 at the end of the week, and I followed up yesterday with an easy 8 miles. It definitely was feeling better, but I was worried about the stress of pounding out 22 miles three days after a hard race effort. I was also a little mad at myself for sprinting at the end, when what I should have done if I really wanted to beat John is drop the pace in the 9th mile (or at least not urge him on to re-join me when he looked to be on the ropes). As soon as I made the gesture, I should have given up on beating him and been content with the possibility of him sprinting at the end. My body just wasn't ready for such a shocking effort over the last 100 meters, and I guess I learned my lesson.

Oh yes, the 22 miler. Since I wasn't sure how I would feel, and since the wind was blowing hard east to west (which meant almost the whole second half of my run would be into the wind with the usual 4 miles of uphill), I decided to go solely by feel and turned my GPS watch to the "settings" screen so I couldn't cheat and see how fast I was going. The first half was a breeze (no pun intended but I was getting blown down the road), and the second half had some predictably rough spots. At the end I turned the watch to the "pace" screen and saw I'd averaged a 6:45 pace, which was another pleasant surprise.

So here I am, with my toughest workout behind me, working through the last of 4 Lydiard hill-phase weeks. The leg is feeling good again, with only a touch of tenderness (though it does hurt when I cough after a run) so I think I dodged a potential bullet. I will again take it a little easy on tomorrow's hill day, to make sure the leg is fine and to try to recover a bit before Thursday's 18 miler. Happy running.

Training: 22 miles, 2:28:36, 6:45 pace. Second half into the wind, a little tired on the uphill 4 miles but finished strong.