Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sickness, sleeplessness, and...schoolness?

Haiden goes to school

Frenetic and distinctively running-absent post. Kiera got pretty sick last night so I let her sleep as Finn woke up a few times. By the time I got out of bed Haiden was up, and Kiera still wasn't feeling well enough to deal with her. Haiden was also starting school today, so I had to be back early in order to meet the staff and make sure things got off to a good start.

End result, no run this morning. My legs are buzzing as I sit here, and my well thought out plan for getting in a 28 miler, keeping my other two longer runs, doing a hill day and running two faster sessions this week is quickly crumbling. I'll have to get out tonight, after the kids are in bed if Kiera still isn't feeling well, or right after work if she's better. One way or another it will get done.

Haiden apparently loved school, which was a great relief to hear. She goes back again on Thursday for three hours, and I hope to take her and watch for awhile.

Training: none so far (GASP!)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Week Three in the Books

Another seven days, another seven runs, another 100 miles. The past week ended up pretty much like the previous week, as illustrated here (re-arranged for comparison):

Last Week...............This Week
8 at 7:20................12 at 7:15
18 at 6:57..............15 at 6:58
12 at 7:01..............12 at 6:47 (Wednesday's tempo session)
15 at 7:21..............15 at 6:31 (Sunday's tempo session)
11 at 7:11..............12 at 7:16
24 at 7:38..............22 at 7:06
12 at 6:30..............12 at 7:29
100 miles...............100 miles

The good: More time spent at quicker paces, including two days of tempo work. I was also able to get in one solid hilly run and my long run was a little quicker, even with bonking.

The not so good: I'm still running a little tired, and I would have liked Sunday's run to have gone a little better.

Oh yes, Sunday. Lucas and I headed out to the half-marathon course we will be running in March for the tempo session I previously described. The goal was to run the first half of the course well under control, then run two miles at 5:45, two miles at 5:40, followed by two miles at 5:30 or so. A late start, a hillier course than I remembered, and warmer temperatures made the run fairly tough, and after sweating through the first 7 primarily uphill miles at 7 minute pace, neither of us were really looking forward to the tempo effort. Still, we were out there and thus gave it a go. We ran the first two miles at 5:50 pace, and Lucas began to trail off a bit. We decided to compromise and just try to get in 20 minutes, about the minimum amount of time that I feel is crucial for a tempo run to have any real benefit. We ended the effort at about 3.5 miles, which we ran at the same 5:50 pace. After striding out a bit and regaining our composure, I suggested we turn the session into a pair of cruise intervals, hoping to run the last few miles of the course at a good clip to simulate the actual race. After about a half mile of rest we cranked it up again and worked our way down to 5:30 pace on the downhill sections of the course. One more cruel uphill followed though, and the effort ended up being 5:39 pace for about another 1.75 miles.

All in all it wasn't that bad, and we did get in a little over 5 miles of tempo running. Lucas and I plan to run this race as part of a team for The Running Shop, our amazing local running store (where Lucas happens to work), so I think it was important to stick together for the run. Hopefully we will have a few more teammates to run with, and together I feel we can place better in the team competition than having each of us run alone.

Today's run started week four of my second Lydiard conditioning phase, and Lucas was nice enough to bike over and run with me. We covered a little over 10 and a half miles at a relaxed pace. Lucas runs by time and I'm a slave to mileage to the correct decimal point, so even though we ran for almost exactly 75 minutes, the .37 miles I didn't run to get to an even eleven will haunt me all day. Yes, I realize I have a problem.

Training: Yesterday: 15 miles, 1:37:07, 6:31 pace, with 3.5 miles at 5:50 pace and 1.75 miles at 5:39 pace
Today: 10.63 miles, 1:15:17, 7:05 pace
Total miles for the week: 100 in seven sessions

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Lydiard Love-fest

Nobby Hashizume asked if I would write a testimonial about how training with the Lydiard method has changed my running. After I emailed this to him, I thought it pretty well summed up my thoughts on Arthur Lydiard. It kind of sums up the first six months of this blog as well.

Open letter to the Lydiard Foundation:

I have been a fairly competitive age group runner for the last three years, training as best as I thought I could by reading articles in running magazines as well as utilizing books by some contemporary coaches. I followed various training programs for distances from 5K to the marathon during this time, and did the requisite tempo runs, long runs, and traditional speedwork that most "club runners" do. While I seemed to improve a little from year to year, my results were never consistent, I was sometimes injured and I often found myself at the starting line of a race without a clue as to whether I would perform well or poorly. I felt there had to be a better way to train.

After a poor marathon in June of 2005, I decided to follow a different path. I had read about Arthur Lydiard and his coaching techniques in a few articles, but I finally began to understand just what the "Lydiard Method" of running was after reading transcripts of two lectures by the coach that were transcribed by Nobby Hashizume. Something in these texts spoke to me in a way no other training article or book had previously. Here was a systematic approach to running that advocated a long view rather than any quick-fix for becoming a better runner. Years of hard work, carefully scheduled and adapted for the individual, rather than a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach that seemed all too common in some simple 12 or 18 week programs.

I was hooked. I bought Arthur Lydiard's "Running to the Top" and read it from cover to cover. I scoured the Internet for more information and interviews with Lydiard and the athletes and coaches who had benefited from his wisdom over the years. With all this information in front of me, I began what I thought would be a lonely quest to find out just how good a runner I could be.

I followed Lydiard's six month program for marathon runners with a goal of running my best marathon. While the workouts were difficult, I began to understand the purpose for each run, and how all the different training elements worked together. Instead of trying to pack speedwork, tempo runs, long runs, strides and strength training into each week in a "some of everything" approach, I slowly learned the true value of periodization of workouts. Endurance and stamina came first, acting as the foundation for supporting all the other elements of training. Hill work came next, which led to increased strength and muscular endurance. Speed-work and track training followed, and I found myself running faster at an easier effort as the legs and mind began to work together in harmony. Finally all the elements I had worked on separately came together as I prepared myself to race with time-trials and race-simulation efforts, as well as shorter speed workouts with less recovery to teach the body to deal with the stresses of racing.

When the day finally came for my marathon, I ran eight minutes faster than my previous best, and met a goal I scarcely dreamed possible by breaking 2 hours and 40 minutes for the distance. What's more, during the six months of Lydiard training I also improved my personal bests for the 5K (from 17:09 to 16:48), the 10K (35:51 to 34:11), the 10 mile (57:43 to 56:09) and the half-marathon (1:15:25 to 1:12:49).

More important than the numbers is the feeling that I'm finally on the road to real and measurable improvement in my running, and that I'm finally able to understand how each workout contributes to that end. When I get to the starting line I know that I am ready. My training mileage and volume have increased to levels I never thought possible, and I feel I still have years of further improvement ahead of me.

I will continue training with the Lydiard method because I feel it is in harmony with the way I want to live my life. Training like this requires optimism. It assumes that hard work, intelligently applied over years, not weeks, will bring about athletic performances beyond my preconceived limitations. I believe that Lydiard training can get me as close as I can get to my ultimate potential as a runner.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Riding the Brakes

After yesterday's tough run I decided to take it easy today. 7:30 pace was the order of the day, and I ran a bit on trails just to make sure I didn't go too fast. The goal was to end the run feeling better than I did setting out, but at 12 miles I think it ended up being about two miles too long for that.

Tomorrow Lucas and I are planning on a good workout for a half-marathon that's coming up March 12. We need to discuss the details, but it will probably involve running the out-and-back course and adding a few miles. I think we will run the first half easy, then press the pace to 5:45 for two miles, then 5:40 for two miles, then 5:30 or so for two miles. 5:30 pace should feel tough, but it should also still be an aerobic effort...just barely. The goal is to teach the body to keep accelerating throughout the race. It's easy in a half-marathon to get complacent and just run the same pace, the pace that feels just under "red-line" for the first two miles. In my case, a pace that feels quite difficult for the first few miles can start to get more comfortable as the body relaxes and finally opens itself up to the effort rather than fighting it. When this happens, it's easy to keep running the same pace, even though the body can be pushed a little further. I managed to "keep pushing" during the Tucson half-marathon in December and it helped me gain two places in the last two miles. Sunday is about re-creating this situation and teaching the body to keep working harder. An unintended possible side-effect could be pushing too far into the red, which would mean learning to back off soon enough before crashing and burning. I'm hoping this doesn't happen.

It's good to have the long run out of the way, and to only have 15 miles in one run separating me from another good mileage week in singles. Hopefully tomorrow will go well and end the week on a good note.

In family news, Haiden starts school on Tuesday, and Kiera is running with Angie tomorrow in Sabino Canyon. Finn is officially within the normal range for head shapes (3mm difference), so his space helmet for plagiocephaly is nothing more than an early childhood souvenir. I'd be a fool to complain.

Training: 12 miles, 1:29:50, 7:29 pace

Friday, February 24, 2006

Tempo+Hills+Long Run=BONK


Work was too crazy for me to post yesterday, but things have calmed down again. I'm a bit slumped in my chair, trying to fight off the fatigue of a tough long run this morning. My guess is that a day of tempo(ish) running, followed by yesterday's hilly run up the road and around in Sabino Canyon, followed by 22 miles today just pushed me a little too far too fast.

I'm not bonk-proof, at least not yet. This was a "legs" bonk, which in my opinion is better than a "lungs" bonk. I should have run my hill day earlier in the week instead of saving it until yesterday, as I could feel every step in my hips and adductors once I got past half-way. Hard, easy, hard, it's not rocket-science. If only life worked the same way. As everyone knows, when it gets hard, it usually gets much more difficult before the clouds finally part and we can crawl back up to even ground.

My body is letting my mind know when I'm up for performing well on a given day's run, and when I'm not. Even though I slept pretty well, I had the same feeling of foreboding when heading out today that I had a few weeks ago when my long run turned into a medium-long-run-meltdown. At my turnaround of 11 miles, I knew I would make it back, but I also knew it wouldn't be pretty. As I've mentioned before, there is a cruel stretch of about 4 miles of rolling uphill I tackle with 6 miles to go on these longer runs. It no doubt makes me tougher, but it's especially imposing when I'm not on a good day.

With 4 miles to go it was sheer toil-spittle on the chin, shirt off and wrapped around my waist, eyes crossed kind of toil. This is still not close to the "nearly tireless state" Arthur Lydiard talks about, but rather a "determined and stubborn" state I find myself in some days, while the mind is still stronger than the body. On a run like this, when you hit rock bottom and keep going, the body learns. It starts with your muscles screaming at your nervous system to stop. The nervous system responds by secreting chemicals into the muscles and the brain, telling both to shut it down. "Save yourself, it's not worth the punishment." When we say "no" to this and continue, the body will put up a fight but ultimately relent. This is when the body learns. "This fellow just won't stop, so I guess we should just make the ride as comfortable as possible." This hopefully leads to more glycogen storage and more efficient glycogen utilization, the body bracing itself for the next battle, this time more prepared.

It's not always easy, but it will get easier. This is only my second week of singles and higher mileage during this second Lydiard conditioning build. I'm still at the bottom, but hopefully the bottom is a bit higher up this time after going through all this six months ago. And like the Beatles said, "When you get to the bottom you go back to the top".

Training: Today, 22 miles, 2:36:17, 7:06 pace
Yesterday: 12 miles, 1:27:18, 7:16 pace, hilly run in Sabino Canyon

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

No Watch, No Key, No Brain

My friend Scott, who is training for Boston, asked for some company on a 12 mile run with 7 miles of "tempo" at 5:45-5:50 or so. These are tough runs to do alone, so Lucas and I agreed to be his training hacks. We met on the Rillito river path at 6:30, and while driving there with Lucas I realized I had forgotten my Garmin Forerunner (I am a techno geek), which is awfully nice to have when you are trying to run a given distance at a specific pace. Mistake number one. We met up and headed off, after I tucked my car key in the gel pocket of my shorts. Mistake number two. Since it was Scott's run we let him set the pace, and after about four miles we eased into the effort. Without any watch I was running purely by feel, which is something I should do more often. Unfortunately, this wasn't my workout, so when I started feeling good I think I inadvertently dropped the pace a bit too much. When you are a guest on a run, it's my opinion that you should act like it and follow the workout without jamming anyone else.

The truth was, Scott really wasn't feeling the love of the run today (probably due to some serious mountain running on a Sunday long run followed by serious weight-lifting yesterday). By the time we had turned around and finished a little more than half of the effort, we were definitely slowing down. We finished the effort and Scott's watch had us at 6:08 pace for the seven miles, which is respectable but falls more into the "marathon pace" category than a true threshold lifting tempo run.

When we finished I noticed I had dropped my key somewhere on the course, which stretched six miles. This meant a ride to Scott's house and a call home for Kiera to bring me an extra key. Want to tick off your spouse? Ask him/her to drive 10 miles during rush hour with two kids (one of whom should be napping) to bring your sorry butt a spare key.

In spite of my stupidity and Scott's fatigue, it was good to spend a fair amount of time at a faster pace. One reason I went back to base-building before my June marathon is to try to do more pace or tempo efforts while running a fair amount of miles. My goal for the next few weeks of conditioning is to run at least two days a week at significantly faster paces than my standard 7 minute endurance pace, and to run one day of fairly serious hills. So far so good this week.

Training: 12 miles, around 1:21 (no watch), w/7 miles at 6:07 pace. Overall pace around 6:45

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Did You Run Fast, Daddy?

tb1 asked about my diet, whether or not I eat anything special. I certainly don't have any magic diet bullet, but I try to be sensible. Lots of carbs, very easy on soda/beer/fried food, easy on the red meat. I love fruits and vegetables, though we don't have the latter enough during dinner. When my training volume goes up, so does my appetite and thus my food intake "volume". I'll still eat half a pizza after a long run occasionally, but the furnace seems to run hot enough to burn it.

We try to be a good influence on our daughter's diet, but kids have their own tastes. Fortunately, she loves green vegetables, and she adores fruit. If I owe my generally quick recovery to any food, it's probably the "special milkshake" daughter Haiden and I share after some runs. Lately she's been asking for it every day, which is just not practical. My answer to this was a rule I told her yesterday when she asked after a low-key 12 miles with Lucas. When she asked, I told her that "milkshakes are only for days when Daddy runs FAST." Now she's a sharp kid, but I was quite amused when I returned home today after 15 miles and she didn't immediately say "How about a milkshake?". Instead, her question was, "Daddy, did you run fast today?" "Fast enough", I told her. The recipe again-ice, yogurt, OJ, milk, cran-raspberry juice, blueberries and strawberries. This beats an expensive powdery-protein-shake anyday in my book. Haiden agrees.

Training: 15 miles, 1:44:31, 6:58 pace

Monday, February 20, 2006

Oh Lord, Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

While I'm patting myself on the back for getting on relatively well with my running, I fear I might be feeding some stereotypes and misconceptions about Arthur Lydiard's training. I'll tackle one today that's come up in the "comments" on the blog.

#1 Lydiard is all about high mileage, 100 miles a week minimum to do it right.

My interpretation, which no doubt has been shaped by Lydiard's books, Nobby, Lorraine Moller, Ron Daws and others, is that Lydiard is about finding your OPTIMAL mileage. I'm actually guilty of fueling the fire here by bragging about running 100 in a week. Arthur Lydiard ran up to 250 miles a week in an effort to find his mileage "sweet spot", or the point at which fatigue and potential for injury outweigh the aerobic benefits that running any farther would produce. His original athletes ran upwards of 100 miles a week at a "strong aerobic effort", then ran additional easy runs in a second session that didn't even count towards the 100. This worked for them, it may very well not for you.

Lydiard himself realized this potential mileage trap of following a strict diet of numbers for each day of the week when he noticed that his slower runners were improving their aerobic capacity at a faster rate than his elite runners simply because they were running for a longer period of time for the same distance. The miles, in and of themselves were not the key; Instead the physiological adaptations that took place during a given duration of running provided the benefit. In light of this, Lydiard switched to time-based schedules instead of cold, hard miles. Nobby has mentioned Arthur's reluctance to even publish schedules at all for a given distance, since inevitably they would be misinterpreted as the one and only way to do things, which from what I've learned about the man just wasn't his style.

What's important in following Lydiard's coaching is to find the optimal amount of miles you can run for the greatest aerobic benefit. Should you run longer runs or shorter runs? Both. According to Lydiard (and this is echoed throughout other coaching books) longer runs, especially for athletes training for the 10K & longer (see I pay attention Nobby) train the body to utilize more oxygen to feed working muscles by building mitochondria, growing and increasing capillary length and density, while simultaneously teaching the body to burn more fat and conserve precious glycogen in order to run longer at an aerobic effort. Wow, what a mouthful. Shorter runs, since...well, they're short, can be run faster, at a pace closer to a runner's aerobic threshold. The more time a runner spends at these faster (but still aerobic) efforts, the greater speed the athlete can hold in a race before becoming anaerobic, or the point at which the body cannot utilize enough oxygen to clear the amount of lactate the muscles are producing, which causes us to eventually slow down (or worse).

So how long for a long run? 20, 22, 28, 30 miles??? Nobby and I have discussed my particular case and have decided to run longer than the standard 22 mile runs I did during my first Lydiard conditioning phase. Why? Lets face it, I did die during the last 6 miles of my marathon. Also, I was able to handle 22 mile runs, plus an 18 and 16 mile run the same week without breaking down. There may still be a ways to go until I reach my particular sweet spot. This doesn't mean if I end up running 120 that any prospective Lydiard-follower should do the same. As Nobby would say, "Use what's between your ears".

The truth is you could run the Lydiard way on 30 miles a week if you had to. Would it be optimal? Probably not, but if experience has taught you that running over 30 miles in a week will immediately injure you, then by all means stay at 30 (but don't be afraid to test the water next time, as bodies acclimate well to training stress). Following similar logic, a runner like Eric, who got this whole ball rolling, might need more than the standard 22 mile long run to excel, and he seems to be feeling the same way. So should Eric follow Greg McMillan, Pete Pfitzinger, Jack Daniels or Arthur Lydiard in finding his ideal long run length and or pace? I think he should follow Eric. After all, who knows him better? Second to that, you can always email Nobby 100 times until he changes his address. It works for me. Kidding, really.

Finally, a Two-Day Weekend

After working so much for the past month, including 120-some hours in the past two weeks, I'm happy to announce I'm typing this from home. This is the second day of my weekend, and I'm actually not at work for it. The day started early, as Lucas came by at 6:15 for some miles. We ran about 8 together, but for some reason whenever Lucas was closest to the road cars kept trying to kill him. I guess this means when it happens to me along the same route it's not personal. Monday's are typicallly the worst as far as inattentive motorists go, as many drivers are most likely still shaking off their weekend.

The run started out quite slow, as we ran a hillier route than usual, but we gradually increased the pace and ended at a pretty good clip. My last four miles were relaxed, and I was glad to get home and hang out with the family. I'm not feeling too bad after 100 miles last week, even after running 24 miles yesterday. My back is a little tired, but that's pretty much it.

If you are interested in Arthur Lydiard and hearing what Nobby Hashizume has to say (which you probably are if you read this blog), check out his comment from this post. Nobby has been very helpful in looking after me since I've started following the Lydiard method, and he's been instrumental in coming up with ideas to make the most of the 17 weeks I have alotted in preparation for the June 4 San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon.

Training: 12 miles, 1:27:02, 7:15 pace

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Good Week

Seven runs, seven days, 100 miles. I haven't managed this often, and I'm patting myself on the back for getting all the planned runs and mileage in during the past seven days. Today was 24 miles, and I decided to meet with a group for 100 minutes of it, since I know and respect the group leaders. The whole run came off slow, but it probably ended up helping me more psychologically to be able to run the last four miles fairly hard and still feel fine. I met at the rendezvous point about a half hour early to get in four miles before the group arrived. I ran these warm-up miles very relaxed at about a 7:20 pace. I spent the next 13 miles with the group and quickly found my average pace slipping to close to 8 minute miles, which is almost too slow for me to run comfortably. Since it wasn't my run I just went along, enjoying the nice conversation as the average pace finally got down to 7:50 or so. They turned off to head back at my 17 mile mark, and I spent the next 7 miles getting my average pace down to 7:38, which I can live with considering how the rest of the week went.

Now, am I improving? Here's a pace and mileage comparison from last week to this week, with days rearranged for clarity's sake-
Last week........................This Week
8 at 7:17.........................8 at 7:20
18 at 7:16.......................18 at 6:57
12 at 7:12.......................12 at 7:01
16 at 7:23.......................15 at 7:21
10 at 7:16.......................11 at 7:11
22 at 7:06.......................24 at 7:38
10 at 7:19.......................12 at 6:30
96 miles..........................100 miles

Yes, the long run was slow, but aside from that the paces are coming down a bit in general, and I did have a nice 12 miles at 6:30 pace. The 8 mile days are strictly recovery, so I don't worry too much about those paces. In fact, I rarely even do this kind of comparison because the numbers can be misleading. Nobby had mentioned (when I was being hard on myself earlier this week) that he thought I was running faster this time around when compared to my last build-up, and I'm sure he's right without digging up all the stats.

Anyway, I've proved to myself that I can run the miles, so hopefully now I can work on running them better...without forcing it. Hope everyone had a good weekend.

Training: 24 miles, 3:03:24, 7:38 pace
Miles for the week: 100 in 7 sessions

Saturday, February 18, 2006

24-24-miles to go...

Kiera has a new camera

11 miles this morning leaves only 24 miles between me and my first 100 mile week in singles for this new marathon build-up. For psychological reasons I prefer getting the longest run out of the way earlier (my training weeks begin on Monday), but with the art show last week it just wasn't in the cards. I'm hesitant to speak too soon (since my run tomorrow is nothing to sneeze at), but this week has turned out much better than I thought it would.

I know my posts have been a bit bi-polar lately, but it really has been an up-and-down week. Nobby noticed this and sent me an email-"...it looks like your training is going well now, but here's a word of caution; professional attitude means not to get discouraged when going gets tough; AND also controlling yourself well within yourself when things are going invincibly well. Don't fall into the trap of thinking, 'Hey, look at me! I can fly!!' and get too close to the sun only to melt your wings and fall. Pay attention especially when things are going great."

With Nobby's words in mind, I'm making a conscious effort to start tomorrow's run very slow, which will hopefully make things a little "less unpleasant" towards the end of the 24 miles. I'm focusing on longer long runs this time around, as it seems that my body responds relatively well to this kind of stimulus without breaking down. I had planned three 28 milers, but Nobby has convinced me to cut it to two. A while back Eric asked why (see I told you I'd answer you!). The short answer...three years. I'm looking a ways down the road here, and if I go from zero to three 28 milers this time, it means 4+ next time, and then on and on. I'm trying not to "melt my wings" this first year, I still have a long ways to go.

Training: 11 miles, 1:19:06, 7:11 pace

Friday, February 17, 2006

Momentum

Another good night of sleep, and another good run. Work stress is diminishing, diet is improving...I'm afraid to say any more for fear of tempting fate.

18 miles at 6:57 pace, which was faster than planned after 12 yesterday at 6:30 pace. The legs are getting easier to pick up behind me, and a new pair of Brooks Adrenalines are helping to keep the muscles fresh. I'm close to the end of my second week of Lydiard conditioning, and if I can keep from falling apart on Sunday's 24 miler it will be a good seven days of work.

By no means am I close to reaching the "nearly tireless state" that a solid stretch of high-mileage, moderate intensity running should bring, but I think I will come around. Let's just say I'm getting less tired. While I was getting a drink at the fountain seven miles from home, I knew I had it in me to get back without too much trouble. This was the same spot where I desperately wanted to stretch out on the cement and fall asleep (or call Kiera for a ride home) last week.

It's a tired analogy, but a true one. I'm building a house here, and without a strong foundation the walls and roof will not hold.

Training: 18 miles, 2:05:10, 6:57 pace

Thursday, February 16, 2006

When the Love Finds You

Indulge me here, I don't get mushy often. Where are you when "the love" finds you? Maybe you've been working through weekends, not sleeping, and you've been feeling stressed. Perhaps you're moving slower and suffering more on your runs, and you feel you're not the same runner you were just a month ago.

Maybe something happens. It could be one big thing or several small things. It could be as simple as eight hours of restful sleep, staying in bed until 6, eating breakfast alone, then being joined by your wife while you sip your coffee on the couch. Maybe one of your kids wakes up and joins you, then the other coos from his crib and is happy to start the day together as a family.

As nice as this scene is, it's time to get out the door for a run in order to get back in time for work. For some reason, you bring the iPod shuffle along for the first time in months, even though your wife has co-opted it for her own runs and has loaded her own playlist. Once out the door, each foot-fall is quicker and takes you further than the previous one, and you find yourself really moving down the road without any noticeable effort. Maybe some of the songs (though much too slow for a running mix) remind you of your wife, the kind of woman who shares her valentine's day dessert without prompting, and your kids, who bring you more joy than you ever imagined possible. Maybe you even tear up, while still floating down the road, feeling grateful for the life you've stumbled into. Being able to run is the icing on a very sweet cake on a day like this.

Maybe, deep down inside, you start to feel that 2:40 marathoner you used to be, who seemed so far away just a day ago-slowly getting stronger, building himself up to be better than the year before. I'm a lucky man.

Training: 12 miles, 1:17:51, 6:30 pace

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Patience, and Free Speed


It's hard to be running slow while others are running fast, but I'm trying to deal with it. Arthur Lydiard's training is designed to get the absolute best out of a runner at a specific time, which in my case is 16 weeks from now. Until then, I'm just climbing the mountain, focusing on each footfall rather than looking for the summit (I should leave the climbing references to Duncan, he's bettter at them).

I'm feeling better today than yesterday, although I was dragging behind Lucas for most of the run. We ran up the road in Sabino Canyon, then back down again with a detour on the way there and back to get an even 12. This was my one "hilly" day for the week, although most of my runs have a fair amount of ups and downs simply because of where I live. I'm hoping to work on strength a little during these runs, and I'm trying to take to heart Lydiard's (and Nobby's) suggestions that it's better to have smooth transitions between training phases instead of changing abruptly. In a little over five weeks I'll switch to doing three hill workouts a week, so running up some steep stuff once a week now will helpfully make that switch easier on the calf muscles (and the psyche).

While reading Pete Pfitzinger's Lab Report column in the March Running Times magazine, I noticed a paragraph that seemed to explain what I'm going through during this second go-around of Lydiard contitioning. I've been a little worried about not coming around quickly (though it's only been a week and a half), and I found this in his paragraph titled "How quickly can you adapt?".

"If you are tired and stressed and your immune system is compromised, then you will not recover from hard training sessions as well as if you are at the peak of health. Improving lifestyle factors (diet, hydration, quantity of quality of sleep, overall stress level, etc.) will improve your ability to positively adapt to training."

This is "free speed", and I need to take this advice. I'm sure the stress of work, coupled with not sleeping and other unavoidable factors are making things a little tougher for me this time around. Hopefully I'm over the hump now, and while I'm still behind on lots of things (like reading everyone else's blogs), I can hopefully get back on track.

Training: 12 miles, 1:24:13, 7:01 pace, hilly run up Sabino Canyon road

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Coming Around Slow

Tough morning run after a late evening run. It felt like I was back to doing doubles, since I ran 8 last night because of missing a morning run while registering Haiden for school. Hmm, that sentence was quite long. Anyway, my planned 16 turned into 15 after a few unscheduled bathroom breaks. My stomache is giving me trouble (nerves), and for some reason my legs and hips just felt dog-tired. After running the first half at 7:15 pace I finished at 7:21 pace, so I was clearly running out of steam.

I was planning on starting more doubles this week, but since I'm still tired from last week and we will be entertaining Kiera's mom and step-dad for awhile starting tomorrow, doing evening runs would probably be considered anti-social as well as contributing to more fatigue. In Nobby's phone call he praised doubles as a way to loosen up the legs, which moves the blood around and contributes to better recovery. Arthur Lydiard obviously felt the same way. He was often quoted (by Ron Daws and others) as saying "Running twice a day sends the body a message." Unfortunately my body is sending me a message too-don't overdo things too much too soon.

On a more positive note, Nobby was kind enough to send me a copy of Garth Gilmour's "Arthur Lydiard-Master Coach" book. While I was on the phone with Nobby I was lamenting how while I thought I was getting better at interpreting Lydiard's training, I didn't have a very good grasp on the history of the man, his athletes, and his contemporaries. When I mentioned wanting to find the book, Nobby graciously announced he was sending me one.

I have just started looking through the book, and the pictures alone are amazing. The book also talks about just how giving Arthur was with his time and knowledge. He never asked to coach anyone, but he also never turned anyone away. Nobby, Lorraine Moller, and others involved in "Project Lydiard 21" are cast in this same mold, and I am most thankful for this.

Training: 15 miles, 1:50:08, 7:21 pace

Monday, February 13, 2006

School Days


Late post after a late run. I registered Haiden for preschool today, which meant standing in line at 4:45am in the parking lot of the school. Being outside at this time of the morning if you're not running is damn cold! It ended up not being so bad, as a faculty member mercifully let us in the building before six to grab numbers for our place in line. I was able to go back home for an hour, read the paper, then go back to do the paperwork.

Needless to say, this killed the morning run so I got in 8 after work. This is the last of my difficult days of work and life for awhile. The show is pretty much over, and Kiera is back in town so hopefully tomorrow things will be back to normal. This should mean better posts and a better attitude from me.

Training: 8 miles, 58:38, 7:20 pace

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Week One...Done

Whew, I thought my first week of real training for the San Diego marathon in June would never end. The running wasn't really the problem, it was more of a "no sleep and work all the time" test of resolve. Trying to run 100 miles at the same time just made things more fun.

Here's how things ended for week one of 17-
Planned..................Actual
M-22-28.................8, 7:17 pace
Tu-10.....................18, 7:16 pace
W-18......................12, 7:12 pace
Th-10.....................16, 7:23 pace
F-16.......................10, 7:16 pace
Sa-10.....................22, 7:06 pace
Su-12.....................10, 7:19 pace
Total: 98-104.........96

Lots of switching around, but I managed to keep the three "biggie" days, which Nobby reminded me was the most important part of Lydiard conditioning. Had one ruined long run after three hours of sleep on Thursday and one successful long run preceding 12+hours of art show on Saturday. I could have made today 14 for an even 100 if I killed myself this morning, but thought better of it, as it gave me more recovery and a chance to see the kids before day 8 of 13 straight spent at work.

My goal for the past week....survive. I ran slow, though not as slow as I thought I would. In general the paces are a bit faster than the first weeks the first time around with Lydiard training. Hopefully this is evidence of me finally starting to devolop a long-term aerobic base, and not just me running my recovery runs too fast.

The kids made up for the trouble they caused by sleeping through the night for two nights straight, which enabled me to survive yesterday's 22 miler (followed by the art show) and come back for 10 more miles and another day of work today. Sorry for the lack of posts, but work and having Kiera out of town for a few days (my mom came to stay and help with the kids) has kept me from the computer.

Hopefully some more thought-provoking Lydiard riffing in the coming week, and hopefully more miles too. I'm also hoping to catch up on all the blogs I've had to ignore for the past week.

Training: Friday:10 miles, 1:12:48, 7:16 pace
Saturday: 22 miles (finally), 2:35:56, 7:06 pace
Sunday: 10 miles, 1:13:10, 7:19 pace
Total miles for the week: 96 in 7 sessions

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Too Tired to Type

7 month old Finn was at it again at 3 this morning and he just wouldn't go back down. Since my alarm was set for 4:15 I gave up at about 4, which was coincidentally when he finally went back to sleep. This was supposed to be long run number one, and it was starting out quite rough. Work has been killing me the past two weeks, the kids have been sick, and it's been a little hard to fit everything in. Sleep has been sparse.

After eating breakfast I desperately wanted to go back to sleep, but since I still had another 16 miler plus this 22 miler to do by Sunday there wasn't much choice, especially since Saturday will be a 14 hour show day at the gallery, with me on my feet and frantic the whole time. This rules out Sunday for the long run.

It was hot and muggy this morning, so much so that I ditched the shirt at my first 3 mile pit-stop. My stomache has not been happy lately, and unfortunately now the landscape company managing the "Fairfield" development won't be either. I considered calling it a day, doing six then another six in the evening. The miles won't add up. Time to keep going. Down to the river path, still pitch dark, and finally a real bathroom, with toilet paper and everything. It's 6.75 miles. Too long to turn around now and call it a recovery run, too far to go to do the whole long run.

I make it out to mile 8, where the river trail is torn up while the city constructs a new overpass across the river. I turn around here and head back home into a gentle breeze, which actually feels pretty good. At this point I have that sick, clammy feeling and I just want to get home. Up the hills that take me back to my neighborhood, another woozy pit-stop in the same development, and finally back home.

I'm exhausted, but at least this only leaves a 12, a 10 and a 22-24 miler in the next three days. I had a feeling this first week back would be tough, and unfortunately working all but three days in February and the lack of sleep at our home isn't helping.

I'm sure I'll be back to my old self next week, once the art show is finished. I'm bummed I had to switch my 16 miler with my long run. It just wan't in the cards today. Sorry for the lack of colorful commentary, but it's just not in me. Hope everyone else's runs were better than mine today. There's always tomorrow.

Training: 16 tired, sickly, sleep-deprived, clammy miles, 1:57:47, 7:23 pace

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Pleasant Surprise

No, not like the time I found the wadded up $5 bill in the dirt on a run. Nobby Hashizume, who I quote ad neauseum in this blog telephoned me last night after corresponding for 7 months or so via email and letsrun.com forums. He had asked for my number in an email a while ago, but I was taken aback when he actually rang me up.

I was watching both kids, as Kiera was out celebrating her birthday with friends, so while I tried hard to concentrate on the conversation I wish I could have focused more on him and less on Haiden eating my dinner and coloring on...whatever. I was able to get Finn off to bed while talking to Nobby, which was no small feat.

I wish I had prepared more, as I had a million questions to ask him, but he was very generous with his time in responding to whatever I threw at him. I wish I had asked more about the Lydiard Foundation and its plans, but of course I'm so self-involved that I mostly talked about my training. Arrrrgh. Two things I did come away with was to try to work in more easy jogging at night if the legs are feeling tired, and to probably only do two 28 milers this time around instead of forcing three.

Nobby seems to be hugely into long-term development, much in the mold of Arthur Lydiard himself. It's often quoted that when Arthur saw a promising high-school athlete, he was much more focused on his or her potential in college or beyond, rather than simply trying quick-fixes to bring their times down in the short term with excessive intervals. I've mentioned it before, but I'll say it again. Three years. I'm willing to forego short-term gains for long-term development any day, if I think it will eventually get me closer to my ultimate potential (even if I'm old and gray at 37).

I look forward to talking to Nobby again in the future and asking the 1,000 questions I couldn't remember last night.

I had a nice run with Lucas today, covering 12 miles with some hills and dodgy motorists. I feel bad that I almost always add either a few minutes or a few miles to what Lucas has scheduled for the day, but I figure it will probably only help in the long run. Tomorrow's 24 miler may only be 22 depending on how I'm feeling, but the pace today coupled with running slower yesterday should hopefully get me recovered enough to muddle through.

Training: 12 miles, about 1:26:00, roughly 7:12 pace

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Oh, Now I Remember

18 miles of fun today. I'm back in Lydiard conditioning training, and I almost forgot how much it can hurt to get started on the long stuff again. I probably sabotaged my training with the 3 hour trail run on Sunday, which was supposed to be my last day of "marathon recovery". I still had some soreness in my legs from all the rocky ups and downs, and I was coming off another poor night of sleep. More than the three hours the night before, but still not very restful. Finn was up at 10 (Kiera fed him but I did get up), then Haiden woke up at midnight. I was in such a fog that I was convinced the crying was Finn again. I even made him a bottle before Kiera came out and reminded me that Haiden hadn't had a bottle for more than two years. Haiden went to the doctor and was treated for an ear infection, and although she doesn't like the medicine it's definitely made her more agreeable. After tucking her in, telling her about the three bears and singing "Twinkle, twinkle", she was asleep. Finn was up again at 3:30, and even though it's Kiera's birthday she fed him again so I could sleep until my alarm went off at 4:30.

A sloppy shuffle was about all I could manage, and while I was sucking exhaust fumes on the one mile stretch of River road my resolve wavered a bit when I thought about the mileage ahead over the next 17 weeks. Still, I made it back fine with just the ordinary aches and pains that a 100 mile week brings after three weeks of 50's and one week at 70. This week will be survival; putting the time in without much regard for effort or speed. Next week hopefully I'll be a bit more acclimated to the additional volume and will be able to put a few stronger aerobic efforts in.

If you want to see the art show our gallery is doing this week (which requires me to work all but 3 days of February), here's a link to the webpage that lists all 250 artists in the show. Each artist can have two pieces in the show, which adds up to a lot of work. I'm looking forward to being done with it.

Tonight is class for Kiera then a birthday party for her with her classmates. I'll help by staying home with the kids. Tomorrow is 10-12 miles depending on what I can manage. Sorry for the dry post, but I am a bit tired and over-worked at the moment.

Training: 18 miles, 2:10:57

Monday, February 06, 2006

So Here's the Plan

I thought laying out a rough draft of my Lydiard marathon plan for the June 4 San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon would make following what I'm trying to do a bit easier, so here's the short story.

7 weeks of conditioning: Pretty much 100 miles a week in singles, give or take 5, plus hopefully a few short evening runs. The typical week will look like this-
Monday-22-28 miles
Tuesday-10 miles
Wednesday-18 miles
Thursday-10 miles strong
Friday-16 miles hilly
Saturday-10 miles strong
Sunday-12 miles

The long runs will alternate in length for 7 weeks, something like 24, 24, 22, 28, 24, 22, 28 and the "strong" efforts are days when I hope to run close to marathon pace for part of the run. The hilly day will be...well, hilly of course

4 week hill phase: Mileage will drop a little, the hill circuit will be the same as last time, which was 4 circuits of 12-15 minutes of steep-hill running and bounding uphill for 3 minutes, running easily downhill, then doing sets of windsprints at the base of the hill. Two weeks will look like this-
Monday-22-28 miles
Tuesday-10 miles hills
Wednesday-1.5-2 hours
Thursday-10 miles hills
Friday-2 hours
Saturday-10 miles hills
Sunday-10x100 strides/windsprints

The second two weeks will each have a race on Saturday (a hilly 7 miler and a cross-country 5K) and an easy 1-1.5 hours Sunday instead of windsprints

6 weeks anaerobic and coordination phase and taper: Shorter timeframe for this, as I think I carried on with the hard stuff too long before my last marathon. The details of this phase are still forming but most weeks will consist of the following-
one 2 mile to 5K time trial
one longer marathon pace/tempo run (12-15 miles) or a race
one day of 50-sprint 50-floats or sprinting 100 every 200
one 2 hour plus long run

I'll also do one 20+ mile marathon pace run three weeks before the race, as well as a two week taper

Anyway, here's the outline, I'm planning on posting a word document of it all on a calendar if I can figure it all out. With all this said, today started rough, with Haiden suffering an earache all night. This meant 3 hours sleep tops, with Kiera in Haiden's bed, me on the couch, and Haiden on the floor next to our bed. Not sure how this happened. Anyway, after running so long yesterday and not sleeping I only ran 8 instead of 10, so with one day of the plan elapsed I'm already behind. Go figure.

Training: 8 miles, 58:12, 7:17 pace

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Why Friends Don't Tell Friends They Blog

"Mike,
Its Scott, I never knew you had a blog. I have not read much, but I trust you told all of the beautiful female readers that I (1) was on pace to run a 2:20 marathon but stopped with a mile to go to help that stranded stray kitten, and (2) volunteer to help blind Iraqi orphans, that is when I am not training to defend my welterweight cage fighting championship belt. I also hope you did not tell them that I was rich, because that is just embarrassing, and besides it is better letting people think Al Gore invented the Internet - I really don't need the credit." -comment on "Running With Lydiard", January 27

This is the fellow I spent three hours with today running Bear Canyon in Sabino Canyon. I've known Scott since my and his triathlon days, through my and his cycling days, and now we both find ourselves chasing the marathon devil. I've written about running with Scott before (try the search function Scott, maybe you'll find it) and how we have different approaches to training but a similar respect for the hard work that gets results.

Scott is running Boston this April and needed 20 miles or so, and since I'm usually up for any kind of long run I was his training hack. Today was just over 17.5 miles, from my house, through the hilly, rocky trails up Bear Canyon, then back down the paved Sabino Canyon road. Talk about slow. The longer long runs I have planned give me pause after spending 3 hours running today. By the end, both of us were feeling the sting of the rocky, off-camber miles. Hungry and tired, it was nice to be done. This was my first time doing this whole loop, which is a shame since I live so close. I have newfound respect for trail runners like Johnny and Angie, who manage this sort of thing regularly. In fact, this weekend Angie finished her first ultra race, a grueling 50K, which is quite impressive. On her blog she writes about how over the past year she has lost over 60 pounds from suffering from gallbladder disease and running. She went from being unable to run half a mile to becoming a bonafide ultra-runner in a year. Huge respect.

Training: 17.5 miles, 3:00:52, 10:16 pace. No, that's not a typo
Miles for the week: 70.5 in 7 sessions

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Secret

Jonathan Beverly, editor-in-chief of Running Times, quoted John L. Parker's great book "Once a Runner" in his "Editor's Note" column at the front of the March issue.

"What was the secret, they wanted to know, in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that least profound-and sometimes heart-rending-process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes."

The same issue has an article by Chris Lear (of "Running With the Buffaloes" and "Sub-4:00" fame) on U.S. 5,000 meter runner Tim Broe. In the article, Tim recounts the longest injury-free stretch of his five-year professional career. He has been coached by Michigan's coach Ron Warhurst since 2001.

"But it was only after he was able to train consistently over the past year that he completely bought into what Warhurst was selling: strength kills. Proof came in 2005, when he ran two 3,000 five months apart under 7:45-without having done so much as a single track workout."

"...His recipe is remarkably simple: 90-mile weeks ad nauseum, with the following four elements each week: a tempo run, hill work, a fartlek, and a 90-minute long run."

Lydiard writes that there are no shortcuts to the top. I see echoes of that in both of the articles quoted above. It's going to take lots of time and lots of effort, intelligently applied, for me to get as close as I can to my potential. As I leave the luxury of two 50 mile weeks for the seven 100+ mile weeks of Lydiard conditioning ahead, I need to keep this in mind. Listen to the body, don't overdo things, don't get injured, and do it all early enough in the morning to avoid a divorce and to be with the kids before work.

Training: 8 miles, 56:59, 7:08 pace

Friday, February 03, 2006

Some Questions...

After my last post about starting over, I've gotten some comments from The Last Runner, Duncan(now THAT's a haircut), Dallen, and Eric (who needs to update his blog-that cute new baby boy only works as an excuse for so long!!) about why I'm starting over with a full Lydiard cycle, why I'm not continuing to try to push my peak by doing shorter races and cultivating my speed while I'm in form, and why I'm planning to do longer long runs. I'm short on time, so I'll get to the first two questions today and think more about the last one before replying.

Why start over now? Lydiard believed that athletes could reach peak condition two times a year and I believe this. That being said, summer in Tucson means no racing so if I want to peak by June I need to get cracking. The spring schedule has four or five shorter races leading up to the Rock and Roll San Diego marathon June 4, and starting over now would get me to Lydiard's track/anaerobic training for those "warm-up" races.

Why not continue with speedwork for awhile and try to crank out more shorter PR's? Everyone is different. Lydiard realized this with his athletes and adapted their training accordingly. Some can peak for months on end with a steady dose of fast workouts, while others reach their peak faster and will burn out with too much fast stuff. Quite frankly I'm tired of the fast training right now, and while I PR'd at 10K last Sunday, I really feel I would have run faster if the race had been a few weeks earlier, when I was fresher. In hindsight, I think perhaps my anaerobic/track phase and coordination phases lasted a little too long, and Nobby is thinking the same thing might have happened, which is part of why I'm shortening those phases this time around. Besides, too much speedwork does tend to push me towards injury, as evidenced by the new neuroma and the adductor/groin pain that came on when I started speedwork for my last cycle. I'm no expert, but I am getting to know my body, and I can only keep up the fast stuff so long before injury becomes a real concern.

Again, I've never claimed to be an expert, at running or at following Lydiard. Still, I hope this plan will keep me healthy and injury-free. Also, I hope by going back to conditioning and hill-work that I can better execute the workouts the second time around. Time will tell.

Training: 10 miles, 1:11:37, 7:10 pace. HILLY run up into Sabino Canyon in the dark

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Courtship Begins Anew

All my disposable income

It's a date. June 4, 2006 will find me on the start line of the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon, where I ran my last pre-Lydiard marathon. There is a 2:50:12 to avenge, and I have a 17 week plan sketched out with that purpose. I'm filling in the blanks, then hopefully getting some feedback from Nobby Hashizume, who has been invaluable in helping me understand Arthur Lydiard's teachings.

The first draft:
7 weeks conditioning, 100+ mile weeks with at least two 28 mile long runs, starting next week
4 weeks hills with at least one 28 mile long run
6 weeks anaerobic/track/tapering

It's not ideal. Hell, it's not even finalized at this point. It is penciled into a calendar, and is currently being typed onto an excel-based calendar (thank you Kiera for the template). From there it goes to Nobby, who will hopefully rip it to shreds and point me in the right direction. I'll post the plan as soon as it's closer to being finalized.

Training: 8 miles, 55:50, 6:58 pace

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Too Much


Spent part of last evening watching Haiden and Finn while trying to figure out my schedule from now until June. This just doesn't work. Finn is crying through his cold and Haiden is in my lap going through every weekly page of my "Far Side" calendar/training log looking at the cartoons. Wipe Finn's nose, come back to see all of March scribbled on with my pencil. "Thank you Haiden".

Kiera had class last night so the kids were all mine, and neither are feeling very well. In short, I just can't get things done. This morning Finn woke at 4, so after feeding him I donned the headlamp and ran 11 before anyone got up. Upon my return, I spread out the coming four months on Haiden's green plastic table (away from their bedrooms so as not to wake them). After getting a drink of water I sit down on one of the miniature chairs and pencil in one long run in May.

"Daddy, it's morning."

Since I'm done running so early and I haven't been around much with work as crazy as it is, we all decide to go out to breakfast. I have an idea of what will be next, although I will be hoping for some guidance from Nobby to make it happen. Stay tuned and it will be revealed...if I can just find the time. They're only young once.

Training: 11 miles, 1:16:37, 6:57 pace