Sunday, April 30, 2006

My Training Partners


Nice people, but I swear I feel like I literally have to push them along to get through a workout.

Week 1 of my 4 weeks of anaerobic/coordination phase ended with a whimper today. 6 miles with the kids in the double stroller, including a quick stop for a muffin to go. Somewhere between 7:30 and 7:45 pace, though who's counting. I'll try to get out for 4 more, but pushing both Haiden and Finn is tough.

I ended up getting in my three quality days I had planned for the week, with a set of 800's, 14 miles of marathon pace, and one 5K time trial, though I ended up being tired for the time trial yesterday. I was hoping for more miles, but with Kiera suddenly heading out of town the daily totals for yesterday and today are a little short of what I had planned. The week ended up looking like this-

84 miles in 9 sessions, we'll see if I get in any more later today
4/30, 6 miles am., with both kids in the jog-stroller, easy
4/29, 9 miles, 1:00:17, 6:43 pace, 5K time trial in 17:05, 5:31 pace, & 1 mile 5:59
4/28, 11 miles, 1:20:45, 7:22 pace
4/27, 20 miles, 2:10:27, 6:31 pace, with 14 miles at 5:59 pace
4/26 pm., 6 miles, 43 minutes, easy
4/26 am., 11 miles, 1:19:11, 7:12 pace
4/25 pm, 4 miles, 29 minutes, easy
4/25 am., 7 miles, 6x800 with slow 400 recoveries, 2:31, 2:32, 2:31, 2:31, 2:31, 2:27
4/24, 10 miles, 7:13 pace, felt good

Next week ends with a 10K, and though I would rather take the first part of the week hard and taper off for it, with Kiera gone it won't be easy. I'm thinking I'll go easy tomorrow, then try to get someone to come over once the kids are asleep Tuesday night so I can get in a quality session in the dark. If that works, then I can do a track workout Thurday, which should tune me up for the 10K Sunday without leaving me too tired. We'll see how it goes, enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Training: 6 miles easy pushing the kids

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Crashing by Design

What the hell did I think would happen? Note to self: One easy day is not enough between a 20 miler with 14 at marathon pace and a 5K time trial at 7/8 effort.

It started last night after putting the kids to bed. I'm in the bathroom, absolutely dreading the thought of going out at 8pm for 4 easy miles. Kiera sees me wavering, and after telling her I'm just feeling too tired to run she says, "Well maybe that means you shouldn't run and you should just go to bed." Makes perfect sense when she says it. The anaerobic/track phase of Lydiard training is about gaining speed while maintaining endurance, so some of these extra easy sessions should probably fall by the wayside in favor of me feeling better on my hard, fast days. This is a tough phase for me, as Lydiard's boys seemed to be able to keep running twice a day even during the fast stuff. I'm sure their overall mileage decreased from their conditioning phase, but I'm not sure by how much. ...And I'm not them anyway, so I need to figure out what works best for me.

5K hard this morning did not work best for me. After trying to get to bed early, Kiera and I were up for awhile sorting out the details of what I have to do while she is away until Wednesday night. After that was sorted out, Haiden started screaming a bit, so we didn't really get to bed until 11. This made my 3am wake up call particularly brutal. With headlamp and Asics DS trainers I walked to the end of the driveway. I had just enough time for the workout- 2 miles easy, 5K at 7/8 effort, 1 mile easy, 3 miles at marathon pace, 1 mile easy. The marathon pace part isn't really Lydiard, but I added it because Lucas had it on his schedule and we were originally planning to do this together. That plan was scratched after Kiera's trip was announced but I decided to keep the workout anyway.

I'll keep it short, the workout sucked. My legs were heavy, my breathing labored, my pace slow. I gutted it out and just tried to go by effort, but running noticably slower than I had planned was really killing the joy. 17:05, or 5:31 pace. Hmm, that's about 10K pace, which is too slow for this kind of workout. After an easy mile I decided to cancel the marathon pace portion, mostly because this should be by effort and I just couldn't take the thought of my marathon pace effort being somewhere around 6:10+. Even so, I did run one mile at 5:59 pace, just to make sure I still could. The effort was definitely more than "marathon effort" though, so I called it off at that point and jogged home, arriving about 10 minutes before Kiera left to drive to the airport and just as Finn was waking up.

If I could do it all over again, I would certainly have waited until tomorrow to do this workout, but with Kiera gone it just wasn't possible. A 5K time trial while pushing two kids in a jogging stroller, while comical, would hardly be ideal. Part of the challenge of running as a married 34-year-old man with two young kids is making do with the time and energy I have left after doing the important things. Today I did crash by design, and probably if it had gone well it would have meant I ran too easy on my marathon pace run on Thursday. Hell, I'm too tired to figure it out now. There will be other days.

Check out Eric's blog and yell at him to get the race result up for the 5K he did today. I want to read about someone who didn't blow it. Hey, speaking of racing well and not blowing it, that reminds me- congrats to Marc on his 5K PR this weekend.

Training: 9 miles, 1:00:17, 6:43 pace, with 5K time trial in 17:05 (5:31 pace), 1 mile easy, 1 mile at 5:59 pace

Friday, April 28, 2006

I Want to See the Movies of my Dreams

"Easy" was the word today, as yesterday's word was "tough". I was so intent on running easy that I actually took the time to load the iPod shuffle with tunes from Built to Spill (see post title from "Car"), The Beatles "Revolver", Spoon (Austin band who has been trying to recreate "Revolver" for 6 years with some success), Wilco, The Replacements, Buffalo Tom...and who am I kidding, some Hall and Oates. Easy means slow enough to sing the Oates harmonies. Dork.

11 miles around Sabino Canyon and through some neighborhoods. For 9 miles it was pure pleasure, I got a little tired the last two but I strided in a bit on the last mile. The struggling musician I used to be comes to the fore on the few runs I do with music (once a month or so). It's the only time I can actually concentrate on the music, as it's impossible to do while the kids are awake and it's all NPR to and from work. From age 16 to 28 I was convinced I would be a musician, and so many of my own songs, finished and not, drift through my head when I listen to other peoples' tunes. OK, so I'm guilty of putting a few of my own on the shuffle mix, like this one.

I still dream of maybe getting a publishing company going, with all my free time (ha!) in the summer, writing and recording demo songs with garageband on my mac to sell to those unfortunate souls booted from American Idol. The one song I did sell went nowhere, though I was promised it would be used on the soundtrack for the ill-fated "Bye Bye Love" movie (when a movie stars Steve Guttenberg isn't it redundant to call it ill-fated?). They supposedly switched the format to all oldies at the last minute though, which is why I'm driving an 95 Jetta with peeling paint and no doorlocks instead of that yuppie Prius I've been eyeing.

Hmm, not much talk about running today. I do plan on 4 more easy tonight, then a quality session EARLY tomorrow of 5K hard, 1 mile easy, then 5K at marathon pace. This will be done in the dark at 4:30 or so, which should be interesting and difficult, hence the easy stuff today.

Training: 11 miles, 1:20:45, 7:22. "I wanna see it untame itself and break its owner" -Car, Built to Spill

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Marathon Pace Long Run Audible

As the title of this post indicates, I have no idea about what's going on. My original plan had a long run with some marathon pace, but I had been thinking of just doing the marathon pace stuff and saving the long run for the weekend to be fresher. Things change. My wife Kiera got some news from her family that requires a trip back home to New Hampshire, so she will be gone starting Saturday morning until Wednesday night. This leaves me to take care of the two kids by myself while managing to not get fired for having to take a few days off to do so. I have to work Saturday, but hopefully we can pawn off our daughter on some friends while our son stays at my brother's house (my mom will be in town helping look after their kids in his absence, so I guess the more the merrier). From post-work Saturday until we pick up Kiera at the airport Wednesday night, they're all mine.

I know you're not supposed to try to make up for missed workouts, which generally leads to overtraining or the overall quality of training suffering, but with a few days until Kiera leaves I'm forced to make some changes. Pre-emptive binge training it is then. Stack up the miles and get in as much quality as I can with the time I have.

With that in mind I'm driving down to the Rillito River path for 20K of marathon pace interwoven into a long run. 11 miles yesterday morning doesn't help, neither does the 6 last evening, and having to get up at 4 to fit the run in before taking H to school just stacks the deck against me.

So 20 miles, with a one mile warm-up, 12 miles of marathon pace, and 7 miles of junk afterwards to get the time past 2 hours. With my faithful timer/course measurer Mr. Garmin on my wrist I set off at 5am sharp, just as the sun starts to rise. After chugging along slowly for a mile I hit the "lap" button and accelerate. I keep the Garmin on "lap pace" for these workouts, so the cumulative pace for the whole lap (in this case 12 miles) is constantly displayed. If I run the first mile at 7 minute pace and the second mile at 6 minute pace, the Garmin reads 6:30 at the 2 mile mark. You get the idea. The plan is to keep the pace hovering right at 6 flat or just below. When I started these workouts last time around I was shooting for 6:05, so I am aiming to improve. The legs and lungs settle in about 3 miles in, and the first 4 miles slip by at about 5:58. The paved path turns to dirt and sand soon after though, and I start to have to dig in a bit to keep the speed up. It's getting a little tougher. I started a few miles west of where I normally do since part of the trail is closed, so I'm running into uncharted territory. The trail fizzles out, I'm forced through metal chicanes and now running on a small road across the river bed to where the path picks up on the other side. Normally this kind of thing is amusing, but at 5:59 pace it's just annoying. Soon after that I take the wrong route at a fork in the path and dead-end at some railroad tracks. Nothing to do but turn around, then take a sidestreet off the path to make up the distance. It's freeway/salvage yard/trailer park/junkyard dog hell road, and after about a mile I turn around and start heading back.

I'm starting to sweat, though it's only 50-some degrees. I check the watch and I'm 7.5 in, so I've got the upper hand. I just try to keep my stride straight on the sand, biding my time until I get back to the bike path. Soon I'm there. I start to think about stretching it from 20 to 25K, just to poke myself in the eyes. The absurd thought of a progression during those last added miles comes into my head. It's the madness of the marathon, surely oxygen debt will soon follow and I'll be cured of these thoughts. Sure enough, at mile 10 I start to feel my breathing. I've somehow shifted from marathon pace breathing to tempo pace, so the end is surely near. I do stretch it out though, making it to 14 miles before unplugging. 5:59 pace for 14. I get to the car and drink some gatorade, and I feel pretty weary. I do gut out the last 5, though it's mostly a death-march.

Now that it's over I'm happy with how it went. I'm coming up, and I just have to keep it that way. Maybe I could have gutted out that last mile to make it 25K of effort, but if I really want to sqeeze in another quality morning on Saturday before taking Kiera to the airport (this probably means a 3am wake up call) it's good to leave a little food on the plate.

Just how I'm going to train Sunday through Wednesday is still a mystery, but it will happen. Double-jogger for the easy stuff, maybe a chance or two for some quick quality work on the roads if I can drop off the kids (or kid if H is in school) at my brother's house. Unfortunately they already have 3 of their own so this might not happen. I'll figure something out.

Training: 20 miles, 2:10:27, 6:31 pace overall, including 14 miles in 1:23:46, or 5:59 pace
Yesterday pm., 6 miles in 43 minutes

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Where I Falter

Fall of 2004 I finally joined the Workout Group, where 40 runners or so meet for two "quality" sessions a week, on Tuesday and Thursday nights. As I recall, Tuesdays were faster, shorter efforts and Thursdays were longer efforts, like tempo runs or cruise intervals (which inevitably were run too fast). Over two months time I worked my way from the front of the second group to the front of the faster group, mostly because all the faster guys got injured. My racing fitness grew by leaps and bounds for the first six weeks or so, then started to stagnate. I got tired, my left adductor and other parts started getting sore, and a general training malaise gradually took over. Things got so bad that I eventually decided to sit out the Thanksgiving cross-country race and the Tucson half marathon, the last two races of the year. I had previously thought I was trying to peak for these, but it never happened. I peaked in late October and was done by Thanksgiving.

How many stories have you heard from runners on a track or cross-country team where they improved dramatically over the first month or two, then ended up either injured or stagnating by the end of the season? It happened to me during my one season of each discipline in high school, and I know I'm hardly the exception. Come into the season under-prepared, without sufficient base miles or endurance and add lots of speedwork. It's a good way to end up burnt-out or injured within a month or two. I ended up a little of both. It was time to learn from my mistakes.

It's taken me a long time to figure out what kind of training I respond the best to. Pete Pfitzinger's marathon plan was the turning point, more than a year before I found out about Arthur Lydiard. I was able to go from a 2:58 to a 2:47 marathon with his 18 week program. Endurance first, add tempo runs, add speedwork in small doses, add marathon pace runs...and voila, big PR! Use whatever tired analogy you want- "To build a house, you need a strong foundation" or the like, for me this kind of periodization just worked. In my opinion Pfitzinger owes his program to Lydiard, he just leaves out the hill phase and spells things out in a more concise, easy to follow format.

In short, I think Lydiard's methods of compartmentalizing the different aspects of running into specific phases works for me better than mixing things up. This could change at some point, and after enough years of adding to my aerobic base I could feel ready to add hills or speedwork sooner, or to do a bit of everything all the time. But for now I'm still interested in seeing this through, hopefully for the full three years I have planned (easy to say 9 months in). I like looking forward to each successive phase, I like the feeling of chomping at the bit to get to the fast stuff, and then hopefully following a steady arc of improvement once I do. This hopefully ends with me getting to the top of my arc of fitness for the cycle just in time for the marathon. At least that's the plan. There are many ways to skin a cat, and Duncan's suggestions that I posted yesterday (which has taken me two days to talk about) definitely have some merit and have worked wonders for him. As for me, Lydiard's approach has thus far kept me interested and excited about running as well as relatively injury free, which is most of the battle. Of course, dropping all of my PR's has been a nice side benefit. I do tend to be dogmatic about Lydiard training, in part because I see so many athletes jumping ship from one program to another without ever seeing any one method through long enough to get the full benefit. I think Daniels, Pfitzinger, and many other programs would all really benefit runners more if they were just a little more patient. Lydiard's training can be particularly agonizing if you aren't patient, as most of the benefits come together at the last instant if you're doing it right. Hopefully I can be in this camp come June 4.

I did run today. I met Lucas in Sabino Canyon and ran 11 today, though I probably should have gone slower considering yesterday's track workout and tomorrow's marathon pace workout. I also got in 4 miles yesterday after work, where the legs were pretty heavy.

Training: Today, 11 miles am., 1:19:11, 7:12 pace, another 6 miles planned this evening
Yesterday pm., 4 miles, 29 minutes easy

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

You Can Run in Ovals?

A few days ago I posted about my long term goal of breaking 2:30 for the marathon. Somehow I've managed to amass a few kind readers who offered some encouragement as well as advice. Never at a loss for words, Duncan offered a little of each. "...After this June marathon, become more of a critical thinker. You know your body better than Lydiard would have. Go with what works for you. Experiment more. Get out of WWLD. Push back just a tad from that damned dogma, science, and structure that seems to be so pervasive out there in the running world for reasons varying from altruistic to pure dollar greed. Am I saying to stop following Lydiard ? Hell no. You wouldn't do it anyway--understandably so. However, perhaps rely more on his principles and less on what he wrote on page 30, Chapter 6. Listen to your own instincts not what someone said or wrote for a large audience. Push the envelope. Along those lines, think about laying in your speed and hills sooner in your training. Consider mixing it up in parallel instead of laying the elements in serially. I'm sure some of your mentors may disagree with me or maybe I'm somehow quoting some vague prinicple of his which always seems to be the case here, like some sort of religious counterargument--I dunno. Screw it--to drop 9 more minutes you may have to become an iconoclast or grow in other directions to some degree: small or large. Perhaps not...but just think about it after June. You know yourself better than anyone else. Cliche' yes, but appropriate to close with nonetheless."

I honestly take this in the spirit I feel it is given, as I really like and respect Duncan, and in truth it echoes much of the sentiment I run up against when people discuss the merits/drawbacks of my training plan either online or in person. As far as getting my nose out of Arthur Lydiard's text and not training to a printed schedule for the masses verbatim goes, I think I'm on my way. I do use three different schedules by Lydiard as a guide (1964 Run to the Top, 1978 Running the Lydiard Way, and 1995 Running to the Top), combined with the lecture and "Introduction to the Lydiard System" I post on my sidebar. I think my log resembles the "spirit" of these schedules and principles without following any of them to the letter.

Simply put, here is how I try to implement and distill Lydiard training in my schedule-

Conditioning phase: Roughly half the total preparation time, 7 weeks for me. Get your endurance first, it takes the longest to build, and you keep it the longest. Three long runs a week, the longest being at least as long time-wise as you plan spend running your marathon. Alternate easier days and harder days, all aerobic running. Throw in striders when you can.

Hill phase: 4 weeks, with three hill workouts a week with windsprints to build strength while maintaining endurance through longer runs on alternating days. Build strength and add it to your endurance.

Anaerobic/track phase and coordination phase: 4 weeks: I diverge a bit from Lydiard's traditional training here. In his schedules he prescribes 4 weeks or longer of hard, anaerobic work. Repeats or intervals, time trials of 2 miles to 10K, and fast 100 strides every 200 meters or the like on alternating days. He follows this with 4-6 weeks of "coordination" training, including pace judgement time trials of 20K up to the full marathon, along with shorter time trials and workouts of 50-sprint, 50-float. I tried to follow this to the letter last time and I feel I was "oversharpened" or a little stale by the time the marathon came around. This time I'm combining these two phases and reducing them to 4 weeks (instead of 8-10 or so). During each of these weeks I'm planning a fast time trial (2 miles to 10K), a day of intervals or sprint drills, and a day of pace judgement 20K to 35K time trials.

Two weeks of taper and then the marathon.

It is Lydiard training, but I am adapting it according to my time-frame and my past experience (where I felt tired the last few weeks). Stay tuned for tomorrow's post, where I'll run off at the mouth a bit about why I like waiting to add strength and then speed separately.

Oh yeah, I ran on the track for the first time in more than 3 months. I met Lucas and the East Side Track and Altitude Club for a 6x800 workout at Sabino High School, which has the finest track I have ever set foot on. Most of the guys are a bit older, so the recoveries tended to be a little long as they regrouped, and they run half the workouts backwards (clockwise), which made things interesting. Lucas typically took the first lap or so with me tucked in behind, and I finished off the second lap. I think he ran every first 400 at exactly 1:16, which made for a very smooth workout. 2:31, 2:32, 2:31, 2:31, 2:31, 2:27. I probably felt so good because the recoveries were long (close to 3 minutes for a SLOWLY jogged 400), but as a guest I didn't want to step on any toes.

Training: 7 miles, including 6x800 on the track

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Quickie

Kids are out with Kiera and I have a ton of chores involving dangerous tools and ladders to do in their absence, so here we go.

Last week, 4 of 4 of the Lydiard Hill phase is done. Here's how it went down-
M: 9 miles, hill circuits
T: 16 miles
W: 9 miles of hill circuits am., 6 miles easy pm.
TH: 14 miles
F: 6 miles super easy
S: 7 miles, with a cross country 5K in 17:31
SU: 22 miles, including 9 miles of Phoneline trail
Total: 89 miles in 8 sessions

Week one of my anaerobic/coordination phase should go down something like this:
M: 10 miles (did this today with Lucas, around 7:13 pace)
T: 6 x 800
W: 10 miles am., 6 miles pm.
TH: 22 mile long run with 20K time trial (marathon pace or so)
F: 10 miles very easy
S: 5K time trial, followed by 5K at marathon pace
SU: 16 miles

Still haven't figured out the total miles, but it will probably be around 85-90. This is my first "faster" week, so I hope to be a little conservative on the intervals and perhaps even on the marathon pace. The goal is to ease into this faster stuff and to keep feeling progressively stronger for each of the 4 weeks of this phase. Each week will have a marathon pace or faster longer time trial, a shorter time trial (2 miles to 10K), and a day of either intervals (400-1600's) or a set of 50 sprint, 50 floats or the like. After this, all that's left is two weeks of taper and the race.

So that's the short story, now off to Home Depot. Handy man hint, bring your old smoke detectors along with you when you buy new ones so you'll get some with the right mounting holes. I did not do this and am paying the price.

Training: 10 miles, 7:13 pace, 1:12:00 or so, felt progressively better. Calves are sore, probably from the race, the trail, and the racing shoes with a lower heel height.
Total miles for the week: 89 in 8 sessions

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Overtime, Not Overdistance

New computer with a mug shot camera

Who says I'm not flexible? I had originally thought about trying an overdistance run for my long run today, though I figured I would do a few different loops in case I started feeling bad and wanted to come back after the usual 22. Five miles through my first loop I ran into Jason and Dave, who were part of the Dragons team that won the cross country team competition (they were kind enough to have me on the team). Jason took 2nd yesterday in the race by one second and he and Dave were running the 9 mile Phoneline trail loop I write about sometimes. I decided to tag along, and we had lots of time to talk about the race and training in general.

75 minutes or so later we were back at the visitor's center, where I said goodbye and continued on. With 14 miles in the bank I had already been out for a long time (it's slow going on the Phoneline trail with all the elevation gain and rough footing), so I figured I would just settle for the usual 22 miles, although it would definitely take me longer than usual. I had left a bottle with some gatorade on my car in the driveway, so I looped back and got a drink at 16 miles or so. It would have been really nice to stop at this point, since I was well over 2 hours into the run and the sun was already high and quite warm, but after running off at the mouth yesterday about having to be mentally tough I decided to stick it out and get the last 6 in.

Today should be a fun day, as Haiden's school is having it's "Family Fiesta", complete with a catered dinner and entertainment provided by the students. It's our first function like this, so it will be fun to meet some of the other parents of the kids Haiden has been torturing as of late. Kiera is also going shopping, so I'll have both H and Finn to myself for much of the day. If I'm feeling adventurous I might even take the two of them out for lunch. This sort of thing makes a nearly 3 hour long run in the hot sun seem easy by comparison! Have a good weekend.

Training: 22 miles, 2:48:22, 7:39 pace, including 9 miles of Phoneline trail with the road back.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dragons!!!

I had fun at the 5K today. I laced up my new, lighter Asics DS trainers (lighter than my Brooks Adrenaline boats with spongy insoles at least) and lined up alongside some of Tucson's fast runners without a single speedy workout in the legs, so I really had no idea how it would go. The plan: Get out fast but not too fast, get a good position, hold on for dear life and look for opportunites to move up.

The race went by in an anaerobic blur. We went out at a sensible pace, but mostly because we were running on sandy desert trails which don't lend themselves to 5 minute flat miles. I fell into the front of the second pack, and watched helplessly as the first group of 7 or so started to trail us off. It felt great to run fast, but the lungs and legs are not used to working overtime so I was pretty much at the limit when the first mile went by. Soon everyone settled in, and I was able to start clawing my way forward. I have some strength. I could tell this by the way I seemed to be able to pass people while clawing up steep hills on loose dirt or while sinking into deep sand thorugh the various desert washes on the course. It was only on the faster sections that I seemed to just tread water and not be closing on the runners in front of me. On the second loop, towards the end of mile 2 I passed another runner and found myself in 4th, though I couldn't shake him. I was faster through the tough stuff, he was quicker on the flats and downhills. We went back and forth a bit, then we came to the last big hill, where we ran up side-by-side and I surged ahead just after the crest. From there I just tried to keep my turnover up and ran it in hard.

I did finish 4th, though I only had time to run a mile cooldown before racing home in the car to get ready for work so I'm not totally clear on the results. Everyone else who stayed behind got to enjoy a potluck, a keg, and a great picnic atmosphere. Our team must have won the team competition, as our first 4 placed 2nd (Jason), 3rd (Dan), 4th (me), and 7th (Lucas).

The good: The team won, I can race in faster/lighter shoes and not kill myself, I felt strong (although I flailed a bit from the lack of coordination speedwork brings).

The bad: Positive splits (though that seemed the case for everyone given the course) of 5:29, 5:34, and 5:47 (update, I guess I ran 17:31, results are now online here). What's worse, I think I got psyched out. When I raced bikes, all I cared about was first place. Regardless of the pace, I would go with whatever strong move I thought would win the race and hold on for dear life. If I blew up and fell back, who cares, I was going for the win. Often I would make the move myself, even though there was always the risk of a counter-move coming and blowing my doors off. In running I just can't get there. In some races, especially when the Kenyans or some fast university kids show up, the leaders run away from me immediately and I have no chance of staying with them, even for a mile. That I can live with. Today wasn't like that. Today the three in front of me were just dangling within 5-10 seconds for the first mile and 10-20 seconds for the second. The three in front of me are certainly faster, all have 5K times that are well over a minute ahead of my best. When I got into the second pack and let them get away I guess part of me figured that's where I belonged in the race. BUT THEY WERE RIGHT THERE! So what if they're faster? Give it the gas, tag on the back and go for broke. So what if I blow up? So what if I get 10th instead of 4th and run 17:40 instead of 20-some seconds faster. Yes, my heart was in my throat but at least I could have tried to hang for the first mile. This isn't me saying I could have beaten any of those guys if not for my mental weakness and poor tactics, because judging by previous race times I'm not in their league. This is me saying I should have done everything in my power to put myself in the position to try to beat them, and in hindsight I probably didn't.

I can't get it back, but I can learn from it. If I want to run with the guys who have faster times, either they have to slow down or I have to speed up. I can only control one of those variables. The same Roosevelt quote I always go back to still applies- "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." Next time I go.

One last thing. This is where I'm supposed to keep my chin up and channel some "Lydiardisms" to make me feel better. I know I have lots of speedwork ahead, I know I will get significantly faster over the next 5 weeks. I know Lydiard training is all about timing your conditioning to peak at exactly the right time, and that those running faster at the beginning of the season will come back to me as I get closer to the end of my season. But the mental toughness should be there year-round.

Congrats to Angie, who PR'd on the same course today, as well as her husband Johnny, who had a good race despite wrecking his calf just in time for his next ultra.

Racing: 3 miles warm-up, 5K race, 1 mile cool-down

Friday, April 21, 2006

(Post) Boston Fever

My friend Jeff dropped by the gallery after coming home from racing the Boston Marathon for the first time. He dropped off a copy of "Duel in the Sun" by John Brant, a book that chronicles the epic battle between Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar in the 1982 Boston race. Although I'm only at the beginning of the book, something in the prologue really lit a spark.

"135 runners, for instance, virtually every one an American, ran the '82 Boston in a time of 2 hours 30 minutes or faster, the benchmark for a first-rate marathon. In 2003, only 12 runners, 3 of which were Americans, met this standard."

Many say, "If you're going to dream, dream big." I'm 3/4 through my first of three years of following Arthur Lydiard's training methods. I've gone from a 2:47 to a 2:39 marathon in that time. The goal now is to meet the benchmark Brant describes. Yes, I'm almost 35, yes my wife and I have 2 kids to look after, and yes, I do have a job. Sub 2:30 in 2008 or sooner.

It feels good to write it, though I'm sure it will be difficult. I'll be chasing the same dream Duncan, Eric, and Dallen are after, though I'm quite a ways behind all of them for the moment. Just looking at equivalent race times across the board for a 2:30 marathoner gives me pause. These are from McMillan Running, though the Purday tables etcetera are probably all around the same.

Goal___________Actual
2:30:00_______2:39, marathon
1:11:00_______1:12:58, half marathon (this PR was run on a course dropping 1000 feet)
32:00_________34:11, 10K
15:23_________16:48, 5K (this PR was on a hilly cross country course, I know it's too slow)

Will I hit all these times? Very doubtful, though it does give me some idea of the work I have ahead of me. As I've discussed here and in some emails with fellow bloggers, the improvements from this point on will almost certainly be more incremental in nature. Still, it doesn't really matter as long as I can keep moving forward.

So, 150 minutes for 26.2 miles. I guess if 135 Americans could do it at Boston in '82, there's no reason Duncan, Eric, Dallen and I can't join the club too.

Training: 6 miles at 7:30 pace, nice and relaxed. Quad and adductor feel good, time to take a step closer to 15:23 for the 5K tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

No More Underdog

14 easy miles this morning after 6 last evening with the folks from The Running Shop. The top-outside of my right quadricep still feels a little strained, and I could definitely notice it on the uphills on the second half of my run this morning. While I struggled to run slowly (recovery pace) at the beginning, it became much easier to do so after 10 miles. I just didn't have too much spring in my step, but with another easy and shorter day tomorrow hopefully I'll feel good for the 5K this Saturday.

On my run I started thinking about my first Lydiard training build last fall, and how different things are this time around. It was much more dramatic to go from averaging around 50 miles a week to close to double that for 26 weeks. It was ambitious to try and knock 8 minutes off my marathon best. It was cool to finally win a race outright for the first time, and to see my times drop across almost all of the distances I race. I really did transform myself, not in an Oprah or movie-of-the-week way but in terms of how much effort and discipline I was willing to devote to a sport I love. Arthur Lydiard's training methods made it possible, but I did the work.

So now comes the sequel. The characters are familiar, the plot is a retread. After averaging close to 90 miles a week for the last build, I just can't up and double the workload anymore. It's lunacy to think I can shave another 8 minutes from the marathon in one go. I also have 17 weeks instead of 26, which complicates things further.

So it's time for refinement. Three years is still the plan, and I'm not even a third of the way there. Lorraine Moller, who coaches theWings of Mercury track club in Colorado refers to this as the "art of training" or coaching. I need to really focus now on just how each workout will lead towards my ultimate goal-incremental and continued improvements in speed, endurance, and efficiency. These will lead to lower times. Yes, I'm a training geek, but I prefer to call myself a student of the sport. My homework this week and throughout the remaining 6 weeks of training will be to figure out how to use Lydiard's principles and schedules to my best advantage, while still managing to be a decent husband and father.

It is tougher this time, mainly because things are shifting from just training harder (inevitable the first go-around with Lydiard training) to training smarter. And "smarter" is tough for a guy who can't even twist the cap on straight on the gallon of milk in the fridge.

Training: Today, 14 miles, 1:43:56, 7:27 pace. Felt easy at first, labored a little towards the end.
Yesterday pm., 6 miles, 42 minutes with The Running Shop gang. Felt very good.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Trust it

Today I bid adieu to Sabino Mountain road, where I've completed 10 hill workouts over the past 4 weeks. Four last runs up the hill, this time with all steep hill running and no bounding, as my right quadricep is still feeling a little strained from going overboard on the bounding Monday. I could feel it a little as I padded down the hill, but hopefully it will be fine. I did the usual 4 sets of 3x100 windsprints at the bottom of the hill as well, all the while thinking about how the real work in my Lydiard marathon program starts now.

If you're familiar with Arthur Lydiard's schedules, or if you have visited the links on the right side of my blog (the "Introduction to the Lydiard System" or "Lecture" liinks specifically), then you know how it works. The first half of the training cycle focuses on strong aerobic efforts and strength building drills, and the second half focuses on adding speed and pace awareness to the mix. I'm just finishing the first half this week, and running fast has always given me more trouble than running long or often so the second half makes me a little nervous.

The last 6 weeks of my preparations will focus on the fast stuff, and it starts out with a bang this Saturday with a 5K cross-country race, where I'll be a part of the "Dragons-Workout Group" team along with some fast guys from The Running Shop here in town. I plug these guys whenever I can because they take good care of me and really support the local racing scene.

Like a lamb to the slaughter I will go to the line of this anaerobic showdown with absolutely no speedwork in my legs, save for the windsprints I've done during the past 4 weeks of my hill phase. This is where trust and hopefully experience come into play. I looked back at my log to my first week of my anaerobic/track phase for my first go-around with Lydiard and some numbers give me comfort. 16:50 on 11-9-05. My first speed effort was a 5K time trial on a warm afternoon after a hard day at work and a run in the morning. On the smooth pavement by the Rillito River I managed to run a faster 5K by myself than I ever had previously in a race, again with no speedwork and 16 weeks of aerobic work behind me (and yes I know 17 minutes is still slow compared to my other times). While I was tempted earlier in the week to "stir the pot" and try some anaerobic training earlier than planned to get ready for the race, looking at my log, combined with a mildly sore adductor and quad has made me reconsider. I'm going to trust Lydiard and not jump ahead of myself. There's no telling how it will go Saturday, but if history is any indicator and I'm able to go easy tomorrow and Friday I shouldn't embarass myself.

Training: 9 miles, 1:16:00, with 4 hill circuits and 4 sets of 3x100 windprints. Last hill phase workout

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Time to Get Tough


I just couldn't resist posting this photo by Kiera of Haiden

Just under seven weeks left until the marathon in San Diego. It's the last of four hill phase weeks, and I'm starting to transition into Lydiard's next phase, where I'll be speeding up significantly. In an effort to ease this transition I'm trying to work in some faster running. Partly inspired by a nice quote by Pete Pfitzinger on Zeke's blog I decided to run my 16 miles today at a strong effort, finishing with two miles of marathon pace or faster.

The early miles went along easily as I ran through some of the hilly neighborhoods by my house and through the lower portions of Sabino Canyon. I worked my average pace down to 6:50 or so by 10 miles in, and just kept the effort steady through the downhill section on dog-poop trail then back up through the hills that routinely pain me during the latter parts of my 22 milers. At 14 miles I had averaged a cumulative 6:49, and it was here I gave it a go. I stepped on the gas on a slight downhill and tried to maintain a solid pace. I was looking for 5:55 or better, and as I finished the two miles I was happy to see a 5:36 average pace. Tempo is always difficult, and saving it for the latter stages of a fairly strong run makes it even tougher. While this run won't really help me for the 5K this Saturday (hell, it will probably hurt me), hopefully it will stimulate a response from the body, letting it know that it can still run fast when it's tired. This is tough training, but I believe it is necessary to improve. Just running 7 minute pace every day for 4-6 months is not Lydiard training, and I have to kick myself in the pants like this more often to get the body to improve and run faster.

As far as the body goes, I'm still feeling good, though my right quad feels a little strained from some overzealous hill-bounding yesterday. Tomorrow I'll probably skip the bounding portion of my last official hill workout and stick to steep hill running drills. Hopefully this will help to put it right before the 5K.

I also wanted to congratulate my friend Scott on his 2:42 at Boston, as well as my friend Jeff's 3:15. For those of you following Pfitzinger's training model, Scott got to this time through Pete's 55 MPW schedule. Congrats also to Mike and "Scooter" on their races at Boston too. I'm jealous of all these guys after watching the coverage on OLN yesterday.

Training: 16 miles, 1:46:43, 6:49 pace, with the first 14 at 6:49 pace and the last 2 at 5:36 pace

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hill Week 3 in the Books


After waking at 4 Sunday to get in my long run before the Easter festivities I headed out onto the dark Tucson streets. However, about 5 miles in I started thinking about how long everyone was going to have to wait for me to come home to have the egg hunt (which Finn would probably be napping through), so I looped back home with 6 miles done. This left time for egg-hiding and finding, Easter baskets, and a little coffee cake before another 14 miles in the sun. It was kind of an unorthodox long run, but 20 miles nonetheless.

Week three of four during the Lydiard hill phase went pretty well, with the now customary 95 miles getting covered in 9 workouts-
Monday, 6am., 4pm easy
Tuesday, 9 miles hills
Wednesday, 16 miles fast am., 6 miles slow pm.
Thurday, 9 miles hills
Friday, 16 miles, tough with Phoneline trail
Saturday, 9 miles hills
Sunday, 20 miles

Today I took to the hill for the usual 9 miles. My plan is to work hard for the beginning of the week, with 16 miles tomorrow morning and a second hill day Wednesday, and then taper off a bit Thursday and Friday for a 5K cross-country race Saturday. This is the last week of the hill phase, and I'll only be doing two days of hill repeats, but the hilly and tough race on Saturday should make up for it.

The family is doing well, and we had a very nice Easter weekend. My parents came into town for the afternoon, and we hosted them and my brother's family for a big dinner. Somehow I managed to gobble ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans with bacon, biscuits, cheesecake, some milkshake (hey, the kids were having them), and 2 beers. I know I went a little overboard, but I did skip lunch. Hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Training: Today, 9 miles, 1:17:00, with 4 hill repeats and 4 sets of 3x100 downhill strides. Easy on the strides as the adductor is still sore.
Yesterday: 20 miles, 2:25:50, 7:17 pace, took it easy
Miles for the week: 95 in 9 sessions

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Working for the Weekend

Working on Saturdays stinks. It seems like everyone else is out enjoying themselves, meanwhile I have going to work in the back of my mind from the time I get up. Holiday weekends are especially tough. I should have gotten up earlier to get in my third and final hill workout for the week, but with Kiera out fairly late I opted to watch TV and wait for her to get home instead. This meant leaving the rest of the happy and awake family for an hour and 16 minutes of hill running and bounding, when I honestly would have rather stuck around and goofed off with them. That's right, even running felt like work today, though I'm certain it would have been different if I'd gotten out the door before everyone got up.

This morning's 9 miles was pretty much a carbon copy of Thursday's run, which was identical to Tuesday's run. It's a comfortable rut though, and with the addition of running Phoneline trail two times in the last two weeks I'm starting to feel good about my strength again. When I finally start running fast at the end of next week I should be doing it on top of a good endurance base and a fair amount of strength.

Tomorrow is Easter of course, and my folks will be coming down from Phoenix to enjoy the day with ours and my brother's family. We have a morning egg hunt planned for Haiden (and Finn, who doesn't stand a chance against a 3 year old) in the backyard, so I'll need to get my butt out the door wicked early to get the long run in and get back in time.

If things go well I'll end up somewhere between 95 and 100 for the week (depending on when I get up tomorrow), and next week will see a mileage dip as I rest up for a 5K cross-country race. Have a good weekend.

Training: 9 miles, 1:16:00, 4 hill circuits with 4 sets of windsprints (slower windsprints with a sore right adductor)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Because it Says 16 Miles

The view from Phoneline trail, Sabino Canyon

You have to get up earlier than they do. You leave the house on foot to get in 4 miles before showing up at the trailhead that most people drive to. You run the Phoneline Trail, a little over five miles into Sabino Canyon, scrambling over craggy rocks and gaining elevation with every step. You run the road back down, where most congregate in the parking lot and pat themselves on the back for running the 9 difficult miles.

But not you.

There's still another 3 miles and change in the cards. Yes, the adductor is sore, and yes work is calling. But it says 16 miles in pencil on the calendar and today that's enough. Sometimes a buddy like Lucas even comes through and slogs the last miles with you just to keep you company.

Training: 16 miles, 2:04:38, 7:51 pace

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I Wrote That?

Cheerios? What else ya' got?

Back on Febrary 6 I wrote the following outline for my Lydiard training program for the June 6 Rock and Roll marathon in San Diego-

7 weeks of conditioning (2/6-3/26): 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 (3/27-4/23): 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 (4/24-6/3): 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
---------------------------------------

So it hasn't exactly gone to plan. I averaged just over 94 miles per week for the first 7 conditioning weeks, with a few more doubles than originally planned. Where I blew the mileage was in missing one long run (which still haunts me since I'm a freak) and a week at 86 miles when I eased off to run a half marathon. I did get in one 28 miler, but the rest of the long runs were usually 22 or 24. Also, my 18 milers were often whittled down to 16 milers in order to recover more. I spent some time at tempo and marathon pace, but I could have probably benefitted from a little more of it.

The hill phase is looking pretty close to my plan so far, although I did have to switch an easy run for one planned hill workout. My circuit is ending up 9 miles this time instead of 10, mostly so I can get Haiden to school on time. I am happy with the speeds I've been running on the longer days here, and I've managed to keep the mileage right around 95 through some family turmoil and illness. I decided not to do the 7 mile race this Saturday so the third (this week) will look like the first two, but I will be doing the 5K the following Saturday which will mark the official end of conditioning/hill work and the start of speedwork.

The last six weeks are starting to concern me. I'm hoping my body is ready to start right in on marathon pace work along with shorter, faster speedwork the week after next. Unfortunately with the 3 hill workouts a week and three longer runs I'm doing now it's hard to fit in marathon pace so I fear I'll be a little rusty. This is where I'm drifting a little off the standard Lydiard course, as most of his schedules would stretch this last 6 week block into 8-10 weeks. Time is of the essence though, so I'm making do with what I have while taking into account that I think I started to get a little stale before the marathon last time on a longer schedule.

So I guess that's the progress report and some scheduling nonsense for those who have forgotten or recently joined the party.

The Same Old Song

Back to Sabino Mountain for more Lydiard hill exercises, this time with Lucas along. The usual 4 repeats with windsprints at the end, the usual 9 miles in 76 minutes or so. My weeks are fairly predictable during the hill phase, with 3 hill workouts, three longer runs and one easy day, so there just isn't too much to write about.

I did meet up for six additional miles last evening with the gang from the Running Shop, which took 44 minutes or so. It was a smaller group than usual, which is kind of nice as our route usually leaves us fighting with plenty of cyclists coming in the opposite direction. With just a few of us it's easier to scatter around them and the usual inattentive college students driving while on their cell phones when they pull out in front of us.

I am still feeling strong, though I probably pushed the windsprints a little hard at first today. My right adductor let me know I should take the last set a little easier, which was fine. I'm scared to mention it, but the hill phase goes a long ways towards curing the various aches and pains that increased mileage usually presents. Maybe it's the increased range of motion or the strength gains, but my body has felt pretty well put together lately.

I wanted to wish good luck to Mike, Scooter and my friend Scott as they tackle Boston on Monday. I'll be watching.

Kiera has a get-together with some friends tonight so I'll be kid-wrangling solo, which I'm looking forward to since everyone was gone yesterday.

Training: 9 miles, 1:16:00, 4 hill circuits with 4 sets of windsprints
Yesterday pm., 6 miles in 44 minutes

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Don't Force it

Guilty as charged today of pushing the pace a bit. After a good week highlighted by a faster-than-usual long run I wanted to keep the momentum going into this week. Today was 16 miles solo, and I decided to go solely by feel and not check the Garmin for pace until after finishing. I knew I was off to a fairly quick start and I decided to try to keep working at a pretty solid pace for the duration of the run. I did have to work a bit harder to keep the same leg cadence at about 11 miles, where I turned and headed for home through three miles of uphill. Once back in the driveway I checked my pace and was happy to see a 6:44 average for the run.

Arthur Lydiard's right hand man, Nobby Hashizume, has warned me in the past about this kind of run. He advocates letting the times come down naturally on these midweek runs and not to force the effort. Still, it's hard for me to always trust my progress, and sometimes it feels good to move along the road. While I did run out of gas a little towards the end, it was a good day nonetheless.

Kiera and the kids took a day trip up to Phoenix today so I'm all on my own, which means I can meet with the guys from The Running Shop for an easy six this evening guilt-free. This will make 20 for the day, so hopefully I'll get some rest after for tomorrow's hill workout. Work is a bit crazy so that's it for now.

Training: 16 miles, 1:47:42, 6:44 pace

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"You Don't Want to Talk and I Don't Want to Listen"

My wife Kiera said this Sunday night as we lay in bed. Kiera's eardrum is still giving her trouble, which means she has to stay on her side for 15 minutes at bedtime while her eardrops work their magic. With drops in her bad ear and her good ear on the pillow, any conversation necessitates me talking very loudly. Unfortunately, the pain in my jaw I mentioned in passing in my last post turned into a very serious problem soon after, with my gumline swelling up uncomfortably. I just couldn't open my mouth wide enough to talk loudly so Kiera could hear me. It was so sad and the two of us were so miserable that it was funny. I spent Sunday night banging my head on the refrigerator, wishing the pain in my mouth would subside. Tylenol and ibuprofin worked for awhile, but by midnight I was in a fair amount of agony. Monday I ran 6 miles in the morning easy while the pain was at a minimum, then visited Kiera's dentist for an emergency appointment. I'll spare you the gore, but after enough poking, prodding and scraping the source of the infection was revealed and extricated. "You might be a little sore after this," the dentist said. He wasn't kidding.

Later in the day Kiera took the kids to the house her mother and stepfather are moving into from New Hampshire this summer. I ran there to meet them and got in another 4 easy miles, though their neighborhood has a few monster hills that help give them a nice view. By bedtime I was feeling much better and a good night's sleep thankfully followed.

As I've mentioned in the latest posts, I am feeling good. Even this unexpected mouth thing can't stop the legs. Since last week went so well, I'm trying my best to mirror it this week. This meant a trip back to Sabino Mountain today for my first of three hill workouts for the week. Not much to report, although after two weeks of hill exercises I'm noticing I have a better range of motion in my legs, which is allowing me to get my knees up higher. Like last week's hill workouts I managed four repeats and 9 miles, along with two sets of 3x100 windsprints slightly downhill and two sets of 1x100 and 1x200 slightly downhill.

I would like to squeak in a few more miles this week, but for some reason I seem to get stalled right around 95 miles. This just might be my body talking, and instead of fighting it and getting hung up on numbers I'm trying to focus more on just working hard on the workouts. The run Sunday was a nice surprise, and is hopefully an indicator that I'm finally progressing a bit. I hope so.

Training: 9 miles, 1:15, with 4 hill circuits and 4 sets of windprints
Yesterday, 6 miles am., 44:22, 7:23 pace, 4 miles pm., 29:27, 7:19 pace

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Beautiful


Haiden and Finn in the backyard

I'm all smiles today after finishing my long run and starting my weekend. Haiden is feeling better, Finn is getting a few new teeth but isn't too testy about it, and Kiera actually has a few minutes each day where her recovering eardrum doesn't ring. Even though I'm now battling what is either an infected area around a wisdom tooth or a sinus infection around my jawline, I'm handling it with some ibuprofin so it's not so bad. It's a good thing we have good health insurance.

After a solid week of training where I actually fit in all my workouts I was a little worried about the long run today. Lucas needed 1 hour and 45 minutes, so I decided to head out at 5am in the dark to get in 8 miles by myself before he showed up to run another 14 or so. While I started slow, I soon felt pretty good and got my average pace down to 7 minutes flat by the time I finished my first 8. Lucas and I then headed out on some different loops with lots of ups and downs, some trails, and some streets I'd never been down. I wanted to avoid my usual route (since I'd already covered it earlier), so while we ran into some unexpected uphills, we enjoyed the run nonetheless.

We were both feeling quite fresh, and I found the pace continuously dropping from mile to mile for the whole run. One problem with running by time, as Lucas does, is that when you do decide to crank down the pace and run fast you are rewarded by having to go farther than you planned! What was expected to be somewhere between 14 and 15 miles together turned into 16, and we finished the run averaging 6:37 pace. This, when coupled with my even 7 minute pace gave me an average of 6:46 pace for 24 miles, and I felt I definitely had a few more in me.

There was only one thing that could make the run even better than it was...Kiera's scones. As soon as I opened the door I could smell them, and I enjoyed two of them before the sweat was even dry. Even skinny Lucas had one and spent some time talking with Haiden as we ate.

So 95 miles down and I'll probably not go out to make it an even 100 for the week. I did get in all three hill workouts, plus a 16 miler and a 14 mile run that included the difficult Phoneline trail this week. Most importantly, I feel good. No, I feel great. With the opening of my lungs and the buzzing in my legs comes the opening of my mind. Things are happening. I am getting stronger and fitter, and that will make getting faster easier when the time is right. I'm going to run faster.

But right now, I'm getting off the damn computer to enjoy the weekend with my family.

Training: 24 miles, 2:43:20, 6:46 pace. I have the love for the run.
Total miles: 95 in 9 sessions

Saturday, April 08, 2006

No Vomit, But...

Haiden is sick again. I guess her virus the other week led to a bacterial infection. Last night she started crying at 11:30 or so about her ear hurting, and after ibuprofin and much sobbing she settled in our bed. I love my daughter, but she is an obnoxious sleeper! She makes the most of her diminutive size by spreading out in the middle of our queen size bed to such and extent that neither Kiera nor myself has enough room to turn over. This spread-eagle sleeping would be fine by itself, but it is accompanied by a grizzly bear snore that literally rattles the blinds. Yes, I know she's sick but come on! Kiera ended up on one couch, I ended up on the other with the blanket from Haiden's room, and our daughter slept peacefully until 6.

Any thought of me squeezing in my long run today intstead of tomorrow had vanished by the time Haiden started drooling on my pillow. Instead I got out for my third and final hill repeat day of the week, putting in 9 miles to and from and up and down Sabino Mountain road. I traded two of my 3x100 windsprint sets at the bottom of the hill for a 100 plus a 200 and the
adductors felt fine.

I'm still feeling strong, though I need to be mindful of my sleep after Haiden's episode last night and Finn's one hour crying standoff the night before. I took Haiden to the doc after the run and got her some antibiotics at Target, then waited for Kiera and Finn to meet us before I headed off to work. I'm hoping Haiden will be well enough to go to the spring carnival tonight, which should no doubt provide me with a balanced dinner before tomorrow's long run.

Training: 9 miles, 1:16:00, including 4 hill repeats and 4 sets of windsprints

Friday, April 07, 2006

I HADDly Know Ya'

A fellow named Rick posted this as a comment on yesterday's post-"I'm trying to break 2:40, pr of 2:44 in 2000. I've been running 100 mpw for 20 weeks of Lydiard base and combo of Hadd type heart rate training. Training for Gradma's Marathon eleven weeks out. I haven't switched over to the hill phase because I'm thinking I haven't got my 10 mile marathon heart rate down to marathon pace. I would like your input on if I should keep doing what I'm doing before switching or why switch at all until I get down to that marathon pace."

While I'm flattered that anyone would ask me for advice, especially since I've only fumbled through Lydiard training once, I am a little hesitant to comment. Lydiard and HADD training do have some similarites, especially at the beginning stages. Both methods focus on long, aerobic running for as long as possible before training the anaerobic system. I just read this document to try to get a handle on how HADD training differs, and one thing that stands out is what Rick said about waiting to get his 10 mile marathon heart rate down to marathon pace before getting into Lydiard's hill phase.

This is where Nobby might say "Don't pull on the plant too much to see if it has roots". There is only one day where performing at marathon pace is of the ultimate importance, whether you're following a 12 or 26 week program. While I like trying to spend a fair amount of time at marathon pace or faster, I know that what I consider that pace to be now will probably change by the time June comes around, hopefully for the better. The roots are there, I have 7 weeks of conditioning behind me to prove it, on top of the 12 conditioning weeks I did last fall. There will be plenty of time to test out (or find out) marathon pace in a Lydiard program during the last 8 weeks before the race. Varying longer time trials of 20K all the way up to a full marathon (if you choose) are geared towards pace judgement and realistic goal setting. Worrying too much about beating a certain time at this early point can be putting the cart before the horse. While I was definitely shooting to break 2:40 for the whole six months of preparation last time around, it didn't really come into focus and seem entirely possible until I was able to do runs of 11, 16, and 18 miles at 6-6:02 pace and not feel crushed during the last 8 weeks.

Also, if you're interested in following a whole Lydiard cycle for a June marathon, time constraints should force you into the hill phase now if you want to have any time left for the track/anaerobic phase and coordination phase, which is where all the training comes together. I'm in the middle of the hill phase now, and for the most part it is still focused on aerobic development, which should still fit into a HADD plan. Sure, hill exercises might get your heart rate a little high, but what's great about them is you can control the effort and heart rate simply by slowing down. The windsprints can be done several ways also, and they can be short enough to be over with before your heart rate increases too much.

The added benefits of shifting gears into a hill phase after 20 weeks at 100 miles is to build strength. I've found that lots and lots of miles without real intensity builds up endurance, but doesn't help much with strength. Hill exercises will help you maintain knee-lift late in the marathon, which will help you maintain good form longer. Steep hill running will also help you gain a more forceful stride, as you will learn to propel yourself more forward with each step as you straighten your leg at take-off (this naturally happens when running uphill but you can also cultivate it. These benefits should result in increased efficiency, which is what marathon training is all about.

So that's my long-winded advice, I guess I didn't hesitate that much. You can always email me from my profile too.

Oh, I ran today. Some of the Southern Arizona Roadrunners (my club) and a few fast guys from The Running Shop, including Lucas and more of our team for the cross-country race came into my neighborhood to run the Phoneline Trail at Sabino Canyon. I squeezed in about 4 1/2 by myself beforehand and ran home to make it an even 14. The weather here in Tucson is incredible these days, and a nice, steep run into the canyon was just what the doctor ordered. I'm still feeling good and actually looking forward to my long run this weekend.

Training: 14 miles, 1:48:48, 7:49 pace, including 9 miles in Sabino Canyon at a steady pace

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Just Like the Old Days

I feel good. All hell can break loose when I say this but I can't help myself. Four miles easy before dinner last evening gave me 20 for the day, and a good night's sleep led into this morning's second Lydiard hill workout of the week. Last night I re-read a bit of "Running the Lydiard Way" and thought about these words by Arthur Lydiard-

"As you spring up that hill, you arms, shoulders, neck and facial muscles should be relaxed. Keep your head up and looking ahead, with hips slightly forward, and legs driving down forcefully. Push hard with the toes, raise the knees high, and then apply body-weight resistance to the leg muscles as your feet hit the ground. Your progression up the hill will be gradual, not fast."

He wasn't kidding about progressing slowly up the hill. For me it's almost like running in place, with only the slant of the hill driving me forward. Each stride is maybe 12 to 16 inches at most. I take the "apply body-weight resistance to the leg muscles as your feet hit the ground" to be what Nobby has emailed me before about "loading" the leg with more body weight by pausing ever-so-slightly before pushing off with each leg. During the third and final minute of each of the four efforts I tried some more bounding as well, which is difficult!

The three days of hill work during Lydiard's hill phase really do break up the week, and replaces the monotony of covering the same loops over and over before work. I know that the efforts on these days are short, so running a fair amount of mileage the day before doesn't hurt me too badly. Running uphill also seems to bring to the surface the "dead spots" in my stride, and I'm able to work on trying to run with a bit more fluidity. In short, I like hills, and I look forward to some challenging ones I'll be facing at this race in a little over two weeks, where I'll once again be running on a team for The Workout Group and The Running Shop, my favorite place to buy running stuff. They even have the new Garmin Forerunners, though I have to wear out my old one first.

So 9 miles this morning and no evening run planned. I'm hoping to rest up for another good 16 miler tomorrow, and I might just do my long run instead if I sleep well and get up early enough to get back to take Haiden to school. We'll see how things go.

Training: Today, 9 miles, 1:16:00, 4 hill circuits with 3 minute efforts and 3x100 sprints
Yesterday pm., 4 miles in 29 minutes, last mile fairly fast

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Nothing Flashy

After a few scheduling setbacks last week I'm trying to get back to a set routine. So far things are going well this week, including a nice 16 miles this morning. I met Lucas in Sabino Canyon and we did a few loops around some neighborhoods, and we gradually worked the pace from 7:40-land down to 7:10 cumulative at the end. While the legs are feeling a bit "thick" from the Lydiard hill exercises, and there was quite a bit of wind and hills in sections, I never noticed the pace dropping as we continued, which is a good thing. For these runs I use a Garmin, but I set it to show just the average pace for the run. This way when I see I'm running 7:40's to start and I work it down to 7:10 or so, my mind usually reads it as me running whatever the pace says, even though I'm usually running quite a bit faster than the "average" towards the end (with 6:40's counterbalancing the earlier 7:40's). Confusing? It works for me.

I didn't run last evening, but I'm hoping to get out for a bit tonight. I'm finding that I actually feel a little better doing an easy evening run after a longer morning run and leaving the hill repeat days as singles. I'm not sure why this is, but since my evening runs are usually very slow and easy (and possibly useless at 4 miles or so) I'm just going with it.

Lucas won a 10K a week ago Sunday, and his victory, coupled with a discussion from a recent post-victory interview in the paper with another runner brought up the question of what to say when you win. Lucas chooses his words carefully and is very modest, so when a photographer was snapping shots of him after his victory he was imagining what he would say if asked about the race. It was easier for us to come up with what NOT to say-

"I wonder what would happen if I actually trained for this"
"I guess no one fast showed up"
"I was just training through this race" (this one shouldn't be used for winning or not winning, just like the next one)
"I just ran a (insert marathon/half-marathon/ultra here) last (insert week/month here) so I had no expectations"

I don't know, maybe it's just jealousy, or knowing that I'll probably never be in a position to get asked about something as elusive as a victory. Still, it's always fun to make a list. Give your competition its due.

Training: 16 miles, 1:54:37, 7:10 pace

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Looking for a Good Week

A view on the way down Sabino Mountain

After 4 easy miles last evening, I decided to keep things simple by not integrating a hill day into a long run this week. Instead, the rest of the week will be a plain-old alternating schedule of hills and long runs, which put me back on Sabino Mountain road this morning. A "typical" hill week for me should look something like this, with hill workouts ending up 9-12 miles or so- M: 12(double), T: Hills, W: 16, TH: Hills, F: 16, SA: Hills, SU: 22. I'll also try to work a few more easy 4 mile runs into some evenings if time permits and I feel like it. Back on October 12 I wrote the following about what I focus on during the hill workouts-

"As I poured over my copy of "Running to the Top" and Nobby's gracious notes on hill training last night, there was quite a bit of information to digest. I decided to take the same approach as I did with golf and focus on one element at a time. Lydiard describes three types of hill training; steep hill running, hill bounding, and hill springing. He suggests starting with steep hill running, then progressing to bounding and eventually springing as your condition improves.

I was set to tackle steep hill running and maybe some bounding. For the first, I was going to think about two things-
-Running slowly and taking short steps(to add resistance and avoid getting into an anaerobic state)
-exaggerate and maintain high knee-lift (hill running is meant to make it easier to maintain knee-lift more constant through a race)

For bounding, I was going to think about-
-back leg extension (getting my back leg straight at take-off to get "power and stride", and avoid running like I'm "sitting in a bucket"
-taking longer strides (like a triple-jumper)"

Last week I limited myself to just steep hill running as I acclimated to the increased range of motion (and the resulting soreness). I have to say I certainly wasn't as sore in the first week as I was the first time around in October. This week I'm incorporating 30-60 seconds of bounding into the three minute hill effort, most of it towards the end of the interval when the hill flattens out. I would say that bounding is more suited to doing on a softer surface like grass or dirt if possible, as there is quite a bit of impact force from the longer, bigger strides. The triple-jumper imagery Nobby suggested really helped me, as well as reviewing Nobby's Five Circles Lydiard hill phase DVD, which he's mentioned putting on their redesigned website when it launches.

I ended up with 9.25 miles for the day in about 80 minutes, so while I'm not accumulating more mileage than during my conditioning phase, I'm certainly pounding the pavement longer. I did the usual four circuits today, with a 3 minute effort up the steep hill followed by two minutes of relaxed running (with hopefully good form) to the top of the hill. I then run down gingerly (it's too steep for me to do windsprints down) and end the circuit with 3x100 windsprints, all slightly downhill on an easier grade. Then back to the base and do it all over again. The whole circuit is just over 1.3 miles.

My motivation is strong this week, and I'm hoping I start to make the same kind of gains I did during the hill phase the first time around, where my paces really started to drop on my longer runs of the week without any extra effort. I saw a little of that last week on my 16 milers, but the 22 mile death march at the end of the week still gives me pause.

Training: today, 9.25 miles so far in about 80 minutes, with 4 hill circuits
Yesterday pm., 4 miles easy at low 7:20 pace

Monday, April 03, 2006

Eight Days a Week

Apparently running from 8:30-11:30am in Tucson can give you a toasty sunburn, which I learned yesterday afternoon after looking in the mirror. After that difficult run I took it easy this morning and gave Kiera a break by taking Haiden in the jogging stroller for a muffin run. I'm planning another run this evening, either my first of three hill days if I'm feeling good or just four easy if I'm not. Since it's hard to run any of my three longer runs at a good clip while doing hill workouts on alternate days, I'm considering combining one day of hill work with a 16 miler, which might give me one extra day of the week to run at faster paces for a shorter distance. What I do tonight will determine that. As I've mentioned before, Lydiard training would be a snap if weeks were eight days long instead of seven.

Training: 6 miles so far, 7:50ish pace, easy with Haiden

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Meat and Potatoes

From the "Introduction to the Lydiard System" link on my sidebar-"The meat and potatoes of the conditioning period is the long runs, three a week. Many parts of your physiology improve as a result of these longer runs. The under-developed parts of your circulatory system are enhanced; neglected capillary beds are expanded and new ones are created. This increases oxygen transportation and utilization, thereby improving your Steady State. Also through aerobics training, your heart, which is just another muscle, becomes bigger and is able to pump more blood with each contraction and to pump the blood faster. Your lungs become more efficient, with increased pulmonary capillary bed activity, which improves the tone of your blood, allowing you to get more oxygen out of each breath. Blood circulation though out your body becomes better, waste products are eliminated more easily." Gotta love Lydiard.

Much of this is echoed in a fine article by Jason Carp in the May Running Times magazine entitled "Turn on the Power, Energy System Specific Training". Carp discusses the three distinct biomechanic pathways the body uses to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate). The chemical breakdown of this high-energy metabolic compound gives us the energy to move our bodies. Two of the three pathways are primarily for producing anaerobic energy; the phosphagen system, which powers efforts of up to 10 seconds for sprinters, and anaerobic glycolysis for efforts lasting from 30 seconds to two minutes. The most interesting for me was his writing on the third system, called simply "the aerobic system", which is the predominant energy system used for races lasting over three minutes. Like Lydiard (and many other coaches), Carp writes that "Since distance running is primarily by the delivery and use of oxygen, most of your training should focus on improving your aerobic system's ability to supply oxygen to your running muscles". How does he suggest going about this? "Long, continuous runs and a high weekly mileage." He adds, "Continuous running also increases the number and activity of aerobic enzymes and muscle capillary and mitochondrial volumes, which enhance your muscles' ability to use available oxygen to produce ATP." At the end of the article he does note that while training the aerobic system is the most import aspect of distance training, it is also necessary to train the other two systems as well for the best running performance. Lydiard incorporates the other two systems with anaerobic work and quick, sprinting exercises after the conditioning and hill phases of his training (although there are some windprints during the hill phase to ease the transition). It's a great article, worth the subscription price when added to the article on Lorna Kiplagat and Pete Pfitzinger's excellent "Essential Ingredients" series in his monthly lab report. Anyway, back to my running.

The longest run of the week is what I ended up skipping last Sunday when Kiera got sick. I was worried after I got sick yesterday that I might miss it again, so I made sure to eat a light dinner of pasta (which is all I could stomach), and climbed into bed at 8pm. When morning arrived (early as usual in this house), my stomach still had some pangs but my head was fine and I wasn't running a temperature. I decided to give 22 miles a go.

I started very conservatively, covering the first 11 miles at 7:24 pace, thinking I could always speed up if I was feeling good towards the end. Well, that never happened. My plan to avoid using a gel changed at mile 18 when I was feeling completely spent on the side of the road. It was either stop and walk, or eat a gel and see how it would go. It did give me enough of a kick in the pants to get home, but I still felt utterly depleted. My heart rate felt elevated for most of the run, which I attribute in part to the heat (it's warm here now and I didn't get out until 8:30), and in part to my sickness combined with the fatigue of a tough week. Still, I grinded it out at 7:28 pace, which is slower than I would have liked but better than no long run at all like last week.

So my first of four weeks of Lydiard hill training is over. With the tough start to the week I was faced with a choice: I had three hill workouts and three long runs planned, but only enough days for 5 workouts without putting either two hill days or two long runs back to back. I went back to my books and decided that covering the distance and putting the time in on the long runs was ultimately more important for my preparations, especially after missing a long run last week. So I ended up with 93 miles in 8 sessions, with two hill workouts, two 16 milers, one 22 miler, and one day of tempo work with 5 miles of effort. While I'm bummed I didn't get to 100 and that I didn't get in all three planned hill days, I'm not going to wreck my recovery by trying to drag through a few miles this evening. Recovery is the order of the day. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Training: 22 miles, 2:44:25, 7:28 pace
Total miles for the week: 93 in 8 sessions

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Body is a Cruel and Amazing Thing

Finally got to use my P.F. Chang's gift card from the Rock and Roll marathon (it expired 3/31) last night by bringing home takeout. Apparently my Beef a la Sichuan, "Twice-cooked with celery and carrots resulting in a crispy texture unlike anthing you are used to!" isn't agreeing with me. My last marathon owed me one more take-down, as I woke this morning with a very sick feeling in my stomach. It could be what Haiden had, but I'm blaming dinner. Perhaps the description should have added "...results in gastric agony unlike anything you are used to", but they'd proabably get fewer takers. Kiera stayed pretty much clear of the dish, especially the spicy sauce, and opted for the sweet and sour chicken.

Anyway, the last thing I wanted to do was run, but Scott was coming over for another attempt at his last tempo run before Boston. The order of the day was 10 miles, with 5 at 5:45 pace. I didn't want to let him down, so even though I had a pretty cold sweat going we headed out. The effort started with a lovely 2 slightly uphill miles with the wind directly in our faces. Immediately I was in the red zone, just trying to keep 5:48 pace or so. Scott and I took turns in the lead, but both of us were seriously suffering. We finally headed into mile three, which had a turnaround half-way through, and Scott backed off with a serious leg cramp. I ran on through the turnaround and slowed when I reached 3 miles of effort, which was ticked off at 5:53 average pace. Scott had stopped to stretch for a second, but ran back towards me at a good clip. I was really feeling like a bag of poo and hoping he would call it off, but he had started motoring. I tagged along, though after my one minute easy while waiting the body was really ready to quit. We pressed on, and Scott eventually gapped me by about ten yards. We were running solid 5:45 now, so I just hung on and maintained the gap. Finally we ran past our start line, and I ran enough extra to get an even 2 miles at 5:43. Scott wanted to make up for the ground he lost early and put in another 400 meters, which speaks to his tenacity.

When we finished, I was totally wiped out and could barely run at 8 minute pace for the last mile home. Once home, all I could do was lay on the floor. My stomach was still in agony and my head was now feeling thick. Try as I might, all I could get down was half a glass of powerade, which almost came back up.

No, I'm not done yet. 15 minutes to shower and dress, then off to work. I can barely keep my head from dropping to the desk, but I can't take any more time off right now. After about an hour, I walked across the street to the Starbucks for a pressed meat sandwich, bagel with cream cheese, and some juice and tea. I'm gingerly working my way through them now, but I'm not sure they will stay down.

Hopefully this is just a food thing, and I will still be able to salvage a long run tomorrow. The body is amazing. One minute I'm pounding out 5:43's, and only an hour later I'm shivering outside in the 65 degree weather, trying to walk across six lanes of traffic without falling on my ass.

Next week, come hell or highwater, no more tales of woe. I don't want to think about this past week, I'm just going to do what needs to be done and move on. I hope to have more time this weekend to dig into Lydiard's biography, and perhaps this blog will get back to training info and such.

Training: Today, 10 miles, 1:06:50, 6:47 pace, with 3 miles at 5:53 into the wind, one minute cruise, 2 miles with the wind at 5:43
Yesterday pm., 4 miles, 31:06, 7:47 pace