Monday, July 31, 2006

One Way Out

There are two ways out of my particular corner of Tucson, and one of them is blocked by the storm runoff I mentioned in the post this morning. Three quarters of my runs usually follow this route, so now I'm stuck running pretty much in circles. After waiting hours for the rain to stop, I finally headed out around 9am for 8 moderate miles. I was forced to run some pretty steep uphills, including the second half of the Champions loop, and during these uphill sections my breathing seemed closer to the top of the aerobic scale. All told I ended up with 8 miles at 6:35 pace and another soaked pair of shoes. Tomorrow will be a bit longer and a bit easier, and Wednesday will be a serious track workout with Lucas. He's planning on 6x1 mile at 5:30 pace with a slow 400 recovery. I'm hoping to tough out the workout, but I'm worried I'm still not in good enough shape to do so. We'll see. Running in this obscene humidity should help for Chicago, but it's no fun.

Training: 8 miles, 52:45, 6:35 pace

Face Death or Run 4 More Miles?...hmmm

I swore I wasn't going to mention the weather, but I just can't help myself. Three days in a row of staring out the window at pouring rain and lightning with a run looming is a drag. This has apparently been going on for a week or so, though I was in Reno for the start of it. It starts raining at 4 or so and just keeps going most of the morning. Today I'm waiting it out so I'll write about yesterday's run through the elements.

Lucas and Jason met at my place for a long run, since Kiera had mentioned making her famous scones while we were gone. The rain was coming down in sheets as the three of us stared out the door from the safety of the garage, waiting for a break in the storm that never seemed to come. Finally I sauntered down the driveway to try in vain to get a signal on the Garmin. As I stood in the pouring rain with my GPS-clad wrist held out in front of me, getting soaked to the bone as the others looked on from the garage, I became acutely aware of just how sad it is to get hooked on tracking paces with technology. I know, just run.

When the Garmin wouldn't synch after a few minutes we took off into the storm, and after getting absolutely drenched the rain wasn't so bad. As we turned a corner onto a main road, Jason pointed in the opposite direction to the road he had taken minutes earlier to drive to my house. It was clear while he was on it, but part of it had become a raging river crossing, and through the rain and early morning light we could make out fast-moving silhouettes of large tree branches (thigh sized) being carried along in its wake.

Our run took us through countless washes, which are inevitable up here, and many were ankle high or deeper. Finally, at about three miles the rain started to ease, and coincidentally my Garmin started to track. We followed most of the Lucas Loop, though we skipped a flooded section at the beginning through overflowing Sabino Canyon. After traversing a longer leg of dog-poop trail we climbed a serious grade to add on the miles we had missed by trying to avoid the most flooded out sections. This nasty hill had to be run in both directions, and by the time we were three miles out from the house (14 miles in or so), Lucas and I were pretty tired. The heaviness of soaked shoes, which by this point were also filled with sand was evident, and as Jason took off to run a few tempo miles we just watched him slowly disappear in the distance.

With about a mile remaining of our looped run we saw Jason in the distance, stopped by the side of the road just before the impromptu "river" washing over the road we had seen at the beginning of the run. A sherrif's car was now blocking the intersection, turning back all cars, pedestrians and cyclists. By now the flow had slowed from when we had seen it two hours earlier, but it was still probably shin-deep. Jason tried in vain to talk his way through it, but the officer was having none of it. Our choices at this point were running another 4.5 miles of the detour route, or behaving like idiots and finding a way across the flooded wash downstream, out of the sherrifs view. Of course we chose the latter.

We backtracked to the first sidestreet south from our location and made it out to the wash, about a quarter mile south of the roadblock. The wash is probably about a quarter mile across, and separated the subdivision we had just cut through from my stucco-drone subdivision. Somehow Lucas, leading the way, had lost us in his overzealous quest to end the run and get home, leaving me and Jason to navigate the flood-waters on our own. We hung on to tree branches, looked for high rocks, and generally picked our way across three different splits of river. Many sections were knee-deep with fast-flowing water, and while I was only following where Jason had previously tread I was pretty scared by the situation. One slip would send me shooting down the wash, where with my luck a serious head injury would result. With frazzled nerved we finally reached the other side, but we still saw no sign of Lucas. After searching in vain for a drainage break between houses Jason and I decided to just hop a fence into someone's backyard to get to the main road. Luckily the house we picked was vacant, which we noticed after hopping the second fence to the front yard where we saw a "for sale" sign. At this point I stopped to dump about a pound of sand from my shoes, and we nervously ran the last half-mile home.

Jason and I both heaved a sigh of relief when we spied a drenched Lucas in the open garage as we approached my house. His river crossing had actually included a few slips, one of which sent him downriver 15 feet or so, where he was stopped by a tree. I guess I'm glad I followed Jason instead. While we were all fine, it was a harrowing experience, and if I had to do it again I would have just run the extra miles and saved myself the drama. Still, I have to say it did make for an interesting story as we retold the tale to Kiera over scones and coffee.

As I write this it's still raining at 6am. I should be back from my run by now and I've yet to leave.

Training; Yesterday, about 17 miles, 6:57 pace (not including the "adventure race" portion)
Miles for the week: a very mild 63 miles in 6 sessions

Saturday, July 29, 2006

When Dark Forces Gather...

When we left our hero he was about to leave for the airport to catch a 3 1/2 hour flight home, with one short stop in Las Vegas. He was due home at 5:30 pm but somehow arrived at 11:30 pm instead. Alas, his bag with all his running gear and his electric guitar were lost en route.

Upon finally arriving home after midnight, his son, running another 103 degree temperature, woke for the first of four times during the night. When young Finn woke for good at 5 our hero had a decision to make. Would he unearth a long-retired pair of running shoes and don his last remaining pair of shorts (affectionately called "the chafers") for the scheduled run through an unrelenting downpour, forsaking his sick son, his daughter and his overworked wife after an absense of 9 days?

The answer...was...no.

My wife took sick Finn to the first available doctor's appointment while I stayed home with Haiden, our 3-year-old daughter. While watching the rain we had a tea party and made play-doh birthday cakes. Now it's one more day of work, then three days off to re-connect with the family. With all the hell that was my travel day yesterday, combined with a sick kid and a neglected family, taking a goose-egg today doesn't feel so bad.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Travel Day

Back to Tucson I go, and I will be glad to get home. I'm happy I was able to run all but one day while in Reno, and I look forward to sitting behind a desk again instead of packing 50-60 paintings a day.

I spent my last evening in town relaxing with a movie, a beer and a good meal, and an hour or so watching the kayakers navigate the course set up by the city of Reno along the Truckee River. As the sun started to set behind me as I sat on a park bench, with my work finally done and no obligations save for peddling back to the hotel before dark. All week long I ran along this river, passing hundreds of people fishing, talking, or just staring at the water. Now it was my turn, and I enjoyed what seemed like an evening's vacation.

I got out for one more 8 miler today, where I tried to push the pace a little in the last two miles. I ended up averaging 6:43 for the run, which should take care of about half of the omlette I ate this morning. I'm due to get on a plane, so that's it for now.

Training: 8 miles, 6:43 pace

Thursday, July 27, 2006

More blah, blah, blah...

As if yesterday’s post wasn’t long enough. I wanted to add a few things to what I wrote regarding my approach to my next marathon. When I mentioned an obsession with mileage getting in the way of running at faster paces, I should have gone on to explain that my mileage will in fact keep increasing as I get used to running the faster paces.

I know, you’re looking at your keyboard in an effort to create a “hypocrite” emoticon. Rest assured, miles and mileage are still the foundation. “There is no far, only too fast” and all that. In the few instances where I’ve doled out advice based on my very limited knowledge, I’ve usually advocated running more often and longer, and to slow down if it doesn’t seem possible. I still stand by that, and I feel that in the long run it leads to better fitness and more consistent results, and that the paces will come down naturally if given enough time. I’m talking years here.

So am I putting the cart before the horse by worrying about the paces from the get-go? It’s possible, but since my last two marathons didn’t go exactly to plan I have to keep adapting my program until I find the answer that works for me. With things starting over fresh after the half-marathon on August 13 I do have a limited time frame to work with, so I think just running more miles and not focusing as much on pace in the 8 weeks or so I’ll have for the conditioning (or base) phase won’t be enough, which is why I’ll be trying to run faster that 7 minute pace daily.

I hope this style of running will follow more closely Lydiard’s 1/4-3/4 effort scale, with 7 minute pace being 1/4 and 6 minute pace being 3/4. I’ll also do some limited tempo work at 5:40 or so. My first Lydiard book (Running to the Top) didn’t have these efforts assigned, but most of his schedules from his other books do assign these efforts during the base phase. A generous coach helped me out by plotting these paces with the help of Jannsen’s oxygen consumption tables (I’m typing this offline so no link to his book today), and with enough work hopefully I’ll be able to run 10 miles at 6 minute pace without killing myself by the 8th week of conditioning or so.

I’m also taking a little different approach to peaking, and this stands in contrast to Lydiard’s schedules. In the past my miles have peaked during conditioning (8-12 weeks), then held steady or even declined a little for the hill phase (4 weeks), then decreased rapidly during the following anaerobic and coordination phases (6-10 weeks), all before a taper (2 weeks). This was strictly “by the book” Lydiard. I’m starting to think I lowered the volume in my training too early during my last two programs, when my mileage started decreasing halfway through. I think this is partially responsible for me peaking too early. I also think by shortening the duration of my runs too soon I lost some of my endurance before the marathon, which wouldn’t affect me in shorter races (like the 5K, 10K and half marathons I PR’d at around that time). This time my volume will keep increasing, all the way up to the taper. I’m also going to taper for closer to a month, which will hopefully bring on a sharper peak. The same coach who helped me chart paces helped me come up with this as well.

So there are changes afoot, and while I’ve never claimed too have all the answers I’m now admitting to having almost none of them. I’m a year into training now and I feel like I’m just starting. Still, I feel it’s important to learn from mistakes, and hopefully by this time next year I can brag about how well all of this stuff worked.

Training: 8 miles, 54:40, 6:50 pace

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tough Question

"It seems that both marathons you've gone out a little too quick and struggled home, and run well at shorter distances before or shortly after. This would seem to indicate you've been in good fitness, but perhaps not the marathon-specific form you've wanted.

So, what I'm curious about is do you think that putting the anaerobic work towards the end of the cycle works for marathon training? As you probably know one of Daniels' plans has you finish the anaerobic work 12 weeks out, and then switch to tempo/marathon pace running and strides for the last three months. The idea being, get your speed under you and then get efficient at marathon and tempo pace. I've seen Renato Canova on letsrun advocate something similar.

Another of the Daniels plans (and the one that worked better I felt) had anaerobic work every two to three weeks for 12-18 weeks. Little danger of peaking and doing a 5km PR off that!

On the massive Lydiard or Daniels thread there's a long comment on p.90 by Tinman that makes a similar point." -Evan's comment from yesterday's post.

Here's a little of what Tinman wrote: "In the case of the marathon, the worst thing you can do is overdevelop your anaerobic capaicty (more specifically your anaeorbic power). If you do so when you are aiming for a marathon you won't perform well. You'll burn carbs way too fast and you will erode aerobic efficiency. You'll be relying on your anaerobic capacity to provide ATP. For example, a 3 hour marathoner aiming for 6:52 per mile would use about 2-3% anaerobic, on average, as they run along IF THEY OVERDEVELOPED ANAEROBIC CAPACITY (instead of just under 1%, which is ideal for a 3-hour runner).

At about 18 miles the inefficiency of using 2-3% anaerobic will catch up with a marathoner and start to cause early fatigue. By 21 miles their pace will slow by 30 or more seconds per mile. They have burned up the carbs from their legs and liver. By the end, they fall apart, running a couple minutes a mile slower than their intended pace."

Hmm, did Tinman watch both of my races? I think Evan and Tinman both have a point- that over-development of the anaerobic system can work against a marathoner, especially if cultivating that speed comes at the expense of losing endurance. I drone on and on about balance, and here I go again. I think everything is important, aerobic and anaerobic, when it comes to marathoning. Invariably the anaerobic system comes into play during at least the last 40 minutes or so in the marathon if you really are running at your absolute limit. I believe that if you do it right, you are like a car at the Indy 500, where the engine conks out during the victory lap. Slow-twitch fibers (aerobic) work longer, fast-twitch (anaerobic) work shorter, but they all work during the marathon and they all need to be developed.

Why anaerobic towards the end instead of the beginning? When Evan mentions having no chance of peaking by throwing in anaerobic work every 2-3 weeks of an 18 week program he nails it. Lydiard training is all about peaking at a given time, and saving the anaerobic work until the end of the program almost guarantees a peak. ...Maybe not the right peak though.

Let's face it, I've run my best 5K, 10K, and half marathon within a month of the marathons I've trained for. Evan is right, I have peaked for the shorter distances instead of the 26.2 miles race I've dedicated all my time and effort towards. I don't blame the anaerobic efforts though. I blame myself for the way I've executed my training.

At the heart of the matter is what I perceive is a gaping hole in the middle of my training. While the "hard-easy" principle is tossed around with abandon by most (including me), I feel I honestly haven't done enough in the middle. I feel that my emphasis on mileage has somewhat crippled my ability to run regularly at faster paces. Someone trying to eventually break 2:30 for the marathon isn't running Lydiard's "maximum steady state" by tapping out 7:10+ per mile for 1/3-1/2 of his training. The meat and potatoes miles have been too slow to stimulate those fibers in my "mid-range", which is where marathon pace ideally should be.

Similarly, I've tried to absolutely kill my anaerobic work when I've done it towards the end of my programs, which probably has cost me some endurance (like Tinman says). Lydiard says the anaerobic work is the "icing on the cake" or "sharpening the knife-edge". In other words, a little goes a long way. Poke the bear and run, don't stick around and try to put a funny hat on him.

My paces (and mileage) over the past few weeks have reflected this new philosophy, which is still in Lydiard's mold. What's changed is that I'm more willing to run a few less miles if I can cover the distance in a closer zip code to marathon pace. I'm hoping this plan of attack will pay off, especially when coupled with a tighter control of how fast and how often I perform faster, anaerobic work towards the end of this next build.

Geez, dry post. I did my 3x1 mile repeats today in 5:30, 5:27, and 5:31 with a one mile recovery. The last one was a little slow because I had to jump through some construction fencing and dance along some rocks by the river where the path was closed. I was breathing pretty heavily, which I blame in part on the altitude. Well, off to pack paintings.

Training: 10 miles, 6:37 pace, 3x1 mile repeats in 5:30, 5:27, 5:31 with one mile recovery.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The New Routine

OK, I think I've got it now. Up at 5, down to the hotel lobby by 5:30 and out the door en route to the Truckee River path. Today was a pedestrian 8 miles, which was a welcome relief after yesteray's work day. My usual job is fairly easy at the art gallery back home, and being in charge of shipping 275 paintings in one week is a shock to the system. A day spent lifting and packing heavy, wooden crates, and stepping up and down ladders to retrieve giant, foam-lined boxes is tough on my delicate constitution. Running is much easier than honest work.

With the help of two others I probably packed 60 pieces or so yesterday, which leaves around 200 to go in the coming days. My back is sore, my abdominals ache, and my arms and legs are tired from all the lifting. I must say I am relieved that I decided not to run the San Francisco marathon at the end of this week, because I am sure I will be a total wreck by the time I return home Friday night. The one saving grace of my situation is the peaceful night's sleep I've been getting nightly. With no kids or wife around, and a decent air-conditioned room with blackout curtains, I've been sleeping solidly through the night, all the way up to when the alarm rings at 5.

Thanks for all the comments on my last post, some of them (especially yours Phil), were very funny. While the path is sketchy in spots it is nice to be off the main roads around here, and the shade the trees around the river provide is welcome as morning temperatures here are creeping up into the Tucson range.

This is week two of my four progressive weeks of lessening volume as the half marathon approaches. I have two more longer runs planned (probably 14 and either 16 or 18 miles), as well as one fast workout of 3x1 mile or 6x800 with long recovery. All in all it should look like last week without the vomit break. Work fatigue aside, I do feel like running under 7 minute pace is fairly easy again, and perhaps the reduced miles are to blame for this. Whatever the reason, it feels good.

8 miles, 54:40, 6:50 pace

Monday, July 24, 2006

Things I've Seen...

on the Truckee River path.
1. Two different couples having loud intercourse (seperate occasions, I'm pretty sure it wasn't the same couple twice unless they changed sleeping bags).

2. Group of five scary-looking men whooping, whistling and cat-calling as I ran past them in an underpass (these sections are the worst). I had to go back the same way, but thankfully they were gone.

3. A skunk with a strawberry yoplait yogurt cup stuck on his head, wandering back and forth on the path in front of me. Reminds me of a post Andrew wrote about these animals.

I had a wonderful afternoon off yesterday, and I spent much of it at "My Favorite Muffin" coffee shop, where I took advantage of their free wi-fi to message with Kiera and Haiden. My laptop has a camera and so does the computer at home, so it was nice to see them. I started worrying that I'd been gone too long when Haiden looked at the screen and said "who's that??"

Today my legs were a little sore from riding a loaner mountain bike around town (beats a rental car), but I put in another 12 miles on the river path at 6:49 pace. I've been running under 7 minute pace for awhile now, and it finally feels very comfortable again.

Any of you who read this probably know that I'm a creature of habit, which works well for Lydiard-based training. It's fairly repetitive, especially at the beginning stages, and having a standard routine makes fitting in the run a bit easier. At home it's up at 4, coffee, out the door by five. Here things are different, and unless I wander down to the casino below my room and spend $3 for some Folgers blend I'm pretty much out of luck. If I can survive 10 days without a pre-run coffee it will be an achievement in and of itself.

Training: 12 miles, 1:21:50, 6:49 pace

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Alive and Kicking

I'm still around, but the hotel I'm staying at in Reno for eight days charges $5.95 an hour for internet access. I've been in Reno working an art auction since Wednesday afternoon, and life has certainly been interesting since then. Thursday was my 35th birthday, and I celebrated it by throwing up all day. For some reason I decided to eat at the hotel buffet in the morning, and something did not agree with me. I started feeling badly fairly quickly, but I had to load a hot truck sitting in the sun with 275 pieces of art so off to work. We finished the first load and pizza was delivered to the gallery, but I was so sick I couldn't even think about eating. After spending some time in the restroom trying to throw up without success, I returned to the breakroom and was serenaded by the entire auction crew and surprised by a birthday cake. I should mention the air conditioning wasn't working in the gallery, and the combination of the warm, enclosed space of the breakroom, coupled with the smell of sausage pizza, the sugary cake, and the claustrophobia of so many people so close to me did the trick. I blew out the candles, thanked everyone, then ran to the bathroom to vomit my guts out.

I spent the afternoon trying to help unload and set up, but being so sick made it difficult. Finally, I went up to my room and threw up six or seven more times. The birthday boy, in underwear and socks, sweating on the hotel bed waiting for the room to stop spinning.

By the evening I was feeling better and was able to keep some food down, but a headache (probably from dehydration) made me wince through the evening and hadn't relented by morning so I skipped Friday's run. I did run 10 miles on the Truckee river path on Thursday, before the fateful breakfast, and I managed 18 miles on Saturday morning before the auction. This morning I ran 8 quick miles before reloading the truck and heading back to the gallery with all the pieces from the sale. Tomorrow I start shipping.

Running in Reno is a bit cooler than Tucson, but the altitude pretty much negates any advantage given by the reduced temperature. I'm doing all my runs on the river path I mentioned, which is also where all the homeless in Reno spend their time. The miles have dipped a little more than planned this week, and I may still do a second, relaxed run this afternoon if the temperature stays down. I'll try to be a bit more regular with the updates, as there are a few coffee shops around with wi-fi and I now have a bike to cruise around on.

I'm definitely missing the family in a serious way now, and I'm looking forward to getting back to Tucson on Friday evening.

Miles for the week: 68 so far
Mo: 9 miles, 6:53 pace
Tu: 10 miles, 6:37 pace with 3x1 mile in 5:30, 5:27, 5:26 with 1 mile rest
We: 13 miles, 6:52 pace
Th: 10 miles, 6:38 pace
Fr: Happy vomit-day to me
Sa: 18 miles, 6:56
Su: 8 miles, 6:46

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Running Late

I'm on my way out of town...late as usual. If I didn't have to pick up running shoes at the Running Shop and insoles at Dr. Marvin's place this would be much easier. Good day today, though too windy for the long run. 13 miles of getting blown around, now time to get on a plane. I'll check in when I can, thanks for reading.

Training: 13 miles, 1:29:21, 6:52 pace

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Father of the Year

While I'm not in contention for the overall here, I'm at least ahead of one guy. Yesterday while I was running errands with Haiden (our three-year-old daughter), I took her to the indoor playground at the local mall. I'm not a big fan of this place (or malls in general), but when it's 106 degrees outside it's a nice way to let your kid run around a bit without getting cooked. As usual, there was one bully kid there with his father. We stayed for nearly an hour, and I watched as Dominic (the bully) took on kid after kid, pushing, hip-checking, pulling kids down from the slide backwards by their shorts, you name it. When a little rough-housing is mutual it's one thing, but this kid would chase the other children and continue to inflict punishment as they ran away. The father took a very passive approach do discipline, which pretty much consisted of playing games on his mobile phone and only looking up on occasion upon hearing the anguished cries of Dominic's latest victim. "Cut it out Dominic" was the standard phrase, then back to his phone. Once in awhile another parent would have to come in and physically remove their child from Dominic's immediate area to stop the pummelling. Haiden pretty much stays clear of trouble, and I decided to stay out of it as well. Just when I had Haiden's shoes in hand and was walking over to tell her it was time to go, Dominic finally found his way over to her and gave her a bit of a WWF clothesline move. The father saw this, and saw me walking towards him and finally corrected his boy. "NO, Dominic."

"Your child is quite the bruiser", I say. "Yeah, that's how kids are" is his retort. "How long do you let this go on, until he really hurts someone?", I ask, looking him right in the eye now. "Mind your own god-damned business, kids are kids." "When your kid maliciously hurts my kid (or something to this effect as I recall), it becomes my business. You need to control your child when he's acting this aggressively." "Do you want me to drop you and kick your ass right now??" (this was him verbatim, I swear). "Well, I see where your boy gets it now", I say. "Oh f--- off!", he says. I'm done with him, kids don't need to see this and I'm clearly not getting through to this guy. I turn my back on him, put my daughter's shoes on and leave as he does the same with his son. At least no more victims this day. My hands are shaking as I tie her shoes from the confrontation.

Kids will be kids, but their radar sweeps wider and more intense than is often realized. When I'm easily frustrated by things at home, or impatient, or just plain moody, I still get surprised for some reason when I see these traits in Haiden and Finn. It's hard to always set a good example, and while I often fail I do try and hopefully I can learn from my own mistakes.

Oh yeah, I ran this morning too.

At the last minute I decided to do my mile repeats on the road instead of the track, mostly so I didn't have to stop and buy gas on the way. While Lydiard training says to avoid anaerobic workouts during the base or conditioning phase, I've been calling this sort of a "recovery, pre-base" phase to avoid being called out for running quicker paces once a week leading up to the half marathon.

Today was three times a mile with a goal pace of 5:25-5:30, with a mile recovery. After a long, 4.5 mile warm-up, where I kept the average pace at 7 minutes I arrived at my appointed .92 mile loop, which pretty much negates any possible benefit I could get from a one-way course. The first half mile is slightly uphill and the second half naturally corrects that, and it's mostly through a nice neighborhood that affords some shade if traveled early enough. 5 am works fine in this regard.

I set off on the first repeat with the Garmin as my guide, and I was a little surprised at how much tougher 5:30 pace was when compared to 5:40 pace last week (or was that the week before?). Still, once I hit the half mile mark it got a little easier and I finished the effort at 5:30. At this point I wasn't looking forward to the other two repeats.

My heart rate was low and steady by the time the rest was over, and the second mile elapsed in 5:27. Again, the effort felt slightly aerobic, but my legs finally found the sweet spot where I could really dial in the pace. Number three was pretty much the same, but my breathing increased by the end of the first 40, instead of at 800 like the other two. This last mile was 5:26.

A 1.5 mile cool-down got me back to the house early, and I have a fair amount of things to do before going out of town for 10 days tomorrow afternoon. I won't be able to post as often (or read other blogs as often), but I'll squeeze in time when I can.

I'm hoping just giving my anaerobic system a little poke in the eye by running a little faster than goal pace will help stimulate things a bit without dragging on the other runs of the week. Hopefully I'll keep the paces brisk (7 minute pace or below).

Training: 10 miles, 1:06:12, 6:37 pace, with 3x1 mile with one mile recovery. 5:30, 5:27, 5:26.

Monday, July 17, 2006

When Less is More

I have 85 miles or so planned for this week, which is down 15 or so from my last four weeks of training. This is the first of four weeks of progressively backing off mileage until the half marathon on August 13 in Chicago. I am trying to keep the paces up for these weeks, and I'll even be trying one pace workout per week, either 800's or 1600's to the tune of about 3 miles of effort. Here's a snapshot of how I figure the week will go.

M: 9 miles, 6:53 pace
TU: 10 miles, with 3x1600 at 5:25-5:30 pace, 1 mile recovery
W: 18 (last day of training in Tucson before heading to Reno), 7 minute pace
TH: 12 at 7 minute pace
F: 14 at 7 minute pace
SA: 8 at 6:30 pace
SU: 14 at 7 minute pace

These might get shuffled around a little, depending on when I have to work harder or easier during the week at the art auction. I may even cut a morning workout or two a little short and make it up with some slower, easier running in the evening if need be.

On the one hand, I'm cutting mileage here, which should make things easier. But I'm also trying to keep the paces a little faster and a little more consistent. After all the talk about alternating hard and easy days, I'm going to start staying closer to the middle in order to work a greater number of muscle fibers for a longer duration. Hopefully by keeping the paces at 7 minutes flat and below I'll gain some efficiency, but I'll have to be careful not to burn myself out. Certainly if I find myself "fighting" just to run 7 minute pace (like a few weeks ago), I'll have to back off and just go as slow as I need to, regardless of the schedule.

After five consecutive days of averaging under 7 minute miles, I'm actually feeling quite good, and hopefully cutting a few miles weekly up until the race will continue the trend. While I don't think I'll reach a huge peak this way in four weeks, I think it will help me get to the line feeling fresh. This is usually half the battle for me. Afterwards, I'll start building back up in earnest, and quite frankly I'm looking forward to it.

Scorpion update: No more sightings in the house, the swelling is almost nonexistent and I have no residual pain. All better.

Training: 9 miles, 1:01:55, 6:53 pace. Fairly effortless, probably should have stayed out longer.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Week in Running

100 miles in 8 runs this week, which finished off with an 18 miler today at 6:57 pace. I'm very happy with the week overall, and I'm looking forward to a nice weekend. Here's how the week went down-

M: 10 miles, 7:38 pace
TU: 12 miles, 7:11 pace
W: 16 miles am, 7:11 pace
W: 6 miles pm., 6:50 pace
TH: 11 miles, 6:59 pace
F: 16 miles, 6:54 pace
SA: 11 miles, 6:42 pace
SU: 18 miles, 6:57 pace

Compared to last week I'm definitely moving along faster, with a majority of the miles now under 7 minute pace. I hope to continue this trend next week, though I'll be starting to progressively reduce mileage until the half marathon four weeks from now. I may be able to do more doubles while I'm in Reno during the next two weeks, but if I do the second run will be strictly for recovery, and the paces will be closer to 7:30 just to stretch the legs. I also might just watch DVD's and play guitar in the hotel room instead during the evenings, we'll see.

The scorpion sting site is fine now, just a little puffy is all. Thanks for the concern, I'm grateful it wasn't any worse. I'm off to goof off with the kids now, enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Training: 18 miles, 2:05:00, 6:57 pace
Miles for the week: 100 in 8 sessions

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"We're Dealing With Neurotoxins Here"



The fellow on the other end of the line at Poison Control was courteous and professional, and after he told me that I wouldn't die and I probably didn't need to go to the hospital I unclenched a bit. "Antivenom?", I asked. Apparently there is some experimental stuff, but that's reserved for those unfortunate cases when young children get stung by scorpions. This was a simple case of a large man acting like a young child after suffering through the same incident.

I was typing away on the computer last evening when I dropped my foot to the ground from where it had been perched on the footrail of the barstool. Immediately I felt a sharp jab of pain in my heel, way too intense to be a cramp. I tried to stand up, but the pressure on my heel made the pain worse and soon I was sitting on the ground. I examined my heel and found no blood, so it wasn't a case of stepping on a small shard of glass or similar. The reality of the situation dawned on me when the heel started to throb and go numb in spots; this was definitely the work of a scorpion. After turning on all the lights in the kitchen, where the incident occurred, I crawled around on the floor looking for the culprit. The last thing I needed was for this little guy to still be on the loose when the children woke up. Luckily I found him tucked neatly beside a baseboard and extermimated him.

The next order of business was finding out what I was up against, which brought me to this generic page about treating a sting. I followed the advice on the page and spoke with poison control, and was advised that I would probably be fine but to watch out for blurred vision and foaming at the mouth. Really. I was told the sting site would be sore and would swell, and that pain and numbness could reach my arms and hands as well as my legs and feet. I had to ask because I'm sick this way. "What about running tomorrow morning?" I applaud the poison control guy here, because he said to go for it if it didn't hurt too much, but to be careful because I might lose my balance on the numb heel. In light of today's litigious society I figured he would say "no" for sure. Still, I cancelled my 5am appointment to run Phoneline with Jason, just so I wouldn't be hanging him out to dry if my foot swelled up to the size of a basketball by morning. I also worried about my heel on a rocky trail.

At 4 this morning I heard the coffee maker and dropped my bad foot from the bed to the floor. Some acute pain at the site, a little swelling, and a fair amount of numbness. Good enough for off-Broadway.

I headed out for 11 miles, which included a short loop in Sabino Canyon and the flattest roads I could find. Even though I was up pretty late while trying to sleep through the heel pain, I moved along quite well. I was thinking about how difficult the effort was last week when I ran 16 miles at 7 minute pace, and how today I was at that pace by the end of the second mile. I ended the run with an average 6:42 pace, and the heel is actually feeling better as I type this.

I have a little shorter long run planned tomorrow, which I'm hoping will lead to quicker paces next week. So far things have been good this week, stings and such aside. Still, better this happen to me and not to the wife or kids.

Training: 11 miles, 1:13:48, 6:42 pace

Friday, July 14, 2006

Training Versus Marking Time

Let's not talk about the weather.

The "old" me, the runner I'm fairly familiar with, has come out of hiding this week. I almost hate to even mention it, as this sort of talk is just tempting fate. Still, after grousing about feeling bad so often over the past 6 weeks it's fun to talk about feeling good again after the last marathon.

Climbing out of bed at 4 doesn't seem so bad, and it means I'm getting out early enough now to have some good time with the kids before work. The runs have been faster on average, while the efforts seem in line with previous weeks. My guess is that I'm actually training now, which beats just "marking time" while waiting to feel good.

Today's 16 miler almost became my long run, as I still felt like I could continue running for more miles without any obvious distress. What was nice about this is that I was able to get the pace down to a 6:54 average, so I wasn't just slogging along. One thing that is helping is not warming up for quite as long at a very slow pace. I've clipped the customary 7:45 to 8 minute first mile down to 7:30 or so, which means fewer seconds to make up towards the tail of the run.

The end of this week will put me four weeks out from the half marathon in Chicago, and with the help of some email conversations I'm seriously considering a real taper for a change. While I certainly take the most heat on this blog for not recovering enough after races, complaints about me not tapering enough are a close second. Seriously folks, with all the "slow downs", "take a day offs" and the like I sometimes feel you would rather see me driving a garbage truck in the morning instead of running.

I have experimented with tapers over the years, and in hindsight three weeks has probably worked the best for me in the case of the marathon. I tried shortening it for my first Lydiard-based marathon to 17 days, and I only tapered about 10 days for the marathon in June. I'm always so damn scared of losing fitness that I think I inadvertently short-change myself and don't allow my body to get the full benefits of the training by not resting enough before the race. Obviously this isn't working, so it's probably time to go the other way and taper more.

I'll be working an art auction in Reno, Nevada for much of next week and the entire week after that, so starting to ease the volume then makes sense. Some of the morning runs will get a little shorter, and hopefully this will allow all the runs to be done at a slightly faster pace. I'll also be including at least one half-marathon pace workout per week, which should still be in or very close to my aerobic range. While my half marathon PR is just under 1:13, that race was aided by 1000 feet of elevation loss. My goal for this race will be to run right about 1:14, or 5:40 pace.

This taper of sorts will hopefully be doubly beneficial, as I might actually shake off any residual fatigue from June with the slightly reduced schedule. I'll be stepping back progressively right up to the race, then hopefully I'll recover quickly and get on with my real marathon conditioning and my third Lydiard training cycle.

While part of me wants to keep building on what I've done so far in terms of mileage over the past four weeks and just train through this race, if I am genuine in my effort to really figure out what my body responds to I will give the long taper a chance. This dilemma makes me think of all the people that say they don't respond to high mileage, who in fact have never really given it a fair shake. I've always just assumed a longer taper wasn't for me without really testing it because it stood in stark contrast to my work ethic in running (more=better). It's hard to remember that it's not just how much training you can do, but how much training your body can absorb. It's no use to keep on pouring once the cup is full.

No, seriously Haiden, stop spilling the juice! Go show momma the mess, daddy's going on a run.

Training: 16 miles, 1:50:27, 6:54 pace

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Coming Around

A balmy 87 degrees at 4:45am in Tucson, hot and humid enough for me to scare my foothills neighborhood. Yes, I ran shirtless. The combination of my pale, mealy skin, coupled with an overabundance of hair in all the wrong places caused many dog-walkers to recoil in fear upon my approach. I like my neighbors, and I hate to do this to them, but in this weather a shirt soon becomes little more than a clinging, chafing, sopping-wet mess.

After putting in six miles last evening with the Running Shop gang, which quickly deteriorated into just myself and Jason, I was ready for a nice, slow recovery run. Last evening's effort was probably around 6:50 pace in 100+ degree temperatures, so I was worried that the 20 mile total for the day would come back to bite me.

This never happened. I actually felt really good for the whole run this morning, despite the heat, and finished the 11 miles at an average 6:59 pace after running the first mile at an intentionally slow 7:50. The legs are feeling better than they have since the marathon in June, and hopefully things will continue to get better as time goes on.

I'm still in the planning stages for my next build, but hopefully some details will emerge soon.

Training: 11 miles, 1:16:53, 6:59 pace
Yesterday pm., 6 miles, 41:20, around 6:50 pace

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Fast(ish) Finish

Poor, sick Finn. On the mend again.

I've been thinking more about this article I posted on this blog after Evan was kind enough to let me know about it. Here is a little excerpt-

"It's a very interesting phenomenon that we're only now coming to grips with--that mental fatigue will lead to the perception of muscular fatigue," says Benardot. He notes that the brain has a lot of processing to do during a run, monitoring blood volume and sweat rates, core temperature, blood sugar, and stress hormones. "The brain is juggling all of this information and can eventually make the decision: 'Whoa, things are not good here, I'm going to shut it down."

This is the post where I discuss the above quote. Anyway, as I start to feel like I'm beginning to drag towards the end of some of my runs, I think about this article. Just where does my brain get off telling my body to shut things down? The audacity! Deep inside, I feel that my will should be able to circumvent or short circuit these negative neurological impulses that can possibly slow the body down before it is absolutely necessary to do so. I'm testing this "will" with a few faster minutes towards the end of some runs, specifically when I start feeling tired.

Today's 16 miler is a good example. I woke at 4am and turned on the computer to check the conditions outside. 85 degrees. This is madness, but what can you do. The first half of the run went by with me feeling good, but as I worked my way back home on the Lucas loop I started to tire through "gut-check-alley" (I really need to cut this out of more runs, but it just hurts so good). As I cleared the uphill and was left with about 2.5 miles to go I noticed that the pace had dragged up to an average of 7:21 from the 7:18 I was running a few miles prior. While I didn't particularly feel like it, this is where I stopped letting my mind boss me around. Two miles at 6:02 followed, which felt a little tough but still aerobic. When I tried to push the pace down further I started breathing a little heavier, so I backed off and didn't let the two extra seconds per mile bug me (I wanted to run 6 flat on these). At the end I cruised the last half mile home, somewhat pleased that I was able to push back against my natural inclination to slow down.

As I sit writing this I can't help but think, "Big deal, two miles at marathon pace", but on the comeback trail I take these little victories and file them away. Maybe during the last two miles of a marathon I can think back to this and remember that I might not be quite as tired as I think I am.

Training: 16 miles, 1:54:54, 7:11 pace, with two miles at 6:02

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Further or Faster??

Well duh...both of course.

The problem with trying to get in 100 miles, or close to it in single runs is the duration of each run. In my case I'm going at least 12 miles for six days of the week or so, which seems to take between 80 and 90 minutes. When 90 minutes constitutes a "short" day, it means a lot of time out on the road.

Arthur Lydiard found that 100 miles per week seemed to be the ideal number for his runners, but they were averaging 6 minute pace. His time-based schedule of 60, 90, 60, 90, 60, 120, and 90 minutes over the course of a week works out to 8.5 hours of training. Of course his runners also did a second run on most days at an easy pace, which probably brought their weekly totals closer to 160 miles, but lets forget that for a minute.

It takes me a bit over 12 hours to hit 100 miles in a week, which is a fair amount of time. While an "easy" day of 60 minutes seems easy to stomach, 80-90 starts to drag on occasion. I also sometimes think that I would be able to run closer to my "maximum steady state" on these shorter runs if the distance was a little less. I know today I was thinking about surviving the last four miles while I was running the first eight, probably due to neglecting to eat enough complex carbohydrates yesterday. I did run the last mile at marathon pace though, which brought my average pace down to 7:11 after spending most of the run around 7:20 or so.

One solution is to run more doubles, but I honestly believe that longer single runs promote more aerobic development. Also, trying to squeeze in a second run before dinner is next to impossible, especially when the temperature is a crippling 102 or so.

For the time being I'll continue putting in the longer runs, trusting what Lydiard has said about the conditioning phase. "The times will come down on their own, almost without you realizing it." Sounds good about now.

12 miles, 1:26:31, 7:11 pace, with last mile at 6:00 pace

Monday, July 10, 2006

Hoarse

It is hard to rock at 9 o'clock, or 9am at least. I was left a bit hoarse by the end of our band's practice Sunday morning, which followed quickly on the heels of yesterday's run.

Today was an easy day of 10 miles, as I tried to keep the effort to a minimum after two longer runs in a row. This certainly wasn't a problem as the first half of the run took me up the road in Sabino Canyon, which is steep enough to keep things slow. I didn't put in a good hill day last week, so by getting one in today I won't have to worry about fitting it in later on this week.

I guess I'm back in Lydiard's "conditioning" phase at this point, as I definitely can use more endurance again. I know a "base" doesn't erode overnight, or spontaneously evaporate after a marathon, but I think I inadvertently poked too many holes in my conditioning towards the end of my training last time around. Arthur Lydiard indicated that there is only a finite amount of good that can come from anaerobic running. Do too much, too fast towards the end of your training and you will start to compromise all the endurance you gained during the first half of your training.

So it's back to lots of miles, a few long runs a week, and the all important goal of running close to my "maximum steady state". How long? 12 weeks is the short answer, but Lydiard has also been quoted as saying "As long as possible." Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I all but bagged the anaerobic work. I trust Lydiard's method of balancing the training to maximize endurance, strength, speed and pace judgment/tactics, but during both of my build-ups I think I reached peak fitness just a week or two into anaerobic work. I'm beginning to think that I either ran too often at fast paces, or just a too fast a pace towards the end of both of my build ups leading to my marathons in January and June.

I look at Eric's and Greg's training (I know I mention these guys often), and I think I see the same pattern. In Greg's case, he' PR'd at all distances (I think) with no V02 max or anaerobic work. He's done this by bumping up his miles to 100 a week (4 weeks straight I think), and running his longer runs consistently around 7 minute pace. He's made huge gains. Eric's in the same boat, albeit with a little faster motor on the back. While he's had a few setbacks with calf issues, he's managed to run himself into arguably the best shape of his life with purely aerobic work. I find myself warning these guys to be careful and not to make the same mistakes I made. Everyone is different though, and anaerobic work will no doubt affect these guys differently.

Back to the aerobic now. When I look at my training during these past two cycles, I can definitely see a positive arc and an improvement in condition, right up to my last marathon pace time trial (4 weeks out from the race the first cycle, 2 weeks and 5 days out the second). I'm starting to wonder if perhaps doing one "interim" marathon, which would be run at approximately the time I think I would maximize my aerobic development, would be a good idea. If nothing else, it would be an interesting experiment. From there, assuming I didn't fall apart after the race, I could refresh the batteries for a few weeks and proceed with the rest of the Lydiard program.

One problem with this is the fact that the anaerobic work has definitely improved my performances in the shorter distance races, and putting this type of training off until the spring would put me at a disadvantage for the 4 or so under-distance races I have planned for the fall. Again, this is just me thinking out loud here, no promise that this will happen.

Training: 10 miles, 1:16:15, 7:38 pace, up the hilly road in Sabino Canyon

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Rebound

After yesterday's run I expected the worst today, but I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't fall apart. Jason came by the house at 5 and we met Lucas on the road at 5:15 for a nice run in warm, 80 degree temperatures. We did the classic "Lucas" loop, which gets him his two hours if he runs from his house, and gets me between 1:40 and 2 hours depending on how far I follow him back towards his place at the end. The guys mercifully took it easy on me (Jason read my post yesterday and knew I would be pretty fried), but we worked the pace down from 7:40 to an overall average of 7:03 by the end. I did stop for a break in the bushes and ran part of the loop in reverse from them until we met up again, so while I ended up with 14.5 they no doubt got in 15 together.

Sometimes a bad day is just a bad day, and sometimes it's an indicator that something is either wrong with the body or wrong with the training. While I was full of doubt (and a bit of self-pity) towards the end and for the first few hours after the run yesterday, by the afternoon I had relaxed a bit about it and was ready to move on.

Speaking of that, this is it for now since I'm off to 9am band practice. I know it is a sin to rock before noon, but when your band consists of three husbands with a combined 5 children, you work things in when you can. Have a great weekend, I'm looking forward to mine.

Training: 14.5 mles, 1:42:50, 7:03 pace
Miles for the week:106.5 in 9 sessions

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Bottomed Out

"When you get to the bottom you go back to the top" -"Helter Skelter", The Beatles

I could see the phone in my mind before I spied it hanging from the wall next to the sliding doors of the Walgreens. It was still about a quarter of a mile away, which left me with 6 miles to go. Four of these were through "gut-check alley", the seemingly endless rolling uphill trek to the Bashas'. I didn't bring any quarters, but I'm sure Kiera wouldn't mind me calling collect in my condition. As I got closer to the intersection that separated me from my call I was thinking about what to tell her to bring; A towel, a t-shirt, and a bottle of water. I'd eaten the emergency gel a mile earlier at mile 15, where the Rillito path offers a last water stop before the last 7 miles but I was still feeling like death.

I'd woken up early after a good dinner and the weather was clear and 70 degrees, which is about as good as can be expected in July. Instead of having the long run hanging over me for Sunday, I figured I might as well just get it done. I decided on the out and back route instead of a few loops for three reasons: There were two water fountains, half of the run would be flat for a change, and I couldn't cheat myself by calling it quits after one loop. If I did this as an out and back run, all I had to do was head out 11 miles. I'd have to get home somehow.

At eight miles in I was feeling a little tired, but the pace had dropped from a 7:20 average down to 7:15 so I figured I was still doing fine. With some trepidation I continued to the halfway point, where I stopped for some water and to size up the rest of the run. At this point the legs were tired, and I truly wasn't looking forward to the second half of the run, which would find me running into the direction of the fast-rising sun.

At about 14 miles I was getting cranky, and when I stopped for water at 15 and took my gel I didn't get the expected kick to my nervous system. I was about done here, with no length or power left in my stride, and I was facing the doom of gut-check alley while bonking. The pace had edged back out to a 7:20 average, and I felt like I was slowing with each step.

I cross the street and I'm staring at the phone, which is only 100 meters away, imagining the conversation. I've only called once before to bail out of a run, but that was a few years ago and Kiera wasn't home at the time. I was only two miles from home on that occasion, but the sound of the answering machine picking up was like someone tapping me on the shoulder after finishing a marathon and saying, "You know you still have to run two more miles, right?"

I'm supposed to go left into the strip mall parking lot here. I'm supposed to lean against the wall and wallow in self-pity as the stuccoed exterior digs into my bare, sweaty back. Thoughts of "What the hell, I run 100 miles a week and I can't even finish a stupid long run" and "Why do I put myself through this" will follow. I won't need to explain, Kiera will understand and the kids won't mind a quick ride in the car. By the time they come to pick me up I will have cooled off and will sheepishly accept their help, climbing into the passenger seat for the short ride home while Haiden looks on worriedly from the backseat. "Daddy, what's wrong?" and other questions will be asked.

The phone and the Walgreens it's attached to are slowly obscured as I crest the first hill of River Road and work my way down the other side. I'm about a mile into gut-check alley now, and even if I'm running 8 minute miles I'm still moving. With four miles to go I'm convinced I made a mistake by not calling, as the legs just don't want to pick up the feet anymore, but by the time I work my way to dog-poop trail I know I will make it home somehow.

The last three miles take forever, and I finish the run with a 7:25 average. Just for kicks I went back through my log to see where I was at for my long runs during my fifth week of training for both of my previous cycles-
2/19/06, 24 miles in 7:38 pace (granted this was slow with the Grinders)
8/19/05, 22 miles at 7:27 pace, bonked at the end

I'm going to take the weekend and try to get some more perspective on the idea of a recovery week or two. I'm hoping I can get some insight from Nobby as well as another coach who has given me good advice over the past few months. I'm at 92 for the week so far, so with an easy 13 tomorrow I'll get my 105 for the week.

Training: 22 miles, 2:42:54, 7:26 pace

Just the Start

Nobby emailed me to let me know that the Lydiard Foundation website is now up and running. While it's still in its infancy and has some bugs to work out, for those interested in the teachings as well as the legacy of Arthur Lydiard it is a very welcome addition to the web. I'd like to congratulate Nobby, Lorraine Moller, and the rest of the Foundation on a good start, and I encourage any of you interested in Lydiard-based training to check the site often as they continue to add content.

Right now the site features a lecture by Arthur Lydiard that he gave in Osaka, Japan, with added footnotes by Nobby. Also, Arthur's shoe-lacing technique is presented, as well as a preview of a DVD on hill training featuring Nobby demonstrating the hill drills described in Lydiard's books.

Audio content is promised, including a clinic by Ron Daws, and video will be available of a Lorraine Moller interview as well as highlights from the official launch of the Foundation in Boulder back in May. I haven't had any luck loading these pages yet, but since I'm working on a Mac I'm not sure if it's just my computer at this time.

Enjoy the site, I'm off to run.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Little Disappointed

Who doesn't love kids in sunglasses?

Early day today, as I was out on the road at 4:30 running through some light showers. My plan was 12 miles or so, slow if I felt bad and faster if I felt good. I ran four additional miles last evening in the heat, up to the junior high where I put in 6x100 strides on the overgrown grass infield, which meant 20 miles in doubles yesterday.

I expected to feel pretty bad, but once I got on the road I felt like I was moving along at a good clip. I made a point of ignoring the Garmin and just running by feel, and my breathing indicated that I was pretty high up on the aerobic scale. While the run was very hilly and included some trails, I imagined I was probably running around 6:40 pace or so given the effort it took. At 10 miles I gave into temptation and looked at my average pace, which was stuck on 7 flat. I know I have a barrel full of excuses I can reach into, but still I was disappointed to see such a slow pace when I felt I was going much faster. I thought a bit about Eric cruising effortlessly through 15 milers at 6:10 pace and Greg knocking out medium-long and long runs comfortably at sub 7 pace and couldn't help but feel jealous.

I put in one mile at 6 minute pace after the 10 miles, just to see what it felt like and was even more bummed out. I was clearly working out of my comfort zone, even though this pace (6 minutes flat) should be aerobic by at least 20 seconds per mile. At this point I eased off for the last mile and made it home with an average pace of 6:55 for the run.

I know I need to be patient for this Lydiard stuff to work, and most of the time I'm not bothered by the slower paces at the beginning of the cycle. However, after Wednesday's cruise intervals with microscopic rest at 5:40 pace I thought I was getting back. I guess it's just going to take awhile longer, and I'll have to live with that. I do notice that I'm feeling better after my runs, which is a sign that my body is starting to recover from the workouts quicker. Hopefully faster times will follow.

One thing people keep reminding me of is the need for a recovery week, and while I'm generally not a fan of this I do find myself wondering if I would magically find myself running faster with less effort if I just cut back to 60 miles for a week or two, as Eric and others have suggested. My usual "comeback" is that I don't need to be running faster now, and that it will happen on its own given enough time. More miles earlier at a little slower pace will ultimately pay greater dividends in the long run. But this is something I don't know for certain. Lydiard tells us that he did all the experimenting for us, but at the end of the day we're all an experiment of one. Maybe before I poo-poo the recovery week philosophy I should give it a try, although years ago (before I doubled my mileage) I never really saw a clear-cut benefit from a down week (though 50 miles a week perhaps wasn't enough of a workload to step back from).

Regardless, I'm still on track for a good week if I can keep up the momentum through the next two days. My plan is to get to at least 105, in part to average out the 5 miles I missed last week. Yes, I know you can't really "make up" lost mileage, but when I look at my log it's unavoidable that I try to anyway.

Training: 12 miles, 6:55 pace
Yesterday pm., 4 miles at 7:21 pace

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Six Pounds Soaking Wet

Hot and humid again today, and the roads were awash with swarms of giant flying bugs on the prowl, looking for unsuspecting mouth-breathing runners. Up at 4, coffee at 4:12, out the door at 4:45 and back by 6:45. 16 miles were the order of the day and I left myself no time for dawdling. It's nice to get one of these runs out of the way with no stops for restrooms or water, and even my spontaneously self-healed Garmin read a tidy 0:00:00 for "rest time" at the end of my journey.

These humid days are difficult for me. From the sloshing sound of my shorts rubbing against my legs with each step to the occasional wringing out of what used to be a hydrophobic "technical" running shirt, runs on these days tend to drag on. I find my thoughts drifting back to January, when I would run down along the Rillito River with numb hands and ears, as the temperature dropped below 30 just before the sun came up. I would stop for water at the fountain along the path only to find it frozen. Good times.

Summer running in Tucson does take some fortitude and a lot of water. I've been testing out a formula over the past few weeks and the results are consistent enough for me to mention it. While still sopping wet after pulling off my soggy running clothes, I stepped on the scale and saw the expected "162" on the LCD. I've been holding steady at 168 (weighed myself before the run), so I dropped 6 pounds of (mostly) liquid during today's nearly 2 hour jaunt. After 22 miles on Sunday, which took around 2:40 or so, I had lost 8 pounds. What I've noticed is that if I run 90 minutes or more, I lose about 3 pounds of liquid per hour, or a pound every 20 minutes.

I can skew this a little if I stop half-way through a run and down an entire water bottle (which I've done), but even then the results are only off by a pound at the most (and sometimes not at all). The point is I really need to pay attention to hydration during the summer months, and too often I come back into the house and only have one glass of water before jumping into the normal routine with the kids. I know drinking enough is old news, but if it helps me recover faster and better it's still worth mentioning.

As far as family matters go, Finn is now a bonafide walker and has all but given up crawling. Some kids are pretty cautious and really have to be coaxed into walking, whereas Finn just jumped right into it. Being higher up offers him much more in the way of leverage when it comes to doing his favorite things, like pulling his sister's hair.

Training: 16 miles, 7:14 pace, legs a little tired at the start

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

13.1 Miles of This?

Last night we had a pretty big storm in Tucson, so conditions were very wet and steamy for my first trip to the track since the marathon last month. The storm was severe enough to blow some tree branches into my car, which broke off the antennae. Sigh. As agreed, I met Lucas at 5am for a wonderful workout of 6x5 minutes at 5:40 pace on the track, with rests of 1 minute, 45 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds, and 15 seconds (almost enough time to spit once). A slow two mile warm-up left us both shaking our heads, as neither of us were feeling particularly good. Just to make things even soggier, the sprinklers on the infield of the track were running and spitting water onto lane one and two on the corners.

At 5:40 pace these became 1400's, which is a pretty frustrating interval- too long to treat like an even 1200, but too short for the satisfaction of running a whole mile at the pace. For some reason Lucas's mental computer wasn't functioning correctly, so we set out to run the first interval at 80 seconds, or 5:20 pace. We were both breathing pretty heavily through about 500 when I started doing the mental math and mentioned that we were going at 5:20 pace. No wonder I was already starting to go a little anaerobic. We laughed about it and backed off a touch, but the damage had been done as we passed the 1400 mark and still had to run another 8 seconds or so to get to 5 minutes.

From here we just plowed through each interval and panted through the ever-dwindling recovery times. After repeat number 4 the 15 seconds of rest seemed like a cruel joke, but we managed to get off the line on time and to keep the pace honest. Each 1400 brought us past the line in 4:56-4:59, and as we powered through the last one I felt like I started to go just a little anaerobic at about half-way.

After finishing the work, Lucas reminded me that we still had 5x1 minute efforts left with a 30 second recovery. These were to work on leg speed I guess, but at one minute the interval seemed a little long. Still, I was the training hack and it was Lucas's workout so we ran through the neighborhoods until we had made it through all five. The last three were slightly uphill, and while I could feel the effort it also felt good to increase the range of motion on the grade.

All in all I was very happy with how the workout went, and I enjoyed feeling like 5:40 pace was "tempo" again instead of anaerobic. Arthur Lydiard would rather his runners do more "steady-state" work, reasoning that running longer at a fast pace without breaks ultimately trains you to race that way, instead of training you to rest. When Peter Snell won the 1500 in the Rome Olympics of 1960 Lydiard has been quoted as saying that while there were faster runners than Snell in the race, he was the only one trained to run the whole distance without slowing down during the third lap. Still, having the recovery today, while it was short, enabled me to spend more time at tempo pace than I have since the marathon. The neuromuscular stimulation alone is worth something, and so is the confidence of knowing I could have kept going for another few repeats.

Now I just have to figure out how to hold this same pace for 13.1 miles in the middle of August.

Training: 10 miles or so, with 6x5 minutes at 5:40 pace with descending rest of 1 minute, 45 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds, 15 seconds. Followed by 5x1 minute on, 30 seconds off

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Something About Tuesdays

Last Tuesday I had a hard time on my run, but I've felt great since...until today. I think I didn't pay enough attention to proper nutrition yesterday, and I also believe I'm paying the price for running 5 miles in the evening in 100 degree heat. Whatever the case, my medium-long run (that I wrote about lengthening yesterday) ended at 11 miles, with a pedestrian 7:35 pace. I had planned on running two loops; a hilly 8 mile loop to warm up and find my legs, and a second 8 mile loop that was a bit flatter to bring the pace down a bit. After starting the second loop I couldn't seem to go much faster than the first, and the heat and humidity really started to drain me. Finally, I decided to call it early and come back home. This isn't like me, but since I'm attempting a workout tomorrow with Lucas (6x5 minutes at 5:40 pace with a descending rest of 1 minute, 45 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds, 15 seconds) I would prefer to feel fresh. Maybe getting in 17 miles yesterday on top of the 22 on Sunday just tired me out, but I'm hopeful that the rest of the week will go well.

Coming back early today gave me time to go on a bicycle ride with the whole family to the muffin place, with Haiden on the back of my bike and Finn along for the ride with Kiera. While it was a short trek, it was fun to do something different, and hopefully it will lead to some longer rides in the near future. Enjoy the holiday.

Training: 11 miles, 7:35 pace
Yesterday second run, 5 miles, slow in the stifling heat, 7:30 pace

Monday, July 03, 2006

5 Measly miles...

That's all that kept me from my goal of 100. Band practice ended up taking the whole afternoon (we REALLY needed to practice), and while I thought I could go out after the kids went to sleep I found out when I got home that my wife was taking that time to go out to the movies. Since I had to work 6 days last week Kiera has been spending a ton of time at home, so it was nice for her to get out. Unfortunately, it meant I would have not chance at getting in those last few miles. Oh well, there's always next week. Here's how last week worked out-

M: 8 easy
Tu: 15 (failed progression run where I swore off going fast until I felt better)
W: 10 am., 6 pm.
Th: 13
F: 11
Sa: 10 (quality tempo on hills, 5:57 pace)
Su: 22 miles
Total: 95 in 8 sessions

My legs were a bit fatigued from the long run yesteday, as well as standing for 5 hours while practicing afterwards. Still, I'm feeling good enough now that I've decided to keep on track with the same or more miles for the next few weeks. The doubts I had after Tuesday's difficult session (where I couldn't seem to run at or faster than marathon pace) have dissipated after several days of moderate miles at a comfortable pace. The fact that I could also run 22 miles again without breakfast is also a good sign that I'm getting some fitness back, and that I don't think it's necessary to step back any further in order to recuperate.

This week will be similar to last week, but I am going to focus on getting in a few more doubles, more strides, longer medium-long runs, and one day of tempo-paced work at 5:40 pace for 5 minutes, followed by one minute off. This is Lucas's workout on Wednesday, and he could use a training hack like me to keep it honest. I also think I can probably handle this pace now, especially with the rest intervals interspersed between efforts. Hmm, doing all this in one week sounds a little tougher after combining it all into one sentence.

Speaking of Lucas, I met him and Joel, a new Tucson resident who found me through the blog for a run on the Rillito River path. The run ended in a little over 80 minutes, with just under 12 miles covered. While my Garmin officially died for good today (black screen of death), it still recorded the pace at 7:02 for the duration. Not bad for the day after a long run. Have a good day everyone, I may go GPS shopping myself.

Training: 12 miles, 7:02 pace
Miles for last week: 95 in 8 sessions

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Since Nobody Reads These on Sundays


My old band Star Crunch, sponsored by Supercuts. That's me in the middle, I think I'm sitting on a dumpster. This is from our CD insert, circa 1994.

Duncan had the audacity to "tag" me yesterday, which was surprising since tagging usually seems to show up on blogs with way more emoticons. Instead of the standard "name 4 STD's you've had" and the like, he took it easy on me by asking only two questions-

1. How did you come up with the name for your band?
2. Is that you singing "Driftwood"?

For those of you who don't know or who haven't been paying attention, I used to be in a band. In fact, I was focused on "making it" as a musician from about age 17 to 30 (I'll turn 35 this month). Embarrassingly enough, it all started when I began listening to this guy and started writing my own parody songs. My first taste of fame came even earlier at age 15 when I co-wrote and recorded "You've Lost Your Skin From Peeling" to the tune of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin" on a boombox with a Radio Shack microphone. I kid you not. It started with "I never touch your back anymore 'cause you throw a fit, your sunburn covers you from your nose to where you sit, you're trying hard not to show it (baby), but under those band-aids I know it...You've lost your skin from peeling" and on and on. It was played on KZZP in Phoenix as part of a "wacky tape" segment, and it was so bad that before it aired they decreed a new rule for these tapes...that they had to play at least a minute of them before taking them off the air. Needless to say, we didn't win the $100 offered for the best song, but I was hooked.

I taught myself to play guitar with chord books for Beatles songs, and soon I had started a band with three of my friends. I could sing on key and I enjoyed writing my own material (I'd moved beyond parodies at this point) so I became the singer, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist. We played a few gigs in high school and all moved into the same apartment in college so we could keep the band together and make it big. Of course this never happened and we eventually broke up.

After wandering around for awhile musically and even playing one gig in a cover band full of frat guys (not my crowd), I began a new band just for fun with my roommates when I was a junior at the University of Arizona. I was still living with our original bassist, but our other roommate was just starting to learn how to play drums. We were quite terrible, but the songs were decent and eventually we started playing out. Now naming a band is impossible, with everything sounding either too pretentious or too serious. It came down to the wire to make a flier for the show and we literally started looking around the house for a name when we saw a box of these in the pantry. It sounded kind of cosmic and cool, so we went with it (there's your first answer Duncan). Since we were kind of a joke at the time we would even bring a box or two to early gigs and throw them out to the audience. This stopped when people started beaning us with them when we sucked, which didn't take long.

The band improved, eventually recording a cassette (it was 1993) and touring for three weeks through the south. At this time we were approached by Tiffany's manager, this fellow, who wanted us to be his "next big thing". I had read about this guy being trouble, and he was a big "bubblegum pop" guy while we thought we were a rock band. He wanted a 5 year, 5 album deal, which included me giving up publishing rights to my works. In exchange an advance and salary were promised, as well as a full promotional machine. It smelled fishy and seemed like a huge commitment, so we worked out a trial deal instead, which included selling him the rights to one song. We flew to Los Angeles and recorded the song with him, and were shocked a week later when we were sent a cassette of the mixed version. Our drums had been replaced with synthesized beats, schmaltzy keyboards had been added...quite simply it just didn't sound like we wanted to sound. We had one week to decide to go forward and become "his" band, or to take the money (about 5 grand which was huge for us at the time) and run. This was probably my one shot at being heard as a musician, as this guy owned a radio station in Las Vegas and was very close with MCA records. He even figured we would be on the HORDE tour (you dinosaurs will remember it, it had Dave Matthews and others). We stuck to our principles and bailed on him. We had to unplug the phone for a week or so, and he even flew back out from Hollywood to get us to change our minds, but we stood firm.

My last call from him had him putting the phone up to a boombox that had a voice from the Animaniacs singing the song of ours he still owned. He said it was going to end up on the soundtrack to "Bye Bye Love", but that never happened when they decided on an oldies format. Weird.

We took the money and recorded our own CD, "Carbon Dated Smile" in 1994, and sold it on a 6 week tour around the U.S.. We continued on as a band until I decided to move to Portland in 1996, thinking it had a better music scene and would improve our chances of making it as a band. Only our bassist followed, and we never really broke into the scene there. I eventually gained about 30 pounds while staring out my window at the rain and drove myself deeper and deeper into debt with each passing day. I was lucky enough to meet Kiera, my future wife there, and I'm still convinced that she was the cosmic reason I ended up there in the first place.

When I (and later she) moved back to Tucson, I tried in vain to get the band going again. At this point our bassist was finishing his law degree at Georgetown, and while we continued without him we never really committed ourselves like we did in the past. I started doing triathlons, and the late nights of booze, smoke and music didn't work with the early morning training. When our new drummer quit we eventually called it a day.

...Until now. We've been asked to reunite for a show to celebrate some important birthday for Club Congress here in Tucson, and today is our first practice with our "true" line-up in about 10 years. I'm really looking forward to it. I still do the singing, guitar and songwriting, and this song, which Duncan asked about, will probably be in the line-up (there's answer number 2).

If you're still paying attention, I made it 22 miles today. I ran 5 miles in the dark at 4:15 so I could be back in time to meet Lucas for his 2 hours. The overall pace was 7:15, though I ran the last 17 at 7:11 pace. Almost 2 hours and 40 minutes with no breakfast or supplements. I'm getting tougher.

Training: 22 miles, 2:39:43, 7:15 pace

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Double-knot Blues

The air conditioner is fixed! It ended up costing much more than we ever imagined, but when the blame on the failure rested with the lightning storms in the area I called our homeowners insurance and they are actually taking care of some of the damage. We will survive, and the house is cool again. Life goes on.

I had planned on being Lucas's training hack today, though I wasn't looking forward to it. His ambitious workout included 45 minutes of tempo, the last 25 of which he wanted to spend chugging up the steep road that goes into Sabino Canyon. This was to be followed by a few bursts of "5 minutes on", some amount of time off, then... god, I forget at this point but it sounded pretty damn difficult. The run would probably end up at about 14 miles, and by leaving at 5 we would really be cutting it close when I said I would be home at 6:30 so Kiera could run with her friend.

At 5:20 I'm still in the driveway and there's no sign of Lucas. Part of me is relieved, as I am probably not in any shape to keep up with him as I get used to 100 mile weeks again. Another part of me looks down at the double-knotted shoes. I only do this when there is work to be done, and the competitive side of me was secretly looking forward to blowing out the cobwebs a bit after a few days of easy running. I'm down to a little over an hour until I need to be back so I trot off.

After a little over a mile my feet take me to the parking lot of Sabino Canyon. I start running up it and the legs decide they have rested enough and it's time to go. I end up running tempo by feel instead of by the watch, in part because the numbers on the watch have been depressing when compared to the effort given. I work the hills at a good clip, and try to work on my turnover on the few downhills through the first half. The last steep pitch to the turnaround I really start feeling the effort, and I can feel my stride shortening as the grade steepens. I'm right on the cusp of anaerobic at this point, but since it's only two minutes or so to the top I just roll with it. I make the turnaround and cruise back down the road at a good speed, though the effort feels a little easier with the gravity assist. I hit the watch and extrapolate how long the warm-up took, and I figure I've run 5:57 pace or so for the almost 8 miles of hills. This is more like it.

Epilogue: Kiera gets her run in, though she wished Angie had been along to keep them from getting lost. Haiden is up to eating two entire waffles, giving her old man a run for his money. Finn ate a whole waffle on his own, plus fruit and oatmeal, and somehow still remains in the 25th percentile for weight. Meanwhile, their dad is feeling a little more like his old self. Tomorrow's 22+ miles will truly tell the tale though...

Training: 10 miles, 6:40 pace, with 7.6 miles at 5:57 pace on the road through Sabino Canyon