Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Good One

Sooner or later a good one comes along. Hopefully it's followed soon after by another one, and perhaps you start stringing them along. If you're lucky and stick with it, eventually the tide turns and instead of the occasional good day sandwiched between much mucking along you find yourself in the enviable position of being in shape. Those bad, slogging days become so infrequent that they actually surprise you when they appear.

At least this is how I want it to be.

I haven't felt "on" since Friday of last week, so quite honestly I was due this morning. I could feel last evening's 10K of running in the legs as Lucas and I trudged off for our two mile warm up at 6:30 (we took the second running shift today as Kiera headed out early). While dragging my toes at 7:40 pace it seemed improbable that I would be comfortable holding 6:12 pace for 7 miles, but after a pit-stop at the grocery store (the stomach still isn't right) we got down to it. This workout was identical to last Friday, and oddly enough it felt easy once we got going. We were ahead of pace for the first two miles before making an effort to ease off a little, and with the exception of feeling it a little on the uphills during the last two miles it really went well. Being greeted by scones when we arrived home only heightened the mood. "Just Chocolate!", Haiden yelled when I asked her what kind (she has a habit of picking anything out of baked goods that isn't chocolate so Kiera saved her the trouble).

I'm in week two of the two-day bike commute, which for some devilish reason corresponds with the days of my back to back workouts. I wasn't as thrilled to get on the bike this morning, but by the time I arrived at work the legs felt good for the spinning.

Training: 10 miles, 1:04:56, 6:30 pace, w/7 miles at 6:09 pace
Yesterday p.m., 6.2 miles in 42 minutes

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Save it for Later

By yesterday afternoon I was back to eating, and it felt like I was getting my strength back after a horrible night and morning. By all accounts our son Finn has what I had, though he's taking a little longer to get past it. While it's no fun having a stomach bug, it's heartbreaking when one of your little ones is put through the wringer by a virus.

I played things cautiously this morning, heading out for 7 miles on a loop that kept me within a mile of either the bathroom at home or similar facilities at Sabino Canyon. I'm still not quite right, so I definitely took it easy and could feel a bit of pressure whenever I climbed a hill of any mention. I still have another 10K to jog tonight with the Running Shop gang, and I'm hoping by the end of it that I'll feel like myself again.

Tomorrow starts the weekly back to back workouts, so by then I hope to be back in the pink.

Training: 7 miles, 48:46, 6:58 pace. Still a bit off

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I thought I had escaped unscathed after not scoring on the last vomit count chart when Kiera and the kids were sick a few weeks back. Unfortunately, a stomach bug hit me like a truck last evening and a run was simply not in the cards today. I'm on to toast and gatorade (I definitely need the fluids right now), and I'll just be taking it easy.

I had an inkling something was wrong yesterday afternoon when I took daughter Haiden and her friend to Chuck E. Cheese, but I attributed the daze I was in to the noise level and the flashing lights. The run yesterday morning was fine, with 9 miles getting covered before returning home. I ran my two miles at 5:45 on the track without too much difficulty, but I certainly didn't feel "on" or ready to run much longer at that pace. The heart rate was 156 immediately afterwards, and down to 116 by a minute.

Time to rest.

Training: Today, 0
Yesterday: 9 miles, 1:00:44, 6:41 pace, w/2 miles time trial in 5:44, 5:42

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Conditioning, Week One

Mo: 4 easy
Tu: 10
We: 13.75
We: 6.2 easy
Th: 10
Fr: 10 w/7 at 6:10 pace
Sa: 18
Su: 8 easy
Total: 80 miles

All in all things don't look too bad for my first week back at the bottom. Monday should have been longer, but I wouldn't trade extra miles for the opportunity I had to run with my sister, who I only see a few times a year. The rest of the week went well, save for feeling rough yesterday and a bit tired today. For some reason I've been having some trouble sleeping lately, and I'm guessing allergies are to blame. While I was originally hoping for 10 miles, I opted to cut it short at 8 when it seemed that the legs were feeling more tired as I continued instead of more energized. I remember the coach urging me to take it easier in the past the day after the back to back workouts, so I used that as a partial justification for wimping out.

Next week is more of the same, though I'll be doing two miles at 5:45 as my first "examination run" Monday, then a hilly run on Tuesday. The back to back runs will move to Thursday-Friday for good so that Kiera can have Saturdays to run with Angie on occasion and then get her long run in on Sunday. As I speak she's in Sabino Canyon putting in two hours, which on trails will dwarf my own long run yesterday.

Time to begin my weekend, which apparently involves a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. Daughter Haiden swears I promised her as much in the middle of the night while trying to get her back to sleep. Anything's possible at that hour I guess.

8 miles, 54:56, 6:52 pace

Saturday, May 26, 2007

What Stamina?

I can blame the bike commutes, the two beers last night, the short time spent sleeping, or the 7 up-tempo miles yesterday for the flat feeling I had when I woke up, right?


I've been re-reading some of "Running the Lydiard Way" since it reappeared in my library after spending some quality time with Omniscient. Arthur Lydiard mentions several times in his book that a bad day, be it due to muscle soreness or general fatigue, is usually due to what training took place not the day before but rather in the weeks leading up to a day of difficulty.

The miles were down during the racing phase, as was the stamina training (and pretty much any training for that matter). "It's impossible to train hard and race well at the same time" is one of the most oft-repeated quotes by Arthur, and I can see why after trying to balance maintaining some semblance of conditioning one week while pummeling myself in a 5-10K the next weekend for a few months.

If having to turn myself inside out to run almost the same time as last year at my last 5K wasn't reason enough to convince me it's time to rebuild, my last two long (16+ mile) runs have been the final nails in the coffin. The first one found me out of gas around 16.5 miles, and today found me feeling off before even leaving the garage. Still, I tucked a bottle of gatorade in the bushes and headed off on my two loops.

My long run schedule with the back-to-back workouts generally alternates between one week with runs based on time at a comfortable pace (2 hours this week, 2:10 two weeks later) and a second week with 10 miles at a steady pace (I imagine 6:35-6:40), followed by 4+ miles at 6:12 pace. I was quite glad this week had me doing the former, as after 10 miles I was only at 6:50 pace and quite ready to call it a day while stopping for half a bottle of gatorade in the driveway. Still, I headed back out and finished the job, even taking a longer route home when I realized my planned path would get me home 5 minutes early. When I finally got to the last mile I ran past the house to get to an even 18 miles in, and the walk back to the driveway found the feet, legs and brain tired.

The body definitely needs to re-acclimate to both the heat and the task of storing glycogen and dosing it out slowly while hopefully burning some fat. A few more long runs ought to get me back on track, and I have plenty of time to get there...Brick by brick.

A special milkshake shared with Haiden and Finn revived me, and I continued with my effort to get more calories in sooner after these grinding runs. I hope you all have a good weekend, and I suggest you drop by Dusty's blog and congratulate her on a very solid 5K.

Training: 18 miles, 2:01:15, 6:44 pace

Friday, May 25, 2007

Everything but the Legs

I hesitate to even mention this because I have no idea whether or not I'll stick with it, but here goes: I'm riding the bike to work two days a week. It's only a 7 mile stretch, but it's criminally hilly all the way. When I say this I mean there isn't a single flat section to settle in. I'm riding the beater bike (the same one I use when I ride Haiden to school), but I'm dressed in full geek gear (jersey/obscene shorts/helmet).

Doing this involves some planning, as I have to pack two days of lunches and two changes of clothes in the car when I drive on Wednesday and remember to bring everything home when I drive again on Saturday.

What's interesting is the ease at which I've slipped back into my old bike-racing skin during these commutes. The chin instinctively rests on the shoulder to check the road behind me, the body slides back on the saddle to dig in with the glutes on the uphills, and the hands remember their place to either side of the stem as I crouch and tuck during the long downhills. The left arm even instinctively swings upward with an open backhanded gesture which roughly translates as "What the hell???" when a car crosses over the white line and onto the shoulder, nearly brushing me off the road. Funny how this all comes back to me.

Now if only the legs would play along.

They're much smaller now, as a few years of running have finally carved the quads down to a more manageable size for a marathoner. Pushing the gears takes much more work than I remember, and I'm quick to realize that any hope of running a double after pedaling 7 miles to work and 7 miles back is a laugh (at least for now).

Today was day one of my first back-to-back workout for the Twin Cities Marathon build, which called for 7 miles at 6:12 pace. The coach describes the reasoning for this pace in his excellent post from yesterday. The legs were a bit tender, which I blamed on the bike commute, but I felt confident I could manage the pace without too much trouble. I even brought along music for the effort after getting the new Wilco album in the mail. Some might badmouth the band (some might even call them a "low-rent Weezer", which is akin to calling the Beatles a low-rent Monkees), but I can't get enough of the new record, mellow though it is. In fact, go here, click the "listen" button towards the bottom and skip to the third track, "Impossible Germany". I listened to this song three times over the 7 mile effort and couldn't take it all in. It's the kind of tune you can walk around in for days. "Hate it Here" (a few tracks later) belongs on side two of Abbey Road, which in my book is a good thing.

Oh, the run. The legs did feel a little fatigued, but the 7 miles went by quickly as I circled my one mile route. The uphill that challenged my heart rate last week could be felt, but overall I was pleased by how I felt afterwards. Tomorrow's 2 hours of running will let me know if I overcooked it at all.

Training: 10 miles, 1:03:47, 6:23 pace, w/7 miles at 6:10 pace

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mike's Schedule Explained (The conditioning phase)

As expected Mike's schedule is based on the Lydiard system. The word system is very important when talking about Arthur's training philosophy as most athletes, coaches and physiologist focus on the individual tools of his system (marathon training, hills, sprint work and recovery) and not Arthur's explanation of how it fits together. Before the 1960 Olympics in Rome where Snell's Gold at 800 meters, Halberg's Gold at 5000 and Magee's Bronze in the Marathon brought his system to world attention Arthur wrote an article for the New Zealand Amateur Athletic Coaches Associations Monthly Bulletin. It is interesting reading Arthur's thoughts before he had to defend himself against the physiologists ("medical people" as he called them), not one word about oxygen debt, not a word about aerobic or anaerobic thresholds. A few things stand out in the article but the one I'm going to touch on here is the bases for Mike's schedule.

Arthur's important point number 5

"The important thing is to reach peak fitness on the day desired - that is the test of trainers and training schedules." - Arthur Lydiard

This may have been Arthur's biggest contribution to the sport and the most overlooked. So what prevents most athletes from peaking at the correct time? It is none other than this point made by Arthur; "The essential point to remember is to hold yourself in, train, not strain" I have seen too many athletes turn their conditioning phase of their training into a 10-12 week survival stretch where every single week is an attempt to survive until the next week. Arthur warned against this; "We all know that we have to be racing fit to win championships, but if we were to race and do fast work continually, the strain would eventually wear gown our condition so that we would become jaded mentally and physically."

This is where in Mike's schedule the initial 10 weeks will be holding him in, allowing his mind and body crave the fast and very hard work that will show up for his 5 week peak period (with the specific back to back training days and volume speed workouts). In this initial phase almost all the work is done below what Arthur called the steady state. In looking over many athletes schedules over the years the upper limit of the steady state appears to be about 10-15 seconds per mile slower than marathon race pace (another formula I use is take a 5K time divide by 5 and multiply by 6 (in Mike's case 16.1 divided by 5 equals 3.22 times 6 equals 19.32 (divided by 3.11 to get pace per mile) equals 6.21 or about 6:12 per mile). He'll be running only at the upper level for 10-20% of his miles with most of his running at about 95% (or less) of that pace (6:36 per mile for Mike). (If you use a heart rate monitor coach Dr. Philip Maffetone's formula's (180-age) is a good upper level to work at during the conditioning phase (He like Arthur understands the importance of not straining during the conditioning phase))

The important thing to remember about the conditioning phase is to build your physical and mental reserves so that you'll be ready for the hard race like conditioning that comes in the two months before the goal race. In my next post I'll go over peaking training and some of the mistakes that can be avoided during that phase.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

In the Beginning...

there were many miles run at moderate paces. As I mentioned yesterday, the word has been passed down by Mystery Coach regarding my marathon build for Twin Cities in October. I'm hoping he will elaborate publicly on the program, as I'm guessing some of you out there would be interested in hearing his take first-hand.

I'll be running one 2-4 mile evaluation run per week, starting out on the slower and shorter end (2 miles at 5:45) and gradually building in speed and distance. I'll also be doing one very hilly run per week where I'll focus on getting the knees up on the uphills while stretching out on the downhills. The coach guesses we were a little too light on the hills last time given the course I ran in Sacramento. The other two workouts are the familiar back to back efforts, of which the first day is a steady diet of 7 miles at 6:12 pace, while the second day will alternate weekly between a time-based long run and 14 milers with 4 miles at 6:12 pace.

The remaining days are simply running by feel, anywhere up to 90 minutes at 6:35 pace or slower. Doubles are allowed (and I'm taking this to mean in addition to the "up to 90 minutes"), though second sessions will be easy running.

According to the coach, we're backing off on the speed (especially on the MP stuff and the time trials to some extent) in an effort to get back to conditioning the muscle fibers by activating them through volume (instead of through intensity like I have been while racing this spring).

At first glance this whole plan looks easy, but one thing I've learned about the coach is that if I can show him I'm adapting AND recovering from the present workload, that workload will change to become more challenging. He has said as much in his emails, and he has cautioned me against getting ahead of myself and thus screwing up any chance of accurate observation and evaluation.

There was a time when I would be rebelling against such a cautious start, but if given the choice between under-doing it for a few weeks while establishing a baseline of fitness and over-doing it by challenging myself to run 6:20 pace daily and having to step back and regroup after a few weeks, I'll take the former. Maybe I'm growing up or something.

The way I see it, adding a few easy doubles and trying to get out for the full 90 minutes on at least two of my three unscheduled days will ease my mind about going too easy on overall miles. It's good to be given a bit of rope in this regard.

Training: 13.75 miles, 1:30:25, 6:35 pace

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Summer Break

Finn and Haiden lounging and living easy at Grandma's yesterday

I made it. Two tough art show weeks at work without a day off, sandwiched between two hard races and ending with a weekend of memorial services and mass for a departed loved one are behind me. Ahead of me is what I live for: A few months of four-day workweeks and a 20-week marathon plan penned by Mystery Coach. This is the good life.

This spring offered many lessons, and while I made plenty of mistakes and miscalculations along the way I was happy to end it on a good note with the 5K on Sunday. While it was a meager PR, I raced the way I wanted to and I got to finish the season on a good note.

This photo was taken shortly after the sound of the gun and shortly before the race sorted itself out. The fellow in the middle (to the left of me) is Carlos, a standout runner for Pima Community College who won the race one day after running at Nationals, and the fellow to my right is Jason, who took second place one day after putting the hurt on himself while giving my friend Dan some company on a marathon pace long run.

I felt ready to race in the two days leading up to the event. It's hard to describe, but I was looking forward to the suffering and the difficulties I have when racing this distance. I could taste the moment where the decision is made to either race out of your skin or to settle in, and for some reason I was confident I would press on and make the more difficult choice.

When the gun sounded I made sure I was up front in the first group, and soon Carlos and Jason started to get a gap. Both of these guys can run under 15:30 without any difficulty, and by a half mile in they seemed destined to place first and second. In my pack the monkey-business started with a strong surge by Shane at .75 miles in, which was immediately countered by the other runner I was mindful of (both of these guys beat me two weeks ago and Shane and I go back and forth). I had told Lucas earlier in the week that I would do whatever it took to stay on these guys and in the race, and if he saw me more than five steps off of Shane that something would have gone terribly wrong. I held myself accountable to this and slowly made my way onto the tail. There was one other Pima runner in the mix at this point, but he seemed content to follow the moves of the other runners in this small pack rather than try to break free and chase the two leaders. One mile found us at 5:06, and I was a little disappointed to see the split as I felt like I was running at 5-flat pace. The second mile is the killer on this course, as most of it is on a slight uphill. I was right on the tail of the two runners I was chasing here, and quite frankly the legs were begging me to pull up. A selection would be made here, as I knew that if I was feeling this bad that the other guys had to be hurting. Finally Shane's body language cried "Uncle" and we started to gap him. I know Shane pretty well now, and this never lasts. Sure enough, as we rounded the turn and headed onto Broadway he came back and surged ahead. Lucas was close on our tail now, so our group was five strong. As we neared the two mile mark I could feel Shane start to drop off again, and when I hit the 5:13 split I dug in a little more. Anyone can suffer for a mile, and the .1 would take care of itself.

My tiny surge strung things out, and soon enough I could tell that Lucas and Shane were trailing off. I had a bit of a gap on my competition, but as we made the last big turn onto Country Club we all drew even. I had rehearsed this stretch in my mind for the cruel 1000 meter coned straightaway that it was. I remembered all the gut-check surges and counter-surges that I had endured against the runner beside me before getting out-kicked two weeks ago. I knew I had one simple suicide card to play: push the pedal down until the legs wobble and don't let up until you cross the line. I knew any easing off once I surged would just draw him back in, and the legs didn't have more than one move in them.

When I broke with 1000 to go I moved out of my skin. The calf muscles nearly buckled each time I pushed off my forefeet, and it felt like my whole body was vibrating. The Pima runner was mumbling encouragement now while matching me, but the other runner's footsteps were fading. Every step hurt like hell and the three mile mark was still a ways up the road. Finally the Pima guy trailed off, though I'm still not sure why. My head started to bob as I finally passed the three mile mark while drawing nearer to Jason, who was drifting back while running in second place.

(Check out the head bob action behind Jason. I'm not exaggerating)

A final turn into a parking lot revealed the finish line, and the release I felt upon crossing it was palpaple. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't talk, I was done. The one second PR was nice, though I did see 16:02 when I passed the clock (they have me at 16:06 and several other runners have complained of times 4-5 seconds slower than their watches), but I was happier about the effort.

Besides the slow time, I ran this race the way I wanted to in my mind. In general I'm fairly hard on myself when it comes down to self-examination, but on this day I can honestly say I was the runner I wanted to be.

Training: Sunday, 8 miles w/5K race in 16:06
Monday, 4 miles very easy with my sister while in Phoenix
Today, 10 miles, 1:08:19, 6:49 pace
Miles for last week: 58 miles in 7 sessions

Sunday, May 20, 2007

All that for One Second???

16:06, 3rd place, 5:06, 5:13, 5:09, :33

It's a measly one second PR, but I ran with heart today and I kept at it through the finish. It was nice to beat the two guys who beat me two weeks ago, and after crossing the line I felt as horrible as I ever have after a race. I left it all out there.

I'm up in Phoenix for some time with the family, so I probably won't check in until Tuesday. Hope everyone had a good weekend.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Lowest Number Wins

The vomit count:
Kiera: 1
Finn: 3
Haiden: 4 (bonus point for two episodes in the middle of the night)
Mike: 0

No time to post or run yesterday as the latest illness to strike our household found a host in Kiera after inhabiting son Finn then daughter Haiden. Yesterday my job was to keep the kids away from Kiera (and pretty much away from the house) so that she could get some rest. Their exciting day included watching me pack a bronze at the gallery where I work, a trip to the park, a second trip to the park with bathing suits to enjoy the "splashpark", cheezybread from the pizza place nearby, and mac'n'cheese at a local noodle place.

By the end of the day I was quite exhausted, but this morning found everyone in good spirits. Kiera is out of bed and eating again, and I hit the road for 6 easy miles in preparation for the 5K tomorrow. I felt great and had to work hard to keep the pace as slow as 7 minutes per mile, so I'm guessing I'm ready.

The goal tomorrow is by now a familiar one: break 16 minutes. This course is where I ran my PR a year ago, and by a look at my improvements in time over the past two races (when compared to last year), I feel I have it in me. I'll have Shane to chase (the guy who beat me at the cross country race and at the last 10K), as well as the fellow who outsprinted me at the same 10K. All of us will most certainly have sub-16 on the brain, and if I run with courage I feel I can do it.

Speaking of courage, my friend and blog-buddy Eric knocked his first marathon out of the park with a stellar 2:33 for 2nd place in Fargo. Mystery Coach deserves credit for keeping Eric on course, and hearing about this race really made me happy.

Training: Today, 6 miles, 41:30, 6:55 pace

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bio-Med in the year 1979

Now that is a catchy title but only to someone who in 1979 bought one of those original baton shaped heart rate monitors with the very tiny red LED display which ate 9 volt batteries at the rate of one every 3 weeks (The price may have been about $300). Owning a number of different models since then and collecting a lot of data on different runners, what can be said about heart rate monitors for training?

1) During volume repetition workouts (aiming for 3 or more miles worth) the best results to prevent over training are achieved if the HR gets to a bit over 90% of maximum at the end of each repetition (and not go much higher during the any of the reps) and returns to a fixed level (say 120 or 130) before the next rep. If either of those two (the end of the rep HR or the rest level HR climb, that's when to end the work out whether it is 2 reps or 10). In other words what Arthur said about not running the intervals too intensely (which causes the repetition HR to stack) and quiting when you had enough (the HR does not return to a fixed 120-130 in the given time) still is the best advice (even without the HRM)

2) An elevated HR or a depressed HR on a distance run means you have not recovered fully from a previous workout. Sounds inconsistent, it's too low, it's too high and it means you're fatigued. I've seen it too many times in too many athletes to be a quirk. What I think is going on is the first type of fatigue is caused by calling in new muscle fibers which are not as efficient causing a greater demand on the heart and the other is when there are not enough fibers to call on which means the fibers don't fire and the demand on the heart stays low because nothing is creating a demand.

3) Picking a set heart rate for a distance workout can cause under training or over training. Under training is not bad but many athletes are fooled into over training by picking a level (75% Max HR) and running at that level. Running at 75% max HR can be over whelming to the muscle fibers if they have not been conditioned properly, yet if they are conditioned properly running at 85% max HR may not be a high enough load for improvement to the muscle fiber.

Training properly is more than picking a number (whether it is miles, a certain pace, a percent heart rate,etc) it is studying your reaction to that number . So for heart rate monitors noting when some heart rate is not expected is is a good use but as a device to set goals for your training they are of limited value.

Mike's HR test of yesterday was just a baseline test to see where he is as of the start of base training, in 4 weeks (when we repeat it) he should have a faster pace with the same HR if not maybe the pace of the workouts needs to be slowed down to allow the fibers to adapt more efficiently. Of course getting Mike to wear bunny ears during his running is easier than getting him to slow down.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

News from the Heart

Today I ran with something called a heart rate monitor. I actually used to use one of these back when I raced bicycles, though it was difficult back then trying to dodge all the dinosaurs walking about. I tossed it aside once I quit riding and moved into marathon training, though I did find one log entry from March of 2004 where I was training for the Vermont City Marathon and apparently wore the monitor for a bit. Back then I was crazy into Pete Pfitzinger's training, and with an average of 60 miles per week for 18 weeks I ran a 9 minute PR to go just under 2:48.

In training for that race I estimated my threshold heart rate as 175 after wearing a heart rate monitor for a 10 mile race where I ran my hardest for close to an hour. From there I figured I could run a marathon at 90% of that heart rate (I forget why, but Pfitzinger probably said it somewhere). I have some random notes that suggest an elite runner could run a marathon at 88-91% of his threshold and that a competitive runner could expect to run at 88-91%. This stuff gives me a headache now, but back then it suggested I could run a marathon at an average heart rate of 158 or so. I still have no idea what my heart rate was when I ran the 2:47, but during my training I have my first 7 miles of a marathon pace run at 6:15 pace with an average heart rate of 159.

Today Mystery Coach asked me to wear the heart rate monitor to run 7 miles at a 150-155 heart rate. He mentioned that the actual heart rate number is less important than getting specific data to compare it against later on, so I tried my best to be good and stick to the plan. After a one mile warm up to slowly build the heart rate up to the prescribed level I hit the lap button and tried to just run steady. Since I had the Garmin on my other arm I decided to ignore pace entirely and solely focus on keeping the heart rate within the 5 BPM window. This proved fairly easy for the first 2.5 miles, but once I turned onto my 1 mile loop I noticed immediately the drop in heart rate on one quarter mile section (where I invariably had to speed up a little) and a similar section on Sabino Canyon road where I had to noticably ease off on the speed to keep the monitor from going over 155. The one time I accidentally looked at my pace it was just at 4 miles, where I saw 6:11 as the average. For the last three miles it seemed I had to slow a little more on the slight uphills, though the effort still felt quite comfortable and easier than marathon pace. When I made what I knew was the last turn and clicked the watch again at 7 miles it showed an average of 6:15 for the duration. Apparently I had to slow down more than I thought, since this means I averaged 6:20 for the last three miles after averaging 6:11 for the first four. While there was a net downhill for the first portion, it still doesn't completely address the drop in speed over the second half. Luckily I have Mystery Coach to help dissect the data, as I'm at a bit of a loss for interpreting it myself.

Yesterday was an easy 9 miles in the morning, followed by another 6 easy miles in the evening. Again, I'm making a real effort to run the easy days a bit easier than usual this week in order to stay fresh for the 5K on Sunday.

Training: Today, 8.25 milds, 52:30, 6:21 pace, w/7 miles at 6:15 pace and 150-155HR
Yesterday a.m., 8 miles, 56:00, 7 minute pace. Felt nice and easy
Yesterday p.m., 6.2 miles around 6:50 pace

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Data Mining

"Hope all this is useful," I thought to myself as I finished taking my heart rate after my third mile repeat. The workout today consisted of three times one mile, with the first two at 5:34 and the last one fast. The rest intervals were about 1:26 or so, or whatever would get me to seven minutes even before starting again.

A 3.5 mile warm up brought me to the track by the house, and since the first two repeats were around 10K pace I didn't bother with any strides, skips or cartwheels. Both the first and second mile came quite easily, and I found myself having to back off a bit after hitting each of the first 400's closer to 80 than my planned 83. My heart rate immediately after each of the first two reps was 152, and I was pretty much ready to tackle the last mile after the second rest.

When I hit the watch and dug in I thought about my plan of trying to run fast and relaxed, more like the first mile of a good 5K than the last mile when arms start flapping and knees go a-knockin'. I figured hitting 75's for the first 800 would be a good start, then if I felt good I would try to dig in a bit more during the last 800. 400 came in 74 and found me feeling good, but I found myself at 2:31 for 800 without much gumption left to crank the pace down. I thought I was holding steady as I began to get behind my breath, but the 3:48 at 1200 showed I was slowly losing ground. For the last 400 I tried my best to focus on good form, thinking it would bring me back to pace. I was pushing well off the forfoot and the arms were in check, but even with a little acceleration over the last 200 I came across the line in 5:01. The heart rate was 168 directly after, and a long jog home brought the run out to 9 miles.

All in all I'm happy with the effort, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed to go under 5 for the last one. Granted, if I had really "raced" the last lap I could have made it, but I figured saving the flailing finish for the race would be a better idea.

I'm hoping collecting heart rates along with noting the efforts associated with them will help establish a baseline for the training that's in store for the marathon. I can say that 5:30 pace feels better than it ever has, but 5 minute pace is another story entirely.

Training: 9 miles, 58:30, 6:30 pace, w/3x1 mile on 7 minutes in 5:32, 5:33, 5:01

Monday, May 14, 2007

Ahhh, Sleep

Almost eight hours of rest last evening, and I could tell the difference immediately this morning as I headed out to meet Lucas in Sabino Canyon. While I covered a fair amount of hills, the lungs and legs felt quite good throughout the run. When Lucas and I parted ways I had planned on returning home at 10 miles, but since I was feeling good and keeping the pace mellow I extended the run to 13 miles. I'm working at really keeping the "easy" days easy this week in order to regenerate for the 5K, and I felt today's run fit well in that mold. I know my definition of easy doesn't always seem fitting, but this week is about racing well and not about maximizing my steady state and all that other stuff I'm usually rattling on about.

Tomorrow is an interesting workout of 3x1 mile. The coach wants the first two run at 5:34, and the last one run as fast as I can manage. I'll start each mile at 7 minutes, which means about 85 seconds of recovery. I'm wondering if I can get under 5 flat for the last repeat without killing myself.

Check out Andrew's post today for a good discussion on Arthur Lydiard's conditioning phase and the different ways to approach it.

Time to ship some paintings.

Training: 13 miles, 1:28:28, 6:48 pace

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ready for a New Week

The art show where I work is over, and while I'm still in the middle of an 11 day work "week", my daily hours at work and the time I spend on my feet will be getting back to normal. Ahhh, just in time for one more race.

Getting out of bed at 4 was a challenge this morning, but I managed to squeeze in 9 easy miles in time to get back before Kiera's long run. I was in a daze for much of it after getting home from work after 10pm, so I just kept things nice and easy. Here's how the week went down:

Mo: 10 miles easy at 6:49 pace, sore quads
Tu: 10 miles at 6:19 pace
We: 11 miles at 6:42 pace, a little tired
We: 6 miles with the group around 6:40 pace
Th: 10 miles w/5x1000 on 5 minutes in 3:13, 3:10, 3:11, 3:10, 3:12
Fr: 10 miles at 6:49 pace, failed long run, sore and tired
Sa: 16 mile redemption run, 6:32 pace
Su: 9 miles, 7:02 pace
Total: 82 in 8 sessions

I learned a bit about recovery (or what happens when I don't take it when I need it) after bombing the long run on Friday, and I tried to be mindful of the lesson on my run today. While I may not be happy about my limits, I'd like to think I'm learning to respect them more.

Thomas is talking about miles and rebuilding for a marathon, and it sounds like he's tuning in a bit to the Mystery Coach radio network via mine and Eric's blog. He noted how my miles have dipped a bit this year, and he's certainly right. While I was originally thinking I would jump back into marathon conditioning in the coming week, it looks like the coach is giving me one final chance at breaking 16 minutes for the 5K this week by taking it easy on me. After this week the training for Twin Cities will begin in earnest, and more miles are certainly part of the plan.

One thing I've been toying with is adding a few more doubles to the mix, but taking a slightly different approach due to my schedule as well as the weather in Tucson. Since the temperatures routinely climb into the 100's or more after about noon and stay that way until the sun goes down, I'm thinking of putting in my second run in the late morning, three hours or so after the first run. These will mainly be slow shakeout runs, as I certainly won't be ready for anything more serious just hours after my first run of the day. We'll see how this develops. With Kiera running and the both of us sharing an ever-shrinking window of tolerable temperatures something will have to give, and while I've never really gotten the hang of running doubles more than once a week I'm not ready to give up on them yet. Four day work weeks during the summer will help with this too.

I hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Training: 9 miles, 1:03:20, 7:02 pace

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Legs vs. Calendar

Legs win!! With a busy schedule at work this week, which includes 11-12 hours spent at an art show today, I let the calendar decide when to do my long run. I ended up planning it for the day after my 5x1000 intervals, but the legs simply would not have it. I found myself at the bottom of Gut Check Alley, 5 miles from home and in serious doubt about making it back home. The pace was slow, the legs were tired, and my body just wasn't in the mood. I ended up just jogging home and calling it at 10 miles.

Today I set the alarm again for 4:15 with hopes of making another attempt at 16 miles before Angie dropped by to run with Kiera. I awoke feeling worlds better than yesterday after getting to bed early, and after the first mile passed in 7:05 I knew I was back after some forced recovery. I ended up progressively dropping the pace mile by mile, and by mile 10 the average pace was down in the 6:40's. I didn't feel any fatigue until mile 13, but after that I did drag a little while continuing to drop the pace.

That's it for now since I'm supposed to be watching 3 kids right now.

Training: Today, 16 miles, 1:44:35, 6:32 pace, felt great but a little tired for last 3
Yesterday, 10 miles, 1:08:10, 6:49, felt like crap

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Race Pace?

For some unknown reason last night's easy 10K jog with the Running Shop turned into a free-for-all, slug-fest, course record attempt. I got the word earlier in the day when Lucas emailed me with a warning that Shane would be wearing a singlet for the run, and sure enough he walked into the shop in his racing finery. Scott managed to one-up him though when he showed up with an actual bib number pinned to his singlet. His attempt at waving the red carpet in front of the waiting bulls escalated when he pulled out an old Tucson marathon medal from his pocket, jangled it in front of us, and promised it to the winner. Who says runners are a serious lot?

The evening run did end up a fair amount faster than usual, and Shane looked to have the victory sewn up after a long surge up Mountain Avenue. Luckily a stoplight halted him in his tracks, and things stayed fairly reigned in until Scott made a break for the line in order to keep his medal. I took third place and ended up with an itchy back after turning a somersault on the grassy portion of the run (which marked the end of my early surge).

This morning I decided to head to the freshly paved track at the nearby junior high, and after somewhere between three and four miles of warm up I changed the shoes and got ready to run a set of 5x1000 repeats. Mystery Coach has been giving Eric sets of 1000's where he starts each successive rep 5 minutes after starting the previous one. I figured this kind of workout done at my (hopeful) 5K pace of 5:08 per mile or so would keep me familiar with the effort and cadence of a sub-16 minute 5K, and that the rests of 1:40-1:50 would be a bit of a challenge for me after my usual long recoveries.

I ended up hitting the 1000's in 3:13, 3:10, 3:11, 3:10, and 3:13. Invariably I ran the first 400 of each rep a little fast, after which I would slow a little while I tried to concentrate of proper form and running relaxed.

While the times came fairly easily, the effort during the last 400 of each of the last three reps gave me pause. I wanted to walk away from this workout thinking I could have held the speed for the entire distance without the rests, but that didn't happen. I'd like to blame a quick run last evening and the 10K on Sunday for this, but in reality I'm probably scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as race-ready-5K-fitness goes. I think it's more about holding on rather than building race-specific fitness at this point, and I find myself thinking more and more about the marathon in October.

Training: Today, 10 miles, w/5x1000 every five minutes at 3:13, 3:10, 3:11, 3:10, 3:12
Yesterday pm., 6.2 miles at breakneck speed (6:30-6:40 pace maybe?)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Daylight? We Got That

It's warming up in Tucson, and the sun is peeking up over the mountains a bit earlier each day. Now that Kiera is starting to run longer in the mornings it's become necessary to set the alarm for the ungodly hour of 4am in order for both of us to get our runs in. I took the early shift and was surprised at how bright it was even at 4:45, though my eyes were barely open enough to register it.

I took it fairly easy today and followed most of my route from yesterday. While the legs felt fairly good, I'm trying to mind the recovery to stay fresh for the upcoming marathon build as well as the 5K in 10 days. It will be my absolute last chance to break 16 minutes for the spring, and I believe I'm in as good or better shape than I was before running 16:07 (my current PR) on the same course a year ago.

Going into this race last year I ran the same two races I just completed. For the 10K last weekend I improved by a paltry 6 seconds, but for the 5K a little earlier I managed 26 seconds better. I'm planning on a short-ish speed workout tomorrow, which should give me a little more feedback on my current state of fitness. The endurance isn't as bad as I thought it would be, or at least the last two miles of the 10K being my fastest on Sunday indicate such. I do worry about my turnover a bit, since I really didn't seem to be able to turn the legs over quickly on the downhill portions of the same race. The workout tomorrow and a little speed next week will hopefully help with that.

Training: 11 miles, 1:13:40, 6:42 pace

Monday, May 07, 2007

Twin Cities

I spent a fair amount of time composing two emails to the folks at the Chicago Marathon, but they won't even acknowledge me with a response. The day the race sold out was a difficult one for me, but that's not a good excuse for not registering earlier.

Chicago, I give up. Twin Cities has my resistration in hand, so I will be running alongside legendary bloggers Patrick and Seebo come October. I had a blast running alongside Seebo in December, and I hope to repeat the experience with some lower numbers this time.

Work is still insane, and with only one day off and 13 straight days on the clock ahead of me I'm getting a bit too busy to post often. Yesterday was a relaxed 10 miles with Lucas. Both of us had sore quads from the downhills in the race, so we slowly worked down from 7:50 pace to a bit under 7. Today the legs felt fresh, and after hitting the first mile at 6:50 I kept progressively working the pace down throughout the run. While the quads felt it a little after 7.5 miles, it really was a nice run.

Training: Today, 10 miles, 1:03:09, 6:19 pace
Yesterday: 10 miles, 1:08:08, 6:49 pace

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Cinco de Mayo 10K

Finn and Dad bringing up the rear in the kid race.

I ended up in 5th place today at the annual Cinco de Mayo 10K in 34:32. While I ran a whopping 6 seconds faster than last year, I wish now I had gone out a little more aggressively. I say that because I ended up getting outkicked after chasing down and duking it out with another runner over the second half of the course. Results are here. Perhaps if I'd gone out quicker than a 5:35 I could have stayed closer to my friend Shane, who ended up in third with a 34:02. Miles of 5:50, 5:27, 5:50, 5:24 and 5:24 followed, and while the 5:50's were on steep uphills, I noticed I had more trouble rolling quickly on the downhills. I really did give it all I had during the second half of the race, and fighting back and forth with another runner for those miles was fun and difficult at the same time. When I threw in my last surge to drop him right around the 6 mile mark I really thought I had it, but when he fought back one last time I could not hold him off.

After the race was when the real fun started, though Ash (far right) and Angie (teal shirt/blue shorts) dropped Haiden, Finn and me early on. Angie ran her first 10K today, so drop by her blog and read all about it.

They also had a jumping castle for the kids at the awards ceremony, which kept Haiden happy and contained. Kiera snapped a hundred pics as usual and got to spend some time with Angie, which was nice. All in all it was a great morning, though I do wish I had tried to put the hurt on a little more during the first mile or two. While it probably would have meant slowing down later on, showing any patience at all at races of 5-10K always leaves me second-guessing.

Training: Today, 11 miles, 10K race in 34:32, w/2 mile warm up and 3 mile cool down
Yesterday: horrible 2.5 miles, should have stayed in bed

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hall, Ritz and the Rest of Us

I remember emailing Mystery Coach about Ryan Hall's stunning half marathon U.S. record after it happened and remarking on just how easy he looked in the video footage posted on Flotrack. Now that Hall owns the fastest debut marathon time for a U.S. runner with his 7th place 2:08 at London he has certainly shown an ability to train the right way.

While it gets old filtering out all the "praise this, glorify that" stuff that inundates any interview with the guy, it's interesting to read about him describing his training for his first go at the distance. My friend Jason sent me a link to his training blog, and this post stood out. It was written between three and four weeks out from the race.

"On Tuesday I ran my first ever 26-miler. It wasn't anything crazy, in terms of pace, but it gave me a lot more confidence that miles 20-26 aren't something to be scared of, just respected. ...In my buildup for London I have put in 5 tempo runs of 12 miles or longer, 5 runs of 2:15 or longer, and 4 marathon simulations running 8-10 miles at a moderate pace and then putting in 8-10 miles at marathon pace."

I've read that the tempo runs he describes are at pretty much marathon pace, which I guess is obvious given the length. What strikes me the most about the description of his training is what he doesn't mention: lots of speed work. His emphasis on spending lots of time at or around marathon pace as well as him putting in several runs that exceeded his finishing time for the marathon obviously served him well.

It gets more interesting when you compare what Hall did to what Dathan Ritzenheim and coach Brad Hudson describe here as their plan for Ritz's next marathon after a rough last six miles at the New York Marathon. " time they’ll probably run more miles, up to 130–140 miles per week, and at least one long run of 26–27 miles. Hudson also feels they should do more fuel-specific training, such as long runs at marathon pace. This year they did one, mid-program. Next time they would retain that one, and add another 14 days out from the marathon: 18 miles 'at fuel' (progression from 5:28 down to 5:00 pace). He also would add a workout nine days out, consisting of 30 minutes easy plus 10 miles at close to race pace, to send the final signal to the fuel system."

It sounds to me like Ritz will be training much the same way as Hall (assuming Hall sticks with what has worked), and that marathon pace, race simulation and serious long runs will all be parts of the recipe.

While my marathon pace is more than a minute per mile slower than these guys, I know I'll also be spending a fair amount of time around race pace if my last build with the coach is any indicator. I definitely still seem to have some fuel issues as I get into the third hour of racing, and it will be interesting to see what we do to counter it. In the past stamina has been the key with increasing back to back workouts at pace, but with more time on our hands I'm interested in whether or not a few longer runs would help.

As for today's run, it was slow and uneventful. I headed out once Kiera returned from her run, and after yapping yesterday abut how good a little sharpening generally makes me feel I was dragging most of the way.

Training: 7 miles, 48:24, 6:55 pace

The Optimist

I took it fairly easy this morning, with the exception of a quick detour to the track for six laps of 100 sprints, 100 jogs. I've found that of all the sharpening workouts I've tried, this particular variation seems to really make me feel good without tiring me out. Something about digging in hard around the turns for 200's seems to put pressure on me, and the 50-50's just get annoying after awhile, so 100's seem to be the sweet spot for now.

It's always amusing to have the Garmin on for these because it tends to be a little optimistic when it comes to pace and distance on the track. My six laps somehow netted me 1.53 miles even though I was scraping the rail for most of the short workout. Still, it's a nice tool for the longer stuff and the marathon pace runs and Kiera seems to get as much use out of it these days as I do.

Work is back to "nuts" for ten days or so, which probably means lots of short posts like these. I look forward to the summer months when hopefully this blog can get a bit more introspective again.

Training: 10 miles, 1:06:21, 6:40 pace, w/ 1.5 miles of 100 sprints, 100 jogs in 8:28
Yesterday pm., 6.2 miles in 43:32, very comfortable

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


What trail? Standing still in the sandy Rattlesnake creek bed while scratching my head really brings the average pace up for a run. My quest for easy, no-stress running led me to the Esperero trail in Sabino Canyon, which links with the Rattlesnake trail, which spat me out into this sandy creek bed with nary a cairn in sight. I eventually found my way out by just heading downstream, but I was surprised at just how much damage the flooding of this area caused.

A few minutes later I crossed the main road in the canyon and took another trail that crossed Sabino Creek, which again left me constantly hunting for the proper path. I'm much more familiar with this section, but it's still easy to lose track of where I'm going if I'm not careful.

Eventually I found my way out of the canyon and ran the last three miles of the run at a relaxed 6:40 pace. After the constant climbing, descending, rock-hopping and trail searching, getting back on the pavement and stretching the legs out felt good. Later, when I got home and asked my wife about the Rattlesnake trail she couldn't understand the difficulties I had. She mentioned how easy the trail was to follow after following it 30 or 40 times. I'll just take her word on that.

Training: 9 miles, 1:06:42, 7:25 pace

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Today's Moderate: Brought to you by Easy

Today's run vanquished any thoughts that I had taken it too easy yesterday. From the first few steps on the road the legs felt much improved from the weekend, and by the end of the first mile I was already at 6:50 pace. When I touched the garage door after 9 more miles I was happy with what seemed like a good aerobic effort. The pace steadily crept downward, and it felt good to cover each successive mile a bit faster than the one before it.

If I've learned anything from this prolonged racing phase this spring, it's that I have a tendency to sell my recovery short. Intervals and speed sessions just beat me up more than I'm willing to admit, and I often compound the damage by either running too hard or for too long on the days where I'm not doing workouts.

With this in mind, I'm really going to take it easy tomorrow. I'm not going to get any more fit before the 10K, but I do have the opportunity to get more rested.

Trainng: 10 miles, 1:04:08, 6:24 pace, good progression down from 6:50 pace