Friday, June 29, 2007

Building Up

Hey, I finally updated my training log.

Tough one out there today. 14 miles were on the menu, with the first 10 steady and the last 4 at 6:08-6:12 pace. I lingered around the house a little longer than usual, as quite frankly I was a bit nervous about how it would go after some good running yesterday.

When I finally got out the door at 5:30 or so it was already cooking, but the first 8 miles went by at a good clip. With two miles to go before dropping the pace I started to get a bit nervous about how it would go, which always seems to happen these days. I eventually hit 10 miles and sped up, and the next four miles went by about the same way they did two weeks ago: All systems go until 2.5, a rough patch to three, sailing to 3.5, then a rough drag to the finish. I blame much of this on the 1 mile course I use, which is slightly downhill for the first half and uphill for the second half, but I'm still convinced this kind of terrain helps with mental toughness. Also, this is about the flattest stretch of paved road I can find within 5 miles of my neighborhood.

I definitely felt wiped out during the one mile cool-down, though now I'm feeling back to normal. I can feel the training getting more serious now, and I can look back with a chuckle on my first impressions of the schedule when Mystery Coach sent it along. "It looks so easy," I thought at the time.

Training: 15 miles, 1:38:12, 6:33 pace, w/10 miles at 6:33, 4 miles at 6:10

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Free Pass

I like to think I eat a fairly healthy variety of food, but when I find myself traveling through a certain zip code in Tucson the car seems almost to drive itself to Pat's Drive In. Kiera and I used to live a few miles from this place, and back when I raced road bicycles Pat's would often be my last stop after riding hill repeats over Gate's Pass or riding up Mt. Lemmon. After a long, hard ride of 80 miles or so I had no problem throwing nutritional guidelines out the window and enjoying something blissfully caloric and full of saturated fat. I felt a ride of 4 hours or more gave me a free pass for one gorging, and a $5 bill tucked in my jersey pocket was always enough to do the trick.

Today I found myself back in my old zip code, though this time instead of riding a bicycle I was driving a rented van that for some inexplicable reason contained two life-sized cheetah bronzes which I had just finished lifting and wrestling into said vehicle along with a few paintings. It was close to noon and already nearing 100 degrees, and when I found myself passing the familiar white metal awning and saw the friendly cartoon hot dog smiling I simply could not resist. When I dug into my pocket and found a $5 bill it was a done deal.

It's now two spicy chili dogs, a bag of fries and a Dr. Wells (you can't win 'em all) later and things are looking up. The cheetahs have a new temporary home and I'm back in the air conditioning, thinking about the workout this morning. Today called for 9 miles at 6:08-6:12 pace, which was the same run I did last week. The legs still felt a little tired, which I blame on last evening's run through an inferno of heat. Still, after two slow warm up miles I got to it.

Usually the first two miles are the easiest, but today I found myself slipping to the back of the pace range from the get-go. The breathing was definitely a little heavier than last week, and I just couldn't settle in and get comfortable. Finally at four miles in things started to break my way as I brought the pace down to 6:09 for the duration. To my amazement it kept getting better from here, and by 7 miles I was speeding up a little more. The last mile had just a little edge to it, and I finished the effort at an average pace of 6:07.

I'm anxious to see how tomorrow goes, as it's always the second day of the back to back workouts that tell the tale. Now off to find some pepto bismol.

Training: 12 miles, 1:17:05, 6:25 pace, w/9 miles at 6:07 pace
Yesterday pm., 6.2 miles, easy but stinking hot

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Again With the Running

Easy 10 this morning, though it seems to get just a bit warmer in the mornings with each passing day. This was another easy "daydream" run, and while I was originally hoping for 12 the legs just felt done after about an hour so I started to head home. I knew I had another Pilates session to attend before work (only two left after today which means you won't have to read about it anymore), so I needed to save a little strength. Also I'm hoping to join the gang at the shop for an easy 10K in 100+ degree temps after work. At least we go get sandwiches afterwards.

While I'm not flying through all of my runs I do feel like I'm starting to make some progress during this new conditioning phase. It's getting easier to stay out for a few extra miles during some runs, and I am managing to survive the back to back workouts. On the mental front I'm still feeling fresh and ready to go, and there is some satisfaction that comes along with feeling like I'm just plain getting back into shape.

Training: 10 miles,1:08:50, 6:53 pace

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Slow Start

Similar efforts, quite different results:
6/18- 13 miles, 6:42 pace, felt light
6/19- 12 miles, 6:32 pace, hills in Sabino Canyon

6/25- 13 miles, 7:00 pace, a bit tired
6/26- 12 miles, 6:46 pace, hills in Sabino Canyon

I'm a little surprised to see this week starting off slower than last week, though yesterday's run was a hilly and sedate affair with my pal Lucas in tow. Today I felt fine, but I never settled into a faster pace like I did a week ago.

My guess is that the long run took a little more out of me than I thought, and Saturday's increased effort for the same speed during the 2 mile evaluation run affirms this. I think I'm pretty close to the edge of what I can absorb at this point, and while I would rather find myself at this point after a 110 mile week, it looks like mileage in the low-90's along with a decent long run is all it takes.

My goal this week is not to force things, and with some good recovery I'll hopefully find myself zipping along a bit faster with the same amount of effort next week. Brick by brick and all that.

Training: Today, 12 miles, 1:20:39, 6:46 pace, same hilly course in the Canyon
Yesterday, 13 miles, 1:30:17, 7:00 pace, easy with Lucas

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Just Fine

All in all a nice week.

Mo: 13 easy/moderate
Tu: 12 moderate w/hills
We: 10 easy am., 6.2 easy pm.
Th: 11.5 w/9 at 6:10 pace
Fr: 20.7
Sa: 10 easy
Su: 10 w/2 at 5:39, 5:35 pace
Total: 93 miles in 8 sessions

Yesterday's run was a slow, easy slog just to move the blood around in the legs after the one-two punch of Thursday and Friday. Today was a bit of a different story with a two mile evaluation run on the ledger. I wasn't able to get out of the house until 8, which meant temperatures in the mid-80's. I was happy to wait this long because it meant my wife was able to get in 15 miles early, which was her longest run yet. When I reached the track after two miles I felt like I was cooking, so I decided to dive right into the evaluation after one warm up lap. Like last week I ignored the watch until I hit the first mile, where I saw 5:39. While it felt like the right speed (I was planning on 5:35-5:40), it did seem to take a bit more effort than last week and I was glad to see it wasn't any slower. The second mile actually felt much better than the first, and the resulting 5:35 was further proof. The heart was pumping along at 160 immediately afterwards, and instead of sticking around to get a recovery heart rate I hit the road and kept jogging.

About a mile and a half later a funny thing happened. I finally reached a patch of shade under a mesquite tree towards the top of a short hill I was running up and I just stopped. My breathing was heavy, and I found myself standing in the shade with my hands on my hips. It was a mile and a half back to house from here, and quite frankly I just felt hot and beat.

After about a minute I started heading home, but then veered into Sabino Canyon to finish up the usual Slow Down Loop. It meant more hills and more heat, but in that minute of rest and the half mile of running downhill I found myself with a bit of a second wind.

With ten miles in the bank I grabbed a bottle of Gatordade and proceeded to mow the lawn before coming inside to eat breakfast, so that was one hell of a second wind.

Training: Today, 10 miles, 1:06:47, 6:41 pace, w/2 mile evaluation at 5:39, 5:35
Yesterday, 10 miles, 1:11:23, 7:08 pace
Total miles, 93 in 8 sessions

Friday, June 22, 2007

Long and Hot, but Done

After feeling great at the beginning of last week's long(ish) run I was surprised to find myself a bit flat when I headed out the door today. I had 2h 20 minutes scheduled, and luckily for me my pals Lucas and Mud Run World Champion Jason (shown in action here) agreed to join me for much of it. I knocked out 45 minutes or so on my own before heading back to the house to meet them at 6am, but unfortunately it was already close to 80 degrees. We headed out for my second loop in earnest, and it seemed that the three of us were all in a similar frame of mind: Just get it done.

We covered the down and up loop first, which mercifully includes only half of Gut Check Alley, and by the time we climbed back up to even ground we all desperately needed a drink. A quick pitstop into the supermarket we passed helped a bit, but I was parched again only a few miles later. Lucas took a shorter route home, leaving me and Jason to finish off the last four hilly miles through Sabino Canyon and a few neighborhoods.

When we finally got to the driveway I was glad to be done. It was a day of good, solid work, made more difficult by temperatures that will be the norm for two or three months. While I thought I was doing the guys a favor by letting them have a later start (I would have preferred to meet at 5 or 5:15), the heat definitely took a toll on all of us. Still, after a gallon of water and a few homemade scones it didn't seem all that bad.

Training: 20.7 miles, 2:19:50, 6:46 pace

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Save it for Tomorrow

I need to do something about Wednesdays. The Thursday-Friday back to back workouts are starting to get more serious, so doing a morning run, another free Pilates session (3 left) and a second run in 100 degree temperatures on the day before simply isn't optimal. It was fun though. The morning run was a relaxed 10 miles, and the evening run was an easy 10K with no watch. I'll call the second run 7:30 pace just for Abadabajev, but I really have no clue.

Today I had 9 miles at 6:08-6:12 pace scheduled, and instead of hitting the usual 1 mile loop I ended up running up and down the moderate hills on the main roads and in Sabino Canyon. The workout went well, which was a little surprising given how tired I felt during the two mile warm up. The pace stayed within the parameters for the whole effort, slowing a little on the uphills and speeding up on the downs.

Tomorrow calls for 2h 20 minutes, so I was more than happy to stay right in the middle of today's pace guidelines instead of pushing them.

Training: Today, 11.5 miles, 1:13:10, 6:23 pace, w/9 miles at 6:10 pace
Yesterday, a.m., 10 miles, 1:09:50, 6:59 pace, p.m., 6.2 miles easy

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Mr. Finn Turns 2

Father's Day two years ago found me out the door very early for a run along Sabino Canyon's Phoneline Trail (yes, this was before the floods washed it away). Kiera was two or three days away from her due date, and of course I wasn't running with a cell phone (never have). I arrived home earlier than what my note on the stove indicated, so instead of going into the house I opened the gate to the backyard and started picking weeds and watering plants while I waited to stop sweating. About this time Kiera rips open the patio door and shouts "Take the world's fastest shower, my water broke!"

Finn arrived with a bit of trauma, which included a snapped umbilical cord, a horde of worried doctors and a whisking off to the N.I.C.U. (intensive care). He started out a bit grey, and I remember feeling every muscle in my body tense as they worked to clear his lungs. Kiera was incredible and unflappable, just like she was when our daughter was born. A bit later, while she was resting, I was allowed into the N.I.C.U.. I finally got to sit down in a rocking chair, hold my son, and get to know him. He surprised me from the start, and he still surprises me daily. Happy birthday Finn.

On a running note, a trip up to Phoenix to see the Police in concert got me home sometime after 1, and the combination of jumping around for an hour in an inflatable wonderland and getting only 4 hours of sleep spelled certain doom for the weekly hill run in Sabino Canyon. Or at least I thought it spelled doom. Somehow things ended up going very well, and while I did tire during the last 2 miles again (like yesterday) I was amazed to see that I covered the same 12 mile course at 6:32 pace that I had run last week at 6:43 pace with no extra effort on my part. I'm hoping this indicates that I'm starting to recover quicker, but I'm glad regardless.

Training: 12 miles, 1:18:20, 6:32 pace

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pump it Up?

This is the name of the place we are off to this morning. Apparently it's a huge, air-conditioned warehouse full of fantastic inflatable jump-ons. I made the mistake of showing daughter Haiden the coupon they sent us in the mail and it's been on her mind ever since. The wife is back, and since parents and siblings under 2 play free, we're all off to make the most of Haiden's $6 admission.

I was thrilled to get out at 5 this morning for a run after three days of running after 7, when it's already in the 80's and the sun is high in the sky. This was an easy daydream run with no eye on the pace, and the legs felt surprisingly light throughout. I found myself a little tired for the last mile, but this is often the case since it's uphill. I'm looking forward to a good week.

Lastly, congrats to Chad on his 2:57 PR marathon at Grandma's this past weekend under wilting temperatures. He had a very solid race with amazingly consistent splits. Nice work.

Training: 13 miles, 1:26:56, 6:42 pace. Feet felt light today

Sunday, June 17, 2007

7 Hours and Counting

It's been a long week for me, but thankfully the wife returns this evening from Scrappapalooza '07. Kiera's been gone since Wednesday afternoon, and while the house hasn't quite descended into Lord of the Flies, it has been a change from the usual.

Lesson Number Two for single-parent wrangling: Spaghetti is just a bad idea (though Finn likes the garlic toast).

Yesterday I made sure to run easy, and I ended up finishing 12 miles feeling fairly fresh. Temperatures have been in the 80's for my 7 a.m. runs this week, which has definitely made me more aware of how much I need to drink. Today I dropped the kids off at my brother's house and got in a quick 8 miles, which included a two mile net downhill evaluation run at 5:35 pace. The coach advised me to cover 2-3 at 5:40, but the opportunity to follow a straight but slightly downhill road while facing out of the sun pretty much made a 5:40 effort into 5:35's. The heart rate was at 160 immediately afterwards, but I figure the heat was good for at least 6 of those beats per minute.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Time to get back to mine.

Training: Today, 8 miles, 53:01, 6:39 pace, w/2 mile evaluation run at 5:35 pace
Yesterday, 12 miles, 1:22:54, 6:54 pace
Miles for the week: 82 in 7 sessions

Friday, June 15, 2007

Believe What You're Saying

You're never too old to make a rookie mistake...again. When I attended a send-off party for my pal Dan, who is running his first marathon, we spent a few minutes going around the group relaying our favorite bits of running advice. This was somewhat humorous, since Dan has more running experience (though not at the marathon) than most of the people espousing wisdom out on the patio. When eyes turned to me I mentioned a tried and true refrain: "If you're on pace and feeling good at mile ten and you feel like turning it on and dropping the hammer, wait until mile 15. If at mile 15 you are still feeling good, wait until mile 20. If you're at mile 20 and you're still feeling good, wait until mile 23."

I should have followed my own regurgitated advice this morning, as for some reason I took off like I was shot out of a canon. The goal was 10 miles at a steady pace (I take this as 6:35-6:45 for now), then 4 miles at 6:12 pace. Within a mile I was at 6:30 pace, and I started to worry a bit about going too hard early given the workout yesterday and the faster pace scheduled for the last 4 miles. To fight this I turned on to the Slow Down Loop, but after bisecting Sabino Canyon on the paved road and following the dirt trail out I was down to 6:27 pace. I was 5 miles in now, and instead of slowing down to regroup for the last push of the day I just settled into the pace and continued. After a drink and a head-dousing at just shy of 10 miles (I got started after 7 so it was already in the 80's), I hit the lap button and accelerated. The quicker pace was felt fairly quickly, and while things were good for about 2.5 miles, I started to drag soon after. The final mile probably found me closer to 6:15 than 6:12, but starting a little quickly got me a 6:07 average for the four miles.

Standing and panting in the driveway (thankfully in the shade), I realized I had done this before. Back then I blamed going too fast for the first 10 miles of the day, but the coach reminded me in an email that I probably did more damage (and made the workout tougher or too tough) by running the 7 miles the day before too fast and as a result putting myself above my "redline" for too long. Not optimal. I think I made the same mistake here by running yesterday's planned 6:12's at 6:03, but running the first 10 today in the heat at 6:27 pace certainly didn't help.

I still need to learn patience, and I need to get better at respecting what running faster than optimal does to me. Hear that Eric?

Easy tomorrow.

Training: 14 miles, 1:29:01, 6:21 pace, w/first 10 at 6:27 pace and the last 4 at 6:07 pace. Tired and hot.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

World's Fastest Babysitter

Read about his latest 5K victory here.

Due to my own scheduling snafu I didn't have a sitter to watch the kids while I did a workout today, so I called on my friends from the Running Shop to save me. I always feel bad asking anyone for a favor, but luckily for me Jason/Omniscient (pictured and story link above) agreed to come to my rescue by showing up at the house at 6 this morning. I was able to get in a mile warm up and 7 miles at 6:03 pace with the kids taken care of, although all the while I was worried that Finn's diaper would explode in a very smelly way during my absence. Fortunately I returned home to find Jason, Haiden and Finn sitting contentedly and watching a Muppet Show video. Afterwards I packed the kids into the stroller and headed out along with Jason for my cool down.

I ended up with 11 miles for the day, and while the 7 miles of pacework was a bit faster than the planned 6:12 pace, I blame it on the anxiousness of wanting to get home to rescue Jason. The workout felt good, and honestly it felt like it would have been more difficult to force myself to go slower than it was to just continue at the pace I settled in at.

Lesson Number One for solo-child-wrangling: Go easy on the jelly. You might think it's the peanut butter that makes the mess, but the jelly is much easier to spread around. When I took Finn out of the chair after lunch he somehow managed to get jam smeared on his back. The kid is amazing. We spent part of the day watching the NCAA track and field championship, and Finn really took a shine to the steeplechase. At less than 2 years of age he was shouting "go" as they ran along, and he laughed and said "awaaahh" (water) every time they tackled the water obstacle. He did point and say "daddy" more than a few times too, which I like more than when he does the same thing as the garbage truck drives by.

Speaking of Finn, he's dragging the highchair towards me so it must be lunchtime.

Training: 11 miles, 1:10:35, 6:27 pace, w/7 miles at 6:03 pace and 3 miles pushing two kids in pajamas.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


My wife is en route to the airport for a long weekend of "scrap-camp". Yes, it is what it sounds like: a camp for scrapbookers. I am not making any of this up.

Keeping the kids fed, watered and entertained will be the first priority until Sunday night, though as I've said before I'll have some great help as Kiera's mom will be pitching in while I'm at work during two of the days and also while I'm running in the morning. Still, it should be interesting. Kids can eat jello for lunch and dinner, correct?

As far as the running goes, I felt a bit beat towards the end of my 12 easy miles today. I blame this on three beers and 5 hours of sleep due in part to attending a hearty send off party for my pal Dan, who will also be attending scrap-camp. Actually he's off to Grandma's marathon to go for an Olympic qualifier, which is remarkable. This is his first attempt at the distance and I wish him all the best.

While I won't be getting in any doubles this week, I'm hoping to keep my daily totals a bit above 10 miles in an effort to get used to a bit more volume before the specific marathon training starts. Today wasn't unpleasant at all, and it was nice to ignore the watch until the end and just pad along at a comfortable pace. The fatigue at the end is actually good for the psyche, as I can tell the legs are getting some stimulus from staying out a bit longer.

Time for a quick nap while Finn is down and Haiden is still at school.

Training: 12 miles, 1:23:11, 6:56 pace

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Reformer, the Cadillac and Mike

My boss gave me a Christmas gift of five private pilates sessions, and today I finally had my first appointment. The studio was pretty much what I expected, from the smell of de-ionized air to the myriad of mirrors and workout contraptions. Several instructors and clients scurried from one machine to the next, while others performed stretches in their white socks and "pilate-wear" (mainly tight t-shirts or leotards and loose tights). Now I'll leave the house in just about any combination of running attire (though Kiera recently stopped me before I headed out the door with blue and green shorts paired with an orange shirt), but choosing what to wear for this unfamiliar event actually stressed me out. Luckily I was fine after unwittingly fitting in with the same standard t-shirt and loose tights everyone else had.

My instructor was nice enough as she guided me through a stretching and strengthening exercises on something called the Reformer (sounds ominous, doesn't it?). It was immediately apparent that my right hip was especially tight as it kept bouncing up off the machine when I was supposed to be "anchoring my tailbone" or some similar pilate-speak. Soon enough a leather loop was strapped around my left arch, and as soon as I started to push with that leg to move the weight (they use springs, not weights but you know what I mean) it convulsed into a wicked cramp, which was amusing to all. The leg stretches were interesting, but I definitely got tense whenever I got into a range of motion I wasn't used to. I'm adept at hurting my legs in a very systematic and repetitive way, but getting out of that familiar groove and following a different range of motion was a challenge.

After wrestling with the Reformer for awhile we moved on to the Cadillac. I made a point of not saying anything about the name of the machine, just to save the instructor the pain of going over the same sentences she must repeat to every new client. Here we got into the real workout, and my abdominals were shaking a bit with the effort. I was glad when this was over, and I'm certain I'll be feeling it tomorrow. I'm also certain that I am absolutely terrible at pilates.

All of this made the run a few hours earlier seem easy by comparison. I got up early to run the same hilly route as last week, though with some extra time I made it to the top of the road in Sabino Canyon this time instead of just 3/4 up. That last pitch is really a bear, and the one time I checked my heart rate at the wrist it was 168, which is a bit high for what is supposed to be more of a strength and technique run. At ten miles I could feel the glycogen start to dip, but I made a point of getting to 12 miles to work through that tired feeling. All in all it was a good run.

Training: 12 miles, 1:20:23, 6:43 pace

Monday, June 11, 2007

Brick by Brick

I'm trying to get an early start on the miles this week as Kiera will be heading out of town beginning Wednesday afternoon and not returning until Sunday evening. Thankfully Kiera's mom will help us out a great deal during this time, as I'm only able to get 3 of the five days off from work to watch the kids. Best of all, she's planning on coming over early enough for me to get in a run on each day of my wife's absence, which is above and beyond the call of duty.

With all this in mind I headed out for 90 minutes under overcast skies. While I definitely felt better than during my last long run, I had the same sensation of fairly dead legs. I had no plans to run fast, so I just settled in and put in all the minutes over a fair amount of hills.

Tomorrow calls for another run to the top of the road in Sabino Canyon, which means a steady grind up several hills. This same run last week seemed to set me up well for Thursday's workout, and I'm hoping this week it will do the same.

On the homefront, our son Finn will turn two next week. He was born on Father's Day. Also, at four years of age daughter Haiden is starting to get beyond simply scribbling her own name and has moved on to expressing herself a bit with the written word. Her best effort so far was a sign she made and taped to her door.

It simply reads- "No Finn"

Training: 13 miles, 1:29:36, 6:53 pace

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Short Week

Aside from the zero on Monday this ended up being a pretty good week of training for me. I was happy to keep my four "appointments", which consisted of a hilly run, the back to back workouts and today's evaluation run.

Yes, I admit it- the "zero on Monday" in the above paragraph is still eating at me, even though I said it wouldn't.

Here's how the week went down:
Mo: 0
Tu: 11.35 miles, 1:15:05, 6:37 pace
We: a.m., 13 miles, 1:29:00, 6:52 pace, hilly and fun
We: pm., 6.2 easy miles around 6:55 pace
Th: 10 miles, 1:02:41, 6:16 pace w/8 miles at 150-155HR in 6:03, 6:04, 6:04, 6:03, 6:07, 6:07, 6:08, 6:01. Felt great
Fr: 19 miles, 2:10:00, 6:50 pace, Did not feel great
Sa: 9.25 miles at around 6:55 pace, felt easy
Su: 10 miles, 1:04:38, 6:28 pace w/2 mile evaluation run in 5:36, 5:32 (162HR after)
Total: 78 miles in 7 sessions

Yesterday was an easy 9 with the legs feeling pretty good considering the abuse on Thursday/Friday. Today was a run in the heat, since I waited until Kiera got home from her long run to get out for a two mile evaluation run. Instead of trying for 5:45 pace like last time I had 5:40 in my head, but I only checked the watch at the end of each mile. I was happy that the times seemed to exceed the effort (in a good way), and I'm hoping it's an indicator that I'm starting to bounce back quicker from the training.

Hope everyone had a good weekend.

Training: Today, 10 miles, 1:04:38, 6:28 pace w/2 mile evaluation run in 5:36, 5:32 (162HR after)
Yesterday, 9.25 miles at around 6:55 pace, felt easy

Friday, June 08, 2007


I wasn't too thrilled with tackling the long run today, which seemed a bit surprising after having such a good day yesterday. I guess the downhills from the steep run on Tuesday met up with the faster paces yesterday and decided to gang up on me in the form of some muscle soreness and stiffness. As I sat with my coffee at just after 4 I was worried about how it would go, and I decided to do a long out and back to ensure I ran the full 2:10. This meant a trip down Gut-Check Alley, a run past my brother's house (where the hose outside was a great relief), and a long trek back through Gut-Check Alley (uphill this time). After about 6 miles I found myself at 6:55 pace or so, and I just had nothing in me to squeeze it down much further. As I hit the three miles or so of uphill on the way back I could feel the pace slow a little, followed by a bit of a second wind at 15 miles when I finally crested the final hill.

Long runs that take me far from home and back again have always been a bit tougher for me than multiple loops, but as much as I would like to avoid it, the steady stretch of uphill at about 2/3 of the way through this loop is probably a good simulation of the hills that come late in the game at Twin Cities.

It was nice to get this long run in the bag, and I'm looking forward to acclimating to these back to back workouts again.

Training: 19 miles, 2:10:00, 6:50 pace

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Surprise

The coach created an illuminating post a few days back that explained some effective strategies for executing "evaluation runs" during a training cycle. In the post sub-maximal efforts were discussed, and as luck would have it I was assigned one of these tests for today.

May 17 was my last test, when I was told to run seven miles while keeping my heart rate between 150-155 beats per minute. If you look back at the post about this run you'll see that the first half was run at around 6:11 pace, while the overall pace dropped to 6:15 by the end. I obviously slowed quite a bit towards the finish, and I found it hard to keep my heart rate under 155 during the slight uphill portions of the one mile course.

Today I had the same assignment, with the only difference being covering 8 miles instead of 7. This time I set the auto-lap feature on my GPS to record each mile, so that it would be easier to see later just where and when I started to slow.

After running 19 miles in a double yesterday, including 6 hot miles after work in 90 degree temperatures, I didn't expect to run any faster than I had three weeks ago. In fact, with the extra mile thrown in at the end I expected the cumulative pace to probably be a little slower. Much to my surprise, everything clicked instead. The splits were 6:03, 6:04, 6:04, 6:03, 6:07, 6:07, 6:08, and 6:01. When I got halfway through the 5th mile I could feel that I had to start slowing a little on the uphill to keep the heart rate in the assigned window, and this just killed me. In my mind and in my legs I was just getting warmed up here, and all I wanted to do was to take the heart rate up to 160 or so and finish the run with a few sub-6 miles. I don't know why, but I just felt good. However, once again I could feel the evil eye of Mystery Coach upon me, so I flicked the devil off of my shoulder and stayed with the program for the sake of the data, even though it meant a few slower miles.

As I rounded the bend and began the 8th and final mile I decided to try and focus my energy on being as biomechanically efficient as I could. I worked on balancing my upper body over the legs and floating on the hips while bringing my feet up behind me quickly and pushing off the forefoot strongly. While the heart rate was still 153, I could feel the pace quicken here over what it was for the past few miles, especially as I ran through the turns. When I got to the final uphill portion I did have to pull back again, but finishing the last mile in 6:01 was a bit of a shock. I think I'm just naturally a bit of a sloppy runner, and to see such an improvement in pace at the same heart rate just by concentrating on form was really an eye opener.

Again, today didn't even really feel like a workout (though I'm guessing a 2h10m long run tomorrow will). Putting the 6:04 average pace today against the 6:15 pace I ran three weeks ago at the same heart rate makes me feel good, but it also makes me wonder if I was starting to come down with a bit of the sickness I had the following week. Whatever the reason, I'll take it.

Training: Today, 10 miles, 1:02:41, 6:16 pace, 8 miles at 150-155BPM, splits of 6:03, 6:04, 6:04, 6:03, 6:07, 6:07, 6:08, 6:01
Yesterday p.m., 6.2 miles in 42:19, around 6:55 pace

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Get Out and Stay Out!

I stayed up too late last night looking at guitar effects pedals on ebay and typing emails, so when the coffee maker started sputtering at 3:58 it just seemed too soon. Still, with another runner in the house being held captive until my return I had no choice but to get out there and get back before it got too hot. I was hoping for 13 miles or 90 minutes, and as it turned out the first goal was reached about a minute before I would have hit the second goal.

I'm feeling the rut of the 10 milers these days, and it's something I need to make sure I get over. It feels like the fuel system starts to shift between an hour and 85 minutes (especially with a belly full of coffee and no food), so making a point of staying out past this "switch" will hopefully get the body storing more glycogen. Plus, I admit to feeling a bit guilty about the low mileage total last week as well as the zero on Monday.

All in all it was a good run, and I tried to follow the coach's suggestion to daydream and take it easy on these in-between workout days. I have another 6 planned this evening with the Running Shop gang, even though the weatherman predicts 40 MPH gusts (should be fun), and tomorrow starts the back to back series for the week (8 miles at 150-155BPM). Time to break out the heart rate monitor again.

Training: 13 miles, 1:29:00, 6:52 pace

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Where to Start?

Special thanks to Mystery Coach for yesterday's post. It looks like he's certainly given Mark quite a bit to think about, and I was glad to read more about the analysis behind the different types of evaluation runs. One thing I like about "easier" (sub-max heart rate) evaluations is how it can remove the psychological pressure that's usually present during an all out effort (at least for me), which I think can skew the results of what should be a test of fitness (rather than will). As mentioned, sub-max evaluations are also much easier to recover from.

As far as my running goes, Saturday morning ended up being a nice run of 8 miles to recover from the Thursday/Friday block, and Saturday night was a fun 5K run through downtown. See Angie's report for details on the race (including turkey-dodging). I volunteered to help some for this one and ran it more to participate, and I ended up running 18:26. It was fun to just run and enjoy the race, and afterwards I caught a free showing of Chariots of Fire. The night ended with a burger at In and Out and me hitting the pillow after midnight (both rare occurrences).

Sunday was a ridiculously hot 10 brisk miles at 6:36 pace. I ran after Kiera finished her own 12 mile run, so the sun was really cooking down. This wasn't good after running in the heat Saturday night, and I spent much of the rest of the weekend just trying to catch up on my fluid intake. After the run I jumped in the car and brought daughter Haiden up to Mesa so we could visit my folks. Haiden is always begging to go up and visit, and since I have longer weekends in the summer I'm trying to accomodate her more. I got to see how the other half live (the other half being people who pay for HBO) by watching the Sopranos and Entourage, which meant another late (but entertained) night.

Monday I wasn't able to run while in Mesa, and while I probably should have gone out after getting home, going to dinner and putting the kids down I just wanted to sleep. A year ago I would have gone out regardless of the circumstances, and I'm still trying to figure out which approach will help me more in the end.

Today found me ready to roll when the alarm beeped at 4, and 11 hilly miles followed.

This is the profile of the hilly run I should be doing every week. It ended up getting bumped for two weeks straight, so it felt good to finally get out and up the road in Sabino Canyon. Instead of any specific hill exercises I just tried to run strong. I made an effort to work the uphills at a tempo-type effort and to loosen up on the downhills, and overall the effort felt great. Maybe the zero helped.

Training: Today, 11.35 miles, 1:15:05, 6:37 pace
Yesterday, 0
Sunday, 10 miles, 1:05:50, 6:36 pace
Saturday a.m., 8.16, 55:59, 6:52 pace
Saturday p.m., 3.1 miles, 18:26, 5:56 pace
Miles for last week: 67 in 7 sessions (ouch)

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Feedback Loop

As a runner how do you evaluate if your training is effective? Mark Has collected some interesting running data over the past year with a series of test that are based on a lengthy post by Coach Hadd. The test Mark is using is probably based on the Faraggiana - Gigliotti - Fiorella lactate test (if you Google the names you'll see they are highly regarded Italian marathon coaches) and has been adapted for use with a heart rate monitor. A few points that should be noted; the original test was based on a series of long intervals (2000 meters) that started slower than marathon pace and decreased 4 seconds per mile until the pace was about 3% faster (10 seconds per mile) than marathon pace. The second point is that the test Mark is running is based on the article's selection of heart rates which was OK for the athlete involved (max HR 193+) but is far too stressful for Mark (max HR 176-180?) A better range for Mark would be 125,135, 145, 155 and 165. A third point is any workout or time trial can be use as an evaluation test as long as you standardize it (control as many variables as possible and record a constant observable feature(heart rate, lactate level, or running speed))

Let's look at some other test and see how they match up with some of Mark's data. Perhaps the best single circulatory parameter for predicting distance running performance is a test mentioned in David Costill's "A Scientific Approach to Distance Running"; the percentage of the runner's maximum heart rate recorded while running at 6 minutes per mile. Using that formula let's see what we get. Predicted 10 mile times base on percent max HR (176 bpm; May 2006 (66:50), July 2006 (64:40), November 2006 (61:30) and May 2007 (58:00). If we look at how this matches up with Mark's performances; in February 2007 he ran 62:03 for ten miles and in March 2007 78:08 for a half marathon (equivalent to a 58:45 10 mile). The formula is close for Mark, in fact by tweaking it a bit for himself (maybe adding 30 seconds to the formula's results) he would have a near perfect correlation with his abilities by knowing what percentage of his maximum heart rate when running a single 2400 meter test.

Another test that has a good track record is the "Maximum Aerobic Function" test developed by Dr. Philip Maffetone. By running at a steady sub maximum heart rate (180 - your age (in Mark's case about 140)) the pace will have a good relationship to your 5K race times. Without reproducing his whole chart here if you took the 140 HR pace and divided it by 6 the multiplied it by 5 you would have a good indication of 5K race pace (for Mark 6:55 divided by 6 time 5 is about 5:45 (Maffetone's chart would have him at 5:30 pace)). Mark has run at 5:38 pace recently so now we have a single test of running at a lower HR and getting a good indication of improvement and capability.

As you can see from these two test it is not necessary to run a maximum pace to judge your fitness (or your improvement). Just by having a consistent test you'll be able to see improvement (or stalled improvement which will require some adjustment). Try a few of these test (you may like one better than another) and repeat it every 4-6 weeks, note how you are running/racing and what you are doing for training, in this way you won't have to guess when you are in peak shape the numbers will tell you that you are ready.

Friday, June 01, 2007

In the Bag

Today's run felt a bit more difficult than I would have liked, but it's nice to have it in the bag. This was day two of the weekly back to back workouts, and it involved 10 miles at a steady pace followed by four miles at 6:12 pace. If I were feeling good I would probably have added at least a mile or two as a warm up along with a similar cool down, but today it was all about just getting it done. The quads are still adjusting to the cycling to work, and they were barking from about three miles in. I once again felt like I was dragging my toes, but as the miles passed things got a bit better. When I finally hit ten miles I hit the watch and sped up, and for about two miles I still felt comfortable while running 6:05-6:10 pace. The last two were more difficult but still manageable, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thrilled to have it over with.

I was really hoping to hit my stride this week after a decent first week of conditioning, but things haven't exactly gone to plan. There's still a long time to start feeling good, and yesterday was a start. I even ended up driving today instead of riding to work, due in part to some nervousness over a changed flat from yesterday that wasn't holding air as well as having to transport a few heavy items to work.

Maybe if I allowed myself more time to ride to work it wouldn't load up the legs as much as it does. As it is now the ride is usually a knock-down, drag-out time trial, but that's what I get for drinking coffee too long while reading the funnies.

Training: 14 miles, 1:33:28, 6:32 pace. First 10 at 6:40, last 4 at 6:09