Sunday, August 31, 2008


10 miles, 1h11m, 7:03 pace
Sleep: 9h 10/10 YEEHAAAW!
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 75 degrees, 66 dew-point

Nice, easy run this morning after a long, full night of sleep. Gotta hope it's a recipe for success tomorrow, as a bunch of the local guys will be out for the kill. A good end to a slightly lighter week. Here's how things went down:

Mo: 12 easy, 5 easy (sick)
Tu: 12 (still feeling sick)
We: 11 w/7 at 6:02 pace
Th: 20 at 6:40 pace
Fr: 12 easy
Sa: 12 at 6:38 pace
Su: 10 easy
Total: 94 miles in 8 sessions

Saturday, August 30, 2008


12 miles, 1h19m, 6:38 pace, w/3x90 second bursts, last mile at 5:50 or so
Sleep: 5.5h 6/10 (still falling behind)
Legs: 9/10 Man I felt good
Weather: 78 degrees, 58 dew-point

I decided to put in some preliminary speed-work two days in a row, mostly because I just felt good and wanted to run a bit faster today. Canceling a few doubles this week seems to be giving me a boost, which might help me come race day on Monday. I also think going into the race with a bit less fatigue might help me recover faster afterwards (we'll see how this part works out). I haven't raced since May, so I'll be on the line Monday with a smile on my face, gladly willing to suffer.

I was out until midnight last night trying out a rehearsal space for what will eventually be a new band I'll be in. It's been two years since my last performance (a 10-year reunion show with my old band), and ever since I've been threatening a return to making noise. I've been able to write some new tunes, but getting other musicians to commit and finding a place to rehearse has been a struggle until now. Last night was the first practice, which was pretty much me playing the new tunes to the drummer, who is also a good friend. Making a loud racket for three hours or so without any complaints from family or neighbors was a joy, and I can't wait to get the rest of the group in the same room playing together. It felt like finally taking the line to race after miles and miles of solo training.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Almost Like I Planned It

After three solid weeks of decent mileage it looks like I'm falling off a bit for this week. Feeling sick on Monday and Tuesday led me canceling the planned double and weights/plyometrics on Tuesday, then Mystery Coach and I moved up the marathon pace workout and long run to Wednesday-Thursday to get it out of the way before the race on Monday. This has put me back to one run a day for the week, and it seems as good a time as any for it. For those who think I never take a recovery week, this is Exibit A.

Thursday's long run was a solo journey of 20 miles, which is something I've been able to avoid most weeks by running with the other guys heading to New York. This time I had no takers for the 4:45 departure time, which allowed me to get back in time to bike Haiden to school. It ended up being a good run, with each mile along the way going by a bit faster than the one before it. I ran out of road before running out of gas, which I always take as a good sign.

I've kept up my preliminary speed-work this week, including 6x45 second bursts this morning during my 12 miles. I ran the rest of the way fairly slowly to give myself a chance to recover from the effort of Wednesday and the long run yesterday.

12 miles, 1h24m, 7:03 pace, w/6x45 second bursts, two every 15 minutes w/3 min recovery
Sleep: 7h 8/10 (finally)
Legs: 7/10
Weather: 72 degrees, 66 dew-point

20 miles, 2h11m, 6:40 pace
Sleep: 5.5h 6/10
Legs 8/10
Weather: 74 degrees, 65 dew-point

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Ever since Sunday night I've felt like I've had a bit of whatever sickness the kids kept us up with last week, which seems to involve headaches, a sore throat and a general malaise. I seemed to escape Monday's run unscathed, even with the cautious speed-work thrown in, but it really hit in earnest on Tuesday after a bit of time throwing up on Monday night. As a result I ran very easily on Tuesday and canceled both my planned double and the weights/plyometrics session for later in the day. I was glad I did, as I felt a bit achy later in the evening.

Luckily, today I woke up feeling ready to run again. I met Lucas down on the river path for 7 miles of marathon-ish pace work, which was in line with what he had planned. After two very slow warm up miles in very humid conditions we got to it, and while the first two miles seemed a bit tough for the speed I finally started feeling good by the fourth mile.

The average heart rates for each mile are listed below, and it was nice to see them staying under 160 for the first five miles. Ideally I'd like to be able to get through the first 10 miles of the marathon before hitting a 160 heart rate, but at this point I'm not sure if that's going to be in the cards.

I am racing this coming Monday, so I'm planning on getting the long run out of the way tomorrow in order to have fairly fresh legs for the punishment. Here's the course profile:

Even with those pretty colors it still looks like a bear.

11 miles, 1h10m, 7 miles at 6:07(143HR), 6:03(152), 6:04(152), 6:02(155), 6:02(158), 6:03(161),6:00(161)
Sleep: 5.5h 5/10 (coughing too much)
Legs: 7/10 A little slow to come around but good after 3 miles
Weather: 73 degrees, 66 dew-point (really felt the humidity)

12 miles, 1h25m, 7:11 pace
Sleep: 4h 2/10 Throwing up and sore throat
Legs: 6/10 Slow slog needed, slow slog taken
Weather: 75 degrees, 65 dew-point

8/25/08 (late morning), 5 miles slow on the treadmill (around 7:50 pace)

12 miles, 1h23m, 6:59 pace, w/2x50 second bursts, 2 x 1:40 fartlek
Sleep: 6h 6/10
Legs: 8/10 Good for day after back to back
Weather: 74 degrees, 64 dew-point

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Track Bullies

Today's workout: 10 second argument x 8, repeat every 2 1/2 minutes

Honestly, I wish I would have handled myself better, and I even said as much to Kiera.

Me: "Say you are on the track, walk/running your dog with a leash..."
Kiera: "What am I doing on the track with a dog? That doesn't make any sense! Who runs their dog on a track?"

I continue with the story about me having an argument every lap and a half with this particular gentleman, who for some reason is intent on occupying most of lane two while his dog takes up all of lane one. Both are tethered together with one of those expand-o-leashes. ...And yes, of course he's wearing headphones. There's also a giant metal sign attached to the fence around the track and playing fields at the school which prohibits dogs.

"On your left", I call the first time, and the dog mercifully grants me passage on the inside while the owner ignores me. "Excuse me", I call back to him while looking him in the eye. Next time around he's ready for me, but as I call "track" again he starts to squeeze against his dog and move INSIDE as I'm doing the same thing. Harsh words are exchanged about "common courtesy" from both parties, and I'm left shouting back to him that slower-moving runners should move to the outside lanes when faster runners come through. This startles the poor guy I'm coming up on next, who jumps from lane 5 to lane 8. I apologize to him and give a breathless synopsis of my situation and he seems to understand my plight. Next time around headphone-dog guy is somehow running backwards and yelling about faster runners moving to the outside and we hash it out again (though he has moved over to lanes two and three at this point). I yell that dogs aren't even supposed to be on the track, but that either doesn't sink in or he doesn't believe me. The angry mutterings and arguing repeats roughly every lap and a half, and I'm stressed, hot and pretty pissed off by the time I finish.

This episode took place during miles 14-16 of my long run, which was supposed to be a marathon pace (with adjustment) workout where I ran the first ten at 6:50 pace and the last six at 6:20-6:25. After the first ten went well I figured I could run the second half of the six miles of effort on the track to collect some data on how I'm handling the pace in the latter stages of a run. The data below shows how adrenaline, impatience and surging blood pressure affects a run.

17.5 miles, 1h54m(ish)
10 rolling miles at 6:47 pace and 142HR, then 6:15(153HR), 6:16(157), 6:13(161), then three on the track at 5:54(168), 5:49(172), 5:53(172)
Sleep: 5h 5/10 (sore throat kept me awake)
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 82 degrees, 59 dew-point

In short, I ran past the purpose of the workout. Afterwards I ran a mile and a half home, but what I should have done is run alongside this guy and explained my position. I should have apologized for raising my voice and turning it into a shouting match, as that's certainly not the way adults should behave. Instead I left in a huff, and he'll go home thinking he's right and that I'm an arrogant tool. Meanwhile I'll go home and google "track etiquette" and find solace in the fact that the tubes of the internet agree with me. No one wins.

Aside from failed track diplomacy, it was a good week:
Mo: 12 w/6x40 second bursts
Mo: 5 slow
Tu: 10.5 w/4 mile evaluation in 6:09, 6:18, 6:20, 6:17
Tu: 5 slow, plus weights/plyometrics
We: 12 w/6x40 second bursts
We: 6.2
Th: 16 very hilly
Fr: 12 w/6x40 second bursts
Sa: 11 w/7 miles at 156HR (5:50-6:25 pace)
Su: 17.5 w/10 at 6:47 pace, 6 at adjusted marathon pace
Total: 107 in 10 sessions

I cut out a planned weight session and one double, which seemed to leave space for the increased time around marathon pace as well as the preliminary speed-work. Now if this sore throat doesn't turn into whatever sickness the kids have I should be fine. Enjoy what's left of the weekend.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


11 miles, around 1h14m (watch got out of synch)
7 miles in 5:50(155HR), 6:12(157), 6:13(156), 6:20(157), 6:21(156),6:25(156), 6:24(156), 3:26 to 120HR
Sleep: 6.5h 7/10
Legs: 9/10 Fresh
Weather: 82 degrees, 64 dew-point

First day of my return to back to back marathon pace(ish) workouts, so I celebrated by running 28 laps on the track while pushing buttons on the watch. The goal was 7 miles at 156 heart rate, and you can see the official results above.

Mid-way through mile 4 I had the urge to keep the pace at at 6:15 or so, but the heart rate seemed to drift up towards 158 when I did so. I was glad to see the paces level out at the end, and I think the first mile's quick time was due to starting from a 140 heart rate.

The recovery time to a 120 heart rate after the 7 miles seems wrong, though it was very sunny, hot and humid as I was standing on the edge of the track watching the monitor's numbers slowly count back down from 150. I'll keep an eye on this next week to see if it was just a fluke, as I felt relaxed when I finished.

Tomorrow's plan calls for 10 miles steady plus six miles of current marathon pace, which should be interesting. The coach has warned that this first step back towards these workouts might be taxing, so I'm anxious to see how it goes.

Speaking of Mystery Coach, I'd like to thank him for posting the general training plan, and I encourage all interested readers to pepper him with questions to get him back to work on "Ask the Mystery Coach Mondays".

12 miles, 1h25m, 7:10 pace, w/6x40 second bursts
Resting HR: 40
Sleep: 5h 5/10 (sick Finn again)
Legs: 6/10 Light on sleep, heavy on feet
Weather: 78 degrees, 65 dew-point

16 miles, 1h55m, 7:05 pace, 146HR, Very hilly run to the top of Sabino Canyon
Sleep: 6.5h 7/10
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 76 degrees, 59 dew-point (nice)

8/20/08 pm., 6.2 miles in 90 degree weather around 6:50 pace

12 miles, 1h24m, 7:05 pace, w/6x40 second bursts
Sleep: 7h 7/10
Legs: 8/10

8/19/08 late morning, 5 miles easy on treadmill, 7:50 pace, plyometrics and 45 minutes of weights.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Plan

Transition Phase 24 Aug 10/6 Part of back to back
Transition Phase 01 Sep 8 mile race
Transition Phase 07 Sep 10/7 Part of back to back

Peak Phase 10 Sep Volume Speed (3 X 2 mile ?)
Peak Phase 14 Sep 10 mile race
Peak Phase 24 Sep 1000s
Peak Phase 28 Sep 10/10 Part of back to back
Peak Phase 01 Oct Pickups
Peak Phase 05 Oct 8K race

Taper Phase 15 Oct 1000s
Taper Phase 19 Oct 10/10 Part of back to back

Race 02 Nov NYC Marathon

Eleven major workouts over the next eight weeks looks simple on paper. The goal is not to do them perfectly but not to make too many mistakes so that Mike's good base condition comes crashing down. What type of mistakes are to be avoided? The transition phase above is what Lydiard called his hill phase. Mike has already started this phase and includes his regular runs with short (30 second to 2 minute) low volume (2 minutes worth) every 15 minutes. In addition depending how he feels ankle flexion, high knees and or leg drive drills on the hills. What are the goals? The small amounts of speed and or hills will get his legs ready for the peaking phase. The first mistake to avoid is not to do too much volume of speed until the body makes the initial changes. Jumping into speed training without this transition period is the most likely cause of injury or over training.

During the peak phase the primary emphasis is to speed up Mike's ability to process lactate (Lydiard called it the volume speed stage, the first half of his speed training) With the preliminary speed work done the body can now take larger loads of lactate producing work. Some where between 90% and 97% of marathon pace lactate processing becomes important. The ability to shuttle lactate out of the muscle to be processed in other parts of the body is the primary goal. A mistake to be avoided here is trying to run a certain pace without regard to how the runner is reacting to it. Runners can identify the pace that they are processing lactate well, no one can know before hand on how that day is going, trying to stick to some preconceived pace will lead to tearing down the gains in the efficiencies that were build during the base.

The workouts during the taper phase are done with full recovery and emphasis on coordinating the previous speed training. These workouts should be the best (because of the lighter loads) and feel the easiest. As Lydiard said fresh and sharp. As Mike goes through these major workouts I'll add additional commentary on the outcomes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Evaluating the eval runs

What should you be looking for when you perform your eval runs? Below is a chart with Mike's times adjusted to a steady heart rate. If you look at Mike's times posted on the 19th you'll see that the chart below adjust his times by taking the difference between 150 and what he recorded and adding 3.5 seconds per mile per beat. This gives a consistent view from evaluation to evaluation. (all pace times are in seconds)

Mike Salkowski 150 150 150 150 150 150

Date 10-Jun 28-Jun 8-Jul 22-Jul 5-Aug 19-Aug

Mile 1 368 362 363 377.5 377.5 369

Mile 2 389.5 374.5 377.5 389 393.5 378
Mile 3 391.5 378.5 376.5 394 397.5 380
Mile 4 394 377.5 372 392.5 402.5 377

Average 385.8 373.1 372.3 388.3 392.8 376.0

Average last 3 391.7 376.8 375.3 391.8 397.8 378.3

hr<120 51.0 45.0 42.0 60.0 60.0 47.0

Diff 1 and Ave 23.7 14.8 12.3 14.3 20.3 9.3

Mike Salkowski 150 150

Date 5-Aug 19-Aug

Mile 1 377.5 369

Mile 2 393.5 378
Mile 3 397.5 380
Mile 4 402.5 377

Average 392.8 376.0

Average last 3 397.8 378.3

hr<120 60.0 47.0

Diff 1 and Ave 20.3 9.3

Eval runs give a number of important clues about your training and about your recovery from training. The first two numbers to look at to see if the base training has progressed effectively are the average of the last 3 miles then the difference between the first mile and the last 3 mile average pace. Mike's last 3 miles average pace improvement from his first eval to his last eval was 13.4 seconds per mile ( or almost 6 minutes per marathon) at the same level of effort.

The second number which I feel is a more important one is the difference between the first mile time and the average of the last three (see the line "Diff 1 and Ave"). Mike improved from 23.7 seconds to 9.3 seconds. Why is this number important? It gives a very strong indication of how quickly your system responds to a load. When ever you start a race or respond to a surge (or hill) the faster your system can go to the efficient pathways instead of using stored buffers the more of those buffers you have to use at the end of a race. Imagine two runners one with a very quick response (runner A) the other with a slow response (runner B). When they race a mile runner A's system immediately responds with energy from efficient pathways, runner B uses system buffers until the efficient pathways become engaged. They get to the last quarter mile runner A has not used his buffer system and can now sprint, runner B used much of his buffers until his system got up to speed and now can not sprint. This response speed also is important in racing marathons with surges or hills if you can immediately get to the efficient pathways you avoid using the buffer (which uses fuel inefficiently). You'll notice even if runner B had a much higher peak value (VO2) and if it does not respond quickly his buffer system will be used until it catches up. This concept is important to keep in mind when developing your speed work (Tomorrows post will explain this).

Back to Mike's evals you'll notice that he had two where he appears to be going backwards (22-Jul and 5-Aug). After the 8-Jul eval I moved Mike's fast ten miler up a notch (10-15 seconds per mile) that and combined with his travel cause him to be on the short end of his recovery. These eval runs showed how quicky you can mess up your good conditioning by going too fast too quickly and not recovering fully. Even backing off the paces it still took a couple of weeks to recover fully. One or two over the top workouts is all it takes. Mike is coming out of this build up with a much quicker reponding and more efficient system, one that with proper speedwork should continue to improve.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Music to the Mystery Coach's ears:

I didn't really need this evaluation to tell me things have improved during the past two weeks, as a few other good signs have appeared. The miles are generally coming more easily, the long runs are ending with longer totals and fresher legs, and my general mood and disposition have improved remarkably. Since last week marked my last of 10 weeks of conditioning, it's nice to feel the fitness finally creeping up a bit. - Mike Salkowski 8/19/08 The More "Good" post.

What Mike expresses perfectly above is the goal of the 10 week distance phase. Back before Arthur Lydiard was famous internationally (pre Rome Olympics 1960) he wrote an article*** for the New Zealand Amateur Athletic Coaches Association Monthly Bulletin. A key quote from the article:

"Let me be clear on this point - there is no need for guessing, only patience and self control by racing and training fast at the correct time. We all 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 down our condition so that we would become jaded mentally and physically"

When Mike crashed (from two much fast work and racing (three hard marathons)) this past spring he needed to balance out his training by deconditioning ((my made up term) the hyped-up racing state that he was in (Lydiard noted: You can not hold on to it forever). If it takes 6-8 weeks to build up this hyped-up racing state (for some it may be less) it takes at least that long for you to decondition that racing state by not racing or doing fast work. This a point that coaches and runners miss in the Lydiard system all the time. Arthur stuck that 10 weeks of distance work in not for aerobic conditioning (he never uses the words "aerobic" or "anaerobic" in the whole article (nor the words "oxygen" or "oxygen-debt") but because he observed his runners could train year round and continue to improve by letting them get away from racing and fast work. (his training was as he said "designed for the development of the athlete, not for immediate spectacular results").

Of the five important points that Lydiard stresses as important three of them ( 1) develop long term potential, 2) develop stamina first and 5) pick your peak) ) are rooted in the ten weeks of ("train don't strain") distance running. That ten weeks are the most important point of the Lydiard system.

Tomorrow's post will discus what to look for in your evaluation runs during the ten weeks of distance running and Thursday will be about how Mike is going to accomplish Arthur's other two points ( 3) develop speed, 4) coordinating speed and stamina.)

*** (If anyone would like a PDF copy of the article email me at MysteryCoach [at] gmail [dot] com)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More "Good"

Ran my 6th 4-mile evaluation run of this training cycle this morning and finally found the numbers moving in the right direction again. Today's run is on top, followed chronologically by the previous evaluations:

8/19/08: 6:09(150HR), 6:18(150), 6:20(150), 6:17(150), :47 to 120HR
8/05/08: 6:07(153HR), 6:30(151), 6:34(151), 6:39(151), 1:00 to 120HR
7/22/08: 6:13(151HR), 6:22(152), 6:27(152), 6:29(151), 1:00 to 120HR
7/08/08: 6:03(150HR), 6:14(151), 6:13(151), 6:12(150), :42 to 120HR
6/28/08: 6:02(150HR), 6:11(151), 6:15(151), 6:14(151), :45 to 120HR
6/10/08: 6:15(148HR), 6:25(151), 6:28(151), 6:34(150), :51 to 120HR

A few interesting notes: It was much easier to keep the heart rate at a steady 150 this time, whereas I've had some difficulty keeping it from drifting up to 152 or 153 during the past two evaluations. Also, I felt like the lungs "unclenched" at about 2.5 miles, right about the time the heart rate dropped down to 148 for a short time. From that point until the end it felt like I was getting faster, which is mirrored by the quicker last mile.

I didn't really need this evaluation to tell me things have improved during the past two weeks, as a few other good signs have appeared. The miles are generally coming more easily, the long runs are ending with longer totals and fresher legs, and my general mood and disposition have improved remarkably. Since last week marked my last of 10 weeks of conditioning, it's nice to feel the fitness finally creeping up a bit.

Here's a summary of the past 10 weeks:
6/9-6/15: 92 miles, 21 mile long run
6/16-6/22: 102 miles, 21 mile long run
6/23-6/29: 89 miles, 19 mile long run
6/30-7/6: 92 miles, 22 mile long run
7/7-7/13: 99 miles, 20 mile long run
7/14-7/20: 89 miles, 16 mile long run w/horrible bonk (bad week)
7/21-7/27: 70 miles, 16 mile long run (horrible eval. run, travel, bad week)
7/28-8/3: 86 miles, 20 mile long run (made the best of a travel wk., improving)
8/4-8/10: 102 miles, 18 mile long run, (added strength work, feeling good)
8/11-8/17: 105 miles, 20 mile long run, (good week overall, kept strength work)

My week and a half in Reno definitely hurt me, but since it's a necessary part of my job I can't really avoid it. If anything, those two down weeks (7/21-8/3) probably helped make the breakthrough I've felt during the the past two weeks possible. I'm encouraged by the number of long runs, though it's telling that I no longer have a string of 22's in that column. I just seem to be able to bounce back from 20 milers better than longer runs these days, so I'm just going with it. Having enough energy to play with the kids on Sunday afternoon instead of laying on the couch and moaning seems to make for more peace in the house too.

10.5 miles, 1h10m, 6:45 pace
4 mile evaluation in 6:09(150HR), 6:18(150), 6:20(150), 6:17(150), :47 to 120HR
Resting HR: 42
Sleep: 6h 7/10
Legs: 8/10 Very good
Weather: 77 degrees, 64 dew-point

8/18/08 pm., 5 miles slow on the treadmill, 7:50 pace or so, tired

12 miles, 1h23m, 6:56 pace
Sleep: 6.5h 6/10
Legs: 7/10 Better than usual after long run
Weather: 76 degrees, 66 dew-point

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Good Week in the Bank

20 miles, 2h14m, 6:42 pace
Sleep: 6h, 6/10 weird insomnia from watching Olympic marathon
Legs: 9/10
Weather: 82 degrees, 64 dew-point

Tough but good run this morning, starting down low in town on the Rillito River path, then climbing several miles on trails and roads, then falling back down again. I'd say less than half the run was flat, but that's still more flat than I'm used to when I run from my neighborhood (drove to this one).

We started with a nice group of 7, but my friends Jason and Catlow started pounding us into submission soon after the first five comfortable miles. I spent my time alternating between trying to catch up to their heels and trying to just run as comfortably fast as I could while not bonking. Once we finally made it down from the hills we were left with a few miles to go on the path again, and at about 18 miles I started to feel a bit drained while running with Lucas, and I was a bit relieved to finally shut it down at 20. This ends a good week, which makes for two solid weeks in a row. Here's how it went down:

Mo: 8 tired
Tu: 10 (big hills)
We: 12, 6
Th: 16, 5
Fr: 12, 5
Sa: 11 up-tempo
Su: 20
Total: 105 in 8 sessions

Enjoy the weekend and thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Yesterday's morning run was an exercise in bug collecting. No need to look for them in Tucson this time of year, they'll find you soon enough if you're running between the hours of 5 and 7 in the morning. I was basically a human windshield for 12 slow recovery miles, and while the legs appreciated the slow pace I grew tired of digging critters out of my eyes, nostrils and ears. Thankfully I squeezed a shower in before biking Haiden to school afterwards.

After work I added a second run in an effort to get back a few of the miles I'd missed by doing singles on Monday and Tuesday. Even at a slow pace it was a grind, mostly due to the 94 degree temperature and the maddening one mile up-one mile down loop I circled near Kiera's Mom's house. Thankfully she fed and watched the kids while I pounded away on what are comically the flattest roads in their subdivision. I spent the time growling "No more fall marathons" to myself, though after uttering this to Kiera the other morning she reminded me I swore them off last year after Twin Cities. Runners either have short memories or live in denial, or perhaps a touch of both.

This morning I hit the road for my up-tempo day, and I broke out the new Garmin Kiera bought me for my birthday to grab some data along the way. This one collects heart rate data, but I'm finding on faster days it's better if I only look at it afterwards (last Saturday's debacle is a good case in point). This time I stayed much closer to Mystery Coach's target pace of 6:24-6:29, and as you might expect things went much better than last week. After 3.5 miles through the neighborhood I ran 5 miles on the track, followed by about another 2.5 miles home. Since I was heading downhill I kept the additional mile at the same pace, and I felt good upon finishing the run. I used the watch instead of GPS on the track (of course), but the information was interesting:

11 miles, 1h10m, around 6:22 pace, 153HR
3.5 miles at 6:23 pace, 153HR
Then 6:15, 6:22, 6:22, 6:22, 6:24 154HR (track)
2.5 miles at 6:22 pace, 153HR
Sleep: 5h 6/10 (played doctor, waiter and therapist to the kids throughout the night)
Legs: 8/10 Good day
Weather: 79 degrees, 62 dew-point

The heart rate is finally leveling out again, albeit at a higher rate and a slower pace than I would like. Hopefully Tuesday's evaluation will help interpret the numbers.

12 miles, 1h28m, 7:23 pace
Sleep: 6h 6/10
Legs: 6/10 Dragging a bit and stiff
Weather: 74 degrees, 66 dew-point

8/15/08 pm., 5 hot miles at 7:27 pace, blah

8/14 pm., 5 easy miles on the treadmill around 7:40 pace
45 minutes of basic weights, no plyometrics

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Today's commute to Haiden's first day of kindergarten (photo by Kiera)

I can't believe our daughter started school today. She couldn't have been more excited, and it was nice to have enough time to bicycle there. I had about five minutes to change clothes and dry off between the 16 miler this morning and getting on the bike to take Haiden, so I was definitely the sweatiest and stinkiest parent in the common area as we waited for the classrooms to open.

16 miles, 1h50m, 6:55 pace, 139HR
Sleep: 5h, 5/10
Legs: 7/10
Weather: 72 degrees, 68 dew-point

8/13/08 pm., 6.2 miles in about 43 minutes, felt good

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Man, You're Gonna' be Walking in Circles"'

I had put one shoe on while sitting on a bench in the gym's locker room, and now I was staring at the other one and laughing. When the guy across from me heard this he turned around with a puzzled look. I showed him the shoe already on my right foot, then held the other right shoe down next to it. I liked his response.

This made running on the treadmill impossible, as I had driven to the gym in flip-flops. The kids were both already signed in for childcare though, so I lifted for about an hour in two right shoes.

I never managed a second run on Monday either, so this week has started off quite a bit lighter than last week. Yesterday morning I finally explored the now-repaired and newly reopened Sabino Canyon Road to where it climbs to an end. There are some pretty steep sections on the way up, which brought the heart rate to 164 for awhile. Since I was working a bit just to move forward I didn't press the pace, and running through two ankle-deep stream crossings on the way up and down kept the shoes wet and heavy throughout.

This morning I put in 12 miles in the usual sultry conditions. The legs felt a bit heavy from moving up to three sets for a few exercises yesterday, but 8x100 meter strides towards the end of it on the track helped loosen them up before I headed home.

12 miles, 1h22m, 6:52 pace, w/8x300 jog, 100 stride/accelerations
Sleep: 7h, 7/10
Legs: 7/10 Little tender from lifting
Weather: 79 degrees, 66 dew-point (just like every freaking day)

10 miles, 1h11m, 7:05 pace, hilly run up Sabino Canyon, 139HR
Resting HR: 42
Sleep: 8h 9/10
Weather: 79 degrees, 66 dew-point

Monday, August 11, 2008


Sunday's long run went fairly well, though the weather continues to annoy me. The legs held together through 18 miles, and it felt good to stop while I still felt there were a few miles in me. Afterwards we drove up to Phoenix (2hrs) to visit my folks for the day, so it was nice not to have the legs screaming at me for the car-rides.

Here's how the week went down-
Mo: 7, 5
Tu: 10 (w/4-mile evaluation), 5 plus weights
We: 12 (strides), 6
Th: 16, 5 plus weights/plyometrics
Fr: 10 very easy
Sa: 8 w/7 at 6:18 pace
Su: 18
Total: 102 in 11 sessions

Altogether a good week on miles, frequency and cross-training, but a poor week for the up-tempo effort and the evaluation. I'm finding it's hard to get it all working at the same time, but it seems like I'm slowly making progress.

Today's shorter run was a bit of a trudge, but that seemed to be the case last week as well.

8 miles, 58m, 7:18 pace, bricks for feet
Sleep: 6.5h 7/10
Legs: 5/10
Weather: 78 degrees, 66 dewpoint

18 miles, 2h05m, 6:56 pace
Sleep: 8h 9/10
Legs: 8/10
Weather: 78 degrees, 66 dewpoint

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Strike One, Strike Two...

My stomach problems continued into last night, but I persisted in going out to see a few bands instead of heading to bed early before today's up-tempo run. As a result I ended up with half a night's sleep, slightly sore legs and a still sour gut when I woke. Strike one.

Mystery Coach has bumped down Saturday's 10 miles to 64 minutes, which gives me a pace window of 6:24-6:29. Like last week, I headed out with the heart rate monitor and ran by feel for the first four to get a read on things. I could feel I was working a bit harder this week, and the 152 average heart rate after four miles at 6:16 pace showed it when compared to the 148 average the week before when I was running the same speed. Yes, I was already running eight seconds per mile too fast while I was feeling a bit overworked and sore. Strike two.

After six miles or so I stopped for a second to tie my shoe and I just didn't feel like picking the speed up again. The stomach didn't feel right, I felt overheated and I realized I was pushing too hard for the workout, even though the heart rate wasn't getting much above 155. As I approached seven miles I thought about the two strikes I already had on me (sacrificing my recovery and preparedness for the workout and then attacking the workout at too aggressive a pace), and how the only mistake I had left to make was to grind myself into the ground and finish the workout, even while my body was fighting against it. Tomorrow's long run also started looming in my mind here. Here comes the pitch...

I decided to call the effort at seven miles, and I jogged the last mile home to make it eight miles instead of ten for the day. Not the end of the world here, I just think I sorely need some sleep, and I need to reduce some of my expectations if I start adding in more strength or if I'm not feeling well.

8 miles, 50m, 6:24 pace, 153HR, w/7 miles at 6:19 pace
Sleep: 4.5h 3/10
Legs: 6/10 Tender from plyometrics/weights
Weather: 79 degrees, 64 dewpoint

Friday, August 08, 2008


Took my "light day" description from Mystery Coach to an extreme with a very slow jog. I woke with some G.I. issues, probably due to going to the gym after eating out with the family last evening. It seemed the only way to squeeze it all in, but I'll make different arrangements next time.

This was my second strength training session of the week (and for the build in general), and I'm hoping I can make a habit of it. Right now I'm working on single sets of 12-15 reps for most muscle groups, though I did squeeze in a second set of squats and three longer sets of crunches. I followed this up with some two-legged box jumps, though after three sets of 20 I was sure I was going to lose my dinner.

Running an easy five miles on the treadmill while watching yesterday's Daily Show was a pleasure compared to the lifting, mostly due to my ego adjusting to the fact that I'm generally lifting 70% or less of what I used to lift during my gym rat (read "fat") days, and back then I was doing three sets instead of one. Still, with the 213 pounds I had back then it was easier to throw a bit more weight around (literally).

While the week isn't over, I'm patting myself on the back for getting in four doubles and two strength workouts along with the primary morning runs. Today's very easy slog (along with no second run) will hopefully get me right for tomorrow's up-tempo work and Sunday's long run.

10 miles, 1h15m, 7:29 pace, 129HR
Resting HR: 42
Sleep: 7h, 8/10
Legs: 6/10 Blame yesterday's late double and weights
Temp: 76 degrees, 63 dew point

8/7/08 pm., 5 miles easy on the treadmill around 7:45 pace
1H of general weights, core work and box jumps (3x20 two-leg jumps)

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Aside from the lackluster evaluation run on Tuesday, the training has gone well this week. Both kids are finally healthy, and for the first time since Saturday night I had an uninterrupted night's sleep.

Lucas drove out to join me for 16 miles this morning, and we covered an abbreviated version of what has become the long run. While I had to ease into it, I felt stronger as the run progressed. Even the long drag through gut-check alley went well, which when considered along with an average heart rate of 139 hopefully means my recovery is finally getting into check.

I ran an easy 10K with the group last evening, and thankfully no one was in a hurry. These hot evening outdoor runs feel like a chore compared to the boring but cooler treadmill runs at the gym, but I certainly prefer the company of the former to the latter.

16 miles, 1h51m, 7:00 pace, HR 139
Sleep: 7,5h, 8/10
Legs: 8/10
No soreness in the legs, just a bit of fatigue on the uphills. Nice run

8/6/08 pm., 6.2 miles easy in 43 minutes

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Thanks for all the comments on yesterday's post, as I really do appreciate readers taking the time to share their insights. I wanted to touch on Larry's comments, which follow:

"*Four marathons in a little over a year (Dec 06-Jan 08)....Yeah, one was a sub-max effort, but I don't think Lydiard had the Tucson Marathon course in mind for his 42.2k time trials!

*Eight races from September to May at 10k or longer, including three marathons....

Scheduled recovery weeks really aren't necessary, as Mike as shown repeatedly in the past that he gets faster and stronger as the mileage goes up. With bad weather, travel, young kids, etc. the recovery weeks have a way of scheduling themselves.

However, Mike probably needs to recognize that being able to run triple digit mileage week after week, month after month, year after year, at a good pace doesn't make you invincible to the point where you can send in race entries at will, particularly if your chosen events are at 10k and beyond. Mike cashed in a lot of chips during that last twenty months of racing it may take more time than expected to replenish the reserves and restore some equilibrium to Mike's system.

The disappointing result of the evaluation run only means that Mike might have to delay the start of more intense phase of his training, or at least proceed more carefully than he otherwise would. But cutting back on the miles is the last thing that he needs."

Larry is partially arguing against a scheduled recovery week, and against cutting miles in general at this point in my training. While I see the value in scheduled recovery weeks for many athletes, I'm still generally not a fan of them for my own training. Much of this comes from my experience with recovery weeks during cycling and triathlon training. I often found that by relegating recovery to once every four weeks or so, I invariably ended up pushing too hard during the other three weeks, ignoring signs that I needed to occasionally let up more than my schedule showed. I figured I would "catch up" with my recovery when that week finally came around, but that just didn't seem to happen. Less training just meant more time for yardwork, or more excuses to stay up later since I didn't have as much of a workload the following day.

Kids and commitments now dictate some recovery days, how I feel while I'm walking down the driveway dictate others, and a regular diet of hard/easy/easy or moderate/easy as directed by Mystery Coach take care of the rest. If he thinks I'm over-cooked I'll find myself with several days of easy runs, and I trust him enough to know it's the right decision.

I think this model actually falls pretty close to what Joseph mentioned in his comment, which reads in part: "Mike might be overreached somewhat (and I'm not even sure I'd say that, but overtrained, I don't really think so. This would require consistent HRs 10> above avg. RHR, consistant deadness in one's legs, an inability to reach max HR, modiness, etc.

W/ that said, Mike I said it once and I say it again, you seriously might want to consider the occassional cutback week. I don't remember Lydiard's position on this, but I know Vigil's guys, Asics Aggies, I believe even the dudes over at HB project take the cutback...

And look, even if they don't, you and I aren't 25 anymore. Our bodies can't rebound as quickly and during the rest week (well, 80-85% volume) you give your body a chance to rest up and adapt to the demands hard training puts on it."

To my thinking, this time I've been consistently somewhere between 80 and 90% of what I've done in previous builds. It's not by design, but rather necessity. It's simply all that I'm able to bounce back from right now. When I originally emailed some suggestions on miles and paces to Mystery Coach before this build began, it looked much more aggressive than it's turned out to be. I think we're both finding out that my body is changing a bit with age, and as such there are more recovery runs during this build and less specific work early on.

Whether or not these changes are due to all the racing I've done since December of 2006 (as Larry mentions above), I can't knowingly say. I will say that racing is fun, but that it's more fun when I'm able to truly give 100%. I ran too many races while either recovering from surgery, recovering from marathons (at the same time in one case), or while in the throes of peak-volume training en route to the next marathon. Over-racing must exact some toll, and in light of this I've cut down dramatically for the fall as the New York City marathon approaches.

Again, it's always fun to discuss this, and I appreciate the comments.

12 miles, 1h24m, 7:03 pace, w/2 miles of 100 accelerate/sprint, 300 jog
Sleep: 6h, 5/10 (woken 4 times)
Legs: 6/10 a bit sore from lifting and the double
Weather: 78 degrees, 66 dew point

8/5/08 pm., 5 miles easy around 7:50 pace on the treadmill
30 minutes of general weights

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

When the Numbers go the Wrong Way

Ran my fifth 4-mile evaluation this morning, see the results immediately below followed by the other evaluations by date-

8/05/08: 6:07(153HR), 6:30(151), 6:34(151), 6:39(151), 1:00 to 120HR
7/22/08: 6:13(151HR), 6:22(152), 6:27(152), 6:29(151), 1:00 to 120HR
7/08/08: 6:03(150HR), 6:14(151), 6:13(151), 6:12(150), :42 to 120HR
6/28/08: 6:02(150HR), 6:11(151), 6:15(151), 6:14(151), :45 to 120HR
6/10/08: 6:15(148HR), 6:25(151), 6:28(151), 6:34(150), :51 to 120HR

Apparently I'm running backwards at full speed, as I'm now running slower at a 150 heart rate than I was when I pretty much started my conditioning phase eight weeks ago.

It's really not supposed to be like this. I said this aloud while I stood in the shade of the single tree planted next to the track at the junior high up the road from our house right after completing the evaluation. I was picking the biting ants off my stomach and wiping the sweat from my eyes at the time, soaking in the heat and humidity that seems inescapable this time of year. The evaluation was an exercise in frustration, as I could feel from the start how slowly I was moving in order to keep my heart rate from meandering over 150 beats per minute. I had already cut the warm up from four to three miles in order to keep as much cardiac drift from the temperatures here out of the equation as I could, but that didn't seem to help. After forcibly putting on the brakes midway through the first mile when my heart rate rose to 155, there was simply no way to speed up again to the paces I was running at the same heart rate just a month ago.

So what's changed? The miles have been lower (unintentionally most of the time), and the paces have seemed about the same or slower. The long runs have been a bit more of a challenge, with some going well and others going poorly. The only consistent bright spot has been the up-tempo days, which are generally between 6:15 and 6:30 pace for 10 miles.

I can't use work, the weather, scheduling or sick kids as excuses, as all of these things have been about the same over the past three years. In fact, it was three years ago this week that I finished my first 100 mile week using Arthur Lydiard's training. Finn's and Haiden's recent illnesses have made the past few nights feel much like they did at this time three years ago, when Finn was only four months old. Now we're all three years older, and while they are getting bigger and stronger by the day, it often feels like I'm either moving in the other direction or at best barely clinging to where I was six months or a year ago.

Still, each and every run starts with the clock at 00:00, and tomorrow is no exception. The feeling of gliding two inches above the road still often bubbles to the surface, and sometimes those numbers that seemed so important today aren't really the waypoint we thought they were. When I think back to this past fall, I remember how down and flat I was after Twin Cities in October and how much I was able to improve during the following three months before running the Phoenix Rock and Roll marathon in January. It can happen again. Three years down, three months until NYC.

10 miles, 1h08m, 6:49 pace, 4 mile eval in 6:07(153HR), 6:30(151), 6:34(151), 6:39(151), 1:00 to 120HR
Resting HR: 42
Sleep: 5h 5/10 (woke 4 times)
Legs: 7/10 A little stiff but plenty there
Temperature: 78 degrees, 60% humidity

8/4/08 pm., 5 miles easy on the treadmill around 7:50 pace, a bit tight

Monday, August 04, 2008


Once again our house has become a sick bay, with Haiden getting over three days of fever and sore throat yesterday just as Finn woke up feverish. He kept us up most of last night, which made for a short, hot and humid slog this morning when I finally hit the road at 7. When I look back at my first go-around with Lydiard-based training in the summer of 2005 I'm amazed to see so many longer runs after nights like this. Nowadays I'm finding the body really can't slog through 16 or 18 milers on little to no sleep, and that my recovery in general is a bit slower. The same thing goes for trying to keep the miles up while working on my feet in Reno; It just isn't as easy as it used to be.

All this being said, I was quite happy with yesterday's 20 miler with the group. We added a quick water stop in the middle, where I took a gel for the first time in years on a training run, and it really made the second half fly by. It was a nice change to have something left in the tank by the end, and I'm hoping I can turn this into a trend again. Here's how the week went down:

Mo: 14 fast, 5
Tu: 7 slow (overdid it Monday)
We: 10
Th: 10
Fr: 10
Sa: 10 up-tempo
Su: 20
Total: 86 miles in 8 sessions

Given Monday through Friday's stint in Reno, I'm not too disappointed with the week even though the miles are a bit low. Saturday's and Sunday's runs were strong, and those were what I was most focused on. I'm hoping for a longer and stronger week this time around, starting with the evaluation run tomorrow.

For an interesting interview with my pal Nobby Hashizume, founding member of the Lydiard Foundation, check out Flocast's interview here.

7 miles, 42 minutes, 7:03 pace
Sleep: 2h, 1/10
Legs: 5/10 stiff and cranky
Temperature: 78 degrees, 69% humidity (yuck)

20 miles, 2h17m, 6:55 pace
Sleep: 7.5h, 8/10
Legs: 8/10

Saturday, August 02, 2008


It's great to be home. I had to endure an extra day in Reno, which meant flying home on Friday instead of Thursday. Note to all air travelers out there: Don't book with Travelocity if there's any chance you might need to change your flight. It took almost 40 minutes on the phone and a fair amount of money to catch the same flight a day later.

My plans of running consistent doubles while in Reno collided with the reality of my body's aversion to honest to goodness labor. Standing on concrete for 9 hours a day while boxing, crating, carrying and arranging artwork in a warehouse without air conditioning pretty much did me in. By the end of each workday I was content to ride my borrowed bicycle back to my hotel, take my shoes off and put my feet up on a pillow while resting on the bed before dinner. I'm thankful my workdays are generally much more sedate while at home in Tucson.

Aside from feeling great on Monday and Tuesday's runs, I felt generally fatigued all week. When I laced up the shoes this morning for ten up-tempo miles I initially felt pretty much the same, but surprisingly I found my groove early on. At four miles in the average heart rate was 148 with an average pace of 6:16, which looked much better than my last evaluation run on July 22. I made an effort to slow down and get back on pace for the last six miles though, which hopefully kept me from burning too much fuel today before tomorrow's planned long run.

10 miles, 1h04m, 6:22 pace, avg. HR 152
Resting HR: 40
Sleep: 6h 6/10 (the downside of being home is being woken up three times by the kids)
Legs: 8/10
Nice up-tempo run on my first day back in Tucson. Still hot, sticky and buggy here

10 miles, 1h09m, 6:55 pace
Sleep: 7h, 8/10
Legs: 7/10
Temperature: 62 degrees and perfect

10 miles, 1h08m, 6:49 pace
Sleep: 8h, 9/10
Legs: 7/10
Temperature: 62 degrees

7 miles, 50m, 7:12 pace
Sleep: 7h, 8/10
Legs: 4/10 Felt like dog doo
Temperature: 63 degrees