Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Next to last 20 mile run!


I took the weekend off from writing and will do a quick (for me) update through the weekend.  Last Thursday's episode left us doing a late-week Interval run on Thursday.  That workout backed up to Friday's kick-boxing based workout that had things hurting and sweat pooling within the first 10 minutes of class.  The kick-boxing, which, was more shadow-boxing with dumbbells vs. getting to hit people this week, was intermixed with core work on the ground and some cardio drills to ensure heart rates stayed elevated.

2011-APR-22 Diet Log

Saturday was a rest day in preparation for my 20 mile run on Sunday morning.  For this week's run, I tried eating a more normal day's calories and hydrating well.

2011-APR-23 Diet Log

Sunday we had plans to go to my folks' house for Easter, so my run needed to be completed relatively early.  20 miles isn't a fast workout anyway you cut it!  For this run, I was running with, Jed, a friend I've known (and see too little of) since college.  Jed ran the Burlington Marathon last year and ran away from me at last fall's Shelburne Half Marathon and has a 3:30 stretch goal for this year's marathon.

The route we ran took us through 3 towns along the Lake Champlain waterfront, through downtown and the Old North end "ghetto," a blink through Winooski out into farmland on Malletts Bay Ave, back into residential neighborhood before bending around Lakeshore drive with a view of Mallets Bay and out to the end of Colchester Point before looping back through the Delta Park wetland, running back over the Winooski River for the second time and finishing back where we started on the bike path.

Our goal was to run around 8:30s.  We (and by We I mean Jed) pushed the pace early and it wasn't until our biggest climb of the day around mile 5 that we got *up* to an 8-minute mile.  Our pace was comfortable, but I suspected it wasn't sustainable for the distance.  Once we got up to Willard St from the Lake, it was a gradual downhill for a few miles almost all the way to Winooski.  The miles were really clipping by quickly and we were feeling great.  We pit-stopped around mile 8 at a store on Malletts Bay Ave before setting off again.

I was hitting my Clif Shot Bloks religiously every 30 minutes and keeping the Accelerade flowing in small sips.  On this run, I halved the dosage I used for my last 20 miler and that definitely helped make the drink more refreshing vs. cloying to drink while running.  In terms of nutrition, I get a lot of what I need from the Clif Shot Bloks (Margarita w/ 3x sodium) and it really felt like overkill to have such a sweet beverage washing them down.  This go-around, I also had a sleeve of caffeinated gels that I alternated with the Margarita gels, take 3 every 30.  On my next run, I'm going to drop to 2 bloks from 3 bloks every 30 minutes and see what sort of a difference I feel.

My legs start feeling a little bored around mile 10, so I sprint the last significant hill of the run and go into a recovery jog until Jed catches up a few minutes later.  While this may seem counter intuitive, the quick change of pace and Call to Action by a whole bunch of bored muscles serves to get things moving and typically leaves me feeling better when I'm done with it.  Besides, the faster you run up the hill, the sooner you get to the top!

We run along pleasantly, still pretty consistently holding down sub 8:00 miles.  We hit a little downhill coming into Lakeshore Drive around mile 12.  Both of our paces naturally pick up slightly to take advantage of letting gravity do a little more of the work, but once we get back to flat ground, out pace doesn't match the change in terrain and when I do a Sanity Check of our pace on the Nike+, it spits out a 7:22 pace.  We back off slightly and hit half marathon distance at 1:45.xx.

By around mile 15-16, the fast early pace starts taking its toll.  I'm feeling pretty decent overall, but Jed (who doesn't run with water or gel) starts running out of gas.  We start interspersing some walking intervals.  Around mile 17 the gels I'd taken about 10 minutes earlier kick in and run out ahead to sprint the last little slope and I go to a recovery walk afterward and do some stretching for my hamstrings as Jed catches up.

I take my last gels at 2:30 around mile 18.  We make one more water break about a mile and a half from the end of the run and set off for the last bit.  With the end in sight, both of our paces pick up a bit.  I'm by no means fresh, but I'm also not feeling gassed, so with just under a mile left to go, I let my Podrunner mix (168 BPM) take over and keep building my pace to a Tempo Run.  For that last stretch, everything just came together.  The gels kicked in, the clock was ticking toward 2h45m (which was my goal for the run), the music tempo was spot-on for my cadence at the pace my legs wanted to run and I just ran.

I punched the "Stop" on Nike+ at 20.02 miles in front of Jed's place, walked for down & back the bike path for 100 yards or so to catch my breath, did my 25 jumping jacks & 30 push-ups (a proper finish to any long run!) just as Jed was arriving.  RunKeeper puts my last mile at a 7:22 which includes a bit at around an 8:00 pace.  Nike+ says it was sub-7:00, but it's also counting foot-strikes to come up with pace and I'm pretty sure my cadence increased enough to fool into thinking I was running faster than I was.

The run officially ended with both Jed and I standing on the bike path looking at long bank of stairs that led up to his development and wishing there was an elevator.  As we jogged up the steps at 11AM, we both marveled at the accomplishment of the run and realized that there were still countless people in Chittenden County still in their PJs watching TV.  A sore as we knew we both going to be, we think we chose... wisely.

2011-APR-24 RunKeeper Stats & Map
2001-APR-24 Nike+ Run Graph
2011-APR-24 Diet Log -- Easter Dinner.  Beer.  Wine.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sleep is good. Must. Get. Sleep.


I have been a nite-owl for as long as I can remember.  It's rare that I am in bed before midnight and can run indefinitely on 6 hours of sleep and for several days on 5 before I start feeling cruddy.  This does not mesh well with good health practices and certainly isn't good for training.  Sleep is prime-time for healing and recovery.

My typical evening gets me home from work, spend some time with the girls, eat dinner, get the girls to bed, clean up from dinner, watch some TV to unwind, catch up on email, Facebook, Formula 1, research whatever had piqued my interest during the day (nutrition, shoes, ideas for a running route, etc.), and, as some point, realize that I should have written a blog post.

Wednesday was (as usual) Kettlebell day.  I did the majority of the workout with the 24kg kettlebell, dropping down to the 16kg a few times for overhead stuff.  I've had to drop down to the 16kg for some of my left-side get ups.  My right side has stayed pretty strong, but my left side has weakened considerably in the past few months.  It feels like it's coming from my core, which may mean that I need to start paying attention to my hip flexors again.

2011-APR-21 Diet Log

Thursday's run was scheduled for intervals.  1k, 2k, 1k, 1k, with 400m Rest Interval (RI) between each one.  The 1k pace was 9.2 MPH and the 2k pace was 8.9 MPH (ballpark 6:30 per mile).  My time for today's workout was bookended by meetings, so I had to cut the last interval off and there's a good chance I would have anyway.  I was trying out a "new" pair of shoes, some Montrail Trail Running shoes I got a few months ago.  They actually felt pretty decent to run in, but I definitely struggled through the last half of the last interval. I don't know it if was the day, the shoes, or yesterday's Kettlebell workout, but I was definitely looking forward to hitting the showers when it was over!

2011-APR-21 Diet Log
2011-APR-21 Nike+ Run Graph (downloaded from treadmill)

20 miles coming up this weekend.  Here's hoping for nice weather!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Training Update: Three Most Excellent Runs!


Getting behind seems to be a recurring theme!  I've been spending more of my "screen time" researching performance nutrition and doing some work getting print samples ready for some shirts I'm designing for marathon relay teams.

I also seem to tend to write more when I hit bumps in my training and that may be another reason why I've gone MIA for a few days.  My last post caught me up through Wednesday of last week. Not counting family walks, I've had 2 non-training days and 4 training days.  I skipped last Friday's workout to be on Daddy Daycare duty while SWMBO had some appointments and errands to run and Sunday was my planned off day after Saturday's long run.  Monday's workout was almost exclusively upper body and my biceps & triceps are still feeling it a bit!

2011-APR-15 Diet Log
2011-APR-17 Diet Log
2011-APR-18 Diet Log

My last 3 runs have felts great.  Thursday was a 10 mile at my expected marathon pace (MP).  The course I ran was downhill or flat for the first half and mostly flat for the second half with a BIG hill at 7.5 miles.  I was supposed to run at an 8:00/mile pace, but I instead chose to run at a pace that was comfortable and felt realistic for the distance I was running.  I ran the second half (the uphill portion) faster than the first half and ended with an average pace of 7:33/mile and felt great doing it!

2011-APR-14 Diet Log
2011-APR-14 Run Graph (Nike+)
2011-APR-14 Run Stats (RunKeeper)

Saturday was scheduled to be a 15 mile run at MP + 20 seconds per mile.  My long run this weekend was awkward.  We had plans Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon and an ugly storm was due to blow in Saturday afternoon through noon Sunday.  I decided to get the run out of the way on Saturday despite REALLY not wanting to go out in gusting winds as the storm blew in and not really sure if the rain would start pelting down mid-run.

Still working from my MP being 8:00, my scheduled pace for the run was 8:20 per mile.  I completed the run in under 2:00 with an average pace of around 7:51 per mile, again running comfortably and exceeding my expected training pace by nearly 30 seconds per mile.

2011-APR-16 Diet Log
2011-APR-16 Run Graph (Nike+)
2011-APR-16 Run Stats (RunKeeper)

Finally, I typically run my treadmill intervals on Tuesday, but the weather was BEAUTIFUL, so I flip-flopped my Tempo run to today (Tuesday).  It was supposed to be a 6 mile run, 1 mile easy, 5 miles at Mid-Tempo pace.  My training partner has been working with a PT to address some Achilles & IT Band issues and was on a similar run schedule for the day.  We decided to keep the distance, but turn it into a Hill Run + Tempo run.  The course we ran was pretty flat for about 2 miles, then a big hill about 3/4 of a mile long with a few seriously steep portions.

We ran at a relatively easy pace out to the hill (9:00 per mile) and then maintained that pace or greater for the ascent before coming back down and doing our own Tempo Run back to the gym.  I wasn't running with a specific pace in mind, but I pushed the pace for the entire 2 miles I had to run.  I ended up running the 2 miles in 13 minutes for an average pace of 6:30 per mile.  What's truly sick to think about is that the guy who won this year's Boston Marathon did it while averaging almost 2:00 per mile faster for the entire 26.2 miles (and only won by 4 seconds)!

(no Nike+ Graph; dead iTouch battery!)

I don't know where this sudden flurry of success is coming from with my runs.  I've been paying a lot more attention to nutrition and have started working a L-Glutamine supplement into my diet a few times per day.  I've also made an effort to increase the fat and reduce the protein in my diet to help fuel my activity.  Running in the Asics is a dream, too, so I'm not sure what has really made the difference, but so far, I LIKE IT!

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Training Taxes Me Enough; I Don't Need The Government's Help


I've been spending much of my 'screen time' teaching myself Adobe Illustrator (Photoshop is a breeze!) and working on designing some apparel for the Marathon Relay teams I'm working with (Family team and 4-5 Company teams).

Wednesday was a non-running Kettlebell day and it was yet another stellar workout!  My abs are still sore a day later (which may also mean that I haven't been doing enough core work lately).  I was powering through right-handed exercises with ease, but struggling to move the weight with my left.  I did several get-ups, about 20 snatches on the right side with the 24kg KB, but was only able to do about half the number of snatches with the left and had to drop down to the 16kg KB for the get-ups on the left.  It felt almost more like it was lack of coordination than lack of strength, but regardless, I wanted the weight going up and it wasn't happening.

At the end of class, I got down with the 32kg KB and went through the first few moves of the get-up, just to see how it felt moving it around.  It's heavy (duh!), but considering it's only April and I have until December to do a full get-up with it, I was encouraged.

I'm looking forward to this $%$^(&#$ marathon training being over so I can get back to challenging myself in the gym.  I've got enough invested in this marathon that I'm not about to do anything stupid and wreck all the training hours I've put into this (and that my family has put up with).  I've still got 100 on 100 and Race to the Top of Vermont in August, so I can't completely let myself go, but at least I get to stop saying things like, "I only have to run 15 miles this weekend!"

2011-APR-13 Diet Log

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Skipping in Hell


I mentioned last week (or was it two weeks ago now?) that I was going to re-revise my pacing/training strategy. I started off too ambitious in search of a 3:20 finish time and it became clear that my current level of fitness was not such that I could train at that pace.  I fell back to the pacings I used for my half marathon training which put me on around a 3:35 pace.  Finding those paces pleasantly easy, I've stepped up the training paces in accordance with my revised 3:30 goal.

Monday was a gym day and we did a pretty active full body workout -- lots of plyometrics and balance drills.  I will publicly state for the record that I *hate* jump-lunges (AKA Scissor lunges) where you alternate lunges by explosively jumping from the down position, switching leading & trailing legs in the air, and landing into another lunge.  It's like skipping in Hell.

2011-APR-11 Diet Log

Tuesday was my first interval run in a few weeks and my first run on the revised plan.  The prescribed run was 3 sets of 2 x 1200m @ 9.2 MPH (or about a 6:18 per mile pace).  One of the seasonal challenges in Vermont is knowing at what point to switch the control on the HVAC from "HEAT" to "COOL."  I think the gym hadn't made that switch yet because it was *HOT.*  I did a 400m easy run on the treadmill and had a sweat going.  Running the intervals felt pretty decent, very reminiscent of the feeling I had during my half-marathon training.  The pace & distance was challenging, at times uncomfortable, but ultimately doable.

Throughout my training I've tried to balance listening to my body with pushing my body.  Getting the balance right is crucial.  Push too far and my recovery will carry into my next run and lead to a cascade of failure where I ultimately have to take multiple runs off to recover.  Push too little and I won't maximize my training and I won't be in the shape I need to be in to run the race I want to run.  For my interval session today, I chose to blow off the last 2x1200 and spend some extra time stretching and cooling down before heading back to the office.  This run was my first shot at a challenging pace in nearly a month and I was still sore from those damn scissor lunges.

I could have pushed through 2 more (and maybe I should have!), but I still have a 10 mile run at race-pace on Thursday and a 15 mile long run on the weekend and I really want to try to see if I can hit the pace for both runs.  In order to do that, I need to be healthy enough to run and that little voice in my head didn't like where that last set of 2x1200s might lead.  I think it probably led to Hell.  ...and there would probably be skipping.  ($#^$&% scissor lunges).

2011-APR-12 Diet Log
2011-APR-12 Nike+ Run Graph

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Boogity Boogity Boogity! Let's Go Racing!


This past weekend I "ran my first race" since November.  I air-quoted part of that sentence because my mindset for the day had almost nothing to do with the race distance itself.  The event I participated in was the RunVermont Unplugged Half Marathon.  It's pitched as a "No Hills, No Frills" event and pretty well lived up to its billing in both regards.

My goal in running this event was to complete a dry run of the pre-race routine for the marathon.  It was all about watching the diet the day before, getting everything ready for the morning, getting up, getting to the event, pre-race nutrition, and navigating the crowd during the first few mile of the race.  I ran both of my half marathons last year in just under 1h41m and have completed training runs at that distance at about a minute per mile slower than that.  What added to the challenge of this run is that after crossing the finish line we (my friend Shannon & I) had an 8 mile run back to near the starting point to complete a 21 mile run.

The weather was absolutely perfect for a 10AM start.  The problem was, the race started at 9AM.  Fortunately, there was no rain, but it was hovering around freezing when we made our way to Airport Park in Colchester, VT for the start.  We were dressed for the 50s that we were going to be running in 2-3 hours later, not the 30s it was then!

The race shot off at 9AM.  We had discussed goals for the day and agreed that the best bet was to find a pace that was doable for a 20+ mile run.  Though being half a decade younger and a life-long runner, Shannon's race pace is about a minute per mile off of mine, so my role for the day was to try to keep a steady, consistent pace that she thought she could maintain for the distance.

The first several miles fell away quickly, snaking through some of the back roads and neighborhoods of Colchester before crossing the Winooski River on a bridge that felt that the engineer never expected hundreds of people to run across it at the same time.  From there, the course picked up the Burlington bike path until near the finish in South Burlington on Flynn Ave.

Shannon ran this race last year and finished in about 2:10.  Her last HM race was in the fall and she dropped her time to 1:57.  I've started getting a pretty good sense for my own pacing and knew we were setting a pace that put us right in the neighborhood of a 2:00 finish for the first 13.1 miles of the run.  Both of our fitness levels have increased since that HM in October, but I know that I can't run 20 miles at my fall 2010 half marathon pace!  I was doubtful that we'd maintain the pace, but part of training is trial and error, so we hung steady at a pace just over 9 minutes per mile.

Another one of my goals for this run was in-race fueling.  Shannon had complained about running out of gas for 15+ mile runs, but also admitted to not really paying much attention to hydration or remembering to take energy gels.  My plan for the run was simple.  There were 3 water stations during the run.  We'd walk through each one, drink a bit of water, take 2-3 Shot Bloks, and get back to it.  For the non-race part of the run, the plan was to hit 2-3 gels every 30 - 35 minutes.  We each took sports drinks with added L-Glutamine on the run with us and set a goal of finishing half by the end of the race and using the other half for the remaining 8 miles.

When we first started talking about doing this race, I always knew I was going to do it as the race + 8 mile run.  Shannon strongly contemplated doing the race to try to set a new Personal Record (PR), but in the end figured that getting a long run in was more important to the big picture than getting a good time.  Since we weren't running for time, the race itself was quite uneventful.  With both of us being competitive runners, I kept our pacing and expected finish time to myself.  The goal was 21 miles, not 13.1.  We finished with the clock showing 2:00.xx and with very little effort could have been under 1:55 for the event.

After getting a re-fuel (and bit of un-fuel at the portolet), we set out for the run back.  The brief downtime caused me to experience a few calf twinges when we started back up and our overall pace was down a bit.  That was when both quads started cramping, something I haven't ever had happen before.  It wasn't bad enough to stop my run, but it hurt and made running extremely unpleasant.  One of the problems with the course being so flat is that there weren't any hills to break up the monotony of the repetitive flat-ground running motion.  I look forward to some ups & downs to give my legs something different to do once in a while and this run really didn't give me that.

After a few miles of ouchy/crampy, we hit the base of the only real hill on the run (Battery St., Burlington) and I took a minute to stretch my legs before we tackled the hill.  The combination of the stretching and the change in stride to tackle the hill gave me a bit of relief from the pain, but it soon returned.  Through trial & error, I figured out that the root cause was that our pace had slowed, causing me to to run just differently enough that my quads got over-worked.  Once we picked our pace back up, the cramping mostly went away.

The remaineder of the run back was all about just trying to find that zone and tick away the miles.  The last 4-5 miles evaporated very quickly and, before I knew it, 21 miles were in the book and I was sucking back chocolate milk, Accelerade, and a banana as quickly as possible.  For the rest of the day, I felt surprisingly good.  My feet didn't hurt.  My knees didn't hurt.  My shins didn't hurt.  My quads...  okay, those still hurt a bit.

I devoted myself to being a pig for the rest of the day.  As of around 2PM, I was still running at about a 700 Kcal deficit for the day with 3200 Kcal left to the break-even point.  I make every effort to eat all of my exercise calories for the day to ensure that my body is fueled for recovery mode and ready to take whatever I decide to throw at it the following day.  I attribute the majority of our success on that run to solid running nutrition and giving our bodies exactly what they needed to sustain aerobic activity for 3 and a half hours and the raw materials for rebuilding the damage we did on those 21 miles.

The experience was a great confidence booster and as much as I'm looking forward to getting this marathon behind me, I'm also starting to look forward to the day when I can bring all of this training to a point.  There, the talk and the theory stops and it all becomes about one thing: racing.

2011-APR-09 Diet Log
2011-APR-09 Nike+ Run Graph

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Ups & Downs of Running in Vermont


The hodge-podge of updates continues!  I need to devote an entire write-up to this past weekend's run and I still "owe" an update for the previous weekend's long run, so it's time to clear the decks and get that old one outta here!

Where I live, I can pretty comfortably run and 8 mile loop without encountering any significant hills.  If I stick exclusively to the busiest road running near my house (Rt. 15), I can run almost indefinitely before I hit any sustained terrain.  There's only so much running you want to do where traffic is bombing along at 50+ MPH, so I tend to go off the main thoroughfares which means tackling hills.  I really don't mind uphills and I'm starting to learn how better to run downhills.

My goal is to lose less time on the uphill than I'm able to make up on the downhill.  I've worked on dialing in a shorter-than-was-initially-natural stride for my flat-ground running.  This causes me to use a bit less energy launching myself into a longer stride and catching myself on my heel as I land.  In theory, it should also be easier on my body since the overall impact is reduced.  In shortening up my stride, I can come a little closer to a flat-foot landing, but I still end up leading with my heel.

When I hit a reasonably steep uphill, I shorten up my stride considerably and run on the balls of my feet.  I think of tacking a hill the same way you'd run (or jog) up a bank of stairs.  My mental picture is literally chipping away as the slope, little by little, until I reach the top.  This also uses different muscles than my flat-ground stride, so it gives me a chance to recruit some additional muscle groups into the run.  I try to keep my overall pace the same, especially if I know there's a downhill immediately following the uphill.

I used to hate downhills and, while I won't say that I love them, I've found a way to cope with them.  When I first started running, I would resist gravity and try to keep a pretty steady pace going.  This ended up with my landing very heavily on my feet and jarring my legs.  It wasn't pleasant!  What I've started doing since then is allowing my stride to elongate and go into almost a loping gate down the hill until I find a pace that feels like I'm as close to "coasting" down the hill as possible (the pace will vary with the slope).  This also has the 'different muscle groups' benefit that my modified uphill stride has.

Whether this is right or not, it's what I've found works for me as part of my training in the hills of Vermont.  This past weekend's 18-mile run covered close to 1500' of elevation change.  Most of the uphill was a gradual slope, but there were some steep downhill sections that were challenging.  My run took me out from my home onto the busy Rt. 15 for several miles into Jericho.  After little bit of a muddin' detour along Raceway Road, I picked Rt. 15 back up for a short bit to get to Brown Trace Rd.  Climbing to pinnacle of the run, I then started a several mile descent down via Barber Farm Rd to River Rd/Rt 117 and the Winooski River.  I've been fighting off a bruised or irritated tendon/ligament on the top of my right foot and I was able to very clearly determine that running downhill does not improve that condition!

The way this route was laid out, I was running somewhat into a headwind on the descent.  Unfortunately, that headwind was present for about the next 3 miles as I ran back toward Essex on Rt 117.  I hit the bottom of Sand Hill Rd. at about mile 16 and started the last SERIOUS hill of the day.  Near the top, the wind was dead in my face and blowing hard enough that my pace at walk was not substantially slower than the pace I was pushing at a job.  Finally reaching the top, I got back up to speed and finished out the last 2 miles strong at still had enough left to comfortably complete my 25 jumping jacks & push-ups at the conclusion of my run.

2011-APR-03 Diet Log
2011-APR-03 Nike+ Run Graph -- distance is off; shoes not calibrated to sensor.
2011-APR-03 RunKeeper Stats

Monday, April 11, 2011

What happened to the last week?!


Man, I knew I was slacking a bit on the blog, but a week?  Criminy!  Time flies!  Now that I sit down to write, it's clear that too much time has passed since I posted an update.  My attempts at "short" blog get verbose, so what now for a post that could see me up 'til all hours of the night writing?

I can't believe I didn't update after last weekend's long run.  I'll hodge-podge that in with a write-up about this weekend's 21.2 mile run.

I had a little mini panic attack when I couldn't recall any of my workouts for the first 3 days of the week.  Then I remembered that I traveled for business last week (flights on Monday & Wednesday) that killed two workout days.  Tuesday was the lone day of activity, a 2.5 mile run the Port Huron YMCA, a mixed-bag workout, focused primarily on upper body, and a 2.5 mile run back to the hotel.  The only day I did any diet tracking for was Monday.  It's so hard to accurately log food while eating out for 3 meals per day.  For this trip, it just didn't seem worth the effort.

2011-APR-04 Diet Log
2011-APR-04 Nike+ Run Graph (run to the YMCA)
2011-APR-04 Nike+ Run Graph (most of the run back to the hotel)

Thursday was an awesome tempo run.  6 miles in total with ~ 1 mile easy in and ~ 1 mile easy back with a 4 mile mid-tempo run in between.  I was supposed to hit an 8'54" pace for my Easy pace and 7'36" for my tempo pace.  If I did the math right, I ended up running the tempo portion at a 7'12" and the "Easy" pace was an 8'18"  This was the second run I did in my new Asics Gel Kayano 17 shoes.  I swear they cut ten seconds off my pace.  Pure comfort to run in.  The only downside is that I need to recalibrate my Nike+ setup with the new shoe... or not, since I've got it perfectly dialed in with my Saucony Guide's.

This was also a test run with a hydration belt.  I picked up a CamelBak Delaney Plus belt and wanted to do a test-run with it before setting off on my long run on Saturday.  Getting the cinching adjusted right took the majority of the run, but once I got it right, it was snug and comfortable. I barely noticed I was wearing it (and hauling 24oz of Accelerade around on my arse!)

2011-APR-07 Diet Log
2011-APR-07 Nike+ Run Graph -- calibration is off (and, therefore, so are pacing & distance)
2011-APR-07 Run Map & Stats (RunKeeper)

Friday was an off-day, both from work and from working out.  It was a "daddy daycare" day looking after Maeve & Vivian (now 21 mos old) while Laura did some about-town errands.  Knowing my long[est] run was coming up the next day, I committed to hydration and set a goal of at least 4000 Kcal of nourishment.  Factoring out the calorie burn of a 3-mile walk with the family, I ended around 3800 Kcal and put down a gallon of water.

2011-APR-08 Diet Log


One of the reasons I intended to do this blog thang every day was to keep a good log of my diet & training plan.  I will likely NEVER come back & read it, but the pack-rat in me likes to know that it's there... just in case.  I also know that memory fades very quickly and that things I'm SURE I'll remember the day of a run are gone from my memory banks a few days later.

In the coming days (more likely weeks), I intend to start writing less about the monotony of my runs and workouts (they'll still get a mention) and writing more about some of my daily routine and the self-experimentation I've done, both with what I put on my body for exercise and what I put in my body for exercise.

With this last push of travel behind me for a month or so, I also intend to get back into the habit of making this a daily blog.  I've had a lot of idea recently and I can't stuff them all into one post! 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Another Tempo Run, Another Shake-Up in the Training Plan.


In Vermont, you have to take advantage of "nice" weather whenever it comes up.  Thursday was sunny and in the 40s.  It was also Tempo Run day. The "plan" put me on doing 6 miles -- 2 easy, 3 at Short-Tempo, 1 easy.  My target Easy pace was around 8:55 per mile and my target Short Tempo pace was around 7:25 per mile.

I ended up cutting the first Easy sector in half and planned out my 5 mile run from the gym.  The only pain about this route is that there are 13 road-crossings (didn't realize there were that many until I counted!).  Not all of them tend to be trouble, but there are two pretty major intersections that tend to either get you coming or going and interrupt the flow of the run.

Most of the time I run solo, but today my coworker & friend (Shannon) who is also training for the Vermont City Marathon was doing her tempo run as well.  We're using completely different plans, have completely different goals, and very different paces.  We joke that my "easy" pace is her "tempo" pace.  We were running the same 5 mile route and our best guess was that I was running about 1:00/mile faster, so the plan for the run was to give her a 4 minute head start, catch up at 4 miles and jog out the last 'easy' mile back to the gym.

I extended my warm-up for the 4 minute delay and set off on my run at what felt like a comfortable, easy pace.  Navigating the first few cross-overs was uneventful.  The first mile went down without issue and I kicked up the pace from comfortable to uncomfortable.  Shannon was wearing drivers-please-hit-me-while-you're-distracted-with-your-smartphone dark colors (I think the color of the Wickify shirt I was wearing was called Sunburst), so I had no idea how far 4 minutes translated to distance on the route.  The sight lines.for about 2 miles of the initial part of the run are pretty lousy, so I just set into my pace.

One thing I'm starting to get out of Tempo runs is pacing for distance.  I try to set a pace that I hope to be able to sustain for the prescribed distance and go.  Once I'm finished with the run, I do some analysis and figure out how close I was to my target pace.  My feeling is that I'm better off training with Tempo and Distance runs as at self-guided pace than trying to obsess during the run about hitting a specific time or pace.  Come race day, I need be able to feel out a suitable pace and, most importantly, know what going too fast feels like!

Back to the run.  I hit the traffic light at the major intersection perfectly and cruise through, almost without slowing my pace.  The sidewalk crosses the road about half a quarter mile down the road and it wasn't until I got to that point that I saw Shannon off in the distance, but not nearly far enough out to make the plan of catching her at mile 4 pan out.  After about another quarter mile, the route turns left and opens up for a bit before getting to a loop that's about 3/4 of a mile.  From that loop, it's a run back along the same route to the gym.  Once I got to that point, I knew I would catch her in the loop.

The loop has the only terrain to speak of of the run.  There's a slight uphill going in to in followed predictably by a slight downhill on the way back.  I'm not sure if she knew before turning on to to the loop how quickly I'd caught up, but she was able to see where I was when she made the turn in to the loop.  I chose to go the other way around the loop.  It was another intersection to cross and I had the light to go.  The uphill portion is a bit steeper this way and comes a bit sooner than going the other way around and I prefer running the gradual down-hill I get by going this way.  By reversing the loop we crossed paths at almost exactly the halfway point (2.5 miles) of the run.

The remainder of the Tempo portion of the run was relatively uneventful.  Nothing felt great, but nothing truly hurt either.  I got held up at the major intersection before I got a break in the traffic to cross and finish out the last few hundred yards of the tempo run.  At the end, I went up to pretty close to a dead sprint (for me) for about 100 yards before slowing down to a brisk walking pace.  I had built up enough of a gap that, once my heart rate had dropped down to my recovery zone, I turn around and jogged back to pick up Shannon at around the expected catch-up place.  

Surprisingly, the slower pace for the last mile was the hardest part of the whole run.  My shins got sore and I'm going to be REALLY disappointed if my Saucony's are crapping out already.  I'm going to hit the shoe store on Saturday and get re-evaluated for some shoes with a little more cushion for my long runs.

The end result for the run (graph below) was that I went out quite a bit "hotter" than I expected and ran my easy pace about 45 seconds too fast at an 8:07 pace.  At an average pace of about 7:07 per mile, my Tempo pace was also a bit quicker than my target.  The tempo portion of the run felt good, challenging, and sustainable.  I've been on my revised plan for a few weeks now and I'm going to take a look at my training log and adjust my pacing schedule back up a bit.  The goal of the FIRST plan is *not* to have easy workouts and, with this dialed-back pacing, I've had no problem hitting the paces. That says that I'm still not in the right place for a good, quality training plan.

8 weeks until the race.
8 weeks to get it right.
8 short weeks.