Back at it / Marathon Framework

So, this is what recovery looks like:

Not much, but it’s a mile, it’s almost running (Not quite 9 min/mile), and I didn’t die.

I’m about a week out from finishing the course of Lyme antibiotics, and the swelling in my knee is getting back to being manageable. I think the body is almost willing; now to get the mind there.

On a completely other note, a friend is looking to run a marathon sometime next year. My advice was to do it. He’s in decent shape, and I think he’ll crush it. But, his question made me think: When I do go back into shape, how am I going to train?

Base Period
My first suggestion was emphasizing the importance of the base period – one of the things I’ve failed to do, and hope to do better, is to keep a good base. My ideal base, I think, would look like:

Mon Tues Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
3-5 miles Cross 3-5 miles Cross 3-5 miles 8-12 miles Rest
Tempo Cross Speed Work Cross Race Pace Long, Slow Distance Rest

The base appeals to me – it’s about 15-25 miles a week, 30-45 minutes on work days, and less than 2 miles on weekends. Very manageable, very doable, but a solid base.

Build
From my experience and from most of what I’ve read, there are three fundamental principles for a build period:

  1. Periodization This is where you build for 3 weeks, and then cutback on the 4th week.
  2. 10-15% build on the long run only Only adding about 10-15% more mileage every week.
  3. Three 20 milers 20 miles is a funny distance. It’s a long, long way to run. But, it’s not so long that it destroys you like the marathon will.

Most marathon plans add mileage to the workweek runs. I’ve always had a hard spot with this, since, even as my training requirements grow, my work, sleep, and family requirements don’t shrink, especially on week days. I’ll fudge on this a little bit; move from 5K at lunch to 4-5 miles, but that’s adding 15-20 minutes/day instead of another half hour or more for the plans that go to 6-8 miles on weekdays.

So, rather than focus on whole weeks, I focus on the weekend mileage. My plan looks roughly like this:

Weeks to Go Distance Theme Weeks to go Distance Theme
0 26.2 MARATHON! 14 15 Build
1 8 Taper 15 14 Build
2 13 Half/Race 16 8 Recovery
3 20 LONG 17 14 Build
4 13 Recovery 18 13 Build
5 20 LONG 19 12 Build
6 13 Recovery 20 8 Recovery
7 20 LONG 21 12 Build
8 13 Recovery 22 11 Build
9 18 Build 23 10 Build
10 17 Build 24 6 Recovery
11 16 Build 25 10 Build/Base
12 10 Recovery 26 9 Build/Base
13 16 Build 27 8 Build/Base

So, that’s about it. Need to set about getting back in shape, which means I need to set about getting disciplined again.

Everyone running in the fall – best wishes; can’t wait to be toeing the line again.

Thoughts on being injured

Something happened at the end of January. Still not quite sure what happened, but something did. I think it was the shoes – they were some awesome pseudo chukkar boots. I’ve had them for a couple of years, and haven’t had a whole lot of trouble with them. When I had some issues recovering from a torn tendon two years ago, I put some Dr. Scholl’s inserts in them. Which elevate my heels a bunch, I think, even on top of the boot heels.

About a month ago, I went out for some testing, wearing the boots since 1) they look cool, and 2) it was snowy, and boots in snow are the BEST. I spent a whole lot of the day on my feet during the testing. No biggie, but I was noticeably sore when I got to the hotel that night.

The next day, I went for one of my typical out-and-backs from the office. Out felt great – I’ve been better than average after the new year about getting out to run, so was pretty excited that we had a sunny, non-windy, non-freezing day in January. I got to the typical turn-around time, and started heading back to the office. With about a half-mile left to go, something siezed up in my calf – kind of like a little knot. That day, I gutted through it, chugged up the hill, and back to the office.

The rest of the day, it was tough to walk – kind of like a charlie horse right at the base of my calf muscle. Stretched it several times. I went to run the next day, got a mile out, and it siezed up again.

Fastforward a month. I’ve taken two whole weeks between runs (ie, run, waited a week, run, waited a week, run) … I think I’m almost out of the woods.

Travel again this week (San Diego is tough when you’re logging 10 hour days). Got in, woke up early on Tuesday, and chugged out 30 minutes, no problem. About 20 minutes in, I got a little worried, thinking that it was going to sieze, but finished without issue. (For a San Diego run, it was strictly unspectacular – along an access road, in the fog, in the dawn twilight)

Today was the real test. Before I headed to the airport, I laced up the sneakers again, set the iPod, and headed off to actually get some San Diego style run in – Point Loma, through the national cemetary out to Cabrillo Point. Ocean views on both sides, a little bit of roller, no humidity, light breeze … left me wondering why people would live there, avoiding winter and getting soft?

Five minutes in – F#ck. The familiar crimp in the base of the muscle on my right calf. F#ck, F#ck, F#ck, F#ck.

Headed back to the car, though, something new happened – the knot started to unwind, little by little, and after 5 minutes of walking, it felt good enough to take a couple of tenative steps at a jog. And wonders of wonders, the knot worked itself out, and the last 20 minutes were great – not even a hint of hurt.

So, I’m typing this, and mildly hopeful that I’ll be able to run again tomorrow. Part of me says that’s probably not the best idea I’ve ever had – but most of me wants to figure out if I’m actually better, or if this is just temporary.

Posted in Run

Chasing Summer

Busy, busy, busy times. Grad school project due tomorrow, clustering happening at work (much like always), and in the thick of activities between Scouting, Church, and the part-time job.

But this afternoon, for a glorious 61 minutes and 33 seconds, it all slipped away, and I chased the sun as it plummeted from the sky far too early in the day.

We’ve been enjoying an outstanding autumn, almost an indian summer, but not quite warm enough. Last night into this morning, though, the weather changed. The wind picked up and blew, and the temperature dropped from the mid-60’s Friday evening into the 30’s this morning.

I think I’m finally getting my mojo back, getting into a regular habit of hitting the road, hitting the pool, and at least a weekly bike ride. Would be great to have more time to ride, but I’ll take what I’ve got.

Anyway, had a virtual meeting with some classmates about a project we’ve got due tomorrow; divvy’d up the remaining work, and headed out to hit the road. Laced ’em up, fired up the Ambit and the iPod, and hit the road. I was a little interested in how it was going to go – not sure when the last time I’d done back-to-back runs was, and not sure when the last time I’d done more than 10 miles in a week back-to-back was.

But, my race at Tarzan Brown was better than last year (shockingly), and that’s given me a little bit of a boost. Plus, my teenage son smoked me, and I’m not really ready to be an old man. It’s a lie to say it was easy today, but it felt good, and I just kept going.

There’s a hill near the house, Boston Post Road approaching Flanders Road from the east, that’s a classic coastal New England bump. Maybe 100′ of elevation total over almost 2 miles, but enough to notice. A couple of years, I decided that I’d stop avoiding the hill and embrace it, and today may have been the first time I’ve really, really loved it. The shadows and tall trees were stretched out, and the sun was plummeting towards the horizon. 6 weeks till the solstice, allegedly, and then the days will inch back towards something approaching reasonable.

I crested the hill, and decided to turn a 5 miler into an hour, kept running down the other side of Flanders Hill, and into the sun. A glorious, glorious patch of sun, a downhill, and a lee from the cold wind. Good legs, good lungs.

It’s a long four months until the end of March when we might see days like this again, but runs like today make it seem like I might get there again.

Posted in Run

Holmes Run

Fall is awesome. Let me just start with that. Down in DC for meetings, and dealing with slowly getting back into shape. Stuck in a new hotel out in Alexandria in kind of a residential desert; it’s kind of unusual in that it’s one of the few places around DC without a robust bike/trail infrastructure like right out the door.

But, thanks to the good folks at the desk and the google maps, I was able to map out a run that turned out pretty much awesome. About a mile down the hill from the hotel was Holmes Run Trail. Beautiful mix of paved and unpaved options. The light was stunning.

However, every time I would see the “Holmes Run” sign, instead of reading:

Holmes Run

like the creek, I would read:

Holmes, Run

And start hearing either:

or

Anyway, it was one of those runs which was absolutely awesome. Happy to go.

Posted in Run

Funk is its own reward

After a great start to the summer (Half marathons at Vermont City and Mystic, two weeks backpacking at Philmont), work, life, and beer caught up with me. Weight’s up (but not to pre-summer high, and my Movescount dashboard is that of a slacker:

MovescountDash

8 hours. 8 whole hours of logged exercise for an entire month.

Anyway, made it out this morning into the autumn early light. No fog, but low, cold clouds hanging over the trees. Cool, but not enough to have to put on long sleeves.

The run was unspectacular – 9 minute miles on an out-and-back I’ve run more times than I remember – downhill to just before the turn, then a small 20′ kicker at the midpoint, and about 100′ up in the mile and a half or so back to the house.

But it was a run. Which counts. 8 hours, 15 minutes a day … maybe that’s not so bad.

Posted in Run

30 Days of March to go

Screw it, I’m done with winter.

There, I said it. D.O.N.E. Done.

Part of the beauty of living in Southeastern Connecticut is that Winter’s usually sort of tepid. Sure, we’ll get a nor’easter once in a while, but those are generally to scare off the snowbirds or other folks who’d also complain that there’s no AC in summer, or that there’s no parking, or whatever. But usually, the winters come with breaks – snow one week, mid-40’s the next week. So nothing’s ever iced up too long, and you have to treasure snow the few times a year you get it. Makes the shoveling easy, too, since you don’t have to toss the snow up too far.

But, Saturday rolled around and, since the temperatures were within spitting distance of freezing, I busted out the trusty old Cross bike and rolled down to the package store to pick up some beers. Mmmm, beers.

Later that evening, drinking said beers with some like-minded neighbors, I came to a decision that kind of surprised me. Namely, that I could, unilaterally, declare winter over. Done, finished, finis, ended, omega. Power of positive thinking, right?

I’d been catching up on TED talks Friday afternoon while working, and had caught this one by Tony Robbins. In general, I think he (and many other power of positive thinking folks) relies too heavily on anecdote, single examples, and survivor bias, but, sitting there Saturday night and then Sunday morning with a little bit of fuzzy head from the night before, I kind of wondered if maybe he wasn’t right? Maybe life is choices; maybe we do have the power to shape our reality.

So, Sunday afternoon, I headed out for a run. Even though it was 20 degrees and snowing. “Winter,” I thought, “Tony Robbins and I are going to make you my (censored)”.

5 miles later, sitting on the porch, ice falling off of my eyebrows, I looked around through the falling snow and gloated. Tony and I are going to kick this.

Snowy

PANO_20150212_122955I’m actually a little ashamed to admit it, but after a great start in January, I kind of fell off of the running wagon. Part of it is the massive snow we’ve had lately in Mystic, but mostly, it’s a regular, no-frills forgetting to get my butt out of the door. No excuses.

Which isn’t to say I’ve been doing nothing – the log’s got a couple of trips to spin class, a couple of roller rides in the basement, a decent number of miles breaking trail on XC skis, and a return to the pool, which I’d missed more than I thought.

Today I finally got off my duff for a lunchtime run, and have zero regrets. Right around freezing, not a lot of wind, and a lovely 4 miles through legs which were tighter than they should be considering the dearth of running I’ve been doing.

Needless to say, I’ve missed it.

I think I’ve turned the winter corner on weight, too. Peaked at a number I hadn’t seen in 5 years or so, and have been steadily below that and approaching 180.

Posted in Run

Get Elevated

So, I’ve been headed to Albuquerque for business pretty regularly over the last year. And, I’ve got to admit, it’s a great place to run. Mostly, I’ve been running on Albuquerque’s great network of multi-use trails and bike paths. Well, that and swimming – found a great pool, good hours, great temperature.

But, man, does the altitude get to me. (Well, that, and being only moderately in shape and fat). It’s been amazing for me to, as I’ve been getting back in shape, to feel better on the run. Or so I though…

Anyway, I woke up this morning to snow pouring over the Sandia mountains like steam rolling over the edge of a cauldron. Amazing. Work wrapped up a little early this afternoon, so on my way back to the hotel, I did a quick search for trail runs. IMG_20150121_081530

And, Runner’s World had a great recommendation about the 365 trail in the Sandia foothills. A quick google, and I had a trail and topo map, courtesy of the City of Albuquerque.

Quick drive, and here I am. Parking lot at the top end of Copper Ave. 6,000, or so. The Rio Grande valley behind me, mountains in front of me.IMG_20150121_162429

So, start running, and it’s up, up, up.

And more up. Or, at least it feels like it. No air in my lungs for the entire first mile; mostly a walk-run. But, gentle snow was falling, and the trails were amazing. New England trails aren’t like this – they’re chunks of granite the size of babys’ heads and branches, branches, branches. These were AMAZING – like beautiful crushed rock stretching out for miles, and miles, and miles. Plenty of elevation, plenty of smoove.

And the run was great. aside from the not being able to get oxygen to my lungs.

Made it up to the entrance to the Sandia National Forest Wilderness area at the intersection of the 193 and 365 trails. PANO_20150121_162436 Beautiful.

Decided to make a loop rather than an out and back. The second half of the run was, well, actually a run, more or less. Lots more down than up..

Anyway, great run. “Rave” is probably an accurate description. Hopefully get to knock it out again before I head home.

Posted in Run

Save the soul of the New Haven 20K

Runner types- the New Haven Road Race folks sent me an email survey, the gist of which was asking if they should ‘add’ a half marathon option to the Labor Day 20k.

Please tell them ‘no’.

The 20k is a great race as is, period, full stop.

I was kind of upset when they trebeled the size of the crowd showing up Labor Day morning with the 5K; however, in hindsight, it works as an option to get the whole family running. Which is awesome, and adds to the great atmosphere.

However, adding a half marathon would be a huge mistake, because you wouldn’t really add runners, rather just shift folks from the 20K field. Any new runners who came to the event to the event would be the dumb ones who can’t think metric and realize that 20k is only a half mile shy of a half marathon. The folks who care deeply about labels, and are just looking to check a distance box instead of running for the sake of running and reveling in the last day of summer. The types who won’t do a triathlon unless it’s got an M-Dot.

From here on, we’re going to call the proposed half marathon the 21K. And I encourage you to drink beer.

Not every event needs to be the same. There’s value in having some odd distances, in that it captures the essence of racing, which is “Hey, I bet I can get THERE faster than you”.

Tarzan Brown should be to the top of River Road and back, construction dependent, and shouldn’t get truncated to a 5 mile race. Adding another 0.2502 miles would make the Manchester Road Race just another 5 miler instead of an almost 80 year Thanksgiving Tradition. Probably would start at 10 AM instead of “10:00 a.m. Sharp”.

These traditions are what unite us in our local “tribes”, what give us opportunities to actually talk instead of just nodding while we pound out miles day to day to day. New Haven on Labor Day should be a 20k followed with beer on the green, and then pizza and more beer in the park.

While I’m pretty convinced just based on tradition, being a stick in the mud, and getting into my mid-40s, I’m skeptical of the logistics of running a 21K alongside “The” 20K. I’ve run several marathons where there was a half marathon run on the same course, and where the races split has always been a giant bag of poop for mid-pack runners, regardless of which distance they’re running. Either the half runners miss the turn and get a slower half time, or the marathoners accidentally make the time and end up running 26.4 instead of 26.2. And that’s where there’s a HUGE difference between the race distances.

Part of the reason the 5K and the 20K work alongside each other is because they are “alongside” each other, not on top of each other. The start areas are together, which is cool, and the finish areas are together, which works because even if you’re walking a 5K, you probably are going to finish ahead of the elite runners running the 20K.

However, if they add a 21K, how are they going to break up the course? Is the 21K going to have a completely different course? Is the 20K finish line just going to be further up from the green and the 21K finish, robbing the 20K runners of the traditional finish? Imagine the confusion coming down Whitney to Temple where the diversion for the 21K happens. Logistically, it just doesn’t work without adding confusion to the runners and/or robbing either the 20K group or the 21K group

Anyway, the idea stinks. I’d still run it if the only race was a 21K, just because the weather and green are glorious on Labor Day, and at the end of the summer, a 20K-ish distance is just fun to run, and to revel in a summer’s good training. But the idea of running both a 20K and a 21K doesn’t work for me, though I’d keep running the 20K out of spite, and griping about the split or the finish or something, which then spoils a great summer day.

Homecoming

Back down in San Antonio for alumni weekend at my alma mater. It’s been way, way too long since I headed down here, and I really don’t think that the last time I was here I ran much.

I’m struck by how much I’ve changed since I was here – I’d always thought I was a pretty active guy, but looking back, I avoided a whole lot of quarter mile walks by jumping in the car. Didn’t really spend any time running at all until I got into the Navy, which is a shame, because the campus is an awesome place to run. Good choices for long, flat runs; adjacent to a city park with even more trails … Different time, different me, I suppose.

Got in yesterday noon-ish, had way too much chips and queso for lunch, napped, and then headed out for a run. Which may or may not have been a mistake – this was by far the hottest day I’d experienced all year, somewhere in the mid-90s, and dry. So, needless to say, the run sucked big suckage, even though the roads were great, traffic was light, there was a delightful half-mile gravel track to run in the middle of the out-n-back, etc.

Then this morning, I had a good lie-in (at least for someone coming to Central time zone from the east coast, accustomed to life with small childrens), then drove down to the campus to run. The run was delightful – through a park that borders the campus, up through a trail the campus maintains, and then back down past the dorms.

And the thought hit me – why had I never done this while I was here?

Posted in Run