Aug 30, 2009

My Best Workout Ever...Or Worst?

Sorry, I`m not talking about today. No, this was in January of 2008 when I was in the midst of some serious marathon training. To the tune of 2-3 80 mile weeks in a row on my way up to 100 miles (what was I thinking!). Early in the morning I set out for a 16 mile run and knew from the outset that I was quite fatigued. I was living in Tokyo at the time and fortunately there is a subway stop every mile or so and I thought I`d just go 4 miles and then grab a ride home. At 4 I decided to go one more mile and then 5 became 6. I said to myself I could turn around now and put a nice 12 mile run in the book but I couldn`t even fathom running another 6 miles. On I plodded up to my 7 and 8 mile marks chanting my mantra "just keep running, just keep running" in my head. Yes, you might recognize that I paraphrased that from Dory in Finding Nemo. So I turned around and started heading back, each time I passed a mile marker I told myself I`d catch a ride at the next one. Finally at the four mile mark, 12 miles into my run, I stopped my watch and turned to walk to the subway. After 10 meters I stopped, turned back around, restarted my watch and ran the rest of the way home. A run that I never thought would go more that 4 miles at the outset and never thought I`d complete. Mentally the toughest run I`ve ever had. Less than a week later I pulled out of the marathon with achilles` problems. Should I have just given my body the rest that it was asking for?

Well contrary to that run I felt pretty solid throughout my run today, which is saying something for a 20 mile long run. I felt like I was lagging a bit from 14-16 but that was only because I was going through a particularly wicked section of hills. Around 17 I was mentally ready to be done and started calculating how slow I could run these last miles and still finish under 9 minutes per mile. I started counting the miles, hills and minutes remaining. Under 20 minutes, 10, less than a mile, only 5 more minutes, 4, 3, 2, 1 and...done. Long, slow run, very casual but still at a faster pace than I`ve run a long run since I was doing only 14-15 in my build up. Also I went without the Powerade. No sports drinks or gels, just a drink from a water fountain at a park I ran through, which is how I usually do my runs. Maybe that`s why I realized I was so hungry when I finished.

All in, 20 miles at 8:52 pace.

Aug 28, 2009

Rain, rain, go away...

...and take these mile repeats with you. Didn't look so bad heading out, maybe a few dark clouds in the West. By one mile it was sprinkling. Another half mile brought a drizzle and at the start of my first mile repeat it was raining. I was trying to figure out if I was painting the romantic portrait of a lone runner hammering out intervals in the rain or if it the rain was just making an already tough workout even more difficult. I decided that it was up to me to decide. My attitude towards the rain and my workout could be positive or negative and that would make all the difference. Unfortunately at the time I was smack in the middle of the workout and didn't really have any good feelings toward it. Fortunately by repeat #4 blue skies were making an effort to show up so I figured I could too.

In my head I figured 5 x 1 mile in the 6:40's (same as last week) would be sufficient. Mostly I just wanted to get this last session over with so I can get to my marathon paced runs next week. I went 6:40 with the first one and felt okay. The next four were 6:38, 6:38, 6:38 and 6:35. I knew I had one more in me so I did a sixth in 6:37. Not bad, something I can definitely be happy with. Maybe my fitness is coming around.

All in: 11 miles at 8:24.

The truth is you can always run faster. Sometimes the truth hurts.

Aug 26, 2009

Wisconsin Dells

We went to Wisconsin Dells with some family friends for the last few days. It was a lot of fun but after three days of swimming, sliding, tubing, putt-putting and lazer tagging, I've had enough. I needed to get back home just so I could rest (and run). Before we went on Sunday I did dutifully get up at 5 AM so I could get my weekly long run in.

I ran 19 miles on a 3 x 6.33 mile loop. The loop swings by our house a few times so I could continue to experiment with Powerade but it does include a few good sized hills. I was really starting to sag on miles 11-12 and figured I might be cutting the loop short for the last lap. Fortunately I seemed to revive a bit around mile 14 and was able to finish it off. As for the Powerade, I took a swig when I ran by home at mile 6.33 and 12.66 then shortly after that my stomach felt mildly uncomfortable. Nothing bad, I just hope I get used to it a little more so it doesn't bother me at all. Probably I'm just imagining it. Maybe that's what I'll tell myself and see if that works.

As for today I'm entering my last couple of speed workouts before I hit the MP phase of my build up. I didn't really know what to do but somehow ended up with 24 x 200m in my head. Fine, I'll do that. Not sure of what pace to do I figured I go with 40-45 seconds and adjust from there. It seemed okay but for the first dozen or so I was dreading having to do 24 of these things so much that I didn't realize that they weren't so hard. By 16 I started to realize that my heart rate was probably not getting up as high as it should. In the middle of the 20th one I decided I'd do the last 4 under 40 seconds. Couldn't pull it off for the first but the next three were 39, 39 and 38 and my HR was definitely high enough. I should have been at that pace a little more often I think. Postrun I checked the McMillan calculator and it says 38-43 so I was actually in the zone except for a couple that might have been 44. Of course it wasn't totally exact since the middle school track where I was running didn't have any markings that a high school track would so I had to eyeball my position between the curve and straightaway. You know what is incredible? World record marathon pace for 200m is 35 seconds! I could definitely run that fast and put in a few intervals at that pace but for a whole marathon? Incredible.

All in 19 miles at 9:02 pace and 8 miles at 8:20.

Aug 20, 2009

The Marathon Paced Workout

I have quite a bit to say about today's run so I'll skip any anecdote at the beginning and get into the meat of the workout.

Two and a half weeks into my 4 week speedwork period and I wanted to get an assessment of my fitness. For me the best way to do this is by doing a marathon pace (MP) run. For this workout I'll warm up with two easy miles and then speed up to the 7:10-7:15 range. These are the meat and potatoes of my marathon training. Dare I say it, at least as important as my long runs. I'll complete two of these each week usually with 10-11 miles at MP. A friend once told me (he read/heard it somewhere) that if you can complete 2/3 to 3/4 of your race distance in an untapered workout you should be able to complete the whole race at that pace. For me that would be about 18 miles at that pace. Yikes! I've never gotten beyond 12 miles at MP. Maybe that's why my marathons are run at about a 7:35 pace instead of 7:15.

Still I think these workouts are so beneficial because with only three runs per week, a long run plus two of these, I'm able to run a pretty good marathon. This was my training plan leading up to Myrtle Beach in February and with it I qualified for Boston and missed a PB by less than 2 minutes. I occasionally did a fourth workout that was a short, easy run but more often it was a swim or bike ride (with an eye towards my June half iron triathlon).

I divide these workouts into two groups, short ones and long ones. The short ones are 6-8 miles and long ones are 9+. This is an arbitrary distinction based only on the fact that running 9 miles at that pace makes it over an hour. I build up through the short ones and into the long ones throughout a 2-3 month build up before a marathon. The more and longer the long ones I can do the better trained I am. So with all that in mind, I embarked on a MP run to test myself.

I was hoping to get into the range of long ones but more expecting to do 7-8 miles at that pace. What makes me stop? Usually fatigue and my HR. If it is too high too long then I know I'll have a long recovery and my later workouts in the week will suffer. I felt good getting started, the pace was easy; must be the payoff from my recent speed sessions. After six and then seven miles though I could feel the fatigue and my HR was becoming elevated. I know I could have pushed and completed an 8th mile but a 9th (and therefore a long workout) would have been too tough. So I called it quits there and did a mile warm down. Seven miles at 7:08 is probably about right and looking at my build up for Myrtle Beach I'm in exactly the same place. Maybe that's not bad not having done that workout for about a month and when I enter that portion of my training in September I'll still have 6 solid weeks to push the distance.

So let me know if you have any thoughts on this. I'm toying with the idea of intentionally keeping one of these workout in the short range each week in order to maximize the distance I could do in the second one.

All in, today was 10 miles at 7:49 pace.

Aug 18, 2009

Biking and Mile Repeats Revisited

Last week Kaori learned to ride her bike without her training wheels. Yes it is a little bit late since she is six years old and entering first grade this Fall. However when we lived in Tokyo it was just tow crowded with automobile and pedestrian traffic for her to ride a bike very much. So she's really only been riding for about one year. This Spring we started riding with just two wheels but after one minor wreck we shelved that idea for a couple months. Then last week it just clicked for her and off she went. That first day Cole and her mom offered her $1 to keep going, making more and longer passes in front of our house (how sad is it that I entered the mile in my training log that I ran with her?). When it came to my turn to bribe her I didn't do it. I wanted to end on a positive note and so we finished the session. Now she is pushing for family bike rides and riding all over the neighborhood.

I was kind of tired and sluggish this morning and lacking any sort of motivation. I started thinking about what I commented to another blogger that sometimes low motivation could signal a need for more rest. Still I decided to get out and run but I used the same strategy with myself that I had used on Kaori, give myself a positive experience. I decided to couple that with some mile repeats because I've been eager to redeem myself on those after my bad experience last week. So I gave myself a moderate goal of 4x1 mile in the 6:40's. I know, a little slow but I still think that should provide a pretty good stimulus since it is about 30 seconds faster per mile than my planned marathon pace. I ended up doing 5 from 6:41-6:45 and in doing so I left the track with a satisfied feeling. All in: 10 miles in about 81 minutes.

P.S. Both Yasso and McMillan only mention doing up to 5 mile repeats for marathon training. I would have expected more but I guess I'm doing enough distance with those.

Aug 16, 2009

From Triathlon To Treadmill

I'd hoped to be doing a sprint triathlon this morning and that would get me out of my long run. Unfortunately my friend hasn't trained and didn't want to do the race. I still could have but without him it wouldn't have been the same. Also, I've swam only once since the half ironman triathlon I did in June.

So the threat of thunderstorms drove me inside this morning. An 18 miler on the treadmill isn't ideal for most people but since I live in Minnesota I have kind of gotten used to running indoors. Today's long run was a little better than last week but still didn't feel overly sharp or energetic. I probably felt a little better because I was drinking some Powerade during my run. I usually don't do this. I usually don't drink or need anything. Even though I have a fuel belt I don't like carrying water and I definitely don't like stopping during a run unless I'm doing intervals. I mean, I don't stop during races so why would I during my training. I also think that if I don't take in any gels or sports drinks then my body will have to rely on metabolizing my fat and that is something that is good to train my body to do. This is just a theory though, what do you think?

But the Marine Corps Marathon will be offering Mountain Berry Blast (although their website says mixed berry blast, but they don't have that flavor) and so I need to train with it for at least a few runs. Was that what it was that gave me a little unsettled stomach (apologies to those around me, I was a little, what's the word?, gassy).

Today's run, 18 miles in 2:41:45; 8:59 pace.

Aug 13, 2009

Mile Repeats

Since it's been so long that I have done speedwork I've been checking out Greg McMillan's running calculator in order to get some pace times. I'm not sure what I should run though. Should I do mile repeats in the 6:30's like the 3:20 marathoner that I am or should I do them in 6:20's as my marathon goal is 3:10? Also do I need to push to do 8-10 of them and try to make them an endurance workout as well as speed or do I just need to do 5-6 to strengthen my body to running that fast and the endurance will come with other workouts? Right now I guess I'm just trying to do as much as I can as fast as I can...

...which today meant not so much, not so fast. I set out for my second set of mile repeats and hoped to get 6-7 in. After the second one (6:32, 6:37) I could tell that not only did I not have it but I sure wasn't going to get it. "It" being the thing that lets you run well on any particular day. The third one (6:53!) prompted a long rest of a 1.5 mile jog and even though I was planning on running home after that I just couldn't stand not doing at least one more. Probably not a good idea but I don't think it hurt anything either (6:52). A far cry from last week's mile repeats. Now I feel like there is unfinished business and even though tomorrow is supposed to be a rest day I'm already feeling like I want to run. A short, fast jaunt would be okay right?

Aug 11, 2009

My Best 5k Ever

I was able to run my favorite 5k ever just a couple weeks ago. What made it so good? I was able to run it with my 9 year old son that's what. He had run his first 5k a few weeks prior. He started out with my wife but after finding her pace too slow he took off by himself and walking only once finished just under 31 minutes. Not bad! This time he wanted to go faster and enlisted me to help pace him. This time he didn't walk at all and was working really hard toward the end. I was impressed by him. It was a big (5,000 runners) but casual (no times, not sure of the starting line) race and we were weaving through a lot of runners. We ended up finishing in 28:26. Great job Cole!

Today's workout put me at the local middle school track, an easy 1.75 mile warm up from our house. I was a little worried about my ability to do a good workout since my legs were sore and tired all day yesterday. Fortunately when I woke up this morning I was feeling pretty fresh. I entered a 16 x .25 mile workout with 100 meter rests into the Garmin and got started. My goal was to complete them all in 90-95 seconds and after 2-3 intervals I was able to dial in on my pace. I slowed a little bit in my 7th-10th intervals but number 12 was my fastest one. I cruised through a couple more and then definitely felt the fatigue set in on number 15. Luckily I had only one left and was able to bring it home. I had started out jogging the 100 meter rests but found that didn't give me sufficient recovery to let my heart rate reduce so I ended up walking them (also I was tired). I wasn't so excited about the 1.75 miles to get back home but at least it was slow. Of course I usually try to refuel within 30 minutes of my workouts because we all know that is prime time for your muscles to absorb their required nutrients but that just had to wait as I dived into my kids' pool to cool down. Plus playing with them in the pool is kind of a workout in itself.

Aug 9, 2009

Long Run

Sunday today and that means a long run for me. I don't know why but I've always done my long runs on Sunday mornings. A lot of people do them on Saturdays. I guess I just like to get up early and get them done before we head off to church.

Anyway I did 17 miles today at a 9:06 per mile pace. A little slower than normal but I really don't care since long runs are supposed to be just that, long. All about time spent running. I did 5 laps on a path around a lake plus and additional 400 meters to make it 17 miles. I was going along pretty well until about 4 miles left. At that point it really became a grind. I had a water stop with a little more than 2 miles left that helped, for about a half mile anyway. I think I was tired because of the speedwork on Friday. Maybe it was the 100% humidity that wouldn't let my sweat evaporate and therefore my body to cool down. Maybe it was our party yesterday. Although I don't and didn't drink any alcohol, I was on my feet quite a bit shopping, cleaning, preparing and hosting so that could have had an effect. Likely it was all of those and more.

Glad to have gotten it done; sort of looking forward to my workout on Tuesday (but more looking forward to my rest day tomorrow.) (;

Aug 7, 2009

Speed Work

Since we moved back from Tokyo in July of 2008, marking the time since I ran with my running club, Namban Rengo, I haven't done any actual speed work. Well this month that is going to change. I'll be somewhat following this article by Greg McMillan in Running Times magazine. It advocates doing your periodization for marathon training in this order: build up, speed work, tempo runs. For the Myrtle Beach marathon I built up my tempo runs along with my mileage, did not speedwork, and as previously stated, that was good enough to qualify me for Boston. (note: tempo runs for me are long runs at marathon pace, usually 12-14 miles with 10-12 miles at 7:10-7:15 pace)

Previous marathons that I've run in the 3:20 range, Tokyo and Nagano, I did a build up and then tempo phase while doing speedwork throughout. With this new format after finishing up my mileage build up (I peaked last week at 3 runs of 15, 13.4 and 15 miles) I'm starting up with intervals again and today that meant mile repeats. Since it was raining pretty hard this morning I decided to make use of the treadmill and joined the rest of the family at the health club. I did a two mile warm up, which I pretty much always do, and then did 5 x 1 mile at 6:24, 6:26, 6:22, 6:25, 6:26 with half mile active recovery in between. Nine and one half miles total. Not bad especially since this week I'm trying to ease into the faster pace (on Tuesday I did 12 x 1 minute at 6:20-6:30 pace with 1 minute recoveries). I don't want my tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints to revolt against the sudden increase in intensity.

Aug 5, 2009


I thought it was dead but here I am again blogging on my running blog. I'm still not sure why. Not like I'll be having anymore readers this time around. I'm going to do it though, I'll update after my workouts and races and other events that impact my running/triathloning.

A little more history since I last blogged. I ran the Myrtle Beach marathon on February 14th, 2009 and finished in 3:19:56 to qualify for the Boston marathon for the second time. Not sure if I'll be running it this time though. I had a great time during that marathon; really enjoyed it for some reason. Mostly I'm thinking because I didn't crash and burn towards the end like I have previously. After that I trained pretty hard for a half ironman triathlon that I completed in June 2009. That was not so good an experience. In fact, I crashed hard on the run and didn't enjoy it so much. I'm thinking that's why I'm back into running mode and not swimming and biking so much.

Next up I'll blog about my training for Myrtle Beach and how my training is different from that now and why I think I'll be able to do better.