Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 24 - January 30

Weekly totals:
Distance: 43.74 mi. Time: 07:41:00(on the dot, nice) Vertical: 7,869 ft.

Monday: ~ Adrenaline Climbing
Distance: 0.00 mi.

Time: 0:30:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

Put in a solid indoor rock-climbing 'rest day'. Core strength is crucial and rock climbing is, in my opinion, the best way to accomplish this while breaking up the training week. This past month I've slowly revved back up my core workouts, in the form of rock climbing, and I really feel like it's paying off in strength on the uphill climbs I suffocate myself on every Sunday.

Tuesday: ~ Buford Dam, Laurel Ridge Trail
Distance: 9.00 mi.
Time: 01:22:01
Vertical: 1,179 ft.

AM: For the past two weeks I've somewhat neglected the trails and opted for the track. Soley for the benefit of building some basic foot speed, because I'm lacking in the category in comparison to my potential. Best way to build speed is to increase leg cadence. Best place to safely do this, rubber track. Downside, hills strength dwindles and you're burning when you get back out on them. Nonetheless, the next four weeks my focus is back on the soft trail surface and back on the hills. The trail was wet, foggy, and my legs left feeling humbled.

PM: 15 minute bike ride on the rollers, tonight. I'm going to start adding this in one day this week, and two days next week and three get the point. 

Wednesday ~ Collins Hill Park
Distance: 6.24 mi.
Time: 0:56:22
Vertical: 538 ft.

AM: With my new found foot-speed (loosely applied here) I hit the trails for 4 X 1k repeats, which is such an awkward split for the imperial-minded athletes, but something that should be incorporated a little more into training. Just over a half-mile and right under 3/4 of a mile, the kilometer nestles your mind and body into an endurance discomfort not found between the 800m and 1600m repeats. My splits were awful, I felt exhausted, and was overall relieved when they were done. One issue is the soft footing at the park. The grounds crew has been working incredibly hard to lay down new mulch, which happens to be about four-inches thick in most places. So, the run is equivalent to a soft sand run on the beach with random short steep hills thrown in.

PM: Rock climbing at Adrenaline Climbing, great top roping workout tonight.

Thursday ~ Collins Hill Park
Distance: 4.00 mi.

Time: 0:38:00
Vertical: 360 ft.

Back-to-back days of the 'soft sand' trail, but this time for a 'no watch, no worries' recovery run. With my focus today solely on form I felt comfortable in the softer mulch and a lot more confident at my hill ability. Daylight faded and I retreated to the car just in time. I've got to get a headlamp or the sun needs to stay around longer, but not in an Alaskan kind-of-way.

Friday ~ Collins Hill Park
Distance: 8.50 mi.
Time: 01:12:57
Vertical: 750 ft.

With my 'mentally' humbling quality workout here, on Tuesday, I needed to take on the challenge again, but this time with a 4.5 mi. tempo run. Did a nicely paced, and comfortable, 2 mi. warm-up and began the hurt. Drained is a bit of an understatement for an appropriate adjective for my leg feeling, but dead/heavy is a bit extreme. My pace, with surface terrain in focus, actually wasn't that bad, and I felt fluid in terms of form at a faster pace. Even got a couple compliments for other runners...always an ego booster. Finished the run off with an uphill 2 mile cool-down.

Saturday ~ Rest Day
Distance: 0.00 mi.

Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

Feeling a bit fatigued, my feet are sore, and tomorrow is going to be tough. Playing conservative, at the right moments, will pay off in an training plan. The key is to find those right moments.

Sunday ~ Byron Reece Access Trail, Blood Mountain x 2
Distance: 16.00 mi.

Time: 3:31:40
Vertical: 5,042 ft.

Yesterday's conservative training moment paid off. A brutal climbing today, 5,000+ feet, on the Appalachian Trail. Planned route: Byron Reece Access Trail up Blood Mountain, down the backside for a total of 4 miles out. U-turn, and repeat for a total of 16 miles. From the start to the top of Blood is about 2 miles with average grade of 13%. This means form is crucial. The first four miles were great, stopped for about 5 minutes 8 miles in, took in half a peanut butter sandwich, downed a gel, and took in about 250 ml of water. The nutrition is an important addition based on the last time I took on 16 miles of the Appalachian Trail with none. I never like to add more than is absolutely needed, while training, in terms of nutrition, so this was a bit much, but in the end it paid off. 2nd climb up Blood Mountain felt great. Legs were fatigued, but form and pace were better and faster than the 1st time up, today. The backside of Blood was covered in ice, on the north slopes, leveled off and the u-turn resulted in a shock to the system that felt like the start of a nice bonk, but I kept my head calm and focused on breathing and form and I got back into the groove and ran successfully to the top with only three minor walks (less than 15 seconds). Front side of Blood is nothing but a plyometric workout and going down is tougher, ankle safety wise, than going up. In the end, I ran somewhat conservatively, but made the right choices and paces on the climbs. Today, in total, looks like hill repeats more than a long run:

Monthly Totals:
Distance: 200.84 mi. Time: 32:13:41 Vertical: 24,186 ft.

Overall this months focus was to build some foot-speed and take on some challenging long runs in the mountains. I've felt great all month with only an occasional foot ache, or a day of just feeling tired. Not too bad on the numbers. Next four weeks should entail a big gain in Vertical, and a little more overall distance. Long runs should increase to a max of twenty, and I'll definitely be running as much on the trails as possible. Core strengthening is going to see a drastic overhaul, and recovery techniques are going to play a crucial roll in my bodies ability to heal. So, rock-climbing, at Adrenaline Climbingice baths, stretching, and trigger point are back on with a vengeance; without malicious intent, that is.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 17 - January 23

Weekly Totals:
Distance: 30.54 mi. Time: 04:02:47 Vertical: 1034 ft.

Distance: N/A
Time: 1:00:00
Vertical: N/A

My body is exhausted as much as my mind. Sunday’s run introduced (re-, is probably an appropriate prefix) my training to mental and physical hurdles that has left me drained. I find that even though I’m exhausted after a long run or a quality workout that if I do something, anything, low-impact the next day or about 6 hours afterward I recover quite a bit more seamlessly than if I do nothing. So, after work, I headed to the rock-climbing gym and found that I had no sustainable strength or the mental capacity to do much of anything but play like a child on a swing set, mindlessly. Afterward I felt better even though , I’m concluding that a placebo is neatly nested in the inners of my brain and that alone has produced a more satisfying experience. But whateva’ works, right?

Distance: 5.00 mi.
Time: 0:39:37
Vertical: 154 ft.

To my surprise and in compliment to my body, and mind, today’s run was great. The weather, however, awful. I hit the paved trails (roads) around Lawrenceville and jaunted around for a good 5 miler at an easy pace. My legs felt good, my feet felt tired, but my motivation is soaring. A cold rain, and a cloudy sky made for a monotone visual, but just getting put there after feeling so tired certainly put a sepia tone to things.

Distance: 8.36 mi.
Time: 0:39:37
Vertical: 0 ft.

Wednesday’s are my mentally tough day. I’m tired from Sunday, and I have a quality workout scheduled. I originally woke up this morning with the idea that maybe I had pushed the running last week and this week a bit much. I’m having trouble getting up and out the door in the morning and this morning I said, “ok, I’ll skip today.” It’s my “recovery” week, so decisions like this by all training purposes are ok. Of course, after the day got moving and I woke up my body felt fine and on a whim I decided to hit the track and do at least some of the workout and if I didn’t feel well I’d happily end it. After I got to running, I felt like I was in a groove and did 1.5 mi Warm-up, 9 X 400m at 3k pace w/ 3:00min jog, 1.5 mi Cool-down. The repeats went like this, 1)6:05 pace, 2)6:03 pace, 3)6:02 pace, 4) 6:03 pace, 5)6:14 pace, 6) 6:11 pace, 7)6:16 pace, 8)6:02 pace, 9)5:58 pace. The middle three got a bit inconsistent, but the entire workout I had to force myself to slow-down and stick with the scheduled pace. I think I’m having trouble getting up at 7:00 AM, partially because I am fatigued from training, which is good, and partially because a tired body going to bed at 2:00 AM and trying to get up at 7:00 AM just isn’t going to work.

Distance: 0.00 mi.
Time: 0:00:00
Vertical: 0 ft.

I have to admit that plugging in those zero’s, above, felt like a dagger. Having great races is about consistency in training and for the first time in 11 weeks, I failed to run the scheduled run. But all isn’t lost. This week has been a struggle to feel recovered after two straight weeks of great long runs with big verticals, fast quality workouts, and somewhat substantial weekly mileage. A little back story,
11 weeks ago I had been out of a cast for 6 weeks and hadn’t run in 7 months, and hadn’t trained injury free in 24+ months. I wasn’t focused on healing. I neglected to see recovery as an important part of training, and overall I just wasn’t focused on running. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s silly to show up at a start-line and believe you’re focused on a race without having even focused on training. I suffered from the, “I once was a fast runner,” syndrome and this infectious disease is at its peak when an athlete, it doesn’t even have to be a runner, tries to pick-up training or a race without properly judging their actual fitness first. The first rule of training, know exactly what kind of shape you’re in. Mentally, the “I once was a…,” athlete stays very much in-tune with the physique they were once in, especially in terms of numbers (in the runners case, paces, distance, etc.), but fails to realize that the physical aspect of the equation isn’t where it once was. In the runner’s case, we even tend to subtract a couple of seconds and minutes from PR’s, and add about 10 miles to the weekly distance average. Resulting in great PR’s and enough weekly mileage to assume injuries were rampant during such high-mileage.
So, 11 weeks ago, I decided it was time to coach myself the same way I’d coach someone else: conservatively. Now, granted, my conservative is from 0 miles a week consistently to 60+ miles consistently in less than three months, but as long as I’m staying injury free and recovering well the equation is balanced, intensity + duration = improvement + recovery. When one side is weighted too much there’s an imbalance and the risk of overtraining, burning out, and injury goes up or times don’t improve. Back to the missed day…
Being a recovery week, an emphasis is placed on recovering and letting the social life back in for a week. This benefits the mind just as much as the legs. Last night, I didn’t get up early enough to run and instead of putting in a run at 11:00 PM, I enjoyed dinner with friends, and just went to bed. To caveat the relaxedness, if this hadn’t been a recovery week the miles would’ve been completed. Overall, I’m a little disappointed that I missed, but it’s not something to fret over.

Distance: 8.08 mi.
Time: 1:03:52
Vertical: 103 ft.

With early morning runs being out of vocabulary and habit, this week, I have been stuck to post-work runs. No trails and no sunlight. So, once again, I hit the track for some mile repeats. It’s nice that the track is about a mile from work, so I just ran there, did the workout, and ran back. The whole night I just felt like my stride was just a bit off, and the wind was chilling-to-the-bone, but that’s the price for not running in the daytime. Just three mile repeats, tonight, because I’ve set up a time trial on Sunday, and I want to be a little more refreshed. The mile repeats were to be around 10k pace (6:32 – 6:43), and on the track because it’s so flat I don’t mind just a tad faster. Here’s how it went:
1)6:28 w/3:15 recovery,
2)6:22 w/2:55 recovery,
3)6:21 w/3:21 recovery.
A nice set of times and negative splits, but I can’t wait to be hitting them at least, :30 to :60 faster, patience first.

Distance: 2.00 mi.
Time: 0:15:22
Vertical: 139 ft.

Just an easy base run before tomorrow’s mid-phase time-trial. I usually think days like this are a waste of time, because I’m used to average about 6 to 8 miles a day, but in reality days like this keep my legs from feeling like they’re missing something. Designed as an off, today’s run was worth it, but it took me a while to get out of the house to actually do. My legs felt a bit heavy, but I did some extra stretching post-run. Tomorrow’s time-trial should be fun, but with tired legs I’m not expecting a PR, nor am I even going for one. The time-trial is focused on running hard on tired legs and getting my trail racing legs back into speed. Collins Hill Park with be the place and a gut-check is what I’m looking for.

Distance: 7.10 mi.
Time: 0:57:21
Vertical: 638 ft.

A cold morning and a gut-check time-trial. My legs were still feeling tired from the previous week’s mileage (crazy, how long this fatigue has lasted, but I’ve neglected some stretching, trigger point, and other recovery tools), but after an easy two miles yesterday my legs aren’t feeling over-trained just training fatigued. I’m hoping for some rough patches today, mentally, but overall a well run ‘negative-split’ 5k on the trail. I haven’t raced on trails since college, so the footing will take some getting used to with faster speeds, but that’s the purpose of this mid-season time-trial, among other things. The trail was a mix of packed in woodchips, four inch thick newly laid woodchips, and two foot high mounds of woodchips waiting to be spread out making the footing technical, any downhill soft, and speed sapping soft flats. As the warm-up finished I felt solid. Instead of a starting the 5k from a stop I just ran straight into the 5k, I started stronger than needed and by the second lap of undulating terrain I hit the hill with no speed, but I kept telling myself this is what it’s about, the pain. I finished with a 20:59 5k (6:46 avg) and a new respect for the trail in a race context and an understanding that I’m on very tired legs and in the middle of the season. I’d say the track workouts are paying off, but after another 3 to 4 weeks I’d like to add back in some hills.
As usual, here’s the profile: 2 mile Warm-up, 5k Time Trial, 2 mile Cool-down,

Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 10 - January 16

Weekly Totals:
Distance: 60.34 mi. Time: 10:23:06 Vertical Gain: 6,033 ft.

Distance: 2.04 mi.
Time: 0:23:34
Vertical Gain: 186 ft.

The clouds painted the ground white, the driving came to a halt and the pool was closed. Generally, on Mondays, I like to cross-train with some kind of low impact activity usually a combination of rock-climbing and swimming. However, today demanded an easy run with LK in "the southern powder snow." The pace was easy and it was nice to slow way down and enjoy the cool precipitation solidly placed on the ground the night before.

Distance: 8.01 mi.

Time: 1:16:52
Vertical Gain: 467 ft.

Yesterday was soft "southern powder," and today was an ice skating rink on the roads. I was apprehensive to get outside, but came to the conclusion that running isn't about having perfect weather. I hit the roads, ran around ice patches, through slush, and past dumbfounded drivers. In the end, my right toe took a bit more stress than usual because of the sliding and felt somewhat sore, but the run was worth it.

Distance: 10.32 mi.
Time: 1:30:05
Vertical Gain: 65

Another day of treacherous road conditions and to top it off I was exhausted and didn't want to run. I decided to drive to a track, moronically thinking that it would be clear and easy to run my 400m repeats, only to turn around drive back home and crash on the couch. I just didn't have it in me to run. I was tired, I had been sitting at home since Sunday, and running just didn't seem to fit into my empty schedule. Needless to say, I awoke from my nap to see LK walk to the door in running clothes and say, "I'm going running, even though I don't really feel like it." That's all it took, I got up found a 1/4 mi. of asphalt with the least amount of ice and ran 14 X 400m's with 2:00 min. jog and 1:00 min. rest in-between. Sometimes you find motivation in the oddest places. For me, today, it just seeing some else making the decision to go do something with the future in focus (for LK, the Georgia Marathon) and not the present.

Distance: 8.00 mi.

Time: 1:18:29
Vertical Gain: 721 ft.

Although I hadn't really run on the road except one day this week, courtesy the snow and ice coverings, I really felt like I was missing something in my training, the trail. So, instead of hitting the safer road conditions I decided to test out some snow trail running. It's not often that I've had the actual opportunity to run on a snow packed trail which left me pretty excited for an 8 mi. recovery run. It took 6 miles to get used to the "new" terrain, but by the end I was running a 'normal' recovery pace.

Distance: 11.32 mi.
Time: 1:28:34
Vertical Gain: 250 ft.

A great day of training. Wednesday's low motivation debacle behind, I set out to redeem myself with some nice mile repeats. Five to be exact. A nice warm 45 degree temperature allowed for short sleeves, shorts, and gloves. The mile paces was in my 10k pace range: 6:44 - 6:32, but because it was on the road and relatively flat I dipped toward to the lower end and just a bit faster. Mile 1: 6:26, Mile 2: 6:31, Mile 3: 6:37, Mile 4: 6:28, and Mile 5: 6:25. I put in about a 1/4 mi. rest in-between, and by the end everything felt fluid.

Distance: 6.25 mi.
Time: 0:55:36
Vertical Gain: 119 ft.

This has been the longest week I've had during this training and with tomorrow's run being a 16 miler on the Appalachian Trail, I didn't want to be overly exhausted, but I also just wanted to run. So, 6.25 on an easy course at a very easy pace seemed to be a good idea. It felt good, at least. After finishing, I felt a little more tired than anticipated, but didn't think much of it.

Distance: 14.4 mi.
Time: 3:29:56
Vertical Gain: 4,225 ft.

This was the worst run of the week, month, year, etc. I set out for 16 mi. on the toughest stretch of the Appalachian Trail and I got my ass handed to me in the form of  running into a wall. I big brick, concrete, diamond encrusted, insert your own hardened material, wall. Prior to the run I felt recovered, physically, but when I started the run I started on a hungry stomach which made it even worse and at about mile 12 I started feeling dizzy & dumb (sure sign of an impending bonk) and mile 13 became a walk/hike. I finished up at mile 14 and walked back to the car. Today's run, in hindsight, was great but the bonk was awful. But what can someone expect with a profile like this:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January 03 - January 9 2011

Weekly Totals: 
Distance: 55.58 mi. Time: 8:02:42 Vertical Gain: 4117 ft.

Monday, January 03
Distance: 800 yrds.
Time: 0:30:00ish
Vertical Gain: 0 ft.

Off day. Took things relatively easy, which is great because Sunday's 11 miles (3,535 feet of vertical) on the Appalachian Trail left my legs tired. On an even more positive note, I did increase the yardage in my weekly swim/recovery workout. Due to a chest cold my ability to keep a consistent breathing pattern was a bit hindered, but nothing that I'm concerned with.

Tuesday, January 04
Distance: 8 mi.
Time: 1:04:11
Vertical Gain: 667 ft.

With a great time trial on December 31, 2010, I've adjusted my training paces a good bit. Collins Hill Park is relentless and my legs were still feeling fatigued from Sunday's run. More notably, I had some mental challenges about mid-run. But I held things together and by the end the reward was 8 miles at a much faster than anticipated pace. I have a minute wide training zone for Base mileage days and I don't really pay attention to my watch (Garmin 405). I just run and keep it from beeping, which tells me I'm in the appropriate pace, but to know that I could've slowed down about 20 secs each mile would've been nice. Oh well, I made it and it felt gratifying.

Wednesday, January 5
Distance: 10.19 mi.
Time: 1:20:04
Vertical Gain: 397 ft.

First interval training of the season and it was a great "rust-breaker." 12 X 400m at 6:05 Pace, and .35 Recovery at 8:30 pace. The pace for the 400's was great and the recovery was right at the tipping point of, possibly, too much. I was nervous going into to the repeats because it had been so long since I've done any of this type of training, but I'm looking forward to the change in pace. The last 8 weeks I have had focus on hill work, so the increase in foot speed should pay off later on in the season and when I pick back up the hill repeats.

Thursday, January 6
Distance: 8 mi.
Time: 1:12:00
Vertical Gain: 843 ft.

A recovery run on hilly terrain...possible? Definitely. People describe all of the time a "wall" during races, for 10 years I've been training at Buford Dam and since my hiatus I've had a "Too Difficult" Wall on this course. The terrain is undulating and there's a set of stairs that are too steep for me to wrap my mind around running up them. But I chose the course because, put simply, I'm fuckin' done with excuses. There's no need to turn down a run, and there's no need to turn down a course. The run felt great. My legs were 85% recovered from the intervals yesterday and I'm gaining a new sense of respect for looking at running in terms of years and not just a season.

Friday, January 7
Distance: 8.92 mi.
Time: 1:08:40
Vertical Gain: 247 ft.

Mile repeats, are you serious? This is a classic high school cross-country workout that isn't done specifically enough. Meaning, your repeats don't need to be anywhere close to your mile pace. For tonight's workout my mile repeat pace: 10k pace ~ 6:43 to 6:32. The temperature felt great, the wind was above breezy and the early run drizzle was cold. Overall, the repeats felt great I was more comfortable the more I completed. I averaged a bit faster than my pace range, but if you look at the total vertical gain it's easy to see that the course was flat. This brings up another point, run the terrain not the pace.

Saturday, January 8
Distance: 5 mi.
Vertical Gain: 193 ft.

Overall, I'm glad I got outside to run, but it was the worst run of the week. I planned to do 8, but after 5 miles I had had enough. It was incredibly windy, cold, and I just couldn't get into a zone. I considered pushing it justifying that it was just mental lapse, but sticking with my, 'conservative training plan' this year I called it after I took a bathroom break and forgot to start my watch again. Some runs are bet spent not running the planned run.

Sunday, January 9
Distance: 15 mi.
Time: 2:11:26
Vertical Gain: 1,770 ft.

After yesterday's poor showing I was more apprehensive about the run than usual. Kennesaw Mtn. is not the flattest toward the tops, as the vertical clearly explains. Ran with Robert today, I'm glad. My legs felt great, my lungs stronger than they have all week. We didn't let our minds speak when we came to the fork, the trail goes left, and up-and-over, or right, and back to the visitor center. Our plan was up and over, but after 11.25 miles, 900+ feet of vertical gain isn't on the forefront of the cerebral cortex. But, we kept our mouths shut and when we turned toward Pigeon Hill it was like we had just started running. Committing to the run and taking the first step have two very different reactions in the brain. For me, after the first step there's no stopping me. The hill commanded respect and all we showed it was the bottom of our shoes. A great way to end the week.