Checking In 1/24/2022

I have finished 4 weeks of Vancouver 2022 training, and this was a stepback week. I ran a 10K at Floyd Lamb Park on Saturday, then an easy 8 miler Sunday.

I’m not really all that sore, and the 10K not only went about as well as expected but somehow I finished 3rd male overall.

I had not done any focused training for the 10K and it was just a ‘show me’ race to see where I was at. Though my right hamstring hadn’t bothered me at all the last couple weeks, I also wanted to be careful about aggravating it with a faster pace.

Like the Triple Crown races late last year I ran the 10K by power, monitoring my Stryd readings and looking to maintain a minimum power level. After having run out the last 10K in the 240’s, I believed I could at leats maintain the low 250’s, though I wanted to see if I could go a bit higher. Going by pace is tougher at Floyd Lamb with part of the course on dirt, plus it was somewhat windy with 15+ mph crosswinds.

Incidentally, because it was blustery outside and given the timing of the year, we didn’t have many starters. So unlike previous races I was almost immediately by myself on the course. Often I would ran a bit harder out of the gate to navigate and create space between others before settling down. But with immediate space, I just settled immediately into a comfortably fast rhythm, and was pleasantly surprised to notice that a 260s watt pace felt rather comfortable.

Plus, with the cold air and the high wind, I had virtually no risk of overheating, the most likely thing to slow me down early. Even with the stiff crosswind I simply focused on maintaining a consistent effort and cadence.

The hard part was the back end of the course loop (the race was two laps on a 5K course), which turned north directly into the wind for a bit before a turn back west into relatively easier stiff crosswinds. My effort stepped up into the 280’s and up for these sections but that didn’t feel too much tougher. It might have actually been harder to dial back my effort as I’d have to work that much harder against the wind to stay upright and moving.

After clearing the first loop in well under 28 minutes (I had run my last 10K on this course in 58:26), I found and kept a steady high 260’s effort back through the course again. I don’t think I looked at my watch for anything beyond the distance covered, the wattage readings, and the mile splits as the watch beeped them off.

I actually started feeling a bit weak in the last mile, probably from the sheer effort of maintaining my effort in the stiff crosswinds all that time. But I just kept moving at pace and decided that I’d only slow down if it felt really dire. It never did.

Once I saw the finish line I just went for it and actually had a pretty good kick that last 100 meters or so, crossing in 55:18 for a substantial improvement on my last effort. However, my watch only showed 6.18 miles, and Garmin unfortunately won’t count a 10K PR unless you run a minimum of 6.21 miles, so I ran a bit past the finish to get at least 6.22 and ensure it counted as a Garmin watch PR (even if it’s not my actual 10K PR of 52:39). My prior 10K PR on the watch was pre-Corona and wasn’t particularly fast, plus my previous races hadn’t counted because Garmin measured all three of them slightly short. I got to 6.22 in the grass with little trouble and stopped the watch at 55:41.

Unlike the previous races, while certainly gassed from probably my toughest effort ever in a 10K, I didn’t feel physically beat up much at all. Best of all, my right hamstring never bothered me at any point in the race. It was never an issue.

The next test was the following day. Even though 8 miles is a big stepback from the double digit long runs I had done previous weekends, this was the first time in a long while I was taking a long run the day after a race. Common among scholastic athletes, I had done it now and again in Chicago but had yet to do it in training here in Vegas.

Unlike previous runs I decided not to monitor my wattage or pace effort, as I typically try to start slow and then make sure the finish is a faster easy pace. I’ve been following the Pfitzinger approach of starting at 1.2 times my goal marathon pace, then finishing at 1.1 times the goal pace, and it had worked quite well each time. But this time, having run the race the day before, I took it purely by feel and the pace would just be after-data.

It turned out the hardest part of the run was running past the church near my starting point. It was Sunday and this church incidentally was letting out a service as I started (bad timing!). So I had to carefully avoid foot and vehicle traffic while also trying to avoid running through the nearby shopping center, where there was more vehicle traffic. Once I zig zagged beyond trouble, I just had to deal with breathing a bit harder than I would have liked. But 8 miles went fine and again I had no soreness or serious fatigue.

Stryd tells me my critical power has substantially improved, from a measured 257 to 268. Stryd’s race calculator believes I could run Vancouver in under 4:10:00. I’m not totally sure about that. I did average a steady 9:38 in a pace workout a week ago (which would be a sub 4:15 pace), but while do-able over 6 miles I have my doubts about sustaining that particular effort over 26+ miles, and that course was a bit flatter than usual. My goal pace is in the 9:40’s-9:50’s and that’s felt more comfortable. I’m still working on settling naturally into pace range, even though hitting the pace hasn’t been super difficult.

Today is a rest day, and I’m a bit surprised at how much energy I’ve consistently had the last few weeks, even though I’ve run 5 days a week and not missed a run workout. This may be because this is the first marathon training cycle where I’ve minimized everyday competing stressors like having to walk everywhere like Chicago, because I’m eating probably the cleanest and most consistent diet I’ve eaten on a training plan, and because I’m making sure to take rest days, follow the plan and just the plan, and not do much of any extra anything.

Over the last couple years I’ve been doing a lot of cross and strength training, and this month I’ve cleared out anything that isn’t specifically related to the training for this race.

Now, that said, I’m looking to resume strength training this week with two easy 20 minute sessions in the mornings, and chasing them with the yoga sessions that I’d been getting results from.

This will also be a tougher volume week, as I stretch out the midweek mod-length run, the Saturday run that’s been hanging at 6 miles for a while, and push the long run into 14 miles, past the half marathon barrier I somehow haven’t pushed past in three years.

Making all this go according to plan is this week’s hurdle in training. More to come.

Antioxidantien: Hëllefräich Oder Net?

Déi folgend ass eng Iwwersetzung vun dësem Artikel op Lëtzebuergesch.

Antioxidantien sinn e grondsätzlech gemëschte Sak. Engersäits, hir Fäegkeet fir de Kierper ze heelen an d’Entzündung ze bekämpfen hëlleft dem Kierper séier vun der Ausübung ze recuperéieren, net ze soen hëlleft Är alldeeglech Funktioun an Immunsystem ze schützen.

Op der anerer Säit hunn d’Fuerscher an de leschte Joeren entdeckt datt dësen Antioxidant-Influx och d’Adaptatioun vum Kierper an d’Superkompensatioun fir d’Ausübung hemmt. Och wann Dir méi séier a méi komplett heelt, stéiert Dir de “Léierprozess” vun Ärem Kierper. Äre Kierper heelt ze séier fir ze léieren géint entzündlech Marker ze bekämpfen an un de verstäerkte Stress vun Ärem intensiven Training unzepassen.

Continue reading

Checking In 1/17/2022

Three weeks into Higdon Intermediate Marathon 2, and am thrilled to report that I haven’t missed a single run workout. Every scheduled day, every pace run day, every long run, I’ve gotten the run in.

This could be ridiculous to celebrate, but as I’ve mentioned I’ve had all sorts of challenges in life sticking to a pre-written training plan. And being able to do it plus seeing the progress I’m making in being able to do it is almost like a kid having a new toy.

Not to mention, after all the injury problems in 2021 it’s great to get through extended runs without problems and feel okay in the hours/days afterward. Never minding injury… just getting through a long run and not feeling beat up physically in the day or so afterward feels great. I had to go to Target in the afternoon, hours after a 13 miler, and running from the car to the store I didn’t feel all that sore. If I had to run another 4 miles easy right then I probably could have (of course, I didn’t).

Now, I also have not been cross training and it’s been about two weeks since I’ve strength trained. The only other exercise I’ve done outside of my runs is walking during work breaks. I didn’t intentionally stop: I played each day by feel and decided most evenings after work to just go home given fatigue, hunger, and whatever else. The added recovery from not doing those things has probably helped with adapting to the restored training load, though I’ll probably re-introduce strength training and yoga this week. I’ll probably keep it to one session a week, though.

The next gateway in training now is to get the long run past the 13 mile barrier, as 13.4 is as far as I was able to go during the ill fated Indy training, and it’s now been over a year since I’ve gone farther than the Half Marathon distance. Not running a marathon in three years will do that you! At least now it feels totally reasonable to do, and I’ve gotten myself physically back into a better place to handle higher run volume.

I don’t think all the cross training of the last 2.5 years was bad, though at this point and time it’s probably not what I need now. I need to be running as much as I reasonably can. And that also means I don’t need all that much speed or tempo work now. Medium length pace runs every week or two, the occasional speed play on fresher Tuesdays, and the occasional required sprint across a street are probably all I need.

Thanks to a race this week, this upcoming week will be somewhat lighter on run volume, and this week’s long run will drop back to a now-rather-easy 8 miles. While a maybe-monthly race may be all the serious fitness-testing I need aside from pace runs, I’m thinking of sneaking in a mile time trial or an interval session here and there, depending on how much other demanding running is on that week’s schedule. Tuesdays work for these because those scheduled runs are shorter, easy, and coming off a recovery day on the schedule (Higdon schedules cross training, though as mentioned I’ve been skipping it and making Monday a rest day). The following days’ runs are easy, and the longer Wednesday run following this matches the weekend pattern of a challenging moderate run followed by the long run.

So we’ll keep this moving and see how it feels. More to come.

Checking In 1/12/2022

Today I planned a 6 mile run right after work at a nearby park. However, after commuting across town and sitting down for coffee, I looked down and discovered I hadn’t equipped my Stryd footpod.

While I could do the run at the park anyway, I’d not only lose crucial power data that I use to track ongoing progress, but I’m now in a place where those real-time power readings are for me crucial to maintain proper effort levels through the run and not screw up future workouts.

Admittedly, in prior years, if I found I forgot something important like this and couldn’t easily get back home to get it, this would have pissed me off and thrown off my entire day.

But today, having (hopefully) grown a bit wiser and more knowledgeable since, I rolled with it and figured out what I could do to not only adjust and do the run after getting home from work tonight (and retrieving the needed pod), but also figured out adjustments I can make to effectively use the extra time to best aid recovery before and after the run.

Instead of having to ensure I’m fueled and ready at 5pm, I can take it a bit easier on nutrition after lunch, I have more options to fuel right after work, and the meal I eat at dinner tonight will be better utilized for run recovery since it’ll occur right after the run.

Generally I avoid evening running near home because I’d have to do it later in the evening and it can mess with my sleep, because I’m doing it on streets and have to be more careful with traffic, plus even with street lights my routes are somewhat dark, and being closer to arterials and the freeway there’s a bit more pollution which doesn’t help with breathing.

I also avoid the treadmill for reasons I’ve gone into before (injury risks, higher indoor temperature than desired, the monotony of the treadmill, difficulty setting an appropriate pace to match outdoor conditions). But for tonight, at a steady pace (previous treadmill sessions were a bit faster), near places where I can get food afterward, I don’t think a treadmill session at the gym will be a big problem this time around.

I also could, if feeling okay, get in a strength workout following the treadmill session… as I’ve actually not gone to the gym in a week. I’ve made a point to go home after work, in part because my oft-weary body is adapting to current training and not feeling up to it, and in part because New Year’s Resolutions are still crowding gyms in these initial January weeks so working out may have been too difficult anyway. Crowds may be a bit thinner by now, but even if not the treadmills should be readily available.

I haven’t missed a run workout on my current training plan yet, and I don’t plan to.

Checking In 1/10/2022

Two weeks into marathon training, after 5 days of running each week, and after two of the 4 longest runs I’ve taken in the last year, I actually don’t feel particularly sore, or particularly tired.

I certainly do feel somewhat tired and a bit sore after running 11 miles yesterday. But I don’t feel the same sort of wrecked I used to feel after most long runs in the past. If today wasn’t a planned rest day from running, I could certainly go run several miles today and could likely run again tomorrow.

This is despite getting poor sleep last night (the first true bout of insomnia I’ve had in a long while, not getting to bed until shortly before midnight). I actually feel alright mentally, energy wise, and chances are good I can go to the gym for tonight’s planned strength session.

I’m doing several things differently and I imagine they’re helping.

  • Going by feel, I pulled almost completely back on all strength and cross training. Previously I’d been hitting the gym every weeknight and working out for over an hour, plus some weekends. Last week I took multiple nights off, and the extra break from training probably helped my energy for the longer weekend runs.
  • Form wise, I’ve gotten way more consistent with two things that have helped my running efficiency: I’m focusing weight through the forefoot on steps (though the whole foot does contact the ground as normal), and am focused more on landing and pushing back in lieu of any effort or strain to reach forward. According to Garmin/Stryd/Runalyze, my pace and effort were remarkably consistent mile over mile at the end of yesterday’s long run.
  • I’m now actively keeping my effort on midweek runs as calm and easy as possible. I’ve avoided the hillier routes on workweek runs, and found a route for weekend runs that has much less elevation shifting and more flat sections. Most of my prior running was along rolling hills, and I imagine that was taking a toll at a time in training where I need to build endurance first before I challenge myself with these tougher elevation shifts.
  • Though I’ve always generally tried to stay in an aerobic zone, I’m now actively keeping my heart rate below 80% of max as much as I can. At the end of long runs there’s not too much you can do, but I keep it as low as possible as long as possible while making sure to stay efficient.
  • I keep my running power (per Stryd) between 80-85% of critical power, not as demanding as race pace but also not too easy. Runalyze metrics have shown me that runs that are too easy sap my VO2max over time, and experience has shown me that going easier than 80-85%CP doesn’t feel markedly better in the present or the future than just making sure I give that 80-85%CP effort. Since this is a relative metric, my pace does change on uphill or downhill inclines accordingly.
  • The above two items put together means I don’t focus much on pace. The only time during any easy run that I think about pace is when my Garmin watch goes off at the end of each mile, showing me the duration of that mile. But I don’t pay it much mind beyond the general idea of whatever pace it shows me.
  • If I can get an easy midweek run done on my lunch break, I do it. But generally I try to do these runs before or after work. I just walk on work breaks.
  • I’ve cut cross training down to just one spin bike or elliptical session on Mondays after work.
  • After a lot of experimentation, I do two strength sessions each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and follow each one with my yoga session.

The biggest surprise as I’ve ramped up mileage is how not-beat-up I feel after each week. The back to back runs on the weekend I figured would kick me around, but I’ve finished the long run feeling tired but mobile, and today I feel a bit sore but okay. Even feeling tired, I’m not sure how much of that is last night’s unusually short sleep. I feel like I could run today if I needed to (but today is a rest day).

So far, so good. I’m sticking with the plan, and it’s working.

Tagged , ,

Bent Up And Motivated: First Look at My Runalyze Data (2016-2021)

I’d like to think I spent the last 2+ yeras hibernating from serious training, brifely coming out of the cave for some hard, extended training here and there, but eventually finding my way bcak to the cave for a while.

First, I had to change careers again in late 2019 after deciding to move back to Vegas.

Then, all that COVID mess started in March 2020, and there wasn’t any practical need to train for most of the year.

Then there was no Vancouver Marathon in 2021, so I just ran a lot on work breaks after starting my new job.

Then I actually got to train for a marathon in summer 2021, but then my lower body decided to implode about midway through, and I never quite got bcak on track before deciding to abandon ship on that in mid-October.

Now, after a couple years of sustained regular cross training, progress in mostly regular strength training, after having to learn a few more things about running to help stay injury-free and avoid past burnout mistakes… here we are at the doorstep to 2022, and just in time for that I discovered a neat run-data-tracking website called Runalyze.

After porting all my Garmin data over and seeing what they showed me, I was suitably impressed and paid for a Premium membership.

Continue reading
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Switching up the Vancouver 2022 Plan, Just In Time

While test driving the FIRST training plan as well as my other training in these preliminary weeks, it’s become clear to me I need to focus differently with Vancouver 2022 training and I need to change plans now while it’s early enough to do so.

First off, I realize I’m low on running volume, averaging less than 20 miles of weekly running plus significant cross training each week. Doing FIRST isn’t fully going to address that. Jonathan Savage has mentioned FIRST works better as a plan for someone fully trained to the marathon distance. If I maintained my fitness after Vancouver, FIRST would be a great plan.

But right now, I need to add consistent running volume and get comfortable running a lot again. Even though I handle long runs just fine, my heart rate’s been jumping high into zone 3 on the back end of these runs, and if I’m fit I should be able to stay at zone 2 through most of such a run. This indicates I need to add easy volume.

I also weigh more than I did in prior training cycles, and I realize one reason the extra weight has stayed on lately is because I’m not endurance training at the volume of past cycles. All that easy volume in the past (plus all that everyday walking in Chicago) kept much of the fat off. Losing about 5-10 pounds of fat would improve my current pace and projected time a great deal, even if somehow I gained no other fitness.

Running easy and frequently would not only improve neuromuscular fitness and aerobic comfort with longer runs, but would also ensure some of this extra fat gets burned off.

While my hamstring feels mostly better with some random light soreness here and there, that’s not as much a concern in a plan with frequent, mostly easy running.

So for the next two weeks (as, incidentally, this past Sunday marked 18 weeks from Vancouver), I’m test driving a modified version of Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 plan. As long as my body picks up the 5 days a week of running with little trouble, I likely will go with that plan this time around. It turns out what Higdon’s plans offer is what I need at the present time.

The base plan has you run Tuesday-Thursday, then a moderate or pace run Saturday followed by the Sunday long run. You cross train easy on Monday and rest on Friday.

I’m not concerned with Higdon’s plan asking for 26 miles right out the gate in week 1 then stepping up from there. Again, I’ve been running long up to 8 miles and doing a lot of cross training, plus have run hard in multiple recent races. I roughly have the fitness to run 20-25 miles a week right now. Easy running at 3-8 miles hasn’t been a problem, and in fact my longer runs have been run harder than desired. Since most of the scheduled runs are easy, it’ll actually be a relief.

Presuming the early week runs feel fine, I also plan to replace the Thursday easy run with a speed or tempo workout, somewhat matching Higdon’s Advanced plans (whose total volume was simply too high for where I’m at now). Higdon’s speed workouts aren’t super arduous, built around sets of 800 repeats, or 400 meter hill repeats, or his form of tempo runs which are just easy runs with a brief 10K-pace segment. The total mileage of these workouts match the original easy mileage on the intermediate plan, and they always come before a rest day.

I also have a couple of races on my schedule, a 10K next month and a 12K in March. Higdon’s plan as written only accounts for a single mid-plan race. So I strategically swapped some training weeks so the race weeks are easy (with no speedwork), no key long runs end up omitted, and the following midweek is also lighter. This does clump some heavier weeks together, but the race weeks means those weeks are in turn lighter and create a stepback week in each case. Each Saturday race is followed by a medium-long easy run on Sunday, which matches the lighter weeks I swapped into those race weeks.

As for strength and cross training, since I already strength train in brief workouts 2-5 times per week, I’ll continue strength training 3 times a week, probably with the midweek runs in the morning and strength training after work in the evening. Obviously I’m not going to chase any barbell PR’s and will lift conservatively in these strength workouts. The only lower body training will be overhead squats on Tuesdays, and I’ll keep the weight light on these.

I also got comfortable with my recent yoga routine, and will keep doing that at the gym on weekday evenings. I’ve noticed subtle improvements in running and general movement since starting this, so I want to keep it up. My routine though it has a copuple of challenges (Scorpion Pose, anyone? Cow Face?) isn’t terribly arduous so I do it in part as a post-workout stretch.

If I still decide to chase Garmin badges I might do some brief easy spin bike sessions at the gym on weeknights with the swolework and yoga, but we’ll see.

For the easy and long runs, unless I am just so beat-up tired that I just need to shuffle through them, I’m going to follow a Pfitzinger rule and run them as progressive easy runs, starting at 20% longer than marathon pace (e.g. my goal pace per mile times 1.2) and eventually finishing at 10% longer (goal pace times 1.1). Incidentally my current average pace is around 12-15% longer than goal pace, and I’ve run some long runs at a somewhat fast (and ultimately painful) 5%. In my experience 20% is usually rather easy, and 10% while sometimes challenging is easily reachable.

I feel pretty good about my capacity to handle this modified training plan. I’ll be heavily dialing back on the cross training, which should make available more energy to focus on the running. I will as a hedge swap out any midweek easy run for cross training if absolutely necessary, though I’m aiming to do all these runs.

I believe that if I accomplish this then I won’t fall into the trap of ‘run slow, race slow’ that can happen from marathon training. That plus the quality training of the Thursday workouts, the scattered Saturday pace runs, and of course my races should all help prepare me to run a decent, achievable marathon.

Tagged , , ,