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All of a sudden…

Out of nowhere, my right hamstring started bothering me while out walking. I had planned on running easy intervals the next couple weeks to test out the approach, but I quickly dialed all my running plans back once it started bothering me.

It’s still bothering me a bit this morning, and this time around I’m not sure if anything in particular triggered it let alone what. I had run a brief easy interval session Monday with no problems. I had only rode the spin bike and strength trained otherwise during the last week, with no ill effects. I walked as much as usual with no problems.

At this point, the one set of training I’ve done full speed ahead is my strength training, and the only work below the waist I’ve done consistently in the last week has been the overhead squats. Even then, only four sets of 3 reps, with no soreness or distress afterward. Everything else works upper body or core, no ill effects from that aside from residual mild soreness here and there.

Now granted, yesterday I had other random pain come and go in my knee, my hip socket, while walking. So who knows… the weather isn’t really changing in Vegas, but maybe atmospheric pressure or the pull of the moon or something was screwing with my biology yesterday. I’ll be more concerned if I’m still hurting in a few days.

Still, I want to resume regular running, and none of this is stopping me from easy running. I had wanted to do the easy intervals to get away from slower easy running and try to do some faster runner at a lesser volume. If my body’s not reday for that, then I need to listen and just run easy until maybe it is. There’s going to be gaps and breaks throughout the rest of this year anyway, so it’s not like I can’t pivot or rest if I need to stop or outgrow running easy.

On the flip side, strength training is actually going quite well. I’ve substantially improved numbers on pretty much every exercise I do, and am making progress on the new overhead squat. Again, I only do 20 minutes every day, not a second more, and I’m not doing much lower body training beyond ab/oblique work and the overheads, so this probably isn’t cutting into my running capacity.

At the same time, I gained some weight back. Some of this is the combination of the added strength training emphasizing muscle mass, the water retention that comes with that and resulting inflammation, plus the diminished aerobic work over time since the spin bike simply doesn’t burn the calories running does, during or after training. I’ll be more worried if I resume running and the weight stays.

I’m going to run easy today, and if there’s no issue see if I can do some short repeats tomorrow.

I paid a couple visits to the newest Planet Fitness location very near to my work. Even with a crowd it was a good experience all the way around.

It’s far easier and quicker for me to get to this gym after work than my incumbent home location, so I can begin and finish my workout sooner. Plus, since it’s close to work, it’s now possible to work out during lunch if desired, and get back to work with time to spare.

Of course, because the location is new, all the equipment is brand new with all the current bells and whistles. I also noticed the spin bikes here ride faster and more easily than the other location.

So I made the switch today. Because I’m Black-Card, it’s no problem to visit a different gym near home during the weekend since I won’t hit the 10-visit/month limit on any of them.

I switched PF gyms again.

Base Training (For Van 2022) Begins Today

Training for Vancouver 2022 actually has to begin this week, not because I need to do tempo runs and long runs (the serious marathon-specific work will begin at the start of the new year), but because I need to build the fitness to handle THAT program.

And right now, I’m not anywhere close. While training for the aborted Indy trip got me in a good degree of endurance shape, I obviously wasn’t close to marathon fit at the end (which is why I called it off), and because I obviously took it easy for a couple weeks to allow my body to heal up, I’ve now lost some of the run-specific fitness I had and need to rebuild.

During the interim between calling off Indy and now, I have done the following:

One: I aggressively strength trained, quite a bit more often than I usually had.

Typically I’d strength train 2-3 times per week, if that during serious run training. But since mid-October I’ve trained almost every day, only 4 days off from strength training since 10/17.

I’ve experimented with a couple of different 5 day splits of all the exercises I need to do, including some new ones. I’ve actually made substantial strength and appearance progress since stepping up with this strength training.

Obviously, once I start running again this will probably scale way back. But I’ve used the time to build some strength, especially with lower body exercises.

Two: I got back on the spin bike and rode it regularly.

I quit using the spin bike for a while on the premise it was hindering my training.

Once I was no longer training for a race, it was no longer hindering my training. Plus I wanted to use it as it was less demanding than the elliptical, I didn’t need to go aerobically hard at this stage, and honestly I like riding the spin bike.

In fact, after deciding not to continue with Indy, that same day I got on the spin bike and logged over a couple of easy hours. That was despite pain in my right leg after a 10K run (part of the reason I called it off).

Since then I’ve ridden the spin bike several times each week for about 45-60 minutes each. I had used the elliptical a few more times following mid-October, but I’ve mostly phased out the elliptical for now.

Three: I’ve done more plyo drills and training.

I took a few pages from other track sports and adopted some of their training methods to help better round my fitness.

While throwing the discus is a hairy proposition, many of its technique and training principles are useful for not just posture but building full body strength. I’ve been working on the throwing technique (with and without a discus or other weighted object) because of the postural strength and coordinated body control it demands.

Also, Strength coach Dan John (a former thrower) swears by the results from the overhead squat in his Contrarian Guide To The Discus, and says it’s a lift that does not allow you to have weak links. So I decided to start practicing the overhead squat on the Smith rack at the gym.

Though it’s been (as advertised) a struggle, I’m now getting the hang of the overhead squat, am up to four sets of 3 reps each at 25 and 50 pounds, and can finish them all with proper form without immediately feeling sore in my legs. Those first couple of workouts with the overhead squat felt pretty brutal on my quads.

Once I begin Vancouver training I need to be careful about not doing the overheads the day before key run workouts, but I will want to keep doing the overhead squat regularly.

The actual discus technique? We’ll see. I’ve found it interesting enough that I don’t want to discard it. But throwing the discus isn’t easy, and I have to be careful when throwing it about putting anyone in danger. The discus throw technique itself without the disc is a workout on its own. But it’s also a tangential workout that takes some degree of energy to complete. I could just focus on running and regular strength training (… with the overhead squats, of course).

Four: I ran a race for the first time in a long while.

I previously went over this, but running a 5K on Halloween weekend allowed me to focus on running through a sustained strong effort, and it went well. I have another 5K on Thanksgiving and a 10K in mid-December. These will also be glorified tempo runs rather than all-to-the-wall race efforts.

Five: I otherwise took it easy on running to allow my hamstrings to heal.

I did some work break running in preparation for the 5K, but in the two weeks between my last Indy workout and the 5K I maybe ran 7 miles. After the 5K, I was very careful about any running for the following week while letting my hamstrings heal.

The left one feels fine and the right one still very slightly aches, though they do feel markedly better. I probably can begin running regularly again this week. The spin bike workouts and all my usual walking have helped keep them engaged in the interim.


Starting this week, I’m going to practice the Easy Interval Method I haven’t really been able to implement since discovering it this summer.

Basically, you run nothing but 200/400/1000 meter intervals with equidistant rest intervals, though none of the repeats are any harder than maybe 5K/10K pace. The 400’s are run more like half marathon pace and the 1000’s are run around marathon pace.

Plus, after each repeat, you come to a full walking stop before jogging out your rest interval. Easy intervals are much lower key and sustainable than your typical interval workouts, and according to Klaas Lok the approach works. Runners are much more easily able to stick with it.

At most I’d do about 5-6 days a week of these, and for now I’ll touch and go the workouts. I’ll pencil one in for each non-rest-day (I’m still scheduling regular rest days), and if I’m just too tired on a given day I’ll probably skip or reduce that workout.

The goal through mid-December, aside from building fitness for the next 5K and 10K, is to determine how many days of training I can comfortably handle, before settling into a training pattern for December and subsequent Vancouver training.

This pre-marathon training plan also includes a 10K test every two weeks. This can be a race, but given where I’m at right now I’d rather just run these on my own as time trials.

Along with all this, I’ll still be strength training, still walking during work breaks, and still riding the spin bike while reading for circulation on scheduled rest days. I’ll still be doing plyo (and perhaps discus) training around training days, and how aggressive these are will depend on how many easy interval workouts I have per week. Strength training will typically happen before rest days.

I built in a sizable tyraining gap around the December 10K, where I can not only re-double strength training efforts for a bit but also assess how much I can do once I begin training for Vancouver around New Year’s.


So today and beyond I’ll begin running easy intervals, and look forward to seeing what develops from there.

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Am I Still A Marathoner?

Since withdrawing from Indy I have to consider the reality that I have not run a marathon in about 2.5 years, and that my most recent effort to prepare for one has (for whatever reasons incidental or as a direct result) failed.

I can’t help but ask, when it comes to the marathon, do I even still know what I’m talking about? Have I ever?

I try to be circumspect, to realize that Corona had a substantial role in the time away (there were no marathons for about a year, and many of the ones happening since have been limited), and that this recent effort was not only an unduly difficult task in the Vegas heat, but also one I mitigated and eventually ended out of a persistent abundance of caution. Every time I ran into pain problems beyond mere soreness, it was not that I couldn’t run. I just decided it was best not to.

However, people come to this site in part for advice on preparing for races like the marathon. What does it say when I myself have not and, for whatever reasons appear that I cannot?

Even if I retain confidence in myself, context aside, I have to be realistic about how all this looks. I know for sure my principles are by and large sound. I know I can train for and run marathons to a higher ability. I know this even though I went to train this summer and it all fell flat after never really getting going.

All that said, and I’ve alluded to this in past posts, I’m not sure if and when I’ll run the next marathon. I cannot imagine I won’t ever run one again. As I’ve also mentioned, there’s at least three I want to run once (or once more) before all is said and done.

I also understand the amount of work it takes to train for one, and how any other training ambitions or goals have to take a back seat when you do. It’s very hard to compromise marathon training to allow for other things, and still be at all ready to run one. If anything would keep me away, it’s knowing what I’d need to do to be ready for one, and not being sure if I’m willing to go that deep.

I’ve thought about generally training to run long, for example maintaining year-round the fitness to run 16 miles and also race a 10K or so as desired. And then if I do decide to run a marathon, I’m not terribly far off from being ready for it. That going forward is probably better for me than planning to run a marathon and then having to build up to it over months, as people tend to do.

I’ll admit I have penciled in Vancouver for May 2022. But that said, I mentioned I have other sports and races I want to work on, and will mainly focus on those for now. If they don’t pan out, then great I can pivot and focus on Vancouver. If they do, I can make a judgment call from there. I may be able to do both, even if I’m focusing on other sports, if at least generally conditioned to run long. Or I could just say forget it for now, to one or the other.

I don’t think any of the prior writing I’ve done on marathons is wrong. Those training methods aren’t wrong or bad or not effective. I also retain full faith I can train effectively for marathons. I just want to do some other stuff for a while, and it’ll for now take a back seat.

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So, about those overhead squats

As advertised, the overhead squat is pretty tough.

At the gym, I started swolework with the overhead on the Smith rack, and started with a set of 3 reps at just the 25 lb bar. I progressed up to 45 lbs and after 3 tough reps realized that was about as high as I could expect to go yesterday. I unracked and moved on.

Dan John, like many strength coaches, sets a benchmark that you should be able to do the exercise with your bodyweight in pounds. I am clearly a far cry from my bodyweight, though granted I don’t bench or deadlift by bodyweight either (I did leg press it earlier this week though!). I’m strength training more seriously now, and we’ll see how much time it takes for me to progress and get within range of all that.

Since I follow a 5 day sequence of strength workouts (with days off interspersed every few days), one idea is to do the whole sequence, then for a 6th workout do the benchmark lifts as a test: Bench Press, Deadlift, Squat, and each time through the sequence see where I’m at. I would end up doing the test roughly every 8-10 days.

More to come. I’ll take it slow for now, and weave the overhead squats in with the workouts.

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Adding the Overhead Squat

Training right now feels great. Yesterday was a rest day, and all I did was walk on work breaks and go 45 minutes on the spin bike.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Dan John, a long tenured strength and track and field throwing coach who has authored a few very insightful books on training. The best known of the bunch is Easy Strength with Pavel Tsatsouline, thouugh I’ve recently read Attempts, A Contrarian Approach to the Discus, and am currently reading through Can You Go?

There’s a lot of information and I obviously won’t go into all of it. In Contrarian, however, he references a lift that he found instrumental in developing athletes: The overhead squat.

It’s a typical Crossfit exercise, and simple in scope. You hold the barbell overhead. You squat, making sure your weight drops between your squatting legs, and then come back up with the bar still straight overhead.

John sums up the benefits as such:

  • You can’t fake or cheat the strength and mechanics required to do it.
  • It demands balanced strength, not just to balance the bar itself overhead, but all of yourself has to be strong and developed. This develops it
  • You develop strong, flexible legs, not yoga flexible/strong, but the ability to quickly, powerfully transfer more than bodyweight, e.g. a jumper, a thrower, a football or basketball player, a sprinter.

I like my five day strength circuit and I plan to stick with it for the next while. But I also have some redundant exercises in there, and swapping in a sub-max version of the overhead squat would be a decent addition. I’d start with light weight and gradually build up to see my current capacity.

Last week I briefly tested the overhead squat mechanics with the Smith rack at the gym and found that it would work just fine (I was lucky; if I were a couple inches taller or my arms were a bit longer, it might not have!).

John also mentioned the Power Curl, which is just a leveraged bicep curl using a full bar. I might mix that in, though it turned out the redundant exercises I mentioned were bicep exercises, and I may have enough for now. Adding in the overhead squat is probably enough for now.

More to come as I see how it works.

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Back On (The) Track

I’m sore this morning, but not from stuff I spent the previous week recovering from.

Saturday I went track hunting, as Vegas doesn’t have particularly many open tracks to run on. High schools here keep their facilities locked and key. The most popular Vegas track from before, UNLV’s track, is closed until spring not just for maintenance and repairs but because, with the football team having new facilities, they don’t need to use it before next spring.

However, one other public track in the area is in Northtown at the Pearson Center, and when I went to visit Saturday morning the track was open and free to use, with a couple people running interval workouts. The track isn’t particularly old and the surface quality is decent. I walked on and after a brief track warmup worked for about 45 minutes on various jumping and running drills before leaving.

Obviously, my right hamstring feels better, as neither ham gave any sign of distress during any of the running, bounding and jumps I did.

I didn’t go super hard, as I had no water with me and the sun was out. Despite several rest periods I still burned more calories than I do on a typical 45 minute elliptical session, despite not running more than about half a mile and only being out there less than an hour.

After a week of no running, I’ll resume running and probably tinker with work break runs as desired. I want to focus more on the plyo and jump drills, but I probably need to do these every few days to allow recovery. Plus, I’m booked to run a 5K next weekend, so I’ll want to be somewhat fresh for that.

In the meantime, I should now have the space and energy to work on the easy intervals I haven’t really been able to consistently do. I have still been working the elliptical and spin bike at the gym (yes, I’ve gradually gotten back to the spin bike with good results), and as previously mentioned have been able to strength train almost every day with good results.

Even though I didn’t run much on the track yesterday I’d definitely like running intervals there. It’s a bit out of the way between home and work, so I don’t think I could go there every day there unless I wanted to shake up my routine so I could drive out there at 6-7am every morning… which I’m not in a hurry to do, and if just doing running and drills there’s a number of other places I can do that.

Still going to lay low with training through next week with that 5K next Saturday, but I’m looking to get back to normal running again.

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