Every meal you eat, all the food you buy, should be considered an investment on how you feel and live in the future.

Think of everything you eat affecting your life proportionally:

65% – How it makes you feel the rest of the day, how you sleep that night
30% – How it makes you feel the next day
5% – How it will affect your long term health down the road

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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Vancouver Strikes Back, 2022.

Run Van made the decision to open up 2022 Vancouver Marathon registration, offered me an early invite, and it did not take me much thought or deliberation to jump back in. I will be running the Vancouver Marathon on May 1, 2022.

I had actually in fact deferred my airfare and hotel, from my planned October Vancouver trip that couldn’t happen, to late April and early May as if I was already going to the marathon. So this isn’t exactly a sudden change of heart of any sort. This was penciled in, and now I’m tracing it over in pen. Plus, now I don’t have to find money to book the travel, because it’s already booked!

I do have plans to run other events and will still do those. I had plans to train for other stuff in 2022 and will still train for those.

If the Failed Indy Experiment of 2021 showed me anything it’s how I can cross train in lieu of running out a full schedule of marathon training. I gradually build a long run to the needed distance, work on tempo and speed training once a week or so, run when it’s most useful, but otherwise cross train for the bulk of my base aerobic work. Why take a pounding on treadmills or pavement when I can get the job done on an elliptical or spin bike?

The other training (and yes, at some point I’ll go into what all this is) can sit in for any speedwork I’d have otherwise done in dedicated marathon training, when applicable. Since some of it isn’t running, it can at times provide a break from run training.

I’m not terribly worried about injuries. At this point, I think I can trace this summer’s problems back to using the treadmill, and I’ll just stop using it for extended running from here on out. If I restrict my use to under 30 minutes and carefully manage pace, and if I don’t use it too often, it works when it works.

As I did before, I will “trickle in” training starting this month with built in rest days, slowly ramping up to a marathon training schedule that should be in swing by the start of next year. Let’s see how this goes.

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Finally, A Finished Race

User-uploaded Photo

Ran out the Hallowrock 5K in 27:52, the first race I managed to complete since March. Yes, it hasn’t exactly been a great year, and by no means was that anywhere close to a PR. But I got what I wanted out of this run.

My goal was simple and based on my Stryd power rather than a goal time: Run the entire course at 250 Watts or greater. A couple of prior steady runs in weeks prior showed me this was an entirely reasonable goal.

Since getting my Stryd my calculated Critical Power (CP) rating (roughly what your lactate threshold should be) hasn’t been as high as I know it actually is. Interval workouts and long runs don’t quite get it where I know it should be. I realize it was going to take a sustained tempo-like effort for the pod to accurately calculate my CP… something like the 5K I signed up to run today.

I filtered in at the start line with a group I figured would be running closer to the pace I could do, and calmly went with the flow as others went out too hard (as usual), finding the 250W groove and calmly sticking with it. I did surge past people as needed but otherwise settled into 250W effort. I had a couple of people pass me (and had one older guy aggressively run/walking past me then me past him, etc) but mostly I was passing people here and there.

I didn’t make any effort to reel in or catch anyone, and the one person I did end up latched behind for most of the race did ultimately pull away in the final mile. I just ran steady the whole way, didn’t worry at all about pace, and whenever I saw I drifted under 250W I stepped up the effort as needed.

The first mile I ran a bit fast, as with a bigger crowd I did have to surge a bit more here and there. After that the only surges were to avoid bottlenecks, including one case where one racer with a dog was approaching pedestrians on the trail who also had a dog. I skipped the 1.5mi water station but did take water at the last station a bit over 2mi in.

Obviously, I tired as the race progressed, and for the first time in a long while I finally felt a lactic burn in my lower legs. Towards the final mile I had to breathe hard and steady to keep things moving. So without looking at my heart rate I knew I was going somewhat hard… not as all-out hard as my better 5K efforts, but I was treating this like a race.

At a quarter mile from the finish I initially picked it up a bit, but my right hamstring began barking again, not close to enough to need to stop but enough that I dialed back to my regular effort. I was fine as long as I didn’t push hard with the right leg. Whatever kick I had at the end was driven by my left leg, my right leg calmly following along at a normal effort. It turned out I ran the last 110 meters substantially faster than the other miles, so I guess that worked out. Plus, remember that my left hamstring and groin were a problem for months. I felt no pain whatsoever in that left leg.

Stryd tells me my measured Critical Power has jumped about 25W, which is much more like it.

So, while I’ll still take a few days easy from running before resuming any running, I’ll certaintly take that and move along.

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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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