Tag Archives: Easy Interval Method

Final Descent Into Vancouver 2022

23 days until Vancouver 2022.

I have finally settled into a 3 day weekly training pattern, all brutal workouts on the treadmill. I ran 100 minute workouts on Tuesday and Thursday in a fairly humid Planet Fitness gym. These modified workouts come out to 9+ miles, and meant I was returning home shortly before 8pm, right around when I typically head to bed.

Given that, and given my trouble sleeping after these workouts (after last night’s workout I got maybe 6 hours sleep last night despite heading to bed at 9pm), I’ve decided that while I still want to aim for 10 miles on these days, the treadmill workouts no longer need to be this long.

On non-training weekdays I’ve been taking one or two work break runs during the day, which has helped quite a bit with recovery and feels much better overall than taking those days completely off. Because of this, I didn’t actually end my run streak, which is now at 39 days and counting.

What I can now do is take one or two work break runs, most likely a 2 mile lunch break run. Then after work, even if a bit tired from that lunch jog, I go to the gym and knock out an 8 mile workout, which I’ve done quite a bit in the parks during cooler weather. It might be cooler next week and allow for this, but I can easily do these on the treadmill at the gym if it’s warm.

I had aimed for 10 miles and the 100 minute workouts because Runalyze metrics noted you experience a long run specific training benefit at 9+ miles (marathon shape’s long run effect does begin measuring at 13K, 8.07 miles, but the impact on marathon shape in the 8-9 mile range is near zero). So I initially wanted to try and nail some midweek 10 milers to boost that. However, the marathon shape benefit from these long, brutal single sessions was also negligible, though measurable.

So I saw much more benefit in shortening the midweeks back to 8 and boosting the mileage total plus shaking out with work break runs earlier in the day to get 10 miles on the day, even if it doesn’t count in metrics as a 10 mile run (The miles still count in the metric in different fashion). This, along with making those evening workouts shorter and easier, also allows me to leave the gym by 7pm and get home at a better hour, perhaps making sleep a bit easier as well.

During yesterday’s brutal 100 minute session I went ahead and made it an Easy Interval workout, a warmup followed by six 1000m intervals at goal marathon pace (which effort-wise on the warm indoor treadmill converts and requires an effort closer to lactate threshold), each followed by a 1000m jog cooldown with walk breaks.

This not only got me running some faster interval work, but some much needed practice physically running goal pace, which should be easier at sea level in cooler weather after practicing it in short bursts in these more difficult, higher altitude conditions.

Pretty much the last workouts that will specifically benefit my marathon effort will be the midweek of April 21-22. Anything after that simply serves to maintain existing fitness and avoid fitness loss, while engaging energy and hormone pathways enough that I don’t lose sleep from lack of exercise. I’ve never had any problems with “taper madness”. By the time the taper arrives, I usually find the lack of volume welcoming.

The goal this weekend is to finally, by hook or by crook, get to 20 miles on the long run, as well as pace the treadmill workout to loosely match the timing and demands of the course’s first four hours. While obviously I won’t run the full 26.3 miles (Vancouver is a slightly long marathon course), the timing of my slower easy pace will follow a written schedule where I’ll not only slightly change the speed and incline at defined points, but also take fuel and fluid at points where I expect to cross aid stations.

The paces were converted per my last post, to account for the air conditioned room temperature and my gym altitude versus the high end temperature expected in Vancouver along with the sea level altitude (… okay, actually about 33 meters, which is the average altitude for the rolling course). I will vary the incline between 0 and 3.0% (the incline along Camosun Street), though downhills obviously can’t be simulated on a gym treadmill so those sections will just be done slower with a conscious forward lean to simulate downhill running pressure on my legs.

From experience with the paces… yes, this workout’s going to be hard, though it should all be do-able. The interval workouts and other faster sessions should help bridge the gap on this.

Marathon shape right now is still just coasting at 44%, largely because the metric takes a 26 week sample and most early weeks (pre-marathon-training) were very light on mileage. As the next few higher mileage weeks replace these 10-20 mile weeks, and I bank a couple of 17-20 mile long runs, that number will go up and I expect it to hit 70-72% at about 10 days out from Vancouver. For comparison, Vancouver 2019 training peaked at 68% (extreme cold weather and the flu derailed much of that), and Chicago 2018 peaked at 71% (great shape but hiccups blew me up). However, my VO2max is such that at 100% it would estimate a sub-4 hour marathon. So my 4:15-4:30 goal should still be in reach at 70%.

If this approach works out great, and Vancouver goes great… this opens the door to summer training, and the possibility of a 2nd marathon this year.

I had previously intended to just strength train, cross train, and do shorter workouts throughout the hot Vegas summer. But this template creates the possibility that I can stay stretched out with my long run and aerobic endurance.

I’m inclined to just run shorter races and maybe a half marathon in the fall (I haven’t run a half since 2019). Most good-fit races would require travel, which would get expensive, and with pricey marathon travel plans I have in mind for 2023 I’m somewhat averse to spending a bunch for a December marathon. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, the marathon I’m currently planning to run is now a bit over 3 weeks away. I don’t like getting excited before I’m physically there and it’s clear it’s about to happen. So right now I’m just focused on continuing to work on training and getting ready.

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Checking In 10/1/2021

Yesterday’s treadmill workout ended up being a total success. Who knew.

I had briefly considered running outside at the park after work, as it was somewhat cool for Vegas outside, but when I got off work the sun turned out a bit too hot for that, so I went with Plan A and headed to the gym.

Plan A turned out just fine, even though the workout ended up taking after 7pm to finish, around 90 minutes of total time at the gym.

On the treadmill I ran a kilometer (I set the machine to show me kilometers instead of miles) at a pace defined according to my projected 10K effort by charts in Klaas Lok’s Easy interval Method (between 5.9 and 6.3 mph), then stopped for water and then jogged an easy kilometer at a much slower recovery pace. I repeated this process four times for 8K total, then finished with a “run-out” where I ran above the top pace (6.4mph) until I got to 60 total minutes of running. It turned out the run-out was a 5th kilometer interval, as I got to 9K right before the hour was up.

The workout while tiring felt good and none of the intervals were any sort of agony, never felt like I wanted them to be over. I got great practice at faster paces but not so fast that I couldn’t be sure if I could finish the workout. I guess this workout is a keeper!

On my recovery intervals I experimented with what I project to be my marathon pace, holding it for about 200-300 meters before fading back to recovery pace, as it wasn’t too much faster than the recovery pace (it’s certainly below the interval paces). This wasn’t at all difficult, so that’s a good sign.

The next treadmill workout will probably be extended marathon pace intervals, to simulate the rhythm of race day at Indy next month. I plan to run station to station, and then slow to a walk for fluid and fuel at each aid station. This will require about 10-20 minutes of running between the stations, then about 30 seconds of walking.

So for marathon intervals I run 20 minute intervals (simulating only the longest distances between stations will make the shorter ones feel easier) with 30 second walk breaks to take in water and fuel.

This can be an easier, more aerobic workout, while the easy intervals are more of a strength-endurance workout. These can be alternated during midweek. If I need to bring a long workout indoors, at this point it makes the most sense to do the marathon intervals in multiple hour-long chunks and try to at least get to 17 miles.

Today is a full rest day, and tomorrow I’d like to attempt an early morning outdoor long run. But if anything goes awry or it gets too late to start the workout, I could move it indoor and give the multi-hour intervals a shot then.

Overall, it feels great to be doing some serious run training once again, and Indy feels within reach as of now. Even though the long workouts will tell me how close I am to ready, I’m liking my chances.

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Checking In 9/28/2021

Yesterday the wildfire smoke blowing into Vegas got real hazy, and so I scuttled yesterday’s running plans (though I had already run a couple miles outside on work breaks). I also had left some gear at home so I couldn’t directly go to the gym after work. Once I got there I only did 20 minutes on the rowing machine and strength training to avoid running late. Which is fine, even though that now means three fairly easy days in a row (though I burned over 1000 calories in exercise yesterday).

The smoke is still here, and despite my misgivings about using the treadmill (I suspect both of my hamstring problems are related to its use), I want to try and incorporate some walk-to-run intervals on them tonight. If it works, I have an easy way to get 5-7 miles a day.

The plan is to warm up over 20 minutes with buildup intervals similar to Bill Phillips’ old Body For Life plan: Start at a walk and each minute step up the pace until by the 5th minute I’m running fast… then take it back down to a walk and repeat the sequence until done.

Then, after some dynamic stretching and some water, I’ll get on and run a kilometer at easy-interval pace, which is somewhere a tad faster than what people would consider “marathon pace”. It’s a moderate, steady effort. From trialing this out in past runs this is actually somewhat easy to maintain.

After a kilometer, I slow the machine to a walk to catch breath, then go to an easy jog until about 11.5 minutes in, where I’ll slow to a walk again, check in, then speed back up to mod pace at 12 minutes and repeat the process.

I’d do this 5 times for a total of one hour, then cool down as desired. This hour should net a total of about 5-5.5 miles, while the warmup will be about 1.5-1.7 miles.

Presuming I feel good tonight after work, I intend to give this a shot and see how it goes. If it works, it’ll be a safer use of the treadmill than I had done in the past, as I’ll have built in rest periods as well as faster running. (Obviously if not feeling right for any reason I won’t do it tonight and will just ride the elliptical as I’ve been doing)

I had booked travel for this weekend, but if the workout goes well, I may cancel it and try to do a long workout with a similar format on the treadmill this Saturday. We’ll see.

This is all worth a shot with the smoke continuing to be an issue in Vegas.

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Checking In 9/7/2021

I’m back in the Vegas oven after a lengthy but mostly uneventful day of plane travel. I slept okay and decided to beat traffic this morning with early morning coffee before work.

In general my plan going forward is to beat traffic each workday morning with an early visit to the gym or early coffee across town. My typical commute routes got kind of clogged in recent weeks. I decided it made little sense for me to wait until it’s time to go to work to leave if I can make better use of the time while skipping the traffic. This multi-leg morning commute actually would feel a lot less stressful than battling traffic at 8am.

Today is a scheduled full rest day. I felt fairly tired after the plane trip, and scuttled any notions of an evening workout last night. I had a meal and just went to bed. I feel okay this morning, though I’m starting to notice the ham pain has become more like a hip joint pain. I want to see what a day of light activity does for it, after a long weekend of long walks.

I decided during the long week to make some training changes going ahead.

Air quality permitting, I want to start working on easy intervals in the early morning. I wouldn’t have a ton of time so I’d probably stick to 3-4 1K-intervals in the morning. These are light effort M-pace-effort type intervals, so it wouldn’t torch me much at all to knock these out.

I also decided to stop running on work breaks. Along with these runs being on paved sidewalks, the weight of items in my pockets combined with being 10-15 lbs heavier than when I ran regularly in Chicago leads me to think my ham pain is in part a product of the extra load and stress of running heavy and on sidewalk pavement. Doing all my running in the morning in running gear, on nearby asphalt trails, might lessen the impact and contribute to healing.

All my strength training will be on weekdays in the morning before work. It was more challenging and took up valuable aerobic training time to do this in the evening, so I’ll save the evening gym sessions for elliptical work. This will allow most if not all of these elliptical workouts to go an hour or longer, instead of being henned into 45-60 minutes.

I’ll also skip workouts on Friday nights, to better load up for any long workouts I want to do Saturday morning.

Saturday long workouts will be easy/steady longer runs, with tempo surges here and there. This will be the only workout I do Saturday. I’ll rest the rest of the day.

Unless I’m out of town and this is infeasible, Sundays are double days. I do a regular easy-interval workout in the morning. Later in the afternoon, I do a longer elliptical session, probably 75-90 minutes. If I’m nowhere near a gym, I won’t worry about doing this.

Diet wise, I’m going to focus on low oxalate foods, which reportedly will help reduce overall inflammation. I want to also see if cleaning up my diet not only helps with recovery from workouts but also with recovery from the ham issue. My diet could have been better the last few months, and perhaps this is a factor in why the ham issue isn’t healing more effectively.

I still have scheduled rest days (1-2 a week) interspersed throughout the schedule and those will be strictly enforced. On weekdays I’m allowed to walk on work breaks and that’s it. On weekends I do no exercise.

Meanwhile, today, I have a rest day, and will be taking it easy. Until tomorrow….

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Checking In 8/25/2021

Yesterday’s stiffness issue actually went away before lunch, and I felt good enough to try something different.

During lunch yesterday I decided to test-run a Klaas Lok easy interval in a nearby park. Doing a full 1000 meters wasn’t practical, but I had enough flat trail to give 600 meters at the assigned pace a shot. With residual fire smoke vaguely in the air, with temps at 100°F, and with others on the trail, only having part of my lunch break left, plus not wanting to test my luck with the leg too much… I only decided to do one.

I walked from lunch out to my starting spot in the park, leg swung a bit to stretch, then started the clock and ran what I thought to be the intensity. I knew I need to maintain (for me) an 8:36/mile pace.

Fast, strong, no pain, the running felt totally normal, not even like I was running particularly hard. The watch said I was going far too fast, 7:00. I slowed my pace a bit, waited a few seconds (accounting for watch lag) and checked again. Still said I was running 7:50ish. Slowed a bit more, waited a few seconds, checked again. Said I was around 8:00-8:15. This felt ridiculously comfortable for a faster pace, so I said screw it and kept going at that intensity, keeping an occasional eye on the pace.

I got to my finish point and only then had my pace drifted back towards 8:30/mile, as I finished the repeat more than fresh enough to have kept going and done more.

I was hoping to do the repeat in 3:13. The watch said 3:10. No pain! Felt completely fine! I’m absolutely thrilled.

I still plan to proceed with caution, certainly over the next couple days (including today’s day off), but after 30 days of dealing with this it looks like I’ve reached the end of the woods on this hamstring issue. Also, I didn’t feel any groin pain at all yesterday. I think that issue might have finally healed.

I’m going to hit the road this weekend one more time before the planned Milwaukee race. After having my long run plans derailed by this issue on my last two trips, I’m looking to get in some of the quality running I wasn’t able to do on those trips. I wouldn’t expect 12-16 miles or anything, but even one or two decent length runs would be a victory.

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Checking In 8/15/2021 from Flagstaff

Hello once again from Flagstaff. I’ll head back to Vegas later today.

My groin didn’t feel great last night due to a separate issue, probably because I had the strap misfitted during the morning excursions. Without getting into specifics, certain parts were a bit sore from apparently being pinched, and I decided not to do any further workouts in Flagstaff this weekend.

Instead, after a nap, I felt good enough to go out last night for a walk to Downtown, and after a drink spent some time wandering around.

That itself felt fairly enjoyable, though as I’ve mentioned before my body nowadays doesn’t like alcohol very much. I didn’t sleep much or sleep great, and after waking up I uncharacteristically decided to sleep in a bit before rising. Yesterday’s issue felt better but my adductor itself (the prior groin problem) still felt sore, so I stuck to my plan not to go run. I packed up and checked out shortly after 6am before heading out to breakfast and coffee.

Tomorrow I have a scheduled off day from training, and I think with today I’ll make it back to back full days off to see if today’s soreness will resolve. I’m even open to not training for several days, and doing other exercise in the interim.

My hamstring still feels lingering but slight deep tissue soreness. Otherwise it feels better. I can still stand and balance on my left leg just fine. I think at this point, especially with illness going around all over, full rest is going to do me better overall than any light training the next couple days. I want to see if it can just fully heal up.

I just got and am reading Easy Interval Method by Dutch runner Klaas Lok. It’s the first time in a bit I’ve ordered a print version of a book, as there’s actually no Kindle version. The book itself is only 154 pages long and densely packed with text.

Lok’s Easy Interval Method is adapted from the teachings of late running coach Herman Verheul, a unique approach to training where pretty much all your training centers around a moderated volume of measured, moderate-to-high intensity intervals, and much less steady state running. Allegedly a variety of top runners, including recent Kenyan gold medalist Faith Kipyegon, have employed the approach with excellent results.

Lok argues that steady state running, while good aerobically, also reduces your “reactivity”, your ability to run fast, in the long run. At the same time, many runners train so hard so often that this too reduces their ability to run fast.

So Lok sets out a methodology that splits the difference, having you run faster-than-easy intervals more often, but also not running as much as the killer 10+ daily mile, double day, high volume weeks that seasoned runners do. His plans feature a lot of stuff like 400m-1000m repeats run a few seconds slower than you’d run them in other methods, typically with walking breaks and stops rather than fully jogging out the breaks (he only has you full-jog the breaks if training for longer races like the marathon).

I spent much of yesterday reading through the book, and (especially with where I’m at now after the setbacks) I can see myself adopting this approach going forward. I do note that my issues occurred after my 12 mile paced treadmill session, which was fairly challenging.

If there’s a better way to work on developing my velocity and endurance at distance, while taking one or more rest days each week (his planning has you take as many as 4 days off during the week), I am open to trying it. If this somehow works out for Indy in November, I may become a convert.

As mentioned, I’ll have today and tomorrow off at least before making any adjustments to training going forward. Then again, training’s already had to adjust: I haven’t run more than 5K in over a couple weeks, and I’ve had to cross train in the interim to maintain aerobic fitness.

I’ll be hanging out in Flagstaff a bit before taking the drive west back to Vegas. More to come.

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