Tag Archives: quick thoughts

May 2021 status report

I’ve had a particularly tough May on the non-running front, though to some degree I expected it.

I had some annual equipment service things come up that ate up a bunch of my time, and though I dialed back my training this last couple weeks to attend to them I still got rather exhausted.

I DNF’d a hot 10K at 4 miles last weekend (putting it on the schedule seemed like a much better idea 3 months and 40 cooler degrees ago), and have had issues with waking up during the night and not getting back to sleep.

Thankfully, Indy Monumental is months away and there’s no urgent need to ramp up training. That said, I did substantially improve my running frequency and mileage in April as I transitioned from mostly cross-training to mostly running. I still have a ways to go: I peaked a couple weeks ago at 32 miles, and I at least want to build to the 40-55mi range through regular running.

But even at reduced volume I’m running 4-6 days each week and feel comfortable with near-daily running, thanks in no small part to the little 1500-2000m runs I’ve taken during the workday and an improved eating schedule.

My current regular running goal is 10K Per Day, 6.2mi in the early morning most days with occasional rest or easy days. The obvious exception aside from easy days would be longer runs for the marathon, but otherwise I intend to run 10K each morning, whether regular easy runs or cumulative mileage on a speed workout.

The weather currently is getting Vegas hot, and those short workday runs/walks are not yet challenging but 100+ degree temperatures will provide the true test. The morning workouts in 75-80 degree heat are now doable as I’ve heat acclimated at least to those conditions. I still have some ways to go to feel okay with the true Vegas heat.

I’ll ramp up marathon-specific training during the mid/late summer, though I should first take a page from Podium Runner and focus for May-July on building 5K/10K fitness. I want to get back to Chicago 2018 performance levels on mid-range speed, and I know I still have the ability to do it if I can whip back into shape.

I also need to shed some weight. I’ve made some progress to get from 182-183 to 180 lbs but it’s very slow going right now on the scale. I have to balance getting enough nutrition to fuel training and recovery, with cleaning up my system and shedding fat or unneeded water weight.

Adding more training volume and consistent strength training should likely produce the same results I saw in 2018 when without any “dieting” I went from the mid 170’s to the low 160’s. I have tightened up my diet a great deal, and now I just need to land on a consistent plan that consistently gets me every nutrient I currently need.

More later on the training strategies as I ramp up volume and get knee deep into summer training.

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Next Up: The 2021 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (11/6/21)

Now official: I plan to run the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 6, 2021.

I wanted to run a marathon before the end of the year, before training for Vancouver in 2022. This will be it, for a few reasons.

I also wanted to take the plunge on a personally unprecedented task: Training for a marathon through the brutal Vegas summer.

After a summer and a half (I did move back in mid-summer 2019), I learned from experience that during summer the only time of day you can do a serious run workout is early in the morning before temperatures top 90-95°F. You also can’t go particularly long once the sun is up, so longer runs beyond an hour ought to begin before the sunrise (which to be fair was true in Chicago summer weather as well).

But I also previously went on walks outside during work breaks on hot summer afternoons, lasting anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes. Recently these became shorter runs, and since I keep these easy they probably won’t be much more demanding than those previous 100-110°F walks. Either way, I know what being out in this heat feels like, and am confident I can still go on short 7-10 minute work break runs to add to my volume, keep my body active, and get extra form practice.

I had considered various marathons between September and December, but Indy landed in the right spot timing wise. November allows for peak training (e.g. 20 mile run days) to take place after the weather has cooled off a bit. It’s not so late that recovery could possibly impact Vancouver training, which should begin at the end of the year. Plus, with food holidays like Thanksgiving and Xmas shortly after Indy, the extra food can help with recovery.

Also, Indy’s race day weather should be rather mild by November, in the 50-60°F range which should make Indiana’s somewhat high humidity feel good rather than terrible.

Colleagues in Chicago have run Indy with mostly amicable feedback. It’s an accessible marathon with a reasonable topography. There is a hilly section around the middle of the race but the terrain is overwise mostly flat with mild undulations. Vegas’ slanted valley topography should make that course feel easy. It’s not exactly a “starter marathon” but it’s an easier marathon to do well in before you train for a tougher marathon.

I didn’t want my first marathon back to be Vancouver in May 2022, in case my comeback training cycle didn’t go well or I made any major training mistakes (There is also a chance that circumstances could prevent me from running Vancouver AGAIN). I could apply any lessons from this cycle to training for Vancouver. Having trouble with Indy wouldn’t exactly break my heart, though obviously I intend to do well.

What’s the training plan for this race?

Mission one is base building. This is not just about adding weekly mileage but template building.

I currently plan to follow a variation of the Higdon Novice 2 Plan, doing the weekday runs in the morning while doing my work break jogs afterward. The latter will add about 15-20 miles per week to the base training volume, and for now I don’t plan to do those break runs on the weekend.

In short, the Higdon Novice 2 plan has you run Tuesday-Thursday, then do your long run Saturday and an hour of cross training on Sunday. Monday and Friday are days off. The Wednesday run is longer than the Tues/Thu runs, though shorter than the long run, and every other week the Wednesday run is done at marathon pace instead of easy pace like all the others. Obviously, the extra work break runs would be done as easy as needed and would rarely go longer than a mile each. Higdon recommends strength training Tuesday and Thursday if you already strength train, and I certainly will.

The weather and needing time to prepare for work is the key reason to keep weekday runs easy while technically not training Monday and Friday (obviously I’ll still be doing work break jogs those days and logging some miles). The later Wednesday runs reach 8 miles and could be a challenge, though the plan for Wednesday and Saturday was already to get up before sunrise (I already typically rise around 5am) and log some time before the sun is up.

Higdon Novice Marathon is an easy plan to follow if indeed you’re a novice. Though I’m certainly more advanced, I wanted the freedom to add the extra work break runs to my training volume without overtraining.

The key here with the break runs is heat acclimation. Smaller 10 minute doses of running in extreme heat will acclimate me to heat without much distress, which will help with the longer morning runs down the road, and certainly will help with racing the marathon on race day regardless of the conditions.

So right now I’m following a shell schedule version of the plan, gradually adding morning run workouts matching the schedule of the actual training plan, though at a lesser volume. The goal before July is to get accustomed to the schedule so that when I start the actual plan it’s not a big jump or change.

(As always, this could change based on evolving needs and fitness development. But the plan is to build to this schedule going into July.)


So the plan is set, and now it’s time for the long ramp to Indy in November.

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The Fitbro Bodybuilder Low Carb Diet Issue

The next time you see a weightlifter preach the value of a low-carb high-fat diet, remember that low-carb works for low activity.

The average bro spends most of his time sedentary. They may work out hard for the half hour or hour or so they are at the gym, but other than maybe a few minutes of walking on the treadmill or elsewhere “for cardio”, they’re not burning much of any carbohydrates.

So of course it makes sense for them to preach low carb dieting. The reason high carb diets have produced obesity is because people consume a lot of carbs they don’t use. We’re sedentary, yet people consume hundreds of grams of carbohydrate a day suitable for someone physically active.

If you’re a runner or a triathlete, meanwhile, you likely are endurance training over longer periods of time, and your body draws on available glycogen stores, which can only be replenished through carbohydrates.

Sure, there is a whole other discussion around the value of a metabolic reset by avoiding carbs for a period, or carb cycling (eating lots of carbs around training and relatively few carbs when not), and taking it easy on carb intake when not training or during an extended recovery period. And, in some endurance training situations (ultrarunners can vouch for this), a low carb diet and “fat-adapting” may be more useful for training than consuming large amounts of carbs.

But for most athletes, a carb-rich diet is less harmful and more important to you than any benefits from a lower-carb higher-fat diet.

That said, as always, focus on whole foods (fruit, vegetables, nuts/seeds, meat) rather than packaged and processed foods. The quality of your food matters as well.

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My First Look At Stryd Footpod Data

So, my Stryd footpod arrived today. After a somewhat complicated setup process (and though cumbersome to get attached, the pod does stick perfectly fine to my front end shoelaces), I went out in the increasingly hot Vegas sun and ran a couple of brief miles around the neighborhood to give the tracker some data for me to review.

This was as standard and normal a running effort as I could get myself to do, to make sure the data had no abnormalities. Sure enough, the run (though hot and a bit arduous for that reason) felt like a typical effort, so the data should be a roughly objective view of my standard issue effort.

Sure enough, footpod IQ data showed up in Garmin Connect for the run. It’s a bit complicated to get the Garmin data uploaded to Stryd for review (I had thought it would sync automatically, but apparently not), but once I did I had dashboard data to review.

Here you see a lot of data that’s not just typical mileage, times, pace, and heart rate.

(While not pictured, the log also includes a map of my run, so Garmin’s file did port that over just fine.)

Unfamiliar items on the log include:

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A Quick Cross Training Workout For The Spin Bike

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

The following cross training will really challenge your quads, hamstrings and glutes. Definitely don’t do this cross training workout if you’re sore and recovering from some other hard lower-body workout.

I would save a workout like this for base training, if you’re coming off an easy workout, or you’re not actively training for a goal race in general.

The Workout: Start the spin bike at the lowest intensity, level 1.

Every time the minute counter turns over (e.g. at 1:00, 5:00, etc), adjust the level to match the number in the minute column. So at 2:00 you’ll set the level to 2, and you’ll increase the level by 1 every minute thereafter.

If the lowest spin bike levels feel too light and easy for you (for example you normally do easy spin bike sessions at level 4), you don’t have to start at or go down to level 1. If you generally bike easy at level 4, then for any level 4 and below you can just go at level 4. In this example, you do the first 4:59 at level 4, then at 5:00 you switch to level 5.

Once you get to a level that’s too tough, take it back down to a low, comfortable level. Then once the timer reaches 10:00, repeat the process by adding the digits in the minute column to determine the level, e.g. 11 –> 1 + 1 = Level 2… or in the level 4 example above, that person can just stay at level 4 for now.

If you can get to level 10 or higher without needing to slow down, great! You don’t have to add the digits at 11:00 or higher just yet. Just keep climbing levels until you need a break, then add the digits of the next minute to see how far down you can take the spin bike’s level. For example, say you get tired after 16:00 at level 16. Then at 17:00 you take it down to level 8 (17 –> 1 + 7 = Level 8).

If you’re a super strong cyclist and plan to go longer than 25 minutes, you may be able to reach the bike’s maximum level 25 (most spin bikes only have 25 intensity levels). If you get to 26:00 in this case, just take the spin bike back down to level 8 (26 –> 2 + 6 = Level 8… you must be super strong if that’s too easy for you; if so you can set the level higher to whatever level you prefer to cruise at). Then from there build the levels back up each minute. Do note that this workout method after you max out the bike won’t get you higher again than level 14 once you do so, so if maxing out is your goal and you can max out the bike then you may want to stick to 30 minutes or less.

Regardless of your abilities, you can repeat this level-up process until your spin bike workout is finished, whether it takes 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 3 hours, etc.

You could also do this workout on an elliptical, rowing machine, or ARC Trainer. But it can be very demanding to do more than recovery-level training on these devices. To do a workout like this on a machine like those may defeat the purpose of cross training unless you’re in an offseason, or are a triathlete or similar and this sort of demanding training is in line with your key workout needs.

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Building Better Base Fitness, and Using the Gym While I Can

Shortly after the New Year began, I poked my head into my gym to see how they were handling Nevada’s 25% max capacity restrictions, and found that it was mostly business as usual. Because of this particular facility’s vast space, even with a crowd they don’t come close to capacity, so as long as some machines are shut off, as long as everyone is wearing masks and spaced apart, everything can proceed as normal.

I had been developing a home strength training plan during the preceding weeks with useful results (and I’ll share this at some point soon). But with my gym open and available, I’m taking advantage of the strength training and cross training equipment while it’s currently available.

After taking a few weeks off from training in December, I wanted to ramp back up into training. But I didn’t want to just run and run as I did in the past, as I found the demand of so much running led to me running slower than I liked or having to take more total days off from training.

I knew from the past year or two that I could comfortably cross train while ramping running back up, allowing me to quickly rebuild aerobic fitness and augment strength while my neuromuscular fitness developed more gradually.

While I’ve only been able to run a few miles every other day, and do some additional neighborhood walking… I’ve rode the spin bike at the gym every day, plus strength trained with full weights every other day.

The following quality workout day looks initially daunting:

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The Work In 2021

Happy New Year 2021, everyone.

I’ve spent the last month mostly thinking about what I want to focus on consistently doing in 2021. Unlike most, I didn’t run myself into the ground with excessive workouts in 2020, instead taking the time to reflect on where I was at and where I need to be going in 2021.

Living with my family is the first time I’ve been able to clearly evaluate where I’m at and where I need to work toward, while not simultaneously scrambling to maintain my existence while living on my own. Coronavirus aside, it ended up being a good decision to move back from Chicago in 2019. I was treading water financially and that situation probably was not going to get better had I stayed, let alone after Chicago’s mostly draconian approach to lockdowns let alone all the violence that erupted during last summer.

In 2020, I took a lot of extended time off from working out. I did train during extensive periods in 2020, but with no goal races to eventually run, I had the freedom to just break it off once I needed a break. Unless I decided to never run races again (hint: highly unlikely), I probably will never again get a period in life like this, with the total freedom to not worry so much about maintaining peak conditioning. Being over forty, I’m not in a condition to train that hard all the time and not see ill effects.

Over the last month, I’ve thought about how I want to handle training in 2021. I don’t expect races to fully return before late 2021, and realize this situation could continue into that winter and push everything back into spring 2022. I don’t plan to run Vancouver before 2022 (and thankfully they’re allowing 2020-deferrances to register at a steep discount for any marathon through 2023).

I was considering another marathon in May, but now it looks like most if not all big races in early 2021 will be wiped out. I’m willing to risk being wrong about that while training on my own terms.

If 2020 was about recovery from the continuous stress and demands of the previous several years, then 2021 for me will be about building the person that can excel at the ambitions I will have for 2022 and beyond.

The following are not necessarily New Year’s Resolutions, as I’ve already been working on them to some extent in late 2020, and I’m mostly just initiating them now because after the recent conclusion of my last work project (plus most of the rest of the world being idle at this time) I’ve got suitable free time for now to be a good time to start. I could have started this in March or June.

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