Tag Archives: Running

Checking In 7/28/2021

Last night I ground out a full 60 minutes on the elliptical without pain, though once I climbed off my lower body felt heavier than excess baggage. I ate a rather large meal and Garmin reports I got some good deep sleep last night.

I woke up this morning with two changes from yesterday.

First, my hamstring while a bit stiff is feeling better. I don’t feel pain except a little bit every so often, depending on how I step or stride. This improves on yesterday where I pretty much felt it most of the time I walked.

Secondly, though, I now have some occasional pain in my left groin, where it meets the leg. This however feels more like soreness than a possible issue or injury, suggesting this part of my body simply overcompensated for the hamstring issue rather than got strained or injured.

I attempted a brief test jog this morning and running did feel a bit better and easier. I will at least attempt a work break jog in the morning, and unless that feels terrific I’ll probably shut down on running again for the day just to be safe. I’ll walk through remaining breaks and continue tonight with cross training (plus I’m due to strength train this evening).

The hope is that the morning break feels reasonably pain free, and the brief stimulus of running on my lower body plus this evening’s training further spurs recovery overnight and beyond.

I’ve been leaning on my Hammer supplements during the last few days since the issue arose, taking closer to the normal dosage each day (I normally take just one pill a day, way below the recommended dosage). I’d like to think they’re working but it’s hard to tell. Am I healing more quickly than would be normal? Am I healing normally and it’s having negligible effect?

I’m holding out hope for Saturday’s trip into altitude, and Friday by 6pm is the V1 date to decide on cancellation. Obviously if my condition worsens in any way before then I should shut down for the weekend and cancel.

But there’s a large gray area where I may be pain free (well aware of a possible relapse at any point) or may have lingering pain, and could run with it. Saturday being a scheduled rest day before Sunday morning’s scheduled long run is also a factor. Could a full afternoon and evening of relaxation with a night’s sleep improve the situation further?


Tonight I’ll return to the elliptical and chase it with a hopefully brisk effort on the spin bike, before strength training.

Even if this heals up and is just a blip, it’s also a welcome rest for the rest of my body after a few weeks of solid training.

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Antioxidants: Helpful or Not?

Antioxidants are a fundamental mixed bag. On the one hand, their ability to heal the body and combat inflammation helps the body recover quickly from exercise, not to mention help protect your everyday function and immune system.

On the other hand, researchers have in recent years discovered that this antioxidant influx also blunts the body’s adaption and supercompensation to training, that while you heal more quickly and completely you also interfere with the body’s ‘learning process’ in fighting the inflammation markers and growing to adapt to the stressor of your intense training.

Basically, because antioxidants are an external healer, your body is less likely to learn to adapt to the stress for future workouts.

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Building A Better Self: July 2021 Edition

I not only finished Friday with 34 miles this week, with this weekend and a long run workout still to come (after 36 miles last week), but I did so despite insomnia on Thursday night and my air conditioner problem messing with my sleep earlier this week.

While obviously tired, I didn’t feel burned out, and I had the energy in me to pump out 30-45 minute training workouts on the treadmill after work, AND run 1K-2K on all my work breaks (except only for Thursday afternoon, which I walked). I played everything by ear and was willing to bail on any of the above if I simply didn’t feel well enough to do it.

But I did all of the above. No stimulants (outside of the same 12 oz of coffee I have had every morning for years and years), no crutches, no supplements I hadn’t already been taking for a while. Even now, other than understandable general fatigue (and yes I got decent sleep last night), I feel okay.

How am I doing this? I haven’t taken a complete day off from training since June 23 (10 days ago)

There’s a few new things I’m consistently doing. Some regular readers already know about, but some things not as much:

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It’s Just Too Hot, Guys

Today, after a few easy and off days, I went out for some speed repeats. It’s excessively hot in Las Vegas right now, with high temperatures exceeding 115°F, and low temperatures barely reaching 90°F before going up again with the sunrise.

It was 91°F at about 5:45am when I started the first of what I planned to be five (5) 90 second hard repeats on a long stretch of trail. After two of these, I grabbed my water bottle from the stop point and decided to end the workout right there, heading back.

I wasn’t in serious distress, nor did I go too hard on the repeats. In fact, I probably accelerated into them better than I had been doing on repeats in a while. I ran them smart and my pace was solid. I didn’t feel sick or anything. But the combination of quick fatigue and the heat told me that what little I had done was for now enough. I walked back to the ranch.

I’ve stated before that one of my goals with this summer’s Indy Marathon training was to address training seriously in the heat. So far, as temps have risen this past month, I’ve handled what speed workouts I’ve done in the hotter weather fairly well.

The only workouts I don’t feel good about so far are my longer runs. I’m coming up on three weeks since my last true long run (though I have a 10 miler planned Saturday), and I have yet to exceed 10 miles. It is early and still base training, and the plan all along was to backload the longest/hardest running for after Labor Day when the temps drop back to human levels. But I’m still not able to get what I’m looking for out of current long runs.

All of this said, I have to be mindful not as much of my continuing adaption to the typically extreme vegas heat, but of these stretches where it’s very hot even for a Vegas summer. This is a true heat wave, with temps exceeding 115°F, the top end of what heat Vegas typically gets. Much of the Western United States is in this massive heat wave right now.

This is not the time to power through a workout if I find my body struggling or tiring more quickly in these conditions than expected. While sleep and nutrition can also be factors, I’ve actually done mostly well on both those fronts this week to where I can discount those being key contributors. If anything, I should have been more ready to go for this workout than typical given that and the extra recent recovery.

But extreme heat takes a lot out of you, prior heat adaptions or not. I had water with me but hydration had negligble effect on how it felt.

Sometimes it just makes more sense to cut a workout in those conditions short, and either run it out otherwise later (I can and may cross train after work) or just take a mulligan and move on to tomorrow.

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The Idea of a Bad Workout

I don’t have bad workouts.

That’s definitely not because I’m perfect, or because I don’t challenge myself. And it’s not like I don’t have good workouts.

I’ve had plenty of workouts that didn’t go the way I wanted. I fail over and over again. I’ve had to cut workouts short, re-configure workouts, turn quality workouts into simple easy runs, stop the workout early and go home, etc.

But none of these workouts were bad. I didn’t screw them up… even if maybe I screwed something up (e.g. ran repeats too fast, went out too hard, didn’t bring hydration, ate or hydrated too much, etc).

I could give you a treatise on the perils of results based analysis, e.g. you ran a race and won, so you think therefore the way you ran the race was good… or you didn’t hit your goal time or finish despite following your race plan, and you decided therefore you screwed it up.

On a similar note, we as human beings often attach emotional judgment to our workouts and races. And so many have a workout not go the way they want and decide the workout was therefore bad. I see and hear this far too often.

To me, workouts are truly bad only if they set back your growth, fitness, or life… for avoidable reasons that were totally within your control.

  • Going out for a run if you’re injured and know you should rest, and aggravating the injury
  • You’re burned out and exhausted and know a run isn’t going to help you in any way, but you go and run anyway.
  • Running in a severe thunderstorm or tornado.
  • Chasing after someone while holding a knife, to try and end them.

As you can see, my threshold for labeling a bad run is somewhat higher than most people.

If I go out for a run, feel crappy the whole way, and don’t feel great when it’s done, I don’t consider that a bad run. I consider that a learning experience. Maybe I could have skipped that run. And now I know, thanks to that run, that maybe running in those circumstances isn’t the best idea or use of my energy.

Today I went out for speed intervals after yet another consecutive night of poor sleep (been having an unusual stretch of these nights recently). I was up for the run but my energy wasn’t high, and though I gave a solid 10K effort I couldn’t go as hard in the repeats as I would have liked.

I did knock out four solid repeats out of the five needed, but I knew while finishing the 4th that I was tapped and at the point where the 5th might push me too far for my good. So I stopped after that 4th and headed home.

Was it a bad workout because I never felt quite right, or because I couldn’t get myself to eke out one last repeat, or because I did them closer to threshold/10K effort than the desired 5K/mile effort?

Or was it a good workout because I made progress in my training plan, finished the needed workout minus just one repeat, didn’t lose any ground with training since I’m still in the base/foundational phase, and moderated my effort to where I felt more rewarded than worn out by a key workout in tired circumstances?

Recall I mentioned the value in giving every workout a purpose. On a similar note, if a run doesn’t go the way you want or doesn’t feel at all good, you can still take away some positive value from your workout. It’s rarely a total waste as long as you apply yourself.

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No easy run is a junk run if you use it well

Today I went out for a training run. Last night I watched some old Sage Canaday videos on YouTube addressing anterior pelvic tilt, and adjustments you can make in training to improve your lower body range of motion.

I run with a short stride and am not big on overstriding or butt kick drills, so my legs don’t kick particularly far back in my stride unless I’m really hoofing it (e.g. hurrying across a street or after a city bus), and then my stride kick naturally lengthens back. However, running with that kind of power is personally kind of tiring. And a good deal of that currently has to do with my hips doing the classic runner’s tilt forward, aka the anterior pelvic tilt.

I wanted yesterday to work on tipping the hips back into alignment, running taller, and seeing about generating more of a kick back on my stride. I decided to work on it in this morning’s run.

Quickly, I discovered that the kick back is a bit too contrived in my current range of motion… but that trying to do so led to a productive form improvement: My foot naturally drove back after contacting the ground, generating in turn more forward momentum in my stride.

Throughout the run I consciously made this effort to drive the foot down and push the foot back, in turn driving my momentum forward. I don’t think my leg kicked back that far, but my stride definitely got longer and more productive right off the bat.

This did shrink some as it was rather hot outside and my focus switched to just moving at a minimum of excess energy to complete the run. But Stryd showed my form power had also slightly decreased, a positive sign of efficiency. Heat aside, the run itself did feel better than previous runs.


I mention all this as an example of how I put easy runs to use.

I don’t consider my work break runs or easy runs “junk miles”. To me, junk miles are runs without a specifically beneficial purpose, that wear you out more than benefit you.

Previously, most of my Chicago miles had a practical purpose: I transported myself home at least in part by my running. So to some degree I needed to run them regardless of how I felt.

That’s not the case in Vegas, since we here drive everywhere. If I go out for a run, there’s got to be a good reason I’m doing that and not just cross training. It does wear on you to run, and I’m over 40 now, so I need to get a return on investment from my runs.

I started work break runs because a) I easily could, and b) it helped get me in condition for more serious running once I ramped up training.

Now that I’ve started Indy Marathon training, these work break runs can provide extra fitness in addition to my base training runs in the morning. But so can reducing them to a walk, especially now that it’s getting hot in Las Vegas. Why continue to run them?

Well, I’ve now gotten to the point in my experience where I put these easy runs to use as I mentioned above. These are the situations where I work on a form adjustment, on increasing my cadence, emphasizing my planted foot drive, driving my knees, etc.

If anything, the work runs are perfect for this in that they’re only 8-13 minutes long, less than a mile or only a bit more than a mile, and even if I’m having a tough time, it’s over in short order. Whether or not I’m adding fitness and chops by taking them, I am getting the practice and experience of implementing these adjustments and seeing how they work, in small doses. I have plenty of opportunities to practice plenty of adjustments, without risking or sacrificing my health or training in trying to do them in a longer training run.

Sasha Pachev may have done them to keep himself from feeling too sedentary. But I find the work break runs are useful to try and practice various adjustments in my form and practice. They’re hardly junk miles in that respect.

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Tactical pace management in an otherwise simple workout

On Monday I had a fast finish training run scheduled, 45 minutes. I usually run these with just my Garmin watch timing and monitoring stats. But this time around I decided to program the workout in and have it monitor my heart rate:

  • First 5 minutes within Zone 1 (50-60% of heart rate reserve (HRR), easy aerobic).
  • Next 30 minutes within Zone 2 (60-70% HRR, mid/high aerobic).
  • Final 10 minutes within Zone 3 (70-80% HRR, from aerobic threshold to lactate threshold).

When running a programmed workout with defined pace/HR parameters, the watch beeps at you when you’re not within them. Typically I’ll run by feel unless doing a speed or other goal-specific workout.

Monday, though, I decided I would practice staying within the zones, something I’d worked to do more in previous training plans.

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