Tag Archives: training on the road

Checking In 10/6/2021

I had previously hoped to run outside after work yesterday, but it was still somewhat warm, plus Vegas got some rare rain so we had a bunch of humidity to go with it. I also felt some soreness in both hamstrings, but nothing I couldn’t have easily run through.

Mostly, however, I was rather tired, closer to going to sleep than feeling energetic enough to run a few miles outside through warm overcast. The elliptical is always far more do-able in that condition, so I stuck to 45 minutes of that and strength training.

I had in fact felt rather tired the last couple evenings despite decent sleep, but feel markedly better today. I wasn’t training super hard the last few days or sleeping poorly. Sometimes I guess you just get tired during stretches.

(Well, that and sometimes you train a bunch on both days of a weekend and don’t actually get a full day of rest. Whoops!)

For birthday weekend I’m still considering a long weekender to Flagstaff or Big Bear, though staying home doesn’t look too bad either. Both locales have forecasted highs that weekend in the 50’s with lows around 30(F), around the same conditions as my last visit to Big Bear. So I’d be fairly comfortable in those conditions.

Or instead of using the two days off from work I could bank them and use them in December. I’ve hinted about new training plans for after Indy, and while I remain close to the vest about those for now (too much still TBD) I could use the days off in December for that. Plus, if I really wanted to travel that weekend, it’s not like I couldn’t have it both ways. It would just be another weekend road trip where I’d leave Friday night and come back Sunday afternoon.

I’ll figure it out in a bit. This weekend, meanwhile, I’m staying in town and not planning to train too hard. Sunday will be a day off from training (usual caveats: if bored will hit the spin bike and read a bit). If feeling up to a long run Saturday morning I will take it, but I do have errands to run that day so no pressure to get in much of a long workout that day. The next weekend will be a big workout.

Conditions are balmy today so I’ll see about getting out for a run, if nothing else to acclimate to conditions closer to what Indy will feel like.

I think I found a good split for upper body strength training that best minimizes training on overactive muscles while getting extra work into underactives that need the work. As mentioned before my strength workouts are always 20 minutes long, with 30 second breaks unless switching exercises.

Currently I leave my A-Block (Pull exercises) as they are: Lat Pulldowns, Seated Cable Rows, Face Pulls and/or Hanging Raises, and finally Hammer Curls. The format is 4 sets, 1st and last set 12 reps light weight, middle sets 8 reps heavy weight. (In the case of the Hanging Raises I do 1st and last as 12 reps knee raises, then middle sets 8 reps straight leg raises).

Now with my B-Block (push exercises), I basically combine chest and shoulder presses into one by doing a block of incline bench presses (same 4-set sequence as listed above). Then I once again do Seated Cable Rows, except just a flat 4 sets of a lighter weight (no heavy 8 rep sets). Then I either find the abductor machine and do Seated Hip Abductions, or find open floor space and do bodyweight ATG Split Squat lunges (these are just 4 sets, 12 reps 8 reps 8 reps 12 reps). Then I do either Tricep Extensions or Tricep Press-Downs, and if there’s time left I’ll finish by mixing in some squat jumps or goblet squats depending on feel and space/equipment available.

I swapped a redundant pull exercise into the Push workout to work an upper back muscle group that for me and many others is underactive, but at more of a light shakeout intensity in case they are still tired or sore from the A-Block workout.

Note I de-emphasize leg exercises. Obviously, I do a ton of running and cross training, and I don’t want to overtax those lower body muscles, but still want to work on key underactive muscles (e.g. the hip abductions focus on the gluteus medius, a typically underactive muscle that in my case may have been a contributing factor to my recent hamstring/groin issues). The latter squat exercises are basically optional, though they can help develop strength/power that will be useful.

At this point I strength train about twice a week, one day the A-Block and one day the B-Block. I usually do one or both on the weekend, as machines and equipment tend to be freer around that time, though sometimes (like last night) I’m able to do some during the weeknights.

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Checking In 9/24/2021

After quite a bit of productive running and cross training through Wednesday, I made sure not to run Thursday and won’t run today either.

No, I’m fine. No pain, no injuries, and sure I’m a bit tired from short sleep. The real issue is that Vegas is getting more wildfire smoke, this time from the Sequoias, and the haze is supposed to stick around through today. It’s probably best not to go outside and breathe that in while running. Walking, probably okay, but not running.

I took it easy in the gym last night because of the short sleep, only going about 20 minutes and going out to eat instead. Today I’ll probably go longer in the gym, more like my usual workload, with a scheduled rest day tomorrow. Since I plan to run a 10K trial on Sunday, I’m making a point to take it easy Saturday. I might go ride the spin bike easy tomorrow afternoon if I’m bored or antsy.

My birthday is next month on a Saturday, and coincides perfectly with the end of peak training for Indy. I weighed this for a little while and have decided to take a long weekend trip to Vancouver on that weekend. Everything is booked, flight, hotel. I’d fly in midday that Friday, have two full days there, and fly out midday that Monday.

Stanley Park in Vancouver BC

Canada has re-opened to US visitors that are vaccinated for Covid (and yes: I’m vaccinated). I haven’t been to Vancouver, one of my favorite cities in the world, in over two years. And I didn’t want to wait until next May for a Vancouver Marathon that we’re still not totally sure is going to happen, nor until 2023.

This is a good time to go as well. The city won’t be crazy busy since summer is over. With Canada still partially restricted to visitors, it’s not going to be as busy and crowded. It’s also cool but not yet cold enough for BC snow, so misty rain is probably the only adverse weather I might see that weekend.

Also, relevant to my training, Vancouver’s marine climate provides a lot of humidity, which makes a long run there great training stimulus for Indy since Indy will likely be cool and humid on race day.

I’ve wanted to do a long run on the Vancouver Seawall, around Stanley Park and all the way around False Creek to Granville Island. One way it’s about 11-12 miles, and if inclined I could turn around and double back to make it longer. I’ve ridden this route on a rental bike before, but I want to run it.

Since I’ve only gone to run the Vancouver Marathon, doing a long Seawall run like this for fun right before or after the marathon was highly impractical. The only way I was ever going to do it (aside from the highly unlikely scenario of moving there) is if I made a separate trip with no racing plans. While that’s not the reason I’m making this trip, it’s certainly a contributing factor. And it helps it’s the end of my peak week, where I need to take my longest run and have a use for it.

Now, there are obvious caveats to this trip. You have to pass Covid testing within 72 hours of any travel into or out of Canada regardless of vax status (though with vax no quarantine is required). If either test comes back positive then there’s a problem. And of course, a sudden development in the Corona situation for either the US or Canada prior to the trip could nix any travel there.

I’ve paid for and insured the trip, so I’m not worried about the cost. If a bad test before the trip derails it, I just stay home and do something different. The only significant worry is if I test [+] IN Canada, and now I’m stuck in Canada and can’t fly back. (The insurance apparently covers lodging and per diem if I have to stay in Canada for that, though my situation at work would be the biggest issue)

Still, I’m in good health, have been vaccinated, and the dim possibility of a [+] test trapping me in Canada for at least a couple weeks (which probably would likely be more of a funny story than a bad experience) is a risk I’m willing to take for a trip that’s probably been a long time coming.

There are other things I want to do while I’m there. Vancouver’s sushi choices are excellent, and I will probably eat a lot of sushi. I haven’t been to a BC Lions CFL game in forever, and they are playing that weekend so I may go. And as mentioned, it’s been a while since I’ve been there for a reason other than running the Marathon, so it’ll be great to relax without having to plan around that.

More to come as it gets closer, but I’m looking forward to the trip.

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Checking In 9/21/2021

Yesterday I went on runs on all my work breaks. They were more like easy jogs, sure. But even with residual soreness from Saturday they all felt fine… other than feeling heavy and slow all the way on all three of them. But I’ll gladly take that over injuries slowing me down. I also rode the spin bike easy last night at the gym without any trouble.

Today like yesterday is a soft day off, probably more so than yesterday’s. I’ll do work break runs if they feel right, but this time no workout tonight. I have errands to attend to tonight and hopefully things will settle down tomorrow and beyond for at least a few days.

I think I need to take one more weekend long run trip, not next week but in early October. Vegas will cool down but only to the mid/high 60’s Fahrenheit, with highs still in the low/mid 90’s. While I’d like to make one more trip to Flagstaff, it might be ideal to go back to Big Bear as the latter is a better location for my longer runs (Flag might require creative routing or some remote routes, the latter not ideal if the long run goes south and I need to stop).

After that, Vegas should cool off enough that any other needed long running can take place here. And the feasibility of Indy will be a lot clearer by then as well. At this point I’m not concerned about injury but whether or not I can capable train to handle the distance before November. Saturday’s 13+ miler was a big step, but I have to get to at least 16 without being wrecked for me to believe I can handle Indy in November.

Still cooking up plans for beyond November, and more on that once I get past Indy. For now, I obviously need to focus on the present goal.

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Checking In 9/19/2021 from Big Bear Lake

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Hello from Big Bear Lake. I’ll be driving back to Vegas in a bit and I have some errands to get done, though I feel good enough to cross train in the afternoon once I return.

Incidentally, this is the first trip I’ve taken to Big Bear where I was actually able to stay overnight in Big Bear. Previously I stayed in Barstow and drove up/down each day (and recall that on my last trip I had booked lodging in Big Bear only for the place to screw up the reservation leading me to go back to Barstow anyway). With the summer season ended, lodging was easier to come by this time and I had a nice couple nights at a rustic hotel that’s usually packed and charging $150+ a night.

This also means I got to sleep at altitude (Barstow’s closer to sea level than Vegas at about 2100′) during this Big Bear trip, and my Garmin oximeter showed a difference. Like with Flagstaff, I averaged 88% oxygen overnight each night I’ve been here, even though I slept well and (while slow to get up) felt fairly good in the morning each time.

My legs are decidedly sore this morning. While they can handle an elliptical session this afternoon (I certainly need the low-impact circulation), they can certainly use Monday’s rest day.

Even having spent all summer in the desert, the 40’F outdoor temperature each morning also felt rather good, and I wasn’t wearing long sleeves at all (plus obviously I had on shorts for Saturday’s long run). I actually miss the visceral cold of Chicago and Seattle winters. But that could just be an entire summer of 110 degree days talking.

After Monday, I’ll see what I can do about getting back to morning runs. Logistics make these more complicated than they were in the past, but I usually have enough time that they can be do-able now that Vegas morning temperatures have dropped back to the 70’s and below. We’re still a way from post-work runs being do-able again, but easy intervals in the morning would be a big step forward.

In either case, knowing the hamstring issue emerged two days after a long run, I’m going to take it easy for at least the couple days after this one, and see from there.

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Checking In 9/18/2021 from Big Bear Lake

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Boulder Bay Park in Big Bear Lake

Hello from Big Bear Lake.

This morning I headed out and after over nearly four hours of start-stop running, broken up with a mile 2 pit stop for pastries and espresso, a break in Boulder Bay at 7.5 miles, and a partially bonk-induced steak and egg brunch at Country Kitchen at 10 miles, I staggered back into base at 13.3 miles.

No left anything hurt the entire time! I did have a fatigue-like pain in the right hamstring in the tail end of the run, but I took it slow and stopped for a lot of breaks… so it never got dangerous or hung around long. As I write this, I feel generally sore/tired by mostly good overall. Nothing is bothering me. My left hamstring and groin were never at any point an issue the entire time.

I stayed under shade for most of the workout, and that’s one advantage Big Bear has over Flagstaff: The trees here are taller and take up more of the real estate, so the roads are generally more shaded across the board. Flagstaff is prone to longer stretches of open sun. It also was rather cool in the morning, actually near 40’F, only getting up towards the 70’s once I finished up.

I’ll see how I feel about some extra running tomorrow before I head out of Big Bear, and/or some more cross training after I get back into Vegas. I also have errands I need to run at some point once I’m back in Vegas, so time may be limited. But Monday is a scheduled rest day, and I’ll see how I feel Tuesday in deciding what to do that day and the rest of the week. I know I’ll be running some and cross training some, but what combination and volume remains to be seen. I have a lot penciled in, knowing some of it may likely come off.

This is a good time of year to come into Big Bear, because the summer season ends with the Labor Day holiday, yet it hasn’t gotten cold enough yet for icy temperatures or snow to make coming here unworkable. I may be able to squeeze in another trip here before Indy, but we’ll see. It’s not yet cooled off enough in Vegas that these weekend trips for long runs aren’t necessary anymore.

I don’t plan to run long next weekend, but might do a moderately long workout Sunday. These long workouts will be spaced out a bit, to give the adaptions a chance to show up workout over workout without overdoing it and risking further trouble.

That’s it for the moment. Going to relax before a busy Sunday.

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Checking In 9/17/2021

I took yesterday off from training, and I clearly also took yesterday off from writing. I’m traveling this weekend and plan to run long before I return to Vegas.

If I don’t run on any breaks today, then tomorrow it’ll have been four days since the last time I ran. Given how little I’ve run over the last two months that’s not the end of the world. And I don’t want to needlessly get tired or sore the day before trying to run long.

The main goal is to run long this weekend and as long as I’m up to that task then I’ll be in good position for next week and beyond. My long elliptical workouts have helped keep me in the aerobic and physical shape needed to run easy for a long period.

And it’s not like I need permission to stop and rest over and over throughout the long run. I plan to slow down and relax a lot on this weekend’s running. The important thing is to cover however much distance I can and give myself that neuromuscular stimulus to recover from.

If somehow I end up in good fitness to run Indy in November (rather than barely passable fitness just to finish) I’ll have semi-accidentally stumbled upon a solid marathon training approach: Focusing on cross training for easy aerobic work, focusing more in the early going on cross training and strength training, and then transitioning more into heavier running on the back end of the training cycle. I won’t say that I’m sure it will work, but I obviously suspect that this approach could end up working out once it’s done, even if it was a circumstantial product of necessity.

Obviously I don’t want to go too hard and try to make up for lost time. That’s not possible and you’ll only burn yourself out and get hurt doing that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t train seriously for 5-6 weeks and make substantial progress to get in marathon shape. All is clearly not lost yet.

So, busy day today ahead of travel, and I’ll probably turn in a bit later than I’d like. But now that it’s cooling off it’ll be rather cool at altitude anyway (even cold if I’m early enough), so starting a long run late in the morning isn’t going to be a problem. My biggest concern will be suitable shade from the sun.

More to come once I’m on location….

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Checking in 9/6/2021 from Milwaukee

Hello from Shorewood. I’m flying back into Vegas later today.

In a twist of irony, I flew out here expecting to run an eventful half marathon during an uneventful stay in Milwaukee. Instead, I DNS the half marathon and end up spending a lot of time checking out Shorewood, which is quite a nice part of town.

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Looking down at Atwater Beach in Milwaukee

Shorewood, immediately north of Milwaukee’s northern city border, is a lot like Capitol Hill or Upper Queen Anne in Seattle, very relaxed but with a lot of coffee/food shops, and multiple parks within (somewhat lengthy) walking distance. Notable is I had enough to check out in Shorewood alone that I didn’t actually visit the nearby UW Milwaukee campus, the Riverwalk, or Downtown Milwaukee at all.

I was surprised last night to discover I walked 13.86 miles total between multiple excursions yesterday. I guess I basically did that half marathon after all? Albeit, it took 5.5 hours total between multiple round trips and I was walking casually for much of it. However, I did visit two of the area’s beaches (Atwater Beach and Buckley Park), both of which require a steep descent down stairs or paths, then a subsequent climb back up. Hiking up these hills wasn’t exactly running uphill in the Cococino Forest, but the climbs were a bit steep!

The Milwaukee job market isn’t exactly hot, plus my current situation is too good to walk away from, or else I’d consider moving out here. The rental market is actually fairly affordable out here, and that probably has to do with the muted economy out here. There is one very active running group in Shorewood, and they have a bunch of open tracks. I wouldn’t have access to altitude, but you can train much more easily in a place like this. And they have hills, unlike Chicago. You could even do all your hill repeats at a place like Atwater Beach if you wanted to.

In any case, I’m heading back to Vegas after a mostly relaxing long weekend. Part of the reason I didn’t want to attempt the race Sunday was that I woke up that morning with some of my best numbers I’ve had in a while.

My body battery nearly hit 100 for the first time in over a couple months. My overnight oximeter reading (as expected) was over 92% for the first time in a while (thanks obviously to being at lower altitude). I had slept well over 8 hours overnight, despite an early end to the day via time zone change. I knew from experience that running 13 miles hard would screw all of that up the next day and I wouldn’t return home particularly well rested.

Along with that having been sorted (I didn’t sleep a bunch last night, but I didn’t need to), I now have a battle plan in place for training going forward ahead of Indy. The Vegas heat is beginning to recede enough that I can resume morning workouts, so body permitting I want to start running Easy Intervals in the morning, as well as stop by the gym en route to work and do my strength training then. I have to touch-and-go the latter depending on crowds at the gym in the evening, so going in the morning makes that less of a problem, plus avoids some morning commuter traffic. I then have more time after work for elliptical workouts, which account for most of my aerobic training. Then I can do a long run workout once every couple weeks or so, away at altitude if still needed, to specifically train for Indy.

My left ham pain is lingering and mild, and doesn’t impede running for the most part. I’ve been hiking and running across streets without any problem, with or without my backpack. In DNSing I mostly didn’t want to risk aggravating it, as the morning pain persisted a bit more over the past few days. I probably will take it easy today (aside obviously from traveling; I might do a shorter workout tonight), and plan a full rest day from training tomorrow. Once I resume training Wednesday I’ll see how I feel.

If this revised routine works in September, I may be in better shape than expected after all this for October and the marathon the following month. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, more to come once I return to Vegas.

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