Saturday running, thoughts on strength training

Went for a short run today, more of a scouting expedition.  Definitely feeling some fatigue so I wanted to take it easy.  Just over an hour, call it 7 miles.  I was looking for a few things:

  • a soft surface with a very slight downhill over a quarter mile or so
  • a really steep hill or two

I found both of what I was looking for in some local parks.  I plan to use the downhill for fast running.  I want to be able to teach my body learns the feel of fast running.  Neuromuscular stuff.  The steep hill will be used for steep hill sprints, essentially a form of strength training.  I managed to locate two steep hills, one that I could run in about 12 seconds and the other that would take about 30 seconds.

The steep hill sprints had me thinking more about strength training.  I  know it’s good (probably mandatory at my age), but I can’t wrap my mind around just lifting weights.  I’ve never done it consistently, and it was one of the main reasons I quit football in high school.  I didn’t want to be in the gym.  I think back then it was more because I was self conscious.  Now I just think there are so many other interesting things to do.

For me right now the strength training will happen, but it’ll take a few different forms.  The first will be the steep hill sprints I mentioned above.  The second will be just outside work.  I have rocks and trees all over my property, and I think I can get a great leg strength workout by moving those.  One example—I could load up my yard cart with fire wood and drag it up my driveway.  I could also see myself moving heavier branches and logs across the yard to my outside fire pit—I could figure out a way to work squats into that mix.  It would accomplish a few purposes…getting me outside, building strength, cleaning up the property…all good.

I also switched up my pre-run ritual today.  Most of the time I like to stretch (I’m a bit obsessive about active isolated stretching) before I run.  It’s more of a mental thing at this point; almost everyone agrees that you don’t need to stretch before you run.  Today I did something different….jump rope, the lunge matrix and some aspects of the myrtl routine.  It was good to get a quick warmup and then get going, and I could see myself doing these things when I get home.  I am neurotic, so I did manage to sneak in a stretching session later in the day.

Speaking of steep hills, I was fascinated by this video which describes some stuff that Blake Griffin does.

“If you can run up a 60 degree incline in sand with a 60 pound weight vest then running 94 feet down the court on a flat surface should be easy.”


Friday Hill Running

Covered 12 miles today, basically a long hill repeat workout.  Total time 1 hr, 48 minutes.

The workout was 3 x down then up a 1.5 mile hill.  Each down/up repeat was 3 miles total.  The hill itself gains (or loses) 630 feet in elevation over the 1.5 miles.  The average grade is 7.7%.

In 2010, one of my key workouts in preparation for Pikes Peak was 8 x down then up this hill.  It was boring, but it was the best way I could simulate the effects of running that much uphill and downhill.  Today was only 3 repeats; I expect to increase the number of repeats over time.

Today’s focus was on keeping my HR in the 142-145 range.  It was an interesting experience.  I found myself working to keep my HR in range on the downhills.  It felt awkward and I felt uncoordinated.  On the uphills, it was more difficult to control my HR, and I had to hold back a bit to keep my HR in range.  I’m hoping that my downhill running will become more smooth and coordinated over time and that the uphill will become easier.

The workout was pretty consistent.

Downhill                      Uphill

10.11 (avg 144)            17.48  (avg 146)

10.22 (avg 143)           17.50  (avg 145)

10.28 (avg 145)           17.40  (avg 147)

I was feeling fatigue at the end of the third repeat so I decided to call it a day.  Following a couple days of hard workouts, I didn’t want to end up feeling so bad that I miss tomorrow’s workout.  Right now consistency is more important than high mileage.

I’m definitely planning to do this workout over the next 3-6 months, increasing the number of repeats.

I found my mind wandering a lot during this run.  I kept coming back to periodization.  I’m extremely interested in periodization for Pikes Peak, and I’m realizing that I know almost nothing about it.  I think it can really help me.  I’ve been listening to the Endurance Planet “Ask the Ultrarunner” podcast, and I’m keen to learn more about periodization.  I think I’m going to use the Feynman Technique to attempt to learn periodization.  Look for more on that in future posts.

Right now my sense of the periodization is that it’s almost like dialing in your pace from two sides.  One side is the high intensity/short distance side, where you work at high intensity for short distances in an effort to improve strength and speed.  As your race approaches, you try to maintain that speed over longer distances.  The other side is the low intensity / long distance side.  From here you attempt to maintain your intensity but increase your speed.  Eventually these two sides converge and you get to a pace and distance that is very specific to your race.  This is probably a really bad way to explain this.  I need to keep working it.

I’m also on the hunt for a GPS watch.  I’ll probably wait until spring to get this, maybe consider it something that I need to earn.  If I do well in training over the next 3 months, I may splurge on something as a reward.  Interested in anyone’s thoughts on a good GPS.

On a completely unrelated note, I’m watching a lot of NBA since the season started.  I have to say that the packed schedule has been really good.  It’s nice to see so many games and having all these games is going to be a very different challenge for most teams.  The ability of NBA players to recover could be a major factor in who wins and loses this year.  And Blake Griffin is an animal.  I just saw him dunk over someone and his chest was at the level of the rim.  It was amazing.


Riding Fiddler’s Elbow

Riding again today…57 miles, including Fiddler’s Elbow at about 30 miles in.  3 hrs, 45 minutes.

Fiddler’s Elbow is about as close as I’ll come to riding real hills.  It gains about 925 feet of elevation in just over 2 miles.  The grade of some sections reaches 20%.  I found myself swaying on the road, pulling hard with my arms and breathing super heavy.  I hope it will get better in the future.

I’m starting to find a groove with riding.  I’m liking the 50+ mile rides, and thankfully I have the time.  So while I have the time, I’ll keep doing it.  I’m also going to be seeking out more hills.

Right now I’m looking to ride long, run long and run short intense efforts.  I’m de-prioritizing tempo runs at intermediate distances out for now.  My focus is on building aerobic fitness, strength and speed.


Catching up and a new speed workout

The holiday season is always a blur.  Thanksgiving and New Years goes by so quickly.  I can’t believe it’s almost the end of 2011.

Anyway, I’ve missed the past few days of posts.  Here are the workouts:

24th:  17 miles running

27th:  54 miles riding

Today I did quarter mile repeats.  8 x a quarter mile on full recovery.  I was running as hard as I could while maintaining pace for the full quarter mile.  I planned to do as many as I could before fatigue set in.  I hoped to do 8, but I wasn’t sure.

The goal was to improve speed via neuro-muscular coordination (I think).

The repeats were pretty consistent until the last one (time is in seconds)… I knew I was done after that.  I could have kept going but it would be a different kind of training.

86, 84, 85, 86, 85, 85, 87, 91

I don’t know what to make of these numbers.  I’ve never done this workout before.  We’ll see how they change the next time I do the workout.


Friday riding

Covered 89 miles today on the bike.  About 5 hrs, 45 minutes.  Two day total of over 140 miles and over 8 hours in the saddle.

The ride was originally supposed to be about 75 miles, but two wrong turns extended it by a bit.  I wasn’t overly concerned though—I was feeling good…not too cold or too tired.  And I had plenty of nutrition.  I tried my camelbak today and loved it.  Easy to drink from and holds a lot of fluid, not to mention other useful things like extra tubes, clothes and nutrition.  I’m also getting better at not sweating when I ride, which makes it much easier when my body starts to get colder late.

I’ve been debating whether to continue extending the distance of these rides indefinitely.  Right now my plan is to get up to 125 miles or so.  That distance will probably have me riding for more time than is required, but I like it too much to cut it short.  I think it’s especially ok to ride long like this right now, before I get into more structured training in the spring.  Right now I’m hoping the long rides really work my aerobic fitness.  In the spring I will likely shorten the rides (maybe to 5-6 hours only) but increase the intensity.

But those plans are for the future.  Right now I’m enjoying the riding and hoping to continue it.

My legs felt better than I expected this am.  Interested to see how they feel tomorrow morning.


The Flinch + Bike Riding

Last night I finished The Flinch, by Julien Smith.  It’s another installment from Seth Godin’s Domino Project.  I read and liked Poke the Box, so I figured I’d give The Flinch a try.  The fact that it cost $0 made it an easy decision.

Like Poke the Box, The Flinch is more of a manifesto than a book.  It’s short and worth a read.

The Flinch resonated with me.  Smith’s point is that flinching is an instinctive reaction that we need to face if we want to achieve everything we’re capable of.  I’ve seen it for myself, lived it, am still living it.  It never goes away.  I haven’t figured out how to deal with it yet.

Smith’s book is mostly motivation.  I can see myself going back to it frequently.

For me the flinch manifests itself as an impulse that pushes me towards things I know aren’t right.  Call it a weakness.  It arrives mostly in my eating habits.  I’ve chronicled them enough here that I’m sure everyone (including me) is sick of hearing about it.  Smith’s solution for facing the flinch is a lot like what I described here.  Stress can be a good thing.  The key is how you think about it.

If you like to read and have an eBook reader, I recommend picking it up.

Anyway, did 54 miles on the bike today.  It was a fun ride.  Started out with wet roads but the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful day.  Mid to upper 40s, just perfect.  I love riding on days like that.

Moderate intensity and I felt good the whole time.


Wednesday downhill fartlek, Murakami

No running Monday and Tuesday this week.  I traveled across the country to Los Angeles on Monday, returning on the red eye Monday night into Tuesday.  Was super tired Tuesday.  Good trip I think, hopefully a productive one too.  We’ll see.

I finished the book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami while I was on the way home from LA.  I didn’t know about Murakami before I got the book as a gift.  I’ve never read anything by Murakami, but in exploring his writing I came across a book I’m looking forward to reading — 1Q84.

As for What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, it was ok but nothing special.  It’s basically a memoir of Murakami’s experience training and racing marathons and triathlons.  As a runner and NaNoWriMo enthusiast, I thought it would be interesting.  The most interesting aspects were Murakami’s perspective on running and writing and how they interact and support each other.  There weren’t enough of those.

But even though I wasn’t really impressed by Murakami’s memoir, I definitely still want to read 1Q84.  It sounds really good.

As for my Wednesday workout, I tried something new.  Not exactly sure what it was, but I’ll call it a downhill fartlek.

11 miles with the downhills as hard effort.  I need to build strength at downhill running to balance the uphill running and just get faster overall.  I focused on my form and counted my cadence during these.  My cadence was about 90-95 foot strikes per minute.  Most of the hard efforts were just over 1 minute in length.  I did about a dozen of them, with easy running and rest in between.

I felt good about the run.  We’ll see how I feel in the upcoming days.