February 2014 — Fitness Update

Another step forward this month.

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It has been a brutal month for weather.  I have had 18 inches of snow and ice in my back yard for the entire month.  Today — the last day of February — we had single digit temperatures with a wind chill below zero.  Monday — March 3 for goodness sake — we are expecting another storm.

I got out consistently this month — only missed one day (which I intentionally skipped).  No super long runs, but consistency really makes a difference.  I ended up with over 380 miles in 4 weeks.  I set a goal of 90+ miles a week, and I hit it every week in February.  Pretty stoked about that.  All of my runs except for today were easy intensity — HR under 150.  I think that’s why I’ve been able to handle the volume pretty well.  No injuries thus far.

The other aspect of consistency has been sleep.  I get to bed early (between 9-9:30 pm) pretty much no matter what.  I’ve found that getting to bed early sets me up well for the next day.

Last month I mentioned that I wanted to extend my long runs.  I ended up not doing that.  I could state a few reasons but they would mostly be excuses.  I’m happy with the volume and not overly worried about getting to 30-35 miles.  I will aim for that again this month as the weather improves.

I’ve started to use the treadmill again…this is partly because of the snow but mostly because I need it to get ready for Quad Rock.  Where I live it’s hard to simulate 11K of ascent on any single run.  I use the treadmill for that, and I just organize my treadmill runs around days when it is snowing.  I’ve been able to simulate 5-7K worth of ascent on the treadmill, which I know from experience (Pikes Peak) is valuable.  I’m already looking at a 25+ mile treadmill run on Monday when we get hit with this next storm.

In March I hope to maintain or increase the volume and start to increase the intensity.  I’ll probably start to move away from medium size runs (12-18 miles) in favor of shorter, more intense runs and longer (20+ miles), easy runs.  Hopefully by mid-March I can take my bike out of moth balls.

The big goal for March is to get my eating habits in line.  I cannot be successful without that…so it’s time to buckle down.

It’s hard to believe the Quad Rock 50 is only 10 weeks from tomorrow.  Based on the conditions outside, it seems like we are in the dead of winter.  Light has been the saving grace — the days are longer which helps to remind me that spring is coming.

Here are some numbers

Workouts

Runs

  • 27 runs for 389 miles
  • total time running:  just under 60 hours
  • longest run:  26 miles
  • ascent:  53201 feet
  • descent:  31860 feet

Rides

  • No rides this month — there has been ice on my driveway and the roads almost every day.  when there wasn’t ice, it was about 20 degrees outside

Sleep

  • 203 hours of sleep
  • Average over 7 hrs per night, min of 6 hrs

Weight

  • About the same this month:  mid 160s (I didn’t actually step on a scale)

January 2014 — fitness update

Getting back in the swing of things with fitness.  I’ll try to summarize the month.

I’m up on Strava now so anyone interested in more specifics can get in touch with me over there.  So far I’ve found some useful pieces of Strava.  I especially like the ability to go back and look at how I’ve done on various segments over time.  It’s nice to see a steady improvement in pace as time goes by.  I also am intrigued by the “GAP” (grade adjusted pace).  I don’t completely trust it, but at least I get a sense of performance over the course of a run.  From what I can see, folks who live in my area use Strava much more for cycling than running.

The goal for the month was to get back to regular workouts and start building volume.  I need to build a decent base for the Quad Rock 50 in May.

The month started out poorly — I was ill with a flu so didn’t run the first 4 days of January.

Recognizing the degree to which I was out of shape coming into January, I was very cautious about overcooking it and ending up injured.  I cut a few runs short due to soreness (mostly in my left calf), and I skipped a workout or two after a car accident that left my back feeling stiff and sore.  At this point I’m not willing to risk injury for more volume.  That will change over time as I get more fit.  All of these runs were at a target heart rate of under 150, with average HRs being mostly in the 144-146 range.  Good base work.

The weather this month was brutal.  I can’t remember a January with so many days in single digits or negative temperatures.  In those conditions I can only stay out there for about 3 hrs max.  Whatever gloves I wear, my hands sweat and my gloves freeze and the result is quite painful.  There has been snow on the ground for almost all of January.  The snow combined with hunting season kept me on roads more than trails, although I did manage to get some trail time in recently (in bright orange on days when gun hunting was not permitted).

I need to get more hills in, but I’m waiting for some basic fitness before I worry too much about hills.  I have managed to find a few nice hilly trails — I’ll have to repeat a lot but I believe I can mimic the elevation I’ll deal with at Quad Rock (11.5K ascent and descent over 50 miles).

I rode only once — this was largely due to the weather and the road conditions.  I have no interest in encountering ice on my way downhill at 40+ mph.  Beyond that, salt and dirt on the roads and no shoulder (due to snow) makes for a tricky ride.  I’m eager to get back on the bike as it’s a key aspect of my fitness.  Hoping February ends up offering better weather.

I’ve managed to keep my mind focused on enjoying the runs and not obsessing over HR, mileage and time.  Happy with that although I have more work to do there.

One disappointing aspect to the month was my lack of flexibility work.  I never thought I would say this, but I dropped the practice of regular stretching before running.  It was a conscious choice as the calendar has been crowded, and I wasn’t able to make the time to stretch.  I had to choose between 45 minutes of stretching (which I love to do and makes me feel great) and an extra 4+ miles per day.  At this point, the miles need to come first.  That said, I know I can make time for stretching; I just have to get it done.

The main goal for February is to continue building volume and extending my long runs.  I’d like to get my long runs up over 35 miles.  I’d like to get back to regular stretching.  I’d like to ride my bike frequently, as much as 3x per week if weather and time permits.  I miss it.  I’d like to get my diet in line.  While I’m happy with the -10 pound month of January, I can do better with my eating habits.  I have 20 more pounds or so to go before I’m in the place I want to be.  I need to drop the weight to reduce the chance of injury on those long runs.

Here are some numbers:

Workouts

20 runs for 291 miles
average 14.5 miles per run
longest run 24 miles
total time running 44 hrs, 53 minutes

ascent:  24,820 feet
descent:  23,640 feet

1 ride for 68 miles, 4 hrs 12 minutes

Sleep

217 hours of sleep
Average of 7 hrs per night, min of 4.5 hrs

Weight

Dropped 10 pounds, from 174 to 164