Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mindset for the St. George Marathon

A spring season of trail racing (7k, 12k, 18miler) left me burnt out on racing.  I haven't raced since the 18er on May 18th.  It's 3.5 months.  I used to get antsy after 1 month without racing.  I think I'm over the burnout now, and I wouldn't be opposed to jumping into a 5K, but I'm untrained, speed-wise, and the money is probably better spent elsewhere.  I haven't purchased running-related gear in a long time, either!  That's all been going to beer-related gear instead... tap handles, bottle openers, signs, and beer.  I had a vision of turning my apartment into my personal pub.  Why not decorate your apartment with things you really enjoy?  Now, it's an interesting explosion of beer and running stuff.

The 18 mile race, with its elevation gain and loss, was probably not too far removed from a marathon effort and time (3:35ish for the marathon vs. 2:55ish for the 30K).  I only had a few weeks to recuperate before the St. George training cycle began. 

I decided to shake things up this time around, because my past plans of hitting RW Smartcoach mileages while going at self-determined paces, and doing a slightly higher mileage version of that, kept falling just a bit short, after 3 attempts (3:40:41, 3:37:49, 3:39:23) at hitting a BQ (now 3:35).  The Hansons book was recently published, so I decided to try that, knowing that its mileages were way higher than anything I had done before.  Max 16 mile runs?  Interesting concept.  Total violations of the 10% rule?  Not so sure about that.

After base building and just getting started with some of the workouts, even with more rest days than requested, I got injured and did little training for about 10 days.  After that, things started getting better, although since then, my legs have only wanted to run in heavily cushioned shoes, and they haven't felt good running up hills.  The SGM is downhill, but there is a mean uphill portion in the middle, plus a few more moderate uphills later.

In a way, having the 10-day layoff eased pressure.  Maybe it's just not my training cycle, and that's ok.  It may still work out, though.  Maybe in the past, I would peak too early (I'd usually have fantastic HMs in the middle).  Maybe I was too fatigued by the time race day came around.  Maybe that setback and my lack of racing actually set me up for a better marathon.  We'll see.  A few weeks ago, while I was still on the mend, even as I cut the plan down to a bare minimum that focused just on key workouts, the workouts were hard to accomplish.  I've done much better this week, though, so maybe that's coming along, too.

There are only 5 weeks left until race day!!!  3 weeks are reserved for the taper, leaving me 2 weeks to do real training.  Yikes!  It should be ok, though.  I'm hoping for a 18 miler this week, a cut-back week, then a 20 miler.  I used to do 3 20 milers during a training cycle, plus other 18 and 16 milers.  We'll just have to see how this shakes out.

Shanghai 2013

Tuesday, Aug 13 - Mile repeats.  4x [0.25 mi @ 7mph, 1 mi @ 7.8mph (7:45 pace)].  Total: 5.0 @ 7:54 pace.  Only 7:54?  Felt like speedwork, but it wasn't terribly fast.  I was supposed to do 6 reps, but 4's fine, given the risk vs. need for recovery.  Right back was tight from the start, though it was mostly noticeable after the run. 

Wednesday, Aug 14 - 55 min strength session.  After a 12-hr workday with tons of meetings on end.

Thursday, 15 - 6.0 in 48:46, 8:08 ave.  Marathon-pace "tempo" run (supposed to do 8, but satisfied with 6, and it was getting riskier).  Felt like my immune system was a bit down today, so napped.  Glad to get in 3 workouts right before travelling.  Not much of an appetite for the food available in my apartment for the last few days.

Friday - flew to Shanghai

Saturday - Explored Xintiandi and Tianzifang.  At night, did a difficult 3.7 mi in 34:04, 9:08 ave.  The run was much harder than it should've been.  Ran in the Brooks Pure Grit for the first time.  Worked well.

Sunday - Explored Wuzen Water Town

Wednesday, Aug 21 - 7.4 in 1:08:35, 9:11 ave.  Took me a few moments at first to figure out that the treadmill was in Ks and not Miles for paces, so I got a slow start.  Felt more adapted to the warmth in the gym this time.  Easier.  Also took it slow.  Had a carby lunch and dinner. 
Friday, Aug 23 - 4.3 in 38:07, 8:46 ave.  Harder than 2 days ago, but not as hard as last Saturday.  Left knee started getting loose, so had to relax it during the swing to mitigate the risk.  Progression run. 
Also went to a Sports Bar with ex-pats, to join my Aussie colleague in watching Aussie rules football with some Aussie beers.
Saturday - Explored the Bund, where you have colonial-era buildings on one side, and modern skyscrapers on the other side.
Here's a close-up of the Pearl Oriental tower... can you spot the workers?
Flew back to the US.
Sunday, Aug 25: A good 15.6 miler at 8:51 pace on the Swamp Rabbit trail.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Aug 4-11: On the Mend

Thanks for the encouragement, Lindsay!  I'm glad to report that things are looking up.  I've been doing some squats every couple of days to speed up the strengthening, more than my typical once per week.  My runs are gradually getting longer, although I'm favoring well-cushioned shoes.  My speed has waned, but that can usually be recovered with a few weeks of work.  My endurance was never really there to begin with, since I don't think I got quite enough rest after my trail running push earlier this year.

I re-wrote my training plan.  I took out one of the easy runs from the original Hansons Plan, because I really need more rest days.  I'll try to do runs longer than 16 miles, because I can't wrap my head around being able to do a good marathon on only 16 mile max long runs, even if it does follow a medium-sized run on the day before.  I will try to do some running the day before the long run, though.  Other than that, and some mileage adjustments (down), it's mostly like the Hansons plan.

That's the optimistic plan.  I've tended to not hit the Hansons paces or mileages.  Oh well.  I'll be happy with whatever I manage.  I know that I'm doing as much as I reasonably can without risking injury (and apparently, I even crossed that line).
So... here's how things have been...
Aug 4, Sunday: An 8.8 mi run on the spongy surface of the Swamp Rabbit trail, doing repeats of a 0.87 mi (one way) out-and-back.  Wished I could've managed more, but I had gone from running 90 seconds [limping], to 2 miles, to 2.5 miles, to 5.0 miles, to 8.8 miles over about 10 days.  8.8 was just fine.   It would've been risky to go another lap.  A few hours post-run, I felt like I could've gone on another run, which is a good sign.  Ave pace: 8:45.  It was in the shaded morning.
Aug 5, Monday: 55 min strength session.  Quads didn't shake uncontrollably like last time.  A good sign.
Aug 6, Tuesday: Intervals.  It was supposed to be 4x1200 repeats at about 6:50 pace... I did a 0.5 mi warmup in 4:06, then 0.75 mi in 5:08 (8.8mph), 0.25 off at 7.5mph, and that was taxing, so I just did whatever distances I could for the remainder of the run... 0.5 mi in 3:26 (8.8mph), 0.25 off at 7.5mph, then 2x [0.25 mi in 1:44 (8.8mph), and 0.25 mi off at 7.5mph], then a 0.15 mi cooldown in 1:08.  In total, it was 3.4 mi, at 7:26 average.  When I'm at peak fitness, I can handle 4x1200 at 6:40 pace, so I'm not surprised that I couldn't hit it.  I didn't do anything close to it, but I'll get there with time.
Aug 7 - Chose to rest - slept 11 hrs!!!  Could've potentially biked, but I had a marathon-pace 8 miler planned for the next day.
Aug 8, Thursday: Managed 5.0 at 8:13 pace.  Varied the speed by 0.1 mi up and down from 7.3mph while changing the incline between 0 and 2 degrees, to even out the stresses.  The run felt tougher than it should've, but happy just to do 5.  First run in the Virratas.  Felt like the Kinvaras.  One is 0 drop, and one is a 4mm drop.  Didn't really notice the difference.  Good-looking shoe, though, huh?
Aug 9 - Could've run, albeit on tired legs, but I had a big weekend of running, so I saved it.
Aug 10, Saturday: Supposed to be an 8 mi easy run.  I did 7.0 at 8:37, a decent pace.  Just did what felt comfortable... maybe a bit fast, but that feels better on the treadmill than slow does.  Had to sip water every mile for some reason, even though I'm usually well-hydrated, and it was a comfy 73 degrees.  My resolve had been waning at mile 4, but then, coverage of the IAAF Track and Field championships started showing on NBC, and it gave me a huge mental and physical boost... well, maybe just a mental boost, but I got a physical second wind at the same time.  Later in the day, felt like I could run again.
Aug 11, Sunday: A run, with the first half in a downpour, with loud thunder directly overhead.  I prefer running in t-storms over running in the sun... don't want skin cancer.  The second half was sunny, but that's ok.  I stayed on the spongy surfaces on the Swamp Rabbit Trail again.  I set out to do 13, but I managed 12.2, which I'm happy about.  While I was out there, the Swamp Rabbit Cross Fitters were working out, and that gave me an adrenaline boost every time I passed by their building, which was 14 times because of the out and back, haha.  Cross-Fitters and Iron Man triathletes have always had huge respect from me.  What they're able to do is mind-boggling. 
Fueling: 30 min before the run, I needed an energy boost, so I had a Nature Valley Protein bar.  At mile 6, I had a Bumblebar (mix of fat, protein, and carbs).  I drank a big bottle of lemon + salt water, starting from mile 6.  After the run, I had a protein powder + greens powder mix and Nature Valley granola bars.  Once home, I had a carrot and a pickle, followed by oatmeal.
Happy Runner.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

July 22-Aug 2: Officially Injured

For the first time in about 3.5 years, I'm injured to the point of not being able to run... bother, bother, bother.

I had been managing through outer left knee issues, where it feels like cartilage was missing.  I sprained my right ankle twice.  I wasn't doing unreasonable mileage, although maybe the jumps were faster than I had adapted to.  Anyway... the first few days, even my walking was affected, with my left knee giving out sometimes, especially going up and down stairs.  It's mentally miserable to be injured and not being able to run.

Monday and Tuesday rest.

Wednesday, July 24 - Tempted to try a run... even 2 days without running was hard... but I decided to do a strength session to see how my infrastructure was holding up.  My quad dips were really shallow yet still hard.  I don't know how my quad strength deteriorated so much after only 10 days. 

Thursday, July 25 - Biked for 45 min.  Knee held up for the most part during the bike session, but it did get a little stressed towards the end.  I had attempted a run before deciding to switch for the bike, because I only managed 90s before I was limping really badly to manage a running motion.  Sometimes, I feel almost normal, when I walk around or lie down.  I think the root cause of my injury may be week quads... or is that the side effect?  In any case, I'll need to fix that, before I can run safely.

Friday rest.

Saturday, July 27 - 2 mi on the treadmill at about 8:41 pace, 1 degree of incline.  Had to lift knees to help. Scary, but manageable.  Breathed through my nose from min 4 onward, to get more exercise benefit while not stressing my legs any more.  Afterwards, I did 40 min of biking, to extend the cardio benefit.  Breathed through my nose the whole time.

Sunday, July 28 - 70 min bike session.  Body wanted cardio.  I'm trying to do some squats every couple of days.

Monday, July 29 - 55 min strength session.  Knee wasn't good today.  Tight legs, and my left knee was poundy and sore, even just walking.  Woke up with my left knee tingling with a dull pain... bad sign.  My left leg was shaking uncontrollably from the difficulty of doing the quad dips, and my left back tightened when trying to control my left quad.

Tuesday, July 30 - 2.5 mi on the 1 degree treadmill, ave 8:20 pave.  Legs felt almost normal at work today, so I tried a run, although I only went 2.5 mi before feeling like it was getting too risky.  My left quad was tight afterwards, due to compensations.

Wednesday rest.

Thursday, Aug 1 - 5.0 on 1 degree of incline at 8:33 pace.  Not bad - feels like a normal poundy run.  Just had to be very careful.  Right back started to tighten a bit at the end.  Glad that I may be on the mend.

Friday, Aug 2 - 55 min bike session.  Went pretty fast, I think.

Beer bottle cap collection update:

July 8-21: First 2 Weeks of Serious Training on the Hansons Plan

The idea behind the Hansons Plan is that you run enough days per week that a 16 mile max LR feels like the last 16 of a marathon.  There are also quality workouts, of speed and what they call tempo, which is really just MP. 

Monday, July 8 - 4.3 mi @ a 3 degree incline in 8:26 (7:46 effort).  Felt pretty easy through mile 4, then it got hard, and my outer left knee cartilage (I'm guessing) issue started getting harder to control.

Tuesday, July 9 - 6.2 mi intervals at 1 degree incline.  0.6 warmup @ 7mph, then 12 x [0.3 mi @ 8.6 mph, 0.2 mi @ 7.5mph]... It's supposed to be quarters for the intervals, but I stretched it to 0.3 mi to account for the treadmill ramp-up time.   During this workout, the power actually flashed off, causing the treadmill to jolt to a stop.  Gotta always be on your toes!   I had considered stopping after 4 reps because they were hard, but the latter ones went by quickly!  The on vs. off ratio was nice... enough time to recover.  Cardiovascularly easy - even in the 11th rep, I could breathe in with my nose occasionally.

Wednesday rest

Thursday, July 11 - 5.0 tempo run @ 2 degrees of incline.  My BQ goal is 3:35, but I'm supposedly capable of a 3:22, so I had planned to split the difference during training.  I averaged a 7:55 pace, which was a 7:36 effort with the incline.  There is 1 big hill in the St George marathon, so a bit of incline won't hurt.  I alternated between 1 degree and 3 degrees.  The run was toughter than I expected.

Friday rest

Saturday, July 13 - 8.4 in the park at 9:14 ave pace.  Left outer knee cartilage feels like it's missing.... otherwise, felt good, like I could've gone on longer, cardiovascularly.

Sunday, July 14 - 55 min strength session.

This week was tough on the legs, even though I only racked up 24 miles.

Monday, July 15 - 4.0 @ a 1 degree incline, 8:21/mi ave.  Left outer knee... uh.  Time went by slowly, yet I felt like I didn't do much cardiovascularly.

Tuesday, July 16 - 4.6 @ 1 degree, interval workout.  1 mi warmup in 8:09, 6x [ 0.4 in 2:49 (8.6mph), 0.2 in 1:35 (7.5mph)].  It was supposed to be 600m reps, but I made it 0.4 mi, since I'm doing stuff on a treadmill.  I was supposed to do 8 reps... 6 isn't bad, though.  Played it safe.  It was a bit too close to dinner, so it was hard to go on.  Reaching out further when taking strides helped to control my joint issues.  Running's not as fun when you fear injury.  Lucky to get in a workout at all today, since I worked til 7pm.

Wednesday rest

Thursday, Jul 18 - 5.0 @ 1 degree, tempo (MP)... took it easier this time, with just 1 degree of incline and 8:01 pace.  To ease joint stresses while still hovering around the goal pace, I varied between 7.4mph and 7.6mph through the run... worked ok.  Knees had been tight after my nap, so I stood around while doing dishes, which helped.  The monitor on the treadmill fell down into the machine while I was running, so I had to estimate time/distance.  I would've run on longer, but I had a night-time conference call to get to afterwards - blah.

Friday, Jul 19 - 65 min bike session.  Didn't sweat as much as usual.

Saturday, Jul 20 - 9.6 mi on the Swamp Rabbit trail, ave 7:44.  Sprained ankle badly on mile 2.5 in the grass, and kept going, hobbling.

Sunday, July 21 - 4.5 mi in grass in the park.  Sprained ankle (the right one again) even worse this time.  Had to stop completely, and I cleared out the sticks and rocks in the path, to try to prevent it from happening again.  Right front knee was bad pretty much the whole time.  Bother.  Lightening last 2 miles were kind of scary.  My left knee started giving out, when walking forward - something's really wrong.