Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Coming Into It

So, I couldn't get out of bed at 4:30 yesterday morning, since I'd had a tough night's sleep. Normally, if I can get 5 straight hours, I'm functional and can get out of bed early. But - like on Monday night - if I wake up in the middle of the night, it's damn near impossible for me to get up before 6:00. Sooooooo . . . , I did 8 miles, with 8x100 strides, during lunchtime. I did not really want to go out, but the temperature was mild (high 30's), so it was shorts weather. I ended up having a great run, with the 10 strides going very smoothly. Seems that planning on the strides also breaks up the run nicely, so it seemed to go quickly. I did one of my least favorite courses near work, because it was a convenient out and back, making it easier to run without worrying about where to turn every few minutes.

I did 30 minutes on the elliptical today and really worked on stretching my hip flexor, along with about 20 minutes of core and ab work. Right now, I feel pretty good. We'll see how tomorrow's 10-miler goes, to be done after dropping the kids at school and before coming to work, since my wife's out of town on business, so I can't get out before the kids wake up (though I'll take the any excuse at this point in the winter to run during daylight rather than in the dark).

Cheers, ESG

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Behold the Elements

So today was the first long run of the training plan, and Mother Nature unexpectedly threw a snowstorm at us this morning, 3-6 inches total. I ventured out as planned at about 10:00 am, and started out nice & slow. I ran the first mile in about 9:50, which is more than a minute slower than normal, and then settled into a 9:00-ish minute pace. It was pretty slippery for much of the 12 miles, especially on the hillier parts of the run. I dodged some plow trucks and inadvertently played "chicken" with certain drivers who just can't be bothered to slow down or move over a tad when a runner is doing his best to stay out of the way. Despite the occasional traffic issues, it was mostly a nice run. Interestingly, the first 5 miles or so were great, with little wind and less traffic. After that, the snow abated, the wind picked up, and I felt a bit chilled. I could feel my soaked middle layer getting cold, as my Asics Storm Shelter running jacket (apparently discontinued) is not the most breathable. I'm in the market for a new light, waterproof/breathable shell.

The "status report" after Week #1 is that I ran all 4 prescribed workouts (a day less than I've been used to), ended up about 2 miles over the suggested week's total, and feel okay, if a bit tired. The hip continues to nag me, but not usually while I run.

Next week calls for the same workouts, with each run a mile longer, for a suggested total of 36 miles for the week. I plan to get out early on Tuesday morning (though strides are not easy on dark, cold mornings). I will have to be creative on Thursday, as my wife will be away on business, so doing 10 miles before work does not seem like a viable option. I'll have to get up before 5:00, work until I wake the kids, get them to school, and then take a long "lunch" to get the miles in. It might motivate me to run faster, since I'll have limited time.

Thanks for reading (both of you).

Cheers, ESG

Friday, January 25, 2008

And on the 7th day . . .

No, I am not comparing marathon training to the biblical account of creation, but I am starting to appreciate rest days. Until very recently, I was trying to run 5 days a week, and cross train/weightlift/stretch on the other 2 days. I've taken one day off completely over the past few weeks, and I'm realizing that it's a very good thing. The rest day is either Monday or Friday, and I find that on Sunday or Thursday, I really look forward to that upcoming day of rest. On the actual rest day, I end up very much anticipating the next day's run. Feels like I'm at least getting something right in all this.

Looking forward to this weekend's runs, with 4 miles scheduled on Saturday (though I think I'll do 5, but very easy) and 12 on Sunday. In my limited serious running experience, the runs of 10-16 miles are my favorite workout. I like not worrying too much about running a fast pace, and it's enough time to get into a rhythmn and think about all sorts of things. One of my favorite things to do on a medium-long run is start the run with someone who's only looking to run, say, 5 miles, then listen to a podcast or some music, then just be inside my own head. I like to visualize my races, and I can report (anecdotally, at least) that my best performances have been in races where I engaged in the most sustained and detailed visualizations: imaging my warm-up, the start, the crowd, the course, the point at which I'd start to kick, even seeing my goal time on the race clock. I need to remember to do that more often, especially for more meaningful races.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What is commitment?

Boy, nothing like a test of will during the first week of training program to see how badly one "wants it". After not missing a planned run (except for three days of having a nasty stomach bug in early December), I thought I'd blow the Pfitzinger plan on Day 4 of the first week.

I had to get up at 4:30 this morning to drive my father-in-law to the airport. I then had to cram a 9-miler in before work, shuffling my schedule around a bit to do it. I left my house feeling rushed; despite temps in the teens, I tore out at a sub-8:00/mile pace, way too fast for a "general aerobic" run on a frigid morning. I was slightly underdressed, and ended up with ice on the tips of glove fingers, on my eyebros and around the edges of my running hat. I listened to several interviews from The Final Sprint podcast. After listening to it for a few weeks now, it's starting to grow on me. At first I thought the interviews sounded unprofessional, but then I started to realize that the hosts are likely fawning over the elites the same way I would if I had their undivided attention for a half-hour or so. I've heard interviews with Chris Lear, Deena Kastor (didn't know she's Jewish; too bad we're both already taken), Bill Rodgers, Scott Jurek and Kara Goucher, among others. One of this morning's features was about The Spirit of the Marathon, a pretty good documentary which I saw in Chicago on the Friday night before the marathon. It was part of a film festival, the theater was packed with eager (anxious?) runners, and the producers and some of the subjects did a Q&A afterwards. I'd say it's a decent movie which will appeal to anyone who has run, is training to run, or is thinking about running a marathon.

This morning's run turned out okay, with an overall average pace of about 8:40 for 9.25 miles, never feeling too hard or too easy. Miles 4-7.5 were on a very hilly part of my loop. Average HR was in the low 150's and max was 171, on one of the toughest hills of all. I took nothing to eat or drink, but felt pretty good, though I've been especially thirsty all day since.

I may rest completely tomorrow, though I like to do at least some weight machines, core and stretching on "off" days, but I have a killer work schedule and I'd have to get up at 4:30 again to make it happen. We'll see how I feel tonight.

Have to finish up some work, so it may be a late night anyway.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Frosty Start

So, today was the first running day of my Pfitzinger 18/55 plan, and the weather was cold, even by New England standards, though there was very little wind. said it was about 5 degrees when I stepped out my door at about 4:55 am, and though I was well-geared up (3 upper layers; fleece running pants; SmartWool mid-weight socks; thick fleece gloves, balaclava and all the reflective paraphernalia), it was not easy to get the legs moving. Given the cold and the darkness (a gorgeous full moon did let me turn my headlamp off for a while), it's hard for to run much below 9:00 miles (while my usual "easy" pace these days is 8:30 or faster). By the second mile, frost developed all over: on my gloves, on my jacket and - most annoyingly - on my eyebrows and around my eyes. One personal note: though the fleece pants are generally all I need, I was wishing I'd coupled them with the wind briefs this morning.

Today's run was a 7-miler, including 10x100 "strides" or "strideouts", which are meant to fine tune speed, improving running economy and helping with leg turnover. I generally struggle with strides, not really feeling like I'm "floating" during those last 30 or so yards. Add single-digit temps into the mix, and they become even more challenging. That said, I threw 5 strides into the first 6 miles of the run, and then did the remaining 5 with 1 minute jog breaks during the last mile. Total mileage for the morning was 7.3.

Went for my weekly chiropractic appointment, and he worked my hip flexor until I thought I'd have to kick him to get him to stop. We'll see how the hip holds up during what promises to be the hardest training I will have ever done.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Training Starts Today

Hello All (or none):

Yes, I lost my blogging mojo as the holidays crept up, in part because I was just running base miles and had nothing worthwhile to say (and if I think it's not worthwhile, what might the general reading public believe?), and in part because of the invariably hectic nature of the season.

Anyway, today I start another 18 weeks of marathon training, following Pete Pfitzinger's 18-week, 55-mile max per week plan. I "kind of" followed that plan last summer as I trained for Chicago, but I did fewer miles and reduced some of the intensity. This time around, I plan to follow it as closely as I possibly can. The main challenge will be the longer mid-week runs; I just don't know how much earlier I can get up on a cold, dark winter morning in order to get 12+ miles in. But, I'm going to stick with it and hope to line up in Burlington, Vermont on Memorial Day weekend in the best shape of my life, injury-free, well-nourished and hydrated, ready to run a full marathon as well as I possibly can on that day. Like Chicago, I'll obviously deal with the weather, but I'm hoping for a calm, perhaps overcast, 50-something degree day. Then, I'll have no excuse not to push myself to see if my BQ (Boston Qualifying time, for you non-runners) of 3:20 (7:39/mile) is within my reach.

I'll try to keep my blog posts up at least once a week, maybe more, but since I haven't actually told anyone about it yet, I'm not sure that it really matters.

Thanks for reading, and if you got this far and have any comments to share, I'm all ears (or eyes, as the case may be).