Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Today, no Spartan dies!"

For the uninitiated, the title of this week's post comes from the semi-cult hit film "300", and therein lies the tie-in with this running blog, as I have logged my first-ever 300+-mile month (305, to be exact).  I did not set out to establish such a landmark, but it has been instead a natural outgrowth of a more ambitious running regimen than I've ever previously undertaken.

Last week (#4 of the Boston 2010 buildup) ended up like this:
  • Monday - 5M easy/recovery
  • Tuesday - 10+M, with 8x2 mins hill repeats
  • Wednesday - AM: 5M easy; PM: 5M easy
  • Thursday - 8+M progression run
  • Friday -10M total, with 2 x 2M at HMP and an extra 0.5M tacked onto the second set at 10K-5K pace
  • Saturday - 8.25M, easy
  • Sunday - 21+M with a couple of moderately hard miles (Miles 18 & 19) thrown in
Week's total = 72.5

I felt better overall this week than I did early last week, and it's a thrill to have two 20+-milers "in the bank" within the first four weeks of  the training cycle.  The weather improved for a spell, before another blast of cold air moved through.  As a result, I did Friday's "quality" session indoors, mixing it up on the indoor track and treadmill.  It made it realistic to hit the goal paces that way.  Given the bitter cold on Friday morning, I'd have never had a successful workout outdoors.  So, while I'd always prefer to run outside, I'll let pragmatism rule when it comes to the key workouts of this training cycle.

Next week is a planned cutback week, with two travel days on the schedule and a lot of family commitments in Florida (where we're traveling for a big family event).  I'd like to get somewhere in the high 50's, but anything around 50-55 would be perfectly acceptable, and may even be extremely beneficial.  We'll be staying right near the beach, and the idea that I will be running in a singlet or even shirtless is very appealing.  I'm sure the heat will slow me down, but I will likely just throw in a few tempo miles on one run and call it good.

I still have no concrete goals for Boston, and - frankly - it's very liberating.  Unlike any of my prior marathons, I'm not chasing a time, I'm letting the training cycle lead me to it.  I know perfectly well that if I stay healthy, I'll toe the line in Boston in the best shape of my life.  What time that translates into . . . well, we'll all just have to wait and see, won't we?

Have a great week of running, everyone. -ESG/Ron

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Seventy is the New Fifty-Five

Week #3 of Boston 2010 (cue the bugles!) Training is complete.  It was a bit of a roller coaster week in terms of adjusting the plan on the fly, balancing an evolving work/life schedule and otherwise staying focused on training during a time of personal transition and competing priorities.  Here's how the week played out:
  • Monday - 6.7M easy, with 6x12 secs hill sprints
  • Tuesday -[adjusted for crazy schedule] 6.2M progression run on TM, starting at 8:00+/mile pace and ending at about 5:45/mile (last 0.5M before a cool-down); I think the foot pod was a bit generous on this run, but that's what it came out to
  • Wednesday - 9.25M somewhere between easy and moderate
  • Thursday - 5+M easy in the morning; 5+M easy at lunchtime
  • Friday - 9.5M, w/2M @ marathon pace & 2M @ half-marathon pace
  • Saturday -5+M easy to a breakfast meeting; 3M easy home
  • Sunday - 20.8 miles, with 2M (miles16-18) @ goal marathon pace
That came out to right about 71 miles, a tad ahead of the week's 70-mile target.  The key to making it work successfully may have been the two "doubles" on Thursday and Saturday. Although conventional training wisdom dictates that double runs are only necessary when mileage exceeds 70 miles per week, I think I was shortchanging my own recovery by never running less than an hour.  I felt better during Sunday's 20+-miler than I did during last weekend's 17+-miler, despite going into the latter run off of a higher mileage week.

This week, I will try to match last week's mileage, before a planned cutback week scheduled for the first week of February (when I'll be traveling for a family function).

One training-related challenge I'm facing is how to put together the quality workouts in such a way that makes sense, without getting too intense too quickly.  I need to be careful about grinding myself down, courting injury and even possibly peaking too early.  For now, though, things are going fine, so I'll continue on the same path, unless and until there's a reason to change course.  That "reason" may be manifesting itself shortly, as there may be a significant change in my professional environment.  It's a good thing, but would be very demanding, and would necessarily result in many more 4:30 am training runs.  I suppose that, as with anything worth doing, the prevailing question would be "How bad do you want it?"

Thanks for reading.  Happy training.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Plugging Along Towards a Fuzzy Goal

Boston Week #2 is in the books.  It pretty much came out as planned, with a total of 67.6 miles for the week.  The highlight was Sunday's long run with my friend Joe in Falmouth, Maine.  The miles always go by faster with company, and I've yet to meet a like-minded runner who isn't good company (at least while running).  The only blemishes on the run were my own GI issues (a lingering after-effect of Friday night's Chinese dinner) and the fact that I nearly caused my own demise by crossing the road right in front of a town police cruiser.  Stupid is as stupid does.

The plan for this week is as follows:
  • Monday - 6M (which became 6.7), with 6x12 secs hill sprints
  • Tuesday - 10M, with hills or some sot of fast-paced running
  • Wednesday - 8M easy
  • Thursday - 9M, with a moderate progression towards the end
  • Friday - 10M, with threshold work as yet TBD (depends how I feel)
  • Saturday - 7M easy
  • Sunday - 20M, with maybe 3M at goal marathon pace (whatever that is at the moment)
That comes out to a nice even 70 miles for the week, with one more planned mileage increase in the following week, before a cutback week in early February.

I could certainly feel the recent mileage ramp-up in Sunday's long run, where I was able to slog through the miles, but without much spring in my step.  The stomach issues and a poor night's sleep on Saturday didn't help.  That said, Joe and I still managed a 6:00/mile pace for the final stretch, just as I know we will for the last 0.x mile in Boston.

One great thing about this training cycle is that I'm not fixated on a specific goal.  I've been thinking about my strategy for Boston, and what I have settled on - without equivocation - is that I will run a solid race, meaning that will not pace myself out on the edge of my abilities.  In other words, if I finish Boston feeling like I could have run a minute or two (or more) faster, I will not be mad at myself.  At all costs, I will avoid the long reach for "what might be" that led to three disastrous marathons in my first three attempts.  A PR is not an issue, since unless something unexpected goes awry, I should run a faster time based on having put in another year of solid training since my last competitive marathon.

As I wrote sometime ago on RWOL (and maybe here), the real challenge of marathon racing is to make an honest and accurate assessment of our fitness level before the race.  While there may occur an occasional pleasant surprise, much more often the path to the finish line is sullied with the painful realization that we were overly optimistic in that assessment.  So, marathon goal-setting for the "competitive" runner (meaning the kind of runner whose goal is to do more than merely "finish") is part art, part science.  With more experience training and racing, science takes the lead and we can narrow the range of what's really possible on the day we toe the line.

I trust that we are only scratching the surface on the topic of goal-setting, but longtime readers should realize that this training cycle will be be largely devoid of the neuroses and histrionics which marked some prior efforts.  What's a guy to do with all that extra, unwasted energy?


Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Solid Start

So, with Week #1 of BOSTON MARATHON 2010 TRAINING (cue theme music) in the books, here's how it actually played out:
  • Monday - 6+M easy, with 5x10 secs hill sprints
  • Tuesday - 9.7M,  with 8x1-minute at 5K-ish pace/effort (6:00 - 6:24)
  • Wednesday - 10+M, easy/steady
  • Thursday - 8+M, with 2x 1.5M at tempo pace (around 6:40/mile, except for the final 0.5M into a fierce wind)
  • Friday - 8M easy
  • Saturday - 16M easy, on a cold, windy morning
  • Sunday - 5M easy
Total did come out to 64 miles, as planned, with slight tweaks to individual days as a strangely flexible week unfolded.  The weather was pretty brutal, though I managed all runs but Sunday's outside.

This past week has come out like this so far:
  • Monday - 7M easy, with 6x10 secs hill sprints
  • Tuesday -  10+M, with 8x90-secs @ 5K-10K pace
  • Wednesday -7+M (starting at 4:45 am, in -4 temps, with wind chill - a slog)
  • Thursday - 10+M w/4x100m strides
  • Friday - 8+M, with 2x2M at half-marathon pace (though it was tough to average just under 6:50 per mile on these)
  • Saturday -7M easy/recovery (in shorts!)
  • Sunday -17+M easy, with the last 3 or so at a moderate effort (as I type this on Saturday, the family is about to head up to Maine, where I'll run with my RWOL friend "joew" on Sunday)
With the overages, that should come out to around 67 miles, and though I feel some degree of fatigue, I'm not feeling any signs of injury.  Having had a mini-heat wave, with temps up over freezing, has made the last couple of days very pleasant.

Frankly, with all the work involved in getting my new office off the ground, I've had to make the choice to run instead of think, write and blog about running.  I've had a great deal of logistical frustration this past week (some of which remains unresolved), but the good news is that a number of new/prospective clients have already managed to find me, despite not yet even having an official office phone line.

I should also mention briefly about the horror in Haiti.  I cannot do much in terms of money, but I will be providing free consultations to any Haitian community member who may qualify for Temporary Protected Status under the Department of Homeland Security's recent declaration. It's refreshing to see a modicum of humanity come out of the Executive Branch.

So, with my target mileage creeping up into the 70's and beyond, I'm not sure how much I'll be able to post, but I do hope at least to keep sharing numbers and general impressions.

Stay warm and run well.


    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    In With The New

    Well, 2009 ended without any Year-In-Review posts. You're welcome, dear reader. ;-)

    Running-wise, I could not have asked for much more from 2009. I qualified for Boston. I PRed at every race distance. I stayed injury-free. I "coached" other runners preparing for a 5K. I enjoyed virtually every step of every run I took. Oh yeah, and I went to a running-related modeling casting call. As far as I know, I did not get the job. Good thing I didn't turn in my bar card on December 17th.

    The family got away to Quebec for a few days between Christmas and New Year's, so I was largely (and blissfully) offline.

    So, here we are, with a toe into a new year, and - as the media have pointed out - a new decade (though reasonable minds may differ about when the new decade actually begins). For me, with a new employment situation has come a new outlook. I now feel as engaged by my professional pursuits as I have about running. Not bad, considering that my new shop is not even officially open for business yet.

    For reasons both obvious and subtle, I have not posted much about my training recently, but, with BOSTON 2010 TRAINING (there would be emphatic theme music here if this were television or film) now underway, it's time to go back to the real mission of this blog: to serve as the training log which I'm too lazy or unmotivated to keep on my own. Posting weekly (or more) keeps me accountable, and has been a pretty successful recipe for me so far.

    So, with the help of Coach Brad Hudson (again), I've devised a 15 week training plan. Since I ran about 2400 miles in 2009, staying consistent throughout, I am going to do a compressed "Introductory Period" followed by a 7-week "Fundamental Period", capped off by a "Sharpening Phase" and a two-week taper. Assuming that my life and energy allow, I will end up averaging 70 miles per week for the 12 weeks leading up to the taper. My peak week for Sugarloaf was 72 miles, and I've run one or two other 70+-mile weeks when I was not specifically training or two or more long runs fell within a 7-day stretch. Bear in mind, too, that I have another little race 6 days after Boston, as part of the Boston to Big Sur challenge, which I'm running on behalf of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. A fundraising link is in the box to the upper right corner of the blog's home page.

    So, here's how Week #1 of Boston Training is shaping up:
    • Monday - 6M easy, with 5x10 secs hill sprints
    • Tuesday - 9.7M (meant to do 8, but misread the schedule), with 8x1-minute at 5K-ish pace/effort (those repeats ranged from 6:24 down to 6:00/mile average pace)
    • Wednesday - 10+M, easy/steady
    • Thursday - 8M, with 2x10 mins at tempo pace (which should be about 6:40/mile)
    • Friday - 8M easy
    • Saturday - 16M easy, with maybe the last 15-20 mins at moderate
    • Sunday - 7M easy
    Total should come out to around 64 miles, and should feel appropriately manageable at this point. The weather has been particularly unfriendly lately, with bitter cold, snow, ice, etc. However, I've been running outside and just dealing with it as best I can. I'll likely do tomorrow's threshold workout on the treadmill, just so that I may control the variables and hit the proper paces without being at the mercy of the road conditions (and ever-present wind).

    Thanks for sticking with me. More to follow. -ESG/Ron