Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Indoor 5k

Sometimes, a runner has to make the best of what he's given, even if he's not given much. This is perhaps most prevalent where time is concerned; one cannot seem to find enough hours in the day to run the way they would like. Still, loosing hope is not an option; we simply adapt, change, and adjust the best we can.

Yesterday, I wanted to run, but quickly found that time was not on my side. I had to meet my study group at 2, and had a class at 6; there would be time in between, but not enough to get in a quality outdoor run. In addition, the straps on my KSOs failed, and I had to take the time to re-sew them before I could run with them. While I was at it, I changed the design a bit, eliminating the foot-wrap that the old strap incorporated, instead simply cinching the strap over the top of the foot. Not one to give in too easily (especially after an extended rest period), I ran again on Drexel's indoor track.

A few laps into my workout, I decided I would go the distance of 5k, and I would run in such a way that my average pace would be my goal marathon pace. My plan worked well, and after 38 laps and 3.14 miles, my average pace was 7:01- right on target. At my target pace, my average HR was 160, and my average cadence was 88-90. Better still, though, was what I found when I analyzed the data from my Garmin afterward.

I had thrown in a few 'fast laps' to keep things interesting, and to try and train my body to prepare for changes in speed throughout the race. On one of these, I stepped up my game to run what I thought was a 5:20 pace for a lap; I wanted to see what it felt like to run that fast after running longer and slower for so many months. It felt good, and I believed I could have pushed to hold the pace for a mile if I wanted to. The Garmin, however, showed me something I have not seen in my training yet: that 21 second lap was run at a 4:43 pace. Now, it may not sound like much- anyone can sprint- but even in my treadmill training, when I regularly challenge myself with high speed, 20 second intervals, I have never pushed beyond a 4:50 pace, and only did that once.

All this long distance training is paying off after all, despite what the experts believe should be happening to me. I feel better and more in control of my capacities at high speeds than ever before, and I can run with the confidence that can only be found after miles and miles of footsteps. When this summer brings its shorter races, I think I'll be better prepared for them than ever before.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Marathon Training, Week 1

So far, so good. With one week down, I've logged in 27 miles of running, not to mention the rides and walks I have done to supplement this. I feel great, too!

My second run of the week was completed on Thursday night with a local group, the Fishtown Beer Runners. If you think this group sounds like a bunch of drinkers with a running problem, you might be on the right track! Seriously, though, they are a fun group to run with. I rode out to meet them, and we ran 8 and a half miles before stopping- you guessed it- at a local bar. David, the founder of the group, has a taste for local brews, and each week plans a different route to a different tavern in the hopes of replenishing lost carbs the way he knows best. Does it work? The ever-popular runners of this group think so! Here's a pic of David with Chris McDougal after one of their runs:

Check them out:

My next run was nice and short, but still effective for training. I had to take Kaleb to the vet to get his shots, and it's exactly 2 miles away; I wondered, "Why not run?" So we did! Nothing exciting, but it was a nice, sunny day, and the run was set at a relaxing pace. It was the perfect way to recover before my next day of training.

Saturday morning came earlier than usual. I was up at 6am, getting ready to ride out to Ed's house in East Falls with Doug. The ice was treacherous, and we watched more than one runner hit the ground while we struggled to keep the rubber side of our bikes on the road.

After meeting at Ed's house, we set out for our jaunt into the trails. At first, the plan was to meet up with the Wissahickin Wanderers at the Valley Green Inn, and run about 15 miles. As our run progressed, though, we began to rethink this. The snow was deep, the trails were icy, and the obstacles were many. We were dodging, jumping, and ducking downed trees, jumping muddy sections, and working hard up slick hills. Our heart rates were high, and our run was even more taxing due to the attention we needed to pay to every step. It was becoming one of the toughest training runs I had ever done!

The body can only take so much abuse before it begins to break down. I, running in my Vibram Flows, had a distinct advantage over my friends when it came to grip; I was slipping very little. I attribute this to the way the foot gets weighted in a barefoot-like situation: most of the force is placed under the ball of the foot, where it is most stable. Just like a skater tends to lose their balance if they lean back, landing on your heels, even slightly, adds to instability in icy situations. Doug, who started the run with a sore ankle, started experiencing pain from all the slipping and sliding after a few miles, so we eventually took to the roads to keep him in decent shape.

The roads weren't easy, but they sure seemed that way after what we were used to. We worked our way uphill for miles, slipping on black ice, but our pace was faster given the same heart rates as before. Eventually, we winded our way back toward the path, running a high speed mile on Lincoln Drive before ducking back to the trail and heading home. We ended the run tired, sore, and satisfied.

I rested for the next three days to finish out week 1. I'm confident week 2 will go even better!

Fishtown run:
Wissihickin run:
Doug's Tale:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

4 Week Marathon Training Plan

This has been a busy month. I layed off my training quite a bit to focus on my studies, which have been going quite well. In fact, besides a few runs in the snow (which we've had plenty of), there really wasn't much happenning to blog about. That all changed yesterday, when I decided to join my friends on Team Raisinhope and run the Georgia marathon on March 21st.

Yup, if I was a little quicker with numbers, it might have dawned on me that I had 4 weeks to train before I clicked the "register now" button. But, it happened, and now I'm left wondering what to do. I have no doubts as to whether or not I can prepare to finish the race, but I do have to decide what time I'm going to shoot for.

I have time. 4 runs a week for 4 weeks should be enough to get me in shape, with biking mixed in to add some endurance without overdoing the stress that I'm about to put myself through. For comparison, last year, when training for Philly, I ran 5-6 times per week, without any cross training, for 8 weeks (7 actually, if we take away the week I was sick and didn't run). Still, at that time I was coming out of a hard season of racing, and my bones were ready to have the miles piled on. This winter, I've weaned myself down to 6-10 miles a week, and running pretty easy at that. I'm afraid I'd injure myself if I tried to run more than 4 times a week while simultaneously increasing my mileage by gargantuan proportions. I might even cut back to three (without cutting out the long runs, of course) if I feel the need.

Today I kicked off training with an easy run with Kaleb. These easy runs are going to be the key to my plan, and I'll be doing 2 each week; I take the dog to make sure they remain 'easy'. We did a nice 5.5 mile loop, with a little juant up the snow covered steps of the Art Museum to mark the halfway point with a photo (note my Flows- the only Vibrams I'll wear in the snow; the neoprene worked good today with the high 20 degree F temps). Then, we headed back down, choosing our steps carefully, and circled over to Lloyd Hall before heading back again. I actually felt great today, partly due to the 8 or 9 minute pace and frequent walks, but 6 is about as far as I dare take Kaleb. Like a champ, he continued trotting all the way home. He's slept good every since.

So, I'll keep everyone informed! A 4 week training plan is virtually unheard of, and this may not have a happy ending. I really won't consider it a success unless I run better than my last time, but if it comes down to race day and I don't feel I have it in me, I'll just lay low and enjoy the run- no need to get hurt; I'm in it for the fun.