Monday, March 24, 2014

Upcoming Spring Season

USATF Men's and Women's Championships

The past 7 weeks I have averaged 85 miles/week, with some solid races during these weeks.  My focus has been on the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, and using the races leading up to that as workouts.

2/03-2/09: 80
2/10-2/16: 89
2/17-2/23: 82
2/24-3/02: 97
3/03-3/09: 75
3/10-3/16: 92
3/17-3/23: 85

On March 15 I raced the Shamrock Townebank 8K.  I didn't feel great, but I wasn't surprised as I was in the middle of a 92 mile training week.  I wasn't sure how I was going to feel during this race, and whether I was going to actually be able to run it fast or just run it hard.  I hit a tick over 25:00 in 4th place, and pretty much ran alone the last 3 miles.  The wind was pretty bad too, which made things rough, but it was a good "B" effort.  The next day, I paced Christina in the half marathon.  I should have signed up as a pacer for the race, however I would have had to sign up as either 1:30:00 or another round number, and I knew Christina was going to run faster than that(based on her fitness somewhere between 1:27-1:29).  We started our first mile in 6:58 and worked the pace down from there.  Splits below:


She finished in 1:28, and her husband Tommy finished in 1:30, both new PRs for them.  I was very happy but not surprised by their results.  I then ran some more miles to get in 21 miles for the day, watching a bit of the marathon in the process.

Last week was a hard training week.  I did 2 hard track workouts, one on Wednesday and one on Saturday, and got in another 85 mile week.  It's good because I went into Saturday's workout not feeling fresh, and my rests were very short between intervals(90 seconds).

Monday: 8 miles easy

Tuesday: 12.5 miles, + strength training

Wednesday: AM: pool running 35 minutes
PM: 10 x 800 meters w/ 200 meter jogs between each, up to 2:00 rests:
2:34, 2:28, 2:26, 2:25, 2:23, 2:26, 2:23, 2:24, 2:24, 2:25, 9.5 miles total

Thursday: AM: 25:00 easy/PM: 45:00 easy

Friday: AM: 13 miles easy

Saturday: AM: 5 x 1600m w/ 90 second rests: 4:56, 4:53, 4:51, 4:54, 4:56, 10 miles total;
PM: 45:00 easy

Sunday: AM: 15 miles easy

I begin tapering this week and into next week for Cherry Blossom.  I really want to run well in this race.  My B goal is to run 50:XX, and my A goal is to crack 50:00, which is pretty ambitious, yet I feel like somehow it is possible, especially with the fact that Cherry Blossom is hosting the USA 10 Mile Championship this year, which brings fast racers from all over the country.  In addition, I may not do this race again next year, because I plan to devote an entire spring outdoor track season in 2015(Raleigh Relays is one on my list, which is around the same time as Cherry Blossom typically), focusing on the 10K and 5K.  So I'd like to completely crush it this time around.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Past and the Present

"Follow me," I yelled back to the boys running.  I was in the middle of doing 1 mile repeats while the Quince Orchard Track Boys Team was doing 1/4 mile repeats.  The top boys were running close to my pace, so at times I was either chasing them down or running with them for at least part of my intervals.  Besides coaches Seann and Steve, I don't know anyone on my former high school's squad.  As I hammered repeat 4:50 miles, I overheard some of the runners saying "Who is that guy?"  It felt strange to me to hear that, and I suddenly felt nostalgic as 13 years ago I was a senior who knew everyone on that track, and everyone knew me.  I am a different runner now.  A much better runner.  My body has become sculpted and chiseled by thousands of miles underneath my feet.  My fitness is at a greater understanding.  I can now run countless repeat miles faster than I could ever run one.  As I got my trainers back on and out of my flats, I glanced at the top boys on the team, and said good job to them.  One glanced back at me, nodded, and looked me in the eye, and for one moment I saw myself staring right back at me, the young 14 year old boy who had yet to discover how strong of a runner he was to become.  The Trial of Miles, Miles of Trials, as John L. Parker says.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Importance of Weight Training for Runners

I'll start the week of 2/17-2/23, where I went to Virginia Tech and did a double 3K/5K workout.  It went very well, and I was satisfied with my efforts.  The 3K was just before 8PM on Friday, and the 5K followed on Saturday at 2:30 PM, so I had less than 24 hours rest between each event.  The 3K went out fast(my first mile was 4:34), and the race didn't feel natural to me.  The indoor air was a bit of a shock, as I haven't run an indoor race in 2 years.  However, it was awesome running on that track again, which is elevated and banked.  I ended up finishing 8th place in the 3K in a time of 8:48(averaging about 4:41 pace).  Not very fast, though technically a PR for the distance for me.  I don't race 3K much, it's an odd distance to me.  But it was a good way to get my legs worked going into the 5K the next day.  Including the warm up and cool down, I got in 8.5 miles for the day.  The next morning I did a solid session of foam rolling and stretching.

The 5K had no one else who had run the 3, so I was up against fresh legs.  I probably started out in 7th place or so.  But gradually, I began running down everyone.  I actually felt better than I had the day before. First mile was 4:45.  I moved my way up to 4th, then 3rd position.  I went through 3K in 9:01.  I wanted to try to break 15:00, but knew that was a bit ambitious and I was slightly falling off that pace.  Not to mention I now had to lap some of the other runners.  I then moved up to 2nd place, and because I was now lapping runners, I couldn't tell where the leader was.  I just grinded my way home, finishing in 15:13, 9 seconds behind the winner.  I immediately jogged off the track, put my trainers on, drank some gatorade, and went out for a 6 mile run on the huckleberry trail to get some mileage in.  I got in over 12 miles for the day, pretty wiped when I got back.  The next morning I did an 18 mile long run, 82 miles for the week.      

Then last Tuesday, I slipped on some damn ice during a run.  I fell splat flat on my back, and cursed to myself, gotta be more careful!  Always mind your surroundings.  I got up and felt my muscles had all tensed up, but otherwise I was fine.  I am more of a muscular guy(I like to think of myself built sort of like Meb, only a lot slower).  But thanks to all the strength training I do, my body was able to recover quickly.  In fact, I was able to finish the last few miles of my run, and got in 97 miles for the week(but no track stuff).  I am a big believer in strength training helping not only to prevent overuse injuries, but also when instances like falling randomly occur.  So I am going to talk a bit about the importance of weight training now.  I typically lift weights twice per week, and target the chest, arms, upper and lower back, glutes, hip adductors and abductors, obliques, and a ton of abdominal work.  It's all fatigue resistant exercises(less weight, more reps).  Many runners forego the arms and chest(especially females).  The fear is to bulk up, but if you do the right stuff, you won't bulk up, you'll lean out, and burn more fat at rest in the process(and therefore become more efficient, and more cut).  You'll also be able to run faster!  If you watch Deena Kastor in the 2004 Olympic Marathon in Athens, she worked her way up during the final miles of the race towards a bronze medal finish.  She believed that she wouldn't have passed everyone in the end to grab the medal if it weren't for her upper body strength.  She credited her rigorous strength training routine leading up to that race.  Some of the exercises I do include:

-bench press(light weight, more reps)
-abdominal crunches on stability ball
-side leg lifts for hip adductors, gluteus medius, and abductors(inner thighs)
-bridges(raising one leg at a time, targeting the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings)
-lower back lifts on stability ball
-squats and lunges(without weights)
-side body lifts(for obliques)
-medicine ball twists

Running trails also fits in this category(I am talking about REAL trails which help with stabilizing the ankles).  Roots will toughen your ankles up.  If you don't exercise the ankles, they become weak, and therefore you are more vulnerable.  If you always run on the treadmill, your body is not going to be more resistant to injury(despite the less impact).
This week I got the intensity going again, and yesterday I did a fast 6 x 200-6 x 400, with 200 jog(or 1-2 minute rests) between each rep.  It was good quality, and helped me work on my weakness(speed).  Splits below:

200m: 34, 
400m: 69, 
200m: 34, 
400m: 66, 
200m: 33, 
400m: 65, 
200m: 32, 
400m: 64, 
200m: 31, 
400m: 65, 
200m: 29, 
400m: 69

My next race will be the Townebank 8K in Virginia Beach on March 15.