Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August 17-23rd Training

Monday: 5.5 miles (7:48); 2.8 miles (8:31); 6.3 miles (7:03)

Tuesday: 10.7 miles (6:37); 6.3 miles with 6xhill blasts (7:17)

Wednesday: 8.9 miles with attempted workout.  The plan called for a fartlek of 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1 at 4:40-4:50 pace with equal recovery jog at a moderate pace to average 5:10-5:15.  Originally, I had a much tougher fartlek scheduled but I was glad to see the change after feeling like crap on Tuesday's run. My legs were pretty crapped out from Sunday's session and towards the end of my second fast interval, I knew it wasn't happening.  I really wanted to gut it out but my quads were on strike. I'm calling a mulligan on this one and will try tomorrow; Skipped run. I wanted to make sure I was feeling good tomorrow, it was raining and I was really tired.  Excuses won in a 3-0 shutout.

Thursday: 13.1 miles with completed workout from yesterday.  I ended up at a 5:13 overall average for the 34:00 and a "fast" average of 4:43.  I wanted to sneak just under 5:15 pace, so I made sure not to hammer too hard.  I felt really rusty the first two, loosened up a bit, took a ride on the pain train on the second, three minute surge, and then put the brakes on a bit the last two fast intervals.  Normally, I walk around for a few minutes after the workout but I felt better than expected on this one. I also had a thousand dead bugs on my stomach and chest; 5.3 miles (7:16)

Friday: 9.1 miles (7:11); 1.2 miles (8:07); 4.6 miles (7:26)

Saturday: 10.5 miles with 5k in 15:27. I wanted to cherry pick a local 5k for some daycare money and with a tough session planned for tomorrow, the goal was to win as easily as possible.  Some Kenyan I've never seen before showed up, along with a Vandy med school student named Paul, who ran for Wake Forest several years ago.  Vanderbilt's med school team would probably beat out their college cross country team. We ran mostly together the first 1/2 mile, then I slowly put on some distance to come through the first mile in a high 4:40 and I was able to back off some the second mile and even more on the third to win by about 25s or so.  Rusty effort that first mile but I loosened up; 4.5 miles (7:29)

Sunday: 21.5 miles with 16.37 miles @5:28.   The plan called for the 21.5 miles with a 30k progression of 10k@5:25-5:30, 10k@5:15-5:20, 10k@5:10-5:20.  The weather was 73 at the start with a 69 dew point and the air was insanely thick.  Maybe I'm just being a baby but it seems more humid at Shelby Bottoms because the greenway is lined with trees, bushes, etc and since it rained the night before, they held tons of water. With the conditions, my weather adjusted plans were: 5:35, 5:25, and then see what I could muster out the last 10k.

But anyway, Connor Kamm came out for this one and joined me for a little over 8.5 miles. I felt like crap from the start and had a herky-jerky first 10k at 5:34 pace. loosened up a bit the first few miles of the next 10k and averaged 5:23 pace for that one.  After 15 miles, I was still running sub 5:25s but my legs were getting a little achy and after 16, I knew I should probably call it soon since I had a tough four day stretch.  So at 16.37 miles, I ended the party.

Lots of rambling but I was pleased with this after bouncing back from yesterday and Thursday.  In ideal weather, this was definitely worth sub 5:20 and it felt easier than marathon effort.  I also tried out two Double-Latte Powergels and they seemed to work ok.  I'll try them once or twice more and may make that my marathon gel for Chicago; 5 miles (7:26)

Week Total: 115.3 miles. Third tough week in a row, and I had some decent volume with a skipped run.  The training is tough and I'm even making myself go to bed a little bit earlier so I'm not so zombie-like. And my summertime gut is also slowly going away. I have one more tough week with a killer workout next Sunday, then a well earned easy week leading into New Haven.

Hopefully I get some cool weather soon because while my "weather-adjusted" stuff isn't bad, I'd rather have the real deal.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer Misery

Living in Middle Tennessee means you have great winter running weather.  It never gets too cold and in fact, earlier this year, Nashville got an inch of snow one day, which broke a four year drought.  But for some reason, we start school thirty minutes early every day to build 13 snow days into our schedule and we don't get paid if we don't use them.

This is what usually happens when there are snowflakes in the ground around here

But while winters are great (other than it being pitch black before 5:00pm, summers are absolutely miserable.  Yeah, it gets into the 80s or 90s or whatever in Colorado but with a dew points usually in the 40s, that's actually not bad weather all. So quit your whining, hippies.


Once we hit July, dew points (the real measure of humidity) rarely dip below 70, with anything over 65 meaning your feet will be waterlogged with sweat if you try anything remotely fast.  But if you are one of the foolish ones who train for an October or earlier marathon, you need to spend the summer months training hard and priming that motor for the marathon-specific work to come.

Granted, I'm just a P.E. teacher but here are my "hot" tips to somewhat suffer less in the summer. Some of my stuff comes from research articles I've read, while most of it comes from my actual, real-world experience.  And others, I could be just making up.


  • A little bit of dehydration isn't bad.  By training in a slightly dehydrated state, your body makes the necessary adaptations (increased blood plasma, more effective cooling, etc.) to tolerate the heat better.  Just like people who frequently take in calories and "fuel" on long runs hurt their body's ability to have a more efficient marathon metabolism, people who guzzle way too much water on runs hurt their body's ability to better tolerate running in hot weather.  I've frequently seen an article referenced by Alex Hutchison that goes into detail about this.  If you're less lazy than me, you can look it up.
  • If you're worried about performance, head out the door before sunrise or lace the shoes up after it's dark. I've experimented with a bunch of different times and it always feels much better when the sun isn't up (probably common sense).  So for me, that means a lot of track workouts. They are more boring, but I'd rather be bored than miserable.  Usually the temperature is higher at night than the early morning, but temperature is taken in the shade, so you can add 10-15 degrees if you're pounding away on the shadeless pavement.  And at night, you don't have the sun beating down on you, which seems to be an issue once you hit 8:00am around here.  
Sun shining bright wallpaper
  • I've seen running adjustments calculators and conversion tables and stuff but while they can be a good guide, I've learned that everyone responds differently and they don't always take all the weather factors into consideration. If you're doing hard workouts, take note of the conditions (time of day, cloud cover, temperature, dew point, etc.) Over time, you'll be able to see how different conditions affect you and then you can modify your own individual times/paces. We are all an experiment of one, anyway.
  • Make workouts more progressive in nature.  In good weather, your fatigue is very gradual in nature and if you go a little bit overboard, you can usually recover if you back off.  In the heat, once you start to die, it's all downhill.  If your goal workout is to run a four mile tempo at 6:00 in ideal conditions, and you decide to add 10s a mile because of the conditions, start at 6:15 or slower.  Once you get down to 6:10, you can either hang out there or speed it up some. Just like in the marathon, going out slower sets you up for a better performance than going out too hard and dying or having to stop.   If you try to run your marathon pace for a marathon workout in the heat, you're more likely to actually be running half-marathon effort, which is a totally different stimulus.
  • Throw in a little bit of extra rest if you're running intervals.  Recovering in hot conditions doesn't happen as quickly as recovering in more ideal ones.  So there's nothing wrong with breaking that four mile tempo run into a 4x1mile segment with 60s rest.  And if you're doing intervals, feel free to add an extra 30 seconds of rest during your recovery.  In most workouts, the goal is the intensity during the fast portion and if you're too worn out to hit that, then what's the point of the workout?

  • Get more sleep.  As already mentioned many times, running in the heat is more tiring, so you need more rest so you can recover and suffer in the outdoor steam room the next day. 


  • Toughen up.  Until it gets cooler, the heat isn't going anywhere.  If you want to accomplish your fall racing goals, you need to put in the work over the summer.  Yeah, it sucks but the heat won't go anywhere for a while.  Don't hate the player, hate the game.  




Monday, August 17, 2015

August 10th-16th Training

Monday: 7.6 miles (7:11); 6.3 miles (7:10)

Tuesday: 11.7 miles (6:22); 5.4 miles with 4xhill blasts(7:06)

Wednesday: 13.6 miles with 12x1k on the road with 90s jog. The plan called to work from half-marathon to 10k pace.  Legs felt really rusty and it took me over a 1/4 mile to get under 5:20 pace. Ended up at 5:00 pace for the first one, so I decided to keep it around there the first half of the workout and then slowly drop it down the second half.  I was feeling really good through eight but #11 got a little tough towards the end and #12 was really hard.  Ended up at 3:02 average for the 1ks. Decent workout with a 65 dew point and 70 degree temperature. The carrot that kept me going was that I knew I had three easy days in a row after this; Skipped second run.  I was a complete zombie and it took everything I had to stay awake until 7pm.

Thursday: 12.1 miles (6:20); 5.8 miles (7:20)

Friday: 5.8 miles (7:20); 6.8 miles (7:10)

Saturday: 8.9 miles (6:45); 6 miles (7:50)

Sunday: 19.9 miles with 20k of 3k at marathon pace, 1k moderate.  The paper plan was to run between 5:05-5:10 with the 1k jogs at 5:30-5:40.  It was 73+69 dp outside, so I decided to try and hang around 5:10-5:15 at 5:45.  I ended up running 9:40, 9:52, 9:56, 9:49, 9:45 with a 1k jog average of 5:49. My total 20k average was 5:24, with a "fast" average of 5:15.  My legs felt like crap on the warm-up and on the first interval, they still felt really slow and sluggish, so I decided to adjust it to 5:15.  The second was even worse, so I changed it to 5:20 and would run as quickly as I could on the recovery jogs but still be able to stay under 5:20 on the fast portion.  But to be honest, if I didn't have someone checking over my workouts and I was still self-coached, I would have stopped after the second one.  Mentally, I was almost done and knowing I had so much running left was tough.  But then I reminded myself you also have rough patches in races and you have to be able to run hard, even if you're tired and running more slowly than you'd like. The third and fourth ones weren't too bad at all and I pushed the last 1k a bit on the last one to finish up well, but was tired.  IObviously, I would have liked to hit the paces but I came into this with a lot of cumulative fatigue. Grinder of a workout for my first marathon-specific interval session; 5.1 miles (7:31)

Week Total: 115 miles. Solid but tiring week over all with the training and the first week of school.  I've had two really good weeks in a row and I'm getting in a good training groove.  There's three more weeks until New Haven, so I can get in a couple more weeks of good training and gain a little more fitness.  I also got accepted into Chicago, so it feels good to have a definite direction in my training.

Next week has a couple really tough sessions, with some added volume.  It is also a rough time of the year because looking back to my training logs, which go back to 2010, I've been sick the middle/end of August four out of the past five years.  And this past week, my son had a four day puke bug, my daughter had a high fever and sore throat and now my wife is coming down with something.  I hope I'm not next.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

August 3rd-9th Training

Monday: 9.5 miles (6:32); 6.3 miles (7:12)

Tuesday: 10.6 miles (6:25); 5.6 miles (7:15)

Wednesday: 14.6 miles with 4 mile road tempo, .60 mile jog, 5x3:00 gradual uphill. Another muggy morning.  Ran 20:31 for the four miles and didn't feel as smooth as I would have liked.  On the hills, the plan was to run around 10k effort and I eased into them so I wouldn't die because I suck on hills.  Covered .57-.58 on the first four and turned on the old man jets for the last one and covered .61 miles; 4.6 miles (7:24)

Thursday: 6.1 miles (7:09); 4 miles (8:20)

Friday: 7.6 miles (6:41); 4.6 miles (7:26)

Saturday: 12.4 miles with 4x2 miles with 2:00 jog. I ran this on the track and since there were benches in both straightaways and I had to run around them, I don't feel guilty calling them two miles, instead of 3200m.  The plan was to run 10:10, 10:00, 10:00 and 9:50 with my times ending up: 10:07, 9:56, 9:57, 9:48. The first three were pretty easy and I was able to recover quickly.  On the last, it was mostly smooth for the first 2k, with fatigue slowly coming in after that.  I could have done a 5th in sub 9:40, but it would have hurt.  Decent session; 7 miles (7:14)

Sunday: 22.5 miles (6:25). Really swampy out there.  I was worried about this because of yesterday's session and I was running on little sleep (10 hours total for the past two nights, courtesy of a lot of school prep and going to see the UFC in-town last night).  But since misery loves company, I ran with Craig Padgett, who moved to Nashville a few months ago.  The plan was to run at whatever pace I felt like, so I enjoyed relaxing the first few miles.  I dropped him off at 17 miles and headed out for a few more.  I was able to start running sub 6:00 pace pretty easily and I felt really smooth until about two miles to go, when it started to get a little bit tough.  But the heat was kicking in, and this was my longest run since the Country Music Marathon in April.  Great run and it was one of those days where your toes got water-logged from sweat.

Week Total: 115.4 miles. Wow, big week.  Lately, I've felt like I need more extension at half-marathon and faster pace, so this was a productive week.  Now, I haven't done "real" hill repeats in years and have never done such extensive work the day before a long run, so it doesn't look like my typical training.  But starting this past week, I've been getting some workout help and once I have everything finalized, I can officially fire myself and spend my time worrying about running my workouts, rather than planning and running them.  And with someone else checking over them, I'm much less likely to quit being a sissy in some of them.

This next weeks begins the official start of the school year.  I'm teaching at a new school this year, and while in the past, I was stuck doing my runs during lunch and in the evenings, this year, I can do my main sessions in the morning, as long as I'm done by 6:45am.  The main thing now will be making myself go to bed on time.  I actually do better during the school year because I start up my diet plan again (which should help me shed my summer pounds) and with a busier schedule, I'm much more productive.

Back at the grind for the next four weeks.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

July 27th-August 2nd Training

Monday: No running. I was going to run in the morning but I had a bad migraine, so I had to scratch it.  And since I'm in South Carolina and had plans to visit some friends for lunch and dinner, I didn't get in a run.  We did see Trainwreck, which was pretty funny.  However, I think Spy is a much funnier and better movie.

Tuesday: No running...again.  A stupid thing about my migraines is that if I get one on the right side of my head, I will usually get one on the left side of my head a day or two later.  The bad thing about the left side is that it is usually much more intense, which was the case today.  And the absolute worst part was that we had to drive back to Tennessee, so Mary drove the entire way back while I was moaning in the back with the occasional cookie tossing on the side of the road.  That puppy lasted over 16 hours.

Wednesday: 5.4 miles (7:36); 9.3 miles (6:54)

Thursday: 6.3 miles (7:21); 10.6 miles (6:29)

Friday: 7.1 miles with chumped out workout. Plan was 20x1:00 on/off.  My legs had a hard time opening up and after 1.30 miles, I called it a workout; Chumped out again with just 4.2 miles. I was going to try a track workout but my quads were so achy.

Saturday: 10.1 miles (6:33); Skipped second run. Went to bed at 6pm with another stupid migraine.  I've barely had any at all the past year, but have had three bad ones in under a week.

Sunday: 20.1 miles with 12 miles moderate Finally stopped being an idiot and started at 6am.  The plan was a warm-up, with 12 miles around my just under four mile loop, working from 5:50s to upper 5:20s.  Spencer joined me in the beginning and we ran our first loop in 22:14 and then Spencer's pacing assistance was over at five miles.  Finished up the next two loops in 21:44 and 21:47 and after just over a minute push, I finished at 5:33 average.  I felt pretty weak from the get-go, probably as a result from last night.  But the effort was really smooth through the first two loops, with the last three miles getting a little bit tough.  Not too bad of a session after a crappy week.

Week Total: 72.8 miles. I'm calling this one a mulligan.  Too many headaches and too many whiny moments.

Born in the USA Four Miler

I grew up in Columbia, SC and try to go back at least once a year since my parents and sister still live there.  I haven't been there in over 2.5 years because I didn't want to take Ellis on such a long car ride (Eightish hours for a one year old wouldn't be fun). But since both my wife and I have summers off, we were due for a trip.

I decided to line up the trek with the Born in the USA race, hosted by Strictly Running.  I worked for Strictly Running during my college breaks and did my token Sunday long runs with them as well.  It was probably my favorite training group ever as they had a good group of guys ranging from solid high schoolers to Masters runners who could put a whooping on your butt.

I love the Nashville running community and there are a lot of cool races and stores, but I'm always impressed with how well and organized Strictly Running's races are.  They have timing mats and clocks at the mile markers, you have the results posted on a huge screen and everything is organized very well.  So I knew this race would be another solid event.

The course is advertised as flat and fast, which is my type of course, especially with the shorter race distance.  And even better, they had a time bonus system set up where if you won and broke 19:30, you got $500 and if you broke 19:00 and won, you got $1000 (in addition to the $100 first place prize). Since Columbia weather is even more miserable than Nashville, I thought sub 19:00 would be too tough, so my goal was to attack 19:30.  I was going to use my GPS and try and stay under 4:50 for each mile and then hammer home the last mile.

I looked up the course and it turned out to not be too flat and fast!  It was mostly the same course where I ran a 14:55 or so 5k at the Cold Winters Day 5k a few weeks before the 2013 Houston Marathon...and I was trying to haul in that race.  There are really no tough hills, you're just either going slightly up or slightly down, with the first half mile of the race being a gradual uphill...not exactly a course for rhythm runners like myself.   So sub 19:30 was going to be even tougher, but since money talks, I was going to at least try.

On race morning, it was a warm 75 degrees with a dew point right at 70.  It rained beforehand, but luckily it cleared up for the race.  On my warm-up, I saw Adam Freudenthal, who is a low 14s/29s guy from the upstate. I wasn't sure how race fit he was, but I was hoping I would have the element of surprise over him since he probably wouldn't know me.  I anticipated him leading for a while and then hoped my gas tank and old man strength would take him out in the later part of the race.  But we ended up chatting a little bit at the start and both said we were hoping for sub 19:30 and only one of us would be able to get it. So there went the element of surprise.

When the race started, we ran side-by-side and went up the half-mile hill at just under 5:00 pace. Once we turned, you had a little bit of downhill running, so I decided to push the pace and see what happened.  I instantly had a small lead, so I decided to keep on pushing in hopes to break him.

I went through the mile in the high 4:48s, which was perfect, considering it was a slowish mile.  I kept my foot on the gas and was happy to go through the two mile in 9:32.  I was pretty certain I had sub 19:30 and was tempted to go for sub 19:00.  I came back with a 4:50 and knew I had to run in the 4:30s if I wanted a much bigger bonus.  I tried to go after it but the last mile had too many short climbs, which really stole my mojo and rhythm.  I crossed the line in 19:11, which was really motivating.  I felt like I could have run sub 19:00 if I had a pack to run with, which is a good sign in the muggy weather. Not a bad place to be three months out from Chicago!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 20th-26th Training

Monday: 7.3 miles (7:07). Only ran once because I had an early flight from Chicago.

Tuesday: 10.7 miles (6:22); 5.4 miles (6:50)

Wednesday: 11.3 miles with 12x600m with 1:00 jog rest. Goal was to start at 1:45-1:48 and see how I felt.  Lately, I've been struggling with worrying about the total number of intervals, rather than breaking it into small pieces, which I used to do in the more glory-filled days.  So the goal was to focus on three sets of four. Went out in 1:46, 1:45, 1:45 and it felt really easy so I ran the rest in 1:42-1:44.  It felt pretty smooth through 10, then the last two got a little bit tough, so 12 was the perfect number.  Had to start at 5am and it was still 75 degrees with a 73 dew point.  I'm over summer; 6.9 miles (7:22)

Thursday: 7.3 miles (7:23); 4 miles (8:13); 6.3 miles (6:50)

Friday: 9.4 miles (6:36); 5.5 miles (7:07)

Saturday: 10 miles with four mile tempo in 19:38.  Jumped into the Goodlettsville Classic with hopes of running just under 20:00 as a tempo.  There were a couple of decent high schoolers in the race, so I hoped they would take me out for the first mile but no one wanted to lead. Ran the first mile in 5:01 with a decent lead and then went: 4:48, 4:54 and 4:55. Felt smooth and controlled and I feel like I could have run close to 19:00 if I hammered from the gun.  Good confidence booster after a Chicago bomb; 5.6 miles (7:15)

Sunday: 14.5 miles (6:33). Was going for 20 but the heat got me again.  I made the mistake of waiting until 7:30 to start, and after finishing my 9.4 mile loop, it was already really hot and humid. Once I hit 11 miles, I could tell I would do if I tried 20, so I modified the course and struggled the last two miles. I will start doing my long runs by 6am since finishing a little after 8:00 is much better than 9:30.

Week Total: 104.2 miles. Decent week after struggling in Chicago.  It shows my fitness is there, I just need to be more patient and have more mental focus for the longer stuff.  Since I'll be shifting to longer intervals and more marathon-type stuff soon, I should be able to improve on that.  I have a few more weeks until my first race, so I should be able to get in some solid training to wrap up the summer break.