Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January 19th-25th Training

Monday: 10.6 miles (7:18); 6.3 miles (7:20)

Tuesday: 7 miles (6:59). Was going to do a light fartlek but my legs felt like cinder blocks and I was crawling on my first pre-workout strides; 10.7 miles with 4x10s hill sprints (7:02)

Wednesday: 12 miles with 10 miles medium. Averaged 5:39 pace for the 10 miles. Felt really smooth and controlled after a rusty first couple of miles. Splits ranged from 5:30 to 5:50; 7 miles (7:32)

Thursday: 9.7 miles (6:44); 6.9 miles (7:43)

Friday: 8 miles (6:47); 9 miles (6:25)

Saturday: 10 miles with 6x.30ish mile hill repeats (Four up, two down).  Eased into these, with the first two being somewhat easy and the last two being tough the last 1/4 or so.  I was planning on doing four downhills but the last half of the second downhill was really tough and I was huffing and puffing at the end, so I knew that was enough for the day.  Ran decently well and I like using this workout as an introduction to speed because I get plenty of recovery in between the hills and the downhills let the speed come a little bit easier, while also toughening up the quads.  Averaged 87.49 up and 80.41 down. 6.5 miles (7:01)

Sunday: 20 miles (6:14). Really good long run.  Felt smooth and controlled and averaged sub 6:00 the last five I've felt on a long run in a long time; 2.9 miles (8:16). The slowest I've run alone in a long time but I was just trotting and my legs felt fine.  At least it let me know it would be dumb to do squats afterwards (which was my initial plan)

Week Total: 127.1 miles. This may have been my #2 highest volume week of all time.  Other than Tuesday, my legs felt really good the entire week and my hunger to train is getting stronger. My hip is fine now, except my quad is still a little bit swollen on that leg for some reason.

I think with one more strong base week, I'll be ready for some more structured fast workouts.  My fitness is slowly coming along and I feel like I'm at least sub 67 half-marathon shape right now.  With five months to go, that's perfectly fine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New App

Even though I got lazy and retired from my Netflix Picks of the Week, I still like my movies and TV shows.  For you fellow Android users and IOS dorks, I recently got a new app for my phone called Play Box.  It has tons of movies, TV shows and is Chromecast and Apple TV supported.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January 12th-18th Training

Monday: 6.2 miles (6:26); 10.1 miles (6:54)

Tuesday: 9.7 miles (6:28);  7.8 miles with 4x10s hill sprints (7:17)

Wednesday: 10.2 miles with 9 mile moderate progression (5:58). Goal was three miles at 19:00, 17:45, 16:30.  Ran 18:43 (6:13, 6:17, 6:13), 17:34 (5:54, 5:50, 5:50), 16:15 (5:29, 5:30, 5:16). First was super easy, second was still decently easy and the third was a little sluggish but I pushed some the last 1/2 mile.  But it feels more like rustiness rather than being in really bad shape. Like it's a neuromuscular issue rather than a fitness one. My right quad felt really heavy on the cooldown jog, which is probably the result of running into a trash can container on my run yesterday.  I nailed it right on my hip flexor, which is blue and purple. And it wasn't one of those normal, sissy trash-cans, but one of those stationary containers made of American-forged iron and I ran right into the top "ring" part.; 1.3 miles (7:49). Leg was killing me.

Thursday: 8.3 miles (7:17).  I was planning on about 10 with 4.5 miles out-and-back with a mile long extension.  My right hamstring was absolutely killing me, which is probably a result of me unknowingly changing my form the past few runs after the trash can incident, which took some stress of hip flexor and having the hammy take over. I struggled up the big hill before the turnaround and struggled more on the way down.  After that, my hip flexor was killing me and I gimped-jogged a few miles to someone's house that I knew so I could get a ride back to school.  The last time I needed a ride back to school was my first year of teaching when I attempted to make a four mile loop but I somehow missed the turn that was less than a mile into the run and I ended up running over five miles to the end of a road (didn't have a GPS). I then took a left and knew I was super lost.  Luckily I saw someone in a random garage and it turned out their cousin or someone worked in the cafeteria and they gave me a ride back to school.

Friday: No running. Took the day off to be safe.  I hate missing mileage for stupid stuff.

Saturday: 11.4 miles (7:07). I was going to run again but my leg was really stiff and swollen a few inches below my bruise.

Sunday: 20 miles (6:17). Motivated to get out the door after watching the US Half-Marathon Championships.  Diego Estrada was an animal, Jared Ward ran really well and I was happy to see Sean Keveren run sub 63 in his first half-marathon. Former Nashvillian, Brock Baker, also had a huge PR and ran under the qualifier and Brandon York, who I rabbitted at Indy Monumental also had a huge PR and qualified as well....great day for distance running. Felt good on my run but my leg is still a little bit swollen.

Week Total: 85 miles. I was hoping for 125ish until the trash can assault.  But maybe I needed the rest because I was getting a little worn-down. This week, I'll make up for it with some decent volume.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

2015 US Half-Marathon Championships Predictions (Better Late than Never)

It's way late but since I just read Lets Run's half-marathon preview, I figured I need to make mine before the race so I can either look like a genius or an idiot tomorrow morning. And after reading my predictions, maybe Lets Run will hire me to do future race previews because I am a one-time prediction contest winner (it was one year of the NCAA D1 XC predictions and I didn't even win a prize or anything) and my predictions are better than that other guy's.

I'm not going to waste any time giving an in-depth preview of the race because it's late and my arms are tired from washing and polishing my car (I'm a runner, not a power lifter).  So, I'll just state my top ten predictions and see how dumb I look tomorrow. Predicting the first major race of the season is tough because you don't know how sharp someone is. If someone is only 95% "fit" instead of 100%, they could go from potential top five to being outside the top 10.  But I'll do my best here.

#1. Meb. He doesn't even need a last name.  Mainly because that's what everyone knows him by, he's pretty much a running celebrity and I'm too lazy to look up how to spell his it.  While munching on some bacon, eggs and Cracker Barrel pancakes with Chris and Kevin Barrett today, we were discussing Meb. We were talking about how the dude is old and not only is he outrunning the competition, but Father Time as well.  But Father Time always eventually wins...but not this year. He may not have the 10k wheels he had back in the day, but he ran really well last year at this race and I feel is "young" enough to pull out another win.

#2. Shadrack Biwott. This guy never runs poorly in the longer stuff.  He's also coming off a 2:12 marathon this past October (was on 2:10 pace for about 20 miles) and seems to do really well on the flat, rhythm courses.  And Houston is a flat, rhythm course.

#3. Girma Mecheso.  I almost put him at #2 but he doesn't have the half-marathon experience.  He did win a US title at the 10 mile and 20k Championships but he will be facing a much deeper field here.

#4. Josphat Boit.  I don't like putting him fourth but he was pretty quiet the second half of the year. When he's fit, he's very fast and if I missed the race tomorrow and heard that Meb didn't win, Boit would be my pick.  He even beat Bekele and Bob Kennedy in the same race when a lot of the guys fighting for a top 10 spot tomorrow were still in middle school. But it's hard to gauge his fitness when he doesn't have many recent results.

#5. Jeffrey Eggleston.  I'll be interested to see how he runs here.  He's only like six weeks or something off his Fukuoka race, so he may not be too sharp.  He did run a ton of half-marathons last year and Lets Run pegged him to be pushing for a 63 something tomorrow since he ran so many 63-64s in his half marathons.  But those guys need to do their homework because he was sneakingly racking up points in the Competitor's Grand Prix and wasn't focused on racing fast, just earning some Benjamins.  And he rabbited the marathon here last year in a low 63 first half after coming off the flu, so it won't be surprising to see him run fast tomorrow.

#6. Matt Llano. Had a heck of a 2014, minus the Chicago Marathon.  But the marathon is a tough mistress, especially when it's your first one.  That performance undoubtedly fueled his fire and his training looks pretty solid compared to where he was last year.  One of his unclaims to fame is that I believe he's the only guy I've ever beaten in my predicted top 10. Bonus points if you can figure out the race.  I just found out today while doing some results hunting.

#7. Gabe Proctor. This guy is a future current stud and is one of my dark horse picks for the 2016 Olympic Marathon team.  He spent 2014 not only running really fast but getting his feet wet in competitive races.  Maybe he finishes higher than seventh and I put him here since Lets Run used bad logic by saying he is more likely to make another big jump compared to Llano since he is two years older than Proctor.  But going back in time, Llano was probably running more slowly 2-3 years than him, so he's on a sharper improvement curve. But whatever.  They are both very tough racers and will be in the hunt for Rio.

#8. Jared Ward. He's that guy that originally lost an entire season of eligiblity for jumping in what was a glorified fun run. But the public was outraged and he got his eligibility back just in time to compete in Regionals and Nationals.  If the NCAA continued to be idiots, his team would have been outside the top 10  at Nationals instead of finishing fourth.  But anyway, this guy is quietly making big progress on the roads and should be primed for a good one here.

#9. Diego Estrada. Hasn't dabbed much in the longer races but has the second fastest 5k and 10k PR in my predicted top 10 with a 13:15 and 27:32.  But this ain't no stinking track.  Maybe in his next big race, he can run under 62:00 but it's hard to do it in your first dance.

#10. Ian Burrell.  The fastest lawyer in the United States, maybe even in the entire world.  But if I'm wrong, don't sue me. I'm not sure how much his work has impacted his training but he ran decently well at the US Marathon Championships in October as well as the 2014 Houston Marathon where he whooped me by almost four minutes the last eight miles. Like several of the guys above him, he also brings his "A" game more often than not in the big races.

*Too late to count but I forgot about Aron Rono.  I would have put him tenth.

Random Facts About the Above 10

  • Half of the guys were born outside the United States.  With Meb from Eritrea, Biwott and Boit from Kenya, Mecheso and Proctor from Ethiopia and Estrada from Mexico. 
  • All but two live at altitude with Meb and Mecheso being the outsiders.  Mecheso is also the only guy that lives east of  Colorado.  

  • I believe Burrell is the only working man
  • Biwott, Boit and Proctor all train together as part of Andrew Kastor's training group in Mammoth.  

There's also some Nashville connected flavor in the race tomorrow.  Connor Kamm is the only current Nashville resident competing and he's shooting for 65:00 tomorrow.  He was hurt most of last year, got fit really quickly, then recently got hurt playing soccer.  But if he doesn't make a solid run a at the 65 flat, I'd be very surprised.

Brock Baker is also in the field and shooting for 65:00 as well.  He grew up in Nashville and is currently in Medical School at UNC.  He also ate breakfast at my house once.

Finally, I saw Sean Keveren's name on the entrant list.  Like Brock, Sean grew up in Nashville. He ran sub 23 for 8k this past fall and sub 13:40 on the track last summer.  I also gave him a whooping for trying to take me out in a Nashville race in the 2013 Boulevard Bolt.  The guy wants a rematch, so I'm hiding out until the Marathon Trials.  He's never run anything over a 10k but with an average race, he's very easily a sub 65 guy and may even compete for a top 10 spot.  But like Andrew Bumbalough, he will never train with me when he's in town.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January 5th-11th Training

Monday: 9 miles (6:18); 6.3 miles (7:06)

Tuesday: 7.5 miles (7:02); 9.5 miles (6:32)

Wednesday: 8.7 miles (7:15); 8.3 miles (7:03). -13 windchill and it's the South. I was going to do strides today but that wasn't happening.

Thursday: 7.9 miles (7:13); 10.1 miles with 8xfootball field strides and 8x400m with 400m jog. 10 degree windchill and really windy. I was going to man up and run this on a down-and-back (headwind down, tailwind back) but the track was open, so I did them there.  Other than an outlier 72, I ran them all in 70 point for a 70.8 average. Goal was to run around that and I ran by effort.  I can tell I'm very, very rusty and it felt like I was driving in sixth gear, but needed to be in fourth. Not a bad start, I guess.

Friday: 10.1 miles (6:10); 7 miles (7:13)

Saturday: 9.8 miles (7:21). Ran this route about 40s slower than usual but my body felt like I just needed to shuffle my legs...have some achiness from the 400s and the mileage boost; 6.1 miles with 4x20ish second strides (7:19)

Sunday: 13.4 miles with axed workout (plan was 3x3.95ish loop at 6:20, 5:55, 5:30 pace). Ran a 3.9 mile warm-up, where I crawled through at just under 7:30 pace.  My legs felt incredibly lazy and I was glad the workout was going to be a progression type because my legs did not feel like they would be able to run 6:00 off the bat. The pace felt really easy on the first loop, even though my legs didn't have any pop to them.  As soon as I started the second loop, I knew I wouldn't be able to run a third loop unless I ran my butt off. Struggled a tiny bit on the hills on round two but felt good at the end.  I never like ending workouts early but I knew it would be too much, especially after bumping the volume as well as the intensity the past two weeks. Normally I hate changing workouts but it was an issue of doing what's best rather than sticking to a firm plan 6.9 miles (7:29); Ran this 1.5 hours after I was in a dead-to-the-world kind of nap and even though I had a strong cup of coffee before running, I felt half-asleep the entire run and could easily have fallen asleep on the side of the road if I wanted.

Week Total: 120.6 miles  Even though Sunday didn't go well, I'm happy with the week overall.  My motivation has been much higher than it has been and I haven't been looking for excuses to skip runs.  My iron is also looking good, compared to when I got it tested a month ago. I've been sleeping like a rock this week, so hopefully my body will start to absorb all of this work soon.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Top Nashville Area Marathon Times in 2014

Last year, I recorded the top five marathon times by Nashville area people.  To be eligible for the list, you had to live around 30ish minutes away from the state capitol (I was nice and included Murfreesboro). This year, I will continue the streak and do it again. Well, I don't think it's a streak because it's not considered one until you do it at least three times.  But to make up for my lateness, I'll soup it up and add pictures.  And since this is the South, ladies first.

#1. Gisela Lamke, 2:35:30, Mercedes Marathon.  I don't know a lot about her, except she really turned it on over the past year and is now running a faster pace for the marathon than she used to run for the half.  She's also about to have a baby and ran her 2:35 on a tough course.

#2. Jeanette Faber, 2:47:32, Country Music Marathon.  She has a PR of 2:32 but had some injury issues over the past year. She ran the 2:47 as a workout and I talked her into running the race less than three days before it.  She's either easily influenced or I'm very persuasive.  And look at those shoes!

Editors Update: Her best marathon of the year was a 2:43:57, which was run at the windy and rainy New Tapei City Wanijinshi International Marathon in New Taipei City, Taiwan.  I don't know how they fit the name of the race on their shirt. 

#3. Ashley Evans, 2:57:42, Indy Monumental Marathon.  She was planning on racing Chicago in hopes of breaking her 2:48 marathon PR but she took a page out of my book and became anemic. And I have no qualms stating that she's also the nicest and most friendly person on the list.

#4. Blair Burnette, 3:01:28, Boston Marathon. She took several minutes off her 2013 half-marathon PR and then doubled it in her first Boston Marathon, which is no easy feat.  It also appears she doesn't like to post running pictures on Facebook because I had to dig for this one. She learned her mistake from running in whatever blue shoes those are and ran her Boston time in a pair of Newton Distance Elites. Smart gal!

#5. Lindsey Dial, 3:02:09, Indy Monumental Marathon.  She's pretty fresh to the road racing scene as she used to focus on trail racing until she realized how stupid it was. She ran her marathon on a semi-bum hamstring, so I'm sure she's looking for some vengeance in her next one. And according to Facebook, she's also looking for someone who can build the below doghouse, so leave a reply if you can. 

Marathoning on the women's side has really picked up in this area and other than the half-marathon, it's probably Nashville's strongest female event.  There's also several more girls in the low 3:00 range, so I'm sure 2015 will be a cat fight!. And let me know if I missed anyone because you can only do so much Googling before you start to feel like a stalker. 

And now for the men...

#1. Scott Wietecha, 2:17:16, Houston Marathon. He's that guy who died really badly at Houston and had the top four women gaining on him from 35k to the finish. He also got outkicked by a 2:17 half-marathoner in that race.  After spending 2014 being extra whiny, he's looking for redemption.

#2. Joey Elsakr, 2:24:20, Indy Monumental Marathon. Nailed his debut with the second fastest last half-marathon in the field.  Being that he graduated from Duke and is in medical school at Vanderbilt, he was probably the smartest in the field as well.  

#3. Bill Martin, 2:28:57, Rocket City Marathon. Since we aren't Facebook friends and he rarely races, I had to settle for his high school 4x800m picture. I sent a friend request though, so maybe I'll update this. I also noticed he's #666 in that picture.

#4. Hunter Hall, 2:35:19, Rocket City Marathon. He knocked a couple minutes off his PR in what was his second marathon. One of his claims to fame is hitting on the entire Indy Monumental elite ladies field at once.  I don't think it went anywhere though. 

#5. Greg Kyle, 2:38:19, Indy Monumental Marathon. He's the tall guy and he used his tallness to be the off-and-on wind breaker for Alayna Hadley at Indy, before leaving her in his dust.  He's really improved over the past year and should be ready to run sub 6:00 pace in his next marathon.  Not only is that a fast time but the math is easy as well.

I think this is a pretty nice improvement compared to last year on the men's side but compared to the women, it seems like the Nashville area men are a little more timid of the marathon.  But word on the street is that after several months of injury riddled trumpet playing (he took up the trumpet when he got hurt), 65 minute half-marathoner, Connor Kamm, may make his marathon debut in 2015.  There's also rumors of Joey's med school BFF, Ben Li trying one as well. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

December 29th-January 4th Training

Monday: 11.5 miles with bombed workout. Plan was to run the first six miles or at a normal effort and then 10x90s on/off at 5:05/6:00 pace. Knocked out the first one ok at 4:50/5:59.  Second one things got slower with a 5:10, so I decided to just jog on the recovery and speed up to sub 5:00.  Barely snuck under on the next three and after running 5:19 pace on the next one even though I was struggling, I decided to jog it in.  I tried to be tough but it felt almost like a sprint.  Granted it was into a headwind but struggling that badly during that type of workout shouldn't happen; 6.3 miles (7:06)

Tuesday: 10.7 miles (6:46); 7.5 miles (7:41)

Wednesday: 9.5 miles (6:39); 6.9 miles (7:21)

Thursday: 11.5 miles with 10k race in 34:45. Course was really rough with over 841 feet of elevation gain with constant little rollers.  I planned to do a tempo effort at 5:15ish effort but after two miles, I gave up that idea because I was struggling.  Slowed it down a good bit and kept it a moderate effort.  With the past two crappy sessions, I wonder if my iron has climbed at all.; 6.1 miles (7:20ish)

Friday: 5.4 miles (7:28); 9.6 miles (6:41)

Saturday: 10.2 miles (6:55)

Sunday: 20 miles (6:18). 15mph winds didn't make this too fun.  Sped up quite a bit the second half and was running lower 6:00s even though it was into a headwind.  Hip flexors were getting worn out and I was pretty tired at the end.  Still, a good run, regardless.

Week Total: 115.2 miles. Second biggest week in 2014 (even though some of it wasn't). I was going to get over 120 but skipped a run on Saturday because I haven't gone over 100 in a few weeks.  Two crappy sessions but I'm happy with the volume. I don't have a real race planned until the end of February, so I have plenty of time.  And if my iron is still pretty low, I'll just pretend like it's altitude training.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Spring 2015 Training and Racing Plans

A common mistake people make when designing a training program is focusing completely on their peak race without regards to where they currently are in their training/fitness.  If someone asks you directions to a destination, you can't just start spewing out where to go.  Before you give any help, you have to know where they are.  When you start your training, you need to focus more on where your current strengths and weaknesses are and work from there.  Then when things become more balanced and predictable, you can work your training backwards from your peak race.

My original spring plan was to run the Rotterdam Marathon in April and make a run at sub 2:13 with hopes of making the US Pan-Am team.  But I found out the Pan-Ams qualifying window closes at the end of March, so there went that plan. It would still be cool to run a fast time over there, but I didn't have a lot of training time, I would have to deal with jet-lag and spend almost two g's on expenses.

My next plan was to run the Boston Marathon.  I was going to start speed work in the middle of December and work from there. But I was dragging butt and found out my iron was low.  Boston is a very tricky course and you not only have to train for the marathon distance but place a lot of training focus on the actual course.  With faster marathons, I'd run my marathon workouts on a flat road by my house and do a lot of track workouts as well.  With Boston, you can't do that. You have to focus heavily on downhill running while also being prepared for the uphills.  I'm a rhythm guy, so it would take a lot of time to develop those qualities in my body.  I knew I couldn't jump into that stuff with low iron anyway, so there went that plan.

So what would be the best option? Grandmas Marathon at the end of June.  I've run the half there twice and ran okay the first time and awesome the other.  And the last half of the marathon is the half-marathon course, so I know it well.  It also gives me a ton of time to work on some qualities I lost and have enough time to get to the starting line very fit.  I also figure there will be a lot of fast guys trying to knock out the "A" standard there, which is an added bonus.  And almost the best reason of all is that I get nearly a month to train like a "pro" runner since school is out for the year on Memorial Day weekend. So all you runners still living at your mama's house or in some clown car apartment with a bunch of other runners and eating ramen noodles to survive, I'll be coming at you in June with my cushy teacher's salary, extra sleep and grass-fed beef.

When I'm coming off a racing season, I'm fit and have a lot of training bases covered.  The base phase I then enter is more of a time of rest and detraining rather than a fitness builder.  A few weeks into it, I'm probably in the worst shape I'll be for that entire season because I go from high volume and a lot of specificity to moderate volume with no specificity.  I lost a lot of my base this past year, so I need to return to that and by doing so, will increase my fitness throughout the period.

During my super-busy racing season this past September-November, I actually got pretty fit even though I did nothing but race and jog in between.  I think that shows that in the past, I've run too much intensity and need to lay off that a little bit more and focus more on endurance-based work.

And after every peak race, it's good to go through your log and try to figure out what worked well and what didn't.  At first, I thought my Houston build-up was perfect, minus missing several key workouts a few weeks before the race because I was half-dead in bed for a few days.  But after a year of reflection, I saw that I was too "fast" for the marathon.  I got in my normal marathon workouts but I was flying in my faster workouts.  I wouldn't run the faster stuff very often but when I did, I was running faster than before I ran 63:12 for the half.  Even in some marathon workouts, I'd catch myself running 5:00 pace instead of 5:05ish.  I thought for sure that would correlate to sub 2:13 marathon fitness.  But on the other side of the coin, I was neglecting the stuff slightly slower than marathon pace (95%ish of MP). That's the speed/effort that really teaches your body to be able to burn fat faster and slow the rate your burn carbs. Granted, I missed some big workouts at that intensity five weeks out from Houston because of being sick.  But my last long, fast run was almost two months out from Houston.  I should have done 1-2 more of those.  As an endurance-oriented guy, I respond better to that longer, steadier stuff rather than higher intensity work.  But going into Grandma's here's what my training framework is.

  • Higher mileage: I haven't had consistent volume in a long time, so I need to reestablish that with some higher mileage.  Numbers are just numbers and I really don't know how high I'll go until I see how I respond, but I'd like to have a couple weeks in the 130 range, or maybe a little higher.
  • Faster Easier Runs: I hate putting this because the number one mistake I see people make is running too hard on their non-workout days.  I see it the most in beginning runners who run faster than their marathon pace almost every day of the week, which is a huge no-no. Normally, I run about 6:40ish on my easy days and as slow as 8:00 pace on my 2nd runs.  The only "normal" run during the week where I run faster is my long run, which is usually at 80-85% of marathon pace.  But since I've missed so much "real" training time, I'm going to speed up some of my daily runs to my long run pace, which is around 6:15-6:30 or so right now and progresses down to 6:00ish when I'm fit.  I'm hoping it will reestablish my lost fitness better and I will most likely go back to my easier jogging in February. 
  • Moderate Workouts: Work up to 10-12 mile progression runs where I go from an easy effort to current estimated marathon pace and continuous runs where I run around 90-95% of current estimated marathon pace.
  • Faster Running: My legs have forgot what it feels like to run 10k pace and faster.  I haven't really run that fast since last March and haven't put several weeks of that stuff together since October of 2013 or so.  I need to get in touch with those speeds again without doing a "real" workout.  So stuff like 400s at 5k pace with a liberal recovery jog, 200s at mile pace, etc. Normally I don't mess with those speeds in my base phase but again, I'm at a much different spot than I normally am during this training cycle. 
  • Hill Sprints: I need to get back to my 10x10s all-out hill sprints with 2:00 jog recovery.  I haven't done those consistently in a long, long time.  I will continue these until Grandma's.
  • Long Runs: Get in 2-3, 20 mile runs
  • Strength Work: My best racing season ever was the spring of 2013, which is the only time I've done consistent strength work.  Granted I was just doing deep squats, but I felt they helped my speed and power quite a bit.  I would usually do 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps with heavy weight. At first, I struggled with 135 lbs. but after a few months, I was pushing right at 200. Like the hill sprints, I will do these until Grandma's.  I recently also started doing Jay Johnson's Lunge Matrix before my runs and have sprinkled in some of Vern Gambetta's leg circuit as well.
February and March
  • Moderate/Higher Mileage: Hang around the 115-120 range since I'm making up for the lack of volume with intensity
  • Races: Jump into some shorter races with a half-marathon or two.  I need to get used to continuously hammering again
  • Fartleks/Track work: More structured speed workouts from 3k-10k pace to develop some specific fitness in that event.  But this go around, I will not redline these or puke on the side of the track…run fast but within myself.  My body doesn't respond well to a lot of intensity and I only need to get a feel for those speeds to run well at the longer stuff
  • Long, fast runs: Work up to 16 miles at 90-95% marathon pace
  • Long Runs: Get in at least 20 miles every weekend, if I'm not doing a longer race, with some quality in some of them. 
  • Tempos: Shorter tempo runs and mix-in tempo paces with faster work
  • Continue what I did the past couple of months, but transition to more of a marathon focus as the month goes on by cutting out the really fast paces, increasing the length of my tempos and lightly increasing the mileage.
  • Also continue to race some and hopefully chase some new PR's.
  • High Mileage: Sneak up to 140ish if things go well
  • Long, fast runs: Increase those up to 20 miles
  • Long Runs: Get in a couple 22-24 mile runs. When I get fit, "normal" 20 milers stop being a good stimulus for me.  So I will boost those up a little bit longer and also continue to mix in some faster running into my long runs 2-3 times a month. 
  • Races: Half-Marathon, and maybe a couple of shorter races to stay in touch with my speed. I will also actually race BolderBoulder this year instead of jogging like a school-girl. 
  • Marathon-specific focus: Since specificity is the key for the marathon, I will do my most of my main workouts around 95-105% of marathon pace, with a greater emphasis right at marathon pace.
So there's the basic plan that I feel will work for where I currently am and where I want to be in June. Granted there's a lot of basic fundamentals in there but I tweaked it according to what I feel will work best for me and I'm really excited about another go at a fast marathon.  I'm getting old and I don't want to retire with my 2:17 PR.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 Running Year in Review

Miles Run: 4186.1 total miles (1001.4 miles less than last year)
Weeks Over 100 Miles: 15
Biggest Week: 116.9 miles. That's actually pretty lame and I only had a handful of 110 or more.
PRs: Marathon (2:17:16)
Times I Competed: 20, not including being the rabbit for 30k at Indy Monumental
States Raced In: 7 (California, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Colorado, Florida, Texas)
Foreign Countries Raced In: Costa Rica
Days Off: 49.  Somewhat understandable with two injuries but how do people keep these run streaks? Do they ever get sick, injured or just hate running for a day?
Injuries: 2 (Greater Trochanter Syndrome and Patellofemoral Syndrome)
Grade for the Year: D. It would have been an F if I didn't somewhat rally back this past fall.

2014 has come and gone.  I started off the year with great hope and despite feeling like I was ready to destroy the Houston Marathon, it ended up destroying me.  In fact, it's the only race I've done that still haunts me to this day.  I rallied back and ran pretty well at the Gate River 15k, despite not being fit and felt like I was on my way to running very well at USA 20k Champs but a bum hip ended those plans.  Then I was an idiot and came off my injury and ran a marathon a couple of weeks later.  Like an idiot should expect, I got another injury and was out with patellofemoral syndrome right after that race.

This summer, I started what I thought was going to be a build-up for the California International Marathon but even though I was just doing easy jogging, I was getting struggling. big time.  Hoping I wasn't being a pansy in the heat, I took a blood test and ended up having a really bad case of anemia, with my hemoglobin dropping over five points.  That's like hardcore reverse blood doping.  A peripheral blood smear showed I had hemolytic anemia.  A quick Google search freaked me out but then I found out it's relatively common in runners due to the faster red blood cell turnover rate and the pounding on hard surfaces.  I guess it made sense because I jumped right into high mileage after a running break and gaining about 10 pounds and was pounding on the 'crete.

It took a couple of months for that to resolve and in September, I decided to just do some "running traveling" and do a bunch of races while trying to earn some money.  Even though I would just do easy jogging in between the races, I became pretty fit and felt like I was a marathon-specific block away from being in "A" Standard shape. But all of that racing must have wore me out or something because I was dragging butt again before finding out my iron was low.  Not low enough to be anemic or anything, just low enough to have me sucking wind in anything fast and take away all of my motivation to train hard.  So I spent the rest of 2014 being lazy, eating a ton of garbage and waiting for 2015 to finally arrive.

So I won't end this sounding like a Negative Nancy, 2014 was a great year because I was really happy to become part of Newton Elite.  I ran for another company for three years and was looking for something new.  Newton was the only company I contacted because I'm really picky with my shoes and don't want to wear something that I don't really like.  Luckily, it worked out and it's great being part of a tight-knit and very supportive team.  My individual running goals are very important, so it was a bummer of a year but I was most displeased with not being able to run some really fast times for a really great company.

But here's what I'm looking forward to in 2015, running wise:

  • Olympic Trials "A" Standard of 2:15:00.  If I enter a marathon fit, I think I can accomplish it for sure.  But I can't run with poor tactics and have to make a couple tweaks to my training
  • New Half-Marathon PR (current is 63:12). I felt like I was in sub 63:00 shape at the time of Houston and almost switched to the half after missing a lot of training time when I got really sick a few weeks out, but I was much more content with my half PR, than marathon PR.  I'll take a stab at a fast half this spring and then attack it in the fall.  62:59.99 sounds much cooler than 63:12. 
  • Sub 14:00 in the 5k. That was always my big goal in college before mono came for me.  I should be able to do it but haven't jumped into a track 5k in almost three years.  I may go old-school style and attempt this one evening at the local track, all by myself.
  • State Record in the 5k on the Roads (14:13). I absolutely hate 5ks but if I do this, I can also accomplish the above goal.  So Connor Kamm, you need to get in shape (along with me).
  • Have one week where I run more miles than I have pounds. I'm not much of a gimmick guy, but this would be kind of cool…or sad.  I was actually pretty close in my Houston build-up but I enjoyed eating donuts too much then.
  • 5200 miles for the year. For all of the bad mathematicians, that's a 100 mile per week average. 
  • Run more with people. Other than Monday nights, I train 99.99% alone.  I need to meet up with the Nashville crew more than I already do and jump into more runs with the local running club.
  • Do the Little Things: I was doing this really well this past fall, for the first time in my running life and I felt like it was showing in my running.  But once I was done racing, I got lazy.  The little things for me are: healthy eating, sleeping enough, strength stuff, rolling/massages, stretching.
I always thought people who waited until January 1st to start something were dumb.  If you don't have the desire to do it on October 27th (random date), you won't have the desire to keep it up once you have a gimmicky date.  But I'm going to try and prove myself wrong and make 2015 a really great year overall.

My Top 10 US Men's Road Racers of 2014

With 2014 finally behind us, I decided to waste some time on my Christmas Break while my wife worked on a  puzzle (lame) and make my own Top 10 US Road Runners rankings for 2014.  The beautiful thing about creating your own rankings is that you can make the rules for it and if people think you're dumb, you can tell them to make their own dumb list.

Other than my gut instincts and my mood, I also looked at who ran well at big races, who had the best peak races and I gave a little bit of bonus points to people who raced a lot and at a variety of distances. None of that sissy grass running or running in circles counts. And you had to have at least three "real" road races, so sorry Bernie, you're out.  The top two were a no-brainer and then it got really tough and after that point, everyone could be almost interchangeable.

# 1. Meb Keflezghi

Won the USA Half-Marathon Championships (which was somewhat expected), Boston (I gave him no chance at all) and ran really well at the New York Marathon.  He's getting old but he's still the best road racer in the United States.  I'd love to see him race Bernard Lagat in a 10 miler once they are both 40.  And I want to see it, which means I don't want to race it and get destroyed by two Masters runners. With the Olympic Marathon Trials 13.5 months away, he is still the favorite.

#2. Ben True

It seems like he's jumping on the roads more and is competing very well on them. He threw down the gauntlet the last mile of the Gate River 15k to win over a tough field and raced very well and almost won the BAA 5k in 13:26.  He then went on to beat a lot of tough Africans at the Beach to Beacon 10k to finish third and won the Manchester Road Race over Sam Chelanga, who I believe he beat everytime they raced this year.  I also hear Mo Trafeh also owes him like $35,000 or something.

#3. Christo Landry

This guy is always in shape.  He won the US 10 mile, 25k and 10k road championships and placed second in the 20k and 7 mile, while winning a lot of money in the process.  Hopefully he uses some of that cash to buy some hamburgers because he makes me feel fat.  He put a lot of his Chicago Marathon training on his website, which is a good read.  And I don't believe he has ever raced a half-marathon, so hopefully he runs Houston in a couple of weeks. 

#4. Aaron Braun

He had a busy year and even debuted in the marathon. He started off placing second behind Meb at the US Half-Marathon Championships in 61:38, was the top American at Bloomsday, won the Cow Harbor 10k and San Jose Half and was doing all of the work at the US 12k Championships before the leeches took over at the end.  I've always liked how he hammers a hard pace from the get-go and isn't scared of anyone.  I'd also like to see him and Landry compete in a half-marathon and arm-wrestling duathlon.   He hasn't posted in a while, but most of his training is at:

#5. Ryan Vail

He doesn't race a lot but when he does, he does it well.  Dropped a 2:10 in London, beat a lot of tough guys to win at the Gasparilla Half-Marathon and then was the second American at New York.  I'd like to see him compete in some US road championships but his focus is probably doing what he needs to be to be in position to snag a spot on the Olympic Marathon team.  He also logs his training at:

#6. Tyler Pennel

The rest of the list was hard to make because everyone is so close on paper.  But I'll go with putting Pennel fourth since he has some really good range.  He started the year off on a great note to finish fourth at the US Half-Marathon Championships in 61:44, which was his debut.  He took another stab at the distance a couple of months later placing as the second US finisher at the World Half-Marathon Championships. After spending a couple of months running in ovals, he placed 2nd at Peachtree to Landry.  He made his marathon debut at Twin Cities and put a whooping on everybody.  I would have loved to see him compete in Chicago because I think he's only a race or two from a sub 2:10 but Twin Cities probably gave him a good feel for the marathon distance and his wallet also probably liked it as well.   I also believe he's run much faster since he lost his rattail.  He's another guy who logs his training  online.

#7. Nick Arciniaga

Scrappy racer who had two really good marathons this year.  First up was Boston in 2:11, finishing seventh overall and second American and then came back and ran really well at New York placing as the third American behind Ryan Vail. He seems to be whittling away at his marathon time, which should put him in the 2:10 or under range soon. He's also allowed to race as a superhero if he wants.

#8. Jeffrey Eggleston

This guy likes to get out and race a lot.  He ran at least nine half-marathons, not counting pacing the marathon group to 63:00ish at half-way in Houston and raced two marathons (8th place at Boston in 2:11 and 2:10 at the Gold Coast Marathon in July).  During the fall, he was busy being the Competitor Group's Half-Marathon poster boy before making a gutsy run at Fukuoka last month, where he was right at 2:08:00 pace at 30k before having the wheels come off and saving his legs for another day. He's pretty much self-coached and seems to have a real knack for understanding the marathon.  I also must confess that I bought a pair of khaki-colored jeans after I saw him wearing some.

#9. Shadrack Biwott

Another frequent face on the US road racing scene.  He had a busy year of racing, starting off with a seventh place finish at the US Half-Marathon Championships in 61:56, 2nd place finish at the US 25k Championships and a third place finish at the US 10k Championships.  He also ran a 2:12 marathon in Frankfurt and a 61:24 at the San Diego Half-Marathon, taking out guys like Gabe Proctor, Eggleston and Ryan Hall.  

#10. Josphat Boit

He had a very successful first half of the year with several top performances, including finishing third at the US Half-Marathon Championships, finishing as the top US runner at the World Half-Marathon Championships and then entered the Boston Marathon a few weeks before the race and ran with Meb for quite a while to finish in 2:12.  I didn't see very much from him the second half of the year, so maybe he was injured or something, which is why he's at #10.  I almost put Diego Estrada here, but Boit took it with his recent victory at the Run Like It's Recess 5k. He also ran 13:17 in 2001 as a 17 year old and I saw him compete in his first ever college race way back in the day.

So there's my list.  It's crazy that there was no Ryan Hall, Dathan Ritzenhein or Abdi Abdirahaman on there.  2015 should be a great year for racing and I'm really looking forward to seeing a lot of guys drop fast marathons.  There's been a sub 2:10 wall when it comes to American marathoning but with the Olympic Trials around the corner, it's going to be a dog fight for those three spots.  And with guys like Vail, Pennel, Arciniaga, Eggleston, Boit, Biwott, Landry, Braun, Matt Llano, Bobby Curtis, Gabe Proctor and maybe a couple of guys I'm missing all in the mix, I can see several sub 2:10 times in this upcoming year.