Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More evidence to support building an aerobic base

There are 4 reason I write this blog. Here they in a random order.
1 - Here is what works for me. Do it if you like, or don't
2 - A method of other runners holding me accountable.
3 - A way to document and capture races through reports (the way I experienced the race)
4 - Advocating alternative training plans.

I know #1 kind of contradicts #4, but #4 has become significant.

So, with that said, I was nervous to see how today's tempo run was going to be. I decided to up the speed from last week (9.3 mph, 6:28) to 9.5 mph (6:18).

Oh crap, was I really going to do this? This is where 2 years ago I would suck wind and start going into "the red zone".

But, I gave it a shot. At least today I was only going to do 6 miles at that pace, instead of 8.

Well, the long and short of it, I ended up doing 8 at that pace.

2.5 miles into the tempo pace segment, my heart rate starting dropping (just like it did last week). At 6 I was still relaxed and comfortable. Might as well do 8.

Max hr = 159
Avg hr = 153

So, I was only 1 beat higher for the average and 1 beat lower on the max.

I have never been able to run at that pace comfortably. So I am officially in unchartered waters (for myself).

The only other factors I can attribute this to (other than the long, slow, base building over ther winter) are the 1 - weight loss. 2 - Hornet stings. I have been improving ever since the hornets attacked.

Hope to get in 80 again this week.

Zumbro here I come

Friday, February 20, 2009

First hill workout of the year

Not that any of you care, but I thought I would post about hill workouts.

Did my first of the season today, and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be

Each interval was at a 15% grade, 5mph, for 1/2 mile. Between each interval I did 1/2 mile, zero grade, 6mph.

2 mile warm up at 7mph o% grade

Interval avg/max
1 155/167
2 161/171
3 163/175
4 166/175
5 165/176
6 165/176
7 167/177
8 168/178

2 mile cool down at 7mph o% grade.

This doesn't replace the training of running down a hill, but I am guessing it helps a lot for the ups. And, there aren't a lot of 1/2 mile hills at a steady 15% around my house...... okay, nothing even close, so it is good simulation.

March is going to be a huge mileage month. I plan to go into Zumbro well prepared.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Power of an Aerobic Base - February 2009 Installment

I remember reading about an elite woman marathon runner a few years back, and when asked "what have you done this year to get such great results?", she answered (I am paraphrasing)

"Don't look at what I did this year, look at what I did last year."

That was what I was thinking yesterday morning on a breakthrough run I was having.

Last year I took on the challenge of going low heart rate for 3 months, and I had some eye opening results about 2 months into it. Here is the post titled "The Power of an Aerobic Base". I even emailed the MN-DRS list (Dead Runners Society) titled "You can learn a lot from an idiot". I was the idiot, in case you were wondering.

So, yesterday was eye opening as it was almost a year ago. I broke through.

I have been looking forward to this tempo run today for a week. The HADD test showed promising signs of a new me. I could feel all of the pieces coming together over the last few months.

Cut to the chase. (treadmill run)

Warmup - 2 miles at 7mph (ending hr 125)
8 miles - 9.3 mph (6:28) avg hr - 152 max hr - 160
cool down - 2 miles - 7mph - hr ended below 140

I thought my average for the tempo segment was going to be 162-165. During the first two miles of the segment, I felt the standard elevated breathing whenever you pick up the pace. My hr was around 157. Then, 2.5 miles into it, I felt relaxed. Hmmm, that's funny, what's my hr.... 152?....

1 mile later it dropped down to 147. I have NEVER been able to run at that pace so comfortably. I seriously thought something was either wrong with my treadmill or my hr monitor.

I was only planning to do 6 miles at that pace, but 6 into I didn't even feel winded. I dropped it down after 8 so I wouldn't do anything stupid.

Now I know that it easier to do stuff like this on a treadmill a zero % grade, but it is also directional. I remember doing similar runs on the treadmill and being quite winded at a 7:04 pace.

I believe the base is similar to the bottom row of Maslow's triangle. Maslow's bottom row shows one's need for basic needs. Yes, you can have fast cars, nice clothes, etc, but if you don't have food, water and shelter, it doesn't matter.

I theorize that my base training was made that first row wider (more miles at low intensity, the wider it gets). Once it is strong enough to hold a row on top, you start putting on tempo work. The stronger the base is, the more tempo work you can do. Above that would be speed work (vo2 intervals), and at the top would be strides.

I also believe that if one starts doing tempo and speed work and lessens the base work, the base row shrinks. It has to be kept up.

This concept works for me. I have no proof to support it, but I am getting good results.

It looks like I will have the opportunity to train well in March, as all of my work travel got axed yesterday.

Happy Ice Trails

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The benefits of a treadmill

I have only owned a treadmill for 3 1/2 years. I never could get my brain around how people ran on them.

The first time I ran on one for any length of time, I thought I would lose my mind.

I used to just duke it out in the winter, or not run at all. I used to think treadmills were for people who couldn't handle "real running". I also used to believe in Santa Claus.

With base building, I have found the treadmill to be a valuable tool. On the road, I have found if I am in lala land, I will let my pace creep up when I am trying to keep it slow. I "feel good", so I speed up. Then, I start to not feel good, thus I have to slow down.

Over this last winter, I have put a lot of miles at low intensity on the treadmill. And, I learned a real obvious lesson - It doesn't change its pace. That is the beauty, set it and forget it.

Yesterday I wanted to get in a 20 mile run, and wanted to stay home in case I needed to stop and help with the kids (hopefully I could get most of it done before they woke up). So, I decided to do the 20 on the treadmill (my max on that beast I think was only 15-16).

I set it at 7mhp, knowing my heart rate would stay in the low range for at least 2 hours, and I would watch the last hour.

This same run outside would have taken me over 3 hours, and I would have been pretty sore. I did it in 2:52, and was not sore at all. Avg hr was below 140, with the last 1/2 hour dancing between 147-152. Also, I ate nothing, and only drank one 24oz bottle of water. (those who have run with me would be shocked, as I typically drink 20oz every 30-40 min.)

The lesson - Use the treadmill as a tool to get base miles in without putting much stress on the legs.

Set it and forget it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I never knew

A saw this link off of Scott Dunlap's post earlier this week. It is an article from the San Francisco Chronical about ultra athletes.

Unfortunately, I could only read a portion of the story online. But, what is fascinating are the comments. You have got to read them!

I learned that I am no different than a drug addict, that I will not be able to walk in 25 years, that I can't have a normal relationship, etc.

I know it is mostly ignorant individuals spewing hyperbole, but some actually defended their ignorance (although, they didn't acknowledge their ignorance).

My favorite comment is
"One point nobody touched on - in order to fuel these kinds of excessive workouts, you have to eat a crappy diet. There's no 2 ways about it, since you can't get the calories you need unless you eat processed food - bagels, pizza, cookies, breads, pasta - all the crap food that we are discovering causes insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. The effects of excessive exercise can't really "undo" a bad diet. And high calorie diets strain the body, as the longevity studies have shown. And many of these athletes probably have very little dietary restraint."

I would love for this person to meet Stu Mittleman. It would be a fun conversation to watch.

I contemplated doing an in depth post on this, and directing those readers to it identifying all of the midwest ultra runners I know who are also great family people, eat healthy diets, and are not plagued with injuries.

I guess opinions have now replaced facts in our society.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February Hadd Test

It's that time of the month again, time to measure my progress by use of the HADD test.

All in all, good news. I missed the marks on the low end, but still undershot the high end. Here is the data

Interval Speed(mph) target hr/actual hr
1 6.7 125/127
2 7.2 135/138
3 7.8 145/148
4 8.5 155/157
5 9.3 165/159 (max of 164)

I found the last interval easy, which was hard to believe. I have not been able to run at a sub 6:30 pace in a long time without working hard for it. I should have slowed down each other segemnet by .1, but I was curious how it would all pan out.

Below are the last to tests for comparison.

Interval Speed (mph) Target HR Actual HR
1 6.5 125 120
2 7.1 135 132
3 7.7 145 142
4 8.5 155 154
5 9.1 165 159 (my max was only 162)

Interval Speed (mph) Avg. heart rate
1 6.5 125
2 7 136
3 7.5 144
4 8.4 157
5 8.8 165

I am truly excited to have gone from 8.8 mph with an avg hr of 165 in December to 9.3 with and avg hr of 159 today.

Maybe I will do a road marathon this year.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A pleasant surprise

After pissing and moaning the last two weeks (being sick), not sleeping well, coughing, etc., I seem to have not lost anything.

Without trying, I was able to do 10 miles today in 1:25. I thought it was low intensity, but was just running by feel.

I guess that is a benefit of base building - it comes slowly, and goes away slowly.

Tonight I am going to lose all of my manly-hood I built up last year running ultras by watching "Mama-Mia" with my wife.

I will pick out a skirt to wear tomorrow.

Monday, February 2, 2009

What to do with a spare 22 million $$

While I was back in LA over Christmas, I took the opportunity to browse through the real estate ads. I am always curious how insane Santa Monica and LA property values have become.

Well, this one caught my eye. Not to build a house, or anything, but to make a cool trail running course. I am sure we could make a loop course to have a 50M, 100k, 100Mile.

The only problem with running in this area is... well... anything can happen up inthose hills.

If you have ever read any Michael Connelly books, you would know what I mean.

So if anybody is interested in pitching in, let me know.

by the way, it is pronounced "kah-wane-ga" (I know, I am not a good Phoeneticist)