March 29, 2006

Just a quick entry since I haven’t posted in a week. I’ve been out of town for work since Sunday, but the running is still going fast and furious. Okay, maybe not furious, although my legs are furious at me right now for all of the hills I ran in St. Cloud and the Minneapolis area these past few days.

Saturday was a semi-hard 20 miler at 6:43 pace average with some fast miles at the end. That set off the DOMS in my quads, which only got worse once I hit them again on Monday morning with a 15 mile fartlek over some really steep rolling hills. I would stride out the downhills, usually 80-100 meters, at sixty second quarter speed or faster, and then work the uphill as steady as I could, about eight minute mile pace. Eight minute miles at 90% plus heart rates. Like I said, the hills are short and steep.

Tuesday brought more hills, but at a relaxed pace. The DOMS was really bothering me, so I was trying to lay back. I still ended up with 13 miles at about 7:00 pace with a 5:45 mile to finish. It actually felt better to push the pace. Go figure.

Today I intended an easy two to two and a half hour run, hoping for 20 miles. I got 13 and realized it wasn’t happening. I was operating on 5-6 hours of sleep each of the last two nights and the sore legs were taking me out of it mentally. Tomorrow will be 18-20 easy on the mill, which will reduce the pounding quite a bit versus the concrete.

Running Scared

March 21, 2006

I did twelve this morning, and finished feeling a bit disappointed. I wanted to get in sixteen outside with a final four miles at under six minute pace. The five-above-zero temperature this morning wasn’t conducive to that kind of effort, so I stayed inside and did my miles on the treadmill. I was able to finish with a six-minute mile in just under 1:25, about 7:04 pace. It felt good, but it wasn’t the run I was looking for today.

I cleared it with my wife to run five or six when I got home from work, knowing that it would be sunny and in the mid 20s around that time. I’ve been concerned for a while about my ability to train at paces relevant to running a sub-2:30 marathon, so I knew I needed to get out and check the engine, as it were. I was scared to death to try this workout. The plan was five to six miles with two or three miles at 5:25-5:30, or what is supposed to be tempo pace for a 2:30 marathoner.

I’ll spare the dramatic details and just say that it went well. A two mile warmup with a couple of strides set me up for mile one in 5:26, mile two in 5:24, mile three in 5:25, which was a nice surprise after turning back into the wind, and a final half mile (.51) in 2:50 (5:40 pace). My heart rate was very steady between 164 and 168 from the quarter-mile onward. I was just happy to not be anywhere near max. Mentally, I was expecting a tough two miles at 5:40 pace, so I was very excited at how easily this came to me.

What a difference a couple of weeks makes. I’m here to tell you, LSD works. The last week or so has been amazing in terms of gains. A few strides here and there as well as some six-minute miles, and I feel like I have my legs back at all but the fastest paces. Good, good, good.

White Noise

March 19, 2006

I’m listening to white noise right now. So that’s the title. That’s the kind of insight into the writing process you won’t soon find on a run of the mill blog.

I think I’m going to vomit.

See, real stream of consciousness stuff that puts you right there in the moment with me.

Alright. I posted my logs on Flickr, because they don’t seem to get all fricked up and resized like they do on Blogger. All my logs are now linked on the right sidebar, so you can take a look if you like.

I had a great run today on the treadmill. I’ve been down in the 60-70 mile range the last three weeks trying to inject some speed into my routine as well as figure out what my next step would be after running almost 1500 slow base miles in 15 weeks. So, the great run today, I think, was due in part to being pretty well recovered from the long miles, but was also because I am responding really well to the faster running. I averaged exactly seven minute pace for 22 miles, roughly half at 7:15 and half at 6:45, with the final two miles between 6:20 and 6:00. A bit of a riff on the McMillan fast finish run. As I sit here, twelve hours later, my legs feel incredible. I was smart enough not to go for another run today, although I wanted to very badly.

What is really curious, and I think this speaks to the value of high aerobic volume, is that I have experienced no side effects from the faster near-MP running of the last three days. Friday was four miles at 6:00 pace, Saturday was two more, and today was very close to two more at the end of a solid 22 miler. I’m certainly not tireless at 6:00 pace, but so far I don’t appear to need to recover from it. Granted, the volume of near-MP miles is pretty low at this point, and I will be jacking my overall miles back up starting this week, but I’m feeling pretty confident that I can continue to add in the MP pace miles and keep the overall mileage up near 100. It seems to make me feel better.

I think I am getting close to figuring out a racing schedule for the late spring and summer. I’ll probably add it to the sidebar with everything else, so look for that in the clutter, coming soon.

Monkey Off My Legs

March 17, 2006

What’s up with Mike’s site lately? It keeps coming back with 403 permissions errors. Are you trying to tell us something Mike?

I was able to do a nice little almost-MP workout this morning, finally, without the lower leg rigor mortis I have experienced the last two weeks when attemtping anything faster than about seven minute mile pace.

I started with a five mile progression from 7:20 pace down to about 6:40, and then four miles at 6:00 pace. My goal marathon pace is 5:44, but my treadmill only goes to 6:00 pace, so I make due. With the problems I’ve had the last couple of weeks, goal MP is probably too much like a tempo right now anyway. My average HR progression through the four miles was roughly 157-160-163-167, which is more than drift. More like piling on. It did feel like I was past LT on the last mile, though it was still comfortable.

Anyway, I was happy to have the workout on my legs. It may have been partially out of range, but dammit, it felt good and that’s what counts.

9 miles :: 1:00:35 :: 6:43 pace :: including 4 miles in 23:58


March 14, 2006

Very interesting. I have the heart of an old man apparently. My max heart rate test turned up a 176. That is much, much lower than the 192 that I had been determining all of my percentage efforts from. So that is good news. Another bit of good news is that I did not often let my heart rate monitor determine how fast I run. Maybe two or three runs in 15 weeks. I run how I feel, but I like having the data to get a consistent objective set to correlate with how I’m feeling. Plus I’m just a gadget dork.

Now I can look back at those 1450 miles over the last four months and feel very good about the effort levels. Before I was very concerned because it felt like I was working really hard on most of my runs, but they were coming out to be less than 70% percent of what I thought was my max HR. So then I would get frustrated and crank out a long, hard run and maybe get 74-75% max HR average, but then be totally wiped out for two or three days. Well, that 75% at 192 turns into about 82% of 176, which is pushing into the mid-range of a good, solid LT working zone.

I found some information that might explain why my max HR is so low. I know that 10 years ago, it was at least 200. Turns out there is some evidence that it can change dramatically based on your conditioning. I found this on Pfitzinger’s site:

You can accurately determine your max HR during a hard interval session. An appropriate workout is to warm up thoroughly and then run 3 high intensity repeats of 2 to 3 minutes up a moderate hill, and jog back down right away after each one. If you run the first hill at 90% effort, and then run the last 2 all out, your heart rate should reach its maximal level during the 2nd or 3rd repeat.

Interestingly, there is evidence that max HR changes with an individual’s aerobic fitness. Your max HR decreases when you make large gains in your cardiovascular fitness, and increases again if you have the misfortune to go from being very fit to out of shape. An untrained person may experience a 7% decrease in max HR with training. As your max HR changes, your heart rate training zones may need fine-tuning. If you have substantially increased your level of training you should test your max HR every 6 to 12 weeks to check whether it has decreased. Similarly, if you have had a prolonged break from running, you should check your max HR because it may have increased during your time off.

I certainly should have made large gains in my CV fitness, so this puts my mind at ease. I will definitely be making the max HR test a more regular part of my training, as well as the Hadd type testing. The information is invaluable to progress, which is what we are all after.

By the way, the max HR test is a BITCH! Fifteen percent incline at 7:30 pace is brutal.

Analyze This

March 14, 2006

Once again, Zeke inspired some heart rate talk with his recent comment about max heart rate and his entry on the Hadd test. Reviewing my training log, I noticed something from a run on February 24th that I did. It was a 10-miler, one of the first I had done in a long time outdoors. I tacked a 5:30 mile on to the end, which was mechanically very difficult, but physiologically felt pretty good. Using SportTracks and my Garmin 301, I was able to break the final mile down into .25 mile increments, and get average HR and pace data for each quarter. Here it is…

Pace HR
5:49 156bpm
5:43 161bpm
5:25 163bpm
5:01 168bpm

The thing that I found interesting was that I wasn’t able to crack into the 170s, which is generally considered marathon racing territory, with the effort. Also, considering my goal marathon pace is 5:43 and change, a heart rate in the low 160s at that pace looks very favorable. As opposed to all the negative thoughts I have been having about ‘what have slow miles done for me lately?’, this is making me feel really excited.

According to Hadd, and a number of other aerobic system proponents (including Lydiard), it is the maddening process of aerobic development that puts one in a position to do equally meaningful development work, such as threshhold pace runs. These are the runs that allow one to feel more comfortable at fast paces, and thereby run faster, longer.

One possibility the above data brings up, though, is that my max heart rate is not as high as I think it is, which would change the meaning of the data completely. We’ll see. I’m going to try to max tonight on the treadmill.


March 12, 2006

Mister Buddy and Miss Beans. As requested, here are the kids. Mister Buddy is two months old, and Miss Beans is almost two years. They definitely keep us busy.

I mentioned in my last post that I was frustrated with how little I seemed to have gained in terms of overall fitness. Looking back over my logs, I can see that all I was really doing for almost 1500 miles was recovery runs. Almost all of my running was done at heart rates between 125-135. At first, staying in this range was the only way I could manage 100+ miles a week, and after a couple of weeks, it was all I could manage without getting really tired. Pushing up into the low 140s was actually difficult, and required the kind of recovery usually reserved for a late season, high-volume interval session. If I had not had a heart rate monitor on, I would have slowed down, thinking I was pushing too hard.

What I have done the last couple of weeks is try to gain some perspective on my training, as well as try to get a handle on what I need to do to start progressing toward the marathon in October. I cut my mileage down to 60 and 64 miles for each of the past two weeks, respectively. I added some faster easy running, with several runs over an hour and under 7:00 mile pace. I also was able to complete about 7 miles between 5:30 and 6:00 pace over the course of three runs.

I found that while I hadn’t completely wasted my time running too slow, the bottom line was it was nowhere near my best aerobic pace. I ran this way for such a long time that my muscles ‘forgot’ how to run faster than about 6:30 pace. As I had hoped, I have made huge gains in the past two weeks, running my heart rate well into the 140s and even into the low 150s without feeling wiped out for the following three days. It’s still tough, but it’s getting easier.

Lesson learned? Mileage and pace should not be mutually exclusive. There has to be balance across the entire range of paces, heart rates, and distances. With this in mind, I can spend the next 200 days building toward my goal race in a much more effective way than I was before.