The Worst Winter Yet and Treadmill Woes

I’m getting quite sick of all these people who won’t admit this is a tough winter, or that some workouts must be moved inside to be done properly. We’re breaking all sorts of snowfall record totals and going on a month straight of temperatures barely up to the freezing mark and usually far below it. Not to mention the frequency of those snow storms or the arctic winds that seem to be creeping over from the mid-west for no good reasons. Working remotely from home or missing work seems to be a normal occurrence at this point (not really a downside as it makes fitting in running easier) and it seems every long run is planned to take place during an actual blizzard.

So, with all of that being said, I’m not at all ashamed or embarrassed to admit that I have been getting my workouts in on the treadmill and indoor track. Now I’m still not saying that I like the treadmill, but I do like it a lot more than missing a workout. There are even advantages to using it for workouts, the obvious one being the ability to simply set it for the pace you are aiming to run and not needing to worry about hitting that pace. Looking back to last year, when I was clearly much tougher and avoided any treadmill runs, I remember a couple times when I kicked the ground in frustration and sullenly marched back to the house after being unable to finish workouts due to the ice/snow/cold/wind. I have yet to miss one this year. I have had the option of getting some workouts in on the indoor track in addition to friends hooking me up with ‘mill access and that has been wonderful too. Between longer repeats and shorter tempos on the mill and shorter repeats and intervals on the track, everything but long marathon effort workouts should be doable for as long as this brutal winter continues to vex and harass us. If the goal is continued progression of training and getting faster, than we just have to embrace every tool that helps us get there, even when that tool is the very epitome of boredom. I know that challenging weather, like any other challenge in training, can be used as a stimulus to get stronger when it has been beaten. My mantra has been; if I can train hard through this, I can race easy through the nice weather. The training has continued to be spot on for me and I’m so glad that Hudson Community was started at the perfect time to help me go after big new PRs in 2015! Brad’s training plan and Kara Lubieniecki’s coaching have both been great, and also having training partners on many of the runs has been ideal. I know I bring it up a lot, but seriously, I gotta keep talking about what works! Speaking of what works, consistent core work and strength training has been another big goal of mine in this training block and I’m happy to report that I’ve got at least two solid sessions in a week since the beginning of the year. I’m sure that it’s made a big difference in many areas, but especially the ability to hold fast paces for longer with efficiency. Time is flying right along, and we are hopefully (fingers crossed, knock on wood, with any luck and other things I don’t believe in) less than a month from the weather getting warmer again. In light of that, the first race of 2015 for me is coming up in less than a week! The plan is not to go all out from the gun, but to start conservative and work my way up, using the race as a solid longer workout, more than a race. It’s the first race in the New England Grand Prix series and it’s 10 miles of hilly terrain in cold and snowy Amherst, MA.

Below is my training over the past week, along with the planned training for this week, leading up to the 10 miler.

Boston Training, Week 7

2/8- 22 Mile long run, closed in 6:30-5:50-5:24-5:15 as covered in my last post.

2/9- 13 Mile easy run, very slow pace due to, you guessed it! MORE snow. But I went by feel and it was a good run. finished with 10×10 sec hill sprints up the slippery slopes. Around 13.5 total.

2/10- Mile Repeat Workout. 4.1 mile w/u in 30 minutes followed by 4 x 200 (33 seconds avg.) strides had me feeling good and ready to run fast. Hopped inside to do run the miles on the treadmill. Target pace was between 5:30-5:10 for 6-8 miles, splits were: 5:30- 5:24- 5:15- 5:10- 5:10- 5:10- 5:05. 3 minute jogging/walking recoveries between miles. Felt controlled and strong throughout, and finished with 2 miles in 14 mins cool down. Had no time for an 8th mile, or I would have kept it at 5:10 and run it. Happy with this workout.

2/11- 12.4 easy pace with Austin at run group. Got some manly frost beards on the run and had a good time. Austin is also training for Boston and is getting fit very quick!

2/12- 6 miles easy at lunch in 41:58 and 8 x 100 meter strides (15-13 seconds) PM: 10 miles easy in 1:11

2/13- 3 mile w/u, 4 x 3k with 3 minute recovery (5:42 pace) 5 minute walk/jog rec. 4 x 400m strides w/3 minute jog recs. 2 mile c/d. Workout felt a little harder than I’d like at that pace, but it was my first AM workout ever, if I’m remembering correctly. On the strides I had to stay inside on the treadmill, it only goes to 5:00 pace so I brought the length from 300 to 400 meters and just ran them at 5 pace on the mill. Cut my cooldown a little short to get to work, but still got in over 15.5 miles total.

2/14- 7 miles easy in Boston before helping coach at the BU Valentine meet and then staying to cheer for people in the 3k and 5k. Ate some burgers afterwards while watching Millrose Games and adding up the 36 sub 4:00 miles from the day!

103.6 miles for the week with two very solid workouts and one good long run. I continued with my core work, with and epic session on Monday and a lighter workout on Friday

Boston Training Week 8
2/15- 20 mile long run. Started out with another scenic snowy run and hit mile 11 before the wind got so fierce that it dropped to -20s with the windchill and we thought we might actually die out there. Finished up on the treadmill again. Blah run overall, wasn’t feeling strong and motivation was low.

2/16- 14 miles easy with 10 x 10 sec hill sprints. Felt much better motivation wise by the end of the run today. Took me forever to get myself outside and running on a work holiday, but was glad I did by the end. PM: Strength/core work

2/17- Planned: 3 mile w/up, 1 Mile hard (~5:15 pace) 6 minute rest, 3 miles at 5:45, 5 minute rest and 4 x 400m at 75 secs. with 1 min rests. 2 mile c/down.

2/18- Planned: 10 miles easy. PM: Strength/core work

2/19: Planned: 3 mile w/up, 10 x 30 seconds hard, 2:30 moderate and a 2 mile c/down

2/20- Planned: 6 mile easy run.

2/21- Planned: 6 mile easy pre-race run + 6 x 100 meter strides

Weekly total for this week should be in the mid 70’s, excited to see what that does for my legs in Sunday’s race.

2/22- Planned: 3 mile w/up, 10 mile race. Practice being competitive. Ideally start out conservative and work up. 7-8 mile cool down (cool down can be very easy, just want to add it to the end to keep legs used to long efforts)

Still reading? Good, here’s some bonus content! Here is a great article on some treadmill workout ideas and the differences between running outside and on the mill, from Brad Hudson.  http://www.coloradorunnermag.com/2014/02/13/master-treadmill-workout-hts-elite-coach-brad-hudson-shares-keys-making-indoor-workouts-count/

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling: Weeks 4 & 5 of Boston 2015 Training

I’m not superstitious, I don’t believe in luck or jinxing things, yet for some reason I hate to make public proclamations or admissions about my training when it’s going well. With a wince I will state though, I feel stronger right now then I ever have. After coming off my biggest week yet in mileage I expected to feel at least a little beat up, if not totally wrecked, but here I sit feeling slightly sore from yesterday’s 21 mile intro marathon mix. I didn’t post an update last week, so I have a couple weeks to cover here, I’ll start from the back and work towards today.

Week 4

1/18 18 mile long run, reviewed in last entry.

1/19 11.4 Easy + 8×10 sec hill sprints I’m not sure if I’ve ever spoken on the blog here about the value these hill sprints provide, so very briefly I’ll explain why I love them. Injury prevention, strength building. Yes, that briefly. What more could you want out of a quick addition at the end of an easy run? I know a lot of people who are doing strides, but few I know use quick, hard effort hill sprints. I started doing them when I first read Brad Hudson’s book a couple years ago and they quickly became a staple. But, why listen to me, here’s a link to Hudson explaining them himself.

1/20 3 mile w/u, 10×3 min hills (3-5% grade, half marathon effort, jog down the hill for recovery) 3 mile c/d. This workout totally kicked my butt! I was already starting to feel a little tired from the increased mileage and went in dreading the long hills. Mindset affects everything! Halfway through I started feeling better about it and my pace instantly increased… until I was genuinely beat and slowed down again for the last couple. 15.7 miles total

1/21 13 miles easy and 45 min core/strength work.

1/22 10 miles easy + 8 x 100m strides

1/23 4 mile w/u, 7 mile progression (start at 6:30 work down to 5:45-5:40) 4 mile c/d. (Prog. splits: 6:15-6:12-5:58-5:56-5:49-5:40-5:35) 15 miles total

1/24 7 miles easy and 1 hr core/strength

92 for the week with 1 set hill sprints, 1 set strides, two workouts and two core sessions. Felt pretty fatigued most of the week. Nothing too painful, just tough getting through the workouts and getting out there every day in the cold.

Week 5

1/25 20 mile long run, progression in the last 5k. Ran on the marathon course out and back from Back Bay, felt good running at easy to moderate effort avg. of about 6:40 pace. Started picking it up on the way back and probably averaged around 6:20, it felt awesome running a perfect bluebird day. Closed in 6:18-6:09-5:42-5:47.

1/26 13 easy + 10×10 sec hill sprints. First day of #Blizzard2015 running.

1/27 13 easy (not really that easy, officially ran in the blizzard) pushed 800’s till the next day. 45 min of great core work.

1/28 AM: 3 mile w/u, 10 x 800m at 10k intensity w/ 90 sec recovery, 3 mile c/d. Had to move to the treadmill after 3 feet of snow crushed us. Mill was set at 1% incline. Felt awesome throughout, maybe went a touch slower than I could have to be at 10k intensity. I was breathing fairly easy for almost all of it and it didn’t feel quite like 10k effort even though I was speeding up, which I realized in hindsight. Splits: 6 @ 2:42, 3 @ 2:40, 1 @ 2:35 PM: 5.2 miles easy pace

1/29 12.6 miles easy

1/30 AM: 7.2 miles easy pace. PM: 6 miles easy + 8 x 100m strides

1/31 21 mile long run, intro marathon mix. 2 mile w/u; 6 mile tempo (Goal: 6:40/mile, as low as 6:30; Actual: 6:28 avg) 6 mile fartlek: 1 min fast (5:50-6:00) 1 min moderate (6:40-6:30) Goal avg: 6:20 pace; Actual avg: 6:02. 6 mile progression (Goal: start at 6:20, get as close to 6:00 as you can by the end; Actual: 6:11-6:00-6:01-5:58-5:47-5:42) 1 mile c/d. No rest between segments. Total run average pace: 6:13 and 18 miles of workout avg’d. 6:09. The temp was in the mid teens with winds up to 35mph, bringing the wind adjusted temp down to mid negative teens. Wore a couple layers and somehow stayed warm. Started out with a bad attitude about the weather, but got over and started to embrace the work of the run. Took fluids of Powerade and/or water in every 5-7k or so. I’d give the run a B+ or A- as it was definitely one of the better long run workouts I’ve had in awhile, probably since a hard 20 in July with my buddy Sully.

112 for the week, new mileage PR! This week was the reverse of the last week; the more I ran, the more energy I had. Felt like the body was adapted to the higher mileage and snappy in workouts. We’ll see if it feels that way tomorrow, I ran 6 recovery today that felt okay, but it’s usually the second day after a hard effort that I really feel it. So excited for what’s next, I’m really starting to believe that my goal time is realistic for Boston! Thanks once again to Kara and Brad for the awesome training plan and coaching!

Song of the Post, from one of my favorite albums ever:

 – Lupe Fiasco

Training Through Discomfort

On Tuesday I was going strong on one full night of sleep out of the last six and was suffering from day two of a head cold. God delivered up a nice dose of humidity to really challenge my motivation, too. All day at work I was just thinking about how excited I was to go try a new workout and then trying to convince myself that I really was. I ended up leaving work with every intent to workout still in place and arrived at the park down the street from house with my ambition still intact. I set a wider goal pace range in my head to account for sickness and humidity and tried to be okay with the probability of running a slower workout than last week. I often try to mentally trick myself when I’m not feeling 100% by coming up with acceptable margins of error on my paces. I realign the goals for the workout, the trick is, I still fully intend to run the original pace. It doesn’t always work, but I can often start repeats easier when I’m telling myself that it’s okay to be slower and then charge to the finish to hit the desired pace. 

The selected workout is recommended by one of my favorite coaches, Brad Hudson, as a good 10k sharpening workout, best run at goal race pace 3-4 weeks out from a peak race. As I am preparing to race Lone Gull 10k in a few weeks and then some XC 10k’s after that, it seemed like the perfect time to do it. I elected to run on the rolling grass fields of Flerra Meadows in Boxborough, I wanted to get some more experience running hard on the grass in spikes. The target pace was 5:29/mile or in this case, 3:24/k, the workout is 4x2k @ race pace + 1k @ max effort, with only 1 min active recovery.
Repeats went as follows:
1- 3:15-3:17 (too fast!)
2- 3:19-3:22 (okay, now hold it here!)
3- 3:24-3:23 (good, good)
4- 3:26-3:22 (eh, close enough)
5- 3:12 (close to puking on mucus build up, pleasant, I know)

My total pace including the 1 min. recoveries ended up being right at 5:38/mile average for 6.1 miles. My current PR in the 10k is at a 5:34 pace so I was very pleased to hit my goal pace or just under on the grass, with some hills no less. It was a great confidence builder to go into a workout with multiple things not being optimal and still hit the pace I wanted. It seems like I’m getting in shape to possibly break 34 minutes after all! Still felt a bit stiff on tonight’s 6×800 track workout, but ran under goal pace anyway to get some speed in, averaged right around 2:38 per, with 400 recoveries and 1 mile at goal 15k pace at the end (5:38) Because, yes, all of this speed will not be put to the test for another week, this weekend I’ll be racing a 15k and I need to remember the right pace so I don’t go out crazy hard and fall apart! Next weekend is the first NE Gran Prix XC race and it will be a step down for me to 5k. My hope will just be that I can hold my 10k goal pace over the 5k XC course and use it as a starting point for XC racing. Tune in next time to read about some other new and exciting running happenings in my life and hopefully a positive race report from the GMAA 15k in Burlington, VT this weekend. Go Angry Chickens! (Greater Lowell Road Runners)

Boston Marathon Recap

As part two of the recap of one of the best weekends of my life, I figure I should start with some of the high points for the; “too long, didn’t read” crowd:

1. Overwhelming joy. I spoke of it in post number one, the wave of optimism and joy just washed over Boston.
2014 Boston Marathon Weekend

2. Big personal record! Very happy with a 9 minute and 18 second PR and finally breaking the 2:40:00 barrier!
DSC07831

3. Media attention for running at an all time high! (at least in my lifetime) http://running.competitor.com/2014/04/boston-marathon/fraioli-mebs-boston-win-powerful-many-levels_101169
Coincidentally, my own face on some news stories!
NBC News special on my favorite running store. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/boston-bombing-anniversary/store-runs-boston-bombing-victims-n85846
Interviewed on a local weather segment! http://www.necn.com/04/16/14/Spring-chill-hits-New-England/landing.html?blockID=865191&feedID=11106
Sports Illustrated web coverage of the marathon! http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/more/photos/1404/boston-marathon-118th-2014/27/

 

On to the race recap…

Sat. 19th Up early and ran 2m Easy/2@MP/1m Easy. Met my parents and two of my sisters for brunch. Brought my parents and sister back around my place afterwards to show them the area. Went to an Easter service in the evening. Came home and had a large dinner of mostly carbs, then got to bed earlyish.

Sun. 20th Up early to watch Liverpool match, picked up parents and went to church, hung out with a bunch of family and ate lunch then ran 4 @ easy effort (6:33) Small dinner of pancakes and banana and coconut water, in bed at 9:30 PM.

Mon. 21st MARATHON MONDAY! Up at 4:30 AM Last minute gear check, load up and drive to T stop to ride into the Boston Common and take shuttle to Hopkinton. Met up with my good buddy and usual race pal, Austin at the T stop and rode in together. Our bus left the common at approximately 6:45 AM and we arrived at the athletes village by 8 AM. I grabbed a cup of coffee and ate half a bagel while sitting around in nervous excitement. Met a couple guys who met and raced against THE Ian Sharman in an ultra. Felt good vibes floating around for an hour and observed a fantastic moment of silence for the victims of last year’s bombing. At 9:05 AM we were let go to make our way to the start line a half mile down the hill. After loosening up and shaking out the legs I cheered for the elite women as they made their way from the church to the start and yelled for the American’s as the gun went off at 9:35 AM. A short while after that at 9:50 AM an intense flyover from some National Guard helicopters took place, immediately preceding the elite men taking the start line. Ryan hall gave us all high fives as they went past and the general excitement was at a fever pitch, though all around me remained reserved, if a bit antsy. Before I knew it the gun went off and we were bumping and shuffling our way across the start line.

The Race: 10:01 AM I cross the start line of the Boston Marathon for the first time and hit start on my Garmin. The first mile is a bit crowded and I have to spend a little energy not running into anyone. The crowds of screaming fans are a bit distracting, but totally appreciated! The first mile clicks off on my watch at 6:13, okay considering that I couldn’t start running until a few tenths in. By now the crowds have thinned a little and I can hit my goal pace, mile 2 is completed in 5:59. For the sake of not being super repetitive, I’ll just say that all the way up to the Newton Hills I was simply focused on the crowds and enjoying every minute of the run. It felt like a fast effort but easy enough that with every watch check I found myself reigning in my pace a bit. I’ve developed a habit in marathons, of looking at my watch about 3/10’s into every mile to see what my pace looks like, just a quick glance to see if an adjustment is needed. I also take a peek if I feel like I’m really struggling sometimes, but other than that, it’s just there to record some data for post race synopsis. The splits for miles 3 through 16 were: 5:57- 5:50- 6:02- 5:48(Wait, what… in a marathon? What was I thinking?) 5:53- 6:06- 6:00- 6:00- 6:03- 5:52- 5:49- 5:53- 5:45(Big downhill in Wellesley to Newton line) Those miles just listed were by far the most fun miles I’ve ever run in any race and had I been falling apart, they still would have been fun. I’m serious, the crowd was so loud and so fun that I just floated through. I also saw A TON of friends along that stretch, all of whom inspire me daily in my running and in general! From 16 at the Newton town line you hit the first of the big uphills, it’s not steep, but it’s nearly half a mile of up, followed by a decent downhill though. I started out of breath after screaming at the Newton town line for more noise and spotting some great friends at the base of the hill, but I stayed controlled and told myself to slow up a bit on the hill intentionally, mile clicked off in 6:09. Mile 18 has some long slightly down hill bits before punishing you with the first of the hills on Commonwealth as you make the turn to the city, completed it in 6:08. Mile 19 is fairly easy, with a gradual down hill before the long climb up Heartbreak Hill, I sped up a bit and hit 6:03. Unfortunately the heat was really starting to get to me and I could feel my energy being sapped. After pounding up and over the last of Newton’s hills, I was unable to ratchet my pace back down again and 6:03 was my last truly fast mile split (for me) Mile 20 sees the bump prior to Heartbreak and I hit my slowest split yet in 6:12, felt okay though, considering the terrain. Heartbreak was indeed difficult at that point in the race and pushing that hard, I was nowhere near the 6:00/mile I cruised up it in a training run, but I stayed sub 6:30, with a 6:24. After Heartbreak I tried to speed back up and did hit 6:13, 6:09 and 6:13 again in the next three, but I knew by then that it was time to just hold on and run with the heart and the mind, because the body was done. 25 and 26 were 6:18 and 6:16, and the final .3, according to my watch, were at a 6:00 pace. Total average pace on my watch reads 6:03, which means I nearly ran the tangents perfectly, only a tenth over with 26.32 recorded. My official time is 2:39:08 for the 26.2 which gives me a 6:04 average pace, certainly close enough to my 6:00 goal to be happy with, given the difficulty of the Boston course and the 70+ degree temps by the end. My dream goal of a sub 6:00/mile average marathon now feels like it’s really within reach and had it not been for the heat, I might already be there. My first 20 miles were at a 5:59 average and considering my previous PR was at 6:25/mile average only 11 months ago, it looks like the training has started to pay off! It was a race I will never forget, a weekend I will never forget, a Meb I will never forget and a total honor and pride to be a part of any of it. I can’t wait to return to Boston next year.

By The Numbers: 2:39:08 Net time, 6:04 average pace, 78:25 first half and 80:43 second half. 305th out of 32,000 in my first Boston Marathon!

What’s next? I feel that the pressure I’d put on myself to get a sub 2:40 has been totally lifted. I do still have a strong hunger to get much faster, but I feel like the rest of this year will just be relaxed and fun. I’ve now checked off my long distance goals in the half and the full for 2014 and can focus on trying to PR in every distance from 10k down to 800 meters now! I’ve never had a lot of leg speed or tremendous strength so I think a summer of speed work and shorter races with lots of core and hip strengthening should set me up nicely for a potential half PR again this fall. Just maybe I will manage to snag another full PR, if everything works out. Immediate future is a 14 mile trail race this Sunday (yikes, don’t follow my example post marathon) Then after another easy week I will start to work the mileage back up in the first full week in May, next race in the USATF NE Gran Prix series is a 5 miler in June where I will look to set a big 5 mile PR. My current best came last year on a humid 85 degree evening in July, so I’m really hoping to improve on that number.

Finally, a huge thanks to all who have supported me so far this year, or read the blog, or trained with me! It means so incredibly much to know that I have inspired someone in some way to get out there and run/race/exercise or cheer for others. I get so much joy and satisfaction out of this fantastic sport that my top goal has to be drawing others in! Also, even bigger thanks to those who donated to my charity efforts for World Vision while training, with your awesome work we were able to raise over $550 to help bring clean drinking water and medical supplies and education to war torn and devastated areas of Africa.

-Button

Marathon Taper Time

Received my official runner passport for Boston, ready to pick up the bib in two weeks! I’m over the moon that it’s finally here! It seems crazy looking back to when I didn’t have a specific training plan in mind last November and had such lower goals than I do now, even back when I started training in earnest, last December. I gave Brad Hudson’s adaptive training style an honest effort this time around and I’m so happy I did, good race day or not, it has brought me so far already! As for the goals adjustement, I’m very happy I met some of the Greater Lowell Road Runner guys and joined the club, they’ve definitely helped give me the confidence I needed to bump up the training and the mileage to big boy levels.

Image

It’s officially taper time! As of today I have wrapped up my biggest week yet, 92.6 miles run and feeling better than I did a week ago. Some nagging aches and pains sustained from too many hours sitting in cars and meetings were worked out by the ART of Dr. Mui, once again! I had started to feel the miles and sitting catch up with me mid way through last week and made an appointment for this past Wednesday to get some good preventative work, rather than injury recovery. Within a few days I was back to feeling pretty good, though a little fatigued from the high mileage and still carrying some soreness, I think proper recovery with foam roller and the stick can get me over the rest of it. On to the training log, it’s been a while since the last update, so here goes!

Sun 23rd- (Planned) 24 mile easy pace run. (Actual) Ran 15 @ easy pace 6:30-7 min. + 10 @ 6:19 avg. Ran close to 7 by myself to start the morning, then paused for 10 minutes and ran another 8 with a local marathon training group all at an easy pace. 8 miles in on the group run two Greater Lowell guys came cruising past us at the base of Heartbreak Hill, of all places. After resisting the initial urge to keep pace with them when one of the other guys joined up, I caved in a few minutes later and sprinted the last half of heartbreak to stay with them and on into the city, finished by running up around the Charles on the Cambridge side and back to Boylston St. (25.1 total)

Mon 24th- Easy pace 7 @ 7:00/mile + 10x10sec. hill sprints (7.5 total)

Tue 25th- Progression 2m easy + 6 accelerating from marathon to half pace + 2m easy. This was my first day of travel on a work trip and started with a 7 hour car ride. The run was in biting wind and over epic hills in Valley Forge National Park. Ran at the right effort level even if my pace was slower than I wanted at times. (10.2 total)

Wed 26th- Easy pace 14, ran in Valley Forge again and than discovered an amazing flat and 40+ mile long rail trail for the last half of my run. Only a mile from the hotel to the park and the rail trail. Next work trip I will have a much better attitude about my running there! (14.2 total)

Thu 27th- Easy pace 10 planned. Got home after 8PM and another 7 hour car ride. Everything felt tight and awful by then, ran very slow and tried to stay relaxed. (7 total)

Fri 28th- (Planned) Threshold Run 3m easy + 4×10 min. @ half w/4min. active recoveries + 3m easy. (Actual) Workout skipped, complete rest day. GASP! It took everything in my mind to make myself take a zero day and let the body relax a little, it was much needed.

Sat 29th- (Planned) 7 miles easy. (Actual) Ran more; the farther I went, the better my legs felt. Did my rest day actually pay off? Am I finally training somewhat smart!? (11.2 total @ 6:52/avg.)

Sun 30th- Hard Long Run planned on 20 with 18 hard buffered by mile warm ups and downs. Realized that 20 would bring me to the base of Heartbreak in Newton when running on the course and couldn’t resist a final surge up and over with a mile back to the shuttle bus. I went into this run with slightly low confidence after the tightness and fatigue all week, but ended up feeling great! I ran the first 4 miles easy 6:39/avg. then hammered out the next 18 @ 6:16 avg. with miles 16-21 down to a 6:08 avg. Final mile was around 6:20 as I came back down the hill easier pace to cool down. Never felt like I was really at race pace even with a 6:00 mile over heartbreak. Fastest miles were on the toughest part of the course, too. I did have a couple brief stops throughout the run, for water, stoplights and traffic, but this really was a confidence booster! (22.1 total)

Mon 31st- Easy pace 10 plus 10x10sec. hill sprints. (10 total @7:00/avg.)

Tue 1st- Fartlek 12m planned with 8x2min. @ half pace. Did not feel great and cut it a little short, didn’t even get to half pace on the “on” sections, just wasn’t feeling it. (10.6 total)

Wed 2nd- Progression 14 with last 7 moderate, ran all 14 easy pace. 7:10/avg. Had my hips worked on prior to running and was trying to take it easy. (14.2 total)

Thu 3rd- Progression planned 10 with last 5 moderate. (9.1 total, last 5 moderate) Ran on my lunch break, on very little sleep, too much fluid and low fuel. Felt like garbage all run, and was happy to finish. Did 1.5 hours of recovery on the legs Thursday night.

Fri 4th- Marathon Pace run, 2m easy + 10 @ marathon + 2m easy. Ran the 10 @ a 5:55/avg. It felt okay, but more work than I could sustain over the marathon at that pace. Not too worried though as I was carrying soreness, fatigue and high mileage. I’m assuming that with a full taper and smart racing, I will be somewhere close to that pace on race day. (14.1 total)

Sat 5th- Easy pace 5 at noon + 7.5 pm with a friend on some trails, all nice and easy 7:00-8:00 min. pace (12.5 total)

Whew! Two big weeks of running to cap off this training. Very happy to have the hard work out of the way, now it’s time to be smart and prepare mentally! Total mileage two weeks ago was 75.2, this week was 92.6. Also reached a mileage milestone this week, I’m currently at 1041.5 miles for the year, first 1k is complete!

Current Training Plan -The Adaptive Running System-

I have had a few people ask me questions about specific workouts I’m doing, or about my overall volume and where I’m getting the basis for the training plan I’ve been following. I thought It might be fun to share some of that on the blog. I realized that though I have stated the name of my training plan, I’ve never actually shared that many details on it.

I will start by saying, every aspect of my running has been positively impacted since I started changing how go about training last summer. When I first started marathon training in 2011 I had no idea what I was doing, apart from the knowledge that I needed to follow a training plan of some kind. After a brief search I discovered the free training plans offered on coolrunning.com and jumped right on board. I then used some version of them up until my fifth marathon last spring. I felt that my training was never without some kind of setback or injury each cycle though. I also felt that due to that and some other unknown factors, I was beginning to plateau. Going from having never run before late 2010, to marathon training for a of couple solid years, I had definitely seen a steep curve in performance over that initial phase and I wanted it to continue! I started searching for new training plans early last Spring and bought a number of books on training, coaching, theories and disciplines. I did some searching online, too, from running blogs to forums and every sure in between. Somewhere online I saw someone refer to a book published in 2008 by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald. After a quick visit to abebooks.com, it was enroute to the house.

The book is called Run Faster – From The 5k To The Marathon. The authors are both well known and well trusted, Brad Hudson is a professional coach of Olympic caliber elite runners and Matt Fitzgerald is a well known writer, coach and sports nutrition expert. The book teaches you how to self coach using what Hudson refers to as the adaptive running system, he stresses that proper training and racing should help you see a year over year increase in performance and injury prevention. There are 12 general methods of training that characterize the adaptive running system:

  1. Consistent, (moderately) high running volume
  2. Nonlinear periodization
  3. Progression from general training to specific training
  4. Three periods in each training cycle
  5. Lots of hill running
  6. Extreme intensity and workload modulation
  7. Multi-pace workouts
  8. Non-weekly workout cycles
  9. Multiple threshold paces
  10. Constant variation
  11. One rest day per week
  12. Selective cross-training

Now, that might seem like a lot of great ideas on training, but rather hard to align with an actual training plan, it is not the case though. Throughout the book, using examples, figures and data a complete picture is established on how to use the adaptive running system to coach yourself. At the end of the book there are example training plans given, using the workouts and periods of training that Hudson recomends. One level of marathon training used in the examples happened to align quite well with the fitness I was currently at, so I built my training plan off of that base, using the methods described in the book. My last training cycle I had just started reading the book and was not ready to shift my training approach completely, though I did begin to. I ended up suffering through some mild injuries last fall and put in a month of very solid base work before attempting to follow this training system for a total 20 week cycle. So there you have it, the building blocks behind the training log updates I have been posting on here. I could take a much deeper dive into the individual workouts and the progression over the different periods in this training system, but I think that would fit better in another post. I will give one last shout-out to two of the things I have believe have helped me the most in this system; hill sprints for muscle strength and injury prevention and specific endurance pace based speedwork. I highly recommend giving the book a read if you are looking to improve your training.

PS- I’ve added a new blog post category titled, Training- should I make future posts about this training system or other training topics I will use that tag.

Marathon Training Update

I am more than two weeks into training and it’s high time for an update on the progress! After a week and a half of feeling very groggy, I’ve started to gradually adapt to the higher mileage this week. Still no injuries to report, just tired muscles and struggling to stay hydrated in cold and dry winter weather. Brad Hudson’s adaptive running seems to be working great for this self coached guy! This last week has been one challenge after another outside and is scheduled to be my biggest week yet, fitting way to start the year. The way I look at it is, go big or go home and I’m sure not ready to go home yet. (Not sure what that means, actually) Anyhow, here is the training log from the past couple weeks.

12/22 – Progression 12 miles with last 20 minutes @ moderate (6:36 avg. with last three in 6:17-6:10-5:56)

12/23 – Easy/Hills 8.3 miles (6:50 avg) with 6 x 8 second hill-sprints

12/24 Fartlek 9 miles easy with 8 x 1 minute @ 10k-5k pace (6:26 avg)

12/25 Progression 11 miles with last 5 miles @ moderate (6:40 avg) freezing cold in Central Park

12/26 Easy 9 miles (7:09) mileage was really tiring out the legs, felt good though

12/27 Time Trial 2 mi easy + 4 mi @ max effort + 2 mi easy (4 @ max felt sluggish after being in a car for most of the previous day; 6:00-5:59-5:54-5:32) (6:22 total avg)

12/28 Easy 5 miles (6:35)

12/29 Progression 14 miles with last 30 min. hard. It was bitter cold and raining so I started to speed up before planned, but it worked out to some nice neg. splits over the last 8 miles. (6:36-6:26-6:09-6:04-5:58-5:58-5:49-5:44) (6:20 total avg)

12/30 Easy/Hills 8.5 miles (6:42 avg) with 10 x 8 second hill-sprints

12/31 Fartlek 9 miles easy with 6 x 2 min. @ 10k pace (6:31 avg)

1/1 Progression 12 miles last 6 @ moderate (6 @ 7:35 + 6 @ 6:07)

1/2 Easy 10 miles (7:42) Sluggish legs and blizzard like conditions, very low traction even with micro spikes on

1/3 Progression 9.3 miles. 3 mi easy + 3 mi hard + 3.3 mi easy (hard miles 6:30-6:27-6:18) snowy and poor traction

Tomorrow I have planned an easy 6 mile recovery run and Sunday has a 16 mile progression run on tap. I’m hoping the running trail is clear by then, or it could become a brutal snowy sidewalk run.

As I will with most posts in my Boston training, I’m going to finish with a plea for donations to my charity efforts with World Vision, please take a look on this link and consider donating to a most worthy cause. I’ll do all the running and sweating, but I need help with the fundraising!
http://support.worldvision.org/site/TR/TeamWorldVision/TeamWorldVision?px=1423793&pg=personal&fr_id=2220

 

And What a Year It Was – 2013 by the miles and milestones.

It’s a prerequisite in the running blogosphere to write end of year reviews, so here goes! I normally hate on these things and poke fun at them, but I have to be the cliché one this year. 2013 really was something extraordinary, full of ups and downs and totally amazing. I’ve gone chronologically with the recap after scrapping my original plan of listing everything by importance and significance.

January
I got settled into life in Massachusetts by running a 5 Mile race on the first! Found a fantastic Wednesday night run group (Way up there on the ranking by importance list, btw) Made some excellent new friends. Saw my first professional runners up close in the indoor circuit. I took some time off to prepare for the next marathon cycle. Signed up for my first ultra (promptly bailed on it when the time came though and ran my fastest road marathon yet)

February
I bought my first race flats. Started training for spring marathon. I met and fell for a wonderful girl. I fell in love with running all over again too as I ran 212 miles in the month. Ran a 20 mile race in ice and sleet on an island and made many trips to NH. Got lost on a long run… ended up running 27 miles that day, oops. Saw the Lumineers for the second time and they were even better!!

March
Continued a high weekly mileage volume and started the month off with a super-fast 3 mile race, also truly learned the joy of running with someone else, many times over. I did ignore some nagging injuries that should have been dealt with (It wasn’t all fun this year 😦 ) I did finish in 2nd place in a ¼ marathon on a challenging course. I spent a lot of time in prayer and reading the Bible, as well.

April
How can I even recap April with any proper justice, it certainly deserves a post of its own, I will simply make an attempt. The month started with the welcome warmth of spring and boundless joy on every run. I started making a better work of my recovery sessions and running my ‘easy runs’ at an easier pace and managed my longest training run yet, a 50k training run. April 15th 2013 will not easily be forgotten, nor should it. As evidenced by being the most searched for thing on Google this past year, the whole country took it as a shock, tragedy and horror. I watched the marathon from the halfway point and still vividly remember the events of that day and nearly every detail, I’ll leave that for some other time though. Between sustaining my first 60+ mile weeks I also saw The Milk Carton Kids in April, second time and just as good!

May
Marathon madness for me! I ran Sugarloaf marathon and came away with a 6th overall and a big shiny new personal best as well as a nifty ceramic plate for taking first in age group! The last few weeks of training were typically underwhelming, but the race went well and I was very happy with the result. Vacationed in Maine and NH and had a blast. The month did end with a mutual breakup… and thus my summer began, full of questions and learning.

June
This will be the shortest recap as June was indeed the most boring month of the year for me. I started the month with a much needed multi-day hike with some good friends. I selected a fall marathon, chose a new training plan and started training. I did do a lot of reading, running/coaching focused and otherwise. The One Run for Boston came through on a muggy June 30th and was an excellent experience, full of positivity and resilience!

July
Started the month with injuries and the dreaded visit to a Dr. I only needed a week off  though and was able to rebound fairly quick. Saw the Bosstones! Ran a fast half-marathon on a very hot day and came in 2nd overall! In keeping with the year theme, the half-marathon was a PR, too. I really started using the adaptive running style advocated by Brad Hudson of the Performance Training Group and enjoyed a relaxed but focused training period.

August
Learned to embrace running in heat, no really, I didn’t hate every single run this summer. I had a good guy’s weekend in Portsmouth with K-West and Shirley Temple, always a highlight. Hit my “older 20’s” officially and instantly felt older. I finally bought a Garmin, life changing! Ran another half-marathon as a spec test for my fall race and came away with a big PR on a course with 2k’ of elevation gain! I finished the month with an epic quest for Heady Topper all over VT. Mmm… Heady Topper…

September
INJURIES! My first real injury and subsequent recovery time happened in September. Remember that lack of rest and proper recovery I mentioned back in March? No? Well, at any rate, my hip had been a problem off and on all year and it finally flared up so bad that I needed a couple weeks off completely and a few good ART sessions. Got in about a week of easy running again by the end of the month to prep for a now goal-less fall marathon. I learned the joys of proper recovery and back up races, too.

October
I ran a 2:54:30 marathon in some rain after a week and a half of training coming off injury. Got beat by my friend and still managed 7th place though. All sorts of lessons were learned on that one, most importantly, how to run a marathon just for fun and finishing. I made good memories all month with good running friends and non-running friends. I worked back up to full training, safely. In October I started seriously considering a move out to Oregon and spent lots of time and prayer on the idea, I also decided to book a trip out there. My good friend, Sam came out to Oregon with me and we spent a week at his brother’s house in The Yaak, Montana, too. The trip cemented my interest in moving west and though it hasn’t come to fruition yet, I’m anxiously searching for a job in Bend, OR. I learned the joy of running at higher elevation and with bear spray in my hand when I was out west and saw a million amazing and beautiful things.

November
The month started with my back-up fall marathon. The course was absolutely brutal and the weather tried to best the course’s hills for brutality. I ran out of gas worse than I ever have at 20 miles and had to grit my way to the end, my pace was all over the place due to the elevation changes. I was able to stay within 2 minutes of my PR and did not lose heart, just realized that my goals were not accurate for the course and based on my fitness level. I took a short break after the race and did some hiking and relaxing. I ran my first indoor track workouts and first track workouts with a group, something I will always look forward to now! Bounced back fast from the marathon and was able to get back to 50 a week for the second half of the month. Finished the month by Turkey Trotting across some icy fields.

December
Continued to hit 50 a week and finished a strong month of Thursday night track sessions with Greater Lowell Road Runners. I was able to get a huge PR in the 5k after all the track work and strong base building! Kept my eye loosely fixed on my mileage goal for the year that had seemed so out of reach post-injury, but now appeared reachable. On December 16th I started my training for Boston Marathon and consequently kicked off my fundraising for World Vision. I finished the year with a couple 60 mile weeks and no injuries to report. Crushed the mileage goal for the year by 47 miles, 2347! I’ve now gained 800 miles a year since I started running in late 2010!

 

I’m sure I’ve missed thousands of awesome, terrible and surprising; boring, fun and memorable happenings. This year was just too much to process at times, but so worth it for the lessons learned. As I wind this post down with Norah Jones quietly cooing on the speakers, I start thinking again of all the amazing things that 2014 will bring. I could not be more excited for this year to begin and though I’ve said that every year for a while, it’s still the truth. The west coast beckons, Boston Marathon awaits and many, many miles of running must be covered. BRING IT ON!

Big props in 2013 go out to my friends and family, both new and old; you helped get me through some very tough times and were a big part of all the good times. The shoes of the year were New Balance for racing/speed-work and Mizuno on the easy runs. Garmin came into my life and helped me with mileage and pacing. Chocolate milk and cottage cheese were the go to post run recovery foods until lactose intolerance barged into my body. Chicken was the go to food, usually in burrito or taco casings and I can’t count the number of new IPA’s that were tried. Well, that about wraps up the shout-outs and honorable mentions, so I bid you goodbye and goodnight, 2013.

Fresh Slate on Training

I’d love to use this post to explain how my next training plan will utilize core/upper body, speedwork and tempo runs to perfectly balance my distance training, when paired with adequate rest days and good nutrition. I have a significant problem to resolve first however…

I still need to determine what that training plan is!!     HELP!?

Historically I have followed two different plans in my marathon training, plans sourced on coolrunning.com or more recently a guide based off the recommendations in the back of Brad Hudson’s book, Run Faster. I have never been invested enough in the past to seek out a coach or some kind of interactive training, but I want to build of the past efforts and improve every year! 2013 was the first year that I did not meet the marathon goals I had set for myself and I want to make sure that in Boston next April I will be putting the best possible me on the starting line. I do not blame my training plans for the goals unmet this past year. I have spent some serious time analyzing this past year and recognized what I can change to give myself a better chance at hitting those goals next year. I’m sure I will end up writing a year end recap in the next couple of weeks here, where I will elaborate further on this past year and what happened, both negative and positive.

As for this coming race cycle, I would like to have a solid base of 18 weeks dedicated training, which means I need to start on Monday, December 16th. Before I start training again I will have already put in 2 30 mile recovery weeks and 4 solid weeks of 50 miles avg. including track workouts. This will certainly be the most prepared I’ve ever been physically before starting and so far I’m feeling pretty healthy, too. I’ve been trying not to overdo it, while still maintaining a decent mileage and having fun!

Anyhow, if you are reading this and can put me in the direction of some great training or coaching, I will entertain any new options at this point. I do have the Brad Hudson plan to fall back on as I did not quite give it a fair shake last time through, due to a late start and injuries. I still came within a few minutes of my goal time, despite the setbacks, but as a life long second guesser I feel that I must at least seek out some other options. I would love to find a coach or join one of the great local clubs (I’ve been doing track workouts with Greater Lowell Road Runners, shout-out to a very fun group!) but with my dream of moving out to Oregon still very much alive, I feel that it would not behoove me at this juncture to tie myself down here in MA.

I’ve made no attempt in the past couple weeks to write up anything and feel that laziness and TV are to blame. I have a ton of thoughts swirling around, but have been sucked in to Netflix. I promise to myself that I will get active again with my writing and start working on the book ideas that have been nagging me for awhile. (ha ha, yeah right) I’ll start with regular blog entries, maybe.

Workout of the post – 12 mile tempo run from a couple days ago. It felt great to have the mid 6:20’s rolling off while still being able to chat. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/411999529#.Up66f_XacIw.wordpress

Training Update

I first started blogging with the intention of posting my training and now that I’m a few posts into my switch over to WordPress, I figure that a training update post is due. Starting with a week ago, my workouts have gone something like this:
Friday the 9th
Fartlek – 8 Miles @ easy pace with 2min @ 10k every 5 min (average pace 6:00/mile in the “on” sections)
Evening run Speed Session – 5k in 18:10 followed by stretching, rolling and working loose.

Saturday the 10th
Recovery day, off to lovely Portsmouth, NH for some fun with friends. The kind of fun that makes running the next day seem impossible.

Sunday the 11th
Hard long run – 2 miles easy (7:00/mile) – 15 miles @ marathon pace +10-20 secs/mile (ended up being right on track somehow with a 6:25/mile pace) – 1.7 miles easy @ (7:30/mile)
Followed with solid stretching and rolling and re-hydrating all afternoon.

Monday the 12th
Easy run – 4 miles (7:13/mile) Legs were very stiff and painful initially, took 3 miles to start feeling good.

Tuesday the 13th
Easy run – 8 miles (6:46/mile) Too fast for an easy run, but sometimes that is how it goes. Legs had started feeling good again.

Wednesday the 14th
First ran in my fresh New Balance 1080 V3’s 5.2 @ 6:52/mile pace. Ran an hour later with run group at Marathon Sports in Wellesley, Ma , another 6.5 miles @ 7:13/mile. The second run was in a demo pair of Newton Energy NR. They felt very different from other Newton’s the five shallower lugs were more to my liking. We ran a mixture of trails and road and they responded well. I would probably not buy them for easy paced running personally, but they might be fun with some more speed, they did feel light on the feet.

Thursday the 15th
My first run ever with GPS! As the second part of my self purchased birthday gift on Wednesday I bought a Garmin Forerunner 10 to go with my new shoes. The run was a 5 miler with hill sprints at maximum effort 4 miles in. I did 10 x 10 sec sprints on a 8-10 grade hill. They felt great, even in the thicker 1080’s.

Friday the 16th
The workout this afternoon was brutal, to put it bluntly. I ran 3 miles easy (7:10/mile) followed by 3 x 10min @ 10k pace with 3 min active recoveries. Finished with another 3 miles @ 7:20/mile. The 10 minute sections were supposed to be run at half marathon effort, but it’s close enough to 10k pace for me that I shot for a little lower and probably ended up somewhere in the middle. The splits were approx: 1st@5:48/mile 2nd@5:45/mile 3rd@5:50/mile

My total distance over the past 8 days was about 72 all said and done. I’ve been keeping close to a 60 mile average over 7 days for the past three and a half weeks now. I am happy to report that I feel less likely to be injured now then I did before the higher volume started. The training methods of Brad Hudson seem to be dead on for me. Still remains to be seen if I will actually be much faster using these tactics, but the most important part right now is building a strong, healthy base. I want to keep improving year to year and I truly subscribe to the longevity method in seeing gains now. It took a couple years of impatient over-training to arrive at this place, but here I am.

Musical inspiration of this post:
http://youtu.be/0gEVaniPOmU