Track Races and Watch Tans

Not much can compare to flying along some fun single track on a dry, sunny day, at least not by my estimation. I’ve certainly been enjoying plenty of trail running since the snow melted, but man is it a lot more fun when the weather is +/- one degree of perfect like it’s often been for the past couple weeks! Granted on race day it always seems to crank it up to 11 with humidity and Fahrenheit, but otherwise it’s been ideal. Plenty of runners hate the really hot days, and while I’m not a necessarily a fan of them myself, as long as it’s not humid and I don’t have a race, it’s kind of fun to grit it out and work on those classy runner tan-lines. Anyhow, enough chatting about the weather in New England, it’s about to change again (seriously, a high of 61 and rain is forecast for tomorrow…)

So, onto the running! I left off in my last post having just returned from a fun-filled VT City Marathon weekend and boy oh boy has a lot happened in the two weeks since then. After returning from VT I ran what I thought would be a great 5000, but ended up being a disappointing and slow time. The humidity was in full effect and to top it off I had no one in my heat who was willing or able to push the pace at all. I led from the gun and won the heat, which was one small bonus, but still left me feeling thoroughly ready to put in some more work in training and a desire to forget all about it.

Scott Mason making even me look pro.

Scott Mason makes everything look good, even a crappy race!

Thankfully, the next event in the local series only offered a 3000 or 3k steeple, so I had to either take the weekend off from racing or try something totally new. I went way out of comfort zone and raced the steeple. As is often the case for me, trying something new was just the kick I needed to get me even more psyched about running again and to boost some confidence. I started right at the back of the pack and just pushed hard and consistently worked up my effort and ended up finishing 5th. Unfortunately I didn’t realize until half a lap to go that I was close to getting the club nationals standard and was unable to grab it, closing hard. Still, finishing in 10:16 gave me confidence that I can go a lot faster and was perfect inspiration to try the steeple at least once more this year and go for the <10:10. It also made me realize that I need to buckle down and push harder in the 5k.

Thanks to Tom Derderian for this great shot!

Thanks to Tom Derderian for this great shot!

Well, that was last week in a nutshell. Steeple is my new favorite thing and I would have gone right out and raced it again this week, but it wasn’t offered, so it was back to the 5000. This time I found mostly great weather and some solid people to run with, perfect. Took off in 3-4th for the first few laps and was content to hang on and churn out mostly 78’s with plenty of cheering and splits called out from the SISU family around the track (we also gathered enough people for three co-ed DMR teams, the highlight of the night, for sure) My goal was to break 16, but that was going to be a big ask, I knew, the smart move was running 16:1x pace so I followed the advice of those on the sides and just tried to hang tough. With a few laps to go the lead guy started to slow but the girl in front me also was losing steam and he was losing us. I made the move and got right up on him and then thought about making a move with a couple to go, but he sensed it and sped up. With 200 to go I moved into lane 2 again and tried to pull ahead, but again was matched. With 50 to go I finally got the lead and literally found a whole new speed, hitting close to 30 seconds for the last 200 according to GPS data. Big confidence boost, finally cutting some time off my 5k best, even if 16:15 is nowhere near where my aspirations lie, still felt good exercising some racing tactics. Did get plenty of ribbing about my “sit-and-kick” race after this getting up on the Level the other day, but I’m fine with that! Speaking of kicks… did anyone else jump up from the couch screaming when Ben True out-kicked Nick Willis to be the first American to ever win a Diamond League 5000 yesterday? Maybe I was inspired by that last night, come to think of it. Enough breaking down past races though, time to focus on what’s ahead and chase faster times!

Next up is my second go at the steeple on the 21st, followed by what should be a racing filled July, with some 10k and 5 mile action on tap. Hopefully some good tune-ups for some really fast XC this fall in mid-marathon mode. If I do get the club nats standard in the steeple, I’ll def make the trip down to NYC and have some fun!

As always, thanks for reading along and putting up with my self-aggrandizing race recaps. :p

And last but not least, please go try out some track if you haven’t before! This complete newbie here has had a blast in every race and never once felt like an outsider. Even adult runners can fit in and have fun, so don’t be scared to step up and give it a go! Just ask this lovely team of DMR runners; some with no experience, some with college in the recent or distant rear-view, all with smiles!
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Running Vacations and Weekend Shenanigans

I’ve only been on a few vacations in adulthood that didn’t center around my current pursuits, so I can’t quit understand the thrill found in sitting on a beach for a week. I want to chase my dreams, not chase a tan. I do enjoy relaxing and certainly value having downtime, but I try to get those during my weekly routine, not when I’m visiting a new place. I’m really more of a homebody anyway, so when it comes to vacations, that’s the time to get out and explore! In light of that, this past weekend checked all the boxes for me.

The Vermont City Marathon served as the backdrop of a fun-filled trip to Burlington, but it wasn’t the only highlight. The weekend started early with my second year of attending the 500 For The Fallen relay on Thursday night. The 500 mile relay supports the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation which assists with education costs of military children. With running being a mostly selfish pursuit for me, I really value the times I can actually give to others through running and what better way to do that than by also remembering veterans on Memorial Day weekend?

On Saturday morning the weekend started for real with fellow runners at my house bright and early to pick me up for the carpool to VT. We arrived in Burlington by noon and following a quick stop to pick up bibs, we arrived at UVM where I was planning on getting a track workout in. The prescribed workout was 3 x (5×400 with first 4 of each set at 5k and last rep @ 3k) recoveries were supposed to be 1 min, but I forgot and jogged a full lap after each repeat (1:40) full recovery of 4 min between sets. The weather might have been the nicest I’ve ever done a workout in and UVM’s relatively new facility is quite nice too! I was happily able to hit the pace I wanted throughout and feel like it should be sustainable in the 5k on Sat night (well… maybe)
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/311782780/embed/65becd6a732f5794854d51531b4db03039335f81

Saturday afternoon we went out touristing in the city. Some other friends were up in VT on vacation so we all met up for lunch, dinner, taking part in street performances and walking around by the lake. The most fun I’ve ever had the night before a “marathon” for sure. We called it a night fairly late for a race night and checked into the hotel around 10. The next morning we filled up on the hotel’s continental breakfast and shuttled ourselves and some others to the race start. VCM does an excellent job with everything and we were able to easily locate our group of friends in the front corral. My buddy Austin and I were both planning on pacing some friends shooting for mid 2:50 times, and were going to try and lead them for at least the first 13. The plan when I signed up was to be pushing up with the front and racing the whole thing, but I’m very happy with the change in plans and I’m certain this will be better in the long term. I had a blast in the 16 miles I did run, laughing and talking the whole way and hamming it up for the cameras. My friend and club-mate Amanda crushed it, finishing as the 5th female overall! Alex and E-J who were also running with us both ran 2:58 or faster and Austin and I got to feel like we actually helped as pacers! After a post marathon team brunch at the Skinny Pancake we went back to the hotel to clean up. Sunday night we sampled some more local cuisine and hung out with other runners before succumbing to fatigue and crashing early.

Monday saw a lazy start to the day and a traffic free cruise back down to Hanover NH to tour some trails around Dartmouth and film some cool scenes running through the woods. Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/311779843/embed/b5d6da6e3555ca54cbee7331151fb914ba5c8a6a
After refueling at the Dirt Cowboy Cafe we made the drive home and happily closed the book on another super fun, amazing running weekend. Also, one last shout out to Burlington for awesome restaurants and coffee shops, I think I sampled 4 coffee shops and drank more than I care to admit. haha Now it’s time to plan out the details on some summer mountain running trips and a full running vacation in CA this December.

Thanks for reading!
-DJ

Running? Oh yeah, I Am Still Doing That…

Well, it’s about time I posted an update, with Boston 4 weeks in the rear-view. It’s been a bit up and down since the marathon, as it often is, but more on the downward trend than up, unfortunately. I’m still running, but mileage has definitely taken a hit, partly planned, mostly from nagging pains and tweaks.

So, after Boston I took 4 days of complete rest then started building back up. Just easy pace stuff, letting my body set the distance and pace. The week after Boston I ran 50 something miles and felt pretty rusty for most of it. Before I go on, I should mention how I felt about Boston mentally, I suppose. The weather was the major theme and in a bad way. As with most people, my pace too was affected by cruel headwinds which intensified when running over the Newton hills. I can’t blame the wind completely for missing my goal time by almost 7 minutes though, running 2:36:54. I think a few factors played their part, one being an overestimation of my fitness going in, and two being a lack of proper planning in my pace over the beginning and finally the cold and rain along with the wind. I couldn’t find anyone to run with when I really could have used them too, but that was due to moving up in placement significantly from last year, one of the positives. I was also happy that I was able to keep grinding along even though I didn’t sustain the pace I wanted. And like they say, a personal best is a personal best at the end of the day.

With that brief recap given, I’ll gat back to the post Boston training and recovery efforts. Over the two weeks following Bostons rest week I increased mileage back to the low 60s and started working some fartleks back in. I’ve been struggling with some intense tightness in my right hamstring and the ever-present plantar in my left foot, though it has improved greatly! This has hampered the comeback enough that I’ve decided to drop out of VT City Marathon this weekend as a precaution against further injury. On Saturday I did get the chance to carefully run my first track 10k, certainly the highlight of May so far! I was still too tight to fully go through warmups, yet brazenly chose to push hard anyway and came away with my second fastest 10k yet, 34:14. I can officially say that I’m addicted to track now too! I’ve spoken with my awesome coach and she’s adjusted my training to work on speed as I focus on some more track over the next month. The plan all along has been to work on getting much faster over the summer before switching back to marathon training in early fall to prep for CIM in December. With skipping VCM I’ll now be able to get back to speed that much quicker. In fact, if you’re in Burlington this weekend and also not running the marathon, please join me for a track workout Saturday! Plan is for 3 x (5×400, first 4 @ 5k, last rep @ 3k pace) Should be a real butt-kicker; assuming the ART and graston work I got today accelerates the healing enough in my leg that I’m ready to attack it all out again.

That’s where I’m at! Apologies to regular readers on the long delay, post marathon blues… kills motivation every time. Thanks for reading!

No One Wants to Watch a Sit And Kick Race (Okay… I don’t anyway)

Dear athletes, coaches and meet organizers,

Please encourage racing from the gun. Our sport has few enough fans as it is and these snooze-fest races are definitely not helping. I understand that championship races are going to be more tactical, but since when does that mean downright jogging at every meet? The Diamond League distance races have almost exclusively become fast final lap affairs, as have most of the early season US events…  events used mostly to get standards out of the way; explain slow times as a benefit to me there? I seriously think we need some more Prefontaine characters around, as cliche as that may sound, we need some brave souls to start making it hard and honest from the get-go.

Ask even the most devout NBA fan what a regular season game is like, and they will tell you (if they’re honest) that you only need to see the last 2 minutes. In major track meets, we only need to tune in for the last minute these days. What a joke, to have anything in common with the mockery of sport that is the current NBA, but even they turn it up in the finals! See Spurs-Clippers 100-73 -Game 3 2015… so intense! Instead of getting more exciting in the big races with track, it’s even less exciting though. Just refer back to the Diamond League; here are some examples:
Emma Coburn winning a race where two of the best Ethiopians didn’t even bother to chase her down until it was too late. I don’t care if they did thought she was a pacer, shame on them for not sticking with the fast pace if that was so.
Impressive long final kick from Mo here, but c’mon dude, we know you have speed. Running “pedestrian” for a mile and a half first does nothing to help the sport, except maybe in England where Mo winning is all they want.
This is just a typical DL event, so pathetic. Bunch of guys who can run much faster, just waiting around in a 5000.
And of course, the final straw in my case against this stupidity. Today’s weakest and most pathetic final mile in the Penn Relays 4xMile.
And just to prove the big races do the same thing; here is a prime example of a championship race, where everyone… Yep! You guessed it, they expect a sit and kick, yawn of a race where Mo Farah can put down a 52 second final lap to win it.

Now I’m not trying to say, Ches, Mo, or anything other athletes are to blame in particular for this kind of racing. On the contrary, those guys know they can close hard, so why not start easy and out-kick to win, winning is the goal after all. I do blame the other guys for not making it honest though, if they went hard from the gun more often it would create a ton more drama and excitement for the entire race. These pro runners need to simply start exercising more courage and less “supreme tactical planning.” This isn’t a game of chess, it’s a freaking foot race, the first one across the line wins, who cares if he can run the fastest 400 after running hard for nearly 3 miles or what have you. No one wants to watch that, it doesn’t engage the average person. It’s like watching a bunch of old folks going for a Sunday drive in the first 199 laps of a 200 lap stock car race (granted I think all 200 are boring, no matter the speed) As for college races, all it takes is for the coach to tell his/her athletes to go hard more often, rather then playing to the boring, fast kick mentality. Meet organizers should encourage fast paces too, with incentives and bonuses for good times. And try it without the use of pacers, or pacers for only the first 1/4 of the race at most.

Anyhow, those are just some thoughts I have and they also happen to be pure facts. Please comment with your thoughts, if you agree or disagree, or totally hate me now.

Sincerely,
An annoyed and bored fan, who would gladly take it out hard in every major race if I could.

PS: After catching some flack from some milers, and distance guys about the difficulty in closing super hard and matching other competitors surges, I will clarify something. I do recognize that the sit-and-kick race is potentially even harder than running hard from the gun, and I understand that it might even be more fun to watch for the dedicated track fan. But my gripe is mostly fixed on my own perceptions and those of a general public who can pretty easily pick up that guys are not racing at their hardest until the very end and that they might also find this a cheap and boring tactic to watch.

Part 2: Boston 2015 Recap – The Party is Over and I’m Sad and Lonely

I’m not really that lonely, but I am pretty sad. There’s always a bit of post-marathon blues when you run, but after the hype and excitement of this race, the entire Boston area goes into a blue state of funk after. At least it feels that way to us. For as long and as cold as this winter was, I almost want it back, just so I can be training for Boston again. But, what’s done is done, the race is indeed over and it’s time to recover, rebound and get ready for the next battle. I feel a lot of emotions, I suppose referencing them in the title gives that away though, but beyond the sadness there are a few other thoughts that have prevailed in the past 24 hours. In no particular order, here they are:
1. I’m not going to race Boston again next year, or for awhile after that most likely. I’m not sick of it and I’m not mad about anything, but I do have a few reasons for this. I want to truly race Boston and I’ve not successfully mastered the course or marathons in general (I doubt any ever fully does) so I won’t return just yet.
2. I’d like to cut a lot more time off my marathon best and I am absolutely convinced that I can. I feel like I trained very well for this one and then still managed to race stupid in a couple of ways. I didn’t fully plan out my pacing and was still kind of making it up as I went. (another reason to race other courses when chasing times, you just can’t run consistent splits here) I also skipped taking in any fuel besides a little Gatorade until after the halfway point. Why didn’t I fuel earlier? I don’t know, ask the me who isn’t running a marathon and I can give you no answer. I did eat two gels, one at halfway and one at 16 and Gatorade at every mile or every other mile until the finish from 15 miles on or so. As I said, I felt the wind and it scared me into going slower from the start, which was probably for the best, but I was mentally unprepared for any pace besides my goal overall pace.
3. To PR on any day does hold some satisfaction, as does not fading and dying completely. On none of my 5k splits did I average slower than 6 minute miles and therefore accomplished a goal I set as a lifetime objective when I ran my first marathon, to one day run at sub 6 pace. I am ticked that I held 5:47 pace for much of the race before letting the hills and wind get to me mentally when I just started grinding on from mile 16. I cringe and want to yell in frustration when I look at my splits and it appears that I completely slowed down when I hit the Newton hills, because I wanted to believe that my training would have prevented me doing that. But I’m also taking heart in the fact that it wasn’t a mental lack of composure that caused it, I was just well and truly losing energy from fighting with the weather and whatever else.
4. It’s only been 3.5 years since my first marathon and I’ve cut off 54 minutes from that first 3:31. I would be more than satisfied with my current PR even one year ago, but right now it seems thoroughly slow and unsatisfactory and I’m happy that it feels that way. You can call me selfish or arrogant or anything else, but I don’t believe that’s true. I honestly believe that I can run much faster and I’m going to keep racing marathons until I no longer find them fun, which leads me to thought number five.
5. As negative as the above thoughts may sound, I really did enjoy the entire experience. Boston Marathon weekend is one of the most exciting and fun times of the year around here and this year was even more fun for me than last. Though my bank account may be unhappy with Tracksmith, I am feeling quite comfy! I’ve allowed myself to binge on foods that I wasn’t eating much of in training over the past day, which also holds some passing pleasure. I really did have a lot of fun in the race, even when I was grinding away in the final miles of the race and knew that I was far from reaching my goal time. At 24.something I thought “Why are you doing this?” And the answer immediately popped into my head “Because you’re having fun, more fun than anyone should have in this much pain!” I smiled at the thought and then noticed the clock at 25 miles, it read 2:30 something, I had officially missed my goal, with 1.2 miles to go still. I somehow finished the last 1.2 in only 7 minutes or so, even though it didn’t feel like my legs were responding when I told them to pick up the pace
6. I hate making or using any excuses, but I cannot ignore or downplay how difficult it was for me to run into the constant headwind and occasional large gusts and passing hard showers. I’m not sure how much ‘time was added on’ due to the weather, but I’m willing to bet that had I not been working so hard to come even close to goal pace in the first 16, I would have better dealt with the terrain in the end.
7. I really miss the grind of running higher mileage and big workouts and having to plan my days around it already. My taper was a little more aggressive than planned with the plantar issues and I have only had one day off post marathon so far, but I’m really itching to get back in the saddle already. I love training as much as I love racing and after this winter I really want just once this year, just one stinking time, to run a long workout that I can actually hit the paces I’m targeting without having AWFUL weather screw it up. So far, no such occurrence has presented itself, but it feels like spring might actually stick this time, so here’s to warm evening track workouts and early morning weekend long runs! I am ready to build off this marathon to keep chasing my dreams.

I usually try to do some kind of write up on each marathon so I can refer back to it for future training, but I think this will do for Boston 2015. I have no desire right now to go over the race mile by mile, since I stopped looking at splits and just ran by all-out-whatever-I-could-push-and-still-hope-to-finish-effort by about half way through. One last word though, my pre-race half written post, Twas the Night Before the Party turned out to be completely true and I’m quite happy with that. I truly did give it my all. I saw stars a few times on the final run down Boylston Street and was totally exhausted and spent at the finish line.

I’m still pretty amped up at 2AM the second night after the race and the words I posted on Facebook when I got home last night are still ringing around in my head and fist pumping the crowd in there…
If you’re dreams aren’t so big they scare you, yet keep you up with the excitement of chasing them and not the fear of reaching them, it’s time to reevaluate. The ‪#‎sisuUP‬ spirit was felt today and now it’s time to go full Viking warrior mode and start seeking new lands and chasing better plunder!

Part 1: Twas the Night Before the Party

I’m almost jittery I’m so excited for tomorrow. No matter what happens with my race, I’m just happy to be part of the race. It’s been a year of mostly consistent building with only minor setbacks, so I am feeling pretty good about reaching my goals. However, without giving up the drive to reach them or slacking in the race, I am still trying to focus on the joy of just being out there. Last year I ran pretty hard, but was still able to really rejoice and party along with Boston and the crowds the entire way. This year I do want to have a smile the whole way, but I want that smile to come through the focused and controlled face of giving it my all. I’ll be totally fine if I fall over and drop after the finish. In the ideals of Meb, I want to run to win tomorrow, that doesn’t mean winning the race, but it means running with my all and giving my best!

Discomfort and Pain, Friend and Foe

Any good distance runner can probably tell you a great deal about what discomfort feels like, along with constant hunger, fatigue and thirst. Pain however, pain is something we learn to compartmentalize or remove from our lexicon entirely. I can’t think of the last time when I wasn’t in at least mild discomfort and I’m actually quite okay with that, even proud. I can distinctly remember the last time I was in pain though (when I slammed my knee last May) You see, training for marathons is simply one long grind of discomfort, often extreme discomfort, with even more discomfort as the reward in the races themselves. Discomfort becomes then, a valuable training guide and a close friend and ally, it’s often the only one out there with us on those bitter winter runs. It’s often the only one sweating it out on the muggy summer runs too, only really leaving us alone on the easy paced runs in comfortable weather, or for those few moments of running euphoria when we’re coasting through the trees or gliding like a goat down a mountain. It always show up when we ask it to though, just as surely as the need to nap and extreme hunger are present after a hard 2 hour run or a set of 20 x 400 meter intervals. It’s not only there as a silent companion, but as a great source of feedback too. When we have to run faster and push harder just to be together again, discomfort tells us that we are now faster and stronger runners. When we are trying to run based on effort level, our discomfort tells how long we can sustain that effort on that day. In the end, discomfort is really a solid protagonist in the distance runner’s story, a bit grumpy and rough around the edges sure, but with a good heart. Pain is a sworn enemy however, it never comes along side to guide us to the right pace in a workout, it never tells us that foam rolling and massage our actually helping through the hurt. It never does anything positive, it just intrudes and barks unwanted orders to the components in our bodies that propel us forward, based on it’s own silly bias and ideas. Pain is a jerk and a dream crusher. Obviously it is still in my lexicon, though rarely used or admitted to. I’m not socializing with it right now, but I have been in that middle ground where localized discomfort hangs around long enough to create doubts about the reality of actual pain. This time my nearly p-word foe has materialized in the form of a very common running antagonist, plantar fasciitis. I would call it an injury, but that word is even more seldom used then pain, and certainly never applies to things that you can sort of run through! Real injuries have to involve broken bones and large ligament tears, right? Plantar is just an annoying pest that makes you feel like an arthritic octogenarian. After going through bouts of it for about two weeks, I’ve arrived at the taper portion of my marathon training with more discomfort then I’d like to admit to. Normally a few days of easy running, massage and stretching can clear any lasting plantar, but after two “easy” days last week (32 miles between the two) I decided that action needed to be taken since my foot was already in some righteous discomfort before the start of my scheduled 20 miler. So I did something that causes me real, genuine, honest-to-goodness pain, I skipped my workout and took the day off from running. As I mentioned in my last post, the reality of this being the right decision has no bearing at all on the morose and sullen lethargy that a runner feels when forced to skip his running. I moped around all day trying to focus on the positives in my life on the day before Easter Sunday, but hardly moved from the chair or bed. I managed to put on a happy face and go out to a friends house for a get-together Saturday night and did enjoy myself by employing the tactics of forced forgetfulness and ignorance, something I normally reserve for the first few miles of a run, when I’m not ready to hang out with discomfort yet. Yesterday I used similar methods and genuinely enjoyed time spent at Easter service and with friends who are more like family for the remainder of the day. Today I’m not sure how I’ll manage, but between work, strength training and enough core work to make myself cry, I think I might survive my third day of no running. Tomorrow I run, because to think that I won’t is just too scary an idea to fully accept. After all, I have felt slightly better each of the past two days, I’m not even limping in the morning!

The Biggest Training Weeks are Now Complete!

This post originally started off with the title, last big week starts tomorrow, that changed to today, and then yesterday! Well, my last big week actually finished today, it was so big in fact that I couldn’t even get around to finishing this post for an entire week. Anyhow, I have only one long fuel run left on the horizon next Saturday and around 100 miles planned for this coming week and then it’s truly taper time! Today was a miserable attempt at 35k fuel run workout. Started off alright, but used ALL of my energy by the end of 14 miles after leaning into 10-20mph headwinds and stinging snow in my eyes. The worst winter wins yet again. On a positive note, I also wrapped up a 126 mile week today, so it wasn’t like I was exactly fresh going into the long fuel run and I did still cover 24.2 in just under 2:29 with some painful plantar in one foot.

So now that my original intro to this post made no sense and I had to scrap it, let me just jump right into a recap of my last three weeks of training. Last week was one of my bigger weeks yet with 108 miles and 1 solid workout. It was also a grind starting out, coming off of a hard half marathon effort, but like they say; it doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger. The week before that contained that half marathon race and some quality speedwork and this past week was my peak for mileage.

So, from where I left off in the last update on March 7th…

3/8- Easy/Recovery Run. This was a slow 13 mile grind through soaking slushy streets in Boston. A good run but legs were nowhere near recovered from the big workout the prior day.

3/9- Easy + Hills 9 @ easy pace + 10 x 10 sec hill sprints. Legs felt fresher by the end.

3/10- AM Recovery Run 5.1, felt great in 50 degrees. PM Track Workout- 3 mile w/u, 8 x 1k @ 10k intensity w/90 sec jog recoveries + 4×200 strides in 32 secs w/60 sec jog recoveries, 2 mile c/d. Back over to the indoor track for the first time in more than three weeks. Legs were a bit stiff, but cardio felt great. Felt more comfortable and better as the workout went on and added a few 200m intervals at the end for fun. I did want to be around 3:15 per k and not 3:20, but I felt like pushing any harder would have been around 5k intensity so I kept it there. 17.3 miles on the day total.

3/11- Easy Run, 15 miles with run group in Wellesley

3/12- Fartlek Workout. 3 mile w/u, 10 x (30 seconds hard, 2:30 moderate) 2 mile c/d. Same workout I did before the 10 mile race a few weeks back ran the fartlek portion around 6:10 pace that time and 1:07 total time, this time I averaged around 5:48 in the fartlek portion and 1:02 total time. 10 miles total, 55 minutes of strength/core work afterwards.

3/13- Easy Run, 8.5 miles

3/14- Easy Run, 6.2 miles with 6x100m strides, 7 miles total.
Week totals: 81 miles with two workouts, one set of hill sprints and one core/strength training session. Pretty light week compared to most of them recently, but a good down week to prep for the peak training weeks to follow. 10 hrs 22 minutes total workout time.

3/15- New Bedford Half Marathon, 2ish miles of warming up and strides/high knees etc, then right into the race.
Cliff notes: Didn’t trust my training enough on the hills and allowed slacking off, also slowed down too much after a fast first mile. Confident I left 1-2 mins on the course, but other than that, fairly happy with it. Ran almost the entire race solo which sucked, especially on the 3 headwind miles running right along the ocean from 9ish to the big uphill at the start of 12. Still a PR, which is always a good thing. Net time of 1:13:48 and 55th place (finished 94th here last year) Next year, goal has to be top 20 and sub 70 minutes! Ran 5.6 for cooldown for a total of 20.7 on the day. Photo below from Krissy Kozlosky:

DSC_0332

3/16- Easy/Recovery Run, 9.6 miles with 45 min of core/strength after.

3/17- AM Easy Run, 7 miles. PM Easy Run. 12.2 miles. Felt pretty good on the second run, legs almost back to strength post half marathon.

3/18- Easy + Hills 13 @ easy pace + 10 x 10 sec hill sprints. Good set of hills after the run. Intended to do another good core/strength session after this run, but my hips were feeling pretty tight so I did 1 hr. of yoga and foam rolling.

3/19- Noon Easy Run, 4 miles. PM Mini-fuel Run Workout. Ran 4 miles to warmup and then decided to call it on running outside for this, just so sick of wind and cold. Went to the indoor track and ran another 2 miles outside first as a second warmup due to legs getting stiff sitting in the car. Workout was: 3 miles of 1min. fast (5:00)/1min easy (6:40) 3 miles Marathon pace 6:05-5:55, 1mile jog, 3 miles Hard 5:40-45, 1mile w.d. I ended up misreading the first bit and thought it was Min hard/min moderate and went out at too fast pace of sub 5/6:10-20 pace, came through first 3 miles in 16:34. Was worried I might have dug a hole for myself with all the miles already in my legs so I tried to be very controlled in the 3 mile tempo and ran 5:56-5:53-5:50 still feeling pretty good. Mile jog took about 7 mins and then it was time to push for the last 3; ran them in 5:38-5:47-5:32. Lost contact a little in the second mile as I was carrying maple water for one lap while taking sips. I grabbed a Gu and plenty of water on the 1 mile jog section also, to make sure I actually was fueling on a “fuel” workout. Went back outside for a 2 mile cooldown with a little yoga and stretching afterwards, it felt warmer out then at 10:30PM, go figure. 22 miles total on the day.

3/20- Noon Easy/Recovery Run, 6 miles. PM Easy Run, 10 miles.

3/21- Easy Run, 6.5 miles with 45 minutes of core/strength afterwards.
Week totals: 108 miles with one race, one workout, one set of hill sprints and two core/strength training sessions. A really good week overall, after coming off of some up and down training and a hard race effort. Very encouraging to still run my second biggest week of mileage yet when starting it out with tired legs. 14 hrs 34 minutes total workout time.

3/22- Long Run, 24 miles with strong winds and temps in the teens, what’s new, right? Ran with my friend Steph, she was doing 20 miles of harder pace with 2 mile w/p and c/d, she’s also racing Boston. We ended up running 21 at the harder effort and ran all 24 in around 2:47. Solid long run to kick off my peak week of training.

3/23- Noon Easy Run, 4.2 miles. PM Easy + Hills 12.5 @ easy pace + 10 x 10 sec hill sprints, 45 minutes of core/strength afterwards. 17.5 total on the day.

3/24- Track Workout. 3 mile w/up, 4 x 200m strides w/200m recovery jogs, 4 x 2k w/3 minute recoveries, jogged for two laps (goal was start a little faster than lactate threshold, work down to 10k pace) 3 mile c/d. Pretty much nailed it, despite feeling fatigued from the get-go and being a little slow on the 200’s. (33-high avg) Splits for the 2k’s were: 6:58-6:56-6:52-6:38, works out to 5:30 avg. mile pace. Total mileage of 12.7.

3/25- Easy Run, 15 miles in some pleasant snow/hail/rain/sleet. haha

3/26- Noon Easy Run, 6 miles. PM Easy Run, 12 miles with 45 minutes of core/strength afterwards.

3/27- Noon Easy Run, 6.5 miles. PM Easy Run, 8 miles.

3/28- Long Fuel Run Workout. Cliff Notes: Old man winter is a miserable dude; constant headwinds on the Boston course today and snow flying down stinging my eyes completely sapped my energy moving forward. Goal was as follows: 2 mile w/u, 10k at 6 min pace, 10k at 5:50-5:55 pace, 10k at 5:45- 5:50 pace, 5k at 5:40 pace, 1 mile c/d. Fueling as I will during the marathon. No rest between segments, smooth transitions. Really go hard the last 5k, okay if I bonked and had to stop. Goal of trying to really challenge my fuel stores to my help body adapt for marathon. Unfortunately, I used up my energy just running the first two 10k segments at goal pace and had nothing left to give when I got to the Newton Hills with 15k of hard running still to go. I’m not really that disappointed though, because driving snow and wind is expected to take a lot out of you and it was only 30 degrees to top it off. Also, I went into this with the most miles my legs have ever had on them, so I was expecting it to be a bit of a grind. Obviously I am still unhappy with how it went as I always am when I miss the goal of a workout or race. My effort level did stay up for the last 15k though, I kept pushing hard until the final mile of cooldown, still averaging just over 6 minute miles. I think I did still challenge my energy stores in a good way as I had to consume a bagel as soon as I finished. haha. Total mileage of 24.2. 45 mins. of strength and core in the PM.
Week totals: 126 miles with one workout, one easy long & one hard long run, one set of hill sprints and three core/strength training sessions. Another solid week mileage wise and apart from the long run today, pretty much got everything desired out of it. This was my peak week of training, but next week will still be around 100 miles, with a 25k fuel run planned for next Saturday as my last long run. 16 hrs 33 minutes total workout time.

Thanks for reading, hope it didn’t put you to sleep and as always feel free to comment with any questions about the training or what it’s like to have Hudson Elite Community provide you with excellent coaching!

The Fartlek

I was inspired by Nate Jenkins’ Fartlek Friday post, and by how my fartlek went tonight to post a little something on the workout favorite of both elites and regular folks. The fartlek has been one of my go-to workouts in early season training for the past few years and an important supplemental workout during peak training. I usually will run a harder/faster workout on the Tuesday of a week and then run some form of a tempo run or longer, slower intervals on Thurs/Fri, but when I’m feeling fatigued from Tues or have a race coming up, I usually run a fartlek. The best part about them to me is the adaptability and lack of complete structure. Unlike long intervals, or repeats on a track, you’re not chasing some distance, you’re simply going by time. For myself and I’m sure a lot of other runners, it’s very hard to know what my “effort level” equates to in a pace per mile. Depending on soreness, fatigue, stress, sleep, eating, etc etc, my effort level changes daily, not by too much usually, but still, it does change. Especially when I’m just getting back to fitness, I might feel great running at a 6:40 pace due to my legs being fresh and rested one day, but three days of solid mileage later, my easy pace could be 7:10. I bring this up to illustrate the beauty of the fartlek being based on time (in most cases that I’ve heard of anyway) When you run a fartlek like the one Jenkins posted today, a simple 6min/1min setup, running 1 minute hard in every mile (6,7,8 min. whatever that moderate pace mile is for you) or so; you can have ample time to recover on the moderate section in the rest of the time before your next hard minute. So, before I copy more of Nate’s post about it, I’ll move on! I’ve touched on why they work well in early season now, but as I mentioned, my favorite part is the adaptability. So, what does that later in the training block, supplemental workout fartlek look like? Well, tonight’s run is the perfect example, at least in my humble training, for that later season pre-race tuneup. The fartlek I ran tonight was the same one I ran a few weeks ago before the 10 mile race, link here to that workout. Tonight I ran the same workout again before my half marathon on Sunday, and with a few more weeks of good fitness in my legs I felt even better than last time and it was a great confidence booster. Link to tonight’s run here. The structure was; 3 mile warmup, :30 seconds of “hard” followed by 2:30 of “moderate” pace x 10, 2 mile cooldown. Rather than focusing on a specific pace for the hard and/or moderate sections, coach just has me run these with an average mile pace goal in mind usually. A couple weeks ago I ran a different variation; 20 x 1 min hard/ 1 min. moderate and my goal pace was 6:30/mile, also as a pre-race workout on the Thursday before a Sunday race. For tonight I had no specific pace goal in mind, but with warmer weather and feeling stronger I was out to beat my time on the same loop from three weeks ago. I averaged about 6:10 pace over the 30 minutes of fartlek last time and tonight my average was probably at about 5:48, total run time was 1:07:42 for 10.07 miles last time and 1:02:16 this time. Certainly a significant improvement, and I can honestly say that I kept the same effort level, hard pace was not an all out sprint, and moderate pace was easy enough that I was fully recovered about 1:30 into the 2:30.

Hopefully for some Fartlek newbie who finds this post, it will encourage you to go out and try any version of the run! It’s really just a great way to go run like a kid again, even if you strip away all structure from it and just run alternating harder efforts for changing distances throughout the middle section of a run. It’s a great way to break up an otherwise plain old run and inject some fun speed work too. If you’re a fartlek pro, please comment with some of your favorites so I can try them out!

Thanks for reading, and good luck to everyone racing LA Marathon, NYC Half, New Bedford Half or any of the other great races this weekend!

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/