Training: Feb 20-26

This was a week of “firsts in a long time”: first tempo run outside, first speedwork session, first run over 10 miles, first week over 50 miles.

I spent a fair amount of time this week experimenting in order to answer some basic questions here, at the start of a new training cycle. How fast should I run 1K intervals? How much running should I do the day after a tempo run? Is it a good idea to do some spinning the evening before a long run?

I am also trying to reintroduce some regular core strengthening work, since I am aware of how weak I am after I hit about the 8 mile mark on a run. My back is not happy the next day, so I need to work on the muscles that keep me upright. Have I mentioned how dreary and uncomfortable core work is? I hate doing it. But it sure beats pool running. Everything’s relative, I guess.

I managed three hard workouts again this week, from your staples of training run types: tempo, speed, long. The tempo run was difficult, the speed session not so difficult — and today’s long run was just meh on account of being scaled down from the original plan, which was to run 11, but do the last 2 at 7:30.

Although the rest of me had plenty of energy, my legs were not into it today. So I turned the run into what Sandra likes to call a “listen to your body” run — just run whatever effort/pace you feel like running. The result was wildly varying paces — from 7:45-8:30. But it was fine and I didn’t beat myself up about bailing on the original plan. A few miles at 7:45 is close enough. I will not do a moderate spin effort beforehand next time. Too much.

The Coogan’s 5K is a week from tomorrow, so I’ve only got two hard workouts this coming week — another speed session and a run with a few miles at race effort. The rest is easy with mileage around 40. The adductor was only an issue today, for part of the run. I have no clue what triggers it, since you’d think 1Ks on the treadmill would piss it off. But it was not too bad.

This post was boring. Sorry.

Runner’s remorse

Today I did a set of 1K repeats on the treadmill. I had planned to do four of them but I felt so darned good (and not tired after the fourth one) that I decided to tack on a fifth. I know that you are supposed to end such a session feeling as though you could do another — and stop there — but I felt like I could do three more. I don’t have another hard day until Saturday so it seemed like not a terrible idea to expand the workout.

Since I am an overachiever (at least in running, although in few other areas) I also decided to do the last one faster, which is something Coach Sandra encourages, if not requires. Want to run faster at the end of races? Then run faster at the end of training runs. Brimming with confidence and energy, I launched into the fifth repeat, punching the “go faster” button on the machine with gusto.

Everything was going well until about 300m into the repeat and I suddenly thought, “Well, this is kind of hard to do.” I had runner’s remorse. I had to decide if I was going to bail on that fifth repeat or stick it out. It would have been easy to bail — I was doing extra credit, after all. No one was looking. No one would care. But there I was (now at about 400m) — I’d chosen to do this repeat. I had to commit to it or spend the rest of the day feeling like a slouch.

I should mention that I have a better attitude about doing “track work” on the treadmill these days since I no longer have to do complex distance calculations beforehand (since repeats are in kilometers and our treadmill only displays miles), then suffer mental agony if I fuck things up during the run by punching the wrong buttons or otherwise spacing out, which I often do. It turns out that we have a little graphical representation of a 400m track on our machine, made up of lights. A blinking light moves around the track as you run, showing your approximate location.

Just to demonstrate how dense both of us are, we’ve had this treadmill for about six years and Jonathan just noticed this feature the other day. I just thought it was a meaningless blinking light going around a circle. Anyway, now it’s easy to do weird distances. You just look at the blinking light and figure out where you stand based on its location. So, for example, when the light makes 2.5 trips around, you’ve run 1K. It’s so easy, even a moron can do it. It’s too bad even two morons couldn’t notice it for six years.

I committed to the impromptu repeat, watching the little light go round the track 1.5 more times, and ran it 12 seconds faster than the previous one.

The technology is the easy part. The running is the hard part.

And the flowers are still standing!

Coach Sandra indicated recently that I should just go back to the plan she originally drew up for me before I got injured, whenever I felt I was ready to train again.That plan was constructed to get me up to a half marathon (5 weeks before a full), with one or two shorter races along the way.

Okay, I’m ready. After a couple of hours with Excel this morning, I now have a 10 week training plan to take me to the Long Island Half, starting two days ago. Working backward from the May 1 race date was easy enough. The stuff I’ve been doing over the past few weeks were a good lead in to the revisited training plan.

Mileage tops out at 54 mpw and the longest run is 14 miles. There’s a lot of speedwork and progression runs incorporating race effort/pace. The Scotland 10K falls in a good place in training too. I hate to say I’m excited, but I guess I am a little. It seems like a manageable schedule and I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I have 10 weeks to prepare rather than the more measly 8 I’d been thinking I had.

The plusses: My body has held up well under some genuine training demands over the past month+ — the physical ones as well as the mental ones required by doing almost everything on the stupid treadmill. I can look forward to competing in one “important” race per month from now through June. And winter has to end eventually.

The minuses: Not many. I am afraid of getting reinjured, but that worry should manifest itself as a conservative approach to hard training and a prioritizing of recovery, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. After a few years of overtraining, injury and race-time stagnation, I am happy to trade arriving at start lines slightly undertrained for not arriving there at all.

This post title is referenced at 4:30. I have always loved how this line is shouted off camera.

Training: Feb 13-19

In which I worriedly, hurriedly prepare for a short race

I am quite aware of the fact that I have a 5K race looming on the horizon. I don’t like 5K races but, to be fair, I haven’t raced that many of them, and only a handful have been since I started running competitively. In two weeks I’ll cover the Coogan’s course in Washington Heights. I have been doing what I can to prepare for a short, fast race while also trying to not do anything that’s going to irritate the adductor injury that continues to hang on for dear life. But I feel I’ve turned a corner in that if I’m careful and do a shit-tonne of stretching and strengthening, it’s under control and on its way out, however slowly.

That said, this was another okay week, featuring two decent workouts and one half-assed workout. I did not hit the 52 miles I’d originally planned, but that’s life. I do, however, now feel pretty confident that I can handle real training. With that I will get back in touch with Coach Sandra (whom I’ve not wanted to bug during this period of testing the waters) this week to talk half marathon training.

I’m at the point where running 10 miles at any pace doesn’t feel like a 20 miler. But endurance at faster paces continues to be an issue and time’s a-wastin’. So I am trying to add in some substantial efforts at speedier paces. This campaign to not embarrass myself in two weeks began with Sunday’s trip into Central Park. This time I dragged Jonathan with me, who managed 12 miles with some discomfort in his foot. But, heck, he ran 12 miles, some of them on the faster side. So that’s progress.

We ran 6 miles together to warm up, then split up to do our little workouts. I did an inner loop, he did an outer loop. I managed three miles at sub-7:30 and a last one at 8:00 (me so tired). That was pretty good for that course, in wind, coming off a “big” week. Having learned last week that a longer recovery run on Monday is a no no, I split things up into two runs.

Tuesday was a big social day as was Wednesday evening. On Wednesday morning I decided to try a fartlek run again. There has been some slight improvement over last week’s fartlek in that I could do two sets and the speeds were slightly faster. I also shortened the between-sets recovery time from 5 to 4 minutes.

On Thursday I didn’t feel like doing anything, least of all running. I spent pretty much the entire day finding ways to avoid running. Then I forced myself to go to the gym to do some circuit stuff and figured I’d just try getting on the treadmill and if it sucked I’d climb off and call it a day. Mostly, I wanted to go there so I could use the sauna. After the first couple of miles I felt okay so decided to at least do something a little more productive than a 9:50 plod: a couple of miles at faster paces, if not stellar ones. At least the 20 minutes in the sauna seemed well-deserved.

Friday I was flat out exhausted, so I skipped exercise entirely. Saturday featured an evening run at home on the treadmill. For some reason I felt compelled to tack on a half mile to the planned 6. I think I felt bad about bailing on Friday’s run entirely. A half mile here, a half mile there. Pretty soon you’re talking, like, a whole extra mile.

Next week I may attempt some actual speed work if I can find a clear outdoor track or uninterrupted flat pathway to run on. That depends entirely on snow meltage. We are scheduled to get more snow this evening, so yeah, ha ha. It’s February, bitches. Have another cup of snow. I suspect I’ll being doing more fartleks on the treadmill. They’re close enough.

My training weeks begin on Sunday (or, put another way, end on Saturday). But I got in the habit of posting these training tomes on Sundays. So I’ll cheat and mention that I did my first outdoors tempo run since the summer today in Central Park. I basically tried to simulate a 5K more or less, but split up into three bits separated by 4 minutes. I managed to run my 7 minute segments at around 6:50 pace, which I’m pretty damned proud of because it was hellaciously windy today. I was running at harder than tempo effort much of the time, but whatever. I’m not going to be a purist about anything at this point. Waste of time. I need to get used to being really, really uncomfortable for around 21 minutes.

Groovy new Tempo Run playlist appears below.

In which I am uncharacteristically social

I spent all day Tuesday with a friend (and part of the afternoon with her five-year-old, who is smarter and more articulate than many adults I know) in Manhattan. She’s one of the few people I’m still in touch with from graduate school from way back in the (gulp) mid- ’90s, and by far the friend from that milieu to whom I’m closest. She’s moving out of the country indefinitely in July, so we’re trying to spend some time with each other fairly regularly before that happens. I’m happy for her, but it’s still a bummer to have to say goodbye. There’s virtually no chance I’ll visit her where she’s headed. That sounds ominous; it’s not meant to. She’s not going to prison or anything. She’ll just be very, very far away in a place I have no desire to visit.

On Wednesday evening I drove up to Rye Brook for dinner and conversation with my heretofore virtual friend, Cris/Darkwave of Well, I’m TRYING to Run fame. I have been trading training notes and amusing quips online with Cris for several years, primarily on this weekly thread on LetsRun (although I have been absent for many months during my injury odyssey). Cris was just as intelligent, interesting and warm in person as I’d expected her to be. It was a fun evening, although I worried I kept her up too late on a school night, since she was up here on a business trip and had to get up at 5:30AM the next morning and be a responsible adult. I, on the other hand, being an irresponsible adult, was free to sleep in late and then spend the day farting around the house.

In which I somewhat reluctantly show some team spirit

I bought a long-sleeved Harriers tech shirt this week, since it was easy enough to swing by Urban Athletics on my way to see my East Side friend. It’s a little weird to anticipate wearing it in a couple of weeks, not only because I don’t want to put further pressure on myself in a race at a distance that is not my forte. I’m not generally a joiner and uniforms of any sort always give me pause. But wearing a shirt in the points races seems to be what people do.

I will say that it looks pretty fetching on me (I look good in black — and somewhat menacing, I hope) and it was comfortable enough on today’s test run, for which I wore it as a base layer so I could continue to stealth train.

In which I go back to my artistic roots

I have more websites than is reasonable for one person. Especially since none of them are making me any money. But I can always launch another one, even as the current ones sit neglected. I expect to launch this newest creative venture pretty soon — probably next month or in April. Those who have known me for a long time know that I have a long history of drawing cartoons. I have had a dry spell of this activity for, oh, about 20 years, although I will sometimes make a painting when under stress.

Anyway, I have been besieged by funny ideas lately. That has led to sketching and frequent giggling. I should do something with these ideas and with the good domain I own but have not known what to do with (people have offered to buy it from me, but I had faith that a use for it would eventually emerge). Yes, I want to express myself. At least I’m not writing erotic poetry or making wallets out of duct tape.

So look for that soon.

———————————————————–

Mix: Tempo Run

Nobody’s In Love This Year – Warren Zevon
Change4Me – Bettie Serveert
No Matter What – Badfinger
1994 – Amberhaze
When I Wonder – Charlatans U.K.
Souls Travel – Bettie Serveert
Meet Me In The Basement – Broken Social Scene
Elephant Woman – Blonde Redhead
The Well And The Lighthouse – Arcade Fire
Sincerity – Charlatans U.K.
Girls Talk – Dave Edmunds
Changes Are No Good – The Stills
Bled White – Elliott Smith
Pop In G – Heatmiser
Gimme Animosity – Superdrag
Godspell – The Cardigans
Better Things – The Kinks
American Girl – Tom Petty
Something’s Out There – Freedy Johnston
Don’t Look Down – Lindsey Buckingham
Billoddity – Mojave 3
Swimming Song – Kate and Anna McGarrigle
My Favorite Mistake – Sheryl Crow
Finding You – The Go-Betweens
Cellophane – Creeper Lagoon
Dirty Secret – Grant-Lee Phillips
I Need Your Love – Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

Listen on Rhapsody

Training: Jan 30-Feb 12

Astute readers will notice that I’ve skipped a week, Jan 23-29. That was just an awful, awful week, runningwise and in all other respects. Let’s move on.

What I like most about the above image is that it’s starting to look like the log of someone who is actually training. I’m not training for anything just yet, but I will be soon. For now, I’m just focusing on getting the mileage consistently in the 50mpw range and getting in at least two (preferably three) quality workouts a week. If I can do this for a few more weeks and stay uninjured, I will be a very happy woman indeed.

Then I will start worrying about training for my only real “goal” race on the near-term horizon, the Long Island Half on May 1. I’ll only have about two months to train, which probably isn’t enough for running my best. But I just want to run a decent half marathon. On the way, I’ll run two NYRR club points races: the Coogan’s 5K in early March and the Scotland 10K five weeks after that. To prepare for those I will be doing a fair amount of fartlek and tempo running over the coming few weeks. I hate 5Ks, but it’s a points race, so what the hell. I’m looking forward to the 10K.

After Coogan’s I’ll start focusing on training for the Long Island Half on May 1. I am hoping that by then I’ll have a good mix of speed and endurance in place. The Scotland Run should be a good “thermometer” race midway through that training cycle. It’s true that eight weeks is probably not enough to produce a great half performance, but I don’t have a lot invested in a May race. I just want to not implode during training, run a good race, and feel like I’m set up for starting marathon training in the summer (and perhaps I’ll run a good Mini 10K in June).

But I must stay uninjured.

To help preserve this state of affairs, I am stretching and rolling fairly regularly these days — maybe 4-5 evenings a week. This is a harder habit to establish than was daily flossing (which I am doing, by the way), probably because flossing takes 30 seconds and rolling/stretching takes 30-60 minutes. I would like to be getting more massages than I am, but money’s tight so I need to do that judiciously. I also started breaking up some recovery runs into doubles to try to further give the graint a rest. I did an eight mile run after Sunday’s race and that was a mistake. Mr. Leg was not happy.

Sandra has a standard pre-race-week schedule — for shorter distances, meaning half marathon on down — and I notice that she crams in two hard workouts back to back. This week I followed that schedule, piling on the work on Wednesday and Thursday: two hard runs plus a big weight session (I added that one — don’t try this at home before a race). The little recovery run on Wednesday evening helped enormously, I think. My legs felt ready for the progression run. Paces are no longer embarrassing: 6:20-6:40 for the fartlek segments and 7:00-7:20 for the fast finish run. My graint was bugging me during the fartleks (so I cut out the two minute segments on the second set), but it was not terrible.

I was tired on Thursday and Friday evenings, and hungry, so I know I worked hard. But I am okay today and plan to do 10 miler in Central Park tomorrow with at least the last two miles at what I suspect is probably my current marathon pace, maybe around 7:40-7:50 on those hills. I was going to do 12, but that’s too far still. Especially after this, what I think of as my first significant (running) training week since the summer.

One word about the metabolic testing that happened last week. There was no metabolic testing, as it turns out. It was actually just a V02 max test. That’s because there was no C02 sensor in the machine. Which explains why, when Jonathan was asking them about “fat vs. carbohydrate usage,” they looked at him somewhat blankly and didn’t give a straight answer. Now I’m really glad I didn’t pay for it.

But all is not lost. The Nutritionist is consulting nutritionist to the Columbia University sports department, where she is also an adjunct, and Columbia is outfitted with metabolic testing equipment (and, presumably, people who know what they’re doing). But it’s on the fritz! What is it with sports testing equipment?! As soon as it’s fixed, I’ll probably go run on a treadmill with a mask attached to my face again, as well as get the resting metabolic test done (which the other place also neglected to do, although they could have with another machine they have).

I’m down a couple of pounds, finally. But it’s too soon to declare victory. When I’m down five pounds I’ll feel more encouraged. The Nutritionist is working with a basketball player who has the same issue with fat loss, except she’s 6’4″ and weighs around 225 pounds. We are the hard cases.

Running Times: Winter Cross-Training Alternatives

Did I plug this already? Sorry. I’m plugging all over town.

I wrote this.

(Please don’t tell me about the mistake in the yoga section. I’ve been alerted to the fact that my pig ignorance is showing and will be trying to get that corrected this week.)

Podcasts I like

During my six months of cross-training purgatory, I got sick of my music mixes and turned to podcasts for distraction. In that time, I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts. Since I’m doing nine out of ten runs on the treadmill these days (and still hitting the other machines and pool sometimes), I’m still listening to them often. Most of them have some comedic element. I like funny stuff and it helps to counter my foul mood when I am pool running.

Here are some favorites, with top picks first. All are available on iTunes.

RISK!
This podcast features either live or studio-recorded stories from people who have tales to tell that fit into the week’s chosen theme. These are usually writers, comedians or actors who have something interesting to say and know how to say it well, meaning they are good storytellers and monologuists. Sounds easy. But it’s not. Most of the time, it works. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes moving, sometimes shocking. Always a good listen.
Starter episode: The Chase. Highlight: “The Freak Magnet,” Kerri Heidecker’s story of being stalked, scrapbooked and rendered in wax fetish form by a school acquaintance.

What The Fuck
Stand-Up Comedian Marc Maron has been a fixture on the comedy scene for a long time. But who knew he was such a skilled interviewer? With a mixture of empathy, wit and intellectual curiosity, Maron is able to establish a rapport and intimacy with his subjects that I can only envy and aspire to.
Starter episode: Dave Foley of Kids in the Hall and Talkradio fame describes his harrowingly awful first marriage, struggles with dyslexia and current status as child-support-poor, reluctant stand-up comedian. Sounds like a depressing drag, right? Well, it’s actually sidesplitting in spots.

Savage Lovecast
Dan Savage has been giving advice about sex (and both garden-variety and not-so-garden-variety romance) for…well, a long time. I used to read his stuff in the Village Voice way back when I was a commuting wage slave. He recently got some well-deserved press for his It Gets Better project, whose genesis was a call from a 15-year-old, stuck-in-the-middle-of-nowhere gay kid who could not see through his current sense of isolation to a happy future for himself. Anyway, the podcast covers everything under the sexual sun and more often than not I learn something new. I usually agree with Dan’s advice too.
Starter episode: In Episode 218, Dan gives good answers to questions like these: Her new boyfriend sometimes wets the bed; dealbreaker? Why does this straight man keep finding himself being mysteriously fellated by his gay neighbor? Is a mom who busts her daughter for sending photos to middle-aged men on the Internetwebs being nosey or heroic?

LetsRun.com’s Training Talk
Weldon Johnson, co-founder of LetsRun.com, interviews coaches and runners. The interviews are few and far between, but I always find gems among them, and he has gotten more confident as an interviewer over time. This is really for hardcore runners or fans of the sport.
Starter episode: Stephanie Rothstein talks about how she went from being a mediocre high school runner to breaking 2:30 at Houston about a week ago. She has a lot to say about injury, confidence and perserverence. A great listen for anyone who cares about their own running.

Judge John Hodgman
Viewers of the The Daily Show will know John Hodgman as the show’s “expert” on all matters, as demonstrated in the segment called “You’re Welcome.” Hodgman extends this persona out, acting as a Judge Judy of sorts (but much funnier), to help couples, friends and others who are in disagreement over something resolve their conflict. The show is uneven, but when the right combination of subject and guests is present, it’s a good listen.
Starter episode: Are Machine Guns Robots?

I won’t get out of here alive without also plugging the two I’m sometimes on: the New York Running Show and The Runners Round Table. Those are good too.

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