Summer Basebuilding: Week 9

sum09-base-09The heat and humidity eased a bit in the middle of the week, allowing me to comfortably do a few of my runs outside (something for which I was very happy). Then the outer edges of Hurricane Danny skirted the east coast and wrecked the prospects of having two decent outside weekend runs.

I’m sitting legs up in my fancy recliner, having resumed Semi-Stupor Sundays once again, thanks to the advent of the English Premier League Football season. Between the long runs on Sunday morning and hours of entertaining football, nothing gets done in my house on Sundays.

One of us lies half-conscious on the couch; the other semi-upright, but no less heavily lidded, in the recliner. The only motion observed is the periodic re-feedings every 2-4 hours. Sometimes in this soporific tableau I see a foreshadowing of our retirement years together. Then I remember that we’ll probably never be able to retire.

Anyway. Back to the week’s adventures. Monday, Tuesday, treadmill, treadmill. Wednesday, more treadmill, with some tempo effort miles. And, lo, they were faster than the last couple of weeks’ tempo miles.

Thursday I ran outside for the first time in 12 days and I was like a coked up greyhound. These were supposed to be recovery runs, and I did run them at recovery effort, but just barely. Zip zip zoom. Fall can’t come fast enough for me.

Friday I did more crazy fast running, this time on the track. A 1.75 warmup, then about three miles on the track with some one minute repeats. I was all over the place pacewise, anywhere from about 6:20-7:00. But I settled in at around 6:40 pace for most of them. A sprinkle turned into a steady rain, leaving the track all to myself for most of that work. Then things dried out and I finished up with six miles on the running path, again alone for the most part.

It was raining buckets on Saturday, so I did my recovery run inside. Slow, easy, boring. What it was supposed to be.

This morning was the third week in my long run experiment: how fast can I run at around 75% average HR? This week, it turned out to be faster than last. I ran the first two miles dead slow in 19:00. Then picked it up and ran 14 at an average 8:04 pace. HR was average 76%, although it crept up to 78% for the last four. Nevertheless, I was happy that it didn’t drift up farther than that. The next experiment is to see if these times/effort carry over to the roads. I hope next weekend brings good weather so I can see.

The South Nyack 10 Miler is in two weeks. I originally thought I’d like to break 1:09 this year, but I’m now approaching the race with no real goal. I’ll be running it after two fairly hefty weeks of miles and training, so that alone is making me reconsider setting lofty goals. And mid-September is always a crapshoot in terms of weather.

To put things in perspective, here are my previous times for that race:

2006 — 1:27:05
2007 — 1:23:35
2008 — 1:14:34

Whatever. I intend to race as well as I can and have fun. I’m pretty sure I can pick up at least another AG award this year. But even that isn’t a “goal” — more like a nice surprise if it happens.

95 miles on the treadmill? But how?

I’ve noticed a common thread in the reactions to my recent blog postings and tweets about how much running I’m doing on the treadmill, including all of last week’s 95 miles: “WTF?! I could never do that!”

Well, guess what? You could. And many of you should.

I experience an equal measure of horror and amazement when I see the training logs of people who are out there running what are supposed to be easy long runs, but because of heat indices in the 90s and above are slogging away at tempo effort instead.

Sure, the treadmill is tedious. But I emerge from my treadmill runs unscathed by the weather outside and having expended the appropriate amount of effort for the workout at hand. Good training means training smart as much as it does training hard. If you’re training too hard, you’re not training smart.

So there’s my little lecture.

I realize that not everyone has access to a treadmill. In those cases, you do what I had to do in the summer, before I acquired one: run everything by HR and forget about paces. Forget about a social life, too, because most runs will now take forever to complete.

Have I managed to convince you of the benefits of running on a treadmill during the worst of the weather outside? If so, here are some strategies for making it easier, mentally and otherwise:

Make sure you’re distracted. I make sure I have multiple forms of entertainment available. I have a television three feet away from the treadmill and I sprung for a mini home theatre system so I can hear it. If I have movies, I watch those. If I don’t, I watch television. If there’s nothing on television, I listen to music. If I’m sick of music, I listen to the radio.

Bonus tip: For faster runs (like tempo or interval efforts), the din of the treadmill can drown out even the most powerful sub-woofer. For those runs, I get subtitled movies (or turn on closed captioning). I’ve discovered a lot of really good foreign flicks this way.

Make sure you’re comfortable. I’ve got an AC running. I’ve also got three fans: a ceiling fan, and one trained on my front and another on my back. This is essential for keeping cool and keeping effort in the appropriate range.

Introduce some variation. The treadmill is unrelenting. I think that’s what bugs a lot of people about it. Just as we naturally slow down or speed up thousands of times during a run over ground, we should have the same variation when running on the treadmill. So I frequently change pace by 10 seconds or so to give my legs and brain some variation and rest.

Have a goal for the important workouts. I’ve found that I can deal with the prospect of a long, difficult workout on the treadmill much better if I go in with clear goals. Examples might be: Run 20 miles under 2:45. Or, run the last three miles of this 10 mile general aerobic run 10-20 seconds faster.

Induce temporary blindness. Do you think I want to run 20 miles on a treadmill? Of course I don’t. So I do my best to forget about the distance I have to cover. One good way to do this is to cover up the display on the treadmill. I hang an old pillowcase over the mileage indicator. Based on the pace(s) I plan to run, I know when I’ll be done. Five minutes or so before that time, I look at the display to confirm where I am mileagewise (and celebrate).

Remember that it’s for the greater good. And it’s not forever. Winters and summers in NY State suck. That’s just how it is. I’ve accepted it. But the spring and fall provide fabulous running weather. I keep those wonderful, crisp morning runs (and races) in mind as I climb on the treadmill. I also keep my training and racing goals in mind too. I’ll be in much better shape when the good weather arrives than I would have been had I done all my runs in the heat outside (or skipped them during the winter).

Summer Basebuilding: Week 8

sum09-base-08Every single run this week was inside on the treadmill. But I’ve gotten used to it. Just as I sometimes have stretches of many weeks during the winter when the ice on the ground necessitates running inside, so I’ve accepted the same fate during the steambath summer months.

I just remind myself that runs inside in reasonable temperatures and humidity will be much more productive (and faster to recover from) than runs where I struggle outside in heat indices approaching 100F.

This week concluded week six of taking iron and vitamin supplements. I feel like a new person lately, especially in the past three weeks. I’ve also been sleeping remarkably well (but not too much) and my resting HR has been in the 45 or below range most days.

On the training front, this was another very good week. I ran most of the recovery runs at a very low HR% (around 59-63% in most cases). I wanted to have plenty of energy for the harder runs and I did. The Wednesday run was tough, but it’s certainly easier doing those faster miles when they’re stuck in the middle of a run rather than tacked onto the end.

Friday’s run was gratifying primarily because I was able to run a lot faster that I’ve ever been able to on the treadmill. I managed 6:20 or better for the repeats and even managed to run 6:00 for two minutes during the first repeat before having to drop down to 6:10.

Today’s long run was the most satisfying run of the week. I’ve been working up to a faster pace on the last three weekend long runs, just to see what I can manage at a reasonable heart rate. Today I did an easy two mile warmup of 9:00 average pace, then dropped the pace down to 8:20 for a couple of miles, then 8:10 for the majority, finishing up with the final three at 8:00. My heart rate for the entire run averaged 74% (and that’s about where it was for the bulk of the miles), although it topped out at 80% for the last two.

Comparing this week to the previous two, my paces have gotten faster across the board for the faster workouts, with about the same amount of effort applied. This is giving me tremendous confidence. But it also makes me a bit wary. I was running spectacularly well in April and then everything fell apart in the following weeks. It’s hard not to worry about that happening again. But at least I know I’ll be more attentive to signs of a problem.

As with last week, I had no issues with the mileage either. Hitting 95 wasn’t difficult and I don’t feel particularly tired today. Next week is a recovery week with just 80 miles on the schedule. I’ll treat it as such, although I am keen to do another fast long run on Sunday, this time with a goal of averaging 8:00-8:05 for the run, to see if that yields a HR% in the mid-70s again.

I dropped the weight work this week, primarily because I didn’t have time for it. But I was also tired in the evenings. I may take it up again during the coming recovery week.

Now I go into mourning, since the IAAF World Championships have concluded. There were some wonderful races, not the least of which was today’s women’s marathon. I’m glad I’m not a betting woman, because none of my picks (which did not include Kara Goucher, for the record) podiumed. But at least I got two of the countries right (China and Japan), even if I picked the wrong runners.

New 5K trail race in Irvingon

The Van Cordtlandt Park Thursday night 5K series has ended, alas. If you find yourself in severe 5K trail race withdrawal later this summer, you’re in luck. There’s a new trail race north of the city in Irvington. It takes place on Saturday, August 29 at 9:30AM at Irvington High School to benefit their XC team. More info here.

What’s relay important

A fellow runner pointed out to me recently that it’s pretty easy to win certain marathon relays, at least in the all-women’s category. So I’m thinking it’s time to get a team together and plan for something.

Naturally, the most important aspect of all this is finding the perfect team name. I found this potential source of team names. I love Batwinged Bimbos from Hell, although how can you not love Macho Women Armed to the Teeth or More Excuses to Kill Things? I discovered these while looking up the origin of Renegade Nuns on Wheels (which I’d thought was Monty Python). Score!

Are you listening, TK and Flo?

Summer Basebuilding: Week 7

sum09-base-07This week: a little more mileage, a little more speed, a little more confidence.

I ran just shy of 90 miles this week, although it very well could have been 90 or more since I was guessing at distances until Friday, when I at last had my new training partner, Mojo, happily vibrating and blinking on my wrist.

NY was a sauna this week, with little relief, even at night when it rarely dipped below 70F. The dew points were very high some days, which is really where you feel the misery. The worst days were Saturday and today, and once again I was glad I wasn’t running in the NYC Half Marathon this year, as the heat index was already around 80F at 7AM and only went up from there.

I took it fairly easy on my recovery runs, especially yesterday (when it was a brutal 91F heat index when I got in).

I wanted to have a productive run on Wednesday, so I took the LT run inside on the treadmill. The last five miles at LT effort were tough but doable. Although the treadmill’s pace readings are always suspect to me (meaning I always suspect it’s anywhere from 10-20 seconds “slower” in terms of what it’s reporting), I know I was running at the right effort (as I borrowed Jonathan’s HRM again) this time around. And right now effort is more important than pace is.

Like last week, there was the strange pattern of my running recoveries quite a bit faster on Thursday, sandwiched between two speedier sessions.

I did Friday’s 10K repeats on the Bronxville track, which even at 8:30AM was like an oven, with the rest of the run on the running path.  But I wanted to try out my new watch, and I wanted accurate speed data, so I braved the weather. On my third repeat I suddenly had an image of myself as a soufflé with legs, rounding the track as the cheese atop my head bubbled, blistered and browned. Still, I was happy with what I managed: Two sub-7:00 pace repeats of around 1200m and one just over 7:00, all at 92% MHR.

The heat yesterday was just insane. I knew today was going to be a big long run, so I ran yesterday’s run extremely slow and at just 63% MHR average. The run, of course, took me forever. The longer I ran, the hotter I got, the more my HR went up, and the slower I went. This experience convinced me to take the long run inside today, since the weather was scheduled to be even worse today (and it was, according to Jonathan, who ran 16 miles up to North White Plains).

And so I ran 18 miles on the treadmill. And I was grateful for it. With AC and fans cranking, I too cranked. After a slow couple of miles to start as a warmup, I ran somewhere around 8:20 for most of the miles, then picked it up to 8:00 or so for the last few. HR% averaged 74% through most of the run and topped out at 79% toward the end. For entertainment, I watched the movie I’ve Loved You So Long (which was excellent) and then finished off by blasting some Radiohead. The 2.5 hours didn’t exactly fly by, but it beat the alternative of struggling outside for 3+ hours instead.

I should note that I’m tiptoeing into things in terms of pace on the harder workout days. Last weekend I did the long run at just under 9:00 pace. This weekend it was around 25 seconds faster (that table should say 8:27 for today, not 8:37). For next Sunday’s 20 miler (if I run it inside again), I’ll probably shoot for trimming off another 15-20 seconds per mile to see what my HR does.

Next week is yet more of the same, although the LT miles come in the middle of the run and the intervals will be shorter and faster (three minutes at 5K effort). Plus five more miles to top me out at 95 miles per week. I don’t know yet if I’ll be running more miles than that during fall training.

And the winner is…


That was among my favorites anyway, not the least of which is because it’s good timing: I got the watch just as I’m getting my running mojo back.

Thanks to all who voted and offered other naming ideas.

Hello, my name is…

My shiny new Garmin 310xt arrived yesterday evening. I’ve taken it out for a spin and, dang, I’m in love. This is my third training watch (previous models include a Polar RS300 and a Garmin 305, both of which bit the dust).

It seems a tradition among runners to name their watches. So I’ll jump on the bandwagon, but with your help.

Mixes: Speedy (1 hour)

Lately I’ve gotten sick of the same old playlists or listening to albums with spotty quality. So I’ve made it a goal to put together at least one or two new music mixes a week to get me through summer/fall training.

Here’s the first one. This features some faster tracks, which I’ll use for anything tempo-y. This list provides exactly one hour of music. Heck, I can do anything for an hour, especially if I’ve got some good tunes playing in the background.

Speedy: 1 Hour

No Cars Go – Arcade Fire
Switch On – Paul Oakenfold
Problem Child – AC/DC
You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
The Silence Between Us – Bob Mould
Run Baby Run – Garbage
21st Century Breakdown – Green Day
Barracuda – Heart
Is It Any Wonder? – Keane
The Lovers Are Losing – Keane
Human – The Killers
Celebrity Skin – Hole
Same Old Drag – Apples in Stereo
The Laws Have Changed – The New Pornographers
Dress Like Your Mother – Sleeper
Cannonball – The Breeders

Separted at birth?

Anthony Famiglietti

Jean-Paul Belmondo

Jean-Paul Belmondo