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

Summer Basebuilding: Week 6

sum09-base-06Okay, people. Now we’re cooking with gas.

This was a funny week. It was the first attempt at doing the summer maintenance plan I was originally scheduled to start a month ago, before a disastrous couple of races and Rip Van Winkelian sleeping patterns necessitated an intervention. So I was a bit nervous and that expressed itself as a tiptoeing into the harder work that started on Wednesday.

My watch is still on backorder (with numerous apologies from Road Runner Sports after my notes of protest), and it rarely worked out for me to borrow Jonathan’s heart rate monitor, so with the exception of Wednesday I guessed at effort all week, as well as distance when it came to the treadmill (which I suspect is way off).

Anyhoo. I started by swapping the Wednesday and Friday sessions for weather reasons. I took it easy on Wednesday, mostly because I did something bad to my right hamstring (right at the insertion point below the buttock; TMI?) during last Saturday’s “let’s see how fast I can run” experiment and didn’t want to aggravate it. Still and all, I cruised along at a respectable pace that was probably in the 8:30 range or faster at an average 75% MHR; I threw in a fast last half mile at more like 7:30 pace, with an MHR that topped out at 85%. So far so good.

The rest of the week just got better and better. My recovery runs were easy and faster too, dipping under 10:00 pace on Thursday. Friday was a good day at the track, with a four mile warmup through the streets beforehand at, again, around 8:30 and then four miles at what felt like something between half marathon and 30K effort.

I woke up on Saturday to temps in the 60s and a dewpoint in the 40s. Ooh la la! My resting heart rate had shown no fallout from Friday’s session, so I decided to take advantage of the fantastic weather and do my planned Sunday 16 mile long run on Saturday instead. I’m glad I did. I did something resembling a progression run (although I have no data). I started out at around 10:00 pace and sped up to finish the last few miles at probably around 8:00. Don’t know what my HR% was, but I’m guessing it averaged in the middle-to-high 70%s.

Today the heat and humidity were back, but all I had to do was 10 miles at recovery pace. So I hoofed it up to the Hartsdale train station at a nonetheless relatively speedy pace considering the weather and coming off of two hard days in a row.

I am pleased.

Next week adds another 10 miles to the total, with another block of lactate threshold running, some 10K pace repeats and an 18 miler on the weekend.

Also, today I saw a groundhog. It was so weird seeing it just out in the open that I thought it might have rabies. But then I remembered that I can play with rabid animals if I so wish. So I shook the groundhog’s little paw and wished him a lovely Sunday (okay, I made that part up).

Weight work

Rinus asked recently what I mean by “Weights” in my training logs.

I’ve had an on again/off again relationship with weight training for several years. It’s come down to a question of time and energy. When I have both, I do weight work in addition to running. When I lack one, the other or both, I drop the weights (so to speak).

Since I’ve been on the road to recovery over the past month or so (and trying to lose some, uh, weight — to further confuse this post and its readers), I’ve certainly had an abundance of time and, at least in the past couple of weeks, energy as well. So I’ve dusted off the weights until such time as the running takes over everything once again.

I should come clean right now and say that I rarely lift actual weights. I’m one of those hapless souls who fell for the 3AM Bowflex ad. Yes, I bought a Bowflex. But I’m sure I’m in the extremely small minority of Bowflex owners who actually uses the thing for something other than a temporary resting place for laundry or mail. (I also didn’t opt for the 80 year financing plan where you pay $0.90 a month for the rest of your natural days.) I also have a set of free weights (and a basic bench that a neighbor threw away). Jonathan uses those, but I don’t bother.

Purists will chirp that the Bowflex is not the same as weights. With weights you are working throughout the entire motion and using lots of other muscles to assist and stabilize the target muscles. I know all this. I don’t care. If I was serious about weight training I wouldn’t be a runner.

So here’s what I do with the Bowflex. Two to three times per week (at least for the moment), I perform the following exercises:

That’s it! I used to do something called the “seated ab crunch” but it’s incredibly awkward and I found that I was ending up with an iffy neck the next day. So if I do ab work these days (which is rare, since it’s tedious and painful), I hit the floor mat.

I do these exercises because in any race over about 15 miles I find that I start to have “upper body fatigue” issues. There is enough misery to deal with below the waist in a marathon. I figure if I can make my upper body a non-issue then that’s one less source of angst on race day. I only do seven exercises because that’s manageable. It’s enough that I hit the major areas of my upper body, but not so many that it’s easy for me to bail on the workout because there’s too much to do. If I’m tired or don’t have a lot of time, I’ll do two sets instead of three.

Before I got above 60mpw last week I was doing some leg exercises in addition to the upper body sets. These were all free standing exercises, meaning I didn’t use free weights or the Bowflex. Just me fighting gravity. These included:

  • Single leg squat
  • King deadlift (I can’t go as low as this freak of nature amazing woman can)
  • Hamstring dip [No video — raise one foot slightly off the ground, then bend forward at the waist and touch your toes]
  • Balancing on one foot with eyes closed (this is a lot harder than it sounds)

I’ve dropped the leg work for the time being because it’s very hard work and I feel it for several days afterwards. So much so that I believe it has a deleterious effect on my running. Were I running lower mileage, I’d keep these as a regular thing. But now that I’m heading back up into 90mpw territory, it makes no sense to do anything other than running for my legs.

Summer Basebuilding: Week 5

sum09-base-04Hail pills and rest. All hail pills and rest.

Finally, after five weeks of either total rest or puttering along at a strictly recovery pace and relatively low mileage, I’m starting to feel like the runner I once knew. Who is this mysterious stranger? She sleeps 8-8.5 hours a night without interruption. She looks forward to longer runs. She yearns to run fast. She does not complain about chafing — nay, she celebrates chafing.

I ran nine times this week, again strictly by time and, with only one exception, sans gadgetry. My new watch/HRM combo is on backorder, which hasn’t been too much of a hardship. I borrowed Jonathan’s HRM (which worked fine with my watch) for yesterday’s run. More on that in a moment.

The heat and humidity this week were tough, plus we had a lot of rain. Wednesday was the worst day, like running in a giant dryer vent. This weather pattern looks to continue for at least another 10 days. And, let’s face it, it’s August. So we can probably bank on crap weather for the next six weeks minimum, longer if we’re unlucky.

Fortunately, after one false start (caused by an electrical short from a misplaced wire; oopsie) we managed to fix our ailing treadmill, which seems stable again — it’s no longer throwing random errors and shutting down unpredictably. It’s unreliability made for some very nervous running. How relaxed can you be when the treadmill may suddenly stop at any moment? Running slow was nervewracking enough — going fast on that flakey beast was out of the question from a safety standpoint.

I had some issues with my left side later in the week. The entire left side of my body, from left foot all the way to left shoulder felt achy and stiff. The outer fingers on my left hand were numb too. My suspicion is that my “nervous runner form” on the treadmill was probably responsible for these issues. Things are better today.

But did I let any of this — the heat, the humidity, the schizoid treadmill, the broken HRM, one half of me messed up — get me down? Nope. I was a happy, happy runner this week.

The highlight was yesterday’s run. It was a warm morning, but with reasonable humidity (dew point of around 62). I borrowed Jonathan’s HRM in order to do another round of data gathering. The plan was to clock another 8:20ish mile and see what my HR did for the duration. It held in the 80% range, which I was very pleased to see.  Two weeks earlier I ran at about the same pace, but at a much lower dew point of 54, at about the same HR.

I’d asked Kevin if I could do 30 minutes of faster running this week should the mood strike, and it had in a big way. So I ran four miles between 8:00 – 8:20 pace, with the HR% topping out at 82%. Good stuff.

Today I felt no worse for the wear (and my HR was at a cooperative 43) so I went forward with the plan to do 2:15 of recovery running. I would have liked to have run this outside but we had rain and lightning moving through all morning. In the end, I’m glad I did the run inside where it was cooler and drier. I expect I won’t feel as knocked out tomorrow.

Now that I’m reasonably back on track I should be able to get into the rotating three week maintenance plan I was slated to start in June before all hell broke loose. I’ll start this tomorrow, with a week in the 80 mile range featuring some “perceived lactate threshold” running, some 1 minute repeats, and a longer run (16 miles next Sunday). I am so excited to be running long and running fast again.

The next race on the horizon is the South Nyack 10 Miler, one of my favorite races to run. I don’t have high expectations, meaning I’d be surprised if I PR’ed after this significant a pause in training (not to mention the fact that early September is still heat wave season). But it gives me something to look forward to and work toward over the next six weeks.