Sunday, February 28, 2010

Plan B

After about 3 days off of running I'm beginning to come up with a plan b for my training between now and my goal marathon. The ankle isn't hurting anymore and I'm going with Brad Hudson's advice of taking one more day off and doing a test run tomorrow afternoon. After that I'm trying to decide how much mileage to put in before the marathon.

I'm definitely going to move back into training carefully, with no set goals for mileage for the next week or two. After that I'll decide if I want to work towards as many miles as I planned for the week, or adjust my schedule to fewer miles. I'm also going to write in my core training into my training schedule to keep me honest. I've tried to do two or three sessions a week, but I definitely have had weeks where I've only done one session of core work.

Here's my workouts for the week:

Sunday -
16.2 miles with 6 easy, 5 miles: 90 sec 10k pace/90 sec easy, 2 easy, 3 hard

Monday -
6.3 easy with 10 X 10 sec hill sprints

Tuesday -

Wednesday -
11.1 miles with 2.75 warm up, 4 X 1 miles @ 6:04, 3 min recovery, 3 miles easy

Thursday -
2 easy, stopped with TPT

Friday -
30 min elliptical

Saturday -
30 min elliptical

Total: 35.6 miles with 1 hour elliptical

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I finally decided that the pain in my left ankle means it's time to take a break--I'm hoping it's only going to be a day or two, but this morning there was just too much pain to keep my run going. I was going to run an easy 6 but turned around after about a mile and decided it wasn't worth it. I'm ten weeks out from my goal marathon and I'm hoping it's not too late to get this thing healed. 

It looks like what I have is most likely tibialis posterior tendonitis. It make sense because it's in my right ankle, which from what I've read is the likely spot if you're running on the left side of the road all the time. It also happens to be the ankle I broke last winter playing basketball, which could also be a factor.

It's too bad because my workouts have been going so well. I ran 11 miles yesterday including 4 X 1 mile around 6:04--almost 30 seconds per mile more than the workout called for. I didn't have too much pain in the ankle yesterday but today it was pretty bad. 

So, it looks like no running the rest of the today and most likely elliptical machine tomorrow. Then we'll see what happens on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Confidence in Workouts

During this past training cycle I've noticed that my workouts are going particularly well. When I do a workout at a really good pace it generally gives me pretty good confidence about my racing readiness, but doesn't get me too excited. 

My last training cycle I went through a lot more highs and lows of workouts than my current cycle. I'd do awful at one workout and my confidence would be shot. Then, I destroy another workout and I'd feel a little better. I remember doing a long run where I was supposed to finish the last 10 miles at MP. I ran the first couple about 15 seconds faster than MP and dragged in the last couple over 30 sec slower than marathon pace. It was a pretty hot morning (for Minnesota) and I ran out of water with 6 miles to go. Still, that run definitely took a lot of confidence out of me.

Then, I did the famous (or infamous) Yasso 800s the next week. I hit 10 at an average of 2:57. The goal was for 3:05-3:10 so I was feeling pretty great and a little more confident about being able to run my goal for the marathon. I wasn't, however, so confident that the poor long run didn't continue to bother me.

In general a poor workout drains the confidence out of me much more than a good workout improves it. Today I'm running 4 X 1 mile @ 10k pace, which is about 6:30 / mile. If I blast those miles out at 6:15, I'll feel great but I won't start planning to knock 5 minutes off my goal marathon time. On the other hand, if I run the last 2 at 6:45 and 7:00 I'll definitely start to question myself, although at least I'll be able to tell myself I have 10 weeks to improve.

Does this mean I'm pessimistic or realistic? I don't talk to enough other runners anymore to know if it's normal to let a bad workout affect me more than a good one, but I have a feeling it's not unusual. 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Aren't you cold?

It's interesting to hear the different reactions to being out in the winter weather from people who run outside in the winter versus people who don't. As I was going on a run this morning some guy going out to his car yelled to me, "Aren't you cold?" I was in normal winter running gear and the weather was in the 20s. I was actually thinking the shirt I had under my running jacket was a little too warm. "Nope!" I yelled back.

Later I was talking to my little sister on the phone. When I told her I ran today she also asked if I was cold. I told her I'd only been cold running outside a couple times this winter, and that's when I was running into the wind when the windchill was below zero. "You're insane," she told me.

When I was running, however, I passed a guy who said, "Isn't this weather great!" And it was. A light snowfall, no wind, weather in the 20s--it was perfect.

Here's my workouts for the week:

Sunday -
2 miles on snowshoes

Monday -
11.4 miles with 30 sec 5k pace every 3 min

Tuesday -
6.9 miles easy

Wednesday -

Thursday -
9.1 miles with 10 X 10 sec hill sprints

Friday -
7.1 miles with 1 min, 2 min, 3 min, 2 min, 1 min, 2 min, 3 min @ 3k - 5k pace with same recovery

Saturday -
8.1 miles with 10 X 10 sec hill sprints

Total - 44.6 miles

I missed this weeks goal by a little over three miles. I've had a sore tendon in my left ankle and could've made up the miles but decided it wasn't a bad idea to cut back a little and rest the ankle.

Next week: Goal of 51 miles

Friday, February 19, 2010


I've finished another week of early morning running. When I began this routine, I thought the most dangerous thing would be cars getting too close to me while drivers shook the sleep out of their eyes and failed to notice the weirdo in the reflective vest. Unfortunately, this week showed me that drivers are not the only thing threatening the safety of my morning running.

Today I did have a driver turn onto the street I was running on and come dangerously close to hitting me. He clearly did not see me--it probably would've improved his vision if he'd scraped the ice off his windshield before pulling away in his death machine. I was alert enough to move way over and avoid his car, but if I hadn't been watching, I'm pretty sure he would have hit me.

Yesterday, however, I wasn't able to avoid an unfortunate incident. I set out on an 8 mile morning run, and a little over 1/2 a mile into it I turned onto a sidewalk into a park. I noticed right away that there was a big patch of ice on this little downslope, so I decided to run it very careful. But really--how careful can you be running downhill on ice? I slipped once, recovered, then BAM! I fell over sideways cutting open my knee and elbow and banging my head on the ice. I heard a sound like glass shattering and though, crap, I broke my headlamp. Fortunately my headlamp was fine--I had just shattered a thin patch of ice with my skull.

I got up a little gimpy, but felt fine after a minute or two. After finishing my 8 miles, I went to pull my apartment key out--whoops, no key. So, I turned my 8 mile run into a 9 mile run after I ran back and miraculously found my key. It was right in the middle of the patch of ice.

Despite dealing with all that nonsense yesterday, I still put 7 miles in this morning, and the thought of running on a treadmill didn't even come into my mind. I love running outside!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Today was Laura's and my inaugural snowshoe run. Laura and I headed to Afton State Park to attend a class on running with snowshoes. The gentleman leading the class, Jim McDonnell, was a nice guy and an accomplished snowshoe runner. He talked to us about snowshoe running techniques, snowshoe racing, and the proper snowshoes for running. The snowshoes I'd rented from REI were definitely not the preferred snowshoes for running. They were a little too wide and much too heavy. I was sucking air trying to keep up with Jim as we ran the hills of Afton State Park.

Laura mostly walked after trying some running and she enjoyed the beautiful winter scenery. Talk about a successful Valentine's Day date!

After about 2 miles of snowshoe running I was planning on doing another 5 or 6 miles of regular running. Unfortunately it started snowing while we were at the snowshoe class and got pretty windy. It was also getting late and since I don't have work tomorrow I decided I'll just do a morning and an afternoon workout tomorrow. I had a good week of running, so if I miss some miles this week I won't feel too guilty. I've met or exceeded my mileage goals for 9 weeks straight so I think I can cheat a little.

Here's my workouts for the week:

Sunday -
14 miles (6 easy, 5 miles: 1 min 5k pace, 1 min easy, 1 easy, 2 miles HMP)

Monday -
5.6 miles easy

Tuesday -
5 miles easy

Wednesday -
10.2 miles with 5 mile tempo run

Thursday -
6.2 miles, 8 X 10 sec hill sprint

Friday -
8 miles (2 easy, 2 X 15 min HMP, 1.3 easy)

Saturday -

Total: 49 miles

Next week: Goal of 48 miles

Friday, February 12, 2010

Early Mornings

This past week I began a new job, working Tuesday and Thursday evenings. This new job necessitated that I begin running before work, early in the morning.

In theory, I enjoy early morning running. It's quiet, there's not as many cars, and I can go on with the rest of my day without thinking about getting a workout in.

In practice, however, there are several things about early morning runs that suck. My wife will be the first to tell you that I am not a morning person. Once I actually drag myself out of bed and get on with the day things aren't so bad. After a mile or so of cursing and getting the sleep out of my legs, the morning run is fine. Before I've finished that first mile though--that is a different story. Woe to the person who attempts to engage in civil conversation with me before I've eaten something, opened my eyes all the way, and begun behaving like a human being.

Besides getting up early, there's the my ridiculous running getup. It consists of my regular winter running clothes, which are already ridiculous, plus a headlamp and a reflective running vest. My wife took one look at me and told me I looked like a Power Ranger. Great, so now I'm tired and cranky and I look like a second-rate children's TV show character. Not only can I run, but I can also do birthday parties!

Then there's the cold. On Tuesday it was cold and windy plus an inch of fresh snow on the ground. On Thursday it was 1 degree. Cold. Frozen beard, frozen snot, sweat frozen on my hat. I don't mind running in the cold, but when I'm already cranky it doesn't exactly lift my spirits to walk out the door and into an Arctic blast of air.

It's been one week of running at a time of day when no human should be awake. More whining to come.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Yukon Days Race Report

The Yukon Days mile and three mile races were both interesting in their own ways. I signed up for these races because they were cheap and I thought it'd be a fun way to get some speed work in. I don't know if I really got any speed work in--I ran the mile in 7:10 (7:11 official) and the 3 mile at a 7:51 pace (officially 8:33 but more on that later). The race was run on frozen White Bear Lake. The mile was a simple out and back around some cones and the 3 mile was a triangle route.

The mile race was first, and of the two races I enjoyed the mile much more. First of all, the course was super-simple. All we had to do was run to some cones, turn around them, and run back. The footing at the beginning of the race was tough--it's snowed a couple of inches in the last few days so there was maybe 2 1/2" of fresh, unpacked snow on top of the ice. Yak Trax helped but not a ton.

The pace was really slow at the beginning--I was planning on tailing the leaders so they'd pack the snow for me, but after maybe 400m I decided we were going too slow and turned myself into a human snow plow. By the time I turned around I was maybe 15m ahead of the next runner. A pickup had driven out to the turnaround to put the 1/2 mile split time up so I ran in its tracks for the next quarter mile or so, even though it meant running a little farther than a mile.

No one made a move to try to catch me at the end so I was able to finish without breaking into a sprint. Even though I was running at slower than half marathon pace it was still pretty tough, even in the pickup tracks. I finished first out of 99 other runners who also thought it'd be fun to run a race on a frozen lake.

The 3 mile didn't go so hot. My legs were pretty tired from the mile, but I decided to go for another win. At the mile turn I was about 30m behind the leader and 3rd place was quite a ways behind me. The leader kept pulling away from me as we moved toward the 2 mile turn, but as we approached the turn he slowed, then turned around and asked if I knew where to go because the cones were placed kind of funny. I pointed at a tall cone I believed was the 2 mile marker but he thought we needed to go to the right where there were some cones off to the side. I followed him, unfortunately, and we ended up adding over a quarter mile on with that little detour. Somehow he came back and finished 2nd male, 4th overall. I tried to catch back up to the dozen or so people who went the right way, but after passing a couple of guys the next few looked like they were too far so I just slowed down and figured I didn't care any more. Result: 6th place, 4th in men's division. I don't think I would have been able to catch the guy leading most of the way, but my time at 3 miles on my Garmin was faster than the young lady who ended up first overall. Oh well.

Here's the Garmin proof of how I got 6th instead of 2nd. Notice the spot right by mile 2 at the top.

Oh well. Here's my workouts for the week:

16.1 miles with last 4 at HMP (7:01/mi)

4.2 miles easy

7.6 miles including speedwork of 3 X 1 mile @ 6:15-6:25 with 2 minute recovery

5.2 miles easy w/8 X 10 second hill sprints

6.2 miles easy

4.7 miles easy

5.3 miles including 1 mile and 3 mile races

49.3 miles

Next week: goal of 49 miles

A shot from the Yukon Days 1 mile:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Running at the YMCA

Is there anything more exhilarating than breaking the rules at the gym? I love that nervous and excited feeling I get in my gut--the one in between the crap I'm getting pulled over and I hope all those blue aliens don't get killed by those mercenary, money-hungry, land-destroying ex-marines--oh sweet, those weird rhinoceros-things are totally destroying those guys. 

Yeah, I know there's a 30 minute limit on the cardio machines. But guess what? I don't even care. If you want to walk up an incline while you watch "The Girls Next Door" why don't you get one of those mini-TVs and walk up some steps. Better yet, use a stairmaster and watch TV. Either way, I'm spending a whole hour on the treadmill.

How else am I going to do speed work at 6:00 PM on a Tuesday night? It's dark, there's ice and snow all over the place, and the sidewalks of West St Paul are dimly lit and few and far between. I'm not going to slip on some black ice, get run over by a car,  and be left for dead just to avoid running on a treadmill for an hour. No, I'm going to do my mile repeats right on the treadmill and if that means someone has to wait an extra 2 1/2 minutes to get their turn, so be it.

And then there's that rule that you're only supposed to put swim suites in the automatic spin cycle suite drying machine. Why can't I put my running shorts in there? They're soaked because there's no fans blowing on me when I run on the treadmill. I'm used to running outside where it's 10 degrees. Is it too much to ask to have a fan cooling me off while I run? But no, there's no fans and, on top of that, they won't let me dry my shorts in that little machine thing. I decided to follow that rule though, because I supposed it is kind of icky to put super sweaty shorts in a machine other people put their swim trunks in. Lots of people probably wear those trunks again before washing them so it'd be pretty gross if they had to dry their trunks off right after my sweat-soaked running shorts were in there.

So while I do enjoying breaking the rules at the gym, I guess I keep my running shorts out of the swim suite dryer doodad. And whenever I feel like wrenching my knee by running in small circles I suppose I'll run the right direction on the indoor track and not change directions every few laps to wrench both knees equally. Obeying those two should keep me from having my membership revoked.