Archive for the ‘Fall Plan’ Category

Workout: Warm [1.5 mi.], 4x400m @ 1:09-1:19 w/ 400 jog, Cool [1.5 mi.] Weather: 48 degrees, cloudy, windy.

Recap: Another good failure.

It is very rare or almost impossible that an event can be negative from all points of view.” – Dalai Lama

Took the car to the auto shop this morning to get it ready for the road trip to Indianapolis this weekend. Figured I might as well get a run during the repairs. Diverted to a middle school once I realized that the park where I wanted to do my workout was too far away. Turns out the middle school was too far away as well. Ended up walking about 1/2 mile after my warmup. Usually when I go to the middle school track, some gym coach comes out and kicks me off the track. Something about child safety, strangers on campus during school…blah, blah, blah. I figured it’s cold and windy outside, so I shouldn’t have any problem today, right? Wrong. Immediately after knocking off the first 400m, I heard an army of shrieking middle girls – hardly dressed for 40-degree weather. Flying towards the track. Coach rushed them out of the gym for reasons I can’t understand. In any case, that was my cue to leave. Mid-workout.

I kept the workout going … proper rest period and all. Ran out to the road in front of the middle school and finished the workout there. The road move slightly downhill, which allowed me to pick up a little speed along the way.

Rep 1: 1:25

Rep 2: 1:24

Rep 3: 1:18

Rep 4: 1:19

Here’s the great part of the workout. All of the times were on the slow end of my target range. It was cold and windy, and I was running in a place I normally don’t run. But rather than quit today and say I didn’t have it, I kept going. The speed is important, no doubt, but so is the effort. I focused on my mechanics, keeping the arms pumping, good posture, and straight-ahead motion. Oddly enough, it got a little easier. I’ve taken three rules out of the experience to apply to my future workouts.

  1. Mechanics: Make sure the running form is solid going to begin with. No flailing.
  2. Pace: If possible, ensure that the first repetition or mile of a workout is within goal pace. Maintain form afterwards.
  3. Progression: Every week, interval rest periods should decrease. Length of long runs should increase.

Over time, the speed and the stopwatch will catch up to my satisfaction. But I have to put forth the effort and make sure the workouts are progressively challenging. I also feel like with these rules, that it will be hard to view future workouts as “failures” as long as I stay healthy and put forth a good effort.

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Workout: 10 miles @ 7:19 pace.  Weather: 57 degrees, partly cloudy.

Recap: Boring…then fun.

Today’s run was all mental. Week 12 of training was a cutback week, so my easy days and long run day was reduced. With today being 10 miles instead of 15, I didn’t have a lot to strive for. This run was not about breaking new ground, but just recovering. The challenge was keeping up the pace when I didn’t want to be outside. The first 2-4 miles were a little brutal in fact. Time seemed to go by so slowly. Reminded me of being a boy in church. I felt heavy, as if the next step was going to break my leg.

After breaking into the run a little bit, it got easier. I remembered the method of breaking the runs down into 3-mile chunks from last week. Instead of thinking “hold back for later”, I thought “attack the 3-mile portions” and get it over with. Probably was a little too aggressive to be honest. Closed the last mile in 6:39 for a 7:12 overall pace.

Well…one month to go now until race day. Some fun goals to shoot for until then and a few things to consider. Looking to tie and top my longest run (16 miles) in the next two weeks. Hoping to get better at the speedwork that I’ve begun in the last two weeks as well. My training shoes have had it, and likely won’t survive another week. Time to replace those. Need to pick a race (preferably in a Southerly location like Houston or Austin). Above all, the goal is to stay healthy and enjoy the weeks. I enjoy training (and making progress) a lot more than racing, so it’s important not to get too caught up in the goal next month. I will improve regardless.

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Workout: Warm [1.5 mi.], 4x400m @ 1:09-1:19 w/ 400 jog, Cool [1.5 mi.] Weather: 57 degrees, sunny.

Recap: Back at it.

Missed a run on Tuesday traveling back home and well….was just too lazy to go out on Wednesday. Really didn’t do anything. Had a choice today. Make up the Tuesday workout or do the Thursday workout, which was a repeat of last week’s action. Choice: Tuesday. Reason: Sprints.

Going to really make an effort to spend some time under 5k race pace for the next 5 weeks. Can’t do it all though. I only want to take on three hard(er) workouts a week. Something has to go. Tempo runs are out. And sprints are in. After last week’s speedwork session, I feel like running has been a lot easier, especially on easy days and long run days. The little touch of speed has made it all more pleasant. 

So…today is taking speed to the next level. Just 4x400m, but at something akin to my 800m or 1-mile race pace. A little more recovery in between with the 400m jog (as opposed to just 200m on speedwork days) but at grind-it-out pace.

Fun…stuff. No sarcasm.

And it hurt so much. The first rep was pretty awesome. Legs up and legs down in a hurry. Didn’t really think about breathing or form just getting the pace down. After hitting the fast end of the range at 1:09, I figured it was all going to be easy. Wrong. Turns out that the sprint muscles don’t really recover that fast – even with an extended rest time. Held on for a 1:11 and 1:11 on the next two reps before dropping down to 1:17 at the end. I did notice that my form “auto-corrected” as I fatigued. Lots of arm pumping and straight ahead motion as I was slowing down. Loved it. The important thing was not to get discouraged even though I knew that I was getting weaker. Hard stuff. Hard stuff. And to think my 400m sprints are some dude’s marathon pace. Hum-bling.

Really excited about the near future. There’s a lot of room to improve my speed-endurance. So much room to improve. And I have a lot of faith that it’s (the fast stuff) going to make the rest of the runs better. I do have a question as to whether I can sustain sprints, speedwork and a long run in the same week. I’ll find that out soon enough (that is, next week). Have also recently discovered that my body runs well off of a higher percentage of fats in my diet than I had thought. Looking forward to getting  into some peanut butter for the next few days.

Booyah! I’m out. Have a good one.

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Workout: 15 miles @ 7:19 pace.  Weather: 36 degrees, partly cloudy.

Recap: Epic.

Did the run a day later this week because I spent Saturday traveling to Indianapolis. So, that meant having to cover 15 miles in a city I’ve never run in before. My goal was to complete the run without getting lost. Fortunately, the hotel where I stayed is right across the street from a trail. The trail runs alongside a river. The river trail goes for 6 miles. To complete the run I needed to:

(a) Stay on the trail, or

(b) Stay next to the river, and

(c) Perform two out-and-back routes of 12 and 3 miles, respectively.

I accomplished none of the above. 

Doesn’t mean the run wasn’t successful though. Morning weight was a little high (up 4 pounds over two days) from eating pizza and candy yesterday, but whatever. My nutrition’s a mess. And I haven’t been able to correlate “healthy eating” with good running…at least in the short term. Very cold weather for me – adjusting down about 35-30 degrees from what I’m used to running in. I did pack warm running gear for this weather and was ready to go on.

Mentally (there’s always something with me), I wanted to think of this run as five different three miles runs (5Ks). I wanted to pay as little attention to mileage as I could but stay on pace during the runs. The first couple 5Ks went well. Passed a Navy ROTC group training on the trail and gave a couple high fives to the guys and gals out there putting in the work. Good feeling. I was on pace and everything was good.

Coming back from the end of the trail, I promptly failed objectives a through c.  The trail ended at a place where I was supposed to cross the river and continue the trail on the other side. Not wanting to lose my pace, I panicked…ran away from the river and that’s when an easy run got interesting. I stopped three times over the last six miles to ask four homeless men, a police officer and a hotel valet how to get back downtown. Each of those stops meant that I had to work hard to get back on pace during the run. (The Garmin did help me a little bit by auto pausing in some places).

The 15 miles expired close to the hotel, so I was able to walk back. Closed last mile in 6:57, and finished with a 7:18 pace overall. Still having issues with my heart rate monitor early in runs though. Really have to make an effort to wet the thing better before going out. That said, these long runs are still my favorite runs during the week.

Time to eat, rest, watch football and pull out a map.

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Workout: Warm [1 mi.], 8x400m @ 1:18-1:22 w/ 200 jog, Cool [1 mi.] Weather: 73 degrees, sunny, windy.

Recap: Fun, but challenging.

Got a couple hunches about this 5K deal thanks to a lot of positive comments after the last run. With that in mind, I’d like to have a little more fun for the next couple of weeks. Fast fun. See where it takes me.

The first step for me was re-conceptualizing what a workout is. Today was about running fast then slow then fast again…8 times. Nothing more. Kind of like being a kid out there to be honest. Stop and go kind of game. Got the heart rate up where I wanted it. It’s all good. On to Saturday’s long run.

All  reps:  1:20 or 1:21

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Workout: Warm [2.5 mi.], 3 miles @ 6:17 pace, Cool [2.5 mi.], Drills Weather: 72 degrees, cloudy.

Recap: Painful.

For whatever reason today’s workout was hard. Maybe it’s because tempo running is supposed to be hard. After about a mile, the  workout felt like an all-out race. There were times when I was able to stride out and convince myself that maybe this pace was something I could hold for a long time. After all, there are marathoners moving at my tempo speed. In the end, there was no relaxing. Just all out effort. I finished at a 6:13 pace for the tempo portion – mainly because I was trying to get this workout over with. The best tempo run of the season, but not necessarily confidence inspiring when I’m planning to run a race 40 seconds faster per mile.

My goal is to rely a little more on training and adaptation and less on character and toughness. When similar workouts feel easier from week to week, I take that as a sign of improvement. With that said, I’m happy to have finished the run today because it’s definitely one I could have seen myself quitting. Having a blog was useful as well because I wasn’t prepared to tell a losing story today.

Oddly enough over the course of this training plan, it’s the long runs that have been my better runs and not the shorter tempo and speedwork sessions. At least lately. I can be confident that with adequate carbohydrate intake that I will complete any long run that I have planned. But the tempo runs and the speedwork are a bit of a turkey shoot. I just go outside and give it my best. Whatever happens…happens.

On a positive note, I have to remember that my weekly mileage is more twice what it was when I started this plan. Of course speed is going to suffer. Just have to hammer through these workouts and hope that the taper week will save me.


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Workout: 14 miles @ 7:25 pace.  Weather: 61 degrees, cloudy.

Recap: There we go – that’s more like it.


Great day. Can’t complain about a thing. I feel like a commercial for bad dietary habits but here goes. To fuel today’s run, I ate two small pizzas and six chocolate chip cookies last night plus ¾ cup of sugar in the form of Kool-Aid this morning about an hour before getting outside. Now, I’m not recommending it, but I wouldn’t lie to you either. It’s bad for my character. I didn’t want to bonk again like Thursday, so something had to change. This IS what I ate.  And the run turned out great.

Body responded really well to having…you know..fuel. Usually on these longer runs, it takes a second to get into it, but not today. Found the goal pace early and never really let up. With about four miles to go (10 miles in) I felt like I was breathing a little bit harder. When I lost concentration and started daydreaming, I tended to fall of the pace slightly. But there was never any real doubt. Knees and feet started getting a little sore about mile 12, but with two miles to go it didn’t take much prodding to finish. Made it my goal to finish the last mile with as few steps as possible. Felt more efficient. Last mile was in 6:56. Run was at 7:21 pace overall. Proud of that. The goal is 18 miles at 7:02 pace in five weeks. Good to know I can close out at that pace now.

The Incredible Shrinking Heart Rate

Past experience had taught me only to look at distance and pace during my harder training runs – not heart rate. Today was a good example of why this practice began. After completing the workout, I checked the overall stats and saw an average HR of 170 bpm – pretty high for a long run. I wondered why, on a day where I felt great, would my heart have been working so hard.

After checking the mile-by-mile statistics, I knew exactly why. My heart rate monitor gives me problems about half my runs, registering heart rates that are way too high. Usually it does this for a second or two before popping back into normalcy. Today, it did something outrageous.

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Maybe this graph doesn’t make a lot of sense, so allow me to interpret. Telling the story from the monitor’s point of view, apparently, I ran the first two miles at average heart rates of 194 bpm, about, you know, 97% effort. Then, without slowing down, the run got easier. The heart rate dropped to about 170 bpm for the next few miles. BUT…I finished the run at around 160 bpm, while speeding up.

Lesson of the day: there is a danger in looking at the heart rate monitor for guidance during the run. I would imagine this would hold true at even lesser margins of error. In the end, I felt fine. Didn’t need the machine to tell me anything different.

Lesson 2 might be to get another heart rate monitor.

Tough Week…But It’s Done

After hitting my mileage goal last week, I felt a little less motivated this week and it showed. Missed two easy runs on Wednesday and Friday. Had a crappy speedwork session on Thursday. At the end of the week though, great long run, and I think everything’s still on track.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

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