Monday, October 19, 2009

Weekly Workout Summary: Monster Dash Week 11, Oct. 5-11

Running Miles: 27.92 miles, Avg. Pace 9:42/mile
Other Miles: 1.6 mile walk
Workouts: 1 Threshold/Tempo Workout, 1 Easy Run, 1 Speed Workout, 1 Long Run, 1 Walk
Total Miles:
29.52 miles

Much better, I would still have liked to have been over 30 miles for the week, but I think this is appropriate based on my earlier weeks so as to avoid injury.

Monday (10/5): Rest day

Tuesday (10/6): 50 Min. Tempo Run, 5.82 miles, 52:20, Avg. Pace 8:59
10 min. warm up: 1.06 miles, Avg. Pace 9:26/mile
1st Interval: 17 min., 2.07 miles, Avg. Pace 8:17/mile
3 min. rest: 0.21 miles, Avg. Pace 14:17/mile
2nd Interval: 15 min., 1.83 miles, Avg. Pace 8:12/mile
Cool Down: 7:22, 0.66 miles, Avg. Pace 11:11/mile

This was the same day that the Twins beat the Tigers in their one-game playoff to win the American League Central Division, so I was all jazzed up after the game and ran an awesome workout. Too bad the Twins are out of the playoffs, I could have really used another amazing win right before the race.

Wednesday (10/7): 1.6 mile walk; 2.89 mile Easy Run, 34:18, Avg. Pace 11:52/mile
The weather was beautiful, so Steph, Andy and I went for what will probably be our last walk outside for 5-6 months... then I had a short, easy, recovery run.

Thursday (10/8): Rest Day

Friday (10/9): 10x400m Speed Intervals, 7.10 miles, 1:14:13, Avg. Pace 10:27/mile
Warm up: 12:21, 1.12 miles (about 1 mile jog + stride drills), Avg. Pace 11:03
Intervals (400m w/ about 400m rest walk/jog between each):
1. 1:30 (6:01/mile)
2. 1:35 (6:21/mile)
3. 1:36 (6:25/mile)
4. 1:38 (6:35/mile)
5. 1:39 (6:39/mile)
6. 1:35 (6:24/mile)
7. 1:38 (6:35/mile)
8. 1:36 (6:26/mile)
9. 1:38 (6:32/mile)
10. 1:28 (5:55/mile)

Last speed interval workout before the race. I wasn't very good about these during my training, but these weren't as important for the Half Marathon as the Tempo workouts and Long Runs, so I don't feel too bad about it.


Saturday (10/10): Rest Day

Sunday (10/11): 12.11 mile Long Run, 2:00:09 (Avg. Pace 9:55/mile)
Tough long run, but I was able to keep it under 10 min./mile. Longest training run for the Monster Dash, it's all downhill from here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Weekly Workout Summary: Monster Dash Week 10, Sept. 28-Oct. 4

Running Miles:14.61 miles, Avg. Pace 9:28/mile
Workouts: 1 Threshold/Tempo Workout, 1 Long Run

A terrible week. I need to stop this crap and just start running.

Monday (9/28): Rest day

Tuesday (9/29): Rest day

Wednesday (9/30): Rest Day

Thursday (10/1): 50 min. Tempo Run, 5.36 miles, 49:02 (Avg. Pace 9:08)
Two intervals (15 mins. each) with 3 min. rest between. A little better overall than last weeks tempo run, but still not as good as I'd like.

Workout Breakdown:
10 min. warm up, 1.09 miles, Avg. Pace 9:10/mile
Interval #1: 15 min., 1.78 miles, Avg. Pace 8:24/mile
3 min. rest walk/jog
Interval #2: 15 min., 1.76 miles, Avg. Pace 8:31/mile
6 min. cool down, 0.5 miles, Avg. Pace 12:05

Friday (10/2): Rest day

Saturday (10/3): Rest Day

Sunday (10/4): 9.25 mile Long Run, 1:29:23 (Avg. Pace 9:39/mile)
I was so lazy this week (only two workouts total), so I tried to push the pace a little (9:10-9:30). I didn't quite make it thanks to a couple 10-minute-plus miles, but I did alright.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weekly Workout Summary: Monster Dash Week 9, Sept. 21-27

Running Miles:19.25 miles, Avg. Pace 10:09/mile
Workouts: 1 Threshold/Tempo Workout, 1 Easy Run, 1 Long Run

Another disappointing week with only three workouts. I have been really lazy the past few weeks, and I need to pick it up.

Monday (9/21): Rest day

Tuesday (9/22): Rest day (unplanned)

Wednesday (9/23): 45 Min. Tempo Run, 4.85 miles, 44:55 (Avg. Pace 9:16/mile)
Two tempo intervals (15 min. and 14 min.) with 3 min. rest walk/jog between. Still not quite as fast as I'd like for these (I'd prefer around 8:10-8:15), but I have to go with what the heart rate monitor says

Workout Breakdown:
10 min. warm up (gradually increasing pace), 1.11 miles, Avg. Pace 9:01 (a little fast for warm up, oops)
Interval #1: 15 min., 1.77 miles, Avg. Pace 8:27/mile
3 min rest walk/jog, 0.21 miles, Avg. Pace 14:03/mile
Interval #2: 14 min., 1.6 miles, Avg. Pace 8:44/mile
~3 min. cool down (I was in a hurry), 0.16 miles, 18:33/mile

Thursday (9/24): 3.3 mile Easy Run, 36:49 (Avg. Pace 11:08)

Friday (9/25): Rest day

Saturday (9/26): Rest Day

Sunday (9/27): 11.1 mile Long Run, 1:53:35 (Avg. Pace 10:13/mile)
New record for longest run ever. Man these 10+ mile runs are long. Felt pretty good though.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekly Workout Summary: Monster Dash Week 8, Sept. 14-20

Running Miles: 27.23 miles, Avg. Pace 9:54/mile
Workouts: 1 Pace Run, 1 Threshold/Tempo, 1 5K Race

I was able to get my mileage back up, although I still only had 4 total runs. Next week I need to have a full 5 runs because this is the last week where I can really pour it on without having a potential detrimental effect on Race Day, Oct. 31. Here is how the workouts broke down:

Monday (9/14): Rest day

Tuesday (9/15): 50 Min. Tempo Run: 5.59 miles, 53:28 (Avg. Pace 9:34)
I cut the tempo intervals down from 3 intervals to 2 and increased the time of each. This was much tougher than I thought it would be (I really expected after two full days of rest and after being able to run in a tempo HR zone for the entire 5K I ran on Saturday that this would seem kind of easy). Good workout.

Workout breakdown:
10 min. warm up, 1.13 miles, Avg. Pace 8:51/mile (a little fast for the warmup, but partly I was building up to the increased speed of the tempo interval and I didn't want my heart and legs to be in shock)
15 min. tempo interval, 1.77 miles, Avg. Pace 8:27
3 min. recovery walk/jog, 0.18 miles, Avg. Pace 16:50/mile
12 min. tempo interval, 1.36 miles, 8:49/mile
13:28 cool down, 1.15 miles, Avg. Pace 11:43/mile

Wednesday (9/16): Rest Day

Thursday (9/17): Rest Day - I was planning on shifting around my rest day from Friday to either Wednesday or Thursday. Turns out I rested on both days.

Friday (9/18): 9x400m Speed Intervals, 7.21 miles, 1:14:02, Avg. Pace10:16/mile
My first speed intervals in a couple weeks, but they went great. I also thought I was supposed to do 9 speed intervals, but it turns out I was only supposed to do 8. Oops, extra work should payoff at the Monster Dash.
15:06 min. warm up - 1.42 miles, Avg. Pace 10:38
Interval Times:
1. 1:33 (6:15/mile pace)
2. 1:42 (6:52 pace)
3. 1:40 (6:41 pace)
4. 1:38 (6:33 pace)
5. 1:41 (6:44 pace)
6. 1:41 (6:45 pace)
7. 1:38 (6:34 pace)
8. 1:41 (6:47 pace)
9. 1:33 (6:13 pace)
12:56 cool down, 1.14 miles, Avg. Pace 11:21/mile

Saturday (9/19): 4.18 Mile easy run, 44:45, Avg. Pace 10:42/mile

Sunday (9/20): 10.25 Mile Long Run, 1:37:07, Avg. Pace 9:28 mile
My first time ever running for double digits. I felt good, but no matter how you slice it, 10 miles is a looooooooo...........ooooooong way. I tried to go at my half-marathon pace for the middle few miles. I had originally planned on trying to go at half-marathon pace for the middle 6 miles, but the hills on my LSD days are brutal, so I ended up scraping that idea partway through. Even though I didn't keep going at this increased pace, I was still able to have every single mile split be below 10 min./mile, and only one split was above 9:40 (Mile 9, which is toward the end and includes the steepest and one of the longest hills of the entire route with very little downhill to compensate). Most splits were around the 9:30 mark, with a few down near the 9:00 mark.

I still don't know about maintaining a 9:00-9:10/mile pace (which is what I need to do to hit my goal of a 2 hour half marathon), but thankfully the Monster Dash won't have anywhere near the size of hills that I run on during my LSD training days.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Weekly Workout Summary: Monster Dash Week 7, Sept. 7-13

Running Miles: 13.75 miles, Avg. Pace 8:56/mile
Workouts: 1 Pace Run, 1 Threshold/Tempo, 1 5K Race
Total Miles:
13.75 miles

This was a planned rest week, so there was a big drop in miles. Even so, I only had three workouts, so this was an especially short mileage week. My PF is still pretty delicate, so I don't feel this was a problem. I'll pick it back up next week. Here is how the workouts broke down:

Monday (9/7): Rest day

Tuesday (9/8): 4.75 Mile Pace Run: 4.75 miles, 42:11 (Avg. Pace 8:52/mile)
A much needed pace run to see where I stand. It had been a couple weeks since my last pace run. Today's run was 3/4 miles farther than that run, and I was able to keep a good average pace.

Wednesday (9/9): Rest Day (unplanned) - life got in the way, so no run

Thursday (9/10): 55 Min. Tempo Run, 5.75 miles, 54:31 (Avg. Pace 9:28)
I didn't technically do a tempo run on Tuesday (my normal tempo day), so I substituted Thursday's speed intervals for another tempo workout. My main reason for this is that I feel running at the lactate threshold is the weakest part of my running, so I need to work on it more than my speed.

Workout breakdown:
10 min. warm up, 1.07 miles, Avg. Pace 9:21/mile
10 min. tempo interval, 1.22 miles, Avg. Pace 8:11
3 min. walk/jog, 0.21 miles, Avg. Pace 14:26/mile
7 min. tempo interval, 0.86 miles, 8:06/mile
3 min. walk/jog, 0.2 miles, 14:54/mile
7 min. tempo interval, 0.87 miles, 8:00/mile
14:31 cool down, 1.31 miles, Avg. Pace 11:03/mile

Friday (9/11): Rest day

Saturday (9/12): James Page Blubber Run 5K, 3.25 miles (I know 5K is actually 3.1, but my Garmin said 3.25 and I look at the GPS track and it is what I ran, so I'm going with 3.25), 26:08, Avg. Pace 8:02/mile

My goal was to get 25 min. or less, and I missed it by quite a bit. I got excited by the crowd and went out way too fast (somewhere around a 6 min. pace for at least the first quarter to half mile) and this killed me later in the race. I knew this already, but I need to force myself to slow down at the start of races. Still not a bad pace and a really good tempo workout.

Sunday (9/13): Rest Day (unplanned) again, life got in the way

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weekly Workout Summary: Monster Dash Week 6 - Aug. 31-Sept. 6

Running Miles: 28.35 miles, Avg. Pace 10:34/mile
Other: 2 Walks, 4.2 miles
Workouts: 1 Threshold/Tempo, 1 Long Run, 1 speed workout, 2 easy/recovery runs, 2 Walks
Total Miles:
32.55 miles

A big increase in running miles (83.9 %) and total mileage (65.9 %) from last week, but that's because last week ended up being an injury recovery week. It was only a 16.9% increase from my last full week of workouts back in early/mid August. Here is how the workouts broke down:

Monday (8/31): Rest day

Tuesday (9/1): Two Workouts
Tempo intervals + 1 mile Time Trial: 5.51 miles, 55:13 (Avg. Pace 10:01/mile)
10 min. warm up (1.05 miles, Avg. pace 9:31/mile)
1 Mile TT - 7:04 (slower than last time trial, but not by enough to be statistical), Avg. HR 184 (Max HR 188, very close to my supposed Max HR)
3 min. recovery walk (0.15 miles, Avg. Pace 8:11/mile)
2:43 min tempo interval (cut short from 5 min. b/c way too tired from Mile TT): 0.34 miles, Avg. Pace 7:58/mil, Avg. HR 162
3 min. recovery walk/jog (0.18 miles, Avg. Pace 16:45/mile)
7 min. tempo interval - 0.8 miles, Avg. Pace 8:47/mile, Avg. HR 169
3 min. recovery walk/jog (0.18 miles, Avg. Pace 16:17/mile)
7 min. tempo interval - 0.81 miles, Avg. Pace 8:37/mile, Avg. HR 172
12:25 cool down (0.99 miles, Avg. Pace 12:31/mile)

The mile time trial seemed very difficult, even though I was trying to use my Garmin to keep my pace right around the 7 min./mile mark to avoid going out way too fast, as I have done in my prior time trials. Also, because of the mile Time Trial I was totally wiped for the other tempo intervals, so they were not nearly as intense as last weeks. I think next week's tempo workout is actually going to be a 5K, so I will have another sustained tempo workout instead of shorter tempo intervals.

2.9 Mile Walk @ the Minnesota State Fair
Just walking around and eating lots of really fattening foods with Steph at the Fair. Nice break in the middle of the work week.

Wednesday (9/2): 3.67 mile easy run, 38:58, Avg. Pace 10:36/mile
My fastest easy run yet, so maybe I am getting a little fitness improvement. I only forced myself to stay in the low, recovery HR Zone for the first 2.5 miles, so that portion was still pretty slow (around 11:00/mile), and then allowed myself to speed up a little for the last mile+, although still at a fairly low pace (between 9:30 and 9:45/mile)

Thursday (9/3): 7x400m Speed Intervals. 6.22 mi., 1:04:15 (Avg. Pace 10:20)
15 min. warmup (1.42 mile, 14:54, Avg. Pace 10:30)
400m Intervals
1. 1:25 (5:41/mile) 5. 1:39 (6:39/mile)
2. 1:38 (6:32/mile) 6. 1:41 (6:45/mile)
3. 1:33 (6:14/mile) 7. 1:33 (6:16/mile)
4. 1:37 (6:30/mile)

This was my first speed interval workout in 3 weeks (since Aug. 13), so I wasn't expecting that much, but I was able to keep up good paces for each. In fact, I felt like I was going slow in the first interval, but as you can see it was the fastest, and was WAY faster than my goal split of 1:40-1:45. I guess that means I'm getting more fit since I felt slower but was going faster.

Friday (9/4): 1.3 Mile Walk with Steph and Andy (to the park for swinging)

Saturday (9/5): 3.85 Mile Easy Run, 45:41, Avg. Pace 11:51/mile
I finally used the BOB running stroller we bought way back in April as a running stroller (we'd used it tons on walks, but I had never taken Andy running with me yet). It is definitely tougher (you'll notice my average pace is over a minute slower than my last easy run even though I was in the same heart rate zone, and therefore roughly had the same exertion), but it was kind of fun.

Sunday (9/6): 9.1 Mile Long Run, 1:35:16, Avg. Pace 10:28/mile
My longest run ever. It was kind of humid and warm (especially for September), so I wasn't able to go as fast as I would like (and I had to walk a little too), but I made it and that's all I can really ask for.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Workouts: Monster Dash Week 5 - Aug. 24-30

This was supposed to be a normal week, but I aggravated my plantar fasciitis on Wednesday playing touch football with co-workers, so it ended up being an unplanned extra rest week.

Running Miles: 15.42 miles, Avg. Pace 9:44/mile
Other: 2 Walks, 4.2 miles
Workouts: 1 Threshold/Tempo, 1 Long Run, 1 football game (speed), 2 Walks
Total Miles:
19.62 miles

Only a slight increase (2.5%) in total mileage from last week, thanks to my walks, and a big drop in running miles (12% decrease). Oh well, what am I going to do, run on a bum foot? Here is how the workouts broke down:

Monday (8/24): Rest day

Tuesday (8/25): Tempo intervals, 5.33 miles, 50:02 (Avg. Pace 9:23/mile)
10 min. warm up (1.15 miles, Avg. pace 8:41/mile)
10 min. tempo interval (1.22 miles, Avg. Pace 8:11/mile, Avg. HR 174)
3 min. recovery walk/jog (0.22 miles, Avg. Pace 13:44/mile)
7 min. tempo interval (0.84 miles, Avg. Pace 8:19/mile, Avg. HR 173)
3. min. recovery (0.22 miles, Avg. Pace 13:55/mile)
5. min. tempo interval (0.61 miles, Avg. Pace 8:09/mile, Avg. HR 173)
12 min. cool down (1.07 miles, Avg. Pace 11:13/mile)

I felt slower during this tempo workout, and I was a little bit slower than past tempo runs (by about 5-10 seconds per mile), but I have still increased my total time in a "tempo" zone by about 5 minutes since a few weeks ago, and my pace is still in the range I'd like, so I can't really complain.

Wednesday (8/26):
Touch football with coworkers, estimated about 2 miles, mostly sprinting.
I had fun, but I reaggravated my PF and I was limping around for two solid days afterward. However, this acted as a decent substitute speed workout, albeit at speeds faster than I really need to run.

Thursday (8/27): 1.8 mile walk (short walk at lunch, and walking with Steph and Andy at the Zoo)

Friday (8/28): Recovery Day (for PF)

Saturday (8/29): Recovery Day (for PF)

Sunday (8/30): Two workouts
8 Mile Long Run: 8.09 miles, 1:20:32 (Avg. Pace 9:57/mile)
A very good long run after several days off and my considerable leg pain and PF pain. Five of my mile splits were under 10 minutes, and 2 were under 9:45 (the 1st and 6th miles were both at 9:34/mile). Only 2 splits were substantially above 10 minutes (Mile 2: 10:15/mile, Mile 5: 10:32/mile), but both of these miles included a HUGE hill that I didn't feel like trying to power up (especially since it had been a couple weeks since I ran anywhere near this far, and since my PF still twinged a little). Overall, I'm very happy with this long run.

2.4 Mile Walk: Walking around the Minnesota State Fair with Steph and Andy

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekly Total: Aug. 17-23

Running: 17.52 miles, Avg. Pace 9:39/mile
Other: 1 Walk, 1.62 miles @ 22:41/mile
Workouts: 1 Threshold/Tempo, 1 Pace Run, 1 Long Run, 1 Easy/Recovery Run, 1 Walk
Total Miles:
19.14 miles

This was a cutback/recovery week, so my mileage was down by quite a bit plus I felt the need to throw in an extra rest day. There was a 27% decrease in my running miles, and a 21% decrease in my total miles. Hopefully this will help my legs recharge for the weeks ahead.

Starting next week, I'm going to stop doing an entry for every single workout (it takes too much time out of my week), and just do one longer "Weekly Summary" that will be combined with this Weekly Total post. This should make the blog a little easier to read, and will be a much more concise record of my workouts.

Workout: 5.9 Mile Long Run

Distance: 5.89 Miles
Time: 57:18
Avg. Pace: 9:44/mile
Type: Long Run
Weather: Warm (70s), very sunny

A backed-off long run as part of this recovery week so I tried to maintain a slightly faster pace, even on the big hill. It was tough, but I stayed at a fairly consistent pace the whole time, so that was good.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Workout: 30 Min. Easy Run

Distance: 2.92 Miles
Time: 32:04
Avg. Pace: 11:00/mile
Type: Easy Run

Slow easy/recovery run between yesterday's hardish pace run and tomorrow's long run. I felt OK, but my quads were a little twinged.

Workout: 1.6 Mile Walk

Distance: 1.62 Miles
Time: 36:43
Avg. Pace: 22:41/mile
Type: Walk

A leisurely walk to the park with Steph and Andy, a little swingin' and watching the airplanes come in to land (we live right on a flight path for the MSP airport, and my son loves watching the airplanes... he laughs every time he sees one). The walk was to help us relax a little after the craziness of Andy's 1st birthday party at our house earlier today.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Workout: 4 Mile Pace Run

Distance: 4.03 miles
Time: 35:39
Avg. Pace: 8:51/mile
Type: Pace Run (Threshold)

My goal here was to stay between 8:45 and 9:00/mile, which I did on average, but my pace jumped around way too much. I need to use the pace zone alerts on my Garmin more to help me train myself to keep a constant pace, and to know what that pace feels like. But, other than the erratic pace, this was a good run

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Morning Workouts or Evening Workouts?

Like many people, I have a busy life. I work full time and have a family. It is very difficult to find enough time in the day to do everything I want/need to do, particularly when the things I need to do includes: (a) help get my 11-month-old son Andy up in the morning, get him fed, get him dressed, and get him to daycare (although my wife takes care of most of Andy's morning routine, but I usually help and I almost always drop him at daycare); (b) drive to work; (c) work 9-10 hour workdays; (d) drive back from work; (e) pick Andy up from daycare; (f) spend some quality time with Andy before bedtime; (g) feed Andy (usually every other day, split with my wife); (h) bathe Andy (same); (i) put Andy to bed; and somewhere in there (j) eat dinner and spend time with my wife before going to be.

As I'm sure my schedule is not really that unique (or challenging compared to some parents... we only have one kid... imagine a whole brood!), I'm sure there are many others who have trouble fitting exercising into their daily routine. Most of us have to squeeze in a workout either in the morning before work or in the evening after work (some have the ability to take a long lunch, which I have done in the past, but it isn't ideal for my work environment). I've tried both (er... all three, I guess), and each has their pros and cons.

Morning Workouts
Pros:
  • A great jumpstart to your day - I have found that I am generally much more awake (particularly in the morning) when I workout before work. There is just something about the feeling of hitting the pavement before most people are even up and getting to work knowing you've done more already that morning than most of your coworkers. I'm sure there is some kind of physiological response that comes into play as well, like the adrenaline released as you exercise helps wake you up, but I don't really feel like researching it.
  • Get it out of the way - if you get up in the morning and finish your workout early, then you can't forget about it and don't have the chance to talk yourself out of it later on. Obviously, this requires you to actually get out of bed and do the workout, but once you've won that battle, actually running (or whatever) is a piece of cake.
  • Seems to be more efficient - I have no way of quantifying or proving this, but my day just seems to run more efficiently when I run in the morning rather than the evening. Perhaps there is some logistical reason for this, but my point is I just feel like I have more total time in the day to work with. Even if it is just more efficient by 15 minutes, that can be a huge benefit as far as stress management.
Cons:
  • You have to get up EARLY - this one is pretty obvious. To workout in the morning beforeo everything else you have to do, you have to actually get up earlier than you normally would. This is mostly a problem when you first start doing morning workouts, because your body quickly adapts to the change in sleep routine, but there is no doubt about it, the psychological fight to actually get up and go when you could just go back to sleep for another hour is palpable.
  • Can lead to submaximal training - because you have to get up early, that also means you should go to be early so that you get enough sleep. But, if you're like me, you may go to bed at pretty much the same time you would have if you weren't running in the morning. This can lead to a less-than-optimal performance in your morning training sessions, which over time will lead to less-than-optimal performance in your races. Similarly, since when you get up early it is difficult to eat a proper meal before you workout (unless you want to get up even earlier), you may not be properly fueled, which can also lead to less than optimal training. But, since I never plan on being a serious competitor, the fact that I don't necessarily squeeze out every last possible second from my race time isn't that critical to me. Don't get me wrong, I want to do as well as possible, but (to borrow a cliche from the work world) I'm "running to live... not living to run." If I were a professional athelete, this would be a BIG con, but I'm just a normal guy who just needs to get the workouts in and hope for the best
  • I'm HUNG-RY! - I have no idea if this applies to everyone who works out in the morning, but I am generally ravenous all day long when I workout in the morning. I'm sure it's my bodies way of responding to the jumpstart in metabolism and to the large breakfast I eat after my workout, but my stomach starts demanding more food by about 9 or 10 in the morning, and it doesn't seem to stop until mid to late afternoon regardless of how many snacks I have or how big a lunch I eat. This can lead to weight gain problems if you aren't careful (I am trying to be very good about eating healthy snacks including whole-grain crackers, fruit and vegetables rather than sweets or other nutrionally-devoid foods).
  • It's 2PM... I need a nap - the other big side-effect for me is that I have an energy crash in the mid-afternoon. This is partly counteracted by eating the snacks I talked about above, but the combination of waking up early and exercising early causes my body to start crying for rest much earlier in the day. It usually passes after a half-hour or so, but that is a pretty hairy half hour!
Evening Workouts:
Pros:
  • You don't have to get up early
  • It's light out (this is becoming more and more apparent... my morning workouts now require a flashlight, or the snazzy (or perhaps I mean dorky) new head lamp I purchased)
  • It is usually a little easier to rearrange your schedule to fit in evening workouts, whereas morning workouts are always done at about the same time (right after you wake up).
  • For me, it is usually easier to adjust my workouts based on how I feel that day. In the mornings, I usually haven't been awake long enough to figure out what my body is telling me, so if it is screaming "Take it easy!" the message doesn't penetrate my foggy brain until halfway through the workout.
  • Adequate fuel. Since you have been up all day and have eaten at least two full meals, your muscles are usually well fueled and you can have a more effective workout.
Cons:
  • Laziness can take over and convince you to put off your workout. If you've already gotten up and ran in the morning, its too late for your laziness to rear its head.
  • Life can get in the way and prevent you from working out. There have been a few nights where I had planned on working out in the evening after my son went to bed, but then he was more difficult to deal with, or something else got in the way and I was either unable to do my workout, or had to settle for running late at night in the pitch black.
  • If you are worn down after a long day of work, you may be so tired that even if you do workout, you may not have the energy or drive to workout effectively. For more casual runners like me, this isn't a huge deal, since putting in the miles is much more important than the quality of the miles, but the more serious you become, the more this matters.
Okay... that's all I can really think of right now, but I'm sure there are plenty of reasons that the rest of you can come up with. If you have any other thoughts on this conundrum, please put them in the comments.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Workout: 40 Min. Tempo Run

Distance: 4.68 miles
Time: 44:05
Avg. Pace: 9:25/mile
Type: Threshold, Tempo Intervals
Weather: Cooler (upper 60s), cloudy
Summary: 10 min. warmup (approx. 1 mile), 10 min. tempo interval (1.23 miles, Avg. pace 8:07/mile), 5 min. rest (0.45 miles), 9 min. tempo interval (1.12 miles, Avg. pace 8:04/mile), 10 min. cool down (0.9 miles)

I took an extra day off to recover after last week, which was a pretty tough week, and as a result this was a really great set of tempo intervals. I tried to keep my heart rate in Zone 4 for both of the tempo intervals (i.e. between 80-90% of HRR), and my pace was fairly consistent for both intervals, although I let it creep a little higher for the last 1:30 of the last interval. Not a bad workout to celebrate the 1st Anniversary of my son's birth.

Next Planned Workout: 3-3.5 mile easy run Thursday (8/20)

My Baby Boy is One!!!

Completely off topic, but my son turned one today!!! I cannot believe that I have a one-year-old... it literally seems like only yesterday my wife and I were talking about having a kid, and now we have one that is one!!!!

Here are a couple pictures (although from several months ago), because he's so frickin' cute.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Weekly Total: Aug. 10-16

Running: 24.26 miles, Avg. Pace 10:41/mile
Workouts: 1 Threshold/Tempo, 1 Speed Workout, 1 Long Run, 2 Easy/Recovery Runs

I had a 1.7 mile increase over last week, which works out to about 7.5%, which is right around where it should be. My average pace had another huge drop (another minute), but I think that is to be expected since I have started using the heart rate monitor to force me to slow down during my easy recovery days.

Workout: 7 Mile Long Run

Distance: 7.0 Miles (On a Treadmill)
Time: 01:19:07
Avg. Pace: 11:18/mile
Weather: Indoors

Another indoor treadmill workout (it was pouring rain outside, and I didn't know the area well, so I didn't feel like getting drenched in a strange city). I definitely run slower on a treadmill. I used my heart rate monitor again, and it just felt like I couldn't get anything going for this run. Next week is a cutback week, so hopefully I can get a little recovery and get my pace back up.

Next Planned Workout: Tues. 8/18, tempo run (I haven't decided how long yet... probably only 30 minutes with one 15 minute tempo portion).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Workout: 3 Mile Easy Run

Distance: 3 Miles (On a Treadmill)
Time: 35:36
Avg. Pace: 11:52/mile
Weather: Indoors

Very easy slow workout trying to keep my heart rate in my "Zone 2" (60-70% HRR). I hate running on a treadmill.

Next Planned Workout: Tomorrow (Sun. 8/16), 7 mile long run

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Workout: 6x400m Speed Intervals

Main Workout Distance: 3.02 miles (6x400m intervals plus approx. 0.3 mile recovery jog between each)
Main Workout Pace (Intervals): 6:19/mile (avg. interval time 1:35)
Warm Up/Cool Down Distance: 3.01 miles
WU/CD Time: 31:37
WU/CD Pace: 10:32/mile
Total Distance: 6.03 miles (click for route/details)
Type: Speed intervals
Weather: Cooler (low 70s), but still very humid

I increased the number of reps. to 6 this week and I did much less walking during the in-between recovery portions (I walked maybe 100 meters during one rest period, and maybe 25-50 on another, otherwise I did a slow recovery jog). I'm still going too fast on these (averaged 1:35 per interval, or about 6:20/mile when they should be around 1:45-1:50, or about 7:10-7:20/mile), but I was still a little better than last week (for my very last interval I went way faster just to see how well I could do, and that threw off my average a little, most of the intervals were in the 1:35-1:40 range). These are still pretty tough, especially in humidity like we had last night, but I am noticing that my heart rate recovers much quicker than it used to.
Interval Times:
1. 1:29 (5:59/mile)
2. 1:37 (6:28/mile)
3. 1:40 (6:40/mile)
4. 1:38 (6:33/mile)
5. 1:40 (6:42/mile)

Next Planned Workout: Tomorrow (Fri. 8/14) Rest Day; Saturday (8/15), 3 mile easy run.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Workout: 3.9 Mile Easy Run

Distance: 3.92 Miles (click for route)
Time: 42:38
Avg. Pace: 10:51/mile
Type: Easy run
Weather: Hot (80s), humid

Very slow easy run tonight. I used my heart rate monitor again and forced myself to stay in a fairly slow heart rate zone (60-70% HRR according to the Karvonen Method), except for the last 0.9 miles or so where I allowed myself to go a little faster. It felt like I was going soooooooo sloooooooooow (and I was, between 10:50 and 11:30/mile during the first 3 miles, and only about 9:30-9:50 for the last 0.9 miles). Supposedly this is best for recovery, and today was a "junk mile" day anyway.

Next Planned Workout: Tomorrow (Thurs. 8/13), 6x400m Speed Intervals

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Workout: 40 Min Tempo Workout

Main Workout Distance: 2.05 miles
Main Workout Time: 17:00 (10 min. interval and 7 min. interval)
Main Workout Avg. Pace: 8:18/mile
Other Distance (Warmup, Cool down, recovery between intervals): 2.25 miles
Other Time: 24:32
Other Avg. Pace: 10:54/mile
Total Distance: 4.3 miles (click for details)
Total Avg. Pace: 9:39/mile
Type: Threshold Workout (Tempo Intervals)
Weather: Cooler (60s), fairly humid
Summary: 10 min. warmup (10:12/mile), 10 min. tempo interval (8:14/mile), 5 min. rest (11:38/mile), 7 min. tempo interval (8:22/mile), 9:30 min cool down (11:15/mile)

This was my first attempt at using the heart rate monitor (HRM) with my new Garmin to set my pace. I did two tempo/threshold intervals, one for 10 minutes and one for 7 minutes (w/ a 5 minute rest/recovery walk/jog in between) and tried to keep my heart rate (HR) between 80-90% of my max HR. The first interval went pretty well, I stayed right around 85-90% of my max for the whole time, and my pace stayed in the 8:00 to 8:15 range (avg. for the 10 minute interval was 8:14/mile) and my HR slowly got larger until the last minute was a little high and I had to slow down. For the second interval, my HR shot right up to the upper end of my goal zone (right at about 90%) and my Garmin kept giving alarms of "HR too high!!" As a result, the second interval was slower (8:23/mile), but still in the range I wanted it to be.

I find it interesting that this week I went a shorter distance than last week (4.3 rather than 4.4 miles) at a slower average pace (finished in 41:32 rather than 40:00 minutes) even though my total time running a tempo pace was longer (17 min. vs. 15 min.), but I did run a slower pace during the tempo portions in order to stay in my desired HR zone and I slowed up during the 5 min. rest so that my HR went down enough before the next interval, so I guess it makes sense.

Running by heart rate was interesting, but next week I think I will set the tempo run up based on a pace range and see what my resulting heart rate looked like. Then I can compare the two and see which I prefer.

Next Planned Workout: Tomorrow (Wed. 8/12), 3-3.5 mile easy run

Monday, August 10, 2009

Weekly Total: Aug. 3-9

Running: 22.56 miles, Avg. pace: 9:43/mile
Other: 1 walk, 2.05 miles; 1 WiiFit Free Step and Strength Training
Workouts: 1 Threshold, 1 Speed, 1 Easy Run, 1 Pace Run, 1 Long Run
Total Miles: 24.61 miles

A very small increase in miles over last week (only 0.64 more miles, or about a 3% increase). That's fine, the mileage will be piling on soon enough. A noticeable decrease in Avg. pace (almost a full minute) as well, but that is OK too, because one of my runs last week was a 5K race with a huge spike in pace, and the heat over the weekend definitely slowed me down.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Workout: 6 Mile Long Run

Distance: 6.13 miles (click for route & details)
Time: 1:01:52
Avg. Pace: 10:05/mile
Type: Long Run
Weather: Warm (low to mid 70s), very humid
Summary: Simple out and back run. My pace stayed sub-10 minutes for the first half, but I couldn't really keep that up, and for the second half it was more like 10:30.

Still way too humid. It was considerably cooler tonight as I ran this (didn't even start the run until 9:00 PM... running in the dark is FUN /sarcasm), but still very, very, very humid. I was drenched by the time I was done. Overall, this is about the best I could have hoped for under the situation after yesterday's horrible experiment with pace running in the heat and the humidity tonight. Plus, I did get the miles in and I ran the whole way, so that's a plus.

Next Planned Workout: Tuesday (8/11) Threshold tempo run (planned 10 min. and 7 min. intervals in 40 min. workout)

Workout: 2 Mile Walk

Distance: 2.05 miles
Time: No idea
Type: Walk
Weather: Hot (upper 70s to lower 80s), very humid

Just a short walk with Steph and Andy to a restaurant for dinner and then to the park for some swingin' and slidin'.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Workout: 3.2 Mile Pace Run

Distance: 3.24 miles (click for route & details)
Time: 30:29
Avg. Pace: 9:24/mile
Type: Pace Run
Weather: Hot (mid-80s) and very humid, sunny
Summary: First 1.5 miles, about 8:45/mile, last 1.75 miles sporadic (alternated between running @ about 9:00/mile and walking @ about 15:00 to 20:00/mile)

Very hot and humid today. Clearly I wasn't hydrated enough, and I should have brought a bottle of water with me. I started out going at a very good pace for about 1.5 to 1.75 miles (between about 8:45 and about 9:00 per mile, right at my goal pace), but then the heat and hills (I was running near my parents house while they watched Andy, and they live in a much hillier area than where I live) got to me, and I had to walk a few times (2 times for a short period, usually only 15-30 seconds to finish up a hill, but 2 more times for 2 minutes or more). Hopefully tomorrow's long run is a little easier at a slower pace and with constant hydration.

Next Planned Workout: Tomorrow (8/9), 6 mile long run

Friday, August 7, 2009

Workout: WiiFit Free Step and Strength Exercises

Time: 1:05:00
Summary: 30 min. WiiFit Free Step aerobic exercise; 15 min. strength (pushups, crunches, bicep curls, shoulder raises); 20 min. WiiFit Free Step aerobic; 5-10 min. extended stretching

Friday is normally a day off, but I decided to do a low intensity aerobic workout to get the blood flowing a little and burn a few extra calories, and also to do some light strength training.

Next Planned Workout: Tomorrow, Sat. Aug. 8, 3-3.5 mile Half-Marathon pace (8:45-9:00/mile) run

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Workout: 5x400m Speed Workout (Week 2)

Main Workout Distance: 1.25 miles (5x400m speed intervals)+1.22 miles recovery walk/jog between intervals
Main Workout Avg. Pace: 6:20/mile (for intervals only)
Warmup/Cooldown Distance: 2.61 miles
WU/CD Avg. Pace: 10:47/mile
Total Distance: 5.09 miles
Type: Speed Intervals
Weather: Overcast, warm (upper 70s to lower 80s), humid
Summary: 1.45 mile warmup (including 4 stride drills) (avg. pace 11:35/mile), 5x400m intervals (Interval times 1:32 (6:11/mile), 1:32 (6:11/mile), 1:34 (6:18/mile), 1:38 (6:34/mile), and 1:39 (6:38/mile)) w/ 0.3 mile recovery walk/jog between each and a short 0.18 recovery walk/jog after last interval (avg. pace 13:22/mile), 0.98 mile (9:18/mile)

Like last week's speed workout, this week's intervals were too fast, although much more consistently paced. I do think its OK that I run these a little faster, because I have more natural speed than endurance, so I might as well try and develop my top speed a little bit in the hopes of compensating slightly for my weaker endurance.

I decided against doing these as hill intervals, partly because the hill I would need to run on is farther away that the place where I do flat intervals, but also because I don't feel the need to be too gung ho. I'm already doing speedwork despite this being my first long-distance race... I think trying to be too hardcore about it is a little much.

Next Planned Workout: Sat. Aug. 7 (Friday is a rest day), 3-3.5 mile goal Half-Marathon pace run (i.e. between 8:45 and 9:00/mile).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Workout: 3.7 Mile Easy Run

Distance: 3.69 miles
Time: 34:00 (on the nose!)
Avg. Pace: 9:13
Type: Easy Run
Weather: Cool (mid 50s)
Summary: Standard easy run. I attempted to keep a constant pace, but I'm pretty sure it fluctuated quite a bit (although probably only between about 8:45 and 9:45... maybe as much as 10:00).

I probably went a little fast, which is probably why I only feel alright. My stupid arch hurt again (although that is to be expected for a run this early in the morning with little stretching beforehand). Oh well, I still got the miles in.

Next Planned Workout: 5x400 speed intervals, Tomorrow evening (Thurs. 8/5)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Workout: 40 min Tempo Workout

Distance: 4.41 miles
Total Time: 40:00
Avg. Pace: 9:04/mile
Type: Tempo Run/Threshold Workout
Weather: Cooler (low to mid 60s) but very humid, windy
Summary: 10 min. slow warmup pace (approx. 10 min/mile), 5 min slow buildup, 10 min threshold pace (approx. 8 min/mile), 5 min slow recovery jog (10 min/mile or slower), 5 min threshold pace (approx. 8 min/mile), 5 minutes cooldown (between 9 and 10 min/mile).

Overall, I felt pretty good. No lingering effects from the weekend race. My right shin still had a little twinge, but nothing too bad. The tempo intervals didn't seem as bad as last Thursday's either, although the first 10 min. interval was still pretty tough toward the end. I think it helps a lot that I did these on Tuesday after a full day of rest, instead of last week on Thursday after two straight days of workouts and a speed workout only two days previous. I also think that the 2x10 min intervals I did last week was a little too much for my first week of training, so I backed it off a little today and shortened the second interval to only 5 minutes. Next week, I'll try increasing the second interval (maybe to 7 min.). Hopefully by race day, I can get up to 2x15 min. tempo intervals, or even better 3 total intervals (maybe 15, 10, 10). I should also probably try just a long tempo run (maybe 25-30 min at a slightly slower pace). So many choices!

Next Planned Workout: 3-3.5 mile easy run, Tomorrow (Wed. Aug. 5)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Weekly Total July 27-Aug. 2

Running: 21.92 miles, 3:12:20, Avg. Pace 8:47
Other: Walk/recovery jog - 1.27 miles
Workouts: 1 speed interval workout, 2 threshold workouts, 1 easy run, 1 long run
Total Miles: 23.19 miles

A fairly big mileage jump from the past few weeks (about 30%), so I will have to be careful this week to avoid injury. I'm very happy with the week, I had two really tough workouts on Tuesday and Thursday, and I had a 5K race where I hit right in the middle of my goal time. I don't know if I could ask for a much better start to my training schedule.

Workout: 5 mile long run

Distance: 5.19 miles
Time: 51:58
Avg. Pace: 10:01/mile
Type: Long Run
Weather: Warm/Hot (mid 70s to low 80s), Sunny
Summary: Fairly consistent pace (around 9:55-10:00 min/mile), walked for a short period uphill at around 1 1/2 miles

I definitely could tell that I ran a 5K race yesterday. I felt pretty crappy, slow, and sore (especially my quads and shins). Thankfully, tomorrow is a rest day.

Next Planned Workout: 40 min tempo workout, Tuesday 8/4

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Workout: 5K Race (Courage Center's 5K Your Way)

Main Workout Distance: 5 km (3.107 miles)
Main Workout Time: 25:42
Avg. Workout Pace: 8:16/mile
Cooldown Distance: 1.27 miles
Total Distance: 4.38 miles
Type: 5K Race (Threshold)
Weather: Coolish (low to mid 60s), windy, sunny
Summary: 5K race at between 7:55/mile and 8:30/mile; 1.27 mile cooldown walk/jog

I kept a mostly constant pace (I heard someone else say to her running mate that we crossed the 1 mile mark at 7:55, and I finished the entire race with a 8:16/mile average), and I didn't embarrass myself. In fact, I was right in my range of goal times (I wanted to finish in the 25-27 minute zone). I went out a little fast, but I was able to control myself and dial it back for most of the rest of the race. I also was able to finish with a little bit of a kick, and I think I could have finished even stronger (maybe shaving off 15-30 seconds, but I doubt much more), but the point of this race wasn't to do the fastest 5K I could, but rather was just to run at around 8 min/mile and get my workout in today for my half-marathon training.
Next Planned Workout: 6 mile long run tomorrow (Sunday Aug. 2)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Workout: 2x10 min Threshold Intervals

Main Workout Distance: 2.57 miles
Main Workout Time: 20 minutes (2x10 min intervals)
Main Workout Avg. Pace: 7:46/mile (during intervals)
Warmup/Cooldown Distance: 2.49 (1.6 mile warmup before intervals and 0.9 mile cool down after intervals)
WU/CD Time: 24:51
Avg. WU/CD Pace: 9:58/mile
Type: Threshold Wokrout
Weather: Sunny, warm to hot (mid to upper 70s) and humid
Summary: 2x10 minute intevals. The first was slightly faster (about 7:45/mile) and went a little farther (about 1.29 miles) than the second (7:48/mile, about 1.28 miles). I took about a 5 minute walk/recovery jog between the two intervals. Warmup was for about 15 minutes for 1.57 miles (9:40/mile), and cool down was 0.92 miles in a little under 10 minutes (about 10:30/mile).

Once again, I was too fast. I was shooting for more around the 8:00/mile pace (or around my 10K pace according to McMillan), but instead I ended up being much closer to my 5K pace (which is about 7:42 according to McMillan). Oh well, Friday is a day off, so if it was too intense, then I get a full day of recovery to work it off.

These threshold intervals (or tempo intervals as they are often called) were very hard. It wasn't that the distance or pace was that hard, it's just my body is clearly not used to running at that fast of a pace for that long of time. I know McMillan said this was my 5K pace (or even a little slower), but I honestly can't imagine keeping that pace up for an entire 5K (which would be another 1.8 miles beyond what I ran for each interval). I guess we'll see on Saturday, as I am running the Courage Center's 5K Your Way on Saturday (although I do not plan to run that race at anywhere near my supposed 5K race pace).

Next Planned Workout: Courage Center 5K Your Way Race. Goal time, about 25-26 minutes, although up to 28 would be fine with me.

Running Gadgets: GPS Running Watch

I bit the bullet, and ordered a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS Running Watch yesterday. Yay, a new running toy!

Up until now, I had been using the Nike+ iPod sports kit with my 3rd Gen. iPod Nano, but while the Nike+ is a great motivational tool (thanks to the nikerunning.com website that it automatically syncs with), it is wildly inaccurate (mine was off as much as 1.5 miles on one of my long runs a few weeks ago) and inconsistent (recording two 3.5 mile routes differently, one as 3 miles and the other as 4.1 miles). Finally, its on-the-fly pace measurement was sometimes way off (there were times I would be running a slow recovery pace, and it would measure my pace as sub-7:00 minutes per mile, and then while I was picking up the pace it would think I was going at a 10:00 min/mile clip).

In order to get around the mileage inaccuracy, I started using Gmap Pedometer (sometimes mapmyrun.com or the USATF website's similar services), but that gets really annoying, because unless you always run the exact same route (difficult when you need to do different distances for speed, tempo/threshold, easy, and long run workouts), or can find a nice 1 mile loop somewhere (hard to get an exact mile, and also boring to run over and over and over), you have to map out every single run, and if your first shot at planning a route doesn't get you to the right mileage, you sometimes have to start all over and plan a new route from scratch.

Enter the Forerunner, what I hope will be my personal savior. Not only does it use GPS satellites to track distance (not perfectly accurate, but still should be withing about 0.1 miles every time, rather than the Nike+'s 10-20% swings), but it will tell you your current pace, average pace for this run, "lap" times and paces, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I think some of the coolest features are the following:
  1. You can set it to automatically record laps at certain distances... i.e. you can set it up to auto-record your mile splits
  2. There's a heartrate monitor so you can use it to track heartrate in order to train in heartrate zones. The data from the heart rate monitor can also be used with some software programs to track your "Training Load," which helps you see the improvement in your fitness over time
  3. You can set up a "Virtual Partner" to run at your goal pace, and it will tell you if you are ahead or behind.
  4. You can set up customized workouts in advance. For example, I could have set up the 5x400m speed interval workout I did on Tuesday in advance, including the warmup jog ahead of time, the type of intervals (distance or time) and the recovery jogs between (which you can set as a time recovery or distance recovery).
The one big drawback of the model I got, the Forerunner 305, is that it is a few years old, and so it looks like a brick on your arm, but I'm told by several people on forums that have used it that it is actually quite light, and that you get used to it very quickly.

My Forerunner should arrive in the middle of next week. I'll write a review in a few weeks when I've had a chance to play around with it.

Here's a video on the 305:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Workout: 3.4 Mile Easy Run

Distance: 3.41 miles
Time: 32:16
Avg. Pace: 9:28/mile
Type: Easy Run/Recovery Run
Weather: Cooler (mid to upper 60s), cool breeze
Summary: 1st 1 1/2 miles were faster (I'm estimating between 8:30-9:00 min/mile), but I had to slow up a bit after that (shin pain, legs a little dead from yesterday).

This was an easy run/recovery to get some endurance work, but mostly to let my legs recover from yesterday's speed workout. I felt really good for the first 1 1/2 miles, but then my shins started to hurt a little and my legs started to feel a little dead, and I didn't really have the "umph" to go very fast.

Next Planned Workout: Tomorrow evening (Thurs. 7/30) Threshold Workout (I'm hoping for a 2x10 min threshold run).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Workout: 5x400m Speed Workout

Main Workout Distance: 1.25 miles (5x400m intervals) + 1 mile walk/recovery jog (~400 m walk/recovery jog between each interval) = 2.25 miles total
Main Workout Avg. Pace: 6:40/mile (running portions)
Warmup/Cooldown Distance: 2.9 miles (2 mile warmup before intervals and 0.9 mile cool down after intervals)
Avg. WU/CD Pace: 9:55/mile
Type: Speed Workout
Weather: Cool (mid 60s to low 70s), Clear, No Humidity
Summary: 400m intervals ranged from 1:35 to 1:50 per interval, or between about 6:22/mile to about 7:24/mile, with walk/jog recovery for 400m+ between each; Warmup 2 mi run at slow pace (9:34/mile); Cool Down 0.9 mile jog at even slower pace (10:45/mile pace)

My first interval speed workout. These really weren't that bad, in fact I had to keep myself in check to keep from running them too fast. All the advice I've seen on running intervals like these as a speed workout for long distance training recommend being around your 2-5K pace, which for me is supposedly around 7:22/mile to 7:43/mile (or about 1:42 to 1:55 per 400m interval), but as you can see, only my slowest interval was in this range. I guess it's the old high school sprinter in me coming out (I ran the 400m as my main race in high school and had a personal best of about 50.5 seconds... nothing stellar, but still not slow. I also ran the 200m pretty fast, I don't remember exactly but I know it was around 21 seconds).

I think that it's fine that I was a little fast, I'm sure I'll get better at pacing myself: in fact, I think that will be a big benefit of these speed workouts is that it will help me get better and "feeling" what my pace is.

I think I might try my next set of speed intervals (next Tuesday) on a hill. Hill intervals are supposed to help build leg strength as well as speed, and early on in a training schedule it's a good idea to increase strength, which leads to an increased max. pace (according to Run Faster).

Next Planned Workout: 3-3.5 mile endurance run tomorrow evening (Wed. 7/29). What type will depend on how my legs feel after tonight's speed workout. If I'm hurting, then it will be a recovery run. If I feel just OK or good, I will do a normal easy run. And if I feel really good during the easy run, I'll turn it into a progression run and increase the pace on the last 1-1.5 miles.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monster Dash Training Starts Today

Today is the first official day of my Monster Dash Half-Marathon Training Program (although technically, today is a day off, so the actual training doesn't start until tomorrow). My training plan will be a modified version of Hal Higdon's Intermediate Half-Marathon Program from halhigdon.com, but with two extra weeks added (for a total of 14 weeks rather than Hal's planned 12 week program), one week for an extra buildup, and another for an added week of taper. I am also throwing in some of the workout advice/types from the Run Faster book (review forthcoming).

I am very excited to start my first "official" long-distance race training program. This is the first concrete step toward my goal of finishing a full marathon (up until now, you could say I was just dabbling in training, but could have stopped at any time).

Here we go!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weekly Total: July 20-26

Running: 16.41 miles, 2:36:59, Avg. Pace: 9:34 per mile
Other: 2 Walks, 3.64 miles
Workouts:
4 Endurance/Stamina Workouts (1 Easy Run, 1 Progression Run, 1 Threshhold Run, 1 Recovery Jog), 1 Mile Time Trial, 1 Speed Workout, 2 Walks
Total Miles: 20.05 miles

Unfortuntaly, the blister that showed up after Wednesday's time trial/threshold workout and the sore quads that resulted from Friday's speed workout required me to have a little more recovery than I intended (cutting short a planned 4 mile easy run on Saturday and skipping my long run completely on Sunday). Thankfully, I wasn't really in my training program yet, so the extra time off should just help me be fully rested for the official start of my Half-Marathon Training Program (starting tomorrow!).

Workout: 1 Mile Walk

Distance: 1.17 miles
Time: No idea
Avg. Pace: No idea
Type: Walk
Weather: Hot, sunny
Summary: 1+ mile walk to park with Andy, Steph, and Connie (mother in-law)

We took a short walk down to the park so that Andy could play on the swings and in the sand. Not really a workout, but still a mile logged.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Workout: 3 Mile Recovery Run

Distance: 2.93 miles
Time: 31:45
Avg. Pace: 10:50/mile
Type: Recover Jog
Weather: Hot, Humid
Summary: 3 mile slow recovery jog at slow, constant pace because of sore quads.

I had planned this to be a 4-4.5 mile easy run for endurance, but my quads and shins were still really sore from yesterday's hill sprints (I may need to rethink doing those if I keep getting this sore).

Friday, July 24, 2009

Workout: 4.75 Easy Run + 4x8 sec. Hill Sprints

Distance: 4.75 miles
Time: 44:24
Avg. Pace: 9:21/mile
Type: Easy Run + Speed Workout
Weather: Warm, Clear
Summary: 4 mile easy run (about 9:10/mile), 4x8 sec. Hill Sprints, 0.8 mile slower (9:45/mile) cool-down/recovery run

I felt mostly good during the first 4 mile portion. The hill sprints were hard, and my quads were killing me during the last one. My quads were still pretty sore afterwards.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Plantar Fascia: That Fickle Bitch

One of the most common injuries experienced by runners is plantar fasciitis (often incorrectly referred to as a heel spur, which is technically a different, but often related, injury). And like the hundreds and thousands of runners before me who have experienced the pain of PF, I too am afflicted with this condition. In fact, I had a mild case of PF for over a year (even when I wasn't running) and didn't really know what it was.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?
According to one of the best websites on the subject, heelspurs.com, "plantar fasciitis (pronounced PLAN-ter fa-shee-EYE-tiss) is an inflamation of the plantar fascia in your foot. The plantar fascia is a large band of connective tissue between your heel and the ball of your foot, and it acts to support your arch when you walk. The plantar fascia experiences tension as you lift your back heel off the ground when you walk or run. The tension is greatly increased (leading to PF) when the calf muscle is tight and inflexible. The following two pictures (again, from the wonderful site heelspurs.com) show the plantar fascia and the most common point of pain for PF.





The "Pain Often here" spot on the second picture is exactly where I felt a sharp stabbing pain when I walked, particularly after I started ramping up my running to about 15 miles per week back in April. The weird thing about PF is it hurts the worst right when you get up in the morning, and it gets progessively less painful throughout the day. For me, the pain usually went away completely when I ran, so I never equated it with running until I looked into it more. The reason PF hurts the worst in the morning is when you sleep, your feet generally flatten out, releasing the tension in your calves and causing them to tighten so that when you get up and start to walk, your plantar fascia starts screaming because the tension on the plantar fascia increases as the calf gets tighter and more inflexible. Similarly, PF pain tends to go away as you walk or run around because your calves warm up and become less tight, relieve the tension on your plantar fascia.

Unfortunately, there is no quick treatment for PF. Also, while resting (i.e. laying of on exercise) helps, it often isn't enough to cure PF (unless you are able to remain in bed 24/7 for an extended period of time). You pretty much have to stick with some common sense remedies for a long period of time to reduce or eliminate the extra stress on your plantar fascia while the inflammation heals. Here are the treatments I have used that have helped reduce, and on some days eliminate, my PF pain.
1. Stretching - Regular calf stretches help a lot. I do a couple pushing up against a wall (the "Gastroc" and "Soleus" stretches demonstrated here). Another that helps me a lot (although you have to be careful not to overstretch) is to stand on the edge of a stair step on the balls or toes of my feet (either both feet, or you can isolate your left or right calves) while slowly lowering my heels below the level of the step. You have to be careful with this method, because it can lead to injury to the plantar fascia or the achilles tendon, but if done slowly and carefully, it has worked wonders for me.
2. Strassburg Sock/Night Splint - Technically, this is really another form of stretching, but it was quite new and different for me, and I suspect for many others too. You wear one of these at night to keep your foot flexed instead of laying flat. This keeps your calf stretched throughout the night to prevent the tightening described above. I have used the Strassburg most nights for a few weeks, and the difference was remarkable. I noticed a big difference the very first night I wore it. In fact, when I was forced to stop wearing the Strassburg for a week and a half to avoid aggravating my toe injury (which was on the same foot as my PF), I noticed an almost immediate worsening of symptoms, particularly in the mornings. The Strassburg Sock takes some time to get used to, so you may have one or two nights of less than ideal sleep, but I don't notice it much anymore. I have heard the same about night splints. Of all the treatments so far, I think the Strassburg, and possibly insoles (discussed next), have made the most difference.
3. Insoles/Orthotics - arch support is very important to avoid and treat PF. I credit wearing insoles with great arch support for really helping me to keep the PF pain at bay and to help me get better while I'm doing all the other treatments. At the recommendation of heelspurs.com, I got Powersteps (the original Powersteps for my day to day shoes, and Pinnacles for my running shows), which have been a godsend. Once I got used to wearing insoles with such aggressive arch support (which took a couple days), I noticed a big reduction in PF pain, even on days when I hadn't worn my Strassburg, stretched much, or iced my arch (discussed below). There are other good over-the-counter insoles out there (I have also used Superfeet, which are OK, and Sole, which could be great but the arch support hit my foot at the wrong spot and caused a huge blister... and Spenco seems to have been the industry "standard" for awhile), but the Powersteps seem to come the most highly recommended by podiatrists. Powersteps were a little harder to find (I had to trek out to a specialty running shop in St. Paul, which is way out of my way) but they are worth it for reduced foot pain.
4. Ice - ice is also great because it helps control plantar fascia inflammation. I purchased a couple of great general purpose, reusable ice packs from Target (there are also specialty ice packs designed specifically for ankle and foot injuries, like the ActiveWrap, but these seemed overly expensive and even harder to find than the Powersteps insoles). (By the way, the ice packs I did get, the ThermiPaq, is by far the best ice pack I've every used. It uses a ceramic clay material that gets cold fast in the freezer, but holds its cold for longer than traditional gel packs... they also come with a great washable cloth cover with a velcro strap for securing it to wherever you need icing). When my PF was at its worst, I would ice my arch immediately after I got up in the morning while I ate breakfast minutes, 3-4 times a day while at work, and 1 or 2 more times at night (with at least 1 immediate before bed), which each icing being for at least 10-15 minutes, and preferably 20-30. I also did my best to ice it immediately after a run. Icing helps a lot because not only does it reduce inflammation (which causes pain), but it also causes the blood vessels to contract and essentially massage the "junk" (for lack of a good technical term) out of your tissue.
5. Ibuprofen - like icing, ibuprofen is also good to help reduce inflammation, and if you are really hurting to help reduce pain (although you should be taking it for the inflammation... if the pain is so great that you can't tolerate it without ibuprofen or some other pain killer, you might want to see a podiatrist because your PF is much more advanced than mine). I didn't use ibuprofen as much as the other treatments because I like to avoid taking drugs if I don't have to, but if I'm having a bad day and my arch feels particularly sore, I do take some to help.

So that's it for my treatments. I am not all the way to being pain free (as a couple of my recent workouts show), but when I am aggressive with these treatments, the pain usually stays at bay and I am able to keep running while still healing, which is what is really important when training for long races.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Workout": 2.47 Mile Walk Around Valleyfair

Distance: 2.47 miles
Time: 2.5 hours (there were rides in between)
Avg. Pace: No idea (the actual walking time was much less than 2.5 hours)
Type: Walk
Weather: Warm (upper 70s, low 80s), clear
Summary: Walking around Valleyfair! amusement park with my wife, mom, and second cousins who are in town visiting.

Who knew walking around an amusement park for a couple hours could cover so much distance? Well, I guess everyone who's ever done it and felt how sore their legs are afterwards. This was a lot of fun... it was an unplanned birthday trip because my cousin and her kids (my second cousins) were in town and they had been at Valleyfair most of the day and my mom promised she'd take the kids back after dinner to ride a few more rides so my wife and I went too. Wild Thing is still the best coaster in the upper midwest (although Raging Bull and Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags in Chicago are also pretty awesome), and Renegade, which I hadn't been on before, also was one of the most fun new coasters I've been on in awhile (it whips you all over the place with a ton of twists and turns). Overall, a pretty fun end to a good birthday

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my 31st birthday. Man am I getting old. Oh well, age is just a number, you're only as old as you feel, and all that jazz. If I keep running, hopefully I can keep feeling young for awhile.

Workout: 4 Mile Threshold Run w/ 1 Mile Time Trial

Distance: 4.42 miles
Time: 40:20
Avg. Pace: 9:08 per mile
Type: Threshold run + Time Trial
Weather: Very cool, mid-50s, and clear
Summary: 1 mile warmup at slow pace (10:00 to 9:30 pace), 1 mile time trial (6:55 pace), recovery walk/jog for 3-4 mins, 5 min threshold run at increased pace (estimate 9:00 to 8:30 pace), 3-5 min recovery, 3-4 min threshold run (intended to be 5 min) at increased pace (estimate 9:00 to 8:45 pace)

I had done a time trial mile run (meaning trying to go at the maximum pace I feel I can withstand over a full mile to see how fast my best possible mile pace is) several weeks ago (back on June 16). My time for that mile was about 7:30, and today I was able to run the mile in about 6:55 (still no iPod, so I used my analog wristwatch to keep time, not the most accurate, but good to within a few seconds). This seems like a pretty good improvement for just over a month (I know, I know... I was out of shape before, so my improvements will be quite large to begin with). Amazingly, during the time trial I went out way too fast and felt like complete crap for about 3/4 of the mile and I was sure I was actually going to get a worse time in this time trial... I guess my running over the last month is paying off a little.

According to the McMillan Calculator, this means if I did nothing to improve my general aerobic fitness and base speed but only improved my endurance so that I can make it a whole half marathon, I should be able to run my upcoming goal race at 8:28 minute pace for a total time of 1:50:46. I would be absolutely ecstatic with this time (my goal is to finish in 2 hours or less, so a 10 minute premium would be awesome). And of course, just improving my endurance would also give me a little bit of a gain in aerobic fitness, so I might even be able to do a little better (my "perfect race" goal of 1 hour, 45 minutes might even be in reach).

The mile time trial also served as the first of three (initially planned as 2) threshold intervals (albeit a mile time trial is at the extreme fast end of a "threshold" run, and even borders on a speed workout, but since it was over an entire mile I think it fits better in the threshold catagory since it will help me build up stamina). The other threshold intervals kind of fell apart since the mile time trial took so much out of me. I was sucking wind for both of them, and I barely increased my pace (perhaps to as fast as 8:30, but certainly no faster). Oh well, it certainly should trigger adaptations from my body.

Next Planned Workout: 3.5-4 mile easy run with 4x8 sec. hill sprints, either tomorrow (Thursday) morning or evening (probably evening)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Book Review: Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide

Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide by Hal Higdon

Marathon (as you have probably guessed) is another book on training for a marathon. As with Marathoning for Mortals, much of the focus of this book is on helping beginners or runner who are inexperienced at long distances tackle the task of training for the 26.2 miles of a marathon. Marathon is a very comprehensive book that not only gives you a great foundation to start your training, but also gives you a ton of other information that you may not have considered or even thought about.

The author, Hal Higdon, was a competitive runner in the 1960s and 1970s (he is still an active runner, but since he is in his 70s he isn't necessarily competitive anymore), when he achieved marathon times in the 2 hour, 20 minute range (phenomenally fast), including finishing as high as fifth (first American) at the Boston Marathon in 1964. He has been a longstanding contributing writer for Runner's World magazine, and has written over 30 books, mostly on running.

The biggest strength of Marathon is the breadth of topics that are covered. For example, there are chapters on beginning runners, "Your First Marathon," how to build up mileage, endurance training, speed training geared toward marathon running (although Higdon recommends you not worry about speed training for your first marathon), injuries, and even a whole chapter on "mind games" to help you get through the mental challenge associated with running for 3 plus hours (if you're really good) or 4 plus hours (if you are a normal, average jogger). I thought that two chapters in particular were very helpful, mostly because I had never really thought about them before. The first was "The Distance Runner's Diet," which helps you try to get your nutrition in good form to help you run 26.2 miles (I'll admit that I haven't really put this into practice myself, but I hope to). The "Diet" chapter also referred me to Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, which I hope to read soon and which looks like a fabulous book to help learn how to eat properly, not just for sports, but for life. The second chapter that I found really helpful was "Predicting Pace and Performance." This chapter talked about the ways you can predict what your race pace should/might be, and how to use that information to determine what your pace should be during some of your workouts. Higdon listed several methods, the most useful being McMillan Running Calculator, a truly fabulous tool for calculating paces and planning workouts. (By the way, Greg McMillan's website also has a great article on some of the physiological reasoning behind different training methods that really helped me understand the importance of long easy runs, shorter and faster tempo/threshold runs, and speedwork, even for long distance training).

Finally, Marathon also points you to Hal Higdon's personal website, halhigdon.com where he has includes tons more information on more specific training details and a link to a very good forum that he checks and posts on quite frequently where you can get more specific questions answered. Higdon's website alone is worth the price of admission for the Marathon book.

Like Marathoning for Mortals, Marathon doesn't go into incredible detail on how to do the actual training, day to day (although it is more detailed than Mortals), but there are other great books and websites for that. What Marathon does do very well is cover just about every topic that is related to running a marathon, and Higdon does a great job of pointing to other sources of information where you can learn more (the McMillan Calculator and Sports Nutrition Guidebook being two examples that I have already mentioned). Overall, Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide pretty much lives up to its name. It can, and should, be one of the first places you turn to get a question about this difficult race answered

Monday, July 20, 2009

Workout: 4 Mile Progession Run

Distance: 4.31 miles
Time (estimate): 40:30
Avg. Pace (estimate): 9:24 per mile
Type: Progression Run
Weather: Upper 70s to lower 80s, overcast, humid
Summary: First 3.3 miles easy (approx. 9:45-9:30 per mile), last mile at increased pace (approx. 8:45-8:30)

My legs were a little stiff and dead at first, but toward the end I felt really good. I originally planned on doing 4 miles total with a 4x8 sec. hill sprint speed workout, but since my legs felt so dead, I decided to turn it into a progession workout instead to get a little more aerobic benefit. I still can't find my ipod, so the paces here are educated guesses and I used them to estimate my total time.

Next Planned Workout: 4-4.5 mile threshold run, either tomorrow or Wednesday (probably Wednesday).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weekly Total: July 13-19

Running: 19.06 miles, 2:56:05, Avg. Pace 9:14 per mile
Workouts: 1 long run, 3 easy runs, 1 speed workout
Other: 2.1 mile walk
Total Miles: 21.16 miles

Not bad, I got my mileage back up to where it was pre-toe injury, and I improved my average pace slightly. I would have liked to have had either one more speed workout or a tempo workout too (plus one more workout total), but I can live with this for now.

Workout: 7 Mile Long Run

Distance: 6.95 miles
Time: 1:07:55
Avg. Pace: 9:48 per mile
Type: Long Run
Summary: Steady run at approx. 9:45 to 9:30 per mile. Walked a short bit at 1.5 miles and (uphill) at 4.5 miles
Weather: Upper 60s to mid-70s, sunny and clear, slight breeze

I felt OK for this workout... the weather was near perfect, but I didn't feel too great most of the way. I had to walk about 1.5 miles in, and then again at about 4.5 (but that was going up a wicked hill, so it hardly counts). I couldn't find my iPod, so this run was sans-music too (and the time is a guess based on the actual time when I left the house and got back). I guess it's good that I could actually do a long workout without music.

Next Planned Workout: 4 mile easy run with 4x8 sec. hill sprints, tomorrow.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Workout: 4 Mile Easy Run

Distance: 4 miles
Time: 35:41
Avg. Pace: 8:55 per mile
Type: Easy Run for Endurance
Summary: 4 miles at a fairly constant pace, a slight slowdown at about 2 miles for a mile because of arch pain and fatigue.
Weather: Very cool (low 60s), but clear.

Another easy run at a sub-nine minute average, which is good. But, I felt pretty crappy through the whole run (probably because I was running for the second time in less than 12 hours), and my arch started hurting again. I really hope it isn't anything more than my PF. But, I'm icing right now as I type this, so hopefully it will go away. Oh yeah, and I got the start of a wicked blister right on the same arch. I have some blister bandages that should keep it copacetic, but still, I haven't had blisters in years.

Next Planned Workout: Saturday (7/18), 4-4.5 mile easy run with 4x8 sec. hill sprints. Possibly a WiiFit step session tomorrow night (Friday 7/17) if I feel up to it.