Thursday, July 29, 2010

The run

I said yesterday's run was in jeopardy due to complete lack of energy.  Well, I managed to get up off the deck and post a decent run:   6 miles in 1:03.  It wasn't great, but wasn't so bad, either.  I've done better, but not since January.

But here's the kicker:  yesterday was a scheduled rest day.  The TUESDAY run was scheduled for 5 miles, but I was on the deck so hard Tuesday night my schedule was off by a block.  So, the rest day that I THOUGHT was today is actually a day scheduled for speedwork.

I so hate The Almighty Schedule I can taste it.

I've been tinkering with The Almighty Schedule anyway, so a little more tinkering may not be so bad.  I might skip tonight's run and overload the miles tomorrow (with a little speed work thrown in), tack on a 3 easy miles Saturday (scheduled rest day), and then be back on track for the LongSlowDistance run for Sunday (9 miles scheduled).  

Or, I might get in a long, easy run tonight, skip tomorrow, sneak in some miles Saturday, and be on track for the LSD on Sunday.
Or, I might rest tonight, run tomorrow morning with an easy 6, cross on Saturday, LSD on Sunday.

I don't know.  Maybe I just need to rest to the weekend and try and get my clock straight.  I'd hate to lose out on the miles for this week--I don't have any more time in July to make them up.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Setback... of sorts

Ok, I've fallen a bit ill over the last few days.  My energy level has been ridiculously low to the point where I was beginning to feel physically ill.  The last scheduled run on The Almighty Running Schedule was skipped as well as the two short bonus runs I had planned to squeeze into the mix.  Tonight's run is, to say the very least, in jeopardy.  The Almighty Schedule for the week is almost certainly trashed.  I can only hope to get back on track for next week, even though I have a business trip planned--all hotels do have treadmills and the mileage is light to moderate.  I may overdose the mileage simply to keep myself "normal" in a foreign city.

This could become, to say the very least, a problem.  Let's hope it doesn't go there.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

True beauty in the park

5 good miles today. I'll try and knock down 4 in the morning tomorrow, but I have a very bad record of getting up in the morning and running.

But the real point of today's post...
Yesterday, while running in the park I saw a thing of true beauty. And no, it wasn't attached to a sports bra or in any way related to the "wildlife" that can be found in the local running Mecca of Houston during the deepest, hottest parts of the summer.

No, this was a thing of true, true beauty. An inspirational sight that my imagination STILL cannot release.

As I was chugging through my second mile yesterday at what I thought was a decent clip, it happened. Three guys come cruising up on my left in a V formation. Their backs straight, their heads held up high, eyes forward, a light banter going on between them. Then I looked at their FEET. They were keeping an identical cadence, all had identical strides, and their footfalls were so light. The balls of their feet hit at exactly the same time, just under their knees, and then seemed to just slide back.
It was so easy, so light, and so smooth.
It was truly beauty in motion.
For just a brief moment I was able to follow behind them and keep their pace (it was a blistering pace for me, but so light and smooth for them). It felt like I was running with gazelles! It was so light and breezy and inspirational. It's HOW I want to run.
And these guys... they were like ghosts. They seemed to appear over my left shoulder out of nowhere, and then after a few moments of pacing with them they were gone just as quickly as they showed up. I've actually seen them around the platforms--they're always there. But I've never seen them actually running.
But now I have. And wow. I so want some of that.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Ran 5 miles in 51 min 29 sec @ 10:18 min pace, weather was humid, hot, and full of blech. typical houston july., temperature around 89 degrees, After a 5 day layoff where I felt generally like garbage, I finally took to the road again. The schedule had 5 miles at 10:30, I ran 5 miles at 10:18. I was going to run 7, but the first 3 miles were at a "blistering" pace of 9:48--much faster than I had planned. 1. 10:02 2. 09:41 3. 09:41 (last quarter mile was 2:00) 4. 10:01 5. 12:02
The first 3 miles weren't going to be that fast, but I got passed by a rabbit who was taking it far, far to easy to be passing me that quickly and had to chase her down. 2 miles later I not only caught her, but the person I mistook for her who was a half mile in front of her. So, that's why I didn't run 7 instead of 5--I overdid it for the first 3 miles. I need to do a better job of sticking to the schedule and getting my long runs in on the weekends. I'm satisfied with the intensity I'm putting in for the short runs, but intensity is no substitute for distance. It doesn't matter how big the pipe is if it's stuck into a shallow reservoir. So, I'm either going to have to start extending the shorter runs or actually DOING the LSDs.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Getting off, and on back on the rails

The Almighty Training Schedule is kind of bumming me out.
Generally speaking, I have a problem with authority.  When that authority is some sort of generic, outside designed round hole that I'm expected to jam a square peg into, then I start to have a real, real problem with the authority.

And that, for me, is what training programs tend to be.  Some guy (or chick) decided that in order for ME to accomplish my goals (in this case, sub 2:00:00 half marathon), I need to do X, Y, and Z.  Forget the fact that I've got schedule conflicts on three of those days.  Forget the fact that I have a travel schedule.  Forget the fact that I actually want to see my family on the weekends.  Nope, forget all that, and you get no alternatives.  Do the program, or good luck.

Well, you know what?  Bite my ass.

Don't get me wrong.  I understand the program is intended to help.  There are specific workouts that seek to deepen the reservoir, widen the pipes, and improve the pump.  Each one targets one, two, or (for a time) all three aspects of the machine.  I get it.  I really, really do.

I also get it that the program is a good starting point, and if I want to get more sophisticated with my training I should consult someone who knows a little more about me than some editor in Colorado (or where ever the hell he is) for Runners World Magazine.

You know what works really well for me?  A long, long run on Monday and Tuesday, then a rest day for Wednesday, then some speedwork for Thursday, and a shorter (but still long) run on Friday.  Then I can take the weekend off (when most people prefer to run their long runs) and spend time with the family that I haven't seen all week.  Maybe that'll change in the winter, but in the summer that's how the schedule works out.  Does that fit into the Almighty Training Schedule?  Nope.  Does it work?  I'll betcha it does.  In fact, I have yet to find anyone who can give me a good reason why it wouldn't work other than "that's crazy", "that's stupid", or "no program would have you doing THAT".  The problem, though, is if the schedule has me doing something else, and I'm not following the schedule, then the schedule simply doesn't work.

So, that's where I'm at right now.  I've got a schedule I've tried to stick with.  And for the weekday runs, I've done a pretty good job.  The weekend runs, on the other hand, I've not done so well sticking with.  I'm going to have to rejigger the schedule a bit and see if I can rearrange the runs and the days in order to fit them in a little bit better.  I might even wake up a bit early a few times a week and run before work--something I have extreme difficulty doing.

Nonetheless, though, I'll take a stab at reforming the Almighty Schedule into something that's more compatible, while at the same time reforming my own schedule to better accommodate the schedule.  Tuesday's 5 mile run will become Tuesday Morning's 6.5 mile run because I'm not sure where the 5 mile turnaround point is on my local route (maybe I'll run 8 miles, depending on how I feel).  The shoes, socks, and kit will be laid out tonight and when the buzzer buzzes at 10 to 5 tomorrow morning, I'll be out like a shot.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Speed work Thursday!

Ran 3 miles in 27 min 33 sec @ 9:11 min/ pace, weather was sunny, with a hot breeze. humid, but not sauna humid., temperature around 93 degrees, The schedule said 1 mile warm up, then 2x1 mile splits at 8:25. 1. 10:46 2. 08:06 3. 08:40 (average for the two miles, 8:23.5) Booyah!
Ok, so the first mile was fast, and that was a mistake. In fact, the first quarter was REALLY fast, at 1:40. After I saw that time, I decided to shoot for the 8:00 mile. I missed it by 6 seconds... grr. And then I totally bonked on the last half mile. That's just the way it goes sometimes.
Tomorrow's schedule has 5 miles at an easy (10:30) pace. I'm gonna gobble them up, while taking it easy.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The pump, the pipe, and the reservoir

There are three parts to a fluid energy system. There's the pump, which actually pushes (or pulls) the fluid from one point to the other. There's the pipe, which allows for the flow of the fluid energy. Then there's the reservoir where the fluid energy is stored. The human body is not much different, even if the parts are not necessarily tangible.

Our pump is, of course, our heart and lungs. In a fluid system the pump will draw the fluid or energy out of the reservoir. The larger the pump, the more that can be drawn out. If the pump is stronger and more efficient, then it can operate at higher speeds for longer periods. Also, less energy is required to operate and cool the pump so it can run for longer periods. The longer it can run, the more can be drawn from the reservoir at a given time.
A good portion of our training has to do with building the strength of the pump. Marathoners have huge pumps that can be set to run for hours and hours at a time. They can fire up a sprint, but they're not designed to sprint. They burn long and slow, and control the flow through the pipes.

The pipes convey the fluid from the reservoir to wherever it's going. If it's an electrical system, the pipes are actually wires. If it's a fluid system, the pipes are... well, pipes. The bigger the pipe, the more that can flow along the pipe with less resistance. The smaller the pipe, the less that can flow and the higher the resistance.
For a runner, we'd be talking about "fast twitch muscle fibers" and "slow twitch muscle fibers" and such things. It's the efficiency with which we can transfer that energy that our heart and lungs are pumping through our body into actual exertion.
We're also talking about discipline and pace. If we open the pipes too far too fast, we burn out. If we keep them constrained too much for too long, we never hit max performance. Marathons are never won in the first mile, but they can be lost completely in that first mile. Go out too fast and you can sacrifice performance in the final miles. We can always open the pipes up for a sustained release of speed, but then we can close the pipes back up to try and conserve and replenish some of the reservoir. A good portion of the training is also learning how to control the flow through the pipes.

The reservoir simply is what it is. In a fluid system it's the lake, or snow caps, or aquifer. In an electrical system it's the battery. For a runner, it's the... well, it's the "IT". You know, do you have "IT" to make it through to the end? To push through exhaustion? To keep those feet moving even when you can barely focus your eyes? Do you have "IT"? When your lungs are burning and your legs are beginning to tingle and your breath is coming in rasps on every footfall and the line is approaching but not approaching fast enough and the clock is ticking the RELENTLESS CLOCK IS TICKING and the white spots are forming in your field of vision AND THE CLOCK IS STILL TICKING and you just can't go another step but you have to keep pushing for just another few feet and you have to reach deep, deep, deep down into the reserves and pull up just a little bit more of "IT"... yea, that's what "IT" is.

And "IT" is the great mystery of long distance running. Training can expand that reservoir mathematically. But there's something else that adds that little something more beyond the mere edges of the pool of reserve energy. There's that little something else that holds the wellspring of amazing, superhuman energy that separates mere mortals from mere mortals who run... and then those mere mortals who run from mere mortals who are runners... and then those mere mortals who are runners from the gods who walk among us.
Anyone can TALK about running.
In fact, anyone can run.
In fact, anyone can run unfathomable distances--it's in our DNA, we're built for it.
And you know, for that matter, on a full tank of gas anyone can blast off an explosive sprint for a 150 meters or so.
The REAL question is whether or not you can blast off a sprint AFTER running 5 or 10 miles.
Or after running 5 or 10 miles, can you run another 5 or 10 miles? Or, on the brink of exhaustion, can you get up and finish?
That's when you start to find out what IT really looks like.
Not in the fresh legs of a new morning, but in the sweat drenched, slightly parched emptiness that lies just before the edge. When you look deep within and see nothing, but then reach down into that inky darkness and find... yea, there it is.

No more comments, for awhile

Due to a douchebag spammer, comments have been turned off. I'll be simulposting on facebook, so you can comment there if you're so inclined.

I don't like to turn off comments, but until the douchebag spammer dies or grows some dignity--or Blogger figures out a way to allow us to ban or report douchebag spammers--I'll have to leave comments off.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Run update

Ran 5 miles in 52 min 46 sec @ 10:33 min/ pace, weather was hot in the sun, cool in the shade... but no shade., temperature around 91 degrees, I skipped the 8 mile LSD run over the weekend due to too many good excuses. So, I made up for it on today\'s rest day. I ran 3 fast miles with a 2 mile cool down. It\'s not on the schedule, and it wasn\'t 8 miles, but it needed to be done and I could barely walk at the end. 1. 9:49 2. 9:32 3: 8:58 (and I really felt like I was going to vomit after this mile... but I didn\'t) 4: 12:03 5: 12:22

I didn't really mean to make the first 3 miles of this run speed work, but that's how it happened. I felt good on the first mile and then saw the time, so I kept banging on the second mile and the time was even better. So, on the third mile I kept banging and the time kept falling. Then I felt like I was going to puke, so I laid there on the grass until the urge to throw chunks passed, dragged myself up and tossed off another couple of miles to cool down. Now, at the end of that second cool down mile someone came up on my left shoulder and slid past me at just the right pace, so I got on his heels and paced him all the way to the finish pole. 10 feet from the finish he cracked. That felt good.

Tomorrow is a rest day. 5 easy miles are scheduled, but I've got an appointment to keep. So, I'm swapping the Tuesday and Wednesday schedules with speed work scheduled for Thursday (2 x mile repeats, 8:30 pace). To make up for skipping this weekend, I'm going to add a mile to the easy run and maybe add a couple to this weekend's LSD. This is looking like a pretty good week.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 5, wearing down.

Ran 4 miles in 42 min 49 sec @ 10:42 min/ pace, weather was effin muggy and blech, temperature around 91 degrees, The schedule said \"4 miles at 10:30\". For some reason I thought that meant to start on a route that would take me 5 miles. It took me a mile to figure out what I had done wrong and I corrected course. Der. I also missed the pace by about 19 seconds, or 5 seconds per mile. 1. 10:41 2. 10:51 3. 10:20 4. 10:55

I'm so freaking tired. I wake up and I'm tired. I go to bed, and I'm tired. I spend the day alert and focused, but I'm tired. The fatigue has GOT to be a part of the program, I'm just not sure it's a good, or necessary, part. I'm going to keep with it, even though I'm skeptical. The worst that can happen, I suppose, is that my half marathon time drops from 2:30 to something between 2:00 and 2:30.

Or, I could get hurt because these training programs are stupid. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I have started a 10 week program to run a half marathon in under 2 hours.  I figured it was time to just go ahead and quit putting off setting a goal and just jump in, both feet, and get this thing done.  Enough with the conceptual knowledge that I can do it, it's time to actually begin the slow, steady process of wearing away, molecule by molecule, the rubbery soles of my shoes.  Target day:  September 11, 2010.  I've plotted out a half marathon course that's actually 13.4 miles long, and I'm calling it the "Half to Beat The Heat Half Marathon +"

I know, I know...  it's a little longer than a true half (hence the Half Marathon + tag), but the point is to be able to run it in under 2:00:00 and, more importantly, when the actual half marathon season comes back around I'll actually be able to knock out a half marathon at the time benchmark I've set.  Additionally, I can use this 2:00:00 baseline as a launching point for marathon training.

I should also say that I'm thoroughly skeptical of this "program".  Yes, I have mined it out of a very respected running publication.  Yes, it has been put together by some very respected running coaches and folks very knowledgeable about these things.  But all the same, I'm very, very skeptical about what this program will actually do for me that I wouldn't be able to do by simply going out there and running as far and as fast as I can run 3 or 4 times a week logging between 20 and 30 miles per week (the same mileage the program has me running).  I mean, why does running 16 total miles (in 3 outings) at 10:30 and a "tempo run" of 5 miles (with 3 at under 9:00) produce better results than simply running between 6.8 and 8 miles on 4 separate days at under 10:00 per mile?  I just don't get it.  I really don't understand.  But I'm willing to try and see if it'll actually work, considering I haven't stuck to the "run between 6.8 and 8 miles on 4 separate days" program much, either.  I'm going to give it an honest try, though, and see if 1. I can stick to the program and 2. if it'll actually work.  Maybe I'll set the next benchmark as a 20:00 5k!

So, on with the program...
Today is a rest day/cross train day on the program.  Yesterday was, I thought, 4 miles at 10:38 pace, but was actually scheduled to be 4 miles at 10:30 pace.  All the same, I knocked out 4 miles in just under 10:30.  I tried really hard to stick to the 10:38 pace that I thought I was supposed to be keeping, but in the beginning that felt SOOO SLOOOWWWW...  towards the end, though, it was a bit tougher to hold on to the pace, so it balanced out.  This was also about a mile longer than my typical weekday runs.  Usually at the park I'll whip out 3 miles with about a mile of speed work.  Yesterday was just 4 steady miles.  I'm not sure why, but today I'm a little bit exhausted.  I DO know that 16 laps around a track is bo-ring.

Tomorrow the schedule has a 5 mile tempo run.  I've never done a tempo run, on purpose.  The schedule says to start slow for a mile, then blast 3 miles at 8:54, then finish slow.  Finishing slow runs completely counter to everything I've ever learned and every habit I've ever developed, but I'll give it a try all the same.  I'm thinking it'll be 4 laps around the oval, then 1 lap around the park, then 4 laps around the oval.  I suppose I'm going to have to suspend the 8:00 rule for the park circuit for awhile.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

From running to training

Up to this point I've called myself a runner, but not a Runner.  I'm running for recreation and out of that recreational effort I have been able to build a base that can support the effort of a half marathon distance pretty much whenever I want to just "roll out of bed" and run 13.1 miles.

Of course, that distance takes 2 1/2 hours to cover.  And I don't care what anyone tells you, running 13.1 miles at a 11:30 pace is not fun.  Not fun at all.
I'm also fairly certain, though I haven't had the opportunity to prove it, that I could knock off a full marathon as well.  Of course, THAT pace will be something south of 12:00, and as much fun as running a half marathon at 11:30 may sound, running a full at more than 12:00 per mile is even less fun.  I don't care what anyone tells you.

Sure, sure, there's the sense of accomplishment blah blah blah...  once you've accomplished one, running for 5 1/2 hours ceases to be a marvelous accomplishment and becomes a hot, sweaty, miserable plod.

SO, then, what's next?

Well, I've already set my sights on the mystical "8 minute mile" (that I already know I can run) to be logged by the end of this month.  En route to putting that little accomplishment into the books, I've decided to put myself on a 6 week training--yes, training--program to prepare to run a half marathon in under two hours.  THAT means I can set my sights on knocking out a half marathon (or half marathon distance) over Labor Day weekend.  And if I'm at the point where I can knock out a half marathon (or half marathon distance) by the end of August, then I can seriously start thinking about setting specific time goals for the full marathons I'm looking at for January.

In just my neighborhood alone, there are 3 full marathons in the calendar month of January 2011.  I'm thinking I might run all three.  I'm thinking I might run all three in under four hours, or at the very worst, between 4:00 and 4:30.  Besides, I already KNOW I can run a marathon.  Now it's time to find out if I can just run marathons.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Going longer

Last Friday I ran the longest post-hiatus run to date--8.5 miles.

In the searing heat.

I ran out of water, was under fed, suffered cramps and various pains, but I made it all the way through.  It took me a little longer than I expected--a 13:00 pace--but I made it.
Yesterday I followed that performance with a 6.8 mile run at about 11:30.  THAT run actually felt pretty good, if not fast.  From here forward my 3 mile runs are going to be considered my short runs, and my 6 mile runs are going to be considered the normal runs.  Anything over 10 miles, on my chart, will be considered long runs.  It's time to start getting serious.

Basically, at this point I feel like my baseline has been built.  I'm able to go adequate distances, even if at slow paces.  I'm satisfied enough with the distances and can start whittling down the times.  I'm still debating whether or not I want to make the transition from recreational running to honest-to-god training.  3 or 4 runs a week seem to be plenty for now, and if I do manage to squeeze out a 2 hour half marathon while keeping to the decidedly non-schedule schedule that I run with, it'll be a very, very satisfying "I told you so" that I'll be able to deliver.

One thing I won't do, however, is sign up for another 5 hour marathon.  That's just not any fun.

If the weather holds for tomorrow, I may run home from the office again to tack on another 8.5 to the ledger.  It'll be a good way to start the month.