Sunday, May 21, 2017

How Goals Work For Me

Yesterday, I was running what I call "Workman Hill Traverses", running over and back Workman Hill in Whittier.  The previous (and only other) time I did this, I quit after 3 over-and-backs since there was a light rain and mud was starting to collect on my shoes (actually Body Glove Realm water socks).  So yesterday I went up with the plan of running 4.

I run these not that fast because I'm not completely over the ITB issues.  For instance when I run now, after a while, it hurts to flex my knee to the maximum extent, but that's not required, so... what.  And later in the day, my knee doesn't hurt.  And yes, I'm (insert usual advice here).

So yesterday, I finished the 3rd one at 1:32:something.  So I started going over goals in my head - maybe next time trying for 2 hours, later on, working up to 5 or 6 over-and-backs in 2 hours (I like 2 hour workouts).  Then I started thinking, maybe I can break 2 this time.  So I wasn't fooling around on the 4th rep but I started pushing a little on the way back and finished under 1:58 and that included picking up some trash on the last descent.

The workout today was a 1 hour run.  We have a group of friends that annually do a one-hour run and mail in the resulting distance, this year by June 14th.  This was my first time trial for the year.  After 2 miles, it was pretty obvious that I wasn't going to make even 6 miles (pretty bad, huh?).  But that is as expected, actually.  Given uninterrupted training, I should be able to hit 7 miles, but not at the moment.  So I thought that 5 3/4 miles was a possibility.  So I kept track of my splits but I actually got slower, slipping from the 10:20's to 10:30's.  But when I finished 5 miles, I had 7:37 remaining in the hour, so possible to get to 5.75 if I could run 10 minute pace.  I ran the last mile in 9:30 and managed 5.75 plus about 73 meters.  Nothing to write home about (blogs are fair game though) but it reminded me that whenever I do this effort, I'm breathing at least a little hard as I did in the last mile. And now the goal for the next time I do this time trial will be 6 miles.

So I set goals during workouts, manage a little extra effort at the end to hit the goal, then use that for the next workout to hit a higher goal.  A typical mind game I played in the past was to calculate the average split from an earlier workout, then try to hit that split for that day's workout.  That would usually result in a faster time for the day.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Signal Hill Plus Tire Pull

It has rained the last two days so the hills in Whittier will build up on the bottom of your shoes for the next few days. Instead, I ran a higher intensity hill workout in/on Signal Hill. Signal Hill is a city entirely within Long Beach, California. It is basically a big hill in the middle of otherwise flat terrain. I was introduced to it by the Long Beach City College track team in the first week or so that I lived in California. I used to be able to run to the first stop sign on Hill Street in a P.R. of 57 seconds. Now, I hope I can break 3 minutes.
This workout started with 8 quick sprints in the grass in the park (which didn't exist long ago). The grass was wet so after 4 sprints, I went barefoot which worked a lot better. After the grass sprints, I put my shoes on and ran the hill 4 times. Back when I could run with more intensity, 2 repeats was pushing it. Today, I could tell I was tired on the 4th repeat. I wasn't sure if I would be able to get through the tire pulls but it turned out not to be a problem. The tire doesn't drag very heavily. It is more of a tool to keep one able to continue to drive. One of the other guys did get curious about the tire so I let him know how the cord attached, etc.
I like this workout because
  • I was able to get nice and quick turnover on the grass sprints,
  • the hill sprints really tired me out and
  • the tire pulls got me to drive, particularly with the right leg.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

TVR upcoming

Each year, my friend Andy Roth puts on the Titus Van Rijn One-Hour Distance Classic, a challenge to run for one hour. The folks on his list get a time to attempt the challenge (a duration of about 6 weeks this time). The challenge is to run for one hour on a 1/4 mile or 400 meter track and report the distance. I don't know why it is named after Rembrandt's son. I don't know how long I have been participating in this but I do know that my participation started before 2006 when I set my personal record of 14,681 meters (and had to curl up on the bed for a couple of hours afterwards with an upset stomach).

For the past few years, the advent of this challenge is the incentive for me to get into shape. Usually I'm out of shape because of some injury. This year is no exception. I've had hip issues for years and I've been steadily working on them for over a year. I've had ITB issues for several months, possibly related to the hip issues. Due to TVR, I've been working on the ITB and it has been responding. And then just to make things interesting, in quick succession, I got food poisoning and then crashed my bicycle.

So the point of progress today is that this morning, I ran in the rough neighborhood of my target distance and my ITB didn't develop the usual pain. Hooray! So my rough plan (I keep the plans rough since they get changed often) is to get a representative effort completed on relatively flat trails (at Bolsa Chica Wetlands) midweek and another on a track on the weekend, then repeat this for the next 6 weeks which is the rough term of the challenge.

I'm slow at the moment. Really slow. However, I know that if I don't aggravate my injuries, I'll probably start improving my pace and see that on a weekly basis. And if not, I'm running a time trial weekly so I'll have something to enter. I've had bad years before and it didn't turn out to be a tragedy. If there is any consolation, it is (by comparison) how much worse I am at weightlifting now than when I was younger, yet I can still do it and get some enjoyment and improvement out of it.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Still trudging after all these years

Despite getting food poisoning and crashing my bike in the past month, my main physical issue is ITB problems. I finally decided that it was an ITB flavored knee problem a couple of days ago. So after researching it, I decided that I'm already doing plenty of hip exercises but that I could get the foam roller out and also add a specific exercise for flexing the knee. I did those two yesterday, then ran my usual Rose Hill Road repeats today (increasing my repeats by one) and didn't have much of a problem with my knee. Of course, I need to get in shape because it is the time of year for... the Titus Van Rijn One Hour Run. I have to complete this by June 14th. I'll probably do a one hour run on a dirt track every weekend from now until the deadline. So if I get around the ITB issue, the next issue will be fitness, I hope. And that's always a good issue to work on.

Rose Hill Road is currently very overgrown with wild mustard and thistles. This gives me two concerns, neither of which has materialized yet. The first concern is rattlesnakes. I saw a striped racer the other day and I have seen rattlesnakes in this area in the past so I know there is a potential. My guess (after finding a snake hiding under a plant in the past) is that the snakes are out there, they're just doing a good job of keeping out of trouble. So I'll continue to do as I suggested to some hikers today: watch where I step and step on the dirt (trail).

The second concern is ticks. I have picked up a few ticks in the past in this general area but I haven't seen any hitch a ride on me yet. Not much I can do about this other than not run on overgrown trails and I can't do that because that eliminates running hills for the most part.

So the current program alternates hill repeats with some tentative runs in the grass in the local park. I'm going to move the flat runs to the local dirt track tomorrow and just gradually push this program and try to get in shape of the TVR one hour.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

7/1/2013 through 7/7/2013

I had dead legs shorten my long climbs on Thursday and Saturday.  I'm going to blame that on the generally low mileage I've been running since Bishop (roughly 50/week), lack of vertical and particularly bad week last week (32).  In the end, I got in 8 runs for 65 miles this week.  I also came up with a new workout this week which I call Negative Mile Split.  After the warmup, the idea is to split each mile faster until you can't or don't want to anymore.  I ran just 3 miles on the clock with splits of 9:23, 8:13 and 7:03.  The 7:03 is probably the fastest accurate mile split I've had recently.  I was amused that the difference between the splits was 1:10 both times.  I can see a wide range of variation for this workout.  I also see this workout adapting to how you feel that day.

  • Mon: Laguna Canyon: 12 mi, 1907 vertical
  • Tue: 10x800 on a rough track, 3:42 average
  • Wed: Bolsa Chica - 10.2 mi, 9:43 average
  • Thu: Part of Maple Springs Truck Trail (dead legs) - 10 mi, 2021 vertical
  • Fri: El Dorado Park (road) - 10.2 mi, 10:18 average
  • Sat am: Part of Harding Truck Trail (dead legs) - 4.4 mi, 991 vertical
  • Sat pm: Negative Mile Splits - 5.1 mi in all
  • Sun: Rose Hills Road hill repeats - 5 miles, 1635 vertical

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bishop 50k

I ran the BHS 50k on May 18th.  This was basically intended to be a confidence builder.  I expected that I would either do ok or have problems.  I figured the outcome would be the same either way: either I'd have the confidence to start running 50k workouts on weekends (if I did ok) or I'd feel the need to do 50k workouts on weekends (if I didn't).  This is how it worked out.

I drove up Friday morning and checked in at the Millpond campground, site of the race start and where I was camping out that night.  Then I hung around Bishop until the pre-race dinner.  The couple in the adjacent campsite (Matt and Karen) was also there for the race - Matt was competing (got 2nd in the 50 mile) and Karen was going to ride her mtn bike and pace a bit.  My cardiologist told me I should acclimate before the race.  I thought hanging out at 4000' was adequate.  It was very windy in the evening when I was setting up the tent but not  that bad the rest of the time.  At about sunset, I went for a walk out the back of the campground to check out thee start of the racecourse.  I was reminded that it was pretty sandy (I've run the 50 mile 3 times in the past-Bishop was my first ultra).

On race morning, I ate my oatmeal, got ready and went to the start line.  I didn't recognize a lot of people.  I figured I'd go with a DFL start to avoid going out too fast.  So I started out at a reasonable pace.  I wearing some Moeben sleeves but had already warmed up by the time I past my car that I took them off.  My friend Flaco  was fiddling with his knee wrap when I got done dropping them off.  I started back in running an easy pace.  In this first part of the course, I eventually recognized a guy who had run my race - Rafael.  We were running a similar pace so we were talking a bit.  After a ways into the race, the long climb starts that is the trademark of the BHS ultras.  No more conversation at that point.  So this also means that I was climbing in elevation.  Just before the 10 mile point, I saw my friend Tracy and stopped and chatted for about 20 seconds.  Just after that, the altitude started to affect me.  I think I walked from about 11 miles to the turnaround at 17 miles.   We were at 8000' at that point but for some reason, I got acclimated at that point.  I was able to run easily at this point.  Pretty soon I was pulling away from the pair I had been chatting with.  I caught up to another guy and ran with him for a little while.  Then on a downhill into the next aid station, I started pulling away strongly.  The long downhill to the finish starts at that point and I found I could run it pretty strongly.  So I started hauling and running right over any rocks.  I passed at least 10 people in the last 16 miles of the 33 mile 50k :-).  I saw some pictures from the race at 30 miles and I had a smile on my face.  I finished in 7:21 something, 4th in my age group.  Nothing earthshaking but certainly a confidence  builder.

Post race, I've had some good workouts but 2 1/2 weeks later, I still have yet to get back in the swing of things.  So the lessons learned are these.
1) My workouts are adequate to run a 50k and possibly a 50 mile in spite of not running a long run.
2) I won't name names but I notice that I'm not the only one dealing with problems.  Certainly there are people out there with greater difficulties than mine.
3) It's taking me a while to recover from the race.  This mitigates against entering a lot of races - certainly ultras.
4) I need better acclimation to altitude next time.
5) I really enjoyed getting back out on a race course.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Keep It Up

First of all, I really broke one of my New Year's resolutions which was to post weekly.  Oopsies.  However, the good news is that one of my excuses has been that I've been busy - running!
Let's start at the start.  My younger daughter told me a little story that my wife wanted me to 1) build up my arms and 2) grow a mustache.  Of course, this was a complete fabrication.  I was already working on my upper body so I took this as an excuse to grow a mustache.  And I wanted to model my mustache after the great runners of the 70's: Prefontaine, Shorter but especially after the course record holder for Angeles Crest - Jim O'Brien.  So this prompted me to Google Jim O'Brien Angeles Crest and read some of the articles.  I saw one video on Flotrack where he was talking about meeting Arthur Lydiard in a shoe store and talking to him for 2+ hours.  I read about some of Jim's philosophy regrading ultra running as related by Joe Franko in a Larry Gassan article.  At this point (late March) I had been stuck in a rut of running 40 to 50 miles on a good week.  I'd have a good workout here and there but didn't feel like I really was doing all that my body would allow.  So I guess I just started out by trying to run 10 miles a day for a week.  That week started out with a run up Harquahala Mountain in western Arizona.  I kind of expected to have some days where my legs were dead but got through the week with 7 10 mile days.  I extended that on to get through the month of April only missing 1 day (when I had a 2+ hour dentist appt) and getting 66 to 70 miles per week.  At the same time, I've come close to tripling the amount of vertical (climb) per week, starting at just under 3500' and getting just under 9700' this past week.  My experience in the past was basically what Frank Shorter said - "Hill training is speed work in disguise."  And presently, when I do my 2 hour track runs, the limiting factor seems to be my lower legs, not my cardio capacity.  So my near term goal is to be able to perform my 3 targeted workouts per week: Monday - 14 miles in 2 hours on the track, Thursday - 3500' of vertical on a particular hill in Whittier in 2 hours (or close) and Saturday - do one of the mountain runs.  Otherwise, keep the mileage steady until I'm consistently hitting those goal workouts.
Along the way, I run into various problems and then come up with a fix.  So in trying to do everything right, I've come up with this list:

  • I have two sets of exercises mainly to work on core and upper body strength.
  • Use the foam roller after workouts on my legs.
  • Stretch after workouts
  • Eat something right after a workout.  After yesterday's mountain run, I ate a tamale, chocolate soy milk, bagel and baked potato on the drive home.
  • Get enough sleep.  Can be difficult during the week.
  • Keep the callus on my foot in check.
The next thing I'll add to the list probably will be drills and warmups before the track workout.  I severely negatively split this workout last week and I need to do something to start at a faster pace.

So I've been consistent over the last 5 weeks in miles run but have been progressing in terms of vertical.  Those numbers are 66.8/3487, 69.7/7562, 66.3/5545, 70.2/6472, 74.2/9697.  So I'm going to keep my workouts pretty consistent, trying to improve the pace on Monday and Thursday in particular and putting a lot of effort into recovering from each workout.