Sunday, March 29, 2009

Clicking but not literally

OK - things started working for me on Friday. Running became just a matter of my two quads alternating at pushing me along. That was on the beach run on Friday night. Saturday morning, I started off a bit tired but picked it up about midway through the run. Then when I heard that I was catching up to a couple of mtn bikers I had seen at the top of the previous downhill, I picked it up and zipped right by them, opening up a minute gap on them in about 5 minutes. Then on Sunday, I got the quads going both on the uphills and flats as well as the downhills. I managed the downhills by bringing my knees farther forward and then popping back and forth on my quads. So ended the week on a good note.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Last Week

That toe I hit on the rock during the race is still red two weeks later. It doesn't bother me much though. Here's my workouts for last week when I was sick. I decided on Saturday that I wasn't going to be sick anymore.

Tue10Turtle Hill
Wed10Turtle Hill
Sat20to Belmont Shore in Long Beach

Total: 40

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sick - but not in a good way

I came down with a cough and then phlegm which made me feel phlegmatic (my gosh, I love how those words are spelt). So I got in 10 miles on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, then another 20 on Saturday. Sunday was rainy and windy so I stayed inside. 40 miles

One thing that's going well is my ABC exercise. I can write the alphabet forwards and mirror image with my legs without stopping.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I signed up for the San Juan Trail 50k this week. The conditions were great - sunny but cool for the whole day. I wanted to run the whole thing but then I hit the steep places and my right leg had already been freaking out since I haven't been doing much hill work. The folks at the aid station at the top of West Horsethief trail fixed up my leg with Kool and Fit or something like that. Also gave me a couple of gels and some pretzels which could help cramping. After I got the steep part of Trabuco (I hope I'm getting these names correct, I ran to the finish pretty strongly, passing one guy and almost another.

I had my best fall every during the race. About 8 miles in on a pretty level portion of trail, I caught my right foot on a rock. The right side in this section sloped down at an angle of about 30 degrees with plenty of brush growing on it. I managed to plant my left foot and dive into the brush back first instead of landing on the trail and possibly hitting some rocks. The brush was thick enough where I didn't even hit the ground.

My time and place weren't great but I thought I paced it about right and had plenty left at the end. I should have had more forefoot protection on a rocky course like that. Finally, I should have carried two water bottles just in case of falls.

Food as follows:
1st aid station: 2x1/4 PBJ, topped off Gatorade
2nd: Filled bottle with Gatorade, drank 3 half cups of Gatorade, ate 2x1/4 oranges and 2 cookies
3rd: Gel and pretzels. Ate another gel on the trail. Topped off Gatorade.
4th: Topped off with water.
5th: Topped off but didn't really need it.

Miles for the week

  1. 3/9/2009 - 7.5 6 reps of the hill in Whittier
  2. 3/10 - 8
  3. 3/11 - 19.5 5 laps from the house
  4. 3/13 - 4
  5. 3/14 - 31 SJT50k
  6. 3/15 - 11 behind Schabarum Park.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Workouts for week

3/2/20090.25Signal Hill in 1:34 (once)
3/3/200922Commute home
3/5/200922Commute home
3/7/20093150k in pieces: 18+2.5+2.5+8

Ran home from work a couple of times. Tuesday, my right hip started really hurting until about halfway when it stopped. Thursday, I carried my clothes (including shoes) in a backpack. Neither was fast.
Concerning the hip

  1. I'm going to warmup before trying anymore intense sprints uphill.
  2. I've started doing a whole array of stretches for my hips. The right hip has been a problem waiting to happen.

And why do I get such a big gap in front of an html table?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

As Difficult as ABC

When I get up in the morning, I do some leg exercises before I start walking around. I think this started with a bout of plantar fasciitis a few years back.

First I alternately flex and extend my ankles 192 (64x3) times, with one ankle flexed when the other is extended. Next I write the alphabet forwards with both feet, then backwards (mirror-image) with both feet at the same time.

I've had problems with my hip flexors in some races. I had been trying to figure out an effective means of strengthening this area by laying on the ground and waving my legs around one way or another. I finally made the connection and now write the alphabet forwards then backwards with my legs (both at the same time). So far, I haven't made it all of the way through without having to take a break. But if this ever gets too easy, I'm going to start writing the Khmer alphabet.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The 400 meter question

Why can't I run 400 meters as fast as I could when I was 30 (54.5)?

If I try to run 400 meters fast now, I often strain my hip or hamstring. So for comparison purposes, I'll use my time up Signal Hill for which my ancient PR is 57 seconds. I ran Signal Hill tonight for the first time in a long time. I thought I was flying. My time was 1:33.94. That's 64% slower than I used to be. In contrast, my best for 2 miles is 11:01 (as a high school senior). A few years back, I ran a 5k in 19:20 which works out to 6:14 pace. That's only 13% slower than 11:01 and at a longer distance.

Speed is a product of turnover (strides per minute) and stride length.


It used to take 50 steps for me to cover 100 meters in approximately 12.5 seconds (I think I might have got this down to 11.8 seconds). 50 steps in 12.5 seconds yields a turnover of 240 steps/minute. My PR for 400 meters was 54.5. I also had several 54.9 times.
Assuming that I had the same stride length as in the 100, a 55 second 400 works out to a turnover of 218. I recently timed my turnover at 196 going uphill on an uneven dirt trail at twilight. So I think turnover is still in the same ballpark, at least within 10%.

Stride Length

Stride length depends on two things: power and flexibility. I think
these two are what really limit my current 400m speed.

  1. I don't do speedwork that often nor do I lift.
  2. When I do, I prefer this to be slower than 7:00 minute pace because a faster pace gives me an upset stomach after about 5 miles of it and
  3. Even if I do run faster, I don't like running less than 800m when running intervals because of a tendency to strain my hamstrings or hips.
Which brings me to flexibility. I do stretch but my stretch for hips and hamstrings is something like touching my toes. When I ran 400m, I'd do hurdle stretches and was able to get my chin to touch the bottom of my kneecap. I'm absolutely nowhere near that now.

Does this affect performance in ultras?

Lydiard training can be a lot like ultras yet Lydiard looked at long runs as a way to train for speed. Is it possible that the reverse is true? If one practices recruiting all of the muscle fibers at once (running uphill all out), will that build strength which can be used in an ultra? For the element of flexibility, a longer stride and strength to support that would obviously improve one's time in an ultra. So I'll assume that it is a good idea to go in pursuit of my lost youth and try to improve my 400m or short uphill time by increasing flexibility and power.

Workout changes

  1. I'm willing to spend once a week (Monday night) running fast uphill sprints on Signal Hill. Back in the day, I could only manage one or two of these per workout and I could only manage one tonight.
  2. Start working at hurdle stretches. These are the most painful stretch I can remember (probably why I haven't done them for years). Also, I remember that I used to cheat at them by letting the fore leg roll out so I'll watch that.
  3. In addition, I probably need to do some hip stretches. Since my schedule is tight on Tue and Thu, I'll plan to do these on MWF and weekends.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Back to being me

Team Runners High workout - 6x800 (and commute)
2/25/20094 Recovery
5.25 on the track under 7:30 pace. Was supposed to have been 8 miles but left quad tightened up
2/28/200914Whittier Hills - tough (hot)
3/1/200918Rincon-Red Box Road

I had a diversion for a couple of months including being a race director on 2/21 but now I'm back and building up my miles. So I'll be building the Thursday night track workout back to 16 miles over the next month or so. Also, my weekend miles should increase. I plan to alternate my weekend runs between trails with some vertical (like this week) and long road runs (next week).