Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Harding Truck Trail - 6 miles of snow

I ran Harding Truck Trail on Saturday after a week of a lot of rain. Rain usually wreaks some havoc on forest roads but HTT was in pretty good shape considering. I noticed water completely bypassing one of the new drains put in since the fire. There were some debris flows especially between 4.5 and 5 miles. There was also one slide just before the 8 mile mark. But the most remarkable thing was that the road was covered completely with snow starting a little after the 6 mile mark. The elevation doesn't get much higher after the 6 mile mark but I think the road is a little more sheltered after 7 miles so the snow was deeper in that area. I think it was about 6 inches deep at the most. My foot would break the crust and compress the snow down so that my shoe was below the surface of the snow - but no post-holing. I don't see many animals on my HTT runs but with the snow, I saw a lot of tracks. It looked like maybe skunks and squirrels, rabbits and I think some coyotes. Have you noticed the peculiar way that coyotes leave their droppings prominently displayed? Before, I've seen where they pick out a rock in the middle of a dirt road and poop on that. I saw a few places where they pooped a little on the snow, I guess showing off to the other animals. Maybe coyotes mark their territory with poop instead of pee.

I got tired a little from breaking through the snow with my steps and walked in a few spots. After turning around and heading back down, I went through the series of my hip, then hip flexors, then knees (lower quads) hurting. And as with recent runs, I feel stronger a few days later. I scooped some snow in my water bottles just because. Unfortunately, that got my right hand in particular pretty numb. I finally got it warmed up again at about the 6 mile (to go) mark.

So another joyous day in the mountains.

Monday, January 18, 2010

POSE Method, heel strikes, and evil shoe companies

This is a post of some comments I placed on the ultra list.

Since about March of 2009, I have not been able to run in shoes with the usual 1/2" elevation of the heel without really bothering my knees. I had run in cross country flats prior to this and a little bit barefoot but as of March, getting rid of my heels has become mandatory. Cross country flats work well on dirt tracks and trails but they are not flexible enough to run long distances on paved surfaces. I've used Mizuno Revolver "flats" in a road 50k. There is some heel build-up to them but not as much as the usual trainer. I've tried cutting off the heel of my trainers (as described by Anton Krupicka) but it is hard to get it right for road work and the shoe is still somewhat inflexible. Sidewalks are just too abrasive for me to run more than about 8 miles barefoot. Recently, I've had the best luck for road running with moccasins (from Tandy Leather Company - nfi) or water socks without the insoles (Body Glove, again nfi). The good thing about these choices is that they are cheap - $35 for the moccasin kit, $20 for the water socks. These are taking some getting used to. I ran 18 today in the moccasins and the skin on the ball of my foot is sore, particularly where I have some corns. FWIW, I do not like the five fingers. The first pair I had required me to wear socks and started falling apart. The second pair gave me a blister on the first run.

An earlier poster stated something to the effect that you can be a forefoot striker with heels. Certainly that is true but there is more tension in the ankle and knee and less shock absorption with higher heels. The same is true with running in flats - lack of flexibility in the sole means that flexing of the ankle needs to absorb shock that could have been absorbed by the foot. This seems to become an issue on paved surfaces but not dirt, at least for me.

I have a couple of pairs of racing shoes (the Mizunos and some Nike Zoom XC) which I'll reserve for racing but for practice runs, I'm going with the water socks and the moccasins and barefoot in the grass for recovery runs. I'm also trying to work on the strength of my knees.

Use It or Lose It

2009 was a lousy year for me as far as running was concerned. I unexpectedly ran a pretty good road 50 mile at Ruth Anderson on November 1, 2008 - 7:42 for a course which we were told was a mile long. After that, I got a coach for 3 months who I thought wasn't having me work very hard. But the problems started before that. I used to work where it was convenient to run hills before work. It wasn't unusual for me to run hilly workouts 4 of the 5 weekdays. The other thing was that work location had showers and lockers which I used all of the time, sometimes getting in 4 quick miles (sub 7:00 pace) at lunch. Then my company moved their location to brand new buildings in which they declined to build any locker room, health club, etc. So the result was that I ran a lot less vertical and couldn't stop off for a run before work. This coincided with an interest of mine to run a road 100k. This prompted a mistaken belief in me that I could run lots of road workouts. The results suck. I ran 2 50k's in 2009 and that's it. I have been struggling with sore knees for the year.
OK - I am resolved to
  • Run more vertical. This includes what has been 2000' of gain on stadiums on Tuesdays.
  • Work on strength in general. I've picked up some good exercises and drills from a Shannon Rowbury video on Flotrack.
  • Put in double workouts. Riding a stationary bike qualifies as a workout.
  • Stay off pavement. Current plan is to limit it to no more than one 18-22 mile run per week or possibly a 30 to 35 mile run every other week. Run on grass and later dirt tracks.
  • Ignore my weekly miles and even ignore weeks. Concentrate instead on getting in good workouts with recovery - first vertical and other strength related, then start working in intervals and tempo. Include work on the bike.
  • Base workouts on previous workouts. Try to improve on only one aspect of a workout from one to the next. So add work without going faster or keep the volume the same at a faster pace. List limitations encountered with a particular workout and figure out how to improve on those limitations. Setbacks/injuries also will feed into lessons learned. So for instance, I did a high intensity hill workout the other day and strained my hamstring on the third time up. So next time I plan to a) only go up twice and b) use The Stick to loosen up my hamstrings.
  • Don't over-do the high intensity work. Watching elites on Flotrack, I'm impressed by how little they do during these workouts, anywhere from a little over 2 miles to less than a mile. And stay relaxed.