Sunday, July 27, 2014

Philadelphia Half Marathon Training : Week 2 & Introducing The Beer of the Week

I had forgotten what it felt like to feel good about running. Despite the inescapable humidity of New York City in July, I'm enjoying running more than I have in nearly two years.  Granted, it's only the second week of training for the Philly Half.  But, I'm experiencing an renewed sense of confidence. Instead of being so nervous I can't sleep the night before a tough workout what keeps me up now is excitement.  It's a good problem to have.

Monday - Rest Day (30 minutes of core).  I've been taking one day off every two weeks for several months now.  That will continue during this cycle.  I crave the restoration, but always end the day wishing I had run.  I think that's a good balance. This worked well because it was also a travel day back from visiting family in Virginia.

Tuesday - 8 miles easy in Central Park.  I thought yesterday's rest would mean I wouldn't feel Sunday's hills today, but I was wrong.  It took me at least 30 minutes to loosen up.

Wednesday - 5x1600m (60 second/200m jog rest) repeats at Harlem Riverbanks Track.  The goal was to do these at half-marathon pace (5:30) and add one second for every degree the dew point was over 64.  The dew point was 67 when I left the house.  Based on that, I should have been running 5:33s.  When I ran the first one in 5:13, I knew I was in trouble.  The workout spiraled out of control after that and I ended up doing the perfect ascension.  Looking back, I could have taken a longer rest after the first one to completely recover and start from scratch, but I decided to keep trucking on with diminishing results.  I also may have been more successful had I not been doing this on my own.  I almost quit 200 meters into the last one, but knew I would regret that for the rest of the week if I had.  The repeats were: 5:13, 5:18, 5:20, 5:23, 5:28. 

Thursday - 6.5 miles easy in Central Park.  This was the first time in 10 days I ran with someone.  I met Allie at the top of the park for a lap.  We were both coming off very similar workouts (her's more successful than mine) so we started slow and eased into it. 30 minutes of core.

Friday - 8 miles easy in Central Park.  This was the typical two-day workout hangover.  I did 7x20 second strides mid-run.

Saturday - Prescribed was a long run with 7m @ 630,20,10,00,550, 40, 30.  It ended up going perfectly.  I met a group at UA at 9:40 and together we did 4 miles easy starting at 8:00 minute pace and working down to 7:00 minute pace. As we rolled into the progression, my goal was to stick to the prescribed paces no matter how easy they felt with hopes of still feeling strong when the pace got quick at the end.  We decided to only cut out the Harlem Hills and only do this on the 5 mile loop.  As we neared the final two miles, Jason and I stuck to the park's lower loop to avoid having to do the final mile climbing up Cat Hill.  The progression went as follows:

6:26, 6:07, 6:07 (west side hills), 5:49, 5:40, 5:30, 5:22

There was an option for an eighth mile but I was pretty satisfied with the workout at seven. The last mile certainly wasn't easy, but holding back in the initial miles was key to making it even possible.

Sunday - 12.5 miles easy in Central Park.  Today was one of those days where it was so humid that I was sweating before the run started.  There wasn't much residual soreness from yesterday's workout, just some tightness. I was glad to have Tom, Jason and Allie for company on this run as the conditions were very uncomfortable.  I ended the week with an hour-long, incredibly over-due massage and 30 minutes of core.

Total Weekly Mileage: 63.5

Next Week: Seven days of running, a workout I've never done before and a race!

One of my training secrets is a healthy dose of carbs in the form of beer.  Each week, I'll highlight a beer I tried to "recover" from a workout or "prepare" for a long run.

This week's Beer of the Week:

40 Mile IPA, Three Notch'd Brewing Company, Charlottesville, VA:

This was a six-pack left as a gift from a house guest who was staying at our apartment while we were actually in the Charlottesville area.  40 Mile is the flagship beer of the Three Notch'd Brewery.  40 miles is how long a fellow by the name of Jack Jouett rode to warn Thomas Jefferson and his family that their capture had been ordered.  Jefferson of course, lived in Charlottesville.  The beer named for this chapter in Jefferson's history is a crisp and clean IPA.  It's hoppy obviously, but also has a nice citrus taste to it that offsets some of the bitterness.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Philadelphia Half Marathon Training: Week 1

Since finishing the 2013 Boston Marathon mildly over-trained and on the verge of a spate of illnesses, my running has been sporadic at best. I've documented all the issues that lead up to the 2014 Boston Marathon, but it's worth noting that I stopped really enjoying taking part in the sport about two years ago.  Sure, there had been flashes of competitiveness and drive, but mostly weeks of grinding out joyless miles and workouts without any continuity or flow.  During that time, I ran a couple of sub-par races and often wondered if maybe it was time to run for a different reason and let go of PR dreams.  However, over the past month or so, the bug has returned.  My health is back and with pre-hab and a couple of tweaks to the mileage and intensity of my early 20s, I seem to be staving off injury. After completing (and enjoying) my most recent sub-par race, I decided the fix to my stressed relationship with running may instead be re-establishing some structure and actually putting a goal race on the calendar.

Last week, I started a 10 week training plan for the Rock n' Roll Philly Half Marathon on September 21st. Realistically, I don't think a PR is possible at this point, but a respectable performance is not out of the question.  The random workouts I was doing in the spring were mostly focused on speed and as a result, my aerobic capacity is greatly diminished.  So, the goal of this abbreviated training cycle will be to get my body used to running at goal half marathon pace (5:30?).  Weekly mileage will stay between 60-75 with one day off every two weeks.  And while the paces on the workouts look easy, the number of intervals are where the challenge lies. I'll also be getting used to working out in the late morning during the heat of the summer.  With my work schedule, this is my only option and I will have to adjust paces and expectations accordingly. Another major change in this cycle is the limited use of the Garmin.  I could write an entire blog on how I've gone from loving the GPS to hating the GPS, but let's just say it will only be used on tempo runs.

Week 1
Monday: 6 miles easy in Central Park, 30 minutes of core.

Tuesday: 12 miles total; 8 x 1K @ 3:17-3:20 with 200m jog (60s) at Riverbanks Track

Wednesday: 8 miles easy in Central Park, 30 minutes of core.

Thursday: 8 miles easy in Central Park (meant to do 7 but was daydreaming and ran too far)7x20 sec. strides

Friday: 13.64 miles (wore Garmin) 90 minute medium long run with middle 5 miles at 5:54, 5:59(Harlem Hill), 5:58(WS Hills), 5:57, 5:48, 5:57.

Saturday: 9.5 miles in the rain in Staunton, VA.  I got lost.

Sunday: 15.6 mile very hilly long run in Staunton, VA.  

Total Weekly Mileage: 72.7 

Notes: *On days following workouts, it took about 3 miles to really loosen up. 
           *Running too far on Thursday is a good thing.  It has been a long time since I got so lost in thought on an easy run that I totally lost track of time and place. 
           *This was my highest total mileage since mid-February when I was training for Boston.
           *I ran every single mile solo this week.  Such is the life. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Giving the ElliptiGO a Go!

I'll admit it.  The first time I saw someone riding an ElliptiGO, I said to myself, "I am never getting on one of those things." As a lanky distance runner, "Game of Thrones" fan and someone who spent the bulk of my college years holed up in a TV control room, I wasn't really looking for anything else that established my nerdiness.  An elliptical machine on wheels?  How about I just give myself an atomic wedgie and save the bullies some time.

That was five years ago.  Years of wear and tear on my body from high mileage, a long list of injuries, a complete hatred for pool running and a New York City-developed lack of caring about what other people think have all drastically altered my perspective.  So, it came to be that one day late this spring, my friends Josh and Tanya and I were embarking on our virgin ElliptiGO voyage around Central Park.
Admittedly, I look like a huge dork here, but that has nothing to do with the ElliptiGO

On that maiden 19 mile ride, a few things became abundantly clear.  First is that most people think the ElliptiGO looks super cool.  It was a busy, beautiful Sunday afternoon and countless people stopped us to ask not only what it was we were riding, but how they can get one.  They seemed genuinely interested.  This has been the case on every subsequent ride.  Second, it's a lot of fun to ride.  You might have preconceived notions based on mind-numbing stationary elliptical rides where time seems to stop and all you can do is cover the clock with your sweat rag to stop yourself from going insane.  This isn't that.  You can pick up a lot of speed on the flats, fly down the hills and the uphills present a challenge that culminates with a real sense of accomplishment once you reach the top.  And third, it's one hell of a workout.  I don't want to brag, but I'm an expert on cross training.  I've logged a lot of hours in pools and on cardio machines and I can tell you, riding the ElliptiGO is the best thing you can do for running fitness besides actually running.  There is a reason the list of pro-runners using ElliptiGOs is rapidly expanding.

Just days after that first ride, I rode with one of ElliptiGO's sales managers, Jeff Caron then met with Bryan Pate, one of the founders of the company and their top spokesman, Boston Marathon Champ Meb Keflezighi  (Meb, 39, substituted some of his easy runs with ElliptiGO rides and became the first American to win Boston in 30 years). Their plan was to get more ElliptiGOs in the park.  This month, in conjunction with Bike and Roll, ElliptiGO launched a membership program allowing anyone to ride as much as they want.  I've already incorporated regular rides into my weekly training regimen in an effort to take some of the pounding off my legs and stay healthy for an entire race season.  As for my partners on that first ride, Josh and Tanya are riding the ElliptiGOs from San Francisco to Los Angeles later this summer.  You can follow their journey here.