monday, december 14, 2009
Running Log/Long RunDistance: 13 miles
Comments: Once again my schedule got screwy and running went onto the back burner. I was slammed busy Saturday and then went down to Tucson on Sunday so see the guys not finishing their marathon.
So today was the long run. Since I skipped the race, the goal was crank out 13 miles at or near goal pace. I wasn't able to meet that particular goal but I bargained myself into a fartlek-style effort over the same distance.
I took off at quite a bit better than goal pace and held up until about mile four when I could really start to feel the effort. I gutted it out another mile and stopped at the 5 mile mark with an average of 7:16 per mi up to that point.
I rested about four minutes and then took off at recovery pace - shooting to hold my pace no slower than a minute over marathon goal pace. I reeled off five miles at 7:53 min/mi average pace. Then gave myself another four minutes to recover.
My intention was to run the final three miles straight through at goal but I was really lagging pretty hard by that point. So I settled for making them more of an interval effort; running the mile hard and resting three minutes before starting again. I finshed them in 7:20, 7:23 and 7:24.
Overall, even with the watered down version I wound up doing, this was a pretty grueling effort - more than I expected it to be.
Hour: 9:40 a.m.Injury update: The hip soreness was certainly present this whole run but never in a critical degree.
Temperature: 54 degrees
Humidity: 67 percent
Location: Chandler, Arizona
Shoes: Pearl iZUMi Surge+
thursday, december 10, 2009
Running Log/Track WorkDistance: 6:17 miles
Comments: Deadlines kept me from hitting the road yesterday and I really wasn't into this workout either. Not avoiding it, like sometimes you feel, but just not excited about it either. Kind of odd.
Since the marathon in Tucson is this week hardly anyone was at the track. And half of those that were weren't running. Coach ordered up mile repeats just like last week which I was less than thrilled to hear about but ces't la vie.
At the end of it, I actually ran it slower but a bit more consistent. My times matched pretty well to the same workout last week but I didn't run the first mile overfast this time (partially cause I wasn't chasing the group).
More importantly, I didn't feel like I was just holding everything together to make it to the end of each mile like before. The second half of the third mile and the fourth mile were a bit rough but outside of that I felt I was in control of the run completely.
Hour: 6:00 p.m.Injury update: I didn't have the hip soreness that makes me favor my right leg starting out, which was a pleasant surprise. The usual tightness was there during the run though.
Temperature: 50 degrees
Humidity: 47 percent
Location:Corona del Sol High School, Chandler, Arizona
Shoes: Pearl iZUMi Surge+
tuesday, december 08, 2009
Running Log/Recovery RunDistance: 5 miles
Comments: A cold front blasted through and nixed my workout on the track yesterday. Work eclipsed my run in the a.m. but I got out in the afternoon as the sun started to set. It was pretty chilly to start but pretty nice once I got started.
I felt pretty solid most of the way and averaged about 8:15 min/mi pace the whole way. Which was a little disappointing since I was kind of feeling like I had a stronger pace this outing. But the important point here is I felt strong the whole way.
Hour: 5 p.m.Injury update: My right hip was very gimpy at the start and it took a good quarter mile to get decent enough to run on.
Temperature: 50 degrees
Humidity: 33 percent
Location: Chandler, Arizona
Shoes: Pearl iZUMi Surge+
saturday, december 05, 2009
Running Log/Long RunDistance: 12 miles
Comments: With my sporadic training regimen as well as the unhealthy combination of weird exhaustion and hip soreness, Coach suggested just focusing on distance today. No pace or max effort with this one, just run it consistent and strong.
As a result it went pretty well. I started off achy, with the now-expected hip unhappiness. Warmed up and felt pretty strong after that. The overall average pace was unspectacular - 8:42 min/mi - but I never felt like I was at the end of my rope, either.
Hour: 9:40 a.m.Injury update: Very gimpy with the hip starting out. Needed half a mile to work through it and not until mile four did it settle into the background.
Temperature: 42 degrees
Humidity: 31 percent
Location: Chandler, Arizona
Shoes: Pearl iZUMi Surge+
thursday, december 03, 2009
Running Log/Track WorkDistance: 6:14 miles
Comments: After feeling shellacked for pretty much the last three days I took yesterday off and hoped I could recover enough for a good workout tonight. So I got out to the pitch-dark track and began braving the chilly weather with a hopeful mindset but not exactly confident.
I basically was shooting for better than 1:44 with each lap of the 10K miles and 1:40 for each lap of the 5K miles. I got pretty close to that but slowed significantly down the stretch. Consistency continues to elude me.
I started pretty well but could tell it was requiring a significant effort. The second one was brutal and I basically was in bargaining stage for all of the third. But I seemed to hit a groove on the last two (although the effort to complete them was just as tough).
Hour: 6:30 p.m.Injury update: Right hip started off alright but got pretty unhappy at various points.
Temperature: 57 degrees
Humidity: 25 percent
Location:Corona del Sol High School, Chandler, Arizona
Shoes: Pearl iZUMi Surge+
sunday, september 13, 2009
I Did A Green Run 5KRace: I Did A Green Run 5K
Official Time: 21:26
Actual Time: 21:29
Comments: This was my first race in quite some time. Initially, I didn't even plan to do this one but when I was cleaning up the website a few weeks ago, I realized I didn't have a 5K personal best time. Hell, I can't even remember ever running one. This one, part of the Arizona Road Racers summer series fit well into the schedule so I signed up.
I got out there about an hour early and Rob met me. He later blamed me for making him do this race but I have a hard time believing he wouldn't have been out there anyway. We got the chips and numbers and then headed out for a warm up run around the course. This turned out to be a good idea since the course was mostly a kind of trail run with small washes and lots of sandy dirt.
This was a pretty small field and both the 5K and 10K runners - just more than 500 - started together. We got started pretty well and the first half mile on pavement was about enough to even out the pack to handle the narrower track on the trail portions.
I got going pretty strong - the first mile came in at 6:23 - but could tell my recurring issue with lack of stamina was going to be a problem. But I wanted to keep the pace as strong as I could as long as I could.
The second mile was where it started getting hairy. I was able to get it in at 6:50 but I could tell I was pushing myself but I didn't want to give so much I couldn't finish. I was getting passed by the better runners who had started back but not by folks taking advantage of my fatigue, yet anyway.
Mile three was a battle. A lot of it I was wrestling with the just-let-it-end mental stuff. Something I don't need to mess with when I'm in good shape - suggesting that I'm not where I need to be conditioning-wise. The progressive slowing continued with a 7:14 effort for this mile.
The end was a nice push but nothing crazy. I was severely overheated. The overwarm temperatures and relatively high humidity really jumped all over me. I missed the 20-minute target by quite a bit, dampening my hopes for the run. But, now I've got a PR target to knock down.
Start: 7:15 a.m.Injury update: Just this beastly fatigue.
Temperature: 81 degrees
Humidity: 45 percent
Location: Horse Lover's Park, Phoenix, Arizona
Shoes: Pearl iZUMi Surge+
saturday, july 25, 2009
Chocolate Milk: The Miracle Post-Workout Recovery Drink?Chocolate milk never was a favorite of mine. I like both chocolate and milk well enough but the mixture of the two seemed oversweet and, frankly, unnecessary. Until this week I probably hadn't consumed the concoction in well over three decades.
It turns out that this childhood dietary staple is gaining something of a reputation as a magic bullet for endurance training and, after a period of skeptical resistance, I've decided to give it a try.
Now one of the things you get used to when you start running seriously is the weirdness of things you are willing to try if you think it will give you an edge. At one time I was adamant in the belief I would never immerse my tender ass into a tub of ice water but lo, it has come to pass.
Still, it takes a bit of convincing for something incongruous to clamber over my instinctive barricades of leeriness. I'll give something goofy a try if I have reason to believe it might be beneficial, but you are gonna have to gimme that reason first.
And, as usual, there was a not only a reason behind Coach Owen's approval but a number of studies he could cite to back it up.
A 2006 study done at Indiana University found there was as much as a 50 percent increase in time to exhaustion and total work performed by subjects using chocolate milk versus regular carbohydrate replacement drinks. Moreover the amount of work performed at specific VO2max percentages was increased as well.
Those findings were echoed in recent studies carried out at Northumbria University in England and James Madison University in Virginia. (It's worth noting that all of these studies were financed in part by various dairy industry groups)
So what the heck is going on here?
The need to consume carbohydrates after a workout has become standard operating procedure. Pretty much any running guide will emphasize the need to get some carbohydrates in your system almost as soon as you stop exercising. The reason is that this period is when your body most efficiently absorbs carbohydrates.
Coach Owen cites a 2002 study done at McMaster University in Canada that found there was a two hour "window" after exercise where muscles maximize carbohydrate absorption. The problem is that the efficiency of that process tapers dramatically during that period. The longer you wait, the less efficient your body will be.
Mark Tarnopolski, one of the researchers, suggests consuming of a minimum of one gram of carbohydrate (preferably two) per kilogram of body weight within 20 minutes of completing a workout.
Now, for years I've slammed a bottle of Gatorade and a GU gel in an effort to take advantage of this. Coach Owen was less enthusiastic about this approach than I expected. His argument is that gels demand additional liquid to be absorbed so, unless you ingest a massive amount of fluid at the same time, you aren't doing any good.
(For the same reason he argues gels should be avoided during races as well but that's a topic for a later date.)
What really makes the difference with chocolate milk is protein. Most of the time we think of protein simply as a muscle builder and it certainly is that. In fact there is an entire workout supplement industry built around this specific concept. But protein's role as a building block of muscles is only part of why it matters in this situation.
Certain proteins, Coach Owen points out, also serve as energy-releasing enzymes within the muscle cells. Thus not only do the post workout carbs transform into the critical glycogen stores a runner requires, the presence of protein facilitates the muscles ability to absorb it.
Alright. I might not be completely convinced at this point but I am willing to try it. So the next question is how much should I be pounding down and which brand is the best to be doing it with?
I did notice one brand, Shamrock, was touting a drink targeting the exercise trend. Rockin' Refuel chocolate milk boasted substantially more protein and a nifty label clearly designed to resemble energy drinks.
Digging back through the data Coach Owen sent me I found the recommendation at least 10 grams of protein post-workout. Which, when added to the target of 2 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight makes getting the proper amount of protein via chocolate milk simple enough.
I weigh 165 pounds which is just about 75 kilograms. To get the recommended amount of carbs I need to drink about 40oz of any of these brands of chocolate milk. At that amount I'll get double the recommended amount of protein Coach no matter which brand I chose to imbibe.
While it's nice to know there is at least a bit of science backing all of this up, the deciding factor for me will be performance. If I try this and it seems to have an upshot, I'll stick with it. Otherwise, well, it just depends on how much I like to drink chocolate milk.
friday, july 10, 2009
Owen Anderson Running CampOwen Anderson is a renowned researcher, author and coach who specializes in training, sports nutrition, and injury prevention. For the past 15 years he has espoused a "neural system" for training that focuses on high quality running and strength rather than the traditional emphasis on mileage. His website, Educated Runner, is a treasure trove of information about his approach and methods.
Anderson has repeatedly visited Kenya to study the techniques of the phenomenal endurance runners that hail from the African nation. His training program integrates the practical observations of those experiences with a formidable amount of research.
Each year he holds a number of week long training camps to educate runners on his approach and I attended his inaugural one at the University of Oregon in Eugene, OR from July 4 through July 9. The opportunity to run in a place where so many legends of American running have made their mark was an amazing experience.
Day One: Welcome to Eugene, OR
Day Two: General Strengthening
Day Three: Running-Specific strengthening
Day Four: Hill Work
Day Five: Explosive Training
Day Six: Wrapping things up
thursday, july 09, 2009
Running Camp: Day SixWoke up feeling completely shellacked. After several days of rising with unexpected amounts of energy the piper seems to have arrived in the evening for payment. I was sore, groggy and definitely in the throes of fatigue. The unrelenting succession of high-quality workouts -- even as limited as many of them have been -- finally reached the critical point.
For the morning jaunt we headed over to Hendricks Park, a wooded hill on the east side of campus that has a number of trails through it. None of these is particularly long so instead of doing a single trek we all sort of wandered about the area until we got in the mileage. I hit three miles and headed back to the car but the others put in a bit more than that.
The cool morning weather and tranquil forest setting of this run made this a nice finale for our runs in Eugene. The trails were challenging enough to get a nice run in but not so difficult our sore legs were pushed beyond what they could handle.
Returning to the dorm we had to endure another bittersweet moment -- our last cafeteria breakfast amid the hordes of teenage campers. As much as the experience stoked the fires of nostalgia, I'm glad we weren't staying long enough to let it get on my nerves.
I took this opportunity to buttonhole Owen for some input on the specific points of my training schedule for the Tucson Marathon. He said there wasn't really anything out of the ordinary in my running to cause a dramatic change from the pattern of his regular training regimen. The key difference would be the manner of integrating the long run and goal pace runs effectively.
Then we headed out to a grassy knoll next to the dorm for a demonstration of some of Owen's strength training exercises that use a weighted bar. Regrettably, weighted bars were not to be found so we were forced to use the PVC piping from the hurdle drills. Mostly Owen wanted to make sure we had the key points of form down so we could do the exercises correctly when we are on our own.
Honestly, I'm not sure how much we really absorbed at this point. Between the exhaustion from the week of work and sheer information overload keeping mentally on point was a struggle.
After that it was packing and fond farewells. I ended up in a scramble trying to get hold of Michael so I could get copies of our running photos before my uncle arrived. And one-by-one everyone saddled up and headed out to their homeward destinations. It's a bit sad to lose such good running partners almost as soon as you meet them but, on the other hand, it's exciting to know each of them is so much closer to their given goals.
Assessment:All in all this camp was a tremendous boost to my confidence and enthusiasm as I head into the belly of the beast. The next 24 weeks won't be any easier but having this information about how I should proceed and seeing how to implement it is a massive advantage for me.Workouts:
It's pretty clear that by focusing on area's I've long neglected in my training attempts such as nutrition and core strength development I'm much more likely to address my overall level of conditioning and ability to sustain a high level of performance longer -- the key culprit in my falling short of BQ last December.
And I cannot understate how inspirational it has been to have this opportunity to finally run in Eugene. As much as the experience of running at such places a Hayward Field represent the attainment of a lifelong goal it also is inspiration for achievements I am still striving to realize.Trail run, Hendricks Park, 7:45 a.m.; 3.33 mi, 38:28
A quasi-easy trail run on a hill near the campus. The trails were all about .75 mile in length so it turned into a roving adventure across all the different paths in the park. There were a number of decent hills to traverse along the way that made my sore leg muscles protest quite a bit.
wednesday, july 08, 2009
Running Camp: Day FiveI woke up feeling surprisingly good today. After the six-mile trail run I did by accident yesterday, I was dreading the morning. But the expected soreness and fatigue just wasn't there. Thank goodness.
Since there was no intense running slated for the morning workout Owen pushed it back to a relatively late 7:30 a.m. We gathered downstairs and trundled over to the front gate of Hayward Field and did the first sets of our exercises on the flower beds facing the front gate (they required an elevated surface).
Then we headed to the lacrosse field with the actual grass surface to do our warm up lap and the rest of the exercises. The basic lesson learned through all of this is I lack coordination and explosiveness -- not exactly a news flash.
Then returning to the dorm for the glory that is a cafeteria breakfast. As mundane as the food tends to be, I have to admit I'm learning to like the ease of access to it. I'm loading down on food and, stunningly, finishing it all no problem.
I sort of commandeered the start of the lecture in an effort to sort out a few points that I wanted to address after the review of my notes last night. He spent a good bit of this talk after that outlining the specific points of the Kenyan running philosophy that can apply to endurance training in general.
The mid-afternoon run was slated for on Hayward Field itself. Actually, Owen wanted to finish up demonstrating some of the running specific strength exercises he didn't get to on Monday but we were determined to get on the historic track. The gate was open so we sauntered in and went to it.
Needless to say, it was as wonderfully intimidating as it seemed on Sunday. Even in the warmup mile there was a feeling of... importance to your run. A lot of times you go out running and it's "just a run." Not here. Every step is part of something of greater importance and, from that; it's not hard to understand every part of your training is now tied up into it all as well.
I'm long past the age of ever hoping to run competitively on this famous surface but that experience is something to keep in mind when I'm out there on some race in the future and need to put my effort in perspective. In terms of raw motivation a lap on Hayward Field is a hard to top.
Michael Lebowitz, the local running photographer, showed up and was kind enough to take a bunch of photos of us running on the track. I spend a lot of time putting up with tourists acting like goofballs when I'm in Peru, so I figure I'm within my rights to take half an hour to partake of such nonsense myself. I'd be lying if I said getting that shot wasn't a priority to me the minute I signed on at this camp.
That was followed by the wonder of our mid-day known as lunch. An even every bit as mystical and magical as the word suggests. In the ensuing free time period I holed up in my room again to distill the nuances of Owen's method from by rude notes. I've only got a day left to ask the man questions face-to-face.
The afternoon running session saw us heading over to Amazon Park, just south of Eugene High School where we did our vVo2 max workout what seems like a lifetime ago. This park has a notable cinder-surface running path, The Adidas Oregon Trail. Its outer loop is exactly one mile and its inner loop is exactly one kilometer -- making it an ideal site for interval works. In fact, we saw several members of local high school track teams using it for just this purpose.
We cranked out a one kilometer warm up and then proceeded to a nifty little torture of Owen's he calls "lactate stackers" or "running with the dogs." For these we were to run on minute flat out and then jog two minutes for recovery. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The idea is to blast out short maximum speed intervals to hit and then push lactate threshold higher. The other goal is to trick the body's neurological governor that, Owen believes, is what is actually causing the sharp fatigue of such efforts (rather than conventional running philosophy that insists it is due to excessive lactate in the muscles).
Whatever, these hurt. The first was as unpleasant as one might expect a full-speed run might be and the two minute "jog" for rest lasted much much too little time. After that it was just a blur of gritted teeth and pain that never seemed to be quite over.
Each one, as you might expect, was tougher than the last but, as Owen's theory suggested, my runs didn't progressively decay as convention would suggest. My first effort was my fastest (at a 5:18 mile pace) and while I slowed on the middle two (to as much as 5:40 mile pace) my last one was almost as quick as the initial one (5:19 mile pace).
Lastly we went to see "Pre's Rock" which is the memorial at the site of where the famous UO runner died. Honestly I find such memorials somewhat morbid and in questionable taste. My preference is to remember a person for what they accomplished, not how they died. But this one was a little different.
Today Steve Prefontaine is pretty much ubiquitous in Eugene but its rather commercialized. His image and his name are inevitably part of something to be purchased or bought. Pre's Rock, though, is one of the few places for runners alone.
Nothing is for sale here. This is where things are given. The memorial is surrounded with track shirts, race bibs and even a national track championship medal. All brought by runners clearly inspired by one of their own. In all, it's a hell of a lot more moving than I had any reason to expect.
Dinner was the sumptuous repast we've come to expect and the dining hall mating rituals of our fellow campers seem to be progressing quite well. They do tend to leave a mess though.
After dinner was the final lecture of the camp. While Owen used the earlier session to compare his training philosophy from the like-minded philosophy of the Kenyans, he went with the contrast for this lecture. Essentially pointing out a dozen or so training adages still staunchly adhered to that are pretty much known to be erroneous.
The final session was capped by Michael, a musician by trade, performing a song on the piano that was located in our conference room. He penned it after finishing the New York Marathon -- an effort he described as "disastrous" (certainly a post-race state of mind I can appreciate). It was actually a very nice composition we all enjoyed greatly. All in all, a fantastic conclusion to the last full day of our camp.
Assessment:The training regimen Owen espouses consists of four portions; general strengthening, running-specific strengthening, hill work and explosive training. The progression works from the most basic necessary foundation to the most complex elements needed for a complete preparation to compete.Workouts:
Hill training is aimed at unifying the efforts of general strength work and running specific strength work then implementing them with actual running. It's a consolidation of the prior efforts and infusing them with the dynamic element of actual motion. The only aspect of training hills don't provide is speed.
Explosive training addresses speed work by honing the major element of maximizing one's progress strengthwise -- an improvement of running economy. To do that it focuses on increasing stride rate through better conditioning, both mental and physical. Faster footfalls equates to improved times; as much as 7% in ideal cases.
Still, while Owen argues for the specific progression of training in his program, he allows for substantial alteration of the pattern in light of specific situations. .Explosive exercises, Hayward Field, 7:00 a.m.; 1 mi warmup, 9:00
One mile warmup followed by a series of explosive drills performed on the grass lacrosse field south of the main track. These included various hopping exercises as well as hurdle hops. Mostly demonstrative work and minimal running involved.
Goal pace mile, Hayward Field, noon; 1 mi warmup, 8:36; 1600, 6:47
This was the highlight workout of the camp -- at the main track on Hayward Field. The workout was slated to be another demonstration of exercises but the warm-up mile turned into an impromptu interval session for the benefit of the cameras. After a round of the strength-specific exercises on the bleachers I did a 1600 at 10K pace of 6:47/mi (I actually intended to do marathon pace but kind of got caught up in the moment).
Lactate stackers, Amazon Park, 4:30 p.m.; 2K, warmup/cooldown; 1.55 miles, 12:18
Lactate stackers are multiple high intensity (vVO2max pace or better) for one minute followed by a two-minute recovery jog. The idea being get into the lactate zone and continue pushing. We did four of them on the Adidas Oregon Trail in Amazon Park. I covered .20 mile for all but the third one (.18) but two of the others were a few seconds longer than a minute.
tuesday, july 07, 2009
Running Camp: Day FourUp early but not early enough to get my notes written down. I'm starting to fall a bit behind and it's not good given the sheer volume of data we have to contend with. Chas had the coffee ready and, once again, it proved to be the difference between disaster and survival.
Before we got started we all wished Owen happy birthday which today happens to be. He was somewhat evasive when we asked how old he is though.
We got into the cars and headed over to Lincoln Street which is a pretty well known site for hill training here in Eugene. It's a pretty long incline with sections that boast slopes of various degrees of cruelty. Rather than gaze upon its humbling glory we took a warm up mile around the pretty much level block. It was still there when we got back.
Owen ran us through his strengthening exercises for hill work. These were very similar to the general strengthening exercises but, obviously, done on a hill. My achy muscles were still not happy with me during these but not in open revolt like yesterday.
Then the inevitable horror of hill repeats. We did two full-out hill runs of .20 miles each. Owen went up to the top and I assumed he was standing at the end. But he yelled "speed bump" as I neared and so I pushed it past him to the damned thing. Turning around I saw everyone finishing up about 20 feet less than me. Owen actually said "speed bump sign." Ugh.
The second one was pretty painful as well but I knew the distance and feel of the hill better so I knew what to expect. But the thing left me as drained as the vV02 max effort from yesterday. Got in the cooldown and headed to the dorm.
I was completely starving for breakfast and loaded up my tray massively. It shocked me more than a little when I finished it all off with not too much difficulty. This incident turned out to be timely since a good part of the subsequent classroom session dealt with nutrition -- particularly the tendency of endurance runners to eat an insufficient amount for their body's needs.
After class we headed up to Spencer Butte -- a large hill that overlooks Eugene and the entire Willamette River Valley. It's not too far from the city but the setting is fantastically natural. We pulled up to the parking area and were simply surrounded by the Douglas Firs of the forest. The plan was a 2.5 mile trail run or so.
We headed out and the first part of the run went pretty well but pretty soon the incline became formidable. Not too far beyond that it became impossible. We were reduced to walking/climbing in lieu of any pretense of running. But the view from the summit of the butte was certainly worth it. I started back down before the group, hoping to get pictures of them as we went. Big mistake.
I got turned around and took the wrong path then compounded the problem by continuing on another trail entirely. I found myself emerging from the forest at a completely different trailhead. Consulting the map I headed back the way I came and, some time later, emerged at yet another trailhead. At this point I was severely fatigued. I consulted the map, figured out the way back, and headed off one more time. Mostly I was walking but, after finding and taking the two turns I had errantly missed, I jogged in the last half-mile of my now six mile effort.
Still, instead of the shower and rest I so desperately craved we drove back to the Eugene Running Company to talk with some folks who were waiting to meet us. In the five years the store has been in existence it has become a staple for the local running community. It's not uncommon for current and former runner champions to be seen browsing its apparel aisles.
The Eugene Running Company not only a very good store for running shoes and gear, its walls are lined with Eugene running memorabilia, photos and seriously impressive whatnot. Owner Bob Coll was nice enough to give us a tour and provide the backstory on almost every personage depicted on the displays.
It's a fascinating look at the evolution of modern running (from the Eugene perspective, of course) as it has progressed over the past four decades. A lot of the magazines and stories I recalled from my days as a high school runner when these were the people I idolized. Realizing this is the town they all emerged from creates a powerful sympathetic connection between my efforts and all of them -- a connection as daunting as it is inspiring.
The experience at Eugene Running Company was in stark contrast to the nearby Nike running store I wandered over to in order to find a particular shoe in my size. It's the typical corporate version you might expect. There are displays of old Nike gear and some of the Eugene memorabilia but here they seem like museum displays -- a curiosity simply to be passed by on the way to the modern offerings within the store itself.
And the staff -- while young, energetic and helpful -- simply were not at all part of the running tradition of the town in the same way as those at the Eugene Running Company. Nor should they be. This store is geared to selling apparel to the widest swath of younger consumers. Its big selling point was customizable shoe and shirtwear -- items that could be individualized for you right there on the floor of the store.
By the time I had gotten back to the Eugene Running Store I had missed most of the presentation of running coach Brad Hudson, the author of Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon who several of my fellow campers were quite familiar with. I listened in to the end of his talk but, the fact is, I'm pretty much reaching critical mass with information from Owen. There is not much more my poor exhausted brain can handle.
So we headed back to the dorms and I was finally able to get a shower and feel slightly more human after my unexpected endurance run. Of course I spent most of the time I had left until dinner typing these notes instead of grabbing a much desired nap.
The dinner and evening classroom session went pretty much without any problems. At the very end of the lecture I ended up having to stall Owen while the rest of the group snuck out to prepare a surprise. Several of them had gotten a little card, gift and cake for his birthday. So they brought it in and we had a nice little celebration in the conference room. He still wouldn't tell us his age though.
Assessment:The emphasis on vVO2 max and lactic overload training implies the need to maximizing the fuel available to the body for the training effort. The regular diet of man non-elite endurance runners is often insufficient for the caloritic demand of training, Owen avers.Workouts:
Many runners who have become used to working with insufficient caloric intake have become metabolically hyperefficent. This involves the body shutting down some operations to spare energy stores and leans on metabolizing fat in order to meet energy demands. The first is somewhat dangerous healthwise and the latter is vastly more inefficient than regular methods. Improving diet should address overall health and vastly improve running efficiency.
The basic rule of thumb is that multiplying one's weight in pounds by 15 should equal regular daily caloritic demand. Then add 100 calories for each mile run in training to that. Daily caloritic intake for the endurance athletes should then include 4 grams of carbohydrates for each pound of body weight. (The websites for USDA and the Daily Plate provide handy caloritic breakdowns for most foods one might be eating.)
Moreover the importance of nutrition is maximized during periods of strenuous work -- particularly during the first hour after a workout or race. Glycogen absorption is maximized during this period and Owen urges consuming 1 gram of carbohydrate for every pound of body weight during this period. It's also important to include some amount of protein in this consumption.
During workouts/races lasting longer than one hour, Owen urges consuming 8-10 oz of some kind of carbohydrate laden energy drink about 10 minutes prior to activity and 5-6 oz every 15 minutes thereafter. Eschew gels, he says, since they essentially create a syrup in the digestive system that knocks ones hydration levels askew. (Adding gels to post-workout consumption can be helpful to immediately reload glycogen stores provided enough fluid is consumed as well.)
Sleep is also important since protein synthesis is interrupted with activity. Thus the ability to physically recover from quality workouts is hindered with limited sleep. Excessive sleep can be a symptom of glycogen depletion, though.Hill workout, Lincoln Street, 7:00 a.m.; 2 mi warmup/cooldown, 19:00; .40 mi, 3:07
Hill exercises and 2X .20 mi repeats. Although still somewhat sore from various exercises this felt better than I hoped. The incline was formidable and the end of the repeats were brutal. Owen didn't insist on downhill aspect which made the difference.
Hill trail run, Spencer Butte Park, 12:20 p.m.; 6.18 miles, 1:31:03
A picturesque run on the trails surrounding Spencer Butte south of Eugene. A lot of this was so vertical it turned into climbing and meticulously careful descents. I took a wrong turn on the return and ended up doing the Ridgeline Trail as well, adding four miles or so to the run -- much of which had to be walked due to exhaustion. Final average pace came to 14:43 as a result.
monday, july 06, 2009
Running Camp: Day ThreeSlept pretty hard last night. The exercises have a lot of usually-unworked muscle groups protesting quite a bit. Oddly, the stiffness isn't accompanied by fatigue or weariness as I was expecting. Perhaps the concentrated effort over the last month to prepare for the camp has stood me in good stead.
Chas proved to be a lifesaver by providing coffee for us prior to the cafeteria opening. Having that to get started helped more than I could probably express. I picked up an overpriced Oregon coffee thermos for the task and it's proven a solid expenditure.
Once again we blearily bundled into the cars and headed over to the Tom & Bill McChesney Memorial Track at the South Eugene High School. This venue was a lot more like the kind of track I grew up running on -- a bare-bones prep school spread. Authentic right down to the crude obscene graffiti spray painted on the track.
Still, the mark of the Eugene culture was apparent as the track's boasted a high-quality running surface.
Our presence was for the vVO2 max test which I had been trying not to freak out about too much. Essentially this is a mile time trial from which Owen's method extrapolates the basic yardstick for your training (and expectant race performances). So the warm up smacked a bit of a race preparation.
The run was a vicious little effort that I've not attempted in decades. I took an early lead but tried desperately to limit my pace to something manageable for the whole six minutes. The second lap was rough as all the muscles in my buttocks and back that had been strained by the exercises yesterday were in full protest. Lap three, weirdly, turned almost tranquil. On the final lap I was trying to keep as powerful an effort as I could without needing a surge. Dave passed me handily with 200 meters to go but I deliberately kept from chasing him in order to get a consistent result for the test.
Turns out I made it 1,504 meters in six minutes. Roughly 6:20/mi pace. I'm pretty sure I've got better in me. According to Owen's system that means my VO2max pace for a 400 is 95.69 seconds. More on that later.
Breakfast was the usual cafeteria --style glory and then onto morning lectures. My ass was not enjoying the 2 hours or so on duty, that's for sure. So when it came time for the mid-morning workout I was ready despite the soreness and fatigue.
We headed over to the lacrosse fields at Hayward Field for this workout. There was no warm-up since mostly this involved Owen demonstrating various exercises designed for running-specific strength training. Quite a few of these were brutal given my level of soreness.
We then went back and snarfed down lunch. I took the free time to head to the grocery store for a few supplies and grossly underestimated the distance. So my down time turned into a 5 mile power walk. I got back right in time to lace up the shoes and head out for the afternoon "Kenyan-style run" on the agenda.
This turned out to be a 5 mile run on the cinder track north of campus along the Willamette River named in honor of legendary U of O runner Steve Prefontaine who championed its construction. Pre's Trail boasts a fantastic running surface and the course throws a number of nice -- but not overtaxing -- elements at you as well.
Owen said we should run this "without exertion" but I wanted to keep it at least above a simple jog. I set (and got) a 9 min/mile pace as my goal. It wasn't a hard run but, with the direct sun, the heat and my exhaustion, I was simply beat after this one. All I wanted after this was a shower and get my laundry done before dinner.
Not to be. I carried my room key during the run which worked out fine. But when I went to get my shower I forgot to put it on the keychain I carry. So I was locked out of the room. Chazz was nice enough to lend me some shorts and a shirt so I could straighten it out. I spent a good 20 minutes tracking down someone with a key.
Now I expected I would have been shot by this time and getting through the evening lecture would have been an ordeal but that didn't happen. I was dragging, yes, but I got a sort of second wind and between that and a compelling discussion I made it through the two-hour session no prob. Didn't take long to fall asleep after that.
Assessment:Owen heavily emphasizes the importance of vVo2 max for establishing the parameters of the individual training schedule. That speed can be extrapolated out not only set up workable limits for workouts (using research by Veronique Billat) but also predict realistic race times (using the work of Frank Horwill).Workouts:
As a result, Owen also stresses the mutability of the number, urging retesting at regular periods of training to gauge progress and reset short-term goals. The key to improving the vVo2 max is through general and speed-specific strength work and all of the quality work in his program entails aspects of this.
General strengthening increases overall physical conditioning while running specific strengthening focuses on muscle groups directly involved with running. This serves to carry over the gains in strength to running applicable motion -- helping the nervous system adapt to handling increased gait and running economy.
The sample week of training in Owen's system calls for two quality days of work involving strengthening and a third quality day that is variable. One day is designated for complete rest and all other running should be easy efforts (perhaps one at a longer than normal distance). Never schedule quality workouts next to each other.
Intensity of the training comes by increasing the efforts in the quality workout days rather than simply pouring on distance. Individual quality workouts should include no more than 10% of total mileage. For marathon running he urges that third quality day to include both a distance and intensity component -- perhaps running half of the workout at the target pace. Distance increases but hand-in-hand with the strengthening effort.vVO2max testing, South Eugene High School, 7:30 a.m.; 2mi warmup/cooldown, 19:00; 1,504 meters, 6:00
An all-out effort that fell short of the mile I wanted. While the new warm up routine helped getting me ready for the effort, I was clearly fatigued and felt it on the run. On the plus side, this was a cool morning and nice track, perfect for the effort. vV02 max pace = 95.69 sec/400 meters
Running Specific Strengthening exercises, Hayward Field, 11:20 a.m.; no run
A series of new exercises demonstrated and performed on the lacrosse field again. At this point some of my muscle groups are pretty sore making a few of these are pretty brutal.
Trail Run, Pre's Run, 4:30 p.m.; 5 mi, 44:58
Easy trail run at 8:58 average pace. This is a nice multiple circuit track composed of wood chips across a beautiful setting. Easy on the legs but you get tons of stuff in your socks. Pretty tired at this point and finishing in the 9:00/mi ballpark tougher than I expected.