Monday, April 21, 2014

Weekly Training Wrap - 4/14 - 4/20

A solid week of training for me, even though it was a long-awaited cutback. I had an email conversation with my buddy Jon about how to take my training to the next level. And the decision was quality, in particular quality and structure on my long runs. I have been pretty comfortable doing easy runs and building a base, but I think I have reached a point where the gains from that are limited. With that in mind, I did three quality workouts this week. None of them put me too deep in the red, but all of them designed to break me out of the slow miles that I've been logging. This week I return to the higher volume training and some trail specificity this weekend, including a course preview for North Fork 50. Things feel good and I am really happy to be training again!

Day Miles Notes
Monday OffBody Weight Training
Tuesday 8 Progressive Bluffs Loops
Wednesday5 Easy
FridayOff Strength Training
Saturday 14Structured Long
Sunday 10Easy
Total 45About 3500 feet of vert

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekly Training Wrap - 4/7 - 4/13

I am pretty darn happy with where my training is at. This week finished off a 4-week block that totaled 230 miles and almost 25K of vertical. After a long, technical, big vertical trail run on Saturday, I pretty much feel totally back to my pre-surgery self, functionally at least. I still have a little work to do to get fit, but I feel I can train the way I want to finally -- just in time for trail season to really kick off. Tuesday's run (a GA-effort w/ some Fartleks) gave me confidence that my overall fitness is nearing 2013 levels on the road, but Saturday's long proved I have a bit of work to do on the trails. My body really freaked out in the warm afternoon weather.

I have a pretty aggressive cutback week (down to around 45 miles) that I plan to make use of to rest up and reinvigorate my cross training routines. And, I am traveling a bit for work.

Day Miles Notes
Monday OffRest
Tuesday 11 MLR w/ Fartleks
Tuesday 4 Run Club Recovery
Wednesday5 Easy
PT and Body Weight Training
Thursday10Hill Repeats
Thursday5Bluffs @ Lunch
FridayOff Rest
Saturday 19Long @ Deer Creek
Sunday 7Easy
Total 61About 7700 feet of vert

Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekly Training Wrap - 3/31 - 4/6

On my original plan, this week was a cutback week. However, I've only had one tough week in my last training block because I lost parts of two weeks to my pulled hamstring. And, I am traveling next week for work. Those things combined made this a hard training week so that I can put off my cutback week to my travel week. Overall it went really well. I am starting to implement two to three "key" workouts per week. This week I did some Mile Repeats and Hill Repeats on the treadmill to dodge poor weather. Neither workout was killer, but I felt both were effective. I also had a nice long road run (hilly with about 2K of vertical as well) in which I have more of a typical long run effort -- not just a MAF/super easy effort. I felt strong through out and good enough to run 10 more miles the following day. With a little less than 2 months to go, I am need to continue pushing some intensity to round out my fitness.

I finally have had some time to break in a couple of my new Altra shoes. At this stage, I think I can honestly say that I love my Olympus (55 miles) and they will be my shoe choice in the "max cushion" category. (Though I still have some Mafate that I need to find a way to rotate in.)  I am somewhat undecided on my Instinct 2.0. I like the shoe on the whole, but I find it kind of a "tweener" shoe. There is too much cushion for everyday use. And I have other cushioned shoes for super long stuff. Right now, I prefer the Instinct 1.5 as an everyday shoe to the 2.0, even though I like the fit of the 2.0 way better. When I retire my Instinct 1.5, I'll have to find another shoe to fill that void. Perhaps the The One2 (Squared)? As soon as the blog mentioned a comparison to the original Kinvara, my interest in this shoe doubled. The original Kinvara are my favorite shoes of all time.

Day Miles Notes
Monday OffRest
Tuesday 8 Mile Repeats
PT and Body Weight Training
Wednesday5 Easy
Thursday8Hill Repeats
PT and Body Weight Training
Friday5 Easy
Saturday 20Long Road Run
Sunday 10Easy
Total 56About 4700 feet of vert

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekly Training Wrap - 3/24 - 3/30

A pretty darn strong week for me. In fact, I set a PR for TRIMP points with 1027 point on just a little over 9 hours of training. I think that number was aided slightly by a small change to my zones -- I lowered my Zone 1 cut off to 143 -- and an unusually high HR day on Wednesday. Things settled out a little bit with my weight training and diet. However, I think the diet is still a work in progress and may take another few weeks to really engrain for me. My terrible HR day on Wednesday was likely a result of too little sodium to go with this high fat diet.

This week certainly helped to salvage a frustrating month that had me fall about 50 miles shy of my goal. The final stats for March:

  • 21 runs totaling 194.3 miles (once again a little shy of my per month goal for 2014)
  • 18,670 feet of vertical gain or slightly more than my per month goal for 2014
  • Two 20 mile runs and two weekends of B2B long runs

As I look at the big picture, it is pretty hard to complain. I have increased my miles each month since recovering from knee surgery. And, I have compiled 7 weeks of at least 47 since the beginning of the year and 557 miles YTD. I think I am in a good place. The meat of the trail running season is still in front of me and I persevered through Winter -- my least favorite time of year to run. That said, I only have 13 weeks to North Fork 50 and likely need to start pushing both volume and intensity a touch. I think intensity will be harder if I continue to worry too much about HR training. This ultra low carb diet is proving to be a challenge as well. I'll find a way to make it work.

Day Miles Notes
Monday 5Easy
Tuesday 10 Hill Repeats
Strength Training
Wednesday5 Easy
PT and Body Weight Training
FridayOff Rest
Saturday 20Long Road Run
Sunday 14Bluffs Loop
Total 62About 6100 feet of vert

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My New Altra Arrivals

I am generally a big fan of Altra shoes, though there are some complaints that I have had in the past 12 months. Despite those complaints, I am super excited to try many of the new shoes they are producing. And I continue to recommend them to my friends and family. (I would guess that at least 2-3 dozen pairs of their shoes have either been purchased by me or as a result of my recommendation.) Now that I am ramping up for 2014 and running injury free, I have restocked my supply after retiring pairs of Instinct 1.0, Superior 1.0, and Torin 1.0. And I currently already rotate pairs of the Lone Peak 1.0 and Instinct 1.5.

My New 2014 Line Up

The shoe I was maybe most excited about is the Instinct 2.0. The Instinct 1.0 was my second favorite shoe ever (other than the unappealing looks). While the Instinct 1.5 are a decent shoe, they seem  to be a bit narrower than the original to me. However, I really like the balance of cushion and road feel in them. Anyway, what appealed most to me about the Instinct 2.0 is the addition of some more cushion and the re-worked upper. It has only been three runs and 20 some miles, but I am very impressed. The mold/last is much more inline with what I hoped and feels closer to the 1.0 to me. The cushion is very pillowy, bordering on Hoka soft. This may push this shoe more into a long run category for me, but that is fine. I like my Instinct 1.5 as a strength and speed shoe. At some point when I have a few hundred miles on them, I'll write a review. But I expect these shoes to get more than their share of love in my rotation.
Instinct 2.0 are pillowy soft right out of the box
The other shoe I was super excited about is the Olympus. Like everyone, I have become enamored with cushion and wanted badly to have a viable alternative to the Hoka. I own a pair of Hoka Mafate because they are the only model that comes close to having enough forefoot room for me. But, the Mafate weigh nearly a pound each!  Yikes!! The Olympus weigh in at close to 11 oz for me, or just a little heavier than my everyday shoes. That extra weight is worth the cushion. Similar to the Instinct 2.0, my initial impressions are very positive on this shoe. Looking at the Altra website, it appears the shoes are built on the same last (SD5-M). And that explains why they both feel like a perfect fit to me -- no issues with width or toebox.

In addition to the weight and last, I am super excited about their rocker technology. The Hokas feel like bricks to me and I doubt I could ever run fast in them because of the rigidness of the outsole. Altra did a great job with the rocker technology and allowing for the shoe to feel like you can toe-off. It is an odd sensation when you first put them on, and they almost don't feel zero drop because of it. I already took these shoes on a 13 mile, 2500K technical trail run and was very pleased. They currently have 50 miles on them. I will write a more thorough review once they have some more miles on them. My only complaint so far: how will I ever wear out my Mafate with these shoes in my closet?!

A good looking shoe for having so much cushion.

The other shoe I recently purchased was a pair of the Lone Peak 1.5. I have yet to log a mile in them because I have a pair of 1.0 that I want to wear out first. I bought them in part because the changes between the 1.0 and this model were minimal. It seems the majority of changes were improving the material and the drainage in the upper, both are welcome changes for me.

Altra Torin 1.0 Review

One pair of shoes that I loved a lot were the Brooks PureFlow. But, Brooks doesn't make any of their "Pure" series shoes in a wide. And like many of today's shoes, I cannot get by without a wide model. When Altra released the Torin, I immediately bought a pair looking for a substitute for the cushion of the PureFlow. Overall, I thought the shoe was just ok. The big issue right off the bat was the discovery that there were some production issues and the shoe was supposed to have 7 eyelets and not 6. This is a major issue for me because I like to really ratchet down the midfoot of my shoes and allow my forefoot to be free -- something Altra normally does really well. But the missing eyelet always gave me issues and allowed more heel movement than I'd like. Another thing I didn't particularly like was the different mold they used from their primary shoe lines -- the Instinct and the Lone Peak. The Torin have a narrower heel and a little more flare into the forefoot. The result was that my foot felt like it was spilling over the last and that and the shoe felt unstable, almost like the it was twisting as I moved in it.

There were some positives about the shoe that I really liked. First, it is plenty light for a shoe with 16mm of cusion, listed at 9 oz. For a shoe in this category, I feel that is a very solid weight. Second, I did enjoy the cushion and found it "just right". Many shoes these days are super pillowy soft (a more recent trend) or very rigid (like Saucony Mirage, Fastwitch, New Balance Fresh Foam). I thought Altra got this one just right. There was enough cushion to protect and feel soft, but not so much that I couldn't toe off or feel the road. And finally, the shoe honestly held up well. That surprised me because I expected it to fall apart easily when I first laid my hands on it. I only ran 240 or so miles in them, but I put countless more hours in them walking around and at the gym.

In review....

The Positives:
  • Adequate weight for a cushioned shoe (but probably could be improved slightly with a more minimal upper)
  • Quality was better than I expected
  • The cushion was just right, making the shoe pretty versatile in my opinion
  • I think the shoe is reasonably priced at $115, at least in comparison with Brooks
The Room for Improvement
  • I am not a fan of this mold that Altra has been making (it seems the One and the Superior may be in the same mold?) with the narrow heel and flared forefoot.
  • The shoe needs a revamped lacing system to secure the heel
  • I'd prefer the toe box to be more rounded like the Instinct and Lone Peak

Hard to see in this photo, but the lugs were worn down to the foam. One or two of the lugs was coming loose near the end.

This photo sort of shows the "pocket" that formed along the outside of the shoe as my foot spilled over the outsole.  Look closely near the front of the shoe.

There are several things you can see in this photo: Again you can see the upper had formed a pocket and was spilling over the outsole, which you almost cannot see. In particularly you can see how the forefoot is less rounded than other Altra models and my pink toe was digging into that upper left area. Also, you can see how my ankle was not secured with the laces.  A seventh eyelet would have aided in me securing the tongue and locking things into place.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekly Training Wrap - 3/17 - 3/23

I guess I should start this off by saying that I've been struggling with training for the better part of March. My original plan was for a HUGE month with nearly 260 miles planned, but it has been derailed by a minor injury (hamstring tweak lifting weights) and decision to mess with my diet. And, I think that these last few weeks of Winter are sort of wearing on me too. I am ready to run in a t-shirt and shorts everyday! (And not have to plan runs around storms.) After nearly a month of enough "blah runs", I went back and reviewed my 2014 Goals and Resolutions. This is where blogging is kind of fun, it is like writing notes to myself! Right there in cyber-ink I wrote "be kinder to me" and "be more flexible". I get so darn rigid about things that I almost beat the enjoyment out of them. After all, trying to run 50 miles per week and live a life as a husband, father, and full-time employee is hard enough, so why add challenges? I've decided to make a few changes and try to get things heading upward again.

First, I am going to ease off on this new diet. I could write pages and pages about this, but this particular venture just wasn't working for me right now. My amended plan is to meet halfway and follow a plan more like Ben Greenfield where I "time" my carbohydrates around when I am running. Heavy running days I may eat 200g of carbs, including carbs on the run. Easy and non-running days, I may eat more like 50-100 grams. I know this won't put me into ketosis and may ruin some of the benefit of a high fat diet. But, I've decided this isn't something I can really do in the middle of a training cycle. I will likely experiment with it again more when I am not trying to train so hard. It is important to note that I fundamentally believe in eating Paleo and low-carb, but there are extremes to things and eating 20g of carbs a day on a 50 mile per week training plan takes some adjustment. If you look at some of my previous posts, you will note that even at 200g of carbs per day (800 Kcals), this is still very much a low carbohydrate diet as far as endurance athletes are concerned.

One things I will continue to do is eat as much fat as I can tolerate. In previous experiments with my diet, I have discovered that I cannot eat 3000 Kcals a day based mostly in carbs without feeling like crap and gaining weight. This isn't all that surprising because that is the entire argument to eating low carb -- too many carbs mess with your insulin and cause your body to store excess weight. Obviously, this rule is not true of everyone, but the masses for sure. However, the numbers say very clearly that I should be eating close to 3000 Kcals a day (maybe even 3500) to sustain a 190 lb lean frame on 50 miles per week. Eating fat is the answer. Fat is body's preferred energy source and I can "fudge" my numbers a bit more without causing weight gain. My guess is I will land somewhere close to 15% carbs, 20% protein, and 65% fat for my daily intake of food.

Second, I am also going to change some strength training. Again, I could write pages and pages of this, but the bottom line is that I have been pushing XT to the point where it is impacting my running -- several muscle pulls, constantly running on legs ridden with DOMS, etc... Weight training was a pivotal part of my plan to recover from knee surgery. And I believe it should be a key component of everyone's off season plans. But, I am going to shift my focus to more "functional" training: mobility, muscular endurance, body weight strength, flexibility, etc... My plan will be to do at least 2 days in the gym with a focus on those areas and then several shorter workouts each weak for core and maybe some Yoga.

That's all the changes for now. I am sure I'll find something to tinker with in the coming weeks. As for running, this week was OK. I got my volume back up to where I'd like it to be and wound up with a fairly large TRIMP score -- due mostly to my time on feet -- but there wasn't really any spectacular runs in there due to the reasons above. Saturday was stupid and really a dangerous trail run with ice three inches thick in spots. I think I will avoid the mountain trails for a few weeks until Spring really sets in.

Day Miles Notes
Monday 6Rest
Tuesday Off PT and Body Weight Training
Wednesday10 Easy/Aerobic
Thursday85 x 3' @ Half Marathon Pace
PT and Body Weight Training
FridayOff Rest
Saturday 13Deer Creek (ice!)
Sunday 14Easy
Total 50About 5500 feet of vert