Sunday, December 30, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 12/24 - 12/30

A few weeks ago I said that I needed a bit more base before I started hitting the quality. Well, the time has come and I may have over done it this week! Originally I had a lactate threshold pace run scheduled for Christmas day. Snow arrived over night and I opted for a hard effort that amounted to a marathon pace (grade adjusted) on my neighborhood hills. I proceeded to do the LT workout Thursday. And I followed that with a tough weights session on Friday followed by a tempo/steady long run Saturday. Whew! What was I thinking? I ran all day Saturday and Sunday on sore glutes. I plan to take my foot off the gas a bit this week.

Anyway, it was a productive week and I am glad to be running at 100%. I am finding that I really enjoy Yoga on my off days right now. The relaxed intensity, the stretching, and the functional movements seems to really make my off days more enjoyable. But, I still plan to mix it up at least once a week and keep my body guessing.

This week also wrapped up my month and my year. If you haven't already, you can read my year in review over here. As for the month, well it exceeded all my expectations that I had post-injury. I was hoping to be putting in 30 miles a week by the end of the year. Instead, I am more or less full speed. I am so thankful. Here is a quick summary of the month:

  • 227 miles in 34.5 hours, the most I have done since July
  • 23 runs for an average of almost 10 miles per
  • 19K of vertical, a bit below average for the year

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest Yoga and PT
Tuesday 9 MP Snow Effort
Wednesday5 Recovery
FridayRest Strength and Core
Saturday 20Steady Paced Long
Sunday 14 Easy Long
Total 55 About 2100 vertical feet

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 12/17 - 12/23

I said I was going to do a cut-back this week and I have pretty much lived up to that. It was a good thing because the weather sure made it tough to do anything hard outdoors. I did still get in a fair bit of "quality" with a mini-B2B on Friday and Saturday totaling nearly 4,500 of vertical in two days. In fact, Saturday's hill repeats turned into an anaerobic workout like intervals. I have now completed my first 12 weeks of training back from injury and I feel like my fitness is returning. Even though my HR monitor is being a stinker right now, the readings I am getting suggest that I have a base of miles worthy of doing some hard training.

I am actually sort of eager to turn the page to 2013 and get focused on the Old Pueblo 50. In fact, I am hoping that race will be a pretty big 50 mile PR and a break through to my future ultra events. But, I do tend to be a dreamer! Appropriately, I wrote my 2012 year in review this weekend as well.

Here is some video I shot at Deer Creek Canyon on Friday.

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest Yoga and PT
Tuesday 6 Easy with Progression
Wednesday5 Blizzard Run
Friday14 Deer Creek in Snow
Saturday 10Hill Repeats
Sunday Rest P90x Legs, Chest, Ab Ripper X
Total 41 About 5900 vertical feet

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 Year In Review

Before writing this post, I read my 2011 Year In Review again. What a year that was! I had breakout performances all over the place and raced like crazy. This year was an attempt to build on that and take on the new challenge of running 100 miles. While I would never call 2012 a failure, I would say that it was a struggle to build on the success of 2011. The one thing that I did right was enjoying some adventures that I would not have attempted 2 or 3 years ago. As I began discussing in my posts after Leadville, I think the one thing I did wrong was allowing my mind to focus solely on mileage and vertical totals. As a result, I don't think I am as fit right now as I was in 2011. I plan to race a little bit more in 2013.

Before sharing my memories of 2012, I will throw out some stats to wow you (ok, maybe not):
  • About 2400 miles run (a small step back from 2011, mostly from missing half of August and all of September to injury)
  • 270K of vertical, about a 40% increase year over year
  • A PR in the 100 mile distance (26:45, my first attempt), marathon (3:13), and half marathon (1:31). 
  • I "only" competed in 4 races (Leadville 100, San Juan Solstice 50, Colorado Marathon, and Platte River Half Marathon)
  • I ran 20 miles or more twenty-four times, 30miles or more seven times, and 50 miles or more three times. Lots and lots of long slow runs.
Nothing that really blows an "elite" ultrarunner away, but I am proud of it. I am constantly toying with the limits of *my* body and the limits of the tolerance of my family. And frankly, I am not a huge believer that big miles equals big success. The amount of miles you run should be appropriate for the length of the race, your natural ability, and your running history. Can anything really prepare your for 100 miles? But, I digress...

Frozen Front Range Marathon

Running with the Boulder Peaks behind me

I kicked off the year right with a great Fat Ass run with Sherpa John in January. This was an attempt to hit 6 of the biggest peaks in the Boulder, CO area. It was one of the biggest vertical days I had ever done (almost 7K of vertical) and I was sore for days. It was an awesome time and I hope to go back for the event again this year.

Colorado Marathon

Unfinished Business

Anyone that follows this blog knows that I had a horrendous experience at the Las Vegas RnR Marathon in December of 2011. Frankly, I wasn't really sure I wanted to do the Colorado Marathon all the way up until race week. I signed up shortly before it filled mostly because I was hoping to make things right from Vegas. It turned out to be an incredible race and I more than erased any lingering doubts about my speed. I will contend that I probably left a BQ on the table that day. Instead, I chose to run a conservative first half, allowing me to finish incredibly strong and have a positive memory of the race. My five fastest miles in that race where miles 19 (up hill), 23, 24, 25, and 26. The last four are after the course "flattens out". Someday I will attempt to BQ, but I don't know when that day will be.

Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim

Descending the North Kaibib Trail of the Grand Canyon

Ascending the South Kaibib Trail of the Grand Canyon in 100+ degrees

Sherpa John on top of a giant rock pillar along the North Kaibib Trail

In February, I reached out to Sherpa John after discovering that a R2R2R adventure was in his thoughts. He immediately took me up on the offer to tag along and just like that a plan was hatched. This remains the most incredible adventure that I have done to date (with the LT100 a close second). I had been to the Grand Canyon before and, like most people, I simply stood on the rim and took photos. It is indescribable how awesome it was to see the canyon from within. I learned a ton about ultra running and taking care of my body that day. The day did not go exactly as I had hoped, but we still had an amazing time. I want to return and do at least a R2R with my kids someday.

San Juan Solstice 50

An early summit during the SJS50, elevation 13,000 feet

Joining my family at the 40 mile aid station of SJS50

Feeling happy after a massive rally from a major bonk

San Juan was supposed to be a 50 mile training run for Leadville. Accordingly, we planned to take it easy. Instead, I wound up experiencing the most amazing bonk of my life. Man did that rattle my confidence in the notion that I understood the ultra distance. Wow. I simply don't train enough at altitude to seriously race an event like this (about one third of this race is run close 13,000 feet). Instead of a race, it probably more appropriately called a mountain adventure. Lake City is simply amazing and the San Juan mountains are widely regarded as some of the prettiest in all of Colorado. Honestly, the race was stinking hard. So hard that I doubted I would ever do it again. Unexplainably, this new race in the San Juans has recently started creeping into my imagination... Maybe!

Leadville 100

The top of Hope Pass (12,600'), mile 45 of the Leadville Trail 100
Descending Hope Pass... just wow! 
Photo taken by my pacer on the return climb up Hope Pass

Coming into Twin Lake at mile 64 after a double crossing of Hope Pass
Refueling at May Queen (mile 88) at 3:15 in the morning of day 2
Ah, the finish line. I was too tired to be emotional.
This photo sums up what I will best remember about that day.
Tony and his cousin JD after a long, tough night.

The Leadville Trail 100 was all I hoped for and more. Sure I wish I had run faster. And, yeah I was a bit disappointed to be injured the week of the race. But this was my inaugural 100. And I like to believe that the memories made that day will be life long for everyone that contributed to making it happen for me. One of the best moments was talking with my sister (and crew chief) on Sunday after the race, both of us extremely sleep deprived after being awake for nearly 40 hours. I was totally captivated hearing how the race unfolded from her perspective: where she was during the day, who she was with, the things they thought and felt at those moments, etc... And I will always remember how she got choked up trying to talk with me at May Queen (mile 88, pictured above). That must have been the point when she allowed herself to believe that I was going to finish. I probably would have started crying had I not been so delirious and high on Red Bull. Words cannot express how much I appreciate the sacrifices that everyone made for me that day.

The second to last picture above is one of my favorites: me and my crew. Almost my whole crew -- Jen had returned to Denver, Jon was outside the frame, and my wife was taking the picture. I was truly amazed at how much my kids enjoyed the experience. They got up at 2:30 in the morning to watch me at the start line!!! Wow.

And I have to say a few words about my buddy Tony (last photo). I don't think he trained as hard as he would have liked. And he had his share of struggles that day. But it was so impressive to see him finish. His determination and unwillingness to quit is what makes ultra running a great sport -- an example of people dreaming big and pushing themselves to the limit.

What's in store for 2013? 

I have published a tentative list of events for 2013. The only thing written in ink at this point is the Old Pueblo 50 in March. There is too much momentum behind the Leadville Silver Rush 50 to imagine that not happening. Beyond that, I am not sure what is in-store quite yet. I have a couple of thing hanging out there that could change the entire course of the year for me. In general terms, I am likely to continue mountain and ultra running. It is unlikely I will do a 100 miler. Beyond that, there a lots of options still in play. I expect a plan will come together quite quickly in the first few weeks of 2013.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 12/10 - 12/16

Another good week in the books. True to my plan, it was mostly easy running overall. But I did add in just a bit of some early cycle quality, particularly on Sunday's long run. A significant goal of this cycle was to have well thought out long runs and less "just logging big miles". The plan Sunday was to run each segment of the run faster, providing a progressive-quality element to the end of the run. We ran our segment splits like this:
  • Loop 1 - 9 miles @ 9:21, 138 avg. HR
  • Loop 2 - 9 miles @ 8:50, 142 avg. HR
  • Loop 3 - 6 miles @ 8:12, 149 avg. HR
The workout was all on the local hills around my house and we averaged nearly 100 feet of vertical per mile. So this was by no means a typical flat, road workout. I honestly wasn't sure how much I had left in the tank after I made my final stop at home around mile 18. I told my running buddy Jon that I wanted to try and get the overall pace of the run under 9-minutes on the last segment. Before long, we were just cruising and had dropped the pace to 8:51. I was certainly tired at the end, but I wouldn't say I was wiped out like I was after my first 20 on November 18th.

Perhaps the biggest highlight this week was my 5K race on Saturday. Both of my kids ran with me and we had a blast. I kept my daughter company during the Turkey Trot in November, so I decided to run with my son this time (he's a little faster). He ended up running a 27:45 5K as an 8-year old! You wouldn't believe the number of comments that he and his buddy Chris (a 7 year old) got as they passed many adults. My daughter ran pretty hard even without me around to push her. I am proud of them both and certainly wouldn't be disappointed if they became runners.

Being that it is December 17th, I have started to think a lot about my year and all the places running has taken me the past twelve months. While I have many events and races that I am proud of this year, getting past my Summer injury and learning to run healthy is near the top of my proudest accomplishments. I can honestly say at this moment that I am running as close to 100% healthy as I have all year. My left ankle feels better after being a chronic ache for almost 9 months. My knee is feeling great, other than some left over internal scar tissue from my fall. Even my lower back is feeling significantly better than it has in a while, particularly after a long run like yesterday. Looking at my training log and listening to my body, I think I am due for a cut back week. I have gone 6 weeks of hard build up and it is time. My legs are feeling a bit fatigued and I am feeling less motivated to hit my cross training workouts as I recover from my running days. As a bonus, this fits better into my "life schedule". 

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest PT exercises
Tuesday 9 Easy Maffetone
Wednesday6 Easy Maffetone (P90x - Chest and Back)
FridayRest Iron Strength Workout
Saturday 6Super Easy (Avg HR 131)
Saturday 3Santa's Stampede 5k with my kids
Sunday 24 Progressive Super Long
Total 54 About 3800 vertical feet

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Old Pueblo 50 - Midway Training Update

It occurred to me yesterday that I often put out my week-to-week training blogs and don't always consider the "big picture". And, thus, this is my big picture training update, which also happens to be almost exactly the midway point of the 24-week plan I put together for the Old Pueblo 50.

Before diving into the update, I think it is important to provide a quick update on where I've been. 2012 has been my second full year ultra training and my second full year of training on relatively high mileage (almost 5,000 miles in two years or a little more than 200 miles per month). In between those ultras, I have also run/raced about half a dozen marathons. So I am familiar with marathon training, speed work, etc...

This year I took a big leap and signed up for the Leadville 100. I completed the race, but I wound up injured during training. I think it is important to note that I got injured during training and not in the race. During the month of July, I pushed to 310 miles of running with nearly 40K of vertical gain in nearly 53 hours of training. My body was giving me signs well in advance and I ignored them. I honestly battled injuries on and off for most of 2012. Fortunately, I was somehow able to get through the race. Afterward, I shut down and decided to rededicate myself to getting healthy and running smarter.

Long story short, like many mid-pack runners, I struggle with the trade off between quality and quantity. Should I run big miles or fast miles? Should I run up mountains or on roads? After evaluating my results, accepting my injury, and studying the practices of others, I decided that I had swung the pendulum too far in favor of quantity and perhaps not given up enough quality in the process (vertical primarily). I set two primary goals for training this cycle:
  1. I needed to take a small step back in mileage as I rebuild.
  2. I wanted to add more quality (speed work and tempo work) for this ultra cycle
And finally, onto the midway update, here are some quick stats:
  • I have been back at it 10 weeks with regular running (4 or more days a week)
  • Of those 10 weeks, I have averaged about 38 miles per week
  • The last 5 weeks have been an average of about 47 miles per week
  • I have done 3 quality sessions (anaerobic hill repeats, a set of hard intervals, a tempo long)
  • I am averaging about 4 sessions per week of either strength or core training, or both
Unfortunately, I started getting doubts in my own head, wondering if I am putting in enough quality or quantity. Yesterday, I re-read this incredible blog by Lucho* and I think the following paragraph really sums up how I planned to approach training (based on a Hudson plan):
So, in terms of periodization we must prepare our body for the training to come. In a well planned periodized plan you have 12-16 weeks of training that is ONLY preparing you to train effectively in the last 8-10 weeks. There must be a period of time where we focus solely on training that strengthens our tendons and muscles and metabolic economy. I think we should get as fast as possible at 20 beats below threshold first. Once you do this then start thinking about getting truly fast. For most of us the distance we are trying to race is part of the challenge! So build your body to be able to handle this aspect first. How can you consider the speed for 26.2 miles when simply finishing is still the major challenge? Don't put the cart before the horse. Once you have reached a solid level of fitness then start to think about quality. Once you have built an adequate base then quality is king!
Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I am going to get out of my own head and stick with the plan. I think I need another two weeks of primarily base building to keep me in the 50 - 55 mile per week range, where I like to be. From that point, I will be 10 weeks out from the race. Then I can start hitting the quality runs more routinely, maybe step up to two in some weeks (as in a speed workout plus a hard long run).

* By the way, Lucho's stuff is great and he is available for hire as a coach if you are interested. He also won the Leadman competition last year (setting a new record for the series) and finished 11th overall at the LT100.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Heart Rate Training

So you want to heart rate train? This post should hopefully be a good place to help you get started. But, let me warn you, there is some very fine technical details that can bog you down if you let them. Before going further, I should preface that the information in this post is oriented primarily at endurance runners. However, the applications of heart rate training can be far reaching into almost all areas of sports and is very popular with tri-athletes and cyclists in particular. I apologize for the length of this post, but there is lots to be said on this topic, entire books!

The first thing to know is that the applications of heart rate training are often dependent on your experience as a runner and your goals as a runner. I often interact with at least three levels of endurance runners:

  1. The first time or inexperienced marathon runner
  2. The advanced/experienced marathon runner
  3. Ultra marathon runners

My advice would be for runners #1 and possibly #3 above to keep it pretty simple. There are some pretty precise and valuable things that can be done when advanced marathon training, but those things should really be done by experienced runners with sound training plans and possibly even coaches.


Base Building

There are multiple "systems" in your body that ultimately determine how you will perform on race day. These systems are both specific to you and to your goals. As endurance athletes, one of the primary systems that we rely on is our aerobic system. Our aerobic system is what provides us with the steady state energy and helps us maintain a relatively long and constant ability to exercise. Inexperienced marathoners in particular should do lots and lots of aerobic training, possibly even their entire training cycle. This kind of training will help your body learn to burn fat as a fuel source. Even experienced marathon runners and ultra marathon runners will do many weeks (often 8 - 10 weeks) of primarily base building before they begin hard training. Another benefit of base building is that sets the foundation for your body to reap the rewards of hard training.

Avoid over training

Over training is a serious condition that usually results in a runner being worn out and unable to train properly. If you spend too much time training at high intensities you could go backwards in your training. Or you could wind up injured. All running requires at least some recovery, but high intensity runs in particular can take several days. Recovery time is dependent on the race length, your age, and other factors. In general, the less experience you have and the smaller base you have, the longer it takes you to recover from a hard workout. Most advanced training programs do not have more than two key/hard workouts in a week. For example, it is common for advanced runners to have a speed workout and a long run each week. That is two key workouts. Sometimes a third key workout is added during key weeks or peak weeks along the week. Using a HR monitor helps to ensure that you are actually going easy when you intend to. Reading your heart rate can also tell you if your body is over stressed.

Ensure proper physiological responses to training

You don't run every long run at race pace because that would not training your body properly. The purpose of the long run is to get used to running for a long time, learning to eat and drink on the run, and helping your body to learn to utilize fat (instead of sugar) as an energy source. Run too fast on your long runs and you are likely to neglect almost all of the benefits above. Your body will rely too much on glycogen (sugar) for energy and won't learn to burn fat as effectively. Once again, using a HR monitor to ensure that you are training within a proper zone is an advantage to knowing you aren't going too fast here. (Some advanced marathon plans have a couple of "quality" long runs that allow you to train near race pace for a few miles as a test/preparation, but no plan that I have seen has one every week.)  Conversely, if you are doing a key workout, then having a heart rate monitor will help you to ensure you have achieved the targeted heart rate zones.

Proper recovery

Recovery from hard workouts is important. However, recovery is different for all runners. Some, like myself, prefer to take days off or x-train in between hard workouts. Other runners like to run almost everyday and choose "recovery" runs to fill in the gaps. In either case, the idea is to keep these days very low in intensity and allow your body to recover (re-hydrate, rebuild muscle, replenish glycogen) from other hard workouts.

Good race strategy

A common mistake that first time marathoners and ultramarathoners make is going out too fast. They underestimate how hard of an effort they can maintain for the given length of race. This results in rapid depletion of their primary energy source (glycogen), inability to properly take in additional fuel, and too much strain on the body. This often results in a crash that is very painful, hard, and unpleasant. In extreme circumstances or really long races, it can results in dropping out of the race. If you are familiar with your HR, then you can use that data and feedback to develop a proper pacing plan to ensure you have the best possible chance of completing the distance without a crash.

Track your fitness

Over time you can see your fitness improvements through data. For example, new runners and runners early in training cycles should find that they become faster running in the same zones while they are base building.

Determining Your Zones

Determining your heart rate zones is somewhat technical and may require a little bit of trial and error (see my point about "observation only" below). I will not give you much detail here because it is a lot of math! You can read any of the sources below or Google the topic to find tons of information. Most of the zones are derived using formulas that are based off of deciding your max heart rate, which is an imperfect exercise. This process is worthwhile and necessary if you intend to do advanced training. If you'd prefer to keep it simple, I recommend the methods of Maffetone and Mittleman.

If you are an experienced runner looking to take your running to another level, then I recommend Peter Pfitzinger's book Advanced Marathoning.

Below is the table of workout zones outlined by Pfitzinger using my estimated maximum HR of 195.

HR Targets (% of max)Maximum HR 195
V02 Max92%95%179185
Lactate Threshold82%91%160177
Marathon Pace79%88%154172
Long Run74%84%144164

If you are a new runner, interested in building a bigger base, or just a runner runner that likes to keep things simple, then I recommend reading the work done by Philip Maffetone and later added on to by Stu Mittleman. Here are my zones based on Mittleman's book:
HR Targets
Speedy Aerobic Pace (SAP)155174
Most Efficient Pace (MEP)144154
Mostly Aerobic Pace (MAP)124153

How to Use It

Base Building

For base building, I recommend using Maffetone's work and keeping things simple. Run at your MAP or MEP for most of your miles, possibly even all your miles if you are an inexperienced runner. If you are using Pfitzinger's zones, then base building will be primarily done using Long Run, GA/Easy, and Recovery zones.

Observation Only

One way that I use HR data is just to observe it and store away the outcome for future use. For example, I will wear my HR monitor on a hard work or key run. After the run I will look at the data and compare it with what I think my HR zones (and maximum) are to compare. Sometimes they match. Sometimes I've trained too hard. Sometimes I decide I've gained fitness and might need to re-think my zones. Another good observation is wear it during a race. I wore my HR monitor during the GTIS half marathon in 2011. At the time, I thought my maximum HR was close to 185. However, my average HR for that race was 170 and my maximum was 181. This was a clear indication that my maximum was higher than I thought. If you look at the table above, I was clearly racing (in the LT zone) the entire time and starting to dip into V02 max at the end as I got tired and a bit dehydrated.

Executing a Key Workout

If you are following and advanced marathon plan, then the author of the plan will usually give you an specific goal for the workout.  These goals are sometimes pace zones and sometimes heart rate zones. If they are heart rate zones, that makes it easy.  If they are pace zones, then I will often revert to the point above ("observation only") and see where my heart rate landed after the workout is complete -- or even during the workout. Overtime, pace zones and heart rate zones begin to line up and you usually predict one from the other.

Planning a Race Strategy

Once you know your heart rate zones, using a heart rate monitor to race in those zones is a great way to ensure you are executing a good plan.

Closing Thoughts

Like almost everything I utilize in running, I don't see HR data as a silver bullet. I use it as a tool to help me get better and make good training and racing decisions. But the tools offered can be powerful in helping all levels of runner get better.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 12/3 - 12/9

Running is such a mental sport. Or maybe I am just a mental case? After Leadville, I decided that I was not doing enough hard workouts and that my fitness level was slipping, even as my endurance was peaking. I was determined to do more long tempo (or marathon pace) workouts to increase my fitness. But now the time has come and I am struggling with the motivation to do the hard work. I love to run slow, particularly during this time of year where the days are short and the nights are long and cold. It is hard to find the motivation to get up early and push my heart rate. I have never felt better than I did after my Wednesday Maffetone workout. I literally felt like I hadn't run at all. After my hard run on Saturday, I was dragging all day.

Where is the happy medium? Well, I think I can do 80 - 90% of my miles within my easy limits to continue base building and endurance building. But I am committed to adding in at least one quality workout every 7 - 10 days. That workout won't always be a long tempo run. Sometimes I may do speed work, hill work, etc...

All in all, I am very satisfied with where I am at. I hope to continue increasing my miles gradually as I work toward the Old Pueblo 50 in March. But, I will not do it at the expense of core work and x-training.

I have updated my 2013 list of events and begun to trim the fat. I will likely have to trim it one last time to keep the strains on family life to a minimum. But this is a pretty solid list at this point. My season will be built around the Old Pueblo 50 and then the Leadville Silver Rush 50.

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest P90x - X Stretch
Tuesday 6 Easy
Wednesday9 Easy Maffetone (P90x - Plyo)
FridayRest Strength Training
Saturday 18Long Tempo Run (MP+30sec)
Sunday 12 Easy Maffetone
Total 50 About 2900 vertical feet

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 11/26 - 12/2

I am back! There, I said it. Since September 1st, I have done over 40 hours of cross training (p90x mostly), rehab, and PT. In that same time, I have run only about 45 hours. It has been a long road back to health, but it I am better for it. There are still some fitness gains to be made, but I am as healthy as I have been in at least a year. And, I have a plan to keep that on the right path moving forward.

I did two key workouts this week. The first was a tempo-interval workout on Tuesday where I ran 2 x 2 miles at my half marathon pace (6:55 or so). I was a little surprised that I could hit this workout. It hurt, but I did it. On Saturday I did a long run with huge vertical (roughly 4K) and I simulated my race day nutrition and hydration strategy. It was flawless, almost easy. Before the run I ate a packet of PocketFuel to satiate hunger. During the run I consumed more about 80 oz of fluid (800 calories) and four gels. I would say that my pace was sustainable for a 50 mile run, particularly since Old Pueblo is just about half that amount of vertical.

The key now is to continue to execute. I may pick up my miles just a bit for a few key weeks -- namely when there are some back-to-back efforts -- but I will not sacrifice the cross-training that I have established. This next week is supposed to be a cut-back week and I will likely take it.

Before leaving, here is a quick update on how my November training went:

  • 175 miles with about 15K of vertical
  • I ran 20 times for an average of 8.7 miles per run and a total of 26 hours
  • Longest run was 20 miles

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest P90x - Yoga
Tuesday 7 Tempo Invertals - 2 x 2 miles at half marathon pace
Wednesday5 Recovery
FridayRest P90x - Legs, Back, and Ab Ripper X
Saturday 20Deer Creek Canyon Long
Sunday 6 Recovery
Total 46 About 5400 vertical feet

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Training For Your First Ultra

I often get asked about training for an ultramarathon. If you have been training for at least the marathon distance, then training for an ultramarathon won't be much of a change except in a few areas outlined below. For the purposes of this blog, I am going to assume you've trained for at least one marathon and have completed at least one 18+ week cycle averaging 30 or more miles per week. If you have not, then you may still be able to train for an ultra, but I would recommend reading the book Relentless Forward Progress for more advice.

Weekly Mileage

Runners are creatures of habit and we often run to specific mileage targets, believing that the secret success lies in pounding out lots of miles. And, while I will concede that generally speaking more miles is preferred, this is not universally true. There are may considerations, including running history, injury history, natural running talent, and life factors. I know several runners that have done well at the ultra distance training on 30 miles per week, including one friend that finished the Leadville 100. Most runners can comfortably run an ultra training with an average of 40 - 70 miles per week. The key is to shift those miles to target the specific types of training necessary for success at the distance.


Specificity refers to training like you plan to race. If your race is a trail ultra, then a portion of your training should be done as long trail runs. If your race is hilly, train and practice running uphill and downhill. If there is a significant amount of elevation gain, then practice running, walking and hiking big climbs. (This can even be done on a treadmill). Also train for as many environmental conditions that you may face as possible: heat, altitude, rain, etc... And be sure to experiment with your nutrition and hydration plans.

However, I would caution you against doing to much specificity training. First of all, it isn't always the most practical idea to train specifically on every run. I live in the city and I cannot often get up to the mountains to train. Trying to do too much of this type of training becomes a stress point for me and my family. And it can often require setting up special circumstances. The second reason is that specificity training can be very stressful on the body. Training runs that are beyond 4 hours, at altitude, in the heat, or with big vertical will take additional recovery time. The key is to do enough of this to be prepared, but not so much as to be over stressed. I don't have a hard rule to give you, but I can say that I had only run about 150 miles on trails before completing my first trail ultra. And I did pretty well.

Nutrition and Hydration

I wrote a separate post on nutrition and hydration. But I think the important thing to say here is that you need to train with a nutrition plan in mind and practice executing it. Once in a while I run into a runner that thinks running to the point of depravation is key to understanding what it may feel like on race day. And I suppose there is some merit in doing a little bit of this. However, I contend that it is better to never let yourself get to that point in a race. Learning to execute a nutrition plan is paramount to success. Now, I certainly don't treat every run like a nutrition practice run. But I do practice nutrition on nearly every long run. On shorter long runs, I will often just lower my calorie targets a little bit. Nonetheless, I am constantly experimenting with nutrition, teaching my body, and learning from my body. And, I believe that executing a nutrition plan on a training run will also help to aid in recovery.

It is not uncommon for me to mix a bunch of products in the spare fridge in my garage and just run 5 - 7 miles out and back loops from my house. In this way, I treat my house like an aid station so I don't have to carry a hydration pack on every 25 mile run.

The Long Run

If you plan to run an ultra, then you must run a long run just about every weekend. Assuming your ultra is at least 40 miles in length, I recommend trying to accomplish two to three hour runs most weekends and at least a four or five hour run two or three times. It is preferable that your long run mimic race conditions, running on the actual course if possible. But I certainly do my share of long road runs even when I am training for a trail race. There are also a wide variety of techniques you can try, including: run-walk patterns, heart rate target training zones, and even back-to-back long runs. The main thing is to run the long runs at a comfortable pace. You are far more likely to run too fast than too slow, particularly if your ultra is 50 miles or more or if it is on trails. In fact, your first ultra is quite likely to include some walking, meaning there is a good chance that almost all your training will be faster than race pace.

Back to Back Long Runs

Many runners and coaches believe in the back-to-back (B2B) long run as a way of practicing while fatigued. And I completely agree they are an essential training tool if you have the time and your body can handle the miles. B2B runs can be just about any combination of distances on back-to-back days where both runs are at least 10 miles. More commonly, it is often something totaling 30 or more miles, such as: 18 and 12 (on the easy side) or 22 and 20 (on the harder side). I liken the B2B as similar to the 20-miler for a marathon runner -- aim to do about three of them that are moderate or long in length per cycle.

Caution is once again warranted here as overuse of B2B runs is an easy mistake to make. I think doing significant weekend mileage (30+ miles) is only necessary a couple of times per training cycle. And, if you don't plan to run 60 or more miles, then doing B2B runs too frequently is not adviseable. Your mileage needs to be spread out throughout the week.  If you attempt to run 30 of your 40 total weekly miles on the weekend, it can creates a excess stress on your body.

Training Plans

I have seen several sources where the idea of a "training plan" is thought of in a negative context for ultra runners. It seems to me that this line of thinking assumes that all marathon runners are watch-oriented, obsessed individuals and all trail ultra runners run by feel and just enjoy themselves. This is an unfair distinction to make. I am a believer in a training plan primarily as a guide post toward your goal. The reason that we put our bodies through training cycles is to provide the right mixture of stress and recovery to provide growth and recovery in our bodies. Training plans help to put that mixture into concrete terms. Only the most seasoned runners can do this without either over or under training. Another benefit of a training plan is to ensure that the you are getting a good mixture of workout types to be a well rounded athlete and runner. I frequently mix in things like Fartleks, hill sprints, marathon pace miles, speed work, walk-run patterns, and more into my plans. I also include cross training into my plans as a reminder to myself.

All that said, I rarely go through an entire week without at least some small modification to my training plans. And I have never gone through an entire cycle without changing some significant aspects of my plan. I don't believe plans are carved in stone. Again, their purpose is to be a guide through a training cycle. Each day you should execute what is on the plan understanding that it is the best thing for your body that day. Sometimes the best thing for your body is rest. Sometimes it is running hard. Sometimes it is running easy.

Here are a few plans to get you started:
  • The book Relentless Forward Progress (RFP) has several good examples (easy to advanced).
  • UltraLadies (moderate to advanced)
  • Runner's World (advanced)
I have personally used the RFP plans and the Runner's World plan with great success.

Ultramarathon Nutrition and Hydration

Note to the reader: I added and updated version of this post here.

When I get asked about training for an ultramarathon, nutrition is almost always the first thing I mention. The longer the race (in distance and time), and the more extreme the conditions, the more important this topic becomes. It is hard for me to imagine someone moving to the ultra distance -- particularly in any race lasting more than 5 or 6 hours -- without having at least a rudimentary plan. Ultramarathons are sometimes described as eating contests with a little running mixed in! And if you plan to do more than "just finish" at the ultra distance, then nutrition is a key success factor. Here is a step-by-step plan to get you started on deciding how to approach a nutrition plan.

Step 1: Determine what your needs are

The starting point for this process is to determine how many calories you need to consume. From this chart, you can estimate the number of calories you'll need to consume based on the distance you are running. This is obviously just a starting point from which to experiment. In general, the faster you run and the shorter the race, the more you'll need to replace lost carbohydrates. While there is no absolute rule, I recommend considering fat and protein as part of your macro nutrients by the 50 mile distance, and definitely by the 100 mile distance.

Once you have an idea how much you need to consume, the tricky part is deciding on a plan to get to that number and later learning how to improvise when things change. Calories will come from primarily two sources: what you eat and what you drink.  

Step 2: Drinking

There are a variety of beverages out there and which one you pick is all about personal preference. Some runners prefer only to drink water, in which case you can skip to step 3 because all your calories come from sources other than drink. If you chose to use an electrolyte beverage/sports drink, you can choose to pick one that you love or you can just figure out what the race is serving and attempt to train with that. Figure out how many calories come from your selected beverage per serving and per hour.  For example, I prefer GU Roctane Drink, which I know is about 250 calories (59 gm of carbs) per handheld. And, through experimentation, I know that I can consume roughly one handheld per hour under average weather conditions. What's more, I know that a 70 oz hydration pack is roughly 750 calories and a little more than 3 hours of fluid under normal conditions.

Step 3: Eating

Once you have decided on a fluid plan, you should have rough idea of the calorie deficit you need to make up. The common source of carb food is a gel. The trick is that not all gels are created equal. There are three types of sugar and your body handles each one differently. I am currently experimenting with Vi Endurance Energy Gels, GU Roctane Gels, and Vitalyte Chia Gels. All but the Vitalytes give you 100 calories per gel. Each has a different mixture of sugar sources (and a little fat and electrolytes).

There is one primary drawback to gels: you have to chase them with 6 - 8 ounces of water! Gels are dehydrated sugar and are hard on your stomach. Your body needs fluids or it will have to send additional blood flow to your stomach which can lead to GI issues and/or dehydration. If you are not a runner that likes to drink a ton, it can be difficult to find the trade-off between drinking fluids for calories and drinking fluids to chase gels. In other words, if you don't drink more than 20 ounces per hour, then you have to decide how many of those ounces are calorie providing beverage and how many are pure water chasing down gels. Try different things out because you are an experiment of one.

Of course you can try other sources of carbs as well. There are many products on the market that I have tried. Perpetuem is marketed as an ultra endurance product. It is a soy-based drink, so it is kind of grainy when consumed, but it is calories dense with mostly non-sugar carbs and some protein and fat. Perpetuem is what I nursed through a major bonk at San Juan Solstice 50. Another option that I have tried is hammer bars. Like Perpetum, they have some additional sources of food like fat and protein.

Keeping track, I determined in step 1 that I need about 360 calories (90 gm of carbs) per hour to support my 190 lb body during an ultramarathon. (Note that this is just carbs, I try for closer to 400 calories per hour to incorporate a little fat and protein in longer races). In step 2, I figured that my favorite drink will give me roughly 250 calories (59 gms of carbs) per hour. That leaves me roughly a 110 calorie deficit per hour. If I am successful in consuming at least one gel an hour, that should put me pretty close my desired carbs per hour.

Other Considerations

I recommend starting the race with at least 300 - 500 calories of breakfast an hour or so before the race. A couple of good options are a packet of Perpetuem and/or a packet of PocketFuel. If you can get a good breakfast in you, then you can probably go light on the nutrition for the first hour of the run.

I recommend eating some real food near lunch and/or the halfway point of the race. This should help satiate hunger (carbs don't serve that function) and may even settle your stomach a bit. A good option would once again be PocketFuel. They are calorie dense with fat and protein and will "sit" in your stomach to satiate hunger and provide long-lasting energy. You can also eat sandwiches or other race provided options for this.

Post race I recommend following a nutrient timing approach where you replenish carbs immediately following a race or workout and then eat protein and fat as you get further from the workout.


I highly recommend S!Caps. While both are possible, there is generally a more pressing issue with hyponatremia than dehydration at the ultra distance. All things being equal, the slower pace allows you to drink more. But without enough electrolytes, you cannot properly process all those fluids. Even the best products don't usually have enough sodium in them to sustain you in an ultra. Electrolyte calculations can get a little complicated because everything you consume (drinks, gels, bars, etc..) have some electrolytes in them. And that can be a lot to think about on race day. The good news is that it is hard to overdo electrolytes. The safest place to start on this journey is to drink to thirst and use one S!Cap per hour in moderate conditions and two S!Caps per hour in hot conditions. But, beware of any products you eat or drink that provide substantial sources of electrolytes.

Putting it all together

In the past I have tried to stay away from gels, primarily because they don't have fat and protein. I think I was overestimating the value of fat and protein in a 10 hour race. The other reason I have tended to avoid gels is that they are hard on my stomach, probably due to a lack of water. My LT100 plan was for lots of fat and protein from PocketFuel and most of my carbs from GU Roctane Drink. And while I think that worked well, if I could do it gain today, then I would likely try to increase my carb intake even more (and decrease my fat and protein).

All of this planning is just a guiding post to keep me on target. On race day lots of things change. I could alternate back and forth between the several of my favorite products. And some decisions will depend on crew and drop bag scenarios. I will be more likely drink a product like Perpetuem early in the day or late at night when it is cool because I find that the soy-based fluid is easier to drink in cool conditions. As it warms up, I prefer to drink a more traditional electrolyte beverage. And once in awhile I may have a hammer bar instead of a gel. But the one thing I have to keep in mind is that I am always striving for the combination of products that gets me to 360 calories. And I train for several scenarios so that I am prepared on race day.

A couple of disclosures in closing: the first is that I am not a nutritionist. If you have real concerns about specific products and your individual needs, I suggest you consult someone who is a nutritionist. Second, you are an experiment of one. All of this information is just a starting point for you to begin as you train. I recommend trying several scenarios before race day to get a mix that works for you. I don't think I have quite achieved that optimal level of nutrition yet. And I have done about half a dozen different plans so far!

Weekly Training Wrap - 11/19 - 11/25

This week was sort of all over the place. My schedule called for the first set of B2B runs, but relatively gingerly with 12 and 10 for Saturday and Sunday. I was out of town with my family for the weekend, so I squeezed those runs in earlier in the week. Then, I did a bunch of easy running on Thursday: first a warm up solo and then the Castle Rock Turkey Trot races with my kids. Friday was my most enjoyable trail run in some time. We took it nice and easy and just enjoyed the day.

I think I was reaching a point of over doing it early in the week. Tuesday night I was feeling pretty wiped out and unmotivated. After 10 easy miles on Wednesday my outlook changed a lot. I guess the combination of running 21 miles on Sunday then coming back Tuesday early (4:30 am) for 11 hard miles really taxed me. Fortunately some easy running has me feeling 100%, energized and motivated to get going.

Friday was significant as well because I have been dreading trail running since my fall. I suppose it is natural to feel some hesitation after such a nasty injury. It has been four weeks and I still have two pretty sizable, deep wounds on my knee. And, there is a bit of swelling/scaring remaining as my body continues to heal. Fortunately, it doesn't seem to impact my running. But my range of motion is somewhat limited and it has hard to do any kind of exercise or stretch that requires putting my knee directly on the ground.

Next week is back to some hard running, including a super long run!

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest P90x - Legs, Chest, Ab Ripper
Tuesday 11 GA Run (harder side of easy)
Wednesday10 Easy
Thursday3Turkey Trot with my kids
Friday11 Deer Creek Canyon
Saturday RestRest
Sunday 7 Hill Workout
Total 47 About 5000 vertical feet

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 11/12 - 11/18

I promised myself I wouldn't consider my return to my old self complete until I ran twenty miles at least once. And at long last -- 3 months later -- I accomplished that feat. On the whole I would say that the run exceeded my expectations, but of course there was a part of me that wished it would come back easier like riding a bike. Not quite, I am pretty fatigued. I forgot how much respect a 3-hour run deserves.  Nonetheless, I am happy with the week. Next week is sort of a cutback in the long run department which is good with so many activities for Thanksgiving.

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest Cross Training
Tuesday 7 Progressive
Wednesday10 8 x 30 sec Fartleks
FridayRest P90x - Plyometrics
Saturday 7Easy
Sunday 21 Long Road Run
Total 50 About 4000 vertical feet

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 11/5 - 11/11

Crazy week. At the beginning of the week, I didn't think I'd be able to do anything for a while because the swelling in my knee was so bad. By Wednesday I was back running and only missed 2 scheduled running days. Thursday was a super hard effort -- probably 9 on a scale of 10 -- that really took a toll on me. It probably wasn't the best idea this early in a training cycle, but it felt good to work hard nonetheless. Saturday was a pretty intense long run and that also served to work me pretty good. I am looking forward to Monday's off day.

The one difficult this week was staying on top of my PT and x-training because the range of motion in my knee is a bit limited from the swelling. Toward the end of the week it got better, but I need to get back on that consistently.

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest Unscheduled due to injury
Tuesday Rest Unscheduled due to injury
Wednesday7 Easy with Jon
Thursday11Long Hill Repeats
FridayRest P90x Legs
Saturday 15Long Road Run
Sunday 8 Easy
Total 40 About 3000 vertical feet

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 10/29 - 11/4

Mixed bag this week. The positive was that I executed a couple of pretty good runs and am starting to feel like my old self. The other positive is that I have stayed on top of PT and x-training and my knee feels like a non-issue at this point. Or at least it did. The one negative was a nasty fall I took trail running on Saturday. I had to cut the run a little short and wound up getting nine stitches in my left knee (the same one that had been injured). It doesn't appear that I did any significant damaged, but I am bruised and swollen. The time needed to recover from this fully is about 10 - 14 days. My hope is that I can do at least some light running in the next 3 - 5 days. The bone in the area is bruised and it is too swollen and painful to do much right now.

Here is my knee after it was cleaned up. I think I gored out enough people already with the before pictures.

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest P90x Leg, Chest, Ab Ripper
Tuesday 7 Easy with Fartleks
Wednesday5 Easy with my wife
Thursday8Progression Run
FridayRest P90x Yoga
Saturday 10Deer Creek Trail Run
Sunday Rest Unscheduled due to injury
Total 30 About 3500 vertical feet

Monday, October 29, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 10/22 - 10/28

It is official, I am registered for the Old Pueblo 50 mile run in Arizona. A friend of mine is running his first ultra and offered me a place to crash; how could I pass that up?! I think this race is right in my wheelhouse: hard, but not insane (see San Juan 50). Registration for the OP50 opened way later than I am used to and it was delayed a few weeks even. However, that may have worked out great for me. For this first time in many weeks, I am optimistic about how my body is feeling.

I have blogged about this before, but my plan is to increase the intensity of my workouts and decrease my miles. This is particularly true for my first race back. There is a chance I will come into the race under trained a bit, but if it means I am healthy, then I will take that. I don't think I have run an ultra at 100% yet. (I guess I did run the 2011 Leadville Trail Marathon at full speed, and that remains one of my best performances.) Anyway, I come up with a plan that blends together marathon training concepts (speed work and other various workout types) with ultra concepts (mostly just the weekend distance and sparing usage of B2Bs). I don't want to just jog around all day while ultra training. We'll see how well it works, but I am excited.

This week was a good one. I stayed on top of x-training and PT all week and the running exceeded my expectations. I feel like I am walking a tight rope, but I am just happy to be running again.

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest P90x Legs and Back
Tuesday 6 Progression Run
Wednesday5 Easy with my wife
Thursday7TM Progression with Hills
FridayRest Iron Stregnth Workout
Saturday 13MLR with buddies
Sunday 4 TM - Recovery
Total 35 About 2400 vertical feet

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 10/15 - 10/21

My family and I spent Fall break this week in St George, UT visiting my sister. I love running in St George because it is flat and low. And added bonus, it is a good time to be there and enjoy some seasonal weather. It really showed as my heart rate was at least 10 bpm lower than it has been of late on similar runs.

On a somewhat significant front, I discovered a wonderful book this week that I read cover-to-cover. (I don't often do that anymore because I rarely find a book with enough substance to keep my attention). I will detail the "aha" of what I discovered in another post, but the tidbit that fits here is about my knee. The author of the book suggests that fixing a sore tendon takes 40-60 eccentric reps a day for 5-6 weeks. That is both good news and bad news. The good news is that I am starting to discover what it will take for me to get fully healthy. The bad news is that I am 10 weeks into this injury and only doing a fraction of that work (maybe 20-25 reps a day 3 times a week).

In addition to some tendon strengthening, I am going to begin working on my core with the following PT exercies (everyday):

  • Suprapatella Pouch Stretch
  • Foam Rolling my Quads, Hamstrings, and IT Band
  • Clams (100 reps)
  • Donkey Kicks (50 per leg)
  • Bridge March (3 x 10 on each leg)
  • Knee to Chest Bridge (3 x 12 on each leg)
  • Balance and stability (standing on one leg, sitting on a Swiss ball, etc..)

Now that I am going to be doing more running, I am switching back to my old weekly summary format. But, I will continue my cross-training and PT efforts. I plan to stay on PT daily for at least another 8 weeks, then perhaps back it off to 3 times a week. Cross-training has always been a focus for me and I hope to continue doing it 3 times a week going forward.

Day Miles Notes
Monday 4 Easy with my wife
Tuesday 6 Easy with my wife
WednesdayRest Cross training - Legs
Thursday10Moderately hard MLR
Friday4 Easy with my wife
Saturday RestPT exercises
Sunday 4 Easy with my wife
Total 28 About 730 vertical feet

Running Healthy

This week, on Fall break, I read a book that radically changed my outlook on running. It has been awhile since I found a running book that did that for me. (There are lots of books that I skim through sections for tidbits of new ideas, but this one is worth the read cover-to-cover.) The book is called Anatomy for Runners by Jay Dicharry. I believe that some of the advice in this book is a bit controversial, or at least out of the norm for typical/general advice on running and injuries. Perhaps I've just been blind to the truth for too long. Before going any further, I think it is important to point out that Jay Dicharry is one of the foremost experts on running and running injury right now. He is the Director of the SPEED Performance Clinic and the Motion Analysis Lab Coordinator at the University of Virginia. In short, he knows what he is talking about. Jay recently contributed to an article (and a video) for Running Times on determining if you are ready for minimal running. The thoughts and ideas behind that article are central to his work in the book and improving health and injury reduction.

I'll be honest in saying that book is somewhat textbook-like as he describes our bodies, the parts that make them up, and how they are impacted by the forces of running -- leading to injury. Jay does an incredible job of balancing the overwhelming mechanics of the human body by using analogies and giving examples. In addition, he breaks down the high injury rate (82% is the figure he uses) and how we can change it. He points out that running is not bad for us and that the vast majority of injuries are due to imbalances in the body that can be fixed, allowing many more people to run healthy. And he shows you how!

Toward the end of the book he walks the reader through a series of tests to determine where their structural/mechanical deficiencies are in order to create a plan for running healthy. All runners should take his series of tests and come up with a plan to fix any imbalances that exist. At one point he makes a somewhat sobering point -- most of us do more maintenance on our cars then we do our bodies! The very nature of training is that we never fully recover from a run before embarking on the next one. It is inevitable that scar tissue will build up and must be "flossed" away.

I learned quite a bit about the body and the misconceptions about health and injury. Here are a few:
  1. Stretching must be done for 3 - 5 minutes per stretch every day for 10 - 12 weeks to be effective in actually lengthening a muscle. Fortunately few injuries are actually a result of a muscle that is too short necessitating this work.
  2. Tendons can be strengthened and rewired with 40 - 60 eccentric reps per day for 4 - 6 weeks.
  3. The big toe is critical for running: about 85 percent of your foot control comes from this one toe.  (Most of us wear those that are way too narrow and are actually deforming our feet and inhibiting the big toe.)
  4. Strength training is most effective for runners when they train for explosiveness (think big weight, low reps).
  5. Distance runners rely on energy return from tendons and stiff muscles, so we don't necessarily have to be the most supple athletes in the world.
  6. The majority of running injuries stem from an imbalance in core control/strength and stiff hips.
  7. There is very little research that supports any type of shoe for either increased performance or injury reduction. (The possible exception is that support shoes have been shown to increase sheer force on the knees.)  That said, as it pertains to health and running, we would all be better off working toward light weight, zero drop shoes, with wide toe boxes to improve proprioception and bio mechanics. (Notice I didn't say we should all jump into them for our long runs tomorrow.)
  8. Light weight shoes have shown a better running economy than running bare foot (though running barefoot can be a good tool to improve running cadence.)
  9. To reduce impact on our body's, increasing cadence and avoiding over-striding is much more important than where we strike on the foot. In fact, there is little research that supports one foot strike as superior to another. That said, the most efficient runners do typically strike with the forefoot or midfoot.
  10. NSAIDs interrupt recovery, compromising tissues and their ability to ever return to 100%.
  11. Running through an injury is often appropriate because the majority of injuries are not healed by rest. The symptoms may disappear with rest, but the cause still remains. In many cases, rest is a measure to control pain so that you don't alter gait and do more damage. (Note that this is not a universally true statement, it depends on the nature of one's injury.)
That is just a small list of the things that stood out when I read it. But you would have to read the book yourself to understand the importance of these topics. You cannot fully appreciate the abbreviated list above without the additional context the book provides.

I am inspired after reading this book; I want to run healthy again. It seems like it has been many months since I ran fully healthy. I have known of one imbalance that exists in me -- a leg length discrepancy that results from a rotated pelvis and weak core -- and really never taken the time to fix it. I am tired of seeing the chiropractor every month in an effort to work around this injury. Jay's series of tests confirmed that my core is weak and a little unstable.  This isn't too surprising considering that I sit in at a desk with poor posture all day. In fact, this is the single most common challenge that many runners must overcome to run healthy.

And one final thought, the key to all of this is to view it as on-going maintenance. Most of the exercises in the book will help in 6 - 10 weeks, depending on the nature the deficit being addressed. But, that doesn't mean that you stop doing these things after that period of time. High-level training demands that we continue to maintain a strong, healthy body. I believe the reward will not only be healthy running, but also some unlocked gains in fitness and athletic potential -- more PRs!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 10/8 - 10/14

Finally, finally I started doing some running in a more consistent manner! I am optimistic that I will be back to a normal (but still somewhat limited training schedule) in another 2 or 3 weeks.


PM - 1 Hour

Long walk with my wife and the dog. I planned to do a P90x workout after work, but I needed to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.


AM - 1 Hour

A 5 mile and 48 minute run with my wife. I followed it up with lots of stretching and foam rolling.


AM - .75 Hours

38 mins (4.25 miles) of treadmill running and then stretching, icing, and foam rolling.

PM - 1.5 Hours

P90x Yoga workout. Last time I tried this workout, I had to stop halfway through because of pain in my knee. I made it all the way through this time!


AM - 1 Hour

A 5 mile and 45 minute run with Jon. This was a great run for many reasons, including the fact that my knee felt good the whole way and that I got back into an early morning rhythm. I followed it up with lots of stretching and foam rolling.


AM - 1 Hours

P90x - Chest, Back, Ab Ripper X.


AM - 1.25 Hours

First I ran 8 miles at an easy pace. Afterward, I spent time stretching, foam rolling, and icing.


Planned day off as I visit my family in St George, UT.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 10/1 - 10/7

Week 8 of my recovery and I am starting to feel optimistic about my progress. So optimistic that I am considering a March event.  The most important thing right now is not to push it too much and risk a setback. That said, my second concern is trying to make sure I don't lose any more fitness, so I am going to get creative and try to find ways to keep improving. In total, I ran more than 20 miles this week.


PM - 1 Hour

Treadmill power-hiking workout at the gym. I did this sort of Maffetone-style where I tried to stay in a given HR range (150-155) after I warmed up. This workout serves two purposes for me: 1) getting my HR up to help keep my fitness and 2) helping with future ultras by practicing power-walking.

2.77 miles and 2400 vertical feet.


PM - 1 Hour

I am a little bored with P90x, so I took my talents to the gym this AM. This was sort of two different workouts:

Workout 1 - PT/Rehab on my knee
- 3 x 8 of single-leg extensions.  I worked primarily on the eccentric portion.
- 3 x 12 of leg press. Again, I worked primarily on the eccentric portion (counted to 4 on each down movement)
- Quad stretches and foam rolling

Workout 2 - Light Shoulders and Arms
- 3 x 12 Overhead Dumbbell Press working on a smooth movement with a focus on the eccentric portion
- 3 x 8 Seated Dumbbell Curl super-setted with the above
- 3 x 8 Overhead Tricep extension
- 3 x 12 Kettlebell Upright Row
- 3 x 8 Barbell Curl
- 3 x 12 Tricep kickback super-setted with the above


AM - 1 Hour

40 mins (4.25 miles) of outdoor running and then stretching, icing, and foam rolling.

PM - 1 Hour

Ab Ripper X and a 45 minute walk with my wife and dog.


Scheduled off day.


AM - 1 Hours

P90x - Legs and Back. I really like this workout as a way to x-train my legs. I would recommend this workout to all runners.

It always feels good to start the day with a hard workout and then a recovery shake. I make my own recovery shakes with:
- Unswettened Coconut Milk (or Almond)
- Udo's Oil
- Chia Seeds
- Fruit (usually bananas and/or berries)
- Whey Protein
- Spinach and/or Kale

That is a meal packed with nutrients and good stuff (including lots of "healthy" fats!).


AM - 1.25 Hours

First I ran 8 miles at an easy pace. Afterward, I spent time stretching, foam rolling, and icing.


AM - 1.00 Hours

A four mile run with some Fartleks. I actually felt like my fitness may be coming back just a bit, or at least not continuing to slide.

Afterward, some stretching, foam rolling and Ab Ripper X.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Track Jon Live at St George

Welcome to my page tracking my good friend Jon Ahern to a sub-3 hour finish at the St George Marathon on October 6th, 2012. There first thing posted on this page is a pace chart I developed using Please note that this is not Jon's official pace band, but it is a good approximation because it takes into account the grade of the course. You can see he will run pretty fast early, then slow a bit during the hills in the middle section, and then let it fly to end. Below that is my live twitter feed where his splits will be posted as they come in.
Approximate Pacing for a 2:59:59

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 9/24 - 9/30

Week 6 of my Tendinosis injury and I am hoping to start working toward more running.  I have been told this is a 6 - 12 week injury.  At the halfway point, I feel it is appropriate to start trying to put in some mileage slowly and see how things respond.


PM - 1.5 hours

P90x - Shoulder and Arms, plus Ab Ripper X.  Then a short walk with the dog.


PM - .25 Hours

An easy 2 mile run and then some foam rolling and stretching.


AM - 1.25 Hours

P90x: Legs & Back with Ab Ripper X.

This is the first time I have done the leg workout and it was a real challenge, but I kept up! It was particularly surprising that I held up on the moves that required extra balance. The good news is that my knee didn't bother me much -- I feared I wouldn't be able to finish it.

The back exercises were a little weak.  I need to get a pull up bar figured out soon.

Ab-Ripper X: I pushed it a bit today and got closer to the 340 reps, but I paced it a little differently than they do.

During the cool down period, I did lots of foam rolling on my quads, IT Bands, and hamstrings.


PM - 45 minutes

I ran for 45 minutes on the Treadmill (5 miles) and things felt really good. I am about ready to start running outdoors, but I do need to reign things in a bit. I am so close that I don't want a setback now.


PM - .5 Hours

Short walk with my wife and then some PT (foam rolling and stretching).


PM - 2.00 Hours

I went for a long trail run/hike with my son and our friends. The weather was perfect and we had a great time. This was the longest my distance my son has covered.  He took his first trail fall, but he toughed it out after a rattle snake sighting took his mind off of it. The good news for me is that my knee continues to feel better and allowed me to run some of this, even the downhills which were particularly troubling during the LT100 race.

Later in the afternoon, I did some single-legged squats and some foam rolling.


AM - 2.00 Hours

P90x: Check & Back with Ab Ripper X.

I finally hooked up my pull-up bar and it made this workout MUCH harder. My heart was pounding at the end. I couldn't do as many push-ups either because I wasn't "resting" as much between sets due to the harder back workouts.

Push-up variations (2 times through): Push-up, Military Push-Up, Wide Fly Push-up, Decline Push-Up, Diamond Push-Up, Dive Bomber Push-Up.  First time through I did 25 good reps on all the push-ups but Dive Bomber (15).  The second time through I did 20 good reps of all the push-ups but Dive Bomber (10).  A total of 250 push-ups.

Back exercies (2 times through): Pull-Up, Wide Grip Pull-Up, Reverse Grip-Close Hand Pull-Up, Heavy Pants, Lawn Mower, Back-Fly. 

Ab-Ripper X:  I hurried through it to get ready for a run with my neighbor.

After P90x, I went for an easy 3.5 mile run outside -- my first outdoor run in 6 weeks. Things are definitely not 100%, but I am happy with the progress that is being made.

I totalled 16.6 miles this week!  It is a step in the right direction.