Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Choices and burnout

Here's the deal. I'm getting to that point in marathon training where I'm feeling pretty confident and wishing the race were this weekend and not 3 weeks hence. I have been at this point for each of the previous marathons I've run, and I didn't run either of them as well as I'd wanted to. So I'm hoping I'm not experiencing the same kind of thing. This week it's been difficult for me to want to get any miles in, and consequently I didn't run at all on Monday. I did do 5 yesterday and 6 today, so I'm not too far behind, especially if I double up on Wednesday or Thursday.

As I mentioned, there's 3 weeks until the marathon from this Saturday. I can either make this week my last long week, and then do a 3-week taper before the big dance, or I can take it easy-ish this week and go long again next week, and follow it up with a 2-week taper. Or... I could go long-ish this week and long-ish next week, and then go with a 2-week taper. I'm leaning towards the first option or the last option -- three-week tapers just seem too long for me, since my max weekly mileage is still under 45, and doesn't look like it's going to exceed that point unless I build this week and next week -- which I think I'd like to do. Overdoing it? Maybe...

I tend to be more motivated by the possibility of overdoing it than by trying to maintain or take it more "sensibly" from now until race day.

So... am I more likely to burn out if I keep going long until a 2-week taper? Or would it be smarter and possibly less-motivating to play it safe and take an easy week this week -- or even go long this week and do a 3-week taper? Decisions, decisions....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A hard Saturday run, but I'm okay with that

Today I did 22 miles in 4:00:47, and it was hard. Really hard. Don't get me wrong, I ran the whole way, but I didn't finish as strong as I kind of wish I had. But I'm okay with that. Here's why...
That's the elevation profile from today's run. Note the steady 3% uphill grade near the beginning, and the intermittent 3% grades at the very end. And I still managed to hold a 10:57 pace (more or less) for the whole thing. (That doesn't count the pit stop at the grocery store at mile 15.5 to pick up more PowerAde.)

In contrast, here is the elevation profile for the marathon for which I am training, and in which I WILL finish in less than 5 hours.
Note the lack of any uphill grade greater than 2%, and that's just one little climb near the halfway point. Also, the uphills in miles 5 through 13 look scary, until you realize there's not a bit of them over 1%. I think I'm going to be ready.

4 weeks to go. I can do this.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

TIART - Spring Training

Okay, I'm going to try something that I've never done before, and that's contribute to the Runner's Lounge "Take It And Run Thursday". The topic of the week is Spring Training.

I love Spring Training, but then I've always been a baseball fan, ever since I can remember. These days, Spring Training means more than the return of the Dodgers to Vero Beach, Florida, however... (scratch that, they play their Spring ball in Arizona now... doh!) When the players report to spring camp, it means that the days are getting longer, the mornings are getting warmer, and the running starts to transition from the treadmill to the great outdoors once again. Indeed, Spring is a great time of year!

A couple of tips for those of us emerging from Winter treadmill hibernation:
  • Don't pay attention to pace. Treadmill pace and outdoor pace rarely match up evenly, so get your first few runs in at whatever pace feels right, and don't compare to what you've been doing on the treadmill all winter long. Chances are you'll be much faster (or much slower). Don't stress over it, and use this newly-established "outdoor" pace to gauge your progress from here on.
  • Dress for the conditions. Spring can be tough, because you can start a morning long run in chilly weather and warm up quickly as the hours go by. Dress in layers that can be tied around your waist as the day progresses, or plan your course to run past your house or a familiar place where you can ditch superfluous clothing.
  • Don't forget to hydrate! Especially on cooler days, you can forget to drink enough because you're not sweating much, and when you do sweat, the cooler air (and hopefully your hi-tech wicking clothing) will pull the sweat off of you into the air so fast you'll stay relatively dry. In these conditions it's easy to go too long between swigs. Drink up!
So there you have it; my first contribution to "Take It And Run Thursday". Enjoy! I feel honored to be participating in such a distinguished community of great runners!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Joe's Goals

I found this cool new website called Joe's Goals. I guess some guy named Joe made up the website, and it's pretty nifty. Basically it gives you the opportunity to set goals for yourself and keep track of your progress on a day by day basis. You type in your goals, and you can leave a check mark if you've accomplished it for the day. You get a total score for each day based on how many check marks you have for that day. Then you can pull up graphs and charts showing how you're trending, etc.

Currently I have 7 goals listed (the screenshot there is NOT my list), and I'm sure I'll come up with more. Chec it out. The URL is

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ramping back up!

So last week was an impromptu cutback week, to let a blister heal and take care of car problems (which didn't work out, but that's another story).

This week, I'm ramping the mileage back up, with runs so far this week of 4, 5, 6.75, and 5.1 miles. The last two of those have been outside on variably hilly terrain, substituting as speedwork for the week. This is a total of 20.85 miles for the week so far, with a 20 miler on tap for Saturday. Tomorrow will be a bike day.

Next week, we'll throw a 22 miler into the mix, and at least one double, which I didn't get to this week... yet(?). The marathon is 5 weeks and 2 days away. I think I'll be ready. I hope I'm not peaking too soon. :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Darn blister

During Saturday's awesome long run, I got a blister under my big toe on my left foot. This is a new occasion for me, as I rarely get blisters, and when I do they're always on the instep of my right foot. In that case, I'll just pop them with whatever's handy, and let them drain, cover with a bandaid or two for a day or two, and we're good to go. The skin seems to fuse back together where the water bubble was, and away we go.

This one is a little different. Because it's in a place where two sides of a wrinkle come together (that's not the right phrasing, but I think you get the point), it seems to feel bigger than it actually is. I've popped it a few times, and was able to run Monday and Tuesday on it, but Wednesday I tried putting moleskin on it for a barrier, but it didn't stick. I guess that part of my foot is sweatier than most?

So anyway, I'm taking a couple of days off to let it heal, which means that this week is turning into an impromptu cut back week. That's okay, because I pushed last week and got ahead of schedule anyway. I'm not completely relaxing -- I'm biking instead of running, and it's keeping me busy and my heart rate up. Hopefully I'll be able to get out for a shorter long run tomorrow... perhaps I'll try the moleskin again.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A pound of flesh...

Or, more accurately, a pound of fat. One of the common things one hears as one begins to research diet and exercise as relating to weight loss is that one pound of fat contains 3500 calories, and therefore to lose a pound of fat you need to increase your calorie deficit by 3500 calories to "burn off" a pound of fat, and therefore be one pound lighter.

I've been searching across the interwebs and haven't yet been able to find any concrete studies to back this up, but something about it seems fishy to me. It seems over-simplified, as if any calories we eat go into the same bank, regardless of the "quality" of the calories, or the source of the calories, and then any calories we burn, regardless of the way we burn them (weight training, cardio fitness training, breathing, thinking, etc.) all withdraw the calories from this same bank. I don't think this is necessarily the case.

When I started back at running in January of 2008 after slacking off after my first marathon, I weighed in at 225 lbs. Within a week I was down to 219. According to the "3500 calorie" theory, I created myself a calorie deficit in that ONE WEEK (?!?!) of 21,000 calories???!! Um, no. The running, totaling maybe 10 miles, may have added 1000-2000 calories to my "deficit" total, but nowhere near the 21,000 that the theory would suggest. I believe metabolism is more complicated than the theory suggests.

Does anyone have information or peer-reviewed studies, etc., that can back up the theory one way or another?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Spring Fever

It is absolutely beautiful outside. Okay, so it's a little windy -- so much so that when I was running south, into the wind, I couldn't really hear the iPod very well -- but I can deal with a little wind. I still turned in a great 5.1 mile run today in the Avenues/City Creek Canyon in 50 minutes flat. It was 62°F outside (that's about 17°C for you metric types). The breeze actually helped it to not feel too hot.

I may have to run again later, just to soak up some more of the gorgeous weather!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Long run, nothing special

I went for a really long run on Saturday. It seems that every marathon training session will include at least one point-to-point run from home to work. It shakes out like so: My wife will come pick me up from work Friday afternoon for a family activity of some sort, so I'll leave my car at work. Saturday morning I wake up early, get on the running gear, and head out for what is usually a circuitous 20 mile route, and come pick up my car. This weekend, however, was the first time I'd attempted this since we moved further away from my place of employment. The result? It wasn't a circuitous route, it was pretty direct. But it was still 19.6 miles, which is about 2 miles further than I had scheduled for that week's long run. I finished it strong, however -- surprisingly so. This puts me weeks ahead on my training schedule, which is good. I plan on another long 20 miler this weekend, then a much-deserved cutback week.

So far, a very good start to 2009!

Weekly recap and February totals

Last week was a good week for me. Here's how it shook down:

Monday - 5.1 miles outside in the Avenues for a "hilly" run. 10:02 pace
Tuesday - 4 miles outside in the Avenues at lunch, pace 9:55; 4 miles on the treadmill that night, pace 10:00
Wednesday - Easy 2.5 on the TM as warm up for weights. 20 minutes of weights.
Thursday - 5 mile interval training on the TM - 9:44 avg pace w/ warm up and cool down.
Friday - Bike 15.76 miles in 42 minutes including intervals and a 400+ watt sprint.
Saturday - 19.6 mile long run from home to work. Pace 10:46. I loved this run.

Weekly total: 40.2 miles run, 15.8 miles biked

Totals for February:
122 miles run
80.4 miles biked
1 hr 35 minutes weights