Summary Jan 22-28

Sun Jan 22, AM 10 Miles, 1:40:10 Snow covered Allamuchy. Spent the majority of the run breaking trail, and wishing I had a pair of microspikes since the traction was questionable at best. 3 separate falls, but I had the unique opportunity of knowing I was the only person who’d been out that far on those particular trails over the weekend, as well as being the first person to summit since the snowfall.

Mon Jan 23, PM 5.1 Miles, :45 Powerline Loop with a few added tenths, Rainy, Slushy, Muddy, Slippery, overall kind of a miserable day to be outside. 1 Fall

Tues Jan 24, AM 10.2 Miles 1:30:43 Typical Allamuchy 10 miler, missed a turn though, which added a few tenths. Snow was all but melted, but now things are getting muddier, making it hard to estimate when my shoe will find purchase.
PM 2 Miles 16:53 Short shakeout through the neighborhood, trying to flush some of the mucky muck out of my legs, and keep things loose.

Wed Jan 25, AM 6.0 44:29 Quick little road run, every-so-often I need the repetitive action of predictable terrain.
PM 1.0 8:06 Trying to reintegrate the evening shakedown mile(s)

Thurs Jan 26, AM 9.9 Miles, 2:17 Triple Ascent of Mount Tammany with Dave. ~3500 feet of gnarly terrain, throw in some freezing rain, a major bonk, and increasingly frowzy shoes, and you’ve got a pretty good time on your hands.
PM 5.0 41:19 Broken Shin Loop with the usual suspects Most of the run felt like a death march after the morning-time bonk, but a relatively reasonable time.

Fri Jan 27, AM 5.1 Miles, Powerline Loop, surprisingly quick, especially considering the abuse that my legs took the day before, had I not added the extra wee bit, it would have been a CR for the 4.85 mile course.
PM 1.0 8:21 Continuing the trend.

Sat Jan 28, AM 21 Miles, 3:17:43 Double Ascent of Allamuchy with a few additions. First time in months that I’ve run with a handheld for an extended time, and more importantly, first time since Oct that I’ve breached the 20 mile mark. Also worth noting, is that the last time I was out for >3hrs was December, where I ran for 3:08 and covered 6 fewer miles. Granted, that was a deliberately slow strength building run, but it’s nice to feel a sense of progress. Also, fell pretty hard on my hip during the second ascent, hopefully this won’t affect my running over the next couple of days

Totals: 76.3 Miles  12h 11m, 5 Falls, Vert ~10,000 gain and loss (approximation)

Overall, a pretty productive week. I’m rather happy with where I’m at physically, especially with how much time I have before any upcoming races. From here it looks like I’ll be trying to add more Vert (and find a better way to track it) and slowly add miles over the next few months leading up to the NF 50 at Bear Mountain. I’m also starting to integrate power-hiking as part of my trail running strategy, especially when it concerns steep inclines over fundamentally un-runnable terrain.

View of Mt. Minsi (from Tammany)

Dave’s downhill technique is getting awesome

Split shorts in January!?

Summit number 3

Also, some music I’ve been digging way too much lately… seems appropriate.

and secondly,

Advertisements

Tammany

I’ve got a fever, and the only cure, is more summits…. This morning Dave and I ventured the 45 minutes West to the Delaware Water Gap to tackle some technical trails, and some of the most condensed vert available within a reasonable drive. The loop to ascend Mount Tammany gains and loses roughly 1165 feet over the course of 3.3 rocky, technical miles, and the view across the Delaware towards Mt. Minsi and the rest of PA is arguably one of the best in the state.

The guide claims that the “hike” should take ~3 hrs to complete, although, through a combination of running/power-hiking, we covered the loop thrice in ~2:17, with the first lap at ~:38. By the end of the first lap however, we began to run into rain/sleet, which made footing more challenging, especially on the more technical terrain. By summit 2, it started to become apparent that I was substantially under-fed relative to my effort, and in spite of my consumption of a gel immediately prior to lap 3, I was unable to avoid the impending bonk. This means that Dave was subjected to a litany of incoherent rambles, songs, and caveman grunting throughout the third loop. Like most runners, I loathe bonking, but I’m more than acutely aware that becoming familiar with this degree of depletion is  important, especially with consideration of my racing goals. Having not hit the proverbial wall in quite some time, it’s nice to know that even when my legs are feeling heavy, and I’ve lost the ability to form complete sentences, my muscle memory can take over, allowing me to continue without a substantial change in pace.. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how far this autopilot can go for!

With ~3500 feet of vert under my feet today, I’m definitely feeling pretty depleted, as well as sore in the leg, making me wonder about the prudence of running the Broken Shin loop this evening with the Hashers… But, what’s another 5 miles!?!?

False Summit

Mt. Minsi

Dave does downhill

Descent!


C.C. Summit pose!

Faces made mid-bonk….
Not as flat as it looks

All photos that I’m in are courtesy of Dave Franz

Why I run….

Running has, to me at least provided an outlet. A source of constant inspiration, struggle, an activity that seemingly knows no limits. A lot of people I regularly associate with fail to understand the psychology of the runner, specifically those of us interested in endurace-oriented events. This, (to me) has less to do with the actual running, than it does the philosophical point of view of the runner. In my opinion, with the exception (albeit slanted by my participation within) of the artists, our society has become increasingly numb, and complacent. This has created a sort of “dead” society, concerned more with the pursuit of comfort, mostly (in an American sense) in the form of ease of work, recreation, consumption, transportation, and every day goings on. This, however, is not what I would consider a true pursuit of happiness, especially when you consider the abundance of uppers/downers/anti-psychotics/anti-depressants that the general population consumes purely to maintain their lifestyle. Instead, my pursuit of happiness, is different. I do not yearn for variety, but rather choose to indulge extravagantly in one specific activity. In fact, I’m pretty sure I speak for most runners when I say that our passion, our extravagance, has little to do with worldly pleasures, but  rather with an over-indulgence in the most primal thing we can find, we forgo the technological extravagancies of our time, and instead pursue the most basic, simple activity we can.

This being said, the simplicity of running is paramount. On the micro scale, yes, we have an abundance of choices (especially those of us interested in trail running) do i put my foot here? there? etc etc, but on the macro scale,we are absolved of the anguish of decision making, for it is simply binary: Run, Don’t Run. That is it, pure, simple, no mistakes to be made, no judgements to be passed. Regardless of whether or not you prefer to run on the trail, the road, or the rubberized oval, a simple stopwatch mediates your effort, it does not lie, but rather provides the runner with a concise, pragmatic quantification of effort.

What, for me, makes the act of running, (especially on trail) so important to my daily life is the sense of aliveness that I get from doing so. Whether running up a switchback towards a summit, with my quads burning, or descending down a fast leaf covered single track, I am never anything but dwarfed by the power of the terrain I’m covering.  Granted, my typical running grounds are nothing compared to those in the Mountain timezone, or the Pacific Northwest, but the simple ascent of 1500  feet over rocky terrain is hard-won, and humbling. I run the same paths on an almost daily basis, and every day, they teach me something new, and push the boundaries of my comfort zone, both as a runner, and a human being. When I descend from these mountains, with the breeze in my hair, frost in my beard, and cuts and scrapes on my body, I am alive. and when I return to my home, peel off my shoes, and finally rest, I feel that I can truly sleep well, and look forward to tomorrow, when I’ll do it all over again.

This is how I pursue my life, and how I continue to feel alive. Everything exists as a result of it’s opposite, and without strenuous effort, restfulness would not be as beautiful.  So at the end of a long day, of running, creating, and music making, this is what allows me to sleep at night, and more importantly, this is what encourages me to get out of bed in the morning when that god-awful alarm starts buzzing well before the sun comes out to shine.

Allamuchy, Demonstrating the Chris Carey Summit Pose

Summary Jan 15-21

Sunday Jan 15, AM 5 Miles, 42:19 Broken Shin Loop with Limpy, Roadie, and Jeff Boy-ar-Dee. Met the guys for a frigid AM run, wish I had worn socks, and managed to freeze my beard pretty well… although, the companionship made the wind and unreasonably cold temperature a lot easier to deal with.

Monday Jan 16, AM 11.6 Miles, 2:04 Ran through Allamuchy with Dave, again, wicked cold (~8 degrees) but we covered roughly 1550 feet of ascent/descent over the course of 2 hours, without running particularly hard at any point (but managed to test some speed on a few technical downhills). We also took the time to take some rather contrived trail-running photos, and upon returning to the car, and changing, my jacket (a lightweight softshell) froze completely solid… I suppose winter has come….
PM 3.85 Miles, :40, Turkey Brook loop with Roadie, Jeff, and Hairy, a nice second run of the day, trying to stay loose, also wore uber-minimalist shoes to concentrate more on biomechanics.

Tuesday Jan 17, AM 4.85 Miles, 40:39 Power Line Trails, completely frozen over, making for a rather nice variety of rocks, and frozen mud, good traction, fast trail, I think this is either THE, or close to the fastest time for me on this route… eventually I’ll check the log-book and find out. Also, took a pretty great digger tripping over an embarrassingly small rock.

Wednesday Jan 18, AM 10.15 Miles, 1:16:04 Tempo-ish hill run through the local roads, running this route at mid 7 pace is becoming increasingly easy, I’m going to need to find a harder tempo run in the next few weeks… or pick up the pace substantially (still haven’t decided which yet)

Thursday Jan 19, AM 4.85 Miles, 41:02 Power Line trails… Ground has softened up a lot creating a strange combination of really soft mud, ice, rock, and frozen soil, footing is a complete guessing game. This variety of trail conditions is part of how, and why I run the same routes a lot, I may cover the same ground, but each run is fantastically different from those that precede and follow it.
PM, 5 Miles, 37:52 Broken Shin Loop, ran ahead of the pack, and then was chased down by Bob, power of ego overtook my better sense, causing this intended recovery run to be much faster than I would have liked.

Friday Jan 20, PM 4.85 miles, 44:16 I originally tried to run 10+ at Allamuchy, in fact I drove all the way there, stood outside my car for a few minutes, used the bathroom, and instead of running, returned home…. a  few hours later I pushed myself out the door for the Power Line loop, and ran the whole thing convinced that I was falling asleep

Saturday Jan 21, AM 10 Miles, 1:26:41 Ran through Schooley’s Mountain and surrounding Rail Trails during a snowstorm. This was by far the most challenging run of the year, mentally, physically, and especially with regard to the elements. The snow made for questionable traction(causing me to fall on level trail), as well as providing additional drag/forcing me to keep my knees higher than I would otherwise like, not to mention the constant head-wind, and snowfall pounding my face. There’s a beauty to the solitude of being the only runner out there in this sort of weather, and the challenges that face you while attempting to run trails under  these conditions.

Total Miles:  60.15 8h52m, Falls: 2 Frozen Beards: 4

Gino also has his beard frost over

Jeff around Turkey Brook

Dave and I on top of Allamuchy (Photo courtesy of Dave Franz)

Ice Beard at Allamuchy (Photo Courtesy of Dave Franz)

Descent is steeper than this shows (Photo courtesy of Dave Franz)

Finally, it snows

Downhill in the snow

Summit!

Summit Profile

Not quite postholing, but close…

Summary Jan 8-14

Sunday Jan 8, AM 5.2 Miles, 47:18 road running to retrieve my car after the Debauchery that was Freezing Cold Hash…. All I can say is… oof.

Monday Jan 9, 4.85 Miles, 42:48 Power Line trails, this route is becoming rather quick and familiar with each progressive run seeming a bit quicker. It’s also proving a great training ground for aggressive down and uphills, furthering my confidence, especially with regard to efficient injury-free high speed descent on technical trail.

Tuesday Jan 10, 9.2 Miles, 1:16:14 Run through Schooley’s Mountain, using access trail and outer loop. Originally intended a few more miles, but some lingering discomfort in my left ankle encouraged me to shave a few miles off and avoid a roll/twist.

Wednesday Jan 11, 10.15 Miles, 1:23 Hilly road-route through town, the parts on the ridge are nice, as well as the opportunity to stretch my legs with a more repetitive run, as opposed to the much more athletically engaging trail variety. Planned a double, but weather got the best of me.

Thursday Jan 12, AM 5.1 Miles, :47 Powerline Trail again, with a few tenths tagged onto the end to stretch out. Legs feeling rotten sore by this point in the week, No rest days since November, shortest run since 12/27 was 4.85 miles (Monday). PM 5 Miles, :44 Broken Shin Loop, hung with the crowd for the majority of the run, right calf uncharacteristically sore.

Friday Jan 13, AM 2 Miles, 14:30 Lack of motivation, sore, super-windy, officially abandoned pursuit of 70 miles for this week, sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.

Saturday Jan 14, AM 10.15 miles, 1:15:19 I’d forgotten how fresh legs felt, running an average pace of 7:25 on hills barely felt like I was exerting myself, I think this bodes well for the future, and the emergence of a “rest” day into my training plan might be something I consider seriously. This also makes for a PR for this particular (and very new) loop. Having not felt like I was pushing myself at all during the run, I wonder what a pair of fresh legs, and a desire to run as hard as I can might do on this, and other courses.

Total miles:  51.65, 6h26m Far shy of my goal of 70 miles, weather, and prudence with regard to lingering soreness took most of the miles off, although that’s a rather weak excuse. Next week class starts in earnest, and hopefully I’ll be able to manage the mileage with coursework, I suspect my coffee intake will increase dramatically.

Schooley’s with the Sun
Limpy…. at FCH ’nuff said

Power Lines… trails are steeper than they appear

 
More power line, drops off dramatically about 5 ft from my shadow
Poor MT 101’s…..

It’s a good hurt… I Promise

Ouch, Ouch, Ouch, Fuck, Ouch, Fuck, Ouch, How much further? Fuck, Ouch…. that was what was going through my mind on this mornings ~10 miler, where Mile 2 felt remarkably similar to mile 25… Oh the joys of stacking mileage, forgoing rest days, running doubles, and being on pace for 140 miles in 14 days. Yes, that’s correct, I’m on pace to run 140 miles by midnight on Saturday… that means in 14 days, I’ll run 87% of the distance I covered in the previous 31… so much for prudent increases in mileage. If I stay on pace, that means that in January I’ll run 150% of the mileage I ran in December, no small feat, and certainly not the mileage increase that more sensible types would pursue…. although, seriously speaking, when have I ever been known to be sensible!?

All masochism aside, I thought I’d speak about first why I am pursuing these miles, and later, how I’ve been going about it. I’m NOT running this much with the intention of hurting myself (although if someone decided to go Tanya Harding on my knees this morning, I’m not sure I’d have complained too much…) If it was my intention to be masochistic/injure myself/facilitate an abundance of discomfort I could find much more efficient means of doing so. As previously stated, I actually enjoy maintaining a high(ish) weekly mileage, although, the first few weeks of it are typically a bit of a grind. The jump in mileage is primarily to pursue a strong base before I start introducing more functionally specific workouts. I’ve already mentioned my plans for the year involve pursuing Marathon and Ultra-Marathon distances almost exclusively (at least with the intention of competition…. I’m sure I’ll enter a few shorter races, but with less lofty expectations). This means that unlike runners of shorter distances, it’s advantageous for me to run in states of varying depletion/discomfort. In fact, I NEED to train my body to continue running even though my legs feel as if they’re on fire/being repeatedly stabbed my annoyingly fast midgets, and there is no way of getting used to this other than simply running a lot… even if that means running when my legs feel as if they’ve been repeatedly pummeled by a meat tenderizer.

Now, increasing your mileage by 40% from one week to the next is certainly not the most reasonable progression. In fact, it’s not something I’d recommend… period. As much as my “training” seems to be a result of flying by the seat of my pants, my body is actually quite adequately prepared for this sort of abuse. I’m very fortunate to have rather neutral bio-mechanics, and to be able to pay a lot of attention to small details/feedback that my body is giving me before, during, and after a particular run, both of these things seem to help me reduce the likelihood of overuse injuries. Also, as last weeks mileage demonstrates, I’m not running particularly hard right now. Some of my runs are fast(ish), but last weeks avg pace is ~8:45. The lack of “hard” workouts is deliberate. Yes, I’m running hills, Yes, I’m running some decent-ish tempo runs, but at no point last week, or this week am I intending on running full-out… more like ~80%. I expect this to be my M.O. for most, if not all of January, as I try to establish a strong base before integrating harder workouts (Hill repeats, up tempo trail runs etc).

That being said, knowing the strain that this is putting on my body, I’ve also been much more diligent about post-run recovery. Normally, my recovery process is not so dissimilar from 1970’s Canadian Hockey players… plenty of beer, fall asleep eventually. In spite of beer obviously being a fantastic recovery drink, this plan is less than ideal. The majority of my (plant based) diet revolves around whole foods. When I’m “training” (such an ugly word….) I’m substantially more diligent about what I put into my body, especially when it comes to hydration (3-5 liters of water a day seems to do it) and protein content. I also deliberately eat more frequently, and in smaller amounts, in an attempt to avoid the Food Coma my seemingly endless post-run appetite often induces(this allows me to function like a normal human throughout the day… rather than a bonk-induced semi-zombie). Other than that, I often wear compression socks (are they a placebo… or are they real…. the world may never know) and spend a good amount of time with Mr. Foamy. With that said, it’s time to return to the misery stick for a few hours, then back out the door for another 4-6 miles.

Week Summary Jan 1-7

Sunday Jan 1, 6.1 miles, 51:37 Ran through Brooklyn and Prospect Park. Started off the year by running shirtless in split shorts, far cry from my usual ice-encrusted beard for the winter months

Monday Jan 2, 6.0 miles 44:19 Running local roads, trying to alternate trail mileage with roads in an attempt to not completely surprise my body with the sudden jump in mileage from last month to this.

Tuesday Jan 3 AM 5.22 miles 55:48 1300ft elevation gain/loss through Schooley’s Mtn Park, would have run longer, but mild ankle issues made the effort cut short after summit #2.
PM. 6.0 miles 43:41 Same route as Monday morning, getting quicker, decent tempo-ish run

Wednesday Jan 4 AM 4.85 miles 43:58 running along local powerline access trails, steep ascent/descent, overall tough run, but within ~1 minute of personal best
PM 4.85 miles 43:30 Rarely do I run a double that includes the same course twice, even rarer that I run the second loop faster… I blame it on the shoes (MT101’s in the Eve, as opposed to uber-minimalist Merrells in the AM) Felt sluggish, but the stopwatch says otherwise.

Thursday Jan 5 AM 10.15 miles, 1:24:55 Hill run on the roads, this point in the week I’m starting to feel the residual fatigue of higher mileage (especially compared to my lackluster numbers in Nov/Dec)
PM 5.0 miles, 40:50 Broken Shin Loop, felt rather anti-social Ran the second half of it with Roadie, first half being Chased by HH, sorry about the moon….

Friday Jan 6 AM 4.85 45:55 Semi-recovery-oriented run over powerline trails considered doubling it on the spot, but prudence got the better of me.
PM 6.0 miles, 50:26 Still in recovery-running mode, legs feeling rather soft by this point

Saturday AM 5 Miles, time: ???? (55??)Freezing Cold Hash

Totals: 64.02 miles 9h20m, Frozen beards: 4, Falls, 0 (hash excluded….)

I have no excuse….

Training Ruminations

The past week I’ve had several conversations with other runners about my seemingly lacksadaisical approach to training. I’ve decided that although my approach to training for a race is slightly unorthodox, mostly due to its lack of traditional structure, it’s still proven itself effective over the course of the past year, and allows me to run more, and plan less. With that being said, let me explain how I go about planning my weekly mileage, and why I run where/how I do. Fundamentally my training is based around a few VERY important runs, and a lot of recovery/junk/lazy miles. (I hate the term junk mileage, my implication is that these miles are slower, and over easier terrain than my more ambitious runs, but are very important for maintaining my fitness, as well as a time where I hone in on form issues, lower leg flexibility, and turnover rate)
The runs I deem as “workouts” are the following: Tempo Runs, Hill Runs, and Long Runs. Note that speedwork is NOT included here. This is for a multitude of reasons, the first and foremost being that speedwork isn’t why I run, I don’t find it enjoyable in the least, in fact I find it more masochistic than anything else I could run. this is not to say that speedwork isn’t an effective means of building strength, both in the legs and the cardiovascular system. Many (almost all?) people I run with, follow, read about, and admire do speedwork,and I don’t necessarily recommend my lack of interval training/mile repeats. Instead of doing speedwork, I do an abundance of hill running. I deliberately seek out inclines, and refuse to let these inclines have a significant effect on my pace. This in turn, forces my cardiovascular system to work much harder for the ascent, and allows me to relax some on the descent, in effect not being tremendously dissimilar from interval training as far as heart-rate is concerned. In addition, the races I’m eyeing for the next year exist primarily on mountain trails, so being comfortable with both ascending and descending, especially on trail is abundantly necessary, and there is no other way to get there, than by simply doing it. That being said, I think for my purposes the Hill run is both more functionally specific (for my training goals) and forces me to take my cardiovascular training to a higher level, thus alleviating my need for traditional interval training, and considering the physical abuse of hill work, and speedwork individually, doing both in the week would most likely lead to a higher risk of overuse injury.
Tempo Runs:
These are very self-explanatory, my tempo runs are traditionally shorter in length (5-10 miles) and depending on where I am in my training, can be anywhere from 30-90 seconds/minute faster than race pace. The shorter the run, the faster I run. It’s a simple plan, increase turnover rate, maintain a high heart rate. Since I’m primarily concentrating on trail running, I try to do these runs on technical terrain, but sometimes I don’t have the luxury of driving to a trailhead, and end up running on the road, in which case, I run as quickly as I can for  the prescribed distance.
Long Runs:
The long run is typically the corner stone of any endurance/long distance runner, and I am no different. Although where most people will typically take a “light” day before the long run, I’ve found it more effective to enter my long run in a state of moderate soreness/depletion. This is fundamentally to train me for the end of the race rather than training for the beginning, and builds strength, both mentally and physically. I also make a concerted effort to keep my long runs relatively close to intended race pace (+ ~10-20 seconds/mile) again, the intention being to train my body to move at or near pace, while already beat up.
The remainder of my mileage is typically slower, more relaxed runs over a variety of terrain, usually determined by time/ambition. These miles allow me to keep my legs loose, and since they’re often run with a degree of lingering soreness/stiffness, encourage me to work on bio-mechanical efficiency, and diagnose any potential red flags before they become a significant issue.
So how does it all break down? Typically each week has at least one of the above runs, although the long-run is sometimes replaced with two back to back medium runs (especially at the early onset of a training period). In addition to this, I often maintain a “streak” running no fewer than 1 mile per day, period. I ran consecutively from 5/23-10/9 this year, and presently have not missed a day since 11/30. I also try to maintain a relatively high mileage during spurts of training, preferring to hang in the 60-80mpw range.
Lastly, Since I’ve been trying to post these for weeks, Here are my monthly totals for Dec, which was fundamentally a recovery month with regard to my (now no longer!) sore foot.
12/1    3.2
12/2    4.85
12/3    8.4
12/4    4.1
12/5    1
12/6    7.1
12/7    1
12/8    5
12/9    1
12/10   10.62
12/11   4.05
12/12   1
12/13   6
12/14   1
12/15   9, 5
12/16   3.21
12/17   1
12/18   5.18
12/19   2
12/20   15
12/21   1
12/22   4.1
12/23   5
12/24   4.1
12/25   6
12/26   4.05
12/27   4.85
12/28   8.6
12/29   5
12/30   7.1
12/31   11.16

Totals: 159.67 miles, 26h 19m