Training Summary April 22-28

Sunday April 22 1 Mile 7:50 Very typical shakeout. I’ve been enjoying the idea of taking a nero every week, and for some reason Sunday’s seem like the best day for it.

Monday April 23 5.1 Miles 740′ :42 Painfully slow time, especially since my legs should  feel rather fresh, but instead, I was feeling like I had no business whatsoever running. It turns out, this is a sensation that I’d be dealing with for the majority of the week.

Tuesday April 24 5.1 Miles 740′ 38:38 More of a “typical” time for me on the power line trails, and while the stopwatch is respectable, the entirety of the run felt…. uncomfortable. I can’t seem to find my groove, there’s no sense of flow, which is incredibly frustrating. Usually on any route I run with some regularity there are a few spots where I can just let loose, but for whatever reason, I’m feeling unable to get that sensation.

Wed April 25 5.1 Miles 740′ 38:13 Hitting the splits, but feeling like shit, ugh.

Thurs April 26 10.2 Miles 1480′ 1:22 Doubled the power line trails, feeling okay on the first loop, and very mercurial on the second pass. Nothing specific seems to be dragging me down, just generally not feeling fast.

Friday April 27 5.1 Miles 740′ 39:35 Finally feeling okay, not particularly great, just, fine.

Saturday April 28 11.6 Miles 1500′ 1:43 Allamuchy trails, and certainly the most ambitious run of the week. This morning was the first time all week that I genuinely felt like a well-trained runner. It’s also the first time of the year that I deliberately avoided power-hiking the steepest sections of the trail (which, for all intents and purposes should be hiked, it’s arguably as fast, and less stressful on the legs). The overall time is probably on the lower-end of average for the past several months, and ~5 mins slower than my course PR. That being said, I wasn’t particularly trying to push today, but mostly concentrating on consistency of effort, and trying to enjoy myself after a week of definite slogging.

Totals: 43.2 Miles, 5940′ Vert, 5h51m

By a long shot, the fewest miles I’ve run in a week since the first of the year (~60% of my average weekly tally). In spite of the obvious slogging both mentally and physically over the course of the week, I think it was still relatively productive. Some consistent GI discomfort has made me surprisingly comfortable with the inevitable fact that I don’t have the strongest stomach. I’m also relatively comfortable, and confident in the fact that I can continue to run (usually relatively well….) when the wheels begin to fall off, and I begin to certifiably feel like crap. Also, by running shorter distances this week, I’ve really begun to notice how long it takes my body/legs to warm up, and feel comfortable, which I think had a lot to do with the general unease in my five mile trips (it tends to take at least 5 to start feeling good.. minimum 30 minutes of movement). With that in mind, the next week is going to be even more severe of a taper, hopefully with a little bit of a concentration on some inclines, in an attempt to relieve the remainder of my lingering soreness, without compromising any fitness.

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Training Grumble

After several consecutive days of less than stellar performances on my feet, I’m beginning to get increasingly frustrated with myself, and the form that my training has taken. Realistically, I shouldn’t be overly concerned, and should, in fact, be embracing the latent soreness, lethargy, and overall slog-like feeling I have going into my 2-ish week “taper” period leading into the NF 50, but after a few days of sub-par efforts it’s tough to stay positive.

In an attempt to justify my lackluster motivation, and overall shitty feelings on trail in the past few days I’ve been rethinking about my diet in the past several days (less than awesome, by a good amount) and my general stress level, which I think is affecting my running more than I’m willing to admit. Fundamentally, I really need to pick myself up by my proverbial bootstraps, and get my ass out on the real mountain, perhaps without the stopwatch for once, and just run, to really reinvigorate myself with the base level appeal of this activity. I know that my fitness is by no small margin better than it’s ever been, and that it’s mostly my head that’s preventing me from logging quality miles in the past several days, so hopefully I can muscle through this “funk” and get myself back on the train in time for the race.

Summary April 15-21

Sunday April 15 1 Mile, 7:52 My legs are still feeling pretty beat up, and with Saturday being the last concert of the season, complete with all of the associated after-party-effects, doing very much running today just wasn’t in the cards.

Monday April 16 AM 10.1 Miles 550′ 1:19 Usual road loop around town. Typically I like this as a tempo run, but with some latent fatigue/soreness, moving “quickly” requires hurculean effort, and that’s assuming that I can run with any sense of quickness on my legs as they feel presently.
PM 1 Mile Barefoot 8:44 Nothing seems to cure the leg soreness than a bit of barefootin’

Tuesday April 17 AM 10.2 Miles 1480′ 1:23 Aside from struggling with the unseasonable heat, this felt like a pretty good jaunt through the power line trails. Legs are still a bit soggy, not quite 100% but feeling generally better than the past couple of days.
PM 1 Mile Barefoot 9:06 Trying to be more diligent about letting my characteristically tight left achilles tendon release fully to the ground, which, when I’m succeeding, generally leads to less soreness in the lower calf as a whole. (note: I’ve tried to concentrate on this while wearing zero-dropped “barefoot” shoes, but nothing seems as effective as going unshod)

Wed April 18 AM 1 Mile Barefoot Typical Wednesday, long day, keep the streak alive… see above for barefoot justification.
PM 2 Miles 14:39 I suppose moving a bit at the end of the day could help flush some of the mucky muck out of my legs.

Thurs April 19 AM 5.1 Miles 740′ 39:38 Quick jaunt up the power lines, everything is feeling normal, almost good (well, as good as it can when you’ve been stacking miles without a proper break for 4 months)
PM 9.2 Miles 700′ 1:11 Columbia Trail and outer loop of Schooley’s Mountain. Fantastic afternoon, albeit a tad on the warm side. Running uphill felt surprisingly strong, and I’m beginning to get more used to the summer-esque weather, and associated shirtlessness, brow dripping with sweat, and insatiable desire to jump in nearby streams (but they’re still cold, so maybe in a few weeks). I finally brought a camera with me, but to my chagrin, when I reached the summit, two young lovers decided to treat it like an hourly rate motel room, which… was rather hilarious, but robbed me of photographic opportunities, as well as a chance to thoroughly enjoy the view.
PM Part Deux 5 Miles 360′ 35:08 Broken shin loop at an unusually quick tempo. I’m unsure of exactly how we ended up dropping a minute per mile on our usually low-key ~8min pace Thursday night recovery run… I can only presume that with Dave having just run Boston, Jeff being en route to a <3hr marathon, and  Bob aggressively training for 5/10k's that no one thought twice about running faster. I'm pretty sure Jeff landed a CR in the 34:xx range, and all 4 of us PR-ed… not a bad "recovery" run

Fri April 20 11.6 Miles 1500′ 1:46 Allamuchy loop. Feeling generally like crap, heavy legs, tired, lethargic, hot, fundamentally every imaginable runners discomfort seemed to rear its head within the first 2 miles. Such, I suppose is another day on the trail, be wary he who feels too comfortable.
 PM 1 Mile Barefoot 9:02 Typical shakeout-like thing

Saturday April 21 15 Miles  1300′ 2:03 Road loop with a power line extension. Again, feeling like complete and utter shit. I think everything is subject to a certain ebb and flow, and I’m encouraged by the fact that when I feel legitimately bad (sour stomach, legs made of lead, tired etc etc etc) I can still manage ~8 min pace.

Totals: 73.2 Miles, 6,630′ Vert, 9h54m

Overall, kind of a frustrating week, and at the risk of being obvious, last weeks 30 mile run, without fully recovering certainly weighed in substantially this week. Admittedly, I did try to capitalize on the residual fatigue, and have never previously run this hard (or even remotely close to this hard) immediately following an effort of that length (both time, and distance). With that in mind, I really can’t be too frustrated, I did set a PR on the Broken Shin loop, and had some reasonably good runs, ion fact, none of my “bad” runs were even remotely close to my SKT (slowest known time) but rather were just on the high-end of average pace (or perhaps a few minutes slower than average…).  As for what’s next? I think I need to do some serious foam-rolling (and “The Stick” using) and have a beer. Next week begins some “front” tapering, where I’ll probably concentrate on some more highly specific terrain, but with a bit lower gross mileage, so that I’m only moderately sore leading into the taper proper.

Master Chef

Thinking Space

Review: New Balance MT110

The MT110 was arguably one of the most anticipated shoe releases of 2012, being an update of the MT101, but instead build on the highly popular Minimus last used for the MT10 and MT20 (New Balance Minimus Trail). The run down of the shoe is pretty simple:

7.7 ounces (men’s size 9)
15/19mm height (forefoot/heel)
Rock Plate

The upper, which is made out of a synthetic leather with a sock-like liner, gives you the sensation that your foot is firmly attached to the mid and outsole. There’s no sense of frowziness, in fact the upper as a whole is rather supportive, keeping the foot firmly in place on lateral movements, all the while not feeling restrictive, or in  any way annoying. The liner is designed to be worn sockless, and succeeds, all the while still being exceptionally well-ventilated. In fact, I like this upper substantially more than the MT101 (which mind you, I ran into the ground) and the MT10 (which I’ve also run a hefty sum in). Also worth noting is how well this shoe drains water. In interviews about shoes with Krupicka, he often mentions this as one of the more important characteristics in a shoe, since it allows the runner to be not the least nit hesitant about stream/river crossings, and his input has obviously had an impact. Even when these shoes are fully submerged, the feel comfortable, and are no more prone to causing blisters than when they’re dry.

The outsole is in a diamond studded pattern, concentrated in the forefoot, and on the heel, with the midfoot completely devoid of rubber. It turns out that the outsole rubber is one of the heaviest parts of the shoe, and NB decided that it would be unnecessary to put rubber in the midsole. They are right. This shoe gains purchase at an alarmingly quick rate on a variety of terrain, ranging from hard packed dirt, to slick rock, talus, snow, mud, you name it. The modest amount of foam, and full rock plate certainly takes the edge off of any rocks under foot, all the while maintaining a relatively intimate trail feel. Running in the MT110, I never have any fear of hurting my foot on a rock like I do when I take out my Merrell Trail Gloves, or my MT10’s, rather, i feel like I can run over almost any terrain confident that I can feel what’s under my feet, without abusing my feet.

Overall, I have to say this is the best shoe I’ve run in, period. When I lace them up, they feel as if they’re a part of my feet, rather than something I’ve put over them. While they’re not a “barefoot” shoe, they maintain a lot of the core tenets that barefoot runners seem  interested in: wide toe box, low heel-toe drop, no arch support etc. In fact, in my opinion the fact that they’re not a “barefoot” shoe, is one of the biggest selling points. This shoe is designed for one sole purpose, running ultramarathons as fast as possible, and with that in mind, I’ve just purchased my second pair as we leap into racing season.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about durability, my “old” pair have been run for 491 miles at the time of writing, and I expect at least another 2-300 out of them, the out-sole is showing some wear, and the mid-sole isn’t as cushy as it once was, but the upper is in-tact, and there are no signs of the mid-sole detaching itself from the upper as is usually the demise of my trail shoes.

Brand New pair (right) Old Pair (left)

 
Outsole, New on top, Old on bottom (491 miles)

Summary April 8-14

Sunday April 8 5.1 Miles, 740′ 39:25 Easter Sunday, and feeling unusually sore from the previous days effort. In fact, I can’t recall being this sore after a 20-ish mile run in quite some time. Noticeably, my times have been getting faster, and I’m sure that the moderate increase in tempo has been both advantageous, and the root of my lingering soreness.

Monday April 9 10.1 Miles, 550′ 1:17 Running through the local roads. relatively typical time, perhaps a couple of minutes slower than my usual splits. Nothing particularly substantial, although I have found that running up-tempo-ish road miles in  a zero dropped shoe seems to be good for tightening up form, and working my lower legs a little more than my typical 4mm dropped trail shoes.

Tuesday April 10 5.1 Miles, 740′ 39:57 Exhausted, in fact, unreasonably exhausted. I can’t pinpoint any major change to lead to such a degree of fatigue, so, listening to my body, I took a rather light day (especially considering the lack of other commitments).

Wed April  11 2 Miles, 14:18 Wed is an extraordinarily long class day, so a quick couple of miles before I set off to campus was all I had time for.

Thurs April 12 15.2 Miles 1340′ 1:50 Tempo run on the roads with 5 miles up up-tempo trail tacked on to the end. In the front 10, I dropped 4 minutes off of my previous course PR, which is no small feat. This was also one of the first runs where I didn’t NEED to hydrate/fuel but chose to do so to practice eating on the run, and carrying a handheld. While I’m intent on maintaining my “rule” of not bringing food/water for anything that’s <2hrs (really I don't take anything unless I expect to be in at least the 2:30 or greater zone…) it was very nice to not have a dry mouth, or any drops in energy.

Fri April 13 30 Miles, 2700′ 4:06 Finally, a true “long” run. I ran mostly on the Columbia trail, with two sets of Schooley’s Mountain loops. This was the first “fully” fueled run in a very long time, although crewing from my car is much less than ideal for hydration purposes (and I’m still only consuming 1 GU per hour, at maximum, compared to 1 every 30 mins during race conditions). I did find out that the bathroom in the park was open at around the 3 hr mark, which was enough of a morale booster to keep me feeling great through the final hour. While the soreness from this run is still lingering in my legs (3 days after) I’m very pleased with the time, and general comfort level over the course, especially having run rather hard the day prior.

Sat April 14 3.2 Miles, 24:13 Total recovery run, rather happy with how my legs felt, which I can only describe as somewhere far below good, but definitely not like complete crap. Tolerable, really, not overly heavy, although going much faster than ~8 min pace was definitely not a possibility.

Totals: 70.7 Miles, 6070′ Vert, 9h11m

A week without doubles… This is really my only substantial complaint looking back at the week in review, although I did seem to have rehearsals/class until rather late most nights, which was certainly prohibitive with regard to getting myself out a second time for some shaking out. Vert was also rather low, which is of some moderate concern going into the NF 50, and with the next couple of weeks looking extraordinarily busy, I’m not expecting to be able to get onto any more serious trails between now and the race, which means I’ll have to rely on some hill repeats (groan) and a bit of strength training (double groan) to boost my confidence leading up to the race. Otherwise, I’m still riding a bit of a high from Friday’s successful 30 miler, which is an initial confirmation that my training plan has been paying off.

No pictures, so enjoy some sounds from a couple of my buddies from college.

Summary April 1-7

Sunday April 1 AM 5.1 Miles 740′ :39 Traditional power line loop. I decided early on that on my shorter runs I should be trying to run harder than I have been the past several weeks. This decision was in part to break up the monotony, but also to try to train myself to run uphill as hard as possible, accelerating my heart-rate, and then trying to recover on the downhills while picking up momentum. Fundamentally it means run fast uphill, then much faster downhill, and convince yourself that your heart isn’t going to explode.

Monday April 2 AM 5.1 Miles 740′ 39:40 A little slower today, not feeling very “with it” but enjoying the downhills considerably more. There’s something very freeing about barreling down some technical trail at full speed, I think part of the thrill is knowing that the smallest misstep will result in a pretty killer faceplant…

Tuesday April 3 AM 5.1 Miles, 740′ 39:38 Pretty typical day on the trail, first split was very good, but the return up the hill felt rather arduous.
PM 5.1 Miles 740′ 36:58 ~25 seconds under my previous PR for this loop. Essentially I started out quite strong, and realized about 14 minutes in that I was over 2 mins ahead of schedule for a ~39min effort, so I tried my best to hold on, and kick in the final half mile. I’m pretty bad at keeping a mental log of what my actual PR’s are on a given course, so when I looked through the written log, I was pleasantly surprised (although I knew that if this run wasn’t a PR, it was close)

Wed April 4 AM 1 Mile 7:45 Streak keeping mile, feeling rather stiff, and tired, so the long school day seemed like a good enough excuse to lay off.

Thurs April 5 AM 11.6 Miles, 1500′ 1:38:36 Allamuchy trail run in the late morning. An astonishingly clear day, albeit a tad cold. I made it to the summit in :15 flat, which is pretty peppy, descended to the other side of the mountain in 7:16, at which point I realized that I was likely flirting with a course record here as well. Since I had taken Wed fundamentally off, it seemed like a good idea to test my legs, and plow through the remainder of the run at a quicker clip, besting my previous PR by several minutes.
PM 5 Miles 360′ 36:47 Snappy broken shin loop with the guys. Jeff and I took off pretty early in the run, and basically held onto a low 7min pace from there on out, no real kick at the end, just enjoying a steady tempo.

Fri April 6 AM 5.1 Miles, 740′ 37:23 Feeling especially spry today, not fast enough to break Tuesday’s time, but not so far off either.
PM 5.1 Miles, 740′ 37:37 Right from the start, my legs were feeling sore, heavy, and generally like complete and total crap. Continuing with the weeks theme of running hard(er) and my general training M.O. of running when I feel like crap, I wanted to see how fast I could run under these circumstances. Add in a little bit of indigestion, and some dehydration…. pretty solid.

Saturday April 7 22 Miles, 1700′ 3:05 Ran through the hills in Allamuchy for 12 miles, then met Gino at the trailhead, put on a dry shirt, switched hand-helds, and put another 10 on the Sussex trail, with the final 2 miles in the 7:15 range. Overall a pretty solid effort, albeit achy from the start.

Totals: 70.2 Miles, 8000′ Vert, 9h22m

Relatively low mileage (again) although I think the overall quality of my miles this past week was much higher than the previous two. I’ve also started experimenting with some additional fuel sources on longer efforts (in lieu of just GU) which proved very successful this morning, no low points, or energy swells. With some luck, I’ll be able to get another 10 or so days of higher volume training before I start to slowly cut back in taper, and allow my legs to recover (what do fresh legs feel like?). In spite of the low-ish accumulated miles this week, the increased speed has me at the time of writing feeling more sore than I have in quite some time, which I have to assume is going to be beneficial in the long-run (albeit uncomfortable right now).

Sometimes I need a bit of a rest…

Gino before we ran

Summary March 25-31

Sunday March 25 AM 5.1 Miles 740′ :42 Typical power line trail run, feeling a little bit sluggish, as the clock obviously reflects. Legs have been feeling pretty good, but no motivation to push anything beyond a leisurely pace.
PM 1 Mile Barefoot 8:35 Enjoying the chance to lose the shoes.

Monday March 26 AM 1 Mile 7:41 Long academic day, trying to keep the streak alive.
PM 1 Mile 8:11 Seemed like I should at least TRY to get out twice, even after spending several hours after rehearsal celebrating a friends birthday (with all of the associated libations) lets call it a gumption-harnessing mile.

Tuesday March 27 AM 18 Miles 1125′ 2:20 Road running through town, for some reason I lacked the motivation to drive to a trailhead to run for a few hours. Occasionally it seems a lot less like a daunting task if I can remove the commute (even though that commute is <15min) for a longer run. The nice thing about the road runs is that I feel less inclined to bring as much Gu/Fluid, which certainly helps me train my body to run slightly dehydrated, and burn fat more easily.

Wed March 28 AM 10.3 Miles 1480′ 1:27 Doubled the power line loop, keeping the pace relatively relaxed. It’s becoming apparent that a big part of this whole “high mileage” thing is slogging through the mundane monotony of getting out for some reasonable mileage on a daily basis.

Thurs March 29 AM 10.3 Miles 1480′ 1:26 Same vibe as Wednesday, starting to feel some of the slog setting in, especially as my motivation/energy levels continue to wane.
PM 1 Miles 8:04 Evening shakeout. ‘Nuff said.

Fri March 30 AM 20.4 Miles 2030′ 2:41 Ran an up tempo road course through the town for the first 10 miles at ~7:20 pace, then followed it up with a doubling of the power line loop. For the first time in a while, I’m beginning to regain some sense of flow, feeling more like I’m floating over the trail than running it. I also managed to negative split on the 2nd of the two power line loops, without trying to, which is rather encouraging.

Sat March 31 PM 8 Miles :57 Joined Jeff and Dave for a run on the Columbia Trail, unfortunately, due to the rescheduling of a dress rehearsal, I had to bail out early so I could shower, and suit up for the concert.

Totals: 76.1 Miles, 6855′ Vert, 9h58m

March Totals:  382.9 Miles, 38,905′ Vert 42h25m

 Not the highest mileage week, I’ve been feeling inexplicably tired, lethargic really, and my motivation is beginning to wane. This, compounded with increased academic responsibilities, gigs, and the ever-failing attempts to maintain a social life that’s semi-representative of the 20-something that I am has been making more substantial mileage a real stretch. Overall, the month of March is my highest mileage in a calendar month to date, which I suppose is something I should be celebrating, but instead I’m slightly concerned/embarrassed at the lackadaisical approach I’ve had over the last two weeks. With this 50 mile race looming over the horizon, as well as some tapes to make, and papers to write, I’m expecting April to be a substantial grind. Hopefully the next couple of weeks I’ll be able to maintain a respectable amount of mileage, grind through the monotony, and complete a couple extra-long runs to test out some nutrition/hydration issues before the race.