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….

Binge Runs

Thankfully, the semester is over, which means that I have some more time on my hands to run/recover/sleep/eat/drink beer. Now that my foot is feeling (almost) normal again, I figured that since I have no immediate running goals, just the long-term desire to run faster, farther, and harder in some trail races next year, a few really long runs should be in the forecast. Having the lack of running-related pressure allows me the chance to basically run what, where, and however far I please, at least for the next several weeks, and the Binge Run seems to be the answer.

Now, there are a lot of runners out there, and I believe I’m in the minority when I tell people that I really enjoy running long, this is not to say that I don’t end my runs bonking, sore, stiff, dehydrated, and that bonking, being stiff, sore, and dehydrated doesn’t feel bad. It does. In fact, it feels really bad, and not to imply that I’m a masochist, if I were, I highly doubt that unnecessarily long runs would be my preferred method of discomfort and self-destruction (I think I’d choose the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man…). The reality of it, is when I find myself running for long time frames, it teaches me a lot, and allows me to fully decompress. It also helps me to jump-start my fitness, or at the very least stay relatively on-track.

Now the binge-run is a special case, typically it’s an obnoxiously long run (3+ hours?) preferably without any specific purpose. This allows me to not worry about pace, run where I want, and throw in the towel whenever I feel like, allowing me to only concentrate on running, and enjoying the trip. There are a few disclaimers to the binge run, in case any of you are thinking of attempting it.

It DOES require some planning, if you run trails like I do, run in a system you’re familiar with, or at the very least bring a MAP (best plan, do both!!)

Food and Water are imperative! I always bring way more Gu (or whatever I’m eating this week) than I think I need… and carry at least 1, sometimes 2 handhelds.

Let someone know what you’re doing! This sounds like a no-brainer, but the more comfortable you are, the less likely you are to let someone else know whats going on. There is some risk involved, especially on trails, the last thing you need is to roll an ankle 10 miles from your car, and have no one know you’re missing…. not exactly 127 hours, but in the case you get hurt/lost, it’s nice to know someone will eventually start looking.

Lastly, even though this usually goes against my M.O. this run, I was talked into bringing a cell-phone with me. They’re useful in the OH SHIT situations, and most cell-phones have GPS so you can either be located, or map your way out of the woods… Maybe this is worth the weight… although my inner minimalist is still anti-technology.

Phone, Food, Water, Garmin, Map


Trailhead

TURN LEFT!


Mid-Run Snack

Saw this 2.5 hours in… I couldn’t help but yell it out loud

Mountain running may be hazardous to your pedicure


Summary 12/4-12/10


Sunday 12/4 4.1 Miles through local neighborhoods 32:47

Monday 12/5 1 Mile barefoot 10:07

Tuesday 12/6 7.1 miles on local roads with an emphasis on hills. I tried to run this quickly in an attempt to jump start my fitness so that I can return to the local trails with some hill climbing strength, and without my breathing being too labored. total time: 51:19

Wednesday 12/7 1 mile through sleet/freezing rain (shorts were a bad idea) 7:29

Thursday 12/8 Broken shin loop, 5 miles 44:29

Friday 12/9 1 mile 8:29

Saturday 12/10 FINALLY my foot feels almost normal, for weeks, it had taken several steps after waking up for the tightness to go away, and even then, there would be a bit of lingering discomfort, but today, it feels like a regular foot again. 10.62 miles to, and around Schooley’s Mountain. This is one of my favorite trail systems to run, mostly because of its proximity to my house, and despite the fact that it’s roughly 2.8 miles of FLAT to and from the mountain, the trails on the actual mountain are rather unforgiving, requiring very steep ascent/descents, and very technical terrain. This run is by nature slow (my record on the course is somewhere in the high 1:4x:xx range, with an average run taking just shy of 2 hours. Saturdays time was 2:03:56, my longest run (time-wise) in weeks, perhaps a month.

Total: 29.4 miles 4h 39m

So I’m not quite “back” yet, but things are getting better, I spent some time with Mr. Foamy today after a short 4 mile trail run with Brian, and my foot is still a little tender, but runnable. I’ll probably stick with a lot of road running in the next few weeks, working on bio-mechanical efficiency, and trying to get my leg and cardiovascular strength up a few notches so that my more ambitious trail runs take less of a toll on me physically, especially with regard to my energy levels later in the day.

MT 101’s ~260 miles

Ghetto Heel Drop (a la Krupicka?)

Some typical NJ trail

Allamuchy Sun 12/11 Photo courtesy of Brian James

More NJ trail… before my feet went through it
Ice and mud covered feet

When I got to the car, my shoelaces were frozen tied… So enter the shoe dryer

Slowly, but surely

My stomach virus ended up keeping me off of my feet as far as running is concerned for a whopping 10 days consecutively, excepting a hash, which sort of counts as running, but the exertion seemed to retard my recovery another 24-48 hours, but, c’est la vie. Since then, I’ve been trying to get myself back on my feet, and feel like a runner again. With the combination of hurting my foot on a recovery run several weeks ago, a solid  head cold, and the most recent illness, November has been the lowest mileage month of the year. The rest hasn’t gone completely to waste, and without any races looming in the immediate future, I don’t feel too guilty about it, but it’s nice to be starting to feel like a proper runner again, as opposed to the pseudo-recreationalist/couch potato that my logbook demonstrates for November.

As I’ve returned to the roads/trails I’ve noticed that my fitness has certainly diminished some, but in ways I didn’t quite expect. My endurance is understandably down, but more noticeable, is my erratic pace-rhythm. I’ve always been subject to positive splits, sometimes dramatic, sometimes understandably subtle, but in the recent days, I’ve found that positive splits are running my life… Part of this is likely derived from my abundant excitement to be running again, resulting in my heading from the car at ~7min pace on technical trails, which in my current state (or even when I’m very fit) is typically a ticking time bomb for walking, or at the very least, slowing down dramatically. Strange, however, is the fact that my body seems to be adjusting to this haste out of the gate, allowing me to crush former best times on many of my regular courses through the first 7 or so miles, which is when things seem to begin to fall apart, yielding mediocre overall times. So with some luck, I’ll be able to continue to push the boundaries, and eventually start knocking some serious time off of my regular runs, especially once i re-acquaint myself with the necessary pacing-distance ratios.

As far as the foot is concerned, it’s still not quite 100%, but I think I’ve figured out what’s exacerbating the discomfort, and how to change things so that it can both heal, and keep me running. I’ve returned to running roads, not exclusively, but substantially more than trails, which seemed to be aggravating my foot the most, and noticed that my cadence/balance was different on the road than it was on the trails. Part of this is the obvious necessity of negotiating roots/rocks/other technical aspects, but I think to an extent I had allowed myself to become formally lazy, since I wear a more built up shoe on the trail than I do on the road (more on this later). My trail shoes are still what most people would consider a “minimalist” shoe, but they’re still much more built up than my typical road shoe. Now I’m not an advocate of overly minimal trail shoes, as they simply don’t offer enough protection for the speed/distance/technicality of my regular runs, but the more protection, the more it hides form issues, this of course, is the trade-off. So running some in my road shoes has discouraged over-striding, as well as increased my turnover rate, which yields less impact on my sore foot, in addition, it’s facilitated a more mid-foot oriented strike, which i think is better balanced than an pure forefoot, thus engaging my calf more, and the foot a little bit less. So right now, the plan is to run a lot on roads to regain some fitness, and hill climbing strength, with the hope that when I return to mostly trail running, I’ll have the stamina to maintain better form throughout the run, and subsequently subject myself to fewer rough landings.

Last weeks summary:

Wed 11/30 1 mile 8:05
Thurs 12/1 AM 3.2 Miles up and down Allamuchy 38:00
PM 5 Miles Broken Shin Loop 44:28
Fri 12/2 4.85 Mostly power line trails 43:06 (near my record time.. ~1 min slower)
Sat 12/3 8.4 miles Schooleys Mountain. 1:40:20 I started out way too fast ~7 min pace, and made it through 3/4 of the loop before things started to break down, undernourished, under hydrated, overdressed, but it felt good to run some familiar trails again, and my splits for the first ~5 miles were way ahead of record pace, of course after that point, the positive split monster came out hard

View from Allamuchy

Delicious beer from Adams Beer Garden (it’s good for you, I swear)

Weekly Update 11/6-12

Sunday 11/6
7.03 miles 59:20 Ran around the local hills on the road, nice to get out and see the area on foot.
Monday
AM 4.85 miles 46:23 Often when I don’t have a lot of time to run on a particular day, and want to get on trail, I’ll run the paths for the power lines local to my house. They’re surprisingly technical, covered in medium sized rocks that challenge my running technique, and the paths right by my house essentially go straight up, and down hill. I did however, take a rather hard fall tripping over an embarrassingly small obstacle, which resulted in my knee being sore for a few days, and my foot still being sore today.
PM 1 mile 10:54 slow, almost barefoot(vibram) mile to shake out the stiffness from the mornings fall
Tues 0 Knee and Foot very sore
Wed 0 Foot very sore, limping noticeably (still!)
Thurs 4.85 46:45 Ran the same power line trail as Monday, foot still feels awkward landing on technical downhills
Fri 6.2 miles 1:40
Ran to High Point with Brian mostly through Appalachian Trail, we decided beforehand to take it rather easy, and split the difference between running and hiking, particularly with regard to my sore foot, I’m not sure how much we ran, and how much we hiked (i figure 1/3 hiking 2/3 running). As a runner, we spend a lot of time training in solitude, and it’s nice to have the chance to be social again, especially since my rehearsal schedule has prevented me from our usual Thursday runs with the Highlands Hashers.
Sat 0
Came down with head cold, probably for the better to keep me off the trail, as my foot is still substantially sore, and negotiating rocks/roots isn’t the best game plan to recover.
Totals:  23.93 miles, 4:25 Looking forward to my foot healing some, and getting myself back into the 60’s 70’s/wk

Here are some photos from High Point, Brian and I both decided to wear hydration packs, a deviation from my usual “bring nothing” M.O. With the mercurial weather predicted for the day, it seemed prudent to bring a couple of extra layers, especially knowing that our pace would vary, and that it wasn’t terrain that either of us were intimately familiar with. So, while I prefer nothing more than a handheld water bottle (and boy did the sloshing of the bladder annoy me) sometimes, bringing more is the best plan

Winter Running

If you read any of the running blogs from the Mountain time zone, you’re well aware that they’re already beginning to experience the joys, and perils of winter running, and here on the East Coast, as a result of an unprecedented October snow storm, we have as well.

Many of my friends, both casual runners, and non-runners often ask me how I maintain mileage over the course of the winter, especially as a trail runner, and since last weekend I remembered just how awesome winter runs can be, as well as the oft forgotten downsides of running in sub-freezing temperatures.
So, since many runners I know tend to reduce their mileage, or go towards the treadmill during the winter, I figure I’d try to explain as best as I could, how I maintain my mileage through season. First, attire, everyone has a different approach to cold-weather running, and much like my summer runs, I try to keep things very simple. A pair of tights (yes tights) lightweight baselayer, and a running wind breaker seem to be the most I wear during winter months. A lightweight pair of gloves, and a hat also are helpful. Many runners tend to overdress for cold weather, and end up actually being too warm. The downside of dressing as I do, is that you WILL be cold for the first few miles, the purpose is comfort in the long run, not in the first few miles.

Now, winter runs have their upsides and downsides, the most obvious downside being the negotiation of temperature/wind, hence the windbreaker and other attire mentioned above. The other, less obvious downsides are the shrinking roads as a result of snow (they get so much thinner!) which of course, makes avoiding cars much more of a problem (run trails). Trails however, get faster it seems, especially in the snow, which seems to fill in the changes in terrain, making for fast downhills, and less worry regarding rock avoidance with the extra cushioning. There is, of course, a lack of traction. I’ve found that on normal circumstances, I fall every ~300 miles or so when running technical trails, usually as a result of some mud, wet rocks, or a concentration lapse. On snowy trails, I fall roughly 1.5 times for every 10 miles, this obviously is a result of poor traction, and i expect the ratio to go down as the season progresses, and I get used to it. 
So why run in Winter? Well, here:

Trail Head
Tights and my Merrell Mix Masters
Snowy Bridge on Columbia trail

Blurry Picture, Deer in Snowstorm

Trail heading up Schooley’s Mountain

Long Valley

My Head