Taper (Mountain) Madness

“Tapering Sucks” was the singular text I sent my main training partner Eric. Eric, in his ever-positive voice of reason (one of his best character attributes) sought to remind me that I’m “building the energy,” which while comforting (and true) still doesn’t quench my desire to go for a several hour run right now.

I’ve always found tapering to be menacing, cutting off my training when it’s usually going the best seems cruel at best, at and times down right torturous… When I’ve timed things right, I hardly ever feel as if I need to taper, usually having already gritted my way through the hardest weeks of training,  and convinced my body that the volume of running I’m putting in is permanent, and thus sustainable.

This is of course complete bullshit, as very often, my body feels incredible just before it starts breaking down. It did so in March before my latest bout with running-induced injury, as well as before all of my best performances (and most painful injuries). I’m well aware that when I time my taper correctly, my body is as close to injury and breakdown as it can be without crossing that invisible line… and I’m also aware that often my body chooses to ignore aches and pains when it realizes that I have no intention to stop, only for these niggles to re-appear during tapering (see: healing). Intellectually I can process this, but emotionally… not as well. I know that I’m tuned up, and denying myself chances to run makes me feel like a fat kid left in a candy store who’s been told that he can’t touch anything, it just seems torturous.

As I continue to rest for the next 2 days leading into Mountain Madness, I have to remind myself that even without consistent testing my body is well prepared for the race. Until then, I’ll try to sleep more, eat as well as I can, and be patient. On Saturday however, I will toe the line, take the gloves off, and push myself towards the finish line as fast as I can, a return to my natural form, an ultra runner again, rather than some guy who keeps telling barroom stories about how he used to run far. Since it’s been a while since my last posting, here are some photo’s from the summers training.

Eric and Jason at Bear Mountain
Sunfish Pond (Photo: Eric Ashley)
From the annual Maine pilgrimage
The last battle with the Bonkasaur
Allamuchy
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December 5-20

Friday December 5, 5 Miles 610′ 36m48s
First run after a 5 day layoff from an exceptionally gnarly stomach bug. Legs were feeling very peppy, I suppose taking the brunt of a week off is enough to let the muscles an tendons heal, and gain some substantial pop back. Turnover felt really smooth, but a few days off made down-hilling more trepidatious than usual.
PM 1 hour Climbing
Went to the rock gym with Jeff, felt generally secure on trad routes, but lacking overall grip strength limiting my willingness to try any bigger moves.

Sat Dec 6, 7.5 Miles 794′ 56m59s
Legs were still feeling pretty poppy, stayed generally in a MAF training zone for the duration, while actively trying to increase the tempo/keep the heart rate up on the downhills.

Sun Dec 7, 15.6 Miles 3369′ 3h13m
Dunfield Creek TH>Tammany>TH>Racoon Ridge>TH(via AT) Awful stomach, just plain awful. Whatever stomach big I had the week prior seemed to come back in the middle of the night, so even leaving the house was probably a foolish idea. Couldn’t eat much of anything or the duration of the day (including breakfast) combined with wicked heartburn and a general queasiness throughout the day. Legs felt fine, which is encouraging, but a bonky run is always frustrating, especially when you’re neither physically or emotionally prepared for it.

Totals: 28.1 Miles, 4774′ 4h47m 
—————————————-

Mon Dec 8, 3 Miles 151′ 21:49
Usual Monday shakeout, starting to trend a little faster now, which is usually a good sign of incoming fitness, but something I should make a deliberate effort to hold off on, it’s supposed to be a recovery effort after all.

Tues Dec 9, 5 Miles 636′ 38:57
Exercise induced heartburn. Undoubtedly one of the most frustrating things going on with my body right now, especially considering how easily (chemically) controlled it is… note: keep tums in your shorts.
PM Climbing 
Generally feeling weak. I should know better than to expect to have a shitty day in one activity that requires a certain synergy between mind and body and then expect to do better in the same day at something comparably mentally and physically challenging.

Wed Dec 10, 5.5 Miles 1122′ 47:27
Reger Road Repeats. 5x the ~215′ climb (over 0.4 miles) up the hill nearest my home. Maximal effort on the ascent followed by a pseudo-jog back to the base. Huge positive splits over the course of the day, and kind of a disappointing amount of willingness to suffer anaerobically.

Thurs Dec 11, 10 Miles 758′ 1h23m
True Recovery effort. Quads were generally shot from Wednesday’s hill effort, and heartburn reared it’s ugly head again, thankfully Donde Es had some tums in his trunk saving me from more discomfort than necessary.

Fri Dec 12, 3 Miles 151′ 21:19
Feeling a lot peppier today than expected, especially with regards to how shitty my legs felt upon getting out of bed.

Sat Dec 13, 10 Miles, 935′ 1h8m
Last minute schedule changes convinced me to toss the long-run for the weekend and instead try a hilly tempo out my front door. Slight cramping showed up in my left calf, which is a definite first for me, but otherwise things felt really good, super-consistent heart rate, only 1BPM above MAF range.

Sun Dec 14, 5 Miles 689′ 38:32
Supposed to be a recovery run, but instead seemed to get a little out of hand… or at least on paper it looks a little more out of hand. Knocked off one Strava segment while coming within 1s of another all while maintaining what seemed like a rather comfortable/sustainable effort throughout.

Totals: 41.7 Miles 4452′ 5h20m

—————————————

Mon Dec 15, 5 Miles, 676′ 36m38s
Exhausted after work and Manhattan commuting, but forced myself out of the house after getting home, and running trails by headlamp for the first time since May. Legs were feeling exceptionally poppy, and I’m starting to get a lot more comfortable moving at a higher sustained effort/pace. I think using the HRM intermittently is becoming a great tool for quantifying my general effort level, and acknowledging what kind of effort is actually sustainable.

Tues Dec 16, 1 Mile, 23′ 7m30s 
Streak-keeper before work/holiday party.

Wed Dec 17, 6.5 Miles 1257′ 52m44s
Workout Wednesday. 6X Reger Road sprints with ~90 second break after 3rd repeat. This week had a LOT closer grouping between the slowest and quickest repeat, with a delta of only 28seconds as opposed to lat weeks ~1min differential.

Thurs Dec 18, 11.4 Miles, 886′ 1h31m
Felt okay throughout most of the run, with a few middle miles feeling downright peppy. Mild heartburn show up again at the midway point, followed by the wheels slowly falling off over the final 3 miles. A few hip twinges and general overall tightness combined with some latent fatigue prevented a generally strong finish.

Fri Dec 19, 3 Miles 151′  21m43s
Strava keeps telling me that this route is trending upward… and maybe its a good thing that my “shakeout” road pace is in the low 7’s… although somewhere deep in my stomach I still think this might be too quick for a run designed purely to move some blood through my tired legs.

Saturday Dec 20, 20 Miles, 3497′ 3h55m
High Point>Sunrise Mountain>High Point Failure, pure failure. Undoubtedly the most desultory effort I can think of in at least 18 months, maybe more. I’ve run this route once before in 2012 and while there were a few inches of snow on the ground hiding the rocks, I don’t recall it being anywhere near as technically demanding as it seemed today, in fact I was holy convinced that every step of the route should be reasonably runnable. Setting high expectations for a route is usually the first step towards failure, combining this with a couple of nasty falls (one seems to have banged up my knee pretty well) took what should have been a relatively consistent and strong effort and turned it into a slog of epic proportions. My 1:37 split to Sunrise Mountain was respectable, but already being furious with the obscene technical nature of the trail, slight bonking, and a banged up knee and ankle turned into the worst positive splits I’ve amassed since 2011 or 2012. Looking back at my entry from 2012 on the same route, I managed a 3:39 with only a 13 min positive split… so expecting similar positive splits today, this should have taken ~30 mins off of that effort. Instead it ended up being +25mins. I’ve been doing this sport long enough to know that a single shitty effort is not indicative of fitness, chutzpa, or ability, but such an abysmal outing is surely enough to knock around your confidence.

Sunday Dec 21 OFF

Totals: 46.9 Miles 6499′ 7h25m

My Camera hasn’t been too active lately, so enjoy some photo’s from the picturesque Thanksgiving weekend…

Sunfish Pond

Steve’s first Mt. Tammany

Somewhere on the Kittatinny Ridge

Tammany #27 on the year

Ran into Dr. Lundeen on Summit #28


Rising from the ashes

For the first time since May, I’m finally feeling like myself in my running shoes. This is perhaps a slight exaggeration; I’m still substantially over race weight, don’t really have any long legs yet, and seem to have forgotten how to pace myself for anything lasting more than 2 hours.Considering the past several months however, I’ll take what I can get. Injuries are… a bitch. Not only do you suffer the inevitable insult of not being able to run for whatever length of time it takes to resolve the affliction, each progressive day without training leads to atrophy and apathy, making getting things going again only that much harder. In my head, the whole getting back “into shape” bit turns into a downward spiral of not wanting to train because you’re “out of shape” (this is a relative term) which only results in being more “out of shape” causing me to want to train less, which inevitably ends up with me sitting on my couch, fueled by Dominoes and Bulleit while trying to convince my friends that at one point I was a competitive runner.

My most recent bout of injury-induced sloth, was, according to my Physio, a result of high-mileage and an atrophied VMO which manifested itself as IT Band pain on my left leg. So, after about 5 weeks of doing exceptionally un-sexy exercises the pain went away, but the damage was done… almost 2 months lost (after you consider how long it took me to go see a physio) plus an underlying fear of pushing things too soon, and ending up doing even more lunges/small squats instead of running.

Obviously, any sort of injury-setback is less than ideal, it disrupts your life, training, racing, and in my case, usually my general happiness as well. But there is usually a silver lining as well. Injuries present an opportunity to learn. Learn about your body, your musculature, your gait, and why things have gone wrong. Armed with this information, we can prevent, or at the very least intervene earlier, to stay healthier longer.

As for the present, I’m rather bullish about 2015. I’ve finally got some legs under me, and plans laid out to keep them there. I’m also proud to announce that I’ve recently become an ambassador for BioSkin and have been using their calf sleeves for recovery the past few weeks with incredible results. While I’m still figuring out my 2015 schedule, I’m sure that it will at the very least include The North Face ECSNY (Jordan I think it’s your turn to bring a headlamp?) and most likely the Whiteface Sky Marathon. Also on my short list are the Tammany 10, UTHC, TNF Ontario, and maybe a 100 stuck in there somewhere.

Also, notice the new blog layout, you can follow me on Strava as Andrew Siegmund,  on Twitter @SiegmundRuns and on Instagram @Siegmundruns.

Allamuchy, One day I’ll start actually tallying these…

Obligatory ‘Muchy Shot

Looking West

Never Gets Old

Summary Sept 9-15

Monday Sept 9, AM 7 Miles, 940′ 45m20s
Usual road route from the house, and first day putting any “real” (as in definitively not-jogging) effort on the ankle. Legs felt incredibly fresh (Several days off will do that) and the ankle feels solid.
PM 7 Miles, 940′ 44m32s
I’ve always tended to run by “feel” mostly because of my reluctance to buy a GPS watch, and partially out of a philosophical desire to diminish the amount of external information regarding my run available to me on the actual run. This being said, I had planned to go out really easily ~30-40seconds per mile slower than the mornings run, but to be frank, it simply felt good to move a bit harder.

Tuesday Sept 10 AM 11.5 Miles, 1140′ 1h31m
Super-humid and generally awful (see: dehydrated) feeling road run. Legs were feeling solid, but my head/stomach/rest of my body just wasn’t along for the ride.
PM 4.5 Miles, 1420′ 45m Super-easy run with the Salt guys. Also, first time on trail after the ankle-roll… overall it felt solid, although an off-camber step on one rock did cause me concern for a few steps.

Wed Sept 11 AM 7 Miles, 940′ 48m18s
Again, a relatively easy jaunt from the house, feeling pretty solid, with nothing to particularly complain about.
PM 1.5 Miles, 14m Dreadmill session after hitting the weights. 10 mins at 15% incline (varying speed to whatever I could hang on to)

Thurs Sept 12 AM 20 Miles, 2280′ 2h48m 
Primarily I wanted to see what kind of long legs/brain I had in the middle of the week, with humidity. A combination of under-hydration and thunderstorms slowed me down a bit, but my stomach remained solid, and even allowed me to drink a liter mid-run (refuel stop) as well as two 20oz bottles on the run without complaining whatsoever (that said, the heat/humidity still drained me out pretty well)
PM 3 Miles, 160′ 25m37s Hashers run–abbreviated due to some gnarly thunderstorms coming in

Fri Sept 13 AM 7 Miles, 940′ 50m07s 
Primarily shaking the funk out of my legs from Thursdays outing before sitting in the lifeguard chair for the day.

Sat Sept 14 AM 17 Miles, 3250′ 2h5m
Saturday Long run group. Left from Chester for a road-route through Pottersville (Hacklebarney, Black River Area) Really should have brought my camera, because it was by far and away the prettiest road run I’ve done in NJ thus far. I was expecting that the residual fatigue from Thurs would be heavy in my legs, but in actuality I felt remarkably good all day. Last mile was a bit of a hunger-thirst push, but nothing that actually having a gel in my pocket, and carrying water wouldn’t have fixed.

Sun Sept 15 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h14m 
A little tired/banged up from the day before, but nothing substantially annoying, as seems to be the trend for the week… should have drank more water.

Totals: 95.5 Miles, 13,110′
Generally a big-road oriented week, which  wouldn’t be my usual preference going into a trail-ultra, but I wanted to make sure that I took care of my ankle as best as I could whilst running on it, and that usually means staying off of the gnar whenever possible. Much to my amazement, my ankle seems to have healed up pretty well, no more bruising, hardly any noticeable weakness, and absolutely no post-workout discomfort. In spite of this weeks lack of trail mileage (~5%) I’m feeling remarkably comfortable/confident going into MoMa in 2 weeks. My legs are climbing and descending really well, and perhaps more importantly, this was the most comfortable near-100 mile week I can remember.

Summary August 26 – September 8

Monday August 26, 10 Miles, 1,100′ 1h7m 
Neighborhood loop after a few days off trying to shake a niggle out of the lateral side of my right calf. Feeling solid on a moderately sustained effort.
PM 4 Miles, 350′ 32m40s Evening Shakeout

Tuesday August 27, 11.6 Miles, 3920′ 2h3m Pretty hard blow-up out at Allamuchy, after a few weeks of unseasonable coolness, August decided to return to let me know how little of my heat acclimation was still around.

Wed August 28,  3.3 Miles 2440′ 42m32s Singular loop out at Mt. Tammany, thunderstorms brought the fun to an end far before planned.

Thurs August 29, 5 Miles 360′ 38m29s Broken Shin Loop

Fri August 30 AM 6 Miles, 350′ 42m28s Easy road run through the local neighborhoods
PM 6 Miles, 1560′ 56m10s Tourne park with Brian. Taking things kind of easy for the afternoon in attempt to have some pep in my legs for Saturdays outing with some new folks.

Sat August 31, 18 Miles, 3000′ 2h18m I was invited by a neighbor of mine to join his marathon training group for some Saturday long runs, and all things considered, who am I to decline a chance to meet some new running partners. He described it as a training group for “2:50-3:05” marathoners, with no particular club affiliation (which is always nice) It did turn out that they’re loosely associated with Runners Haven (the stores owner is one of the founders of the training group) which is a local mom and pop style running store, and a rather nice one to boot. Everyone was remarkably friendly, as well as consistent throughout the run, which took us all over Randolph including the towns trail system and some pretty gnarly-steep road climbs.Overall things felt pretty good, although I should have probably hydrated a little more effectively, as the last 5k or so felt pretty tough.
18 mins (2 Miles) Barefoot

Sunday Sept 1, 7 Miles, 940′ 50m
Surprisingly banged up from he previous days 20, c’est la vie

Monday Sept 2, 2.5 Miles, 18m
Treadmill workout (thunderstorms) before I got called into work mid-stride.
PM 4.6 Miles, 1340′ 44m41s Tourne with Brian… turns out that it was stormy at the pool as well, so we decided that we might as well go running.

Tuesday Sept 3, 15 Miles, 5100′ 2h33m Dunfield Creek>Next Fire Road Via AT and back. I forgot how gnarly a lot of this terrain really is, which really seemed to slow me down, nevermind the fact that it was a pretty serious net-gain (~1000′ pos diff). I would have been able to make up a good amount of time had I not rolled my ankle near Sunfish Pond and been reduced to a gimpy limp for the remaining 4 miles to my car (and thus losing out on one of the best sustained descents in the state). When I got home, my left ankle had swollen to the size of a baseball, and wouldn’t agree with taking on any weight.

Wed- OFF

Thurs- OFF

Fri Sept 6, 1 Mile, 7m44s
 Feeling surprisingly okay, no pain in my ankle, no sense of major distrust on lateral movements.

Sat Sept 7, 3.1 Miles, 20m44s Again, pain free…. maybe diving into hardcore recovery has worked out?

Sun Sept 8, 7 Miles 940′ 47 Feeling rather good, no pain, no additional swelling.

Overall, kind of a disappointing first week (volume-wise) and second week through a major curveball with the whole respraining my ankle bit. This is the third time this summer that I’ve rolled the same ankle, with each successive turn being marginally worse than the one that preceded it. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to appropriately deal with it, mostly a combination of Ice, Hot/Cold Therapy, immediate rehab with regards to maintaining/recovering range of motion, Arnica, and consuming a certifiable fuckton of pineapple, turmeric, and Omega 3’s (all natural anti-inflammatories). Right now, things feel solid again, and tomorrow evening I’m thinking of testing things out on some trail which will hopefully inform me enough to make my final decision regarding Mountain Madness at the end of the month (although at time of writing I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to toe the line in the shape I’d like to be in)

Kittatinny Ridge just North of Sunfish Pond

Coolers make the best ice baths

Tammany

Summary July 8-21

Monday July 8 AM 10 Miles, 2960′ 1h19m 
Usual double-power-line loop, average pace
PM 4 Miles, 350′ 31m26s 
Shakeout-ish evening run, nothing particularly special, just a cop-out sort of way to get a few extra miles in.

Tuesday July 9 AM 7 Miles, 980′ 49m12s 
Pretty normal around-town pavement session, settling into a pretty regular 7-ish minute pace on the route, which feels relatively easy on this particular route, for whatever that’s worth, I guess the consistency is nice though.
PM 8 Miles, 2360′ 1h7m 
Kittatinny State Park with the Salt-guys. I was expecting to take it relatively easy this particular night, but on the second half, Adam decided to give me a reason to breathe a little heavier. It’s strange running with a target on your back, and not something I really like to do when I’ve mentally planned a lighter effort… but I guess my inner competitor really doesn’t like being out-done… or something to that effect.

Wed July 10 AM 5 Miles, 1480′ 40m49s Really crappy feeling power-line loop… but at least I got to see Phish in the evening (dancing counts towards mileage right?)
Set 1: Llama, Wolfman’s Brother, Sample in a Jar, Julius, Halley’s Comet > Bathtub Gin, Lawn Boy, Ya Mar, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Theme From the Bottom > Suzy Greenberg
Set 2: Crosseyed and Painless > Harry Hood > Axilla > Sand > Light> Good Times Bad Times > Slave to the Traffic Light, Rocky Top > Cavern
Encore: Possum

Thurs July 11 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h14m
Snappy-ish neighborhood road run. I really need to start harnessing the gumption to really crank down the pace on this route (PR is somewhere in the 1:04:xx range) but it seems like the best I can muster is going out on the roads to save the few minutes that the power line loops cost me in vert/technicality.
PM 8 Miles, 1020′ 1h9m
Really miserable feeling run with the Highlands guys… first 4 or 5 were okay, but wheels fell off hardcore…. c’est la vie.

Fri July 12 AM 3.3 Miles, 2440′ 39m59s 
Intended to run some serious repeats on Tammany, but my legs had absolutely no pop, and my stop on the summit almost turned into a nap on the summit… I probably could have eaten a clif-bar, napped in my car and headed back up the mountain for the afternoon, but realistically I just wasn’t feeling the vibe… and spent the whole ride home knotting my fists about the complete waste of gas it was to spend twice as long in the car as I did on the mountain.

Sat July 13 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h15m 
Another road-jaunt
PM 7 Miles, 940′ 50m 
Ditto

Sun July 14 AM 7 Miles 940′ 52m28s
Shitty road run

Totals: 79.3 Miles, 15,670′ Vert

Monday July 15 AM 10 Miles, 2960′ 1h19m
Pretty normal/consistent run through the power-lines
PM 5 Miles, 1480′ 38m42s
Finally feeling like myself on the power line trails, starting to (finally) get used to the residual fatigue/general slogginess that has been my legs for the past several weeks, which means that I can more easily grunt through the  annoyances.

Tuesday July 16 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h16m
I’m trying to work some roads in mostly to pretend that I’m going to run them at a faster click, but in reality I doubt the 3-4 min total difference between the road 10 miles and the power line 10 miles is doing me any favors… maybe the repetitive motion of road running has some validity?
PM 7 Miles, 1180′ 50m 
Kittatinny State Park with Mike. Really cranked things a lot faster than I was expecting, in fact I was working as a serious anchor for a good portion of the run. It’s great to learn some new trail systems however, as well as pretend I can hang on the heels of a proper NCAA athlete.
3Mins barefooting in the field as cooldown

Wed July 17 AM 5 Miles, 1480′ 38m23s
Kind of crummy feeling morning run, tired, laggy legs led to cutting things a bit short.
PM 1 Mile Barefoot 9:03

Thurs July 18 AM 10 Miles, 2960′ 1h18m 
Reasonably good feeling run on the power line trails, Maybe it’s the increased familiarity with the course, or perhaps it’s just the return to consistent moderately high mileage (which my mine and body seem to really jive with) but I’m feeling a greater sense of comfort with the heat, as well as the hills, not that I’m working any less hard, but rather that the sustained effort is becoming routine.
PM 6 Miles, 720′ 46m6s
Broken Shin loop with an added mile beforehand. My legs were feeling kind of crappy, but my mind/stomach were in good shape which allowed me to push pretty well, especially up the hills.

Fri July 19, AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h14m 
Usual road route, a little quicker than in recent weeks, but still long-off from what I’m capable of… the urge to really crank this route is growing…
PM 2 miles, 14m47s 
Easy little shakeout.

Sat July 20, 20 miles, 3200′ 2h48m
Allamuchy loop with an added extension on the rail trail. Super-hot and humid, for the past several weeks has left all of the streams I usually cross completely dry, which meant no respite from he oppressive heat of the day until I got to Cranberry Lake… which unfortunately reminded me more of my bathtub than a swimming hole. I also rolled my ankle a twinge coming off of the overlook, which caused me to re-evaluate the course for the day (original course was going to have more tech/vert). Things feel fine at time of writing, but it was a bit of a scare coming off of the gnarly roll the same ankle had a few weeks prior.

Sun July 21 AM 15 Miles, 4440′ 2h3m
Power Line trails… slightly dehydrated, and generally uncomfortable. I had to really concentrate hard to not let myself hike the couple of steep inclines on the 3rd loop (remembering KOLB’s heroic effort at the VT 100 the day before helped (19:58:xx))
PM 8 Miles… Hash

Totals:  109 Miles 20,620′ Vert 

Finally back into the hundred-mile-a-week range. For some reason the 100 mile week has always been an unusually challenging arbitrary landmark… and something I’ve still only done a handful of times in the past several years. Realistically I’m pretty banged up today, but my legs seem to be shaking off the funk after a few miles, and really being able to dig in pretty well. I’d like to also get out and hit more “true” trails in the upcoming weeks, as well as generally increase my vert along with the mileage as I start to get more specific about some fall races.

Allamuchy Round 1

‘Muchy Round 2

Planning some August adventures

Injury(ish?)

They always star out the same way: just a little niggle on a shakeout run, nothing to really worry about, you say to yourself “well, I’ll see how it feels tomorrow, no need to do anything yet” or some other trivial affirmation in an attempt to avoid the inevitable. It’s still there the next day, and the day after that, and before you know it, that approach of “meh, it’ll feel better in a day or two” has only exacerbated your little niggle into something more serious. So now you start testing it going down the stairs, kicking a soccer ball with the dog, and running across the street to avoid being the victim of vehicular homicide. Those days turn into a week, and before you know it, that slight discomfort is now something you’re really concerned about, something that might even convince you to *gasp* take a day off.

After the Bear Mountain race, I started this very familiar sequence of convincing myself that I wasn’t hurt, when in reality I was. I had taken a few diggers over the course, and one of those involved my left knee doing battle with an oak tree, which inevitably it lost. Of course during the first few days after the race, nothing seemed unusual, mostly because I was spending all of my time either sleeping, or on the couch, so it was pretty hard to really tell what was going on with my legs… I mean I just ran 50 miles, everything did (and should) hurt. But when I started moving again, there was that familiar niggle, this time on the medial side of my left knee… nothing to worry about yet, but that’s always a slippery slope.

You see like every stubborn runner, I’ve always been afraid to actually admit that I’m hurt… and this is obviously counter-productive. It’s probably a result of some misguided machismo, and fear. Lots of fear. Fear that if I’m actually hurt, then my fitness is inevitably going to recede, and as everyone knows, it’s a hell of a lot easier to stay fit than it is to get fit. Foolishly however, it seems that when we take time off for that minor discomfort it will heal, wherein when we continue to do the same thing we always do, which is to say run, on a RUNNING injury, it’s likely to get worse, forcing an even longer layoff, and the actualization of those fears we were trying to avoid.

Last year, if anyone cares to remember, I had some pretty gnarly IT band problems as a result of over-training, and then racing 50 miles. This cost me the majority of the summer as far as running is concerned, seeing as I didn’t feel reasonably healthy until roughly August, and even then, I had lost several months of maintenance-training, nevermind opportunities to improve. So, with this knowledge, I decided that this time, I’d seek professional help at the onset of my discomfort, and try to salvage my running season as best as I could. (there might have been some help from my mother)

After a visit to a physical therapist, it was concluded that I have sprained my MCL, but fortunately it’s basically healed right now (although still tender). This is good news, since in spite of my lack of posting in recent weeks, I’ve been pretty regular about running (albeit at significantly reduced volume). Unfortunately means that I’m going to have to withdraw my entrance to the Cayuga Trails 50 next week, because even if I’m healthy enough to run it, my lack of mileage in the past 3 or so weeks compounded with my lack of complete trust in my left leg really only means that running the race will either result in a DNF, or worse, an injury, neither of which am I really willing to drive 8 hours round trip to deal with. While disappointed about missing what looks to be a tremendous race, I’m much more concerned with salvaging a summer’s worth of running, and not losing several months of training as a result of hubris.

This means that for the present, I’m relegating myself to dealing primarily with road-running since lateral movements are still a bit iffy, and with a little bit of luck (and ice, lots of ice) I should be able to pretty quickly resume high-volume training, and get back onto the racing scene. In the meantime, maybe I’ll go hiking, that sounds like a good idea… and I guess I should kick that ball around with my dog more, since for once, I seem to have more energy than her.

Summary Oct 14-20

Sunday Oct 14, 7 Miles 220′ :58 Early morning run with Gene and Dave. Both Gene and Dave are “getting back into shape” which translates to training extremely cautiously after having some bouts with injuries. Part of their plan it seems, is to run a lot of rail trails, for while I’m more than happy to tag along, after all, they’re great company, and even when they’re “getting into shape” they’re pretty quick (trust me, even though this time doesn’t reflect speed… it also started before dawn)

Monday Oct 15, 7 Miles 410′ :49 Solid feelings through the back-roads. The sunrises over fall foliage have been great, I really should start bringing the camera on my road runs as well.

Tuesday Oct 16, 7 Miles, 410′ 46:48 Quick repeat of Mondays course, time would be near a personal best on course, but I had to make a pit stop at mile 5 or so, which required stopping the watch, and finding some leaves (fortunately it’s autumn) which functionally invalidates the time as a continuous effort. The stopwatch does however reflect total time spent running.

Wed Oct 17 AM, 4 Miles, 175′ 29:56 Feeling lazy, short run. I’m still grappling with the whole running in the morning thing, and the requirements of…. getting out of my bed.
PM 2 Miles, 16:18 Guilt miles, I couldn’t let myself get away with a light morning when my legs felt good.

Thurs Oct 18 AM 3 Miles 21:45 Light loosening up before the day starts. I’m finding that I really prefer not to leave the house for “life” until I get in something at least resembling a run.
PM 5 Miles 360′ 38:47 Highlands Hashers “Ace of Pace” night. Basically, state the finish time you expect, and then try to get as close as possible without using a watch. I finished +27 from my estimated total of 38:20. John won overall, with +7 (or was it -7) Bob got the broken clock award, being off by several minutes (although he was admittedly racing Luis, and ignoring the prediction part)

Fri Oct 19 1 Mile, 8:54 Tired/beat up/lazy/no real good excuse. I suppose since I’m not “really” training for anything I’m allowing this day to be a mulligan… plus it’s probably good to rest a bit while I have the chance.

Sat Oct 20 11.6 Miles 1500′ 1:48 Allamuchy in the late morning/early afternoon. Yea, that’s more like it. This is what running is really about for me, single-track, trees, vert, rocks, mud… Really positive on the first couple of splits, with a 15:57 ascent, 7:19 from peak to the scout parking lot, and back up to the peak in another 8:30 or so. Unfortunately, my over-zealous first hour came to wreak havoc on my energy levels on the final 5k or so, proving that I’ve lost all sense of pacing on trails. It does seem, however, that babying my right knee for the summer, especially while hitting major vert in ME, has made me incredibly more confident in my left leg, which made for some snappy and exciting descents, as well as adding to an overall cavalier attitude on the most technical portions.

Totals: 47.6 Miles, 3078′ Vert

Me Gene and Dave Sunday morning

Back in my natural state

Summary Sept 9-15

Sunday Sept 9 AM 10 Miles 410′ 1:20 Ran through Parsippany with John, started by hitting a few hills, then running around the lake. Longest consecutive run in months, I’ve hit the distance over the summer, but usually on technical trails requiring at least some hiking, but being on a road leads to really consistent pacing/effort for the entire duration. Knee feels good, also, fantastic sunrise over the lake… should have brought the camera.

Monday Sept 10 AM 5 Miles 740′ :41 Short morning jaunt through the powerline course, the overall run-time is slowly decreasing, and my body seems to be adjusting to the cup of coffee>run>then eat for real schedule.

Tues Sept 11 AM 7.1 Miles 410′ 50:28 Sort of hilly run up the ridge and back down using the local roads. Feeling a bit rough from the get-go after a night hanging out with some orchestra folks. Really content with the time though, letting my stride open up a bit, and trying t get more consistent rhythm/effort over slightly longer distances
PM 1 Mile Barefoot 8:53 Shakeout evening, whenever I’m starting to pile on “real” mileage, the barefooting seems to keep me in-line.

Wed Sept 12 AM 5 Miles 740′ 41:39 Solid effort over the power-lines, sadly it’s taken me this long to feel comfortable/consistent on what is really a very pedestrian course. More importantly, the longer-sustained climbs are becoming relatively easy, and I’m gaining a lot more confidence in my overall foot placement/trusting my right leg to sustain the amount of abuse required for serious trail-running.
PM 1 Mile 8:44 Barefoot When my barefoot miles start to get consistent, I stop feeling like a liar when I tell people I’m a runner…

Thurs Sept 13 PM 5 Miles 360′ 40:25 Broken Shin Loop with John, Bob, and Brian. First time in a while that everyone ran as a cohesive group, conversational at ~8min pace. Pumped up the pace for the last quarter while joking around with Bob, he still has a much better kick than I do.

Fri Sept 14 AM 5 Miles 740′ :41 Another Power Line trip, feeling reasonable.

Saturday Sept 15 AM 5 Miles 550′ 1:14 Pseudo-tempo road-run. I wanted to nail down a baseline 10-mile time/pace on semi-shitty legs so I have an idea of what kind of work I’ve got cut out for myself. Surprisingly happy with the outcome, since the base for this course was in the 1:15 range last April as well…
PM 3 Miles 645′ 28:19 Allamuchy TH>Summit and directly back via yellow>blue blazes. Too nice outside to not get some hill time, even though it was probably ill-advised.

Totals: 52.1 Miles, 4585′ 6h54m
Longest mileage week since May, (although my week in Maine came close in overall time, it was much more vert-oriented, without the actual distance). I think I can begin to consider myself a runner again, as opposed to some sort of recreationalist/hobby jogga type. More encouragingly, if I can continue on this trajectory without re-injuring myself, I should be in much better shape at the turn of the year than I was last year. With the temperatures cooling, and the leaves starting to change, I’m really hoping that I can stay healthy, and begin to enjoy what’s certainly my favorite part of the year to be on-trail.

Summary: August 19-25

Sunday August 19
???? Miles, ???’ ??:??
Hash day, I honestly have no clue how much distance we covered, in what time we did it, or how much vert there was or wasn’t. Course was laid by Road Scholar and Hairy Palmer, and was definitely one of, if not the best laid hash of the year. Forded a river for about a mile, ran some pretty ideal trail, bushwacked up a decent size hill (tourne?) then bombed back down it with Roadie afterwards. Left my ITB strap at home, which proved to be of no disadvantage, since everything was solid for the duration… drinking beer the whole time might have been helpful though….

Monday August 20
5 Miles 740′ 43:42
Really pedestrian jaunt through the Power Line trails, nothing spectacular to mention on either the positive, or the negative side of things.

Tuesday August 21
5 Miles 740′ 41:35
Busted out my (now very beat up) Trail Gloves to try to make lemonade with regards to my slower times. The lack of protection (these do have a rock plate, but it it’s the protective equivalent of putting a band-aid on a bullet wound when you’re trying to run really rocky trail) usually forces me to go a lot slower, and concentrate much more on my footing and foot placement. While no shoes I wear are particularly clunky, these are by a long shot my lightest pair, which, I think in turn makes me a better runner in the long run. Much to my surprise, this is my fastest time on this course since the injury (and still… ~4 mins behind PR)
PM 1, 1.24 Miles 15:00 Ivan Drago Secret Training Project
PM 2, 1 Mile 9:08 Evening Barefootin’

Wed August 22
5 Miles 740′ 42:27 
Another very average Power Line run. Becoming more consistent overall, but positive splitting pretty heavily, and not really taking advantage of the topography the way I should (struggling uphill, being a wuss downhill)
PM 1 Mile 9:20 Barefootin’

Thurs August 23
1 Mile 335′ 13:40
Local park/powerlines over by Mooney Mountain. Really direct line up the hill, followed by some nonsensical switchbacking on the descent. Probably would have been a lot faster had I not consistently lost track of where the trail was, but really, I can’t complain about a proper mile with 335′ of ascent and descent….
PM 5 Miles 360′ 40:30
Broken Shin Loop with the usual suspects. Dave and Bob went ahead while Luis and I slogged our way through the loop. Feeling sluggish, tired, and generally out of shape. I guess it’s a good sign that feeling like crap I’m still running what would have been an average time on course… although I’d prefer to still be feeling fresh with such a modest weekly mileage.

Friday August 24
5 Miles 740′ 41:53
Finally feeling comfortable, and consistent on the power lines… no good news, no bad news… no news is good news.

Saturday August 25
6 Miles 290′ :48
Roads around town, no pain, no real discomfort at all. Legs felt a little heavy (did a leg workout Friday evening)   but otherwise no worse for the wear.

Totals: 35.24 Miles, 3945′ 4h47m
Finally feeling like I have some semblance of a groove going on. If you add in the hash, which should have been ~5 miles, then I’m actually over 40 for the first time in months. (of course, I don’t count hash mileage as part of my log) Although my legs seem to be taking a long time to warm-up (I usually don’t feel good until 3 or 4 miles into a run) it’s fantastic to simply not be suffering, and not have any knee pain. I figure that if I can maintain this sort of volume for another couple of weeks, then I can finally begin doing some more ambitious runs, and behaving more like myself on the trails.

An older video of a buddy of mine from college. Gotta represent some UNH music now and again.