Hints of Normalcy

I’m (not) back. This past week I was able to scrounge together a seemingly normal running week for the first time in what seems like ages. Six consecutive days of running (Mon-Sat) with ~23 miles, and even a couple grand worth of Vert. While this is really chump change mileage-wise in comparison to the volume I prefer to run, nevermind the volume that I had thought I’d be putting in over the summer, I’ll take it. After several weeks of not running, running in pain, or running hesitantly, I’m beginning to fully see how massive a part of my life this really is.

While I choose to arbitrarily quantify my “weekly” totals with regard to the literal calendar week (Sun-Sat) today marks my 8th consecutive day of running, and 3rd consecutive day of getting on trail/some not so embarrassing vert (~140’/mile). While I’m certainly not in the sort of shape I’d like to be in at this part of the year (how can you not want to run all day during the summer…) I’ve managed to maintain a pretty fair amount of fitness, which I can really only attribute to the solid base I had until I got hurt, as well as some diligent gym visits utilizing both strength and cross-training.

As for the future? Right now it’s hard to really consider where the next several weeks are going to take me leg-wise, as after a modest 14 miles on trail over 3 days, my knee is feeling a slight bit twingy, which means, to me, that it isn’t fully prepared for the full on assault that my idea of ultra-marathon training would require. With this in mind, both Running With The Devil and Wildcat Ridge are officially off of my schedule although it looks like I will be at least crewing for Dave (and possibly Gene) at Wildcat. If things continue to progress at this rate, I could potentially be prepared to run at Wildcat, but I think the risks outweigh the desire to race. I am still rather convinced that I’ll run at Jay Peak but I’m mentally preparing myself for the possibility that I will either not be fully healed, or not be in the kind of shape I’d require of myself to undertake it as a race (and I’m not so interested in running ultras for the sake of running ultras). Beyond that, my plans are very much up in the air, I’m eyeing Mountain Madness which looks like a good course up in the Ramapo range, and I really should toe the line at some NJ race this year… I’m also flirting with running another road marathon, but that depends heavily on my ability and willingness to train specifically for a road race, so only time will really tell on that one.

Courtesy of ON

Finally back on the hill in my natural form… excepting the garter belt…

Rebuilding

After spending the better part of May sitting on the couch complaining about how nice the weather is, I think I’m starting to turn the corner in my ITBS healing process. Unfortunately (for me) the only reliable way to properly recover from an overuse injury such as this is plain and simple rest. Of course, like any over-zealous 20-something, I managed to fail in my original attempt at resting, making it about 14 days without running before I restarted, only to run 6 miles of trail on my 3rd day back, successfully re-aggravating my condition (although much less painful than the initial flaring, so the resting wasn’t for naught). So, after that I decided that my best bet was to refrain from running for at least another 10 days, but begin cross-training as soon as things felt normal again (in a day to day walking stair-climbing sense of normal).
So this time around, I’m approaching my return to running in a very different manner. I’ve never been a fan of weight lifting, or the gym in general, but the obvious weaknesses in my hip abductors, as well as the relative weakness in my core yields a breakdown in my running form over a long mountain race, which is fundamentally unsustainable without some sort of intervention. So, following my mother’s advice (note: she’s a personal trainer, which makes her maternal concerns/advice a good deal more valid[or at least I’d like to think it does]) I’ve joined a Gym. Yes, I have begun to lift things up and put them down. My primary goal is, in the short-term, to salvage as much strength/fitness as possible through a combination of strength training, and low-impact cardio. In the long term I’m hoping to build more strength overall to stave off late race fade, and postpone the inevitable breakdown in form late in a race. With some luck (and diligence) this should help to reduce the likelihood that I find myself laid out again after a long racing effort, and should in turn reduce my injury rate in the long term.
As far as actual running is concerned, my plan as of now, is to begin running lightly in the upcoming week, increasing my mileage at an uncharacteristically prudent rate for at least the first few weeks while utilizing my new-found gym access to build some additional strength. I’ve also begun applying twice-daily therapeutic ultrasound to my IT band, which helps repair tissue on a cellular level by increasing blood flow, and breaking down scar-tissue. With some luck, I’ll be able to salvage some late summer race plans, and fully take advantage of a couple of New England trips I have planned in the next month.
Bonnaroo is happening this weekend, so here are some Jersey bred guys to kick off the summer.

Bear Mountain Video

This is of course, inherently self-serving, (but isn’t the point of a blog self-serving anyhow?), but Dave has just posted the video from the NF 50 over at the Highlands Hashers blog.

Thanks Dave!!!

NF Bear Mountain Race Report

Like almost any race that starts as early as this one did (5am) one of the initial concerns is simply getting some sleep the night before. So, after a couple of hours under the covers, Dave, Gene, Sean and I woke up grabbed some coffee, and hit the road to pickup my bib and timing chip right before the start of the race.
Start to Anthony Wayne
Crossing the line at 5am, the course went immediately into the trails, as the leading runners fell into a single file group of about 30 runners, packed in rather tightly, especially considering that the sun wasn’t rising any time soon, forcing everyone to run with headlamps. With the course trending uphill, through mostly technical trail, the initial clump began to split. The runners fundamentally sorted into 2 groups, the lead pack, and a chase pack, although getting to the first aid station the chase pack was only a few hundred yards behind. Already carrying a handheld, I didn’t do anything at the aid station other than hand over my singlet to my crew.
Anthony Wayne to  Silvermine
 Leaving the first aid station, we started heading uphill, right back on technical trail, with a good amount of single-track. This seemed to be the section where most of the initial position jockeying would happen, as runners were beginning to get a feel for what the days running would be like, as well as the sort of trails that were were going to be in store for for the remainder of the day. When I hit the aid station, I dropped off my headlamp, and exchanged my now empty handheld for a freshly filled one.
Silvermine to Arden Valley Road
Honestly, I don’t recall very much during this section, other than some moderate jockeying for position, and a couple of really sweet downhills. I’m pretty sure that it was during this section that I linked up with Ryan and Jason, with whom I’d run through mile 27. Arden Valley would be the first aid station without crew access, and as a result of it being used for both the 50 Mile and the Marathon being run that day, they were limiting GU’s to one per runner, which meant that in the large gap of time between crew sightings I would exhaust my supply of GU(note: I was carrying up to4 GU’s at a time, which was ~2 hours of food, seeing as I would consume 1 GU every 30 minutes)
Arden Valley Road to Lake Skannatati
This was a relatively uneventful section of trail, excepting my now dwindling supplies. The group that we were running with had reduced from 6 or 7 to now 3, Ryan who would eventually DNF, and Jason who would end up finishing in 8th place. When we hit the aid station we all decided to take a little more time, drink as much as we could, and try to resupply before the long stretch of trail we had coming up.
Lake Skannatati to Camp Lanowa
The longest section of trail without any aid, this was also the most challenging portion of trail. Jason Ryan and I had decided to stick together until Lake Skannatati at the very least, knowing that running as part of a group is always much better than running alone, since it relieves you of the individual pacing burden, and the comradery takes your mind off of the mounting discomforts. By the time I finally got to Camp Lanowa, I was feeling a bit tired, and my feet were getting rather beat up from the constant wetness, and dirt coming into my shoes, so knowing that from here on out, I would have a pacer, I took a few moments to refill my supplies, finally put on some socks, and pound a redbull before Gene and I took off down the trail again.
Camp Lanowa to Tiorati 
But Gene, my legs hurt! In spite of loading up at the aid station, and finally putting on socks (which felt unbelievably good) I was still lagging from the previous sections grind. Gene was brilliant in encouraging an uphill powerhike, and downhill run strategy through this leg, and pushing me just enough to keep me moving well, without pushing too hard. When we hit the aid station, Gene asked them what place I was in, which turned out to be 15th overall, so we stocked up, and hit the trail, after first being left behind by another 50 miler, putting me in 16th overall.
Tiorati to Anthony Wayne
Hey, do you think you can catch that guy? This was arguably the nicest section of trail, rolling single-track, not very rocky (finally, something without F***ing rocks!!) and after a mile or so, we began to see 50k and marathoners for the first time in the day. Everybody loves having a carrot in front of them, so seeing other runners in front of me, I started to rely on my training miles, and start running at a good clip again, enjoying the fantastic trail, and picking off runners from the other races. When we got to Anthony Wayne, Sean was waiting with new handhelds for me, and I was able to exchange Gino for Dave heading into the final 10 miles.
Anthony Wayne to Queensboro
That ain’t so bad! What’s another 10 miles, right? feeling really beat up at this point, already 10 miles beyond my longest run, the alternation between feeling awesome, and like complete and total crap was in full-swing here. Gene had been a chatterbox for his pacing duties, alternating between trying to make me laugh, and trying to piss me off, Dave’s methods of distraction weren’t too dissimilar, but with a lot more singing. When we hit the Queensboro aid station, Dave subtlely let me know that the other 50 mile runner we ran into there had previously had a ~5 minute lead on me, so we hurriedly boogied out of the aid station (running obnoxiously quickly for the first 400 or so yards) to try to get a gap going.
Queensboro to 1777
This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around. With Dave acting as a human jukebox, he soon realized that any time he broke into some talking heads, I could run faster. Although with one of the most difficult, and rocky ascent/descents all I could think about was how much my feet hurt, and how desperately I wanted to be off of this (insert a torrent of expletives and negative adjectives here) mountain. After grinding through this section, we finally made it to the last aid station.
1777-Finish
This is water. This is water. Dave kept saying this to remind me to be in the moment here, enjoy this, accept this, and for Pete’s sake, just keep running. There was less than a 5k between here and the finish line, mostly downhill, on some comparatively forgiving trail. Running the final mile as hard as I possibly could, crossing the finish line was a truly tremendous experience. 9 Hours, 3 Minutes and 35 seconds on trail, 50 miles, 7038′ of vertical gain, 7038′ of vertical loss, 15th place overall.

This was arguably one of the most challenging, and coolest experiences I’ve ever had. I really can’t thank Gene, Dave and Sean enough for their support throughout the race, as well as their pacing, and general encouragement. I figured out that I ate 16 GU’s, a couple of handfuls of pretzels, 8 S! caps, 1 Redbull, a few glasses of Mountain Dew and a lot of fluids, which worked out exceptionally well, since I didn’t “bonk” at any point, and managed to urinate with a decent amount of regularity. Now, my entire body is sore, much more so than it’s ever been, but it’s a good sore, the kind of soreness that you know you’ve truly earned.

They even let me pretend to pour pints!

  

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.

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 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.

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

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.

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