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.

Summary April 15-21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Master Chef

Thinking Space

Summary April 1-7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Totals: 70.2 Miles, 8000′ Vert, 9h22m

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

Sometimes I need a bit of a rest…

Gino before we ran

Summary March 11-17

Sunday March 11 AM 5.1 Miles 740′ 40:09 Usual Power Line trip, trying to concentrate on maintaining consistency of effort throughout the rolling hills/alternation of technical trails, road, grass, and mud. feeling pretty happy about the ~8min pace that seems to be the average for the course.
PM 1 Mile 8:15 Shakeout, playing around with the latest zero-dropped New Balance road shoes that I picked up the week before.

Monday March 12 AM 11.6 Miles 1500′ 1:39 Allamuchy in stunningly gorgeous weather. Mid-60’s with clear blue skies, perfect for running shirtless. I took a gnarly digger somewhere around the 7 mile marker, after failing to see a stick stuck in the ground in the middle of the trail, which according to the log book is the first time I’ve fallen since Jan 23, so, I figure I was probably overdue.
PM 4 Miles 730′ :48 Met up with a friend for an afternoon shakeout run through Allamuchy, this is the first time in a while that I’ve run at such a moderate pace, which was probably for the better, I think this is something I should try to integrate more often, rather than running hard all of the time.

Tuesday March 13 AM 11.6 Miles 1500′ 1:42 Another stunning day on the mountain, I took off my t-shirt well before reaching the summit, making the fact that I even wore it to begin with seem abundantly silly, I suppose I need to get used to it being warm, and what the clothing requirements are going to be like….
1 Mile Barefoot 8:40 Hit up the local track on my way back home for a quick little shakeout, felt great to run on the track/grass for a bit.
PM 4.1 Miles 175′ 30:52 Night-time run through the neighborhood, trying to keep things loose, and keep my legs used to running without ample recovery time.

Wed March 14 AM 21 Miles 1300′ 2:56 Columbia trail and Schooley’s Mountain. The NF 50 involves a pretty substantial climb both at the beginning, and at the end of the race, so I’m trying to simulate it on my longer runs by starting out in my usual state of residual depletion, running up and down a mountain, then running for another hour or so, then running up and down a mountain again, this time on soggy legs. Other than the dehydration (~70 degrees) things went rather well, and the view from the summit was fantastic, sad I didn’t bring a camera…
PM 1 Mile 9:13 Finally, it’s warm enough to run barefoot in the evenings, I must have been pretty beat up, since usually my shakeouts are >9min pace….

Thurs March 15 AM 15.3 Miles 1300′ 2:10 Ran around town on the roads, at ~7:45 pace, then while deliberately under-fueled, headed up the power line trails (after a change of shoes) to try to hit up some vert/technical trails. Bonked really hard about a mile or so into the trail, but recovered by the time I made it back to the house, would have done another loop, but my ankle was being a little suspect, and the inevitability of a second bonk made hitting more trails seem like a recipe for injury….
PM 5 Miles 360′ :38 Snappy-ish Broken Shin Loop, Jeff and Gene were running exceptionally well, which made for a pretty nice kick in the last mile.

Fri March 16 AM 10.3 Miles 1480′ 1:26 Doubled the power line loop, added a few tenths at the end. The whole trail was exceptionally muddy, which much to my surprise, made it a lot of fun, and added to my confidence of the MT110 to gain purchase in just about any terrain.

Sat March 17 AM 15 Miles 500′ 1:55 Ran through Denville/Boonton/Mountain Lakes with Jeff. I was on pace for ~7:10 average until mile 13 or so, when some GI issues that had been lingering throughout the day finally came to a head, and forced a fartlek for the remaining miles.

Totals: 106 Miles, 9585′ Vert, 14h51m

 Overall, a pretty productive week, more miles in 7 days than I’ve ever done before, although, part of me thinks that I can more than likely do more both comfortably, and without substantial risk of injury (time/motivation etc providing of course). This also puts me at ~3 miles short of 200 miles in 14 days, making for a rather substantial prolonged effort as well (also 14 day PR). Overall, things feel rather solid, the usual list of minor discomforts that one would typically associate with higher mileage, but nothing is setting off any red flags. I’m getting rather comfortable with the soreness in my legs, as well as finding my bonk point to be a bit further delayed(running for ~2hrs today at an aggressive clip with no energy related troubles, just the GI issues). For the next several weeks, assuming things remain healthy, I’m going to try to stay around the same general mileage, but probably integrate a lighter day, and extend the long run in preparation for the upcoming 50 mile effort, as well as trying to hit a bit more concentrated vertical gain, and continue working on the impending bonk/hydration issues.

New Balance Minimus Road

Shirt as neckerchief

Summary March 4-10

Sunday March 4 AM 5.1 Miles, 740′ 40:02 Power Line trails, relatively quick trip up and down, feeling a bit soggy from the previous day.
PM 1 Mile 8:17 Light shakeout run to end the day, things feel pretty loose.

Monday March 5 AM 1 Mile 8:13 Unsure how busy I was going to be, so I decided to get the early AM mile in to keep the streak alive, and cross my fingers that I’d be able to do some “real” running later.
PM 5.1 Miles, 740′ 41:17 Power Line Trail, a student cancelled on me, giving me enough time to get a quick 5 in before the sun set. I decided to run in a more minimal shoe, to try to put a bit of a built in limit on my speed on the technical portions due to the lack of protection underfoot, I’m not sure it actually slowed me down, but it certainly made me a lot more mindful with regard to where I placed my foot on the rockiest sections of trail.

Tuesday March 6 AM 13.2 Miles 4880′ 2:45 Drove out to Mt. Tammany to try to muscle through some vertical gain and loss over some exceptionally technical terrain. 4 Consecutive summits while self-crewing from my car in the parking lot. Finished the run in the midst of a pretty substantial bonk, and rather dehydrated. 2 Miles Barefoot 16:48 Done immediately upon returning home, it felt great to lose the shoes after beating my feet up on typical NJ rocky trails for a few hours.

Wed March 7 AM 10.2 Miles 1480′ 1:24 Double trip on the Power Line loop, academic requirements shortened my morning, so I had to decide between more miles, or a better view point, miles won out.

Thurs March 8 AM 11.2 Miles 1300′ 1:36 Schooley’s Mountain via Columbia trail. Since I’d been trying to concentrate on hitting some more substantial uphill, I thought it would be best to hit up Schooley’s instead of Allamuchy. I typically access the mountain via ~3 miles of rail-trails before beginning the ~5 miles of up and down that the mountain provides, so the vertical gain and loss is fundamentally concentrated to the middle 5 miles of the route, with no real relief from vertical change. It’s not the highest local point, but the trails seem to go straight up the mountain, and straight back down, forcing you to crest the top twice in each loop, with very few switchbacks, and almost no stretches of true flat. Bonked pretty hard on the rail-trail return, only to have it exacerbated by my body’s acute inability to adjust to the ~70ish degree temps we had; a far cry from the 30’s and 40’s of late. Also, first time I’ve lost my shirt since Jan 1st, complete with some tree-induces scrapes from the descent, man it feels good to be outside with that degree of exposure again.
PM 2 Miles Barefoot 18:20 Shakeout immediately upon returning home, trying to keep the calves loose, and remind my heels to fully release.
PM part deux 5 Miles 360′ 41:30 Broken Shin Loop. Relatively light group this week, Just the Bob’s, Brian and myself, everyone took it easy for the most part, keeping it as a decent shakeout trot.

Fri March 9 AM 20.4 2030′ 2:39 Ran the first ~10 on local roads at ~7:30 pace, then quickly changed footwear for a double loop on the power line access trails. Things felt great until ~mile 12 where the bonking started rearing its ugly head. Bonk number one was relatively easy to recover from, sucked down a GU, and kept things moving, but ~5 miles later it hit again, with no sugary GU left to save me, I had no choice but to grin and bear it. Strangely enough, after the inclines were done, and I was able to run down some technical downhills, my spirits lifted, carrying me through to the end with relative ease, at a much quicker clip.

Sat March 10 AM 15 Miles, 500′ 1:56 Met Dave and Jeff for a wicked early pavement session (as in pre-dawn) through the greater Denville area. Things felt surprisingly solid/consistent throughout the run, with a minor low point in the 13ish mile range, but I think it was more related to knowing that the finish was near than it was a metabolic lag.

Totals: 91.2 Miles, 12030′ Vert, 13h15m 

This was without a doubt, the bonkiest week in recent memory, it seems like every time I went out for more than 60 minutes, (excepting this morning, where I took a GU at the 1hr mark for a 2hr run) I had to struggle through some sort of depletion-oriented low point. Granted, in the shorter runs it was only for the final mile or so, but on the longer, more sustained efforts, it seemed as if I’d hit that low point several times. While the bonk is inherently unpleasant, with it’s grogginess, and associated low mood, it’s good training for the inevitable low points that a 50 mile race is going to provide, as well as an opportunity to look inward, and find some of that extra grit. On a positive note, a 7 day 90 mile effort hasn’t left me too beat up, in fact short of the usual soreness, nothing is out of order.

The naked runner returns…

Power Lines!

Tammanification

This past weekend I (finally) signed up for the NF 50 Miler at Bear Mountain, and as a result, I’ve become less confident that my training has been on track for this distance, especially since I have roughly 8 weeks left to go. So, while I’ve definitely been racking up the miles, and a reasonable amount of vert, I was feeling like It’d been far too long since I really tried to attack some vertical gain and loss, via hill repeats, and Mt. Tammany is the nearest place where I can do so.
The mountain ascends 1220 feet in ~1 mile, then loses it all again in the following 2.3. The ascent is rocky, rooted, and full of talus, with sections so steep that to maintain any semblance of speed/feeling like a mountain runner, you have to proceed with your nose to the ground, on all fours. The runnable sections are for the most part right in between the gradient where you have to make a conscious decision to run or power-hike, because the difference in speed/energy output between the two is infinitesimal at best. Follow this with a modest stretch across the ridge, and another mile and a half or so of quad busting technical downhill, and that’s the course. Granted, the loop on the mountain is an extremely modest 3.3 miles, just an eyelash over a 5k, but with 1220′ of gain and loss, and the entirety of the distance being exceptionally technical in nature. 
So, after taking care of some of life’s requirements this morning, I hopped in the car, drove to the mountain and began running. The last time I was there, Dave and I made the trip to the top 3 times, (note: difference in vert, this time I had my barometric altimeter, which I tend to find more accurate than GPS) so, naturally this being over a month later, I would have to do at least one more, and try to do it at a faster clip. The days total was 4 summits before my legs became achy, and I started worrying about my hydration levels after very dark urine midway through the fourth trip.

Here’s the Breakdown:
Ascent 1: 18:43           Descent 1 18:59
Ascent 2  21:48           Descent 2 20:42
Ascent 3  22:43           Descent 3 20:10
Ascent 4  23:35           Descent 4 19:33

Total: 13.2 Miles  4880′  2h46m

After I got home, I decided to shakeout my legs a bit, and after beating my feet on technical trail for a few hours, it seemed reasonable to lose the shoes…. so, another 2 miles barefoot in 16:48

Worth doing hill repeats

Mt. Minsi in background

Muddy….

Why I run Pt. 2

In the past several days, I’ve been questioned by several people as to how and why I run as much as I do, and in spite of my best efforts, I often feel as if I fail to properly explain myself. The following is my attempt to reconcile this, and articulate my thoughts with regard to the run. This is, in fact, my second attempt at articulating this point, the first can be seen here.

Why run? To the best of my understanding, the world we presently live is abundant with complications, and as time continues to pass, the list of life’s complexities continues to mount. Many of these things are good, such as the high speed internet I’m using to post this, or the electricity that helps me make my morning coffee, and powers my refrigerator helping me store food for longer than it would keep otherwise. Unfortunately, in my opinion at least, we as a culture are becoming increasingly dependent on these technologies to maintain our level of happiness/contentment. More so, in the days of smart phones, constant e-mailing and facebooking, the individual is afforded little to no time to truly be alone, in silence. Without this solitude it’s increasingly difficult to develop a sense of self-reliance, self-worth, and independence. In addition, there is an alarming rate of entitled recreation. As a society, we’re increasingly obsessed with ease of recreation, assuming that avoiding work is better than doing work, thus increasing our time in front of the TV, consuming the simplest forms of entertainment, and pursuing recreational activities that require less and less from the recreationalist.

As a runner, philosophically, one must refute that which our society has told us is the best way to enjoy oneself. Instead of pursuing ease, the pursuit is a challenge. More so, the runner does not actively pursue a variety, but rather chooses to indulge, often (as in my case) abundantly in one, very simple activity. Running. But, Why? I’m sure that there’s some sort of chemical reaction going on that leads to the addictive nature of the activity: endorphins, the runners high, whatever you want to call it, but that’s an infinitesimal part at best, in fact, I’m not entirely sure that it’s a part you should consider.  The reasons to run, to me at least, are a lot deeper than the simple pursuit of a buzz.

It begins, with freedom. There is nothing like running up a mountainside, unencumbered, the wind in your hair as you come across a wide panoramic view, brow dripping with sweat, legs aching, and heart pumping out of your chest. It’s an ineffable degree of freedom, known only to the runner. Often I’m asked why I don’t pursue other mountain/outdoor sports, such as kayaking, mountain biking, backpacking (I do on occasion backpack) and the answer is simple. I don’t want to have to deal with that much stuff. The more stuff I need to carry, the less in touch with myself and my surroundings I feel, in fact, this reluctance to carry anything is a large factor in my minimal clothing choices with regard to summer running, as something as simple as a shirt, if deemed unnecessary in the climate can infringe on this primal experience in nature.

Bipedal travel in itself is freeing, forgoing all technology to cover distances on foot. I’ve traveled some pretty substantial trail with pack, at a hikers pace, but having the sensation that I could do more, mileage, faster, forced me to eventually leave the pack at home, and pursue the same terrain as a runner. Once the gear is reduced to its most basic requirements, of foot protection and clothing, the experience on trail becomes vividly different, more alive, fewer ties to the world from whence you came, and a full-on immersion into the present. Additionally, on trail, at high speed, the mind is inherently preoccupied with navigating the technical aspects of the run, avoiding roots and rocks, negotiating the pace, and regulating the breath. This forces the runner to constantly be truly in the present, something that in my experience is often lacking in day to day life.

It’s also a pursuit of simplicity. As our lives become more complex, an opportunity to relieve one of the anguish of decision making is paramount. The run is simply binary, run, don’t run, there are no other decisions to make. This may sound boring to many, and I think is often why people choose to provide distractions (ipods etc) when they begin running (as I once did as well) but in reality, the simplicity is part of the joy, it’s an escape.

The challenge cannot go unspoken either. While the act of running is fundamentally basic, the act of running fast, especially over greater distances is a constant challenge. The beauty of the challenge is that the rules are set in stone, distance over time, no curveballs, and no last minute game changes. With this consistent challenge, there is inspiration, as the stopwatch reads a smaller number, and the legs feel less sore, progress is abundantly evident. However, greater challenges are always availed, and regardless of physical conditioning, a hard struggling session is bound to show up unannounced. Not to sound masochistic, but as much as the high points are elating, the low points are really where the beauty happens. While many people may not think that finding yourself miles from your home, depleted and dehydrated is a positive thing, it’s the place where inner strength is tested the most, and lessons regarding strength and weakness are truly learned.

I am not a masochist. I certainly don’t run to hurt myself, and wouldn’t actively pursue depletion, if I didn’t think depletion had something to teach me. The run, to me, is the most basic thing I can find, and there’s a certain degree of sustainability in that. All I need is a pair of shoes, and enough clothing to cover my naughty bits, and I can pursue a degree of aliveness that few other activities even come close to. Yes, there are downsides. Yes, it’s indulgent, selfish even, and occupies a tremendous amount of my time and energy. In fact, I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that running, be it mine, or a significant others, has cost me meaningful relationships on more than one occasion. That said, the pursuit of mileage allows me to feel free, unencumbered, and truly human. It grants me access to the deepest parts of my spirit, and constant bipedal travel really puts distance in perspective, making me more aware of how much energy is required to sustain our daily lives. So while it may seem a little bit crazy (and perhaps it is) to think this way, I know that the soreness in my legs will go away, my belly will again be full, and when I return home from the mountain, peel off my shoes, glance at my calloused feet, and treat myself to a hot shower, I feel an increased sense of self, and know that tonight I will sleep well, that my time with a book in my hand is well earned.

Accessible only by means of bipedal travel

Summary Feb 19-25

Sunday Feb 19, 1 Mile, 8:31 Typical shakedown mile, figure I should take a couple of days extra light after the 8 day 117 mile effort….. things felt good, legs a bit heavy, but nothing unusual


Monday Feb 20, 1 Mile, 7:46 Same as previous day, it’s strange how lacking my life feels without substantial mileage… In spite of a full day of class/rehearsals/practicing/generally doing things I need/should be doing, the omission of a morning and evening run makes the day seem… empty

Tuesday Feb 21, 6.4 Miles, 270′ 50:49 Had to get some work done on my car, landed a ride back home from dropping it off from the shop, and relied on legs to retrieve it. Tried to add as much vert as I could en route to the shop, but alas, only a few hundred feet. Everything felt very soggy, heavy legs, and general lethargy, could have sworn I was running 9+ minute miles… but apparently I was an eyelash under 8’s…

Wed Feb 22, AM 5.1 Miles, 740′ 39:53 Power Line Trails, slightly up tempo, not pushing too hard since this is supposed to be a “recovery” week, Again, things felt relatively soggy, not particularly weak, but certainly not what I’d consider strong.
PM 1 Mile, 8:02 Usual evening shakeout, just trying to get back into my normal rhythm/swing of things.


Thurs Feb 23, AM 12.1 Miles 1650′ 1:48:26 Allamuchy Double-summit, although I foolishly took a wrong turn adding a half a mile, and some vert, you’d think that I would know the trail system by now, but apparently my autopilot is lacking. Beautiful warm day, and it feels fantastic to be on the mountain proper after a few days of not really running/hitting the pavement/running the local power line trails. Things still don’t feel 100% strong, but then again, I think I’ve completely forgotten what truly fresh legs feel like, and they’re certainly no worse off than what I’ve been dealing with for the past several weeks, so I suppose I should consider myself fundamentally recovered from last weeks mileage stacking PR.
PM 5 Miles, 360′ 36:54 Broken Shin Loop. I started out with the group but after about a mile… maybe an eyelash more, a cloud of darkness seemed to cloud my brain, causing me to simply take off up the hill. I’m not sure what exactly it was, but I seemed immediately confronted with my own interpretations of personal failures, inequities, and all other such things that seem to linger in the sub-conscious. Needless to say, I felt an insatiable urge to continue to rest of the run in solitude, and picked up my pace significantly to earn some space/enjoy the rhythm of a few miles run harder than I would have planned for the back 5 of a 17 mile day….

Fri Feb 24, 5.1 Miles, 740′ 40:14 Feeling a bit beat up from the previous day, and having a substantial amount of professional commitments to attend to throughout the day, it seemed like a good day to lay low, nevermind the rain, and subsequent shiggy trail conditions. I did, however, manage to stretch my ever-sketchy left ankle more than I’d like on a slippery rock, and convinced that I had rolled it, found myself running while cursing in torrents and knotting my fists, only to realize after several hundred yards that it was feeling normal.

Sat Feb 25, 15 Miles, 620′ 1:53:32 Up-tempo pavement session with Dave and Jeff. Legs felt certifiably like crap (although extended flat pavement sessions typically have that effect on me) but then again, running when my legs feel awful is a substantial part of my training plan. Having the company is certainly advantageous for getting my sleepy self out of bed in the morning, as well as sharing the burden of pacing throughout a run. Also, ankle felt fine, good sign.

Totals: 51.7 Miles, 7380′ Vert, 6h54m

It feels strange, and extremely self-righteous to say that a ~52 mile week is a down training week… even with 7380′ of vert. In addition to the mileage reduction, this week provided me with a noticeable amount of professionally-oriented stress, most notably agreeing to a Mock Audition in front of the Vienna Philharmonic coming up this Friday (3/2) which I’m still feeling substantially under-prepared for. This forced me to substantially increase my practice time (which was a bit easier to do given the mileage reduction, and abundance of energy I had as a result thereof) which is something I have no qualms with, but for reasons I cannot understand, I felt often overwhelmed both with the sisyphian amount of work I had to do, as well as consistently confronted with reminders of previous failures ranging from personal to professional to the fickle things, such as my mounting pile of laundry. As such, I’m forced to conclude that at this point in my life, ~52 miles in seven days is far too few for me to maintain a level head, feel balanced, and in touch with myself, my surroundings, my body, and keep my stress levels at bay. This being said, I don’t anticipate this upcoming week to be substantially better as far as base level stress is concerned, with a Mock Audition on Friday, an Audition to record, and a last minute orchestra gig on Saturday (there goes my chance to go for an indulgent weekend destination binge run!(but alas, I do need to pay my bills)) Hopefully an increase in general daily mileage will prove advantageous to my mental health.

Dave (left) and Jeff

Summary Feb 5-11

Sunday Feb 5, AM 5.1 Miles, 42:04 Power Line trails, left calf/ankle has been sore, making technical terrain a little more difficult.

Monday Feb 6, AM 1 Mile, 9:32 Originally left the house to do ~5 miles, but my calf/ankle was really acting up, causing me to turn around at the half mile mark.
PM 2.0 17:02 Short shakeout run in VFF’s to try to diagnose the goings on in my lower left leg. Allowing the heel/achilles to fully relax seems to help a lot.

Tuesday Feb 7, AM 11.6 Miles, 1:42:43, 1500′ Allamuchy loop, powerhiking most inclines to take the stress off of my left calf. Powerhiking seems to be getting faster, as I’m losing very little time compared to when I run the whole course (~2-3 mins over 12 miles).
PM 2.0, 16:36 Continuing the shakeout, strangely, a slow-ish couple of miles at the end of day seems to really relax my left leg.

Wed Feb 8, AM 5.1 Miles, 38:42 Power Line trails trying to push the speed, new course record, and  positive I can run it much faster if I go all out.
PM 1.0 8:17 Neighborhood loop, cold roads are forcing me to give my Five Fingers a workout instead of going naked foot.

Thurs Feb 9, PM 1 5 Miles, 40:23 Broken Shin Loop with the guys, typical Thurs.
PM 2, 1.2 Miles, 11:00 John Needed to keep his streak alive, and traffic made him show up to the run just as we were finishing the five mile loop, so, Not to let anyone run alone at a social run, another mile tacked on for the streak.

Fri Feb 10, AM 11.6 1:45 1500′ Allamuchy loop. Mentally I had planned to use Fri/Sat as back to back 20+ mile runs, but halfway through the first loop, it was becoming obvious that doing a 20 today would be a total slog-fest. In spite of the week being relatively light, I’d been less than diligent with my hydration/nutrition, which seemed to catch up to me here.
PM 1.0, 8:23 Shakeout

Sat Feb 11, AM 21 3:18:18, 2900′ 21 Mile through Allamuchy with 1 crew stop at my car to replace a handheld, change my shirt, and grab a Gu. I often find that long runs done solo involve a tremendous amount of mental strength, especially when fatigue sets in. The run itself was very mercurial, ranging from about as tired as I’ve felt on a run, to several minutes later feeling great about moving through the woods, the body/mind are strange things (and how we operate metabolically is even stranger). In spite of feeling like I had been going rather slowly for the duration, I finished only ~1 minute behind my previous time.

Totals: 67.6 Miles, 9h58m vert 5900′

Strange week, with the nagging leg soreness, and fundamentally bailing out on two runs, but within the range of mileage I had hoped for, as well as surprisingly consistent times considering how slow I was feeling at times.

Split shorts in February…

Incline

21 miles in Snow…

Awe, Mama, Ain’t it good to be alive!?

Yesterday morning I woke up obviously on the wrong side of the bed. I went out the door for my usual ~5 miler, still feeling low from this cold I’ve been battling, and within the first hundred yards I knew something wasn’t right with my left ankle/calf. So I bailed out at the half mile mark, making it a round trip mile, and overall a shitty start to the day. So I spent the day knotting my fists, cursing the misstep on Saturday that resulted in the twist exacerbating this long standing Achilles-oriented weakness. The ensuing funk lasted for the duration of the day, making me realize just how cathartic these runs are, and how much they keep me level-headed throughout the day.

Fast forward 24 hours. My ankle is still sore, but not un-runnable (in fact, the soreness is much higher in my leg than it was last time this happened, and no where near as tender). So, I went out this morning for my usual Allamuchy loop, deciding to power-hike more of the inclines to save the abuse on my left ankle, but still take advantage of the 50+ degrees outside. After a week of not really being “on” the mountain, the sheer act of summitting this small peak, and looking over the area from that vantage point is still exhilirating. I’ve hit this peak 7 times since the turn of the year, it refuses to get old (I actually thought the number was higher than this…). So, even with some mild discomfort, it feels good to be alive, forget the trivialities of every-day life, and simply run.