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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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 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 1-7

Monday July 1 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h17m 
Local run through the neighborhood roads. incredibly mediocre pace, really just feeling like my legs have been replaced with heavy bags of shit, or something to that effect.
PM 3.1 Miles, 23m32s
Short local 5k shakeout-type-thing again with the generally crappy legs, I’m not sure what’s really going on insofar as my ankle is behaving normally, but my legs don’t really want to move at anything faster than the über-cliche ultra-shuffle.

Tuesday July 2 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h15m 
 Another stab at the around-town-ish 10 mile loop, this time with a little more pep in my legs, and by pep, I mean there was a cute girl about a half a mile ahead of me on the long flat-ish section that neither my machismo nor my libido would allow to not be chased down… Legs still felt crappy, especially on the first 5 miles, but by the end, I was feeling surprisingly fresh, apparently it just takes me a long time to… warm up?
PM 6.3 Miles, 2080′ 58m Allamuchy Trails with the Salt Guys. Ran with Mike the whole time, albeit slightly embarrassed at how heavy I’m breathing on what he generally considers an “easy” run for the week. I suppose speed has different meanings when you’re talking about an 8k vs 83k…. either way, it’s great to get out and run with someone who can completely wipe the floor with you on the loop you’re running.

Wed July 3 AM 5 Miles, 1480′ 42m
Power Line trails… I meant to crank out a lot more miles in the morning, but general leg lethargy, dehydration, and the oppressive heat forced me to reconsider and basically promise myself that I’d make them up in the afternoon no matter how shitty I felt.
PM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h17m Really just a slog of a run through the town. Still being a little wary of lateral movement on my ankle after the previous weeks sprain, but under the impression that if I continue to crank out some pavement sessions I’ll be able to salvage a lot of trail-strength, and perhaps get quicker in the interim without causing any real problems re: the sprain. Unfortunately, in NJ during this time of the year it’s almost always oppressively hot, like sweat just sitting still in the shade kind of hot, so even if my legs weren’t feeling like complete and total dog shit I doubt I would have been able to run substantially faster… jumping in the river ~2 miles from my house was pleasant however.

Thurs July 4 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h17m 
I guess 1:17 is my groove this week… sunrise from the town ridge looked promising leaving the house, but by the time I gained the vert clouds had come in and fundamentally ruined my potential for a kickass view. Otherwise, I’m just glad that my 4:45AM alarm worked and got me out for a jaunt before sitting in a chair all day preventing children from drowning in the lake.

Fri July 5 AM 13.2 Miles. 9760’2h48m 
Quadruple Tammany Ascent/Descent. This was partially because I can, and partially a test for an upcoming race that I’ve yet to officially register for (but am 90% committed to… mentally that is). Basically I wanted to see how my body/mind would react to several repeats of an unusually steep hill (for NJ) in some gnarly heat. I managed to get through on ~300 cal, 100oz of fluids, and 2 S! caps without any serious stomach or hydration issues, although it was seriously hot…

Sat July 6, 3.1 Miles, 23m20s
Compulsory 5k in the evening to make myself feel like I ran today. I tried to go out in the morning before work, but a major case of the trots kept me inside the house (I ran a half a mile and nearly crapped myself). I wish I could blame it on the beer, but I didn’t have any the night before… so I guess I need to start really dialing in my diet, since this is 2 weeks in a row where I’ve lost mileage that my mind and body would otherwise accept, but my sphincter seems to be reluctant to endure.

Sun July 7 AM 15 Miles, 4440′ 2h8m
Really no pep at all in my legs, which considering the abuses from Friday isn’t too surprising, but still a little discouraging with regard to the basic day-off I took on Saturday. Climbing wasn’t necessarily hard, but just weak, as if I was mentally/physically unwilling to push anything.

Totals: 85.6 Miles, 22,160′
Kind of a bum week as far as my attitude is concerned. I really don’t like to put in that much in the way of pavement-oriented mileage, but my general distrust of my ankle for the majority of the week seemed to have made it the only valid option if I was going to get anywhere near my preferred weekly totals. Skipping Saturday (basically) was also a bummer, causing me to fall way short of my projected 100 miles for the week, but c’est la vie, realistically there’s not much I can do about it. Fortunately, the quadruple Tammany run went rather well, and my ankle seems to have made it out completely unscathed, which is really encouraging going into this week, and further increasing my confidence with regard to some upcoming competition.

Tammany Summit

Recovery?

Sometimes I mess up the timer..

View from Tammany overlooking Minsi

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.

Race Report: TNF Bear Mountain 2013

As much preparation as normally goes into an ultra, sometimes you’re just not quite ready, or willing to really deal with the trials that the day is going to give you. In an endurance event, the cliche always seems to be that it’s “all mental” and a humungous portion of the challenge actually is, but sometimes in spite of how good of shape you’re in, your body can refuse to do the task too. When you combine a weaker mental day with a bad physical day, that’s when things get interesting. This was one of those days. Things started off on the wrong foot by getting to the start mere moments before the race actually kicked off (I had enough time to grab my bib, take a leak, and eat half of a clif bar) so before the gun even went off, I was already running a little bit ragged.

I ran with the lead pack through the first aid station, and feeling really solid on my feet, having a great time chatting with the top runners, and generally trying to take care of myself. 50 miles is a long day for anyone, and it didn’t seem even remotely worthwhile to start to get into any sort of pissing contest before dawn, so I gladly let myself drop to the back end of the leaders and kept pace. I continued with the pack through roughly mile 6 or 7, by which point I had fallen about 100 yards off of the lead pack as we re-entered some single-track. Foolishly, on our way into Silvermine, ~1.5 miles from the aid station, myself, and about 4 other runners missed a turn entirely… you’ve got to be fucking kidding me, right? when was the last time we saw a course marker? shit, fuck, okay, lets turn around. I figure we added at least a mile, maybe more, and lost a solid 10 or 15 places… naturally the turn we missed also caused us to gain several hundred more vertical feet over foot-crushing terrain… brilliant.

I bounced back pretty quickly however (or at least thought I did) since there’s really nothing you can do about getting lost after the fact, but it took a pretty serious toll on my overall mental state. When I got into Silvermine, I handed off my headlamp, picked up my sunglasses, and exchanged a bottle, which was followed by a helpful yell from Sean reminding me to drink more fluids…. Apparently at both aid stations I changed over a bottle, but had barely drank from either (I was at least eating the gels they stashed in the pockets for me) this would come back to bite me in the ass later.

From Silvermine to Arden Valley Road, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to recoup some of my lost positioning. I was still feeling rather spry, and really comfortable on my feet. I made up a lot of time, but I still wasn’t drinking very much, and even gels were a little tough to get down. I refilled my bottle at the aid station, grabbed  a couple of gels, and went on my way.

Leaving Arden Valley Road, I was still feeling okay, but starting to realize that I was on a pretty rough path mentally… I hadn’t really dipped into bonking yet, and wouldn’t for a while, but the trouble I was having digesting food and absorbing water were definitely not good, I’d only urinated once, and it was coming out florescent (which I attributed to the pre-race vitamins I had taken…). This was definitely the nicest section of trail on the course, giving us some 360degree views, but the exposed rock left little for the RD’s to use to mark the trail, and being gun-shy from getting lost once today, I definitely took my sweet ass time, and became increasingly frustrated at every less-than-perfectly marked deviation.

By the time I got into Lake Skannatati I had already been seriously considering dropping out. My stomach wasn’t agreeing with me, and my brain had already begun to lose it’s desire to fight, in spite of the fact that my legs still felt great. I was seriously losing the battle. Seeing my crew at the aid station gave me enough of a kick  to get moving out of the aid station (after not letting them on as to how shitty I was feeling) but within a quarter of a mile I realized that I’d gotten myself in some deep shit mentally and physically. I tried to pee again, but it was a lost cause, my stomach was sloshing, and nothing was sitting well.

I had worked a bit of a lead coming out of Skannatati relative to the guys I came into the aid station with, but in a period of mental weakness, I slowed and let them catch me simply so that I would have someone to run with. Once I left the singletrack, and hit the fireroads I was caught up to by the eventual Women’s leader (who went on to crush the women’s CR) so I latched onto her for the final 5ish miles of the trail going into the aid station.

When I picked up Gene at Camp Lanowa I was in a lot better physical shape than the previous year, my feet were fine, my legs felt good, but I was having a real problem digesting food and absorbing water. We ran rather easily out of the aid station, all the way to Tiorati, and for a brief period of time, I thought I might be able to salvage a decent performance for the day, but coming out of the aid station I started having a really sloshy stomach, and terrifically low energy levels.

Eventually we came upon some 50k and marathon runners, which gave me an opportunity to feel like I was making progress by passing other runners. After I ground my way through the low patch, I managed to leave Gene behind entirely for about 20 minutes. Gene then handed me off to Dave as I tried my hardest to drink at the aid station, choke down a gu, and throw back a redbull to try to get through the last 10 miles.

The remainder of the race was simply a matter of survival. Every time I drank, or tried to eat, it seemed like it would just sit in my stomach and slosh around, which led to side stitches, and near-vomiting on several occasions. Dave basically had to drag me through this section of the course, occasionally I’d run, especially the downhills, and generally my legs felt okay, but the gas tank was empty, and wouldn’t even begin to entertain the idea of refueling.

I eventually gutted my way across the finish-line in 9:35:38 in 24th place overall, which I really shouldn’t bitch and moan about. But racing isn’t really that different from running, just running, and even though I have very little racing experience, I’ve run… a lot… especially in the last few years, and absolutely in the last several months, and this was just a shitty day. I lost track of where/how many times I fell, but I know it was at least 4.. maybe 5, which is FAR more than my average of 1 every 350 or so miles. If it were a normal run, I would have absolutely thrown in the towel after the 20th mile, recouped for a day, and tried a true long run a couple of days afterwards, but this was a race, and there’s an expectation to finish. As far as how I’m going to change my plans from here on out? I definitely need to learn to eat more, and drink more on-the run. Scheduling a recital the day before probably took a lot more out of me mentally than I expected. On the bright side, I’m still rather confident in my fitness, and my legs have recovered remarkably well so far, especially compared to last year… so I think that if I can dial in my race-nutrition a bit better then I still have a good shot at realizing some of my ultra-goals for the year.

10 Mins after getting lost

Climbing at Mile 47

Taper report TNF Bear Mountain 2013

Oh wait, you’re supposed to down-train for an endurance race right?? You see, the problem for me when it comes to running is that I perform best when I feel fit, and I feel fittest when I feel tired… the more tired I am the more fit I feel. Of course this can sometimes lead to me feeling like super-man and running a training run like a super-old-man; which is probably why I need to taper. Also, something about glycogen, I think I read that somewhere. In a book. With pages. I’m not sure that I’ve ever gotten the taper thing exactly right… I’ve only done it for a few times… and one of those was for a race that didn’t even happen… I recall bitching about it’s cancellation with a whine of “BUT I TAPERED FOR THIS” but I’m pretty sure that I thought that replacing running time with beer drinking time constituted a taper… I’m not wholly convinced that this is true (but not wholly convinced that it’s not true).

You see, in addition to the very obvious correlation of my perceived fitness to my weekly mileage, a lot of other things are wrapped up in it.. Like my ability to handle stresses, an embarrassingly large part of my self-esteem, and my willpower overall. Since I’m obviously rambling, let me show you some charts to better elaborate my point.

First, here’s my actual Taper:

Here’s how that seems to work with my overall fitness:
Now, I can’t just sit around, and pretend to go to the gym, I obviously have other things to do, like prepare for a recital that I foolishly scheduled less than 24 hours before a 50 mile race…. Oh, and apparently I need to blog.

Running is obviously a big time and energy consumer, so obviously that time has to be spent on something, here’s a rough outline of how I’ve  been spending those extra hours.
The hardest part of the taper is that since I’m not tired, I can actually see how fit I am, but I’m not allowed to use any of this until Saturday.. This is like taking a fat kid, and putting him in a candy store with a hundred dollar bill, and saying you can’t buy anything…

 Tomorrow I plan to go out and run, because I do that every day, I’ll probably run for a half an hour… which is really the running equivalent of having “just one beer” it sounds good on paper, but in actuality it’s incredibly unsatisfying. Maybe I’ll do it barefoot, so I can pretend that it’s having some sort of positive effect on my biomechanics, but most likely I’ll run up a hill. With rocks on it. Then I’ll go and practice for hours on end, because I need to do that. 

Summary March 25-31

Monday March 25 AM, 8 Miles 1:00 According to weather.com it was going to rain/snow this day, so I planned to suffer the treadmill with my buddy Pete (one of the few upsides of the dreadmill is that you can do so alongside friends who wouldn’t otherwise keep up). Instead, it was decent out (at least in the AM) so we were inside for nothing. Anyhow, I still think there’s validity in an even-paced effort on the suffer-machine.
PM 4 Miles, :30 Now it starts to precipitate… finishing the day off on the ‘mill again followed by some leg work with the weights.

Tues March 26 AM, 10 Miles 1:35 2500′ Ran the Wildcat Ridge Romp course with Dave. Surprisingly this isn’t too far off of the single-loop CR… and also near Dave’s PB on the course
PM 3 Miles :20 Evening shakeout, not too hard, just trying to keep the blood moving through the legs.

Wed March 27, 6 Miles 39:30 580′ End of day run.. Had to go into the city in the morning which functionally eliminated the chance for a morning run.

Thurs March 28, AM, 7 Miles 45:15 940′ Pre-class morning run through the local neighborhood roads. Didn’t expect to run particularly quickly, nor did I feel like I was exerting myself at all throughout the run. Overall pretty pleased with the outing.
PM 8 Miles 1:02 1020′ Ran into Dave as I was pulling into the lot (early) so we ran a pretty snappy 3 mile loop with a couple of intervals followed by the usual casual broken-shin-loop.

Fri March 29, 12 Miles 1:42 3000′ Allamuchy. First time back since the hash (I think) feeling remarkably solid throughout, although running conservatively. last 5k was at sub 7 pace without really trying to do so, so I guess hitting flats/roads quicker is starting to pay off as far as setting an automated easy-terrain pace. Also, took a gnarly fall around 8 miles in… more trail rash…

Sat March 30, 18 Miles 2:42 5000′ Originally meant to do more miles to make it a “real” long run, but as the mileage piled on, it became increasingly apparent that it was not the best day to be putting major stress on my legs. Fundamentally I knew that I was going to have to put on some mileage on Sunday to really reap the benefits of a higher mileage week, and if I ran much more I was unlikely to force myself out the next day. As important as I think long runs are… I think the day after, starting on shit-legs and running 10 or so miles in general misery is more important (mentally and physically)
PM 1 Mile 9:00 Easy-peasy shakeout

Sunday March 31, 11 Miles 1:27 2980′  Pseudo-recovery run-ish type thing? Okay fuck it, it wasn’t a recovery run, it wasn’t a workout either… it was mostly a day out on the trails where mile 1 felt like mile 45… hang on and hope for the best.
PM 1 Mile 9:40 Probably the only real relaxation mile of the week.

Totals: 89 Miles, 16,020′
Pretty happy with this week overall, it seems that I’m hitting some reasonably substantial vert while still maintaining some quickness under my feet. I still need some bigger miles, as well as some genuine long runs going into race season, but in spite of my comparatively low mileage on the year I’m feeling reasonably fit and continuing to surprise myself with the strength in my legs during the most tired moments.

Coming off the overlook at Alllamuchy

Testing the Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest

Power-Hike

Sometimes you just can’t run the incline

Summary March 18-24

Monday March 18 AM 9.2 Miles, 1400′ 1:10 Columbia Trail>Schooleys Mountain>Columbia Trail. Lollipop loop with the mountain as the candy, I haven’t really run this route in the past 6 months or so, so I figured I should get back at it, primarily for the juxtaposition of self-imposed speed on the flats followed by nose-on-ground steepness up and down the mountain (assuming you’re moving at speed)
PM 1 Mile, 8:00 Treadmill shakeout before weights.

Tuesday March 19 AM 9.2 Miles, 1400′ 1:14 Same lollipop route as the day before, this time in ~3 inches of snow with a combination of rain followed by snow for the entire duration. Effort-wise, this should have been a faster loop, but the loss of traction as well as hesitation on the most technical sections cost me some serious time.

Wed March 20 AM 9.2 Miles, 1400′ 1:10 Wonderful day to be on trail. I thought I was on pace for a quicker loop, but it seems that I’ve got it dialed in pretty well in the 70-minute zone.
PM 1 Mile, 8:15 Shakeout after dinner in an attempt to knock some soreness out of my legs

Thursday March 21 AM 9.2 Miles, 1400′ 1:10 Hitting the splits pretty consistently, and really feeling like this route is getting dialed in well, which means it’s time to start pushing the envelope in the upcoming weeks.
PM 8 Miles, 1020′  1:02 Broken shin loop preceded by an easy 3 mile loop on the same roads. Feeling unusually spry at the tail end of a seventeen mile day.

Friday March 22 AM 7 Miles, 940′ :47 Local road loop, surprisingly on pace. I was planning to run a lot more on Friday (mentally) but my body isn’t recovering at quite the rate I was optimistically planning for. I seem to be ignorant of the fact that the last time I was running this much, it was on-the-whole a lot slower.

Saturday March 23, 20 Miles, 6780′ 3:39 High Point>Sunrise Mountain>High Point Via AT. Dave and Gene have been ranting and raving about this run for longer than I can remember (although, they usually do it in the summer, in the reverse order). I decided to run it backwards primarily because the Sunrise Mountain parking lot was closed due to snow, little did I know that the whole trail would be ~4 inches deep in slush. I probably could have paced myself much better, as the first half was ~13 mins faster than the second half.

73.8 Miles, 13,080′ 10h28m

Overall A lot less mileage than I expected to crank out during a week “off” (from class) but most of the mileage was hard-won, especially yesterdays 20 miler. I’d go out again today, but a little niggle in my right hip/the lateral side of my thigh combined with some rough blistering on my feet is enough to encourage me to take a recovery day, and pick myself up by my bootstraps tomorrow. Yesterdays run was by far the hardest I’ve worked on a solo outing, period, so if I can maintain this sort of gumption in the next few weeks, I think it’ll pay off.

Overlook on the Kittatinny Ridge

Wed Morning on Schooleys

Sometimes standing on a rock is hard

Another view from the ridge

No fires in NJ….

Summary Jan 14-20

Monday Jan 14 AM 4.7 Miles, 860′ :37 Local neighborhood loop with a couple of decent hills thrown in. This is usually a lame cop-out for a seven mile loop when I’m not feeling so spry.
PM 2 Miles, :16 Treadmill
Loosening up before hitting the weights for the legs. I’m beginning to recognize that the rhythm of the treadmill has some small advantages in pace-location.
PM 2, 1 Mile :9 Treadmill
“Official” shakeout mile after weights.

Tuesday Jan 15, 7 Miles 940′ :50 Slow-ish jaunt through the local roads, adding weight training is definitely having an effect on my recovery-time, as well as the general weightiness that my legs are feeling

Wed Jan 16, AM 5 Miles 1480′ 42:30 Power line trails. Trails were covered in a mix of ice, sleet, and snow, I probably should have worn spikes, but the roads accessing the trail were completely clear.
PM 2 Miles, :16 Treadmill
Typical pre-weights loosening
PM 2, 1 Mile :9
Shakeout

Thurs Jan 17, AM 3.5 Miles 1150′ :33 Power line trails, abbreviated version. Trying to get a good “recovery” pace in my legs (it turns out that I’m really awful at forcing myself to run at a sub-maximal effort)
PM 5 Miles 720′ 44:15 Broken Shin Loop at a true recovery pace. First time in quite a while that absolutely no one was looking to push the pace the slightest bit. Good recovery run.

Fri Jan 18, 6.6 Miles 4880′ 1:22 Mount Tammany repeats with Bob and Dave. I’m hoping to get out for a lot more in the way of hill-specific training (in spite of the fact that most of the courses I run are rather hilly) in an attempt to feel more comfortable on uphills, and not lose strength as quickly. Trails were icy and snowy, which in spite of using micro-spikes made a 3rd loop (when already fatigued) seem like a bad idea.

Sat Jan 19, 9.2 Miles 1400′ 1:14 Colombia Trail>Schooleys Mountain. I thought this would be a rough/slow run, and at times it certainly felt like it, but overall the pace was pretty spot-on. I still need to work out my pacing however, since I definitely was feeling a little ragged on the final 5k back to the car

Sun Jan 20, 4.7 Miles, 860′ :38 Planned to do 7, but as soon as I got out of the neighborhood, that started looking like a bad idea. My legs just weren’t having it, and in actuality, felt like they had already run 30 or 40 miles today, which certainly isn’t a good thing.

Totals: 51.7 Miles, 12,290′ 7h31m

Overall I was definitely feeling pretty well beat-up this week, which is to be expected anytime I change my mileage/workout plans as much as I have in the past several weeks. Weather permitting, I’m hoping to increase my trail-mileage, and subsequently my vertical change, but it may take some time to balance things out with the semesters beginning coinciding with these plans.

Photo: Dave Franz

Photo: Bob Skorupski

Photo: Bob Skorupski

Photo: Bob Skorupski

Photo: Bob Skorupski