Summary: August 19-25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Try Again.

It looks as if I’m falling victim to the overly cliche never-ending injury cycle. Every time I get a glimpse of some positivity with my IT band, I do exactly what I would be doing if I were truly healthy, which is, run as much as I possibly can until something hurts, the sun sets, or I’m too tired to keep running. This obviously is NOT the way to recover from an over-use injury (this is where you cue in a quote from my mother saying that one should not cure overtraining by overtraining.)

After having a really encouraging week in the Pine Tree State without any hints of needing to slow down, I ran the River to Sea relay with the Highlands Hashers. Whilst the R2C jaunt only totaled a pedestrian 12.6 Miles, of entirely flat terrain, in 2 legs, on road… cranking it out at ~7:15 pace proved just a little too much for my knee, as well as my calves (which, after a week, are finally feeling normal again). So, after limping around for a few days, having 2 really shitty runs, I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to run with Dave on Friday morning to check out the course for the Wildcat Ridge Romp. As you could expect, this only re-aggravated my knee, and wiped me out pretty well.  (Yes Dave, you kicked my ass on this one)

So what does this mean in the broad scheme of things? I really need to focus my energy on trying to run pain-free for a bit right now, especially with autumn (my favorite running season) right around the corner, and some pretty lofty (albeit unspoken) goals for next year. So for the time being, I’m going to pretend that racing is non-existent, and concentrate on simply enjoying my runs, pursuing the terrain, and courses that I really want to run on. So hopefully if I stop dangling the idea of racing in the near future in front of myself, I can do a better job of increasing my mileage in a prudent way, instead of the reckless mileage spikes I’ve been having lately.

As for how I’m feeling about all of this… maybe some graphs can make it easier:

My fitness level since getting hurt:


 Here’s how I feel about myself, and my eating habits:

 And how my mileage effects my life:
 

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…

Frustration

Any high volume runner knows what I’m talking about when I tell you that the inability to run is ineffably frustrating. Putting aside any race plans, and any other associated fitness goals, the real issue is that there’s a tremendous part of my day to day life that’s simply… missing. The smell of the mornings fresh air, the sense of depletion after a run, the joy of a prolonged sweat, all of this seems to be infiltrating my thoughts, memories of what seems like a past life (although it’s only been a few weeks since I was running healthily). In fact, it’s much like getting sick, where after a few too many days of illness, you begin to forget what healthy feels like…  More omnipresent, is the longing for that time spent truly alone. Having the opportunity to tune in, and listen to my body, both the joys and the pains of distance running. Even more, the chance to truly let my thoughts go through my head at their own speed, and simply observe them. So while it’s annoying to think that my fitness is slowly reducing, this pales in comparison to the mental aspect of not being able to hop on trail first thing in the morning (and often times, last thing in the evening) and leave it all behind for a while.

My knee is starting to feel better, in fact, it’s MUCH better than it was when I originally began resting(I’ve now taken 14 of the last 18 days completely off from running). When it first started to act up, I couldn’t make it more than 3/4ths of a mile or so before the pain began to become unbearable, whereas this past Monday, I ran 6 miles on trail(AT, at Sunrise Mountain), without it being beyond a nagging discomfort, and last night I ran 3 miles on the roads, again testing it out, finding the pain bearable, but certainly concerned that a light 3 mile jaunt would still cause some aggravation. With this in mind, I’ve decided to take another ~8-10 days off from running, concentrating on icing, stretching, compressing, and starting to integrate ultrasound therapy. Hopefully this will allow my IT band to fully heal so that I can get back to the trails soon, and retrieve the part of my life that’s been missing for the past month or so.

In other news, I’ve been selected to be a Merrell Delegate for the upcoming Outdoor Nation Summit in NYC. I’m not sure how much Merrell wants me (or any of the other delegates) to divulge about the perks of being sent on their behalf, but the bottom line is that they’re covering my expenses, and have provided me with a generous amount of apparel in exchange for my participation, blogging on their behalf, and a couple of conference calls with their outdoor people. Basically the purpose of the summit is to gather a sizable amount of 20-somethings in a room to discuss ways to encourage more people to get outside, get on trail, and be healthier, so I’m every much looking forward to it.

Gino chased by Bob

John crosses a stream

Jeff doing some downhill

Failed Recovery

I’ve fallen victim to one of the cliche troubles with running ultra-distances, the post-race injury. It seems that this is a rather common occurrence, and, to me at least, seems to make sense. After training at a sub-maximal level for months on end, topping mileage out at a near maximal level, eventually the body simply needs a rest, which should commonly come before the race (see: taper) and then afterwards in the recovery phase. However, like any over-zealous cocky runner who see’s his fitness as having peaked for a race, I decided to begin running again immediately, on what were obviously sore/tired/un-healed legs, and have as a result, found myself dealing with ITBS.
ITBS, or Iliotibial band syndrome is probably best described here. Fundamentally it’s and inflamation of the IT band that manifests itself as lateral pain in the knee. So, as a result, I’m relegated to resting, icing, limping around (even though it no longer causes much discomfort, limiting the flexion of the knee reduces strain on the IT band, and should be advantageous in helping it heal) and generally doing…. nothing.
Since I cannot run, for at least a few more days (this is day six of consecutive non-running) I’ve found myself with an abundant amount of additional free time, which is… well, very strange. If I look at my average totals for the year thus far, I’ve “gained” at least a solid work-day’s worth of time, if not more, and frankly, the extra time, and inability to run is starting to get to me. So, with that in mind, I guess I’ll concentrate on some core work, continue icing the heck out of my knee/IT band, stretching, and pleading with my leg to hurry up and heal, as I have some over-training to get back to, and the trails are calling my name as I sit here, reading.

Recovery

It’s no surprise that a 50 mile race would leave me pretty beat up, after all, it’s quite a long distance to run, and definitely causes a lot of physical stress along the way. While all of my scrapes and bruises are for all intents and purposes, healed (okay, most of the scrapes are still showing, but they look way better, I swear!) I’m still feeling a good amount of the latent soreness/lethargy that you would associate with a sustained effort of that magnitude. With the help of my mortal enemies, the foam roller, and the stick, things are going okay, and here’s the recap.

Sunday things were overall really tight, and while I could move around pretty well, my overall fatigue level was surprising. I managed to eek out a half a mile running…. in a blisteringly fast 6 minutes before throwing in the towel. Then I spent the rest of the day drinking beer, lying on the couch, and watching reruns of Top Gear… Who says recovery isn’t fun!?

Monday I was feeling substantially better, albeit still rather sore/tired. So for the majority of the day, I didn’t do very much, just tried to eat my weight in protein/carbs/otherwise nutritious foods and drink as much water as I could, I also ran a single mile, somewhere in the mid 9 minute zone, it was tough, but didn’t feel as hurculean as the task seemed on Sunday. Also, my feet feel fine now, which is a pretty big deal considering how awful they felt at the end of Saturday.

Tuesday I’m beginning to feel increasingly human, as opposed to the zombie-like state I’d spent the previous two days in. I managed to muster up the energy to leave the house for a bit, run a mile in the 8min-ish area, and do some solid cooking. Walking down stairs in the early morning is still a bit troublesome, but getting better.

Wed, I’m almost back, ran 3.2 miles in the 8ish minute pace range, which felt surprisingly… normal. Still some latent soreness, and no sense of strength to push any harder, but it definitely felt good to feel like a runner, instead of a lazy couch potato.

Thurs. I’m planning on running the Broken Shin Loop tonight with the guys, although expecting to go pretty slowly, and hoping that tomorrow, or the following day I’ll be able to get out on the mountain for some “real” running, and begin training again very soon for my next race(s).

Early in the race, Shiggy
First few miles
Dave Franz (behind) Pacing and Motivating
Finish Line!

Finished

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 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 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.