Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekly Scoop Sept 17-23

Off day but I did a 20 minute core routine

Blowing Springs 5.25 miles @ 10:31 pace
55m total time and 500' of vertical gain

Red Dirt Roads 3.5 miles @ 8:54 pace
31m total time and several short hill strides thrown in

Blowing Springs 5.7 miles @ 10:18 pace
59m total time and 600' vertical gain

Off day, just rested up

Hobbs State Park Pigeon Roost Trail
17.5 miles @ 10:51 pace
2h58m total time and 1,900' vertical gain

Blowing Springs 7.5 miles @ 11:20 pace
1h25m total time and 500' vertical gain

Weekly totals:
40 miles @ 10:30 pace
7h05m total time and 3,700' ft vertical gain

I backed off the pace a bit on the hill strides mid week, hitting 10k pace instead of the 5k pace I did last week. Why? I don't foresee using 5k speed for any ultras. Gotta keep the big picture in mind. Saturday was a great run, a good confidence booster. I fueled with 3 gels and water only during a 3 hour run and my energy level was steady throughout. I did feel some fatigue creep in the last couple of miles but I had put in a tough effort so I wasn't surprised at that. I did have a Vespa before the run and a pretty good breakfast. I have been trying to eat more healthy fats (EFAs) like Udo's Oil and coconut oil. That morning I had a yogurt w/ Udo's and a slice of whole grain bread w/ coconut oil on it. The point is to determine if the increased consumption of EFAs will provide a steady energy source for long runs and help with recovery. I also employed a 25/5 run/walk ratio on the Saturday run. First time I have tried that. I wanted to see how incorporating some regular walk breaks would influence my overall pace and how I felt during and after the run. I have to admit that I like it. My overall pace stayed right in the wheelhouse and I was able to really run much of the course. In fact, I flew down most of the downhill sections. My legs felt OK the next day and I attribute that to two things, the walking and the Ultragen. I continue to be impressed with the difference the Ultragen makes in decreasing the muscle soreness after long runs. My legs may have felt OK but my glutes were another story. I walked with a purpose on my breaks Saturday and used muscles I'm not usually working. I kept the walking pace quick even on the uphill sections. So far I continue to give a thumbs up to Ultragen and ProBars (raw, vegan friendly whole food bars) and I like the new run/walk ratio. I know I will have to use that at Lookout Mountain in December.
The PF tenderness all but went away quickly. No more issues. The shin continues to have a slight twinge in it at times. I continue to regularly stretch, roll and stick any spots that need attention. I also started doing little sessions of footwork to strengthen my feet and lower leg stabilizers. The sort of stuff that ballet dancers do. It's easy and can be done while watching a movie. Hopefully this will help out. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weekly Scoop Sept 9-15

Not that anyone out there is truly interested in what my training is like but it helps me to put it down. That way I get a better perspective of things.

Monday 9/10
Off day. I did a core strength routine for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday 9/11
An important day for me. A day that led me back into public service for several years following the attacks in NYC. I wanted to do something out of the ordinary. So I ran 9.11 miles at a 9:11 pace. Nice.

Wednesday 9/12
Off day and another core workout.

Thursday 9/13
5 miles at Blowing Springs with 500 ft of vertical at 10:30 pace.

Friday 9/14
Off day, went for a short walk with the family after dinner.

Saturday 9/15
Hobbs State Park, GOAT run, 24 miles at a casual pace in the steady rain. Total time on the move came in at 4 hours and 59 minutes. Right at 1,800 ft of vertical gain. Ran Little Clifty, Dutton Hollow and Bashore Ridge and then Clifty again in reverse.

Sunday 9/16
5.5 mile easy, recovery run around Elm Tree Elementary neighborhood.

43.5 miles
8 hours 8 minutes
11:16 pace

After ramping things up over the previous 4 weeks the goal this week was to back off a bit. I decided to reduce mileage by about 15% from the previous week, take an extra off day and slow my pace overall. My legs feel pretty good following the long run Saturday. The lingering shin tenderness is all but gone. I have spent time daily stretching out my calves and foam rolling throughout the week. I did have a touch of PF ache sneak in during the long run and I jumped all over it that night with ice and will keep a close eye on it over the next several days. Maybe that tight shin isn't gone after all? Could the new shoes (Patagonia Tsali 2.0) be a little too flexible? Should I pick up a new pair of inserts? 

On the long run Saturday I continued with my "More is Less" experiment for my hydrating and fueling. I made sure to have a decent breakfast. I had a big piece of locally made whole grain toast with peanut butter spread on it, some yogurt with Udo's Oil mixed in and a banana and a glass of water. I downed a Vespa Junior before the run and a couple of antacids (a first for me). During I consumed a gel about every 45 minutes. I also went through a 1/2 pack of Chomps. Other than that, it was strictly water, no Sustain or S! Caps. About 60 oz of H2O total by my calculations. My energy level was noticeably steady with zero GI issues. Was it the antacids, the cooler temps (mid 60s) or the relaxed pace? Maybe some of each I suspect. Immediately after finishing I drank a bottle of Ultragen that included a scoop of greens powder. That afternoon, evening and the next day I experienced very little in the way of soreness, muscle fatigue or low energy. The experiment will continue. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

When Less is More

If you have followed my blog at all then you know that I have been on a journey to find out how far I can go in terms of "running with less". It started after reading Born to Run and like countless others I, too, wanted to run like a Raramuri. Minus the flowing skirt. I never saw myself struggling to into a pair of Vibram Five Fingers much less running in sandals or barefoot but I liked the concept. Long story short, since I already wrote in detail about this, I wanted to find how little of a shoe I could comfortably run long distances with. After a slow and methodical trail I found the Pure Grit by Brooks was a tad over the line for me. Now that I am recovered from my stress fracture what's next? Well, I read about Waterlogged by Dr. Noakes and Joe Uhan's experience at WS100 this year (read the article from iRunFar) and became interested in the fueling aspect of doing with less. I believe the human body is capable of amazing things. From phenomenal feats of strength and endurance to an unbelievable ability to heal itself. At this point in my running I know I can run 50 miles. The question then becomes not can I run 50 miles but can I do it without electrolyte supplements, a case of gels and a handful of fermented Japanese wasp saliva? And not merely cover the distance but do it relatively easily. 
So I began to experiment and devour any material I could find about the topic. Things like the different fueling systems used by the body or what to eat before different types of runs to maximize performance. My water bottles are now filled with plain water, I drink to thirst (not XX number of ounces every XX number of minutes) and I no longer carry electrolyte capsules with me on long runs. Guess what? No cramps. Not that I ever really had an issue with them but it was a question for me. Now I have an answer. Can I complete a 4 hour run with only a handful of gels? I'm still working on that one. My usual strategy had me slurping a gel every 30 minutes and some sort of solid food about every hour. What about a gel every 20 minutes or 45 minutes? Things seem to go well for me up to about 3 hours and then the stomach has taken issue with the gel only approach. That was with Gu brand gels, my longtime gel of choice. My energy level seems to be more or less there but I have experienced some pretty wicked acid reflux and fought the urge to purge a few times. Some solids seem to help, I prefer Powershots to Chomps simply due to ease of use. But the point is to get through long, tough runs on gels only. The one gel that shows some promise for a gel only approach to long runs is EFS Liquid Shot from First Endurance. I was exposed to them at the Inca Runner Camp in July up in the Tetons. Great taste (I have tried vanilla and kona), available in 5 oz flask so no little packets to open with sweaty hands (and reusable w/ the 32oz refills), no wrappers to stash and it seems to sit well in the ol' GI tract. The biggest issue I have is with finding an easy and practical way to carry the flask. I would like to find an armband type carrier to keep my hands free. I'm just trying to determine if I can find the right combination. Maybe it can work or maybe it won't. Time will tell. 
Why even try you ask? At some point a given distance becomes a known factor and perhaps some of the allure fades away. So if one is striving to improve upon that known mark there are few options. I could go longer but the 100 mile distance has yet to call upon me. I have not been struck by that arrow. What about going faster? That is definitely on the table. I could make a go at it on a tougher course, say, with more elevation. That challenge is on the radar as well. But the call I hear now is to do it with less. The way I see it, if I can eliminate 3 Vespas, 6 Stinger Waffles, 10 Gu gels and 12 S! Caps on my next 50 miler that has to be, what, like $40 plus bucks in savings. Over a few races that's enough for my UltrAspire pack or Hokas. 
The real challenge is in doing the same, or even better, with less. Training my body to become more efficient. To do this I will have to eat better when not running. And that's a good thing. It will require making my body stronger and that, too, is a good thing. In the end isn't that what runners are all about? The challenge. Whatever it is, whatever form it takes, that thing that causes you to wake up in the morning and lace the shoes up when you could stay in bed. I needed a new motivator and this was it.