Sunday, February 28, 2016

Training log - Week ending 2/28/16

This week was 58.5 miles of running, 7.5 "miles" of pool-running and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This was a lower mileage week, to refresh myself in anticipation of a heavy race schedule for the next few weeks.  In fact, I'm going to be low mileage for quite a few weeks to come, and probably skipping most of the weekday track workouts after this week, since I'll be racing back-to-back weekends.  It does feel a bit odd to have the extra free time from running.  On the other hand, work continues to remain quite hectic, so it balances out.

The subject of time, free or otherwise, leads to the subject of time management.  And then the question I sometimes get of "how do you fit in all this stuff?  The running and the swimming and the foam rolling and the weight training?"


  1. I play the game on easy mode.  I have no children.  That's an extra hour or two of time a day right there.  I also telecommute full time, working from a home office.  Since I don't have to get myself to work, and I also don't have to get dressed up for work (my computer webcam is taped over), that's another hour+ in each day right there.
  2. I negotiated at work to have my business day start at 10 am (generally I work until somewhere between 6 and 8 pm in the evening).  That late start gives me a chance to run errands around 8 or 9 am in the morning on a weekday, when grocery stores and pharmacies and dry cleaners are absolutely empty.  More saved time.  It's great, if you have the seniority at work to swing it.
  3. Through serendipity (my partner bought our house long before he and I met), I live literally a 2 minute walk from the track and the pool.  This is another huge time saver.
  4. I also frequently combine runs with other things.  I'll run to and from yoga, or the gym.  Or I'll run to the grocery store, pick up stuff, and then take public transportation home.
  5. A lot of my injury prevention work really doesn't take that long.  Foam rolling is 10 minutes or less, generally.  And I rarely spend more than 30 minutes at the gym (often closer to 20).

    When I'm at the gym, I minimize my time spent by rotating exercises for more efficiency - I'll do a set of pull-ups, and then do planks and eccentric calf dips while my biceps are recovering, rather than just standing around resting.  Two or three rotations through those exercises, and then I'll move to another area, and go back and forth between chest presses and single leg deadlifts, or something similar.  Basically, I do an upper body exercise, then a core exercise and/or a lower leg injury prevention exercise, and repeat 2-3 times. 

    To be clear - I don't think this is the optimal way to train for strength in the gym - but I don't really care that much about being stronger.  My focus is more on maintaining the strength I have, preserving my bone density, and protecting against running injury.
  6.  Finally (and this what nobody wants to hear) I do make it a priority.  To me - foam rolling is in the same category of brushing my teeth and showering - if I have enough energy and time to do one, I have enough energy and time to do the other. 

    From time to time, I hear people say that they don't have time to foam roll or do core exercises.  However, they do have time to get a pedicure or a facial or go to happy hour.  If that's the case - it's not that you don't have time to foam roll or do planks, but that you prioritize the other things. 

    I'm not criticizing the priorities, but rather the failure to own the choice.  It's absolutely fine to choose to spend your time differently - but acknowledge that you've made that choice.  Don't use language that implies it wasn't a choice.

    (I do the same thing myself by the way - I have to continually remind myself that if I really wanted to get a pedicure or similar, I'd find the time.  The truth is that I've chosen to be slovenly, but to have a strong core and active glutes and a lack of muscular trigger points.  And I do try to own that).

In other news I attended a yoga teacher training on Saturday, even though I'm not a yoga teacher and have no ambition to be one.  This specific training series focuses on yoga as a therapeutic modality for chronic injuries, with the particular session I attended focusing on the pelvis and SI joints, where many of my problems originate.

I learned a LOT of really helpful stuff in 4 hours - too much to cover here.  But one thing that really stood out was her method for relieving trigger points at the bottom of the pelvis - the deepest part of the groin where your inner thigh muscles (adductors) and some of your hip rotators (obdurator) tie in.  It's a really delicate area - one that you can't really ask your massage therapist to work on - it's just too awkward.

In a nutshell, to relieve those areas, take a thin yoga mat, and roll it up as tightly as you can.  Then lay the rolled up mat lengthwise (north to south) and sit on top of it, so your crotch straddles the rolled up mat, with the mat protruding both in front of you and behind you.  Then assume butterfly pose and rock slightly forward.  The rolled up mat will press on the trigger points of those muscles, right below where they attach to the bones of the pelvis. 

This exercise is extremely uncomfortable if you've got trigger points in those muscles.  But I was shocked by how much better my legs and my gait felt on Sunday morning, after doing that release on Saturday afternoon.  Perhaps it was just the perfect weather.  But I think finally relieving those trigger points had something to do with it as well, and I'm going to add that technique into my foam rolling routine.


Monday:   Yoga and 7.5 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolled in the evening.

Tuesday: 9.5 miles, including a track workout of 400, 800, 2x1200, 800, 400 with half distance recovery, plus 4x200.  Split 94, 3:04, 4:34, 4:33, 3:01, and 84, plus 42, 41, 41, 41.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 5.5  miles very easy (9:22 pace) to yoga, and then a yoga class plus upper body weights and core.  Followed with 3 miles very easy (8:48) plus drills.  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   6 miles very easy (9:02 pace) to yoga, and then a yoga class.  Followed with 2.5 miles very easy (8:40) plus drills+4 strides.  Foam rolling at night.  

Friday:  9.5 miles, including a windy ~4 mile tempo on the track in 26:40 (split 6:42/6:38/6:41/6:41) - the wind just got stronger and stronger as the workout went on, so a negative split by effort yielded even splits.  I was pacing for 5 miles, but was pulled at 4.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  5 miles aerobic uphill (8:42), and then upper body and core strengthwork, followed by 4.5 miles very easy downhill (8:23) and then a yoga therapeutics seminar.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday:  12 miles progressive in fantastic weather, split as first 3 at 8:43; next 5.5 at 8:08; next 1.5 at 7:24; last 2 at 6:31.  Followed with injury prevention work and yoga.   Skipped recovery swimming in the afternoon due to an open blister on my foot that needs time to scab over.  Foam rolling at night.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Training log - Week ending 2/21/16

This week was 66 miles of running, 2000 yards of swimming, and 7 "miles" of pool-running -- training log is here.

The weather was all over the board this week.  On Monday, a snow storm closed my local pool.  Fortunately, a pool in a neighboring county was open so a teammate and I headed over (which gave me a nice chance to test out my car's winter driving capabilities - it passed with flying colors).

Monday evening into Tuesday morning, an ice storm covered our 4 inches of snow with a glaze of ice.  My coach cancelled morning track, encouraging us to go to the evening workout instead.  I couldn't make the evening workout, so I headed out later that morning after most of the ice melted to do something that raised my heart rate (and involved running - get your mind out of the gutter).

I ended up returning to Iwo Jima for hill repeats - it was the only real option, since the track was unusable, and my normal fallback of the Whitehurst Freeway underpass had too much traffic at that time of day to be safe.  Since I have a hilly half-marathon in a few weeks, it probably wasn't a bad thing to get some hill work in.

During my hill workout, the skies opened up and it poured, while the temperatures rose quickly, resulting in a river flowing down the hill as I ran up it.  I've always regretted the fact that you can't replicate hill workouts in the pool.  But apparently you can replicate pool-running workouts while doing hill repeats.

The rain eased up during my cool-down jog, and by Tuesday evening, all snow and slush was completely gone.  The track was clear and open, for the workout I wasn't attending.  The weather gods are cruel.


The rest of the week was better.  Friday morning's workout was in the 20s, which felt "normal", and then we had absolutely perfect weather for Sunday's long run. (The weather gods are also fickle).   The long run was another set of 4-3-2-1 mile intervals, with one mile recovery between each.

I've always loved this workout - it's just one that comes very easily to me.  A large part of that is that my strength as a runner is my strength, and so strength workouts like this one are much easier for me than speedwork.  Part also is that this workout is the only time (besides races) that I take a caffeinated gel.   Makes me ridiculously jittery and a bit snappy, which I hate, but I love the extra perk in my legs.

But because this workout is always so easy for me, that's also an indication that I don't need to do it very often.  I've now done it twice this year, and I'm guessing that's it for a while.    My hunch is that it's better for me to keep the legs fresher and focus on speed and turnover - my strength will always be there.

My iron issues are also continuing to improve.  I still can't turn my legs over quite the way I want to on the track, but I'm not running out of gas anymore, and I am getting peppier.

One side consequence of the iron issues is that I've gotten a lot more tense when running on the track.  When my legs aren't as peppy as I would like, then I get angry and start trying hard and tensing up, and end up just worsening the issue.  Track is about practicing running fast while relaxed - which is easier to do when you're not pissed off and straining.  So that's what I want to work on for the next two weeks, along with backing off the mileage to freshen up the legs.  And continuing to pop the iron supplements twice a day.


Monday:   Yoga plus 7 "miles" easy pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  10 miles, including a hill workout of 6 repeats up Iwo Jima (~500m up, then 200m jog, 100m stride, and 100m jog down to base of hill.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 5 miles easy (9:21 pace) to yoga, and then a yoga class and some upper body weights and core.  Followed with 5 miles very easy (8:47) plus some drills and two strides.  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   6 miles very easy to yoga (9:00 pace), followed by yoga.  Then did another 4 miles very easy (8:42), plus drills and four hill sprints.  Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  10 miles, including a long intervals workout on the track of 3200, 2 lap jog, 1600.  Splits were 12:50 (6:27/6:23) and 6:13. Followed with lower body strengthwork and 1100 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:   10 miles easy (8:33), plus drills and two strides.  Followed with upper body/core in the gym and foam rolling.

Sunday:  16 miles, including a workout of 4, 3, 2, and 1 miles with one mile recovery.  Splits were:
4 miles:  27:32  (6:49/6:54/6:55/6:54) - averaged 6:53
3 miles:  20:33 (6:53/6:48/6:52) (plus an extra minute at this pace, since I didn't feel the Garmin vibrate to mark the end of the third mile) - averaged 6:51
2 miles: 13:39 (6:57/6:42) - averaged 6:50
1 mile: 6:36

Followed with 900 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Training log - Week ending 2/14/16

This week was 64 miles of running, 6 "miles" of pool-running and 4000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

This week ended much better than it started.  Tuesday's interval workout was a bit depressing, as I fell apart on both the second 1600 and the second 800.  Even when I'm having a bad day, I usually negative split my workouts, both descending the pace of the workout and running negative splits within each interval. (if it's a bad day, I just run slower.)  But Tuesday I fell apart on the last lap of the second 1600, and then did the same on the final 800.

That's unusual for me.  Except when my iron (technically ferritin) is low.

And like that, a (admittedly dim) lightbulb lit up. 

I'd last checked my ferritin in mid-January, about a week before my half.  (I check it regularly, just to know what's normal for me, and also to get some warning if it's dropping).  At that point, it was lower than I would like, but still in the "fine" range.  I made a mental note to start supplementing.  And then I forgot to, between traveling, heavy workload, blizzard, etc.  (I think the fact that the half went so well also played a factor in my blowing it off).

But, looking back at my training log over the last 10 days, my hard runs have been on a downward trend, despite getting enough sleep, not pushing the speed, and not doing high mileage.  Combine that with the positive splits in workouts, and the ferritin test from a month ago, and it wasn't a hard call to go on the iron supplements again.

(sidenote: though low ferritin is an issue for many runners, no one should just randomly decide that they need to start taking iron without checking with a professional first.  There is a substantial subset of the population that has TOO much iron in their system (google hematochromatosis) - and taking more iron can be very risky.  In my case, I know I don't have that issue, and have a history of low iron, so I'm comfortable taking supplements).

So - I started back up on the supplements on Tuesday, taking them twice a day with lunch and dinner.  And by the weekend I was feeling and running better.  Not truly peppy, but better.  Perhaps it's the iron.  Or perhaps it's the placebo effect.  Or perhaps I just had a minor bug and this wasn't iron at all.  But I've got more snap to my legs, and that's good.


Monday:   Yoga and 6 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolled in the evening.

Tuesday: 10 miles, including a track workout of 2x(1600,800) - split 6:16, 2:55, 6:07, 3:00.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1100 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 5 miles very easy (9:29 pace) to yoga, and then a yoga class plus upper body weights and core.  Followed with 3 miles very easy (8:57).  Foam rolling at night.

Thursday:   4.5 miles very easy (9:16 pace) to yoga, and then a yoga class.  Followed with 5.5 miles very easy (8:45) plus drills+4 hill sprints.  Foam rolling at night.  

Friday:  11 miles, including a ~4 mile tempo on the track in 26:27 (split 6:53/6:35/6:31/6:28) - it was a pretty cold morning, hence the first slow mile.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1500 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday:  10 miles easy (8:45) followed by drills and four strides, and then upper body and core strengthwork.  Foam rolling in the evening.

Sunday:  14.5 miles, mostly easy (averaging 8:40) but with the last 3.5 at 6:49 pace (downhill),.  This was supposed to be a progression run, but most of the trail was slick enough to require that the pace be kept easy.   Followed with injury prevention work and yoga.   1400 yards recovery swimming in the afternoon. Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Training log - week ending 2/7/16

This week was 52.5 miles of running, 7.5 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

I am very busy at work, and the most interesting stuff has been covered in the race report, so this won't be too long an entry.

One thing of note from this week is that I decided that my beloved racing flats - the Adidas Takumi Sen Boost - are no longer working for me.  When I ran in them last spring, they felt wonderful and effortless and springy.  But when I wore them for a 10K last fall, they felt awkward.  I wore them again on Friday morning, pre-race, and confirmed - they just don't feel right anymore.  And you want things to feel right when you race.

Instead, I now like the Adidas Adios Boost 2 - the shoe I previously rejected for the Takumi Sen - and I wore those on Sunday for the 5K.

The shoes are actually very similar in weight - the main difference is that the Takumi Sen has more "boost" material in the forefoot and a lower heel-toe drop.  And my beloved pair of Takumi Sens are also black.

I'm guessing that my change in preference is a reflection of all the work I've done in the past year on improving my gait - near daily drills and strides, and regular work in the gym focusing on single leg deadlifts and step-ups to get my glutes firing.  My gait has improved, with a more powerful stride and a slightly different foot strike, and so my shoe preference has also changed.  So this is a positive thing.

It's also good because the Takumi Sens are darn hard to find - in the US, they're only sold in men's sizes, and it's very hard to find a men's size 5.5.  And they're very expensive when I do find them.  In contrast, the Adios comes in women's sizes, is easy to find, and is substantially cheaper.  So woo.

If only the women's Adios came in black.


Monday:   Yoga and 7.5 "miles" of pool-running.  Foam rolled in the evening.

Tuesday: 10 miles, including a Whitehurst Freeway workout of 8x.55 mile intevals, with ~2-3 min recovery.  Splits were 3:39, 3:41, 3:21, 3:26, 3:16, 3:22, 3:21, 3:23.  Followed with injury prevention work and 1250 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 4.5 miles very easy (9:35 pace) to yoga, and then a yoga class.  Followed with 5.5 miles very easy (9:23).  Sports massage at night.

Thursday:   6 miles very easy (9:15 pace) to yoga, and then a yoga class plus upper body weights and core.  Followed with 2 miles very easy (9:00) plus drills+strides.  Foam rolling at night.  

Friday:  7 miles, mostly very easy but with a 1 mile pick-up in 6:24.  Followed with injury prevention work and foam rolling.

Saturday:  5 miles easy (8:34) followed by drills.  Foam rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:  3 mile warm-up, 5K race in 19:48, and then another 6.5 miles after (went on what I thought would be a 4 mile loop - oops).   Followed with yoga.   1750 yards recovery swimming in the afternoon.  Got caught up in work and race report writing and football and forgot to foam roll.  Oops.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Race report: First Down 5k, February 7, 2016

I ran the First Down 5K today, finishing in a time of 19:48.

It's funny - my whole point in running this race was to see what I'd do for a 5K if I ran one that wasn't hilly and in July or August.  So....I went for the flat and very fast course in February and..... ran pretty much the same time I ran last Labor Day weekend.  Heh.

The course was an out and back on the pancake flat Hains Point, which is always very fast unless there's wind.  And there was no wind today.

As you would expect for February, it was chilly at the start - 30 degrees.   I debated whether to go with shorts or singlet or tights and long sleeve.  For races I usually like to go with singlet and shorts if at all possible - it just puts me in a racing frame of mind, if that makes sense.  But since the distance was so short, I decided to go with the warmer outfit.  My reasoning was that I wanted to make sure I wasn't too cold on the start line, since I wouldn't have time to warm up during the race.  Additionally, a 5K is so short that being a bit overdressed wouldn't haunt me the way it might in a longer race.

Having picked up my bib the night before, I parked my car near the start around 7:05, and then jogged over, dropped my extra layer off at bag check, and started warming up.

The race was scheduled to start at 8:00, and by 7:45 I was warmed up, and ready to do my final strides before lining up.  So were my friends.  However, we were in the minority.  The majority of the runners apparently had shown up much later, and hadn't picked up their bibs.  Hence the line for race day bib pick-up stretched across a field, and then across the race course.

As you might guess, the race start was delayed.  I stood around, thinking that I'd wait until they gave us a 5 minute warning before doing some more strides.  However, it didn't take long for me to start shivering, so I decided to jog gently while I waited.  Then a few more strides before lining up, only to wait some more for the National Anthem and some other stuff.  Then finally we were off.


I felt cold and stiff, so I took the race out carefully, waiting a few minutes before starting to chase others down.  My plan was stay slightly conservative for the first half, and then give it what I had coming home. 

Even with a conservative first half, I was chasing down people, and by the time I hit the halfway point I was nearly solo - one person slightly ahead of me, with a large pack in front in the distance, and another behind me.  After the turn, I caught up to the guy just up ahead, who will hence be referred to as "tall guy."  Tall guy and I proceeded to run together, trading off very slight leads for the next mile and a half.  It was definitely helpful to have him to work with/battle against - I never felt "sharp" during this race, so it was nice to have someone else to focus on.

When the finish line approached, we both kicked, but tall guy's kick eclipsed mine - I just didn't have an extra gear.  Frustrating, but oh well.   I saw the clock counting down 19:4x as we came in, which was disappointing, but oh well.  Not horrible, but not what I had hoped to run on a very fast course in great weather.  But some days you have it, some days you don't.


Splits were:
Mile 1: 6:26
Mile 2: 6:24
Mile 3: 6:18
last bit 0:39.

So I clearly paced it just about perfectly.  I was just slower than I had hoped.


It was interesting to look at the data afterwards, and note that my average heart rate for this 5K was about the same as that for my half-marathon two weeks ago, while my peak HR was higher in the half than it was today.  And yet I just couldn't seem to run any faster today, and I was cooked at the end of the race.

That's not how it should theoretically work - the shorter the race, the higher the intensity, and the higher the heart rate.   And sometimes that holds true for me; other times it doesn't - and I just can't seem to run hard enough to elevate my heart rate in the shorter races.  I used to see this a lot when I did track mile races.   I could barely get my heart rate into tempo heart range, even as I was tying up in the home stretch while running a 5:30 mile.   It's just one of those things. 

One obvious explanation is that I'm just not pushing myself hard enough in the shorter races.  I can't rule that out as a possibility - however, if this is lack of toughness or motivation, then why can I hit higher heart rates in longer races or at the end of progression runs?

My hunch (after thinking way too much) is that it's partially because I haven't done any shorter speed work (i.e. 200-400m reps at mile pace) recently, and so I'm lacking some of my top running gears.  I think that I also ran my Tuesday workout too hard and did too many reps - I've seen again and again that what I do as early as Tuesday can affect my race on Sunday - no two day tapers for me if it's a goal race (which this wasn't).


Other notes:
  • One of my teammates won the race and set a PR, while the other also PRed and got second masters - it was awesome that they both had such great days (and really fun to see Matt leading at the turnaround).
  • Parked at Constitution, which worked perfectly - left my home at 6:48, and was parked by 7:05.
  • This race was Superbowl themed, and had a "combine" that you could do after the race - basically you cross the finish line, proceed immediately to another area where you do some sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, etc, and then you get a total time for running+combine.  And a second set of awards. 
    I have no idea how someone runs a 5K all out and then immediately starts doing push-ups and lunges.  I just don't.  But apparently a lot of people do.
  • One puff of Dulera in the morning.  Breathing was fantastic, not even a hint of asthma during or after the race.
  • Took a Caramel Machiatto GU in the morning for the caffeine boost.   As always, yummy.