Sunday, July 23, 2017

Training log - Week ending 7/23/17

This week was 59 miles of running, 27 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

And the heat continued.  Temps in the 80s and dew points in the 70s.  It's like this in DC every year, and yet it seems noteworthy every year.

It's hard to train in this weather.  But yet, I think it's beneficial.  And not in that "humidity is a poor woman's altitude training" way.

If I lived in a more consistent climate, like California, it would be very easy to fall into a training rut - the only variation in my training would be that driven by my training cycle.  The seasonal changes in DC force us into variety - in the summer we focus on mileage and short fast stuff, limiting long sustained efforts in the heat.  In the winter, we shift to longer efforts in odd locations (like under a freeway), focusing on sustained effort over time, rather than splits.

Since conditions aren't conducive to running our fastest year round, we get two seasons where we can ignore times, and just focus on effort and placing  And that's mentally refreshing.  Balanced out by two seasons where we can race very fast.

Plus the obvious - when you run in a wide variety of conditions, you gain confidence that you can handle those conditions.  Several times each year, I run in 90 degrees with high humidity, in single digit temperatures, in 30 mph winds, or in a torrential downpour.  Like everyone else, I hope for great conditions on race day, and I plan my goal races to maximize my chances of weather perfection.  But I can handle what race day gives me, because I've experienced it before.

Related to the above - while some avoid marathon training in the summer, I've decided that I actually prefer it. To be more specific, I prefer marathon training over 5k-half training in the summer.

Why?  When I'm focused on training for the 5K to half, my tempos are my priority workouts - and those can be challenging in the heat.  But when I'm marathon training, mileage and time on my feet are crucial, with speed work taking back seat.  And even in very hot and humid weather, I can get the miles in - I just drink a lot of water and rachet back my expectations.    For that reason, I'd much rather train for a marathon in August, saving the shorter distances for January, when I don't care that much if I have to miss a run or two due to ice and snow, as long as I get the tempo done at some point that week.


Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, foam rolling, yoga and 7.5 "miles" pool-running. 2.5 "miles" pool-running in the evening.

Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 2x(1600, 800) in 6:04, 2:54, 5:56, 2:47.  Also did injury prevention work at the gym and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam-rolling at night.

Wednesday: In the morning, 8 miles very easy to yoga (9:12), yoga, and then 4 miles very easy (9:22).  4 "miles" pool-running and a massage in the afternoon/evening.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights and core followed by foam rolling and 9 "miles" pool-running.  Another 3 "miles" of pool-running at night.

Friday: 10 miles, including 7 hill repeats (~500m up, then 200m jog, 100m stride, and 100m jog down to base of hill). Followed with injury prevention work and 1250 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles easy (9:30) followed by drills and four strides, and upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling and 1 "mile" pool-running in afternoon (pool closed early due to lightning).

Sunday: 16 miles progressive, split as first 5 at 9:35 pace, next 5 at 7:51, last 6 at 6:55.  Followed with injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Training log - Week ending 7/16/17

This week was 57 miles of running, 30 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

My second week of marathon training.  This week, I added the evening pool-running doubles in full force.  In a change from last year, where I ramped up the evening doubles gradually,  I decided to add them all in at once.  That's four extra evenings of pool-running, which adds up to an additional 12+ "miles" of pool-running per week.

While 12+ miles (aka 2 hours) is a decent amount of additional work, I also know that recovery from pool-running is different from that for land running.  For that reason, I don't think this bump is as risky as adding the equivalent mileage on land.  It's certainly not the same injury risk, and I don't think it's as risky from an overtraining standpoint either.  We shall see.  If I feel like it's too much, I can always back off and ramp up more slowly.

(How will I know if it's too much?  My classic warning sign is sleep - if I have difficulty falling asleep on two consecutive nights, I'm starting to overreach, and it's time to back off.)

In other news (that is the same old news) we got blasted by some tough DC heat and humidity this week.  The humidity was especially rough on Friday morning (dew point of 75 - tough for hill repeats).  Despite that, the hill workout went better than last week's.  I switched back to Advair 250/50 for my asthma, and it's pretty clear that I need to stay on that dose.

I also got lax on controlling my easy runs this week, and it showed in my Sunday long run (went OK, but I had to work harder than I would like).  It's really hard to pull back on the easy runs as much as I personally need to when I'm running with others.  Especially when I want to chat with people who are running at a pace that is totally reasonable for them, but just slightly faster than my preferred pace.  And especially when the "too fast for me" easy pace is still substantially slower than what one would predict based on my race times, and may look "fine" to others.  (Saturday run - I'm looking at you).

But the truth is that we're all experiments of one.  And for me personally, I need to ride the brakes hardcore on the days I'm not running hard, so that I can get what I need from the hard days.   Especially when I'm also a) dealing with DC heat/humidity and b) bumping up the training volume.  Duly noted.

Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, foam rolling, yoga and 7 "miles" pool-running. 3 "miles" pool-running in the evening.

Tuesday: 10 miles, including a track workout of 2x1600, 2x800 in 6:07, 5:57, 2:55, 2:51.  Also did injury prevention work at the gym and 1250 yards of recovery swimming.  Foam-rolling at night.

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy to yoga (8:55), yoga, and then 4 miles very easy (8:58).  4 "miles" pool-running and foam rolling in the evening.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights and core followed by foam rolling and 10 "miles" pool-running.  Another 2 "miles" of pool-running at night.

Friday: 10 miles, including 6 hill repeats (~500m up, then 200m jog, 100m stride, and 100m jog down to base of hill). Followed with injury prevention work and 1100 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles easy (8:46) followed by drills and four strides, and upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling and 4 "miles" pool-running in afternoon.

Sunday: 14 miles progressive, split as first 4 at 9:17 pace, next 5 at 7:44, last 5 at 7:01.  Followed with injury prevention work and 650 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Training log - Week ending 7/9/17

This week was 57 miles of running, 18 "miles" of pool-running and 3000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

Week 1 of marathon training is in the books.  I kicked it off with a casual four mile race that provided karmic balance to my good races from earlier this year (confession: achieving karmic balance wasn't my purpose in running that four miler).

I also struggled some with the last repeats of Friday's hill workout.  I first attributed this to the horrendous humidity (temperature and dew point of 73).  However, when I puffed my rescue inhaler during the cooldown, the result was almost instant relief.   Albuterol doesn't fix humidity or lack of fitness, so this indicated that my asthma was raising its ugly head.

Pretty disappointing, though not totally unexpected.  About 10 days ago, as part of my "how low can I go with my asthma prescriptions now that I'm on Xolair" experiment, I had dropped my Advair dosage from the 250/50 strength to the 100/50 strength.  But it's now looking like that might be too low, so back on the 250/50 I go.  Oh well.

I also added in a double this week, with an evening pool-run.  As my training cycle progresses, I'll do more of these evening pool-running doubles (I would have done another one on Saturday, except that I was out of town).  Just like last year.

My coach and I are re-using last summer's Chicago training plan for Mohawk-Hudson - the only difference is that my training paces will be a bit faster, since I'm starting the cycle with more fitness and speed than I had last year at this time.

My land mileage for this cycle will be the same as it was this spring (for 5K-half training) and the same as it was for the Chicago marathon cycle - I'll still be averaging 50-60-ish miles on land.  And just like before, the primary distinction between my short distance training and my marathon training will be a) longer long runs, and b) more pool-running, including evening pool-running.

There are some people who believe that you should always be trying to progress your training by increasing mileage each cycle.  I understand the reasoning, but that's not for me.   As I've learned in the past year, I race better on less mileage and a limited number of long runs.  My endurance is my strength, and so there's really no need to hammer at that by maxing out the mileage.  Rather, I try to stay as fresh as I can while doing the minimum necessary to develop marathon fitness and comfort at marathon pace.  The training plan for Chicago last year hit that balance perfectly.

Since what we're doing is working right now, there's no good reason to "fix" it.  We'll just hold the course until I plateau.  If that happens, then my coach and I will decide what, if anything, needs to change.


Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, 4 miles very easy (9:05) and then a gentle yoga class (I don't usually do yoga the day before a race, but it was a class I really wanted to support, so I showed up and childs-posed the more intense parts).  Foam roller and ice bath in the afternoon.

Tuesday: 3 mile warm-up, and then 4-ish mile race in 26:58.   Later did 6 "miles" pool-running and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 7.5 miles very easy to yoga (9:03), yoga, and then 4.5 miles very easy (9:02).  Sports massage in afternoon.

Thursday: In the morning, upper body weights and core followed by 9 "miles" pool-running.  Another 3 "miles" of pool-running and foam rolling at night

Friday: 10 miles, including 6 hill repeats (~500m up, then 200m jog, 100m stride, and 100m jog down to base of hill). Followed with injury prevention work and 1250 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles very easy (9:17) followed by drills and two strides, and upper body weights and core.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday: 14 miles progressive, split as first 5 at 9:13 pace, next 4 at 7:55, last 5 at 6:57.  Followed with injury prevention work and 750 yards recovery swimming.   Foam rolling in afternoon.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Race Report: DC Road Runners Age-Handicapped 4 Miler

Here's the start schedule for the race.
As a 43 year old woman, I started at 8:14:03
I ran the DC Road Runners Age Handicapped 4 Miler today in a time of 41:01 (26:58 was my running time, plus a 14:03 handicap), which was good enough for 10th overall.

This is a fun and unique race.  Unlike other races which all start at the same time, this race has a staggered start based on age and gender.  No bibs, no timing chips, no certified course (the 4 miles is approximate).  Just a very low key, fun race, where the first person to the finish line is the winner.

I ran this race last year also, and thus I'm familiar with the "trick" to this race.  In most races, we're used to starting with the faster people ahead of us, and the slower people behind us.  Thus, we subconsciously base our pacing strategy to some extent on others -  who's ahead of us, who's behind us, is there a pack to work with.

In this race, everything's reversed.  For the most part, the slower people start ahead, while the faster start behind.  This is surprisingly disconcerting.

The trick to running this race well is to run your own race.  But the structure of the race highlights just how hard it can be to do just that.

This year, I failed to run my own race, and learned a good lesson :)

***

This race is a double out and back on the C&O towpath.  From the start, one runs up to mile marker 11 (about half a mile), then turns around and runs two miles down, past the start/finish and mile marker 10, to mile marker 9.  Then another hairpin turn and you run about a mile and a half to the finish.  The mile markers on the towpath are approximations and not exact - in reality the course is slightly longer than four miles (which I have no objections to - the race is very clear that this is not a certified course, and that the distance is approximate).  

My strategy for this race was to stay conservative for much of the race, until I hit mile marker 10 for the second time.  At that point, I'd be about a half mile from the finish, and I could hammer.

I stuck to this strategy well at first - it was easy, since at my controlled pace I was still passing people.  However, about 2 miles in, I was passed by two women who had started behind me.  I'll fess up that at this point I made a bad decision and started chasing.    I kept them within reach until the second turnaround, and then got more aggressive.  The first woman came back to me fairly easy, and so I got to work on the second.

I was reeling her in, but also burying myself in the process.  And unfortunately I fell apart before I could catch her.  Had I just stayed calmer and more patient and focused on running my own race and not been quite as aggressive so early, I might still have been able to catch her before the finish.  But I got too impatient and pushed too early. That mistake, combined with a) overestimating my own fitness and b) underestimating the effects of the humidity (it was a typical DC July morning), did me in.  The last half mile of the race was pretty unpleasant, and several more people passed me.

Oh well.  I can't say I'm happy with the race.  On the other hand, I need to relearn these lessons from time to time, and better here than at a goal race.

My approximate mile splits, according to Strava, were 6:47, 6:41, 6:31, 6:37.  I also took manual splits on my Garmin at the mile markers.  Those were:

To MM 11: .47 miles in 3:12 (6:47 pace)
To MM 10: 1.01 miles in 6:49 (6:46 pace)
Out to MM 9 and back to 10: 2.04 miles in 13:22 (6:32 pace)
Back to finish: .54 miles in 3:35 (6:42 pace).

***

For my efforts, I was 10th overall.  For this race, each runner brings a prize of some sort - donations included CDs, books, sweatshirts, plants, boxes of cookies, etc.  These prizes are all placed on a picnic table.  Then, after the finish, each runner is allowed to select from the table, in the order of placing.  As the 10th placed runner, I had a solid selection of items to choose from.  I debated briefly - there was the sweatshirt that would work well as a pre-race throw-away, the stick of body glide (always useful), the bottle of tasty barbecue sauce...and of course the bottle of anti-wrinkle face moisturizer.

My haul.
But then I spotted the stuffed animal - a little flying monkey with goggles and cape.  And a speaker inside that emits noises that sound like a slow and painful death.  (I'm not sure that was the original intent).  I collect stuffed animals from races - I have an otter and an owl from Grandma's, a pair of tigers from Army 10 Miler, and a bear from Cherry Blossom.  The flying monkey was clearly meant to be mine, so I picked him (I can buy anti-wrinkle moisturizer at CVS anytime I want).

As it turned out, not all the prizes got taken, so after the awards were finished, the rest were up for grabs.  Thus, I also scored a book -  "Galloway's Book on Running" (published in 1984, before he started advocating run-walking) - and a tote to carry everything in.  Not bad.


Other notes:


  • Warmed up with 3 miles, including 2 minutes hard and then some drills and strides - felt good and ready to run at the start.
  • Temperature of 79, DP of 67 for the race.  Not ideal, but it's a DC summer - what do you expect.
  • Breathing was fine.  My struggles were due entirely to bad judgment/mental lapses, not to asthma.  And that's a good thing.
  • Decided to keep my cool-down jog to the pool, rather than on land.  This race is on the towpath, which is hard on my ankles.  Four miles (plus the 3 mile warm-up) isn't long enough to create too much strain, but I saw no point in pushing my luck by doing more miles on the towpath post-race. 
  • I got another shot of Xolair yesterday, and thus had to carry an epi-pen in a spi-belt for the race (I'm required to carry an epi-pen for 24 hours after each Xolair shot).  So I got to live out my dream of racing while wearing a fanny pack.






Sunday, July 2, 2017

Training log - Week ending 7/2/17

This week was 42 miles of running, 25 "miles" of pool-running and 1000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.

I returned to training this week, joining my team for a hill workout on Friday.  I like the hill workouts because they're more about form than pace, and they also include plenty of recovery between the bouts of hard running.  For those reasons, I find the hill workouts mentally easier than the track, and a nice way to ease back into training.  

Additionally, I'm always happier doing a workout on the roads than on the track.  If I had to rank my terrain preferences, it would be roads/asphalt first, then the track, and then trails at the bottom (and yes, I know this ranking is the inverse of others' preferences).  It's nice to return to workouts with something that's firmly in my comfort zone.

The hill workout went very well.  I showed up fully expecting to be dropped by the group I'd been training with pre-break, but instead I hung with them without straining.  I had also decided ahead of time that I'd only do as many reps as felt right - the workout is normally 6-8 reps, but there's really no need to force the workout when one's just coming back.  However, I felt good enough that 6 reps was no issue.  I could have done more, but called it there because more reps would have been unnecessary.

So yay.  Of course, as a friend pointed out, it really wasn't surprising that I had retained my fitness - it takes about 10 days to 2 weeks to start seriously losing fitness, and so my 7 days no running+7 days easy running were enough to refresh, but not enough to set me back.

I did have one minor alert when my left hamstring tightened up on Thursday after my pool-run.  I have a history of both sciatica and hamstring issues in my left leg.  I was fairly certain this was sciatica - pool-running doesn't normally trigger hamstring soreness, while it does occasionally make my sciatica flare (other sciatica triggers - too much rest, sleeping in the wrong position, overdoing certain yoga poses that involve backbends or deep twists).  Additionally, I couldn't find any trigger points in my hamstring, despite considerable examination with a tennis ball - when the muscle feels tight, but I can't pin point it, it's almost always a nerve issue, not muscular.  And my left foot was cramping - that's also consistent with sciatica.

It was fairly important to confirm whether this was sciatica or a hamstring issue.  For myself, the best cure for sciatica is to work through it, while rest aggravates it.  However, the inverse holds for a hamstring issue - running though hamstring tightness is a very bad idea.  Put another way: sciatica -> run and do the workout; hamstring -> skip the workout, and consider not running at all.

So, I laid on my back on the floor to self-diagnose (I've done this before).  I extended both legs all the way out on the floor, flexed my feet, and then raised my left leg in the air (knee straight, foot flexed) until I felt the tightness.  Once I got there, I pointed my toes, bent my knee slightly, and flexed at the hip slightly more - the net effect of this (if I understand correctly) was to maintain the same tension on my hamstring while relieving the tension on my sciatic nerve.

Sure enough, as soon as I pointed my foot, the tightness eased.  Sciatica, not hamstring,  Based on that information, I showed up for Friday's hill workout.  By the time I had surmounted the hill for the first time, the hamstring tightness was completely gone.  And it stayed gone for the rest of the weekend.  Whew.  I love it when that happens.

Next week is my first week of fall marathon training.  I'll race on Tuesday for the heck of it, followed by more hills on Friday, and then 14 miles on Sunday.

Dailies 

Monday: In the morning, yoga, and then 7 "miles" of pool-running. Foam rolling in the evening.

Tuesday: 9 miles very easy (9:11), followed by drills and four hill sprints, and strength/core work at the gym. Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday: 8 miles very easy to yoga (8:56), yoga, and then 4 miles very easy (9:11) plus drills and four strides. Foam rolling at night.

Thursday: 9 "miles" pool-running plus upper body weights and core. Foam rolling at night

Friday: 11 miles, including 6 hill repeats (~500m up, then 200m jog, 100m stride, and 100m jog down to base of hill). Followed with injury prevention work and 1000 yards easy swimming. Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles very easy (9:30) followed by drills and four strides, and then DIY yoga and foam rolling.

Sunday: Upper body weights and core, followed by 9 "miles" of pool-running (skipped my normal long run, since I'm racing on Tuesday)  Foam rolling in afternoon.