Showing posts with label endurance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label endurance. Show all posts

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The elusive convergence of speed and distance

Today's run (street): 6.4 miles

I was channeling Chicken Little yesterday as I made my way through my 4:00 AM run. All the hard training I've done up to this point seemed to be for naught and I struggled to get through 25 minutes of moderately paced treadmill running. Some of that was likely due to the very early hour and fatigue from my abrupt change in daily routine. Today's run was far longer, and much better than yesterday's, but it wasn't particularly fast.

My new work engagement provides a lot of scheduling flexibility and today I was able to work from my home office. That let me fit in a medium length base run and cover my longest distance since last Friday's 9.7 miles. This spring weather is puzzling, but I won't complain because there's no snow on the roads and temperatures haven't yet reached oppressive levels. However, my decision to wear shorts and short sleeves made me feel chilly throughout much of today's run.

I was concerned that I'd suddenly lost some endurance, but I could tell from the first few steps off my driveway that I would easily cover my targeted miles. That was good news. What isn't so good is that once I go beyond 85% of HR max, my stamina starts to slip. I can handle endurance or speed, but not both together. With only a couple of weeks until the Brooklyn half, I should be farther along in terms of performance. I don't expect to PR on the 17th, and I'm not even confident that I can break 2:10. I'm going to continue to focus on base because, while speed is desirable, endurance is what gets us over the finish line.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bethpage run: Making friends along the trail

I really want that chocolate bunny
Today's run (Bethpage trail): 9.5 miles

Today is Easter and I hope it's a good one for those of you who celebrate this holiday. I don't, but I'm certainly celebrating the great weather we're having this weekend. Sunday is when I do my longest run and the distance gets extended each week as I build up to half marathon distance. Last Sunday I ran eight miles and today's plan was for 9. Depending on the training schedule, today could have been a ten miler, but I was reluctant to jump 20% from week to week. Though it was an accident, I ended up with a good compromise distance.

My Runsketeer friends are both in Boston for the marathon that's being held tomorrow. SIOR will be running it and we are really excited for her. She trains really hard while taking great care of her family (4 kids!) and she has the athleticism to make it a memorable performance on Monday. No pressure, just qualifying for Boston is a victory. TPP is there to support her sister T, who is also running tomorrow. T is another high performer. That, of course, is a prerequisite for getting entry into Boston.

As a native Bostonian, I would have loved to be there to watch them run through my old home town of Natick, but I'll be here on Long Island tracking their progress through the site. In the meantime, I have my own race training to do with the Brooklyn Half coming up mid-May and the Marcie Mazzola 5K next weekend. I'm very curious to see how I do in terms of speed in the 5K and whether all these hills I've been running will provide a performance payoff.

Today's run was split into two experiences, one being a pleasant but uneventful solo effort for about five miles and the other a highly enjoyable almost-five with an other runner on the path. I parked near Haypath Rd. again and got right on the bike trail going north. I followed the trail up to Washington Ave and turned around once I reached the underpass of the LIE.

I maintained the easy pace that I need to cover long mileage while I rebuild my endurance. I got to the five mile point and had stopped at Haypath to watch for cars when I saw another runner to my left. We exchanged hellos and crossed the road. I suspected that he was faster than me and was surprised that he hadn't taken off and passed me at that point. Instead, he (I'll call him J) pulled alongside me and asked how many miles I was doing. He was planning to do about the same, we're both training for different long races and his will be in Vermont.

Today's elevation profile
J turned out to be a very good and interesting guy who also works in the media technology space, but not in publishing like me. He set a slightly faster pace than I was running and I was very surprised that I was able to hold up my end of the conversation. J is a tall athletic guy and I'm somewhat older than him. He could have easily run two or three minutes a mile faster than the pace we held and I was grateful that he didn't. He really pulled me along, especially on the hills.

The time spent with J went by much faster than the previous five miles. Just like when I have group runs with SIOR and TPP. Good company is a runner's gift. I left J to finish on his own once we returned to Haypath and I felt remarkably good after covering almost ten miles today. All this focused training is making a difference and it demonstrates that there is no substitute for putting in the work. When the work is made easier with friends, it's simple to understand why we do this.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Winter running in mid April

Thick frost on the lawn this morning
Today's run (street): 6.25 miles

Yesterday's schedule was rough and it involved an early morning drive to a client north of the city. This meeting and other obligations disrupted my training schedule and they caused me to miss my weekly speed work. I considered doing those repeats today and moving my long run to Thursday, but I didn't want to space my base training runs too close together.

I was surprised to see that the temperature was only 32° when I got up. At least yesterday's driving rains were gone, so it was just a matter of bundling up. I've gotten used to running in 40 degree weather so I was concerned about a possible recurrence of cold-related breathing issues, but they didn't materialize. I dressed for the frigid temperature and set out to cover 6 miles or so.

Complex route
Longer runs in my contained neighborhood are hard to do unless you don't mind covering the same streets multiple times. I mentally mapped out a route that would minimize these redundancies and took off running at an easy pace. I knew that it would be cold, but I didn't count on the stiff breezes that accompanied it. According to my Garmin data, the winds were at 14 MPH, making it feel like 24° outside. Nothing like pushing your way up a long sloping road with freezing wind buffeting you the entire way.

The run itself was fairly easy. I have no doubt that the Brooklyn Half training is contributing to my endurance. I picked up the pace on the last mile and ran it almost a minute faster than the previous 5. That told me two things: I can run faster when I need to do it and I can find speed at the end of a middle-long distance run. Speed is a relative term of course. My "fast" pace today did not match race target. But it is progress and I'm all for that.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wind induced Turkey Trot flashback

Wind chilly
Today's run (neighborhood): 5 miles

This morning I saw that the temperature was 33°, but the wind was making it feel like it was 19° outside. I weighed the pros and cons of going out or staying inside. I decided that I'd rather endure challenging winds than five mind-numbing miles on the treadmill. In retrospect, I'm not sure that was the smartest way to go

One of the reasons I chose to run outside was to confront this cold weather breathing issue straight on. By coincidence, the first three base runs I've done since starting my half marathon training have happened on the three coldest days. The theory I'm exploring is that cold air is affecting my ability to breathe efficiently and causing me to struggle far below normal lactate threshold. Interestingly, I found something online that said facial cooling triggers the vagus nerve (grow up, it's located in your face) which can slow up heartbeat.

I've had trouble getting my heart rate above 80% of max on these cold runs, so the answer may be in there somewhere. My plan this morning was to run fairly easy, since I did intervals yesterday. I started out feeling okay, but not speedy (which was fine). I was also wearing more layers than a pâte feuilletée and that was probably slowing me down. The wind was brutal and running directly into it practically stopped my forward progress. It was like a flashback to the Long Beach Turkey Trot last November, but happily without the sandstorm.

Race fitness: It's just a matter of Venn
The two main objectives to my training are to increase my endurance well enough to cover 13.1 miles and improve my stamina to allow me to maintain a targeted pace over that distance. I'll be honest and say that today's run did not provide any sign of improved speed, but I was able to handle the mileage better than on Sunday.

Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be much like today's. If that's the case I'm going to stay inside and run my three miles at "pace" on the treadmill. I'll plan to run longer distances outside and keep the speedier workouts indoors until the weather gets warmer. If that's what it takes to bridge stamina and speed, I'm willing to spend a little time on the treadmill.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Winter winds down and training ramps up

Safety first!
Today's run (street): 4.4 miles

Spring starts tomorrow at 12:57 PM but you wouldn't know it by this morning's chilly temperatures. I was excited to get back to my neighborhood roads after so many (many, many) treadmill workouts. It's inevitable that I'll be writing a lament about the tedium of neighborhood running in the coming months. Right now, access to the roads is a treat.

I was anxious to get out today to validate that my recent sub-par running experiences were an aberration and not a trend. I was going on two day's rest and despite the cold, I felt like I was in for a good run. I wore my day-glo orange long sleeve jersey over a short sleeved bamboo-cotton running shirt. I was tempted to add another layer (the temperature was 33°) but I didn't want to feel restricted. I wore my medium weight track pants, a warm hat and gloves.

One new piece of gear I brought along was a clip-on blinking red LED light that I attached to the back of my shirt at the top. This light was a giveaway from one of my 2013 races and I came across it while looking for my HRM in my gear drawer. It's a really nice gadget and it barely weighs an ounce. Even with a bright orange shirt, I felt it couldn't hurt to also have a flashing beacon to get the attention of drivers.

Ten seconds into my run I knew I was in for a better experience than Sunday's. My target distance was 4.2 miles and I ended up covering almost 4.5 today. I didn't worry about my speed at all. Before I can sustain race pace over 13 miles, I need to increase endurance. My plan is to run increasingly longer Sunday runs and then run 80% of that distance on Wednesdays. Next Sunday I'll move up to six miles and the following Wednesday, my target moves up to 4.8. And so on, until the penultimate training week, where I'll run eleven miles on Sunday and 8.8 the next Wednesday.

Getting through today's distance was not a big challenge and I enjoyed the parts when the cold wind wasn't hitting head on and freezing my face. My pace wasn't impressive, but I ran a minute a mile faster than on Sunday. I'm buying into the idea that more miles and weekly speed work will eventually lead to better performances.

Tomorrow I'll get a break and will only need to cover three miles plus "strength" whatever that means. I know what it means. I just have to do it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Steep road to the Brooklyn Half

Scene of the crime
Today's run (Bethpage Bike Trail): 5.25 miles

Have you ever had one of those long runs that felt so effortless that it seemed you could run all day? If that's the case, I am extremely envious, because today's kick-off to my Brooklyn half marathon training was the opposite of that. The one positive that came out of today's workout was that I planned to run five and I did it. However, the experience itself was not good and it raised some questions about my fitness.

I had every reason to think today's run would go well. Yesterday's race was only a two mile leg. Although it was a tough two, it wasn't an endurance challenge. I wasn't pleased with my lack of stamina that caused me to slow considerably a couple of times, but my Garmin showed I'd averaged under 9:00 for a good part of the time. I figured an easy run on the paved Bethpage trail would be a nice recovery.

It was much colder this morning compared to yesterday's race conditions. The temperature display in my car showed 28° and it was breezy outside. I had dressed for the cold, but the wind made it feel far more uncomfortable. But that was an irritant, not an obstacle. I felt fine for the first few minutes and it helped that my route went downhill for much of the first mile. By the time I reached the wooded section, just east of the park drive, I started feeling an energy debt. I made my way up some short but somewhat steep sections and realized this was not going to go well.

I often hit a wall around 30 minutes into a run, but I can usually manage through that. Today that wall came at the 10 minute mark and it never went away. Even at a 10+ minute pace, I felt weighted down. I think I'm starting to react to tree pollen that was released with the spring-like weather we had earlier this week. It may just be that all the indoor training on the treadmill at easy paces has softened me up for cold weather endurance running.

The tough running continued and I considered truncating today's distance to 4 miles. I decided to stick to the script and adjusted my speed to maintain forward motion. I wasn't happy to be running so slow, but I reminded myself that this was supposed to be a recovery run and I'd committed to this schedule. All the indoor training and the lack of real elevation on my neighborhood roads were working against me. The hills really took a toll on me today.

One down, nine to go
But this is why we train, right? I remember going from middle distance to double digit mileage the last time I did half marathon training. In a way it was tougher to get through a hilly six miles those first weeks than to double that distance after many weeks of base runs.  Next weekend I go for six. I'm thinking about resting Monday and Tuesday and then going for another four or five miles on Wednesday. Perhaps I'll run 80% of my previous weekend's distance on each mid-week run. I may use Tuesdays for weekly speed work. But not this week. At this point I need a couple of days of rest.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The crossroad of speed and volume

My overall time at last May's LI Half Marathon was 2:08, which translated to a 9:49 pace. As race paces go, that was fairly slow (even for me). But my 2012 finish time improved almost 14 minutes over the year before. I would have liked to break two hours on the half, but my stretch goal for that race was to break 2:10, and I did that.

To prepare for this year's race, I'd looked at the challenge of running the half marathon as one of stamina, not speed. Interval training can be an effective way to prepare for a 5K, but I knew that the only way I could achieve a credible time for the half would be to train for distance. A lot of distance. Between mid-March and and May, I spent almost every Saturday morning at Bethpage State Park, doing progressively longer runs until I was satisfied with my conditioning.

This volume training was the key to managing my effort across more than two hours of continuous running. There's obviously a big difference in training for a 5K versus a half, but what about a 10K? A 6.2 mile race is double a 5K, but not quite half of a half. There's speed involved, but also enough distance so that endurance can become an issue.

For my upcoming 10K, I've decided to focus on pace during my shorter runs, but work primarily on volume and hills during my longer weekend runs. Hopefully, both strategies will meet somewhere in the middle to allow me to run my best at Cow Harbor.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lesson learned: start focusing on stamina and distance

One thing that became clear to me during yesterday's race was my need to put more focus on distance. The performance gains I had made in prior weeks were seductive and they caused me to think too much about only one dimension of my performance. Four miles run in the mid 8's was a welcome improvement over the mid-9 minute paces I had been averaging over the summer. With everything I'd been reading about the importance of speed work and tempo runs it seemed logical to work on improving pace, especially when measurable gains appeared. As I faced the last couple of miles on the trail yesterday morning I began to regret the lack of longer training runs over the last month. Sure, I could run a decent pace for three or four miles but what happens to my mechanics when that distance is doubled?

After actively returning to running two years ago I've steadily increased my speed and distances to the point where I run mostly in the low 9's and do weekend distances up to about 8 miles. Due to time constraints I've rarely been able to run more than 20 miles per week, with most of my longer runs happening on Saturdays and Sundays. Having a whole hour to run is a luxury and using yesterday's performance as a yardstick that only gets me about six miles. So finding enough time for real distance running is its own challenge. I've really enjoyed the long slow distance (LSD) runs where length, not speed, were the goal. That may be one reason why I prefer trail running; the course and the terrain are so variable that pace becomes less relevant. This weekend I'm hoping to get in at least one long run to help prepare for the Cow Harbor 10K in late September. Distance should help my stamina and once that's improved I can again start thinking about my pace.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Energy low, three days to go

Each morning when I get up to run it seems inconceivable, in my groggy state, that I could engage in an activity more challenging than sitting up in bed. However, in the fifteen minutes between fetching coffee, putting on running gear and heading out the door I transform from sleeper to runner. Most days things work well and by the time I reach the street I'm usually feeling 100 percent the runner. Today I felt like I'd left the best of me at home. I never felt like I found my stride and though I wouldn't complain of weakness I lacked the normal energy that I expect at the beginning of every run.

I mentioned yesterday that my aerobic balance has improved and this carries the day for me. My endurance is no longer affected by breathlessness, these days my limit is the range between body strength and weakness. This morning I figured that I just wasn't up for a hard charging workout and my numbers reflected that: 2.3 miles at 9:19. I'm supposed to be tapering this week but as my weekday runs are already limited by time I don't see the point in cutting down my running in any measurable way. I'm probably going to rest tomorrow and do an easy 3 or 4 miles in Friday. Saturday is a question - run or rest? AG is planning a run by the ocean and I must admit that has appeal. At the same time I need to do everything I can to be ready for Sunday's race. I guess I'll decide what to do closer to Saturday.

One last thing. My colleague KWL is in Hong Kong right now and he sent me his MotionX GPX and KMZ files from his run along the eastern harbor near Sai Wan Ho. He also sent me this picture (left) that he took along the way. I can't imagine how beautiful that must look in person.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Marathon relay training with 14 days to go

I'm thinking about one of my work colleagues who is running in her first half marathon today in Baltimore. By now the race has already been run and I'm hoping she is celebrating a great experience. Last time I spoke to her she was concerned about an IT band injury. She was concerned about how that injury would affect her performance. She told me that her doctor discouraged her from getting a cortisone shot. The advice was that she should be able to feel the injury and, therefore, know when to stop or protect it if things got worse. I have a feeling things went well.

I'm less than 15 days from my marathon experience in Cape Cod. Not quite a half but longer than I've ever run in a single day. I keep thinking about the pluses and minuses of running two legs totalling 9 miles versus running that distance at a single time. I'm starting the race with a three mile leg and then running the fourth leg (six miles) after my teammates complete about 12 miles in between. Depending on how quickly they cover their distance I'm guessing I'll have 1:30 to 2:00 hours in between my runs. While I'm happy to have a rest in between I'm worried that my endurance will be affected by the lapse. The concern is that I will build up so much lactic acid after the first leg that my legs will be dragging halfway through the second. I suppose there is a strategy to help lactic acid dissipate sooner, probably through stretching or massage. I'll happily take guidance and suggestions.

I was feeling a little weak yesterday after my run and throughout most of the day. I had hoped to run five+ miles today on the street to ratchet up my conditioning as I move closer to race day. I've averaged 20 miles a week over the past couple of months but I've stepped it up to 23 miles the last couple of weeks. I felt okay when I went out this morning and headed straight for the industrial park because I need to train for "memorable hills" and there are some long steep ones there. I split off into neighborhood #4 and then tracked further east into the next town. I felt good although I did hit the wall somewhat at 33 minutes but I knew that I could endure it. Since I'm going to be on the trails at Stillwell Woods tomorrow I didn't want to burn out today so I redirected home and finished with 4.75 miles at a Gmap verified 9:09. I felt good about today's effort because my level of conditioning transcended the weakness and fatigue that I'm experiencing today. I hope this continues tomorrow, it's been weeks since I've been on the trails and Stillwell is no place for weakness.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Expectations for my 10K trail race

I'm three weeks away from my first 10K and I'm having some anxiety about how well I'll perform. I've run 6.2 miles and longer in recent months but that isn't a regular distance for me. Lately my runs have been shorter owing to weather (hot, sunny, humid), available time and tough trail conditions. My Friday city run was exhausting and not quite five miles. I'll admit that I sabotaged myself by running on an empty stomach and ran out of energy near the end. Perhaps with more nourishment I would have been able to go all the way to South Ferry as originally planned but I'll never know. Saturday was a relatively fast run over 3.8 miles so I understand I traded distance for pace. Yesterday's four mile run in the heat and humidity had similar conditions to Friday's, the difference being I had a carb-rich breakfast an hour before I ran so I couldn't blame a lack of food on my performance.

The heat seems to affect me more than any other factor and the Dirty Sock 10K is due to start at 8:00 AM rain or shine. The combination of a a fairly early morning start, trail conditions that promise to be easier than Stillwell Woods ands the shade provided by the trees may just give me the boost I need to get through this race. In the meantime I'm going to concentrate on distance, perhaps running double my morning distance tomorrow and repeating that later in the week. I'm planning to meet another 10K participant on Saturday morning to run the 10K course. That will give me some familiarity and hopefully some confidence that I can perform credibly on race day.

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