Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Intervals

It has been cold for the last week or so in Los Angeles.  The last few mornings have seen temperatures in the mid-30s when I wake up, which may not seem like that cold to those of you in other places around the country, but Los Angeles isn't built for this.  To top it off, Mrs. TherapyRunner and I both grew up in Montana, so we haven't turned on the heat in our apartment in the 7 1/2 years that we have been in Los Angeles.  We're used to layering our clothes, so with the two of us, we just manage to stay warm in our apartment under the blankets or with sweatshirts and other clothing.  With Baby TherapyRunner on his in February, we know that we'll have to regulate the temperature a little more at home, but for the time being, our apartment is still pretty cold.

That being said, when the alarm clock went off this morning, I actually felt somewhat rested.  But getting up, having a snack, and getting dressed to go to the track wasn't something that I wanted to do.  I got up anyway. I ate a bowl of cereal. And I sat at the table pondering how I could crawl back into bed. Then Mrs. TherapyRunner got up and my motivation to run got its spark.

My workout for today was at the track, with New Intervals being my goal.  The point of New Intervals is to help your body process Lactic Acid and Hydrogen more efficiently, so that you can build stamina and run at higher intensities for longer periods of time.  It's a near constant changing of gears that pushes you to build your alactic threshold.

The workout:

10 minute aero warm up (which is my run from my apartment to the track, plus a couple of laps around the track)

Then, 4 times:

100m at 5K pace
100m at mile pace
200m at 10K pace
400m at marathon pace

Do this three times total and finish with a 10 minute aero cool down.

I was exhausted at the end and didn't hit many of my marks when switching gears, especially on the third time through.  Glad to be done with the track workout for the week!

What do you do for track workouts?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day-to-day goals

We are largely creatures of instant gratification, which is a horrible start to training for a distance race.  Those who lay out proper training plans can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but may lose sight of the tunnel that immediately surrounds them.  In other words, you may know that you want to run a certain race in a certain time, but are you doing all that you can to get the most out of each workout?

As a proponent of using early season training runs at aero pace, many of the athletes that I train struggle with the desire to go faster, often to their own detriment.  I often hear, "But Curt, I can run faster than this!" Which is exactly the point.  For those that don't want to understand the science behind the running, I often leave them with the analogy of the body being a car and not being able to drive a car at full throttle all of the time.  For those who do want to understand the science, I talk about the importance of being mindful of the goals of each run.

When I lay out a training plan for somebody, we will eventually include tempo runs, track workouts, weights, fartleks, and race pace runs.  However, the base of my training plans comes in the form of the aero run.  These are the same as the "Long, Steady, Distance" runs of other coaches, which I'll readily admit can be tedious and boring.  However, these are the most important runs to developing endurance because they teach the body to use fatty acids for fuel, and not glycogen, thus preventing a runner from hitting the wall (as long as they run the race correctly). These runs can be measured in either time (run at aero pace for 2 hours) or by distance (we have a 15 mile aero run).

From a psychological perspective, I prepare my runners for these aero runs with a simple exercise, which helps to make sure that the focus stays on working the right energy system and preventing someone from losing focus and running quickly to the finish in order to be done.  Depending on the size of the group, I will have runners pick a mantra word or three to be their motivator for the run.  At each mile marker, the runners are encouraged to pick one of their mantra words and reflect on it, either for a couple of minutes or throughout the mile.  The idea is to use something tangible to help keep the mind on an intangible experience.  The same concept works with all types of runs.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Training Partner Secrets and Weekend review

I have been with my training group for four years, serving as a coach, pace leader, motivator, and athlete. My favorite role is as athlete, where I get to spend my Saturday mornings running with people who have quickly become my friends.  As my race times have improved, my group has become smaller.  As I post more regularly, you will be introduced to the characters who choose to run with me on a regular basis. My role as a therapist wishes to respect people's privacy as much as possible, so I'll be giving nicknames to people.

For the last two years, I have been running with Charlie Brown and British Mike.  When I told them about my new blog, Charlie told me about his history of always having the nickname Charlie Brown, so it kind of stuck.  British Mike is, well, British and his name is Mike.  Charlie is aiming for a 3:30:00ish LA Marathon in March, while Mike is aiming for a 3:10:00 Boston Qualifying time at the Surf City Marathon in February.  Because we are all in very different parts of our training plan, we all ended up with different distances on Saturday.  I'm building from an injury, so my plan was for 10 miles, Charlie peeled away at mile 8 to run some hills, and Mike ran 11 miles before the group started so he could have the support through his last 10 miles.  It was when Mike showed up after our group stretch wearing a Marathon Maniacs singlet as one of his layers (it was 36 degrees in Los Angeles on Saturday, so basically the Earth had stopped) that we were taken aback.  How could someone that we had become so intimate with never revealed that he was a Maniac? I've never met a Maniac who didn't talk about their membership before.  His excuse? His skin tone is too white to be seen in his singlet without other colors.

The run went fairly well.  My new heart rate monitor arrived on Friday, so I have been estimating my aero pace lately and haven't been as strict with keeping my 148 bpm training.  We managed an 8:21 per mile overall pace (and at this point in the training, we stop our watches at our water tables), but I know that I was probably closer to 160 bpm for a lot of the run, especially on the hills leading from Griffith Park to Silver Lake.  I'm feeling stronger in my ankles and I didn't feel any tightness either Saturday afternoon or Sunday.

Due to a late night on Saturday for my office suite's open house and early morning Sunday for the therapist's association awards breakfast and presentation, I missed out on my Sunday run. I really need to make sure that I'm not overextending my marketing for my practice when I'm seriously training. The therapist's presentation gave me some great ideas on awareness, which I'm still formulating on how to turn into an organized idea for running.  Stay tuned for that. I will get there later in the week. I also missed my run this morning due to a therapist committee meeting. Two days in a row without running and clients scheduled until 9:00 tonight.  I WILL RUN tomorrow!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Slow is the New Fast

                I had really meant to blog daily when I started this, so here is my intention for 2013.  I’m going to blog regularly.  I haven’t even done that yet, so I’m laying it out for the world that I am making this commitment.  I use the word intention rather than resolution because it is a focus on the present and the future, not the past.  Resolutions seemingly are done with the intention of fixing a past behavior. I am trying to bring mindfulness to my presence and add something to my life.
                Anyways, back to the topic at hand.  I made a comment on the Back at Square Zero blog yesterday about slowing down on long runs.  One of the things that I convince many of my new athletes to do is to slow down their long runs.  A lot of runners that are looking to lay out specific training plans with me feel that their long runs need to be at race pace throughout the entire training season.  I even made this mistake during my first marathon training, and I ended up with a horrible case of IT band syndrome.  For more information on IT band syndrome, search for anything related to “searing knee pain.”
                To become a better athlete, not only to do you need to vary your training paces, but you must do so correctly.  Even to the more advanced runners, who will include tempo runs and speed workouts into their training, there are the correct paces and incorrect paces to do these things.  The most accessible way to understand this is to consider the energy systems that the body uses to run and how it corresponds to your training.  Those energy systems are: stored adenosine triphosphate (ATP), creatine phosphate (CP), glycolytic, and aerobic.  The first three energy systems are anaerobic, which means they are fueled without the presence of oxygen.  The last uses oxygen.  All use ATP as the source of energy.
                The anaerobic energy systems have limited output amounts before they need to be replenished.  For instance, the stored ATP in the bodies muscles is the equivalent to get a sprinter out of the blocks and just a couple of meters down the track. The CP system can get the runner most of the way through 100 meters at top speed.  The glycolytic system can carry you through a 400m, give or take a few.
                The aerobic system on the other hand can take you as far as you want it to take you, you just have to make sure that you are using your aerobic energy system.  Some coaches will give you certain heart rates to hit (130-150 beats per minute), while others will tell you that it’s the equivalent to a certain race pace (marathon race pace plus 90 seconds per mile; or if you are a 10:00 minute per mile marathoner, you are operating on your aerobic system at 11:30-12:00 minutes per mile).
                The reason that you train at this slower pace is to exercise your aerobic system. By exercising this system, you are building a stronger base to make your high intensity workouts more effective.  Building volume at this pace will build endurance, while the higher intensity workouts will build your stamina.  The difference between the two is that endurance is the base for going the distance without stopping, while stamina is the base for going the distance at a faster speed (think 5K or 10K pace).
                For an excellent chart on finding your paces, I strongly suggest checking out JackDaniel’s (not that one) Running Formula.

Friday, December 21, 2012

I got my Two Front Teeth! (Must be Christmas)

Last Friday, I had my jaws unwired, then went immediately to the dentist to be fitted for a "flipper." Then the uncomfortable week of explaining to everyone why I look like a jack-o-lantern.  This morning, I was able to pick up the flipper from the dentist, so I now look somewhat normal when I speak or laugh.  The apparatus fits great, but even after a few hours, I know that the suction feeling will be present for quite some time.

It's also time to learn to talk...again.  It seems like every few weeks, some of my teeth (or "teeth") get moved, and then I will inadvertently start having a lisp or not be able to pronounce certain letters.  My teenage clients love it, but I'm not so sure how my new clients are taking it; especially those that have only known me over the past couple of weeks (wired mouth, missing teeth, now fully-toothed).

Today's workout: Insanity Pure Cardio.

I don't normally run on Friday's, and since I'm still technically in my off season, I'm placing more of an emphasis on my strength based workouts.  I last did Insanity with any regularity back in June, so I'm just getting back into it.  I seemingly did fine today, and was definitely able to make it further through the workout than I did last week.

Mrs. TherapyRunner (who is not a therapist), stuck through most of the workout, on an extremely modified basis.  She's at 33 1/2 weeks pregnant and still going strong! Her office is closed for the next couple of weeks, and today was her first day off.  I can already tell her nesting instincts are kicking in!

Tomorrow's workout: 15 mile aero run with USA Marathon Training in Griffith Park.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Little Introduction

I started running a few years ago.  I had a hard time sticking to an exercise plan during graduate school and I needed something to motivate myself to continue to exercise.  At the time, I came across an article about "Streak Running" and about someone who had completed their 30th anniversary.  For those who are unfamiliar, streak running is about running at least a mile a day, every day.  I figured that I could get through a year.  My wife joined me in the goal, and we eventually made the one year goal.

It just so happened that our one year running anniversary fell on the same day as the City of Angels Half Marathon.  We decided to build up our training to finish with the race.  We eagerly awaited the sign-ups to open, but as the event drew closer, we eventually found that the race could not get its permits and would not be happening.  Disappointed, we continued our streak to finish out the year.  At one point, one of my wife's co-workers told her about a local running group that would be running a half marathon distance anyway on the same date that City of Angels was supposed to occur.  We joined with the group that day, ran together, and eventually finished as the first two runners!

After completing our goal, we told ourselves, "If we can complete a half marathon, then we can do a full marathon!" We signed up for the 2010 Los Angeles Marathon, and with no idea of how to formally train, found an online training plan that slowly built mileage from week to week.  Not suprisingly, we both ended up with IT band injuries.  Despite extended rest, we got to race day and struggled horribly.  We ended up walking the last 16 miles and finished with a time of 5:24:01.  Not exactly what we had in mind.

After getting adequate time off from running to heal, we returned to running, joined a training group, and began taking significant chunks off of our race times.  Our second marathon, only nine months after our first, was the Las Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon, where we finished in 4:14:23!  Since then, times have only gotten faster!  Skipping ahead to the past few months, I have since become a USA Track & Field Certified Level 2 coach in endurance events.  I am a coach for USA Marathon Training in Los Angeles, and I have cut my marathon time down to 3:08:20 (on a training run, no less) and my half marathon time to 1:28:50 (as an official pace leader).

In August, I decided to take seriously my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, which is a 3:05:00 for my age group.  My 3:08 race came at the Wine Country Marathon in Healdsburg, CA in mid-October.  I had decided that rather than running a 20 mile run, that I would incorporate a marathon into my training plan for the weekend. The conditions were perfect, and I ended up placing second in my age group and seventh overall!  At this point, I knew that my BQ goal was obtainable at the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento in December.

Unfortunately, my plans were altered pretty dramatically.  On Halloween, I was cycling home from my office when my tires got stuck into a drainage groove in the street.  With no time to stop, I crashed into a curb and fell off my bike face-first into a fire hydrant.  I ended up shattering both of my jaws, knocking out a bunch of teeth, and cracking a rib.  The remaining teeth were too lose to actually wire my jaw shut, so I ended up having each jaw individually wired.  The cracked rib made deep breathing too painful, and I missed a month of running.  I was able to run at CIM, but with no recent running, I took my time to enjoy the run (windy & wet!), and finished with a 3:58:01.

My goals are now shifted down the timeline.  I am now shooting for my BQ to occur at the Orange County Marathon in May.  This is where my blog begins!