Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Week 5, Days 2 & 3. Woooaaahh.

Last night I went up to LTF and did some core/strength training, focusing mostly on my abs. I think I've got a decent program figured out, basically taking things I've gleaned from Runner's World training tips and some of the things my personal trainer and I used to do.

The program went a little like this:
  • 30 crunches (2 sets of 15)
  • 24 bicycle crunches (left, right = 1 crunch, 2 sets of 12)
  • 2x30 sec. planking on workout ball
  • 15 statioinary lunges (right, left lunge = 1 lunge) with 20 lb. dumbells in each hand
  • 15 stationary lunges with 25 lb. dumbells in each hand
  • 15 stationary lunges with 30 lb. dumbells in each hand
  • 30 hanging leg raises (2 sets of 15)
  • 15 hanging leg raises with 10 lb. strapped to legs
  • 25 incline sit-ups
  • 30 more crunches (2 sets of 15)
  • 24 more bicycle crunches (left, right = 1 crunch, 2 sets of 12)
  • 24 standing stair crunches
After all of that, I went to the library to see if they had a book I've been waiting for in yet (they did not), then went home and had leftover spaghetti sandwiches (don't knock them until you try them), rehydrated some and hit the sack.

This morning I got up at 5 after a fitful sleep (up at 2:18 again for some reason), had my coffee, did a little writing in the ol' Moleskine, munched down an Odwalla Superfood bar while driving to LTF again and went in for my tempo run.

When I got to the gym, a girl limped past the front desk into the trainer's office with tears streaming down her face. I hoped this wasn't an omen. I also hope/prayed she is going to be okay.

The numbers: 1 mi. warmup @ 9:02, 4 mi. @ 7:30, 1 mi. cooldown @ 9:00.

But the numbers lie. Whatever lunges I had done last night made my quads both tight and sore. Despite stretching for a half hour before I ran (using the uber-effective downward dog yoga position Emily showed me), as soon as I started the tempo portion of the run I noticed the twinge in my hamstrings that basically said "hey. what are you doing. why are you trying to win a race right now. it is early. you overworked us last night. stop it. i said stop it. okay, you asked for it." and whammo. A mildly pulled hamstring.

I rolled it out with a foam roller, and tried to focus my running from my abdomen, which helped with much of the pain, but it was still a struggle to maintain a 7:30 pace for first a mile, then three quarters of a mile, then even half mile intervals were proving to be taxing on both the legs and the lungs. Which led me to two conclusions. One, that I am running the Trail Mix 50k this April to finish, not to win. Two, that it is indeed a very good idea to not do lunges the night before a tempo run. I think I will add a hamstring excercise onto my little torture workout for good measure.

After my run, I'm sure I looked quite foolish in the shower, my back to the pulsating jet of the showerhead turned on max cold (one nice thing about the winter, always an ample supply of near freezing water) onto the back of my leg. I swear it helps though, in lieu of the option of a cold bath. At least it is definitely a muscle pull, and a mild one at that. It means it will just get stronger if I take care of it and let it heal. Luckily, my long run this weekend is only 9 miles.

So as I sit here writing this and eating my Nature's Path Optimum Power oatmeal I have my Ace cold wrap strapped around my hammy and am loving life again.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Training: Week 5, Day 1

I thought I might still be a little tired in the quads and a little sore from my long run on Saturday and I was right. I took it easy this morning and did 6 mi. @ 8:45 or so.

I am hoping to start incorporating more abdominal workouts on my rest days. I do find it helps the running. It also looks like unless I get fond of snowshoes, there won't be a lot of outdoor running going on. We got about twelve inches of snow over the weekend. It is still pretty today, but I'm sure by tomorrow it's going to be old. Hopefully it won't stick around too long, considering we have a long snowy March ahead. In Minnesota we always get what has been called the "High School Tournament Snowstorms." Every year, whether it's the boy's basketball or hockey tournaments we get some kind of crippling massive snowfall that closes everything down for a few days.

It makes spring all the more sweet, but yesterday it was a good reason to lay around and do crossword puzzles with Bonnie. Actually, I slept, she absolutely killed the "Not the New York Times" x-word puzzle in the Sunday paper. I missed Nascar and everything. Of course, any mortal would have fallen asleep after eating what I ate Saturday night and Sunday morning...In an attempt to stuff myself into recovery mode due to the exertion of the long run, here is what I ate in the days following:
  • two chocolate frosted cake donuts
  • 3/4 lb. of Barilla Plus spaghetti with a delicious meat sauce
  • a couple glasses of milk
  • almonds, raisins
  • 2 granola bars
  • a spinach omelette
  • toast with strawberry jam
  • another donut
  • another glass of milk
  • a banana
  • a bowl of oatmeal
  • more almonds, more raisins
  • potato chips and french onion dip
  • leftover spaghetti
  • half a loaf of garlic bread, a garden salad
  • and finally cheerios and a banana with half and half substituted for milk because the milk I had here at work was a day past expiration, and after the Agony, I just don't mess with expiration dates.

I can't believe it's already been five weeks of this so far. It's really gone by fast. I feel a touch stronger than I did five weeks ago. A little more wind in my sails. Just really hungry all the time, and a little sore now and then. But I don't think that's a bad thing. I suppose a person could stay completely injury free by never stepping foot on a treadmill or donning a pair of trainers, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll stay healthy, or be challenged outside of the rigors of say, going to work every day. Which is no small feat for me, but I think I would be just that much more of a basketcase if I weren't allowed the luxury of being able to workout or at least do something active every other day.

I am also hoping somehow to incorporate some artistic process into this whole training thing. Maybe this is art-like. Transforming yourself as opposed to transforming a surface or a material into something meaningful and representative. I could just be fooling myself and feeling a little guilty for not doing a whole lot of painting these days, but I am hoping that things will balance out a little bit between all of my extra curriculars and this running bit. I am not going to feel too guilty about it, though. There are definitely worse ways to spend your time.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Half a Marathon and Then Some.

Today was kind of a milestone for me. I went from feeling mildly crap all week, to nursing a sore hamstring for a couple days, to waking up this morning at 5, driving to the gym in a sleet storm, changing, then realizing I forgot my running shoes. Drive back to the house. Pick up running shoes. Drive back to the gym, meet up with a very patient Emily, change into shoes, stretch...

And then run for 16.25 miles at a pace (8:00!) far beyond what I had intended to run today. It was almost spiritual. A very nice cap to an otherwise blah week. I realized a couple things on this very long, long run on the treadmill. One: that the mind gives up way before the body does. Two: that running on a treadmill for 16.25 miles makes it difficult to maintain focus on what you're doing.

I'm just ecstatic that I did it, with the help of a good runner next to me, of course, and am even more excited to be home and about to plunge the lower half of my body into an ice bath. I have a feeling I'm going to be a tad sore tomorrow.

Weekly mileage: 29.25. I know I've strived for "nonidentification" with mileage to this point, trying to keep track of only hours run; but these are totals I've never considered myself ever running. Okay. Ice bath time

Friday, February 23, 2007

Training Week 4, Day 4

Up to good old Lifetime Fitness last night to do speedwork on the treadmill. This whole week has been a little off due to the Agony, but I feel like slowly I am getting back to normal. I totally should have waited an hour to go to the gym instead of trying to rush out there at 5:30 after work. I must have looked like such a dork doing crunches on the floor and then leaping up every time it looked like a treadmill spot might open up. That place was packed last night! It's great to see so many people being active and living fit lifestyles, though.

I warmed up for a mile at 9:00, then did 3x1 mile @ 7:00, with jogs of .5 miles in between except for the last 7:00 mile, which I did a mile cooldown @ 9:00. So that was 6 miles that really didn't feel all that bad, except for a nagging tightness in the back of my knee/calf. It feels fine when my stride is right, but it lets me know when I'm doing something wrong. I am going to ice it tonight and hopefully it will be okay for tomorrow's long run. I'm sure I am just in this whole "making my body do things it isn't quite used to stage" and yes, there are going to be times when this hurts. Go for broke, but prepared to be broken, eh?

I am planning on making tomorrow a low-impact fourteen miles. No need to go tearing anything or injuring anything...which is probably why I won't run outside tomorrow if we get this GIGANTIC ICE STORM THEN BLIZZARD EVERYBODY PANIC they say we're going to get. One inch of snow is fine to run in, but a bunch of snow over a glaze of black ice = slippery. Slippery = falling. Falling = injury. Injury = limiting running. Limiting running = despondency.

We don't need that.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Just Because They Call it Easy...

Doesn't necessarily make it so.

I did my seven mile "easy" run last night on the heels of the Sushi Induced Agony. I think I am still a wee bit dehydrated from...things that are still going on because of the Agony.

It was a spooky, windy night. The trees were creaking overhead as I slowly made my way up and down Dodd Road. The leaves were swirling around and at one point a mutilated and wet cardboard box leapt out of a ditch and somersaulted onto the pavement in front of me causing me to exclaim "ohshit!" and nearly leap into the bushes. The upside: it was balmy at nearly 40 degrees.

The numbers: 7.2 miles at +/-9:00.

I had stitches in my side (and chest?!) that didn't see fit to go away at mile five or six, also some charlie horses in my calf due i suppose to lingering dehydration. I am not complaining. I definitely needed that run. I just didn't need the feeling in my lower intestine that made me think "hey, I should have brought a half a roll of Charmin with me" every time I traversed a rough section of pavement.

I suppose that will all be nothing compared to whatever pain I might be experiencing two months from now at mile 28, or 30...

I spit in the face of you, Sushi Induced Agony. I just hope you aren't mounting an embarrassing and vicious comeback planned for tonight when I'm doing speedwork on the treadmill.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Training Week 4, Day 2

Tuesday was my option day for my easy run, and I was just not strong enough to make it out. I hadn't really had any quality nourishment for the previous 48 hours prior to Tuesday night, so I decided I would (gasp!) miss one full day of a planned workout and move the schedule so that tonight is my easy run and tomorrow is my speedwork session on the treadmill.

It is supposed to be nice out tonight, the temp will be hovering in the upper thirties most of the day. As one commenter already suggested I must be itching for a run. And yes, dammit, I am!! I start to go a little stir crazy when I don't a.) follow through with my program(s) and b.) don't have a chance to run when it's this forgiving outside.

However, I do know that resting up was all for the best, because there's no sense in breaking down my defenses any further. I got up nice and early this morning, had my coffee and writing time and made scrambled eggs and toast with grandma's homemade strawberry jam on it. I chased that down with a Naked Green Machine juice. It was delicious and it's staying right where it is supposed to. Now if I can just stay at work all day without bugging out of here early to go home, change and meet my new running route I mapped out on, I will be very, very proud of myself.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Training Week 4 Day 1.

My best friend Jesse and I went out to sushi to celebrate his quitting smoking on Saturday. On the way home Saturday night, I felt a little bit like I had indigestion, but didn’t think much of it until…

Monday I missed my first day of running due to a case of food poisoning that made me violently ill and took me out for about 24 straight hours. I haven’t been so sick since my drinking days, but at least you feel like eating greasy food the morning after a night out on the town…Of course I had no idea what was going on when I woke up on Monday thinking I was going to surely begin bleeding from all of my orifii like some Ebola patient; but confirmed the foodborne illness diagnosis upon talking to Jesse who said he’d gotten the same thing all day Sunday.

I am going to try and ease into a little running either this evening or tomorrow morning, depending on when I can take in solid food and get my body back on an even keel a little bit. I’ve found that Pedialyte works pretty well to get some electrolytes back into the body and warm ginger-ale was good, too. And that is the extent of what I ate yesterday. So I’m a little bit dizzy and lightheaded today, considering my daily diet is probably somewhere in the 3,000 calorie range. But nothing even remotely sounds good right now.

There is certainly guilty pleasure in sleeping for 24 hours. Nimbus the Cat slept next to me pretty much the whole time. Only cats will do that when you’re that ill. Hopefully there will be good news to report by tomorrow’s speedwork session.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Long Run for Saturday, Feb. 17

Today was the first time I’ve run outside in about three weeks. It felt so nice to actually be in sunshine as opposed to either the dark of predawn or the fluorescents in the gym. My friend Emily and I hit the River Road for about 11.45 miles at a pretty decent 8:30 – 9:00 pace. She's training for Grandma's in June, so hopefully our long runs will coincide so we can do a couple more together. I don’t think I could have maintained that pace without her there, so I’m grateful for that. I have a tendency to want to stop or slow down sometimes when I’m laboring, which happens when you've weighed yourself down with a too-big Camelbak and a 6.67 mile run the day before your long run.

I don’t think I’ll be running with the Camelbak on again, at least not the big 100 I fooled myself into thinking that I could cinch everything down tight and it wouldn’t be that much to carry…bah. I hardly used it, and it really put a crimp in my neck. Even six pounds is enough to throw your gait off when you’re used to running nearly naked on a treadmill. And like I was going to need the fleece vest I’d stuffed inside of it? Sometimes I over think things.

I hope the weather keeps getting better, though. It was still a pretty bitter cold on the face when you got into the wind. Soon it will be nothing but shorts and tee shirts outside…just have to keep reminding myself of that. Once you put on all the Windstopper and long underwear and head outside and you’re in for a vastly different running experience.

Finishing this long run puts the week 3 mileage at about 39.3 miles by my math. I am a little bit sore; mostly because of some gentle downhill today that one does not get from a treadmill, so it’s good. Really good. I had initially thought this route was 12 miles, as it said on a Twin Cities’ running route website. Maybe 12 if you start from Minnehaha falls…but not if you do a strict loop from the Ford Parkway Bridge to the Washington Avenue Bridge and back. I won’t flagellate myself by going back and making up that half mile, though…

Emily told me a funny story about the Asics Gel Kinsei…that it took eight years and some untold billions to produce this highly over engineered $200+ shoe. I suppose you can over think anything if you really want. But does that mean you always get better results? Regardless, I wouldn’t have minded being the guy that did some of that design work…

Friday, February 16, 2007

My Little Whiner Corner

Week 3, day four of this new odyssey, and I started the morning with an easy run.

6.67 miles @ 9:00. On the treadmill at a 3.5% grade.

But it only looks easy from the outside. I continually had to remind myself to keep my back straight, everything in alignment…but it didn’t seem to matter because something went wonky in my right knee area and I had to stop briefly to walk it off. It felt like a little pull, not a real big deal. It didn’t keep me from running, nor did any of the other little minor aches and pains that are going to be inevitable, I feel, as this goes on, Chi Running or my old monkey style of pushing the earth around with my toes.

Aches and pains are just part of this business of getting a little stronger every day. I have to remind myself that I used to just try and sprint these short distances and that my body is getting used to the idea of running more than 3.2 miles at top speed. It needs to understand the whole concept of running six, eight, twelve, miles about every other day and a longer and longer long run on Saturdays. The really good news is no new blisters at the moment. Which will translate into a blister free day tomorrow...I hope.

I am hoping to get outside this weekend and get some fresh air…I think that would be splendid.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Splits? Tempo Runs? Math?

Who would have thought simply running could involve so much math. I tweaked my training program to include a variety of speedwork and tempo runs in the weekly schedule. Instead of running all out for an hour or two, or three, I’m going to try to get the most out of what little time I have until April 21, 2007 by building up my speed and strength.

A fairly typical week should go a little something like this:

Monday: Rest or easy run, 6 to 8 miles @ 8:50 - 9:00 (minutes per mile). I figure since it is still colder than a witches teat in a brass brassiere outside, I will still be running indoors on a treadmill for a while, staving off the inevitable purchase of a $300 running computer for going outside; since I have decided to get all scientific on this. I have figured that my easy run pace on a treadmill will be around 6.6 – 6.8 mph. I know I can do that without stopping to clutch my sides…

Tuesday: Rest or easy run, 6 to 8 miles @ 9:00.

Wednesday: Speedwork or Tempo run. This could include doing mile repeats at a very fast pace for me (1600m @ 7:10 [miles per minute – {8.49 mph}]) with 800m recovery jogs. Or it could involve a tempo run of 3-4 miles at 7:35 (7.9 mph). Either set will feature a one-mile warm up and cool down at a pace yet to be determined.

Thursday: Easy run, 6 to 8 miles @ 8:50 – 9:00.

Friday: Rest or cross train.

Saturday: Long run. From 12 – 24 miles (depending on the week) @ 8:50 – 9:00.

Sunday: Rest.

This will be the weekly schedule until the week prior to the race when I taper a little bit in preparation for the race.

I have found a decent calculator for those of us who are not good at the Maths. You can find it here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

From the Mouths of Babes

This morning’s hour was a far sight better than yesterday. Instead of trying to sprint my way to a finish, I slowly upped the tempo one tenth of one mph every ten minutes. I started at 6.8 mph (treadmills have me thinking in miles per hour instead of minutes per mile) and ended at 7.3 mph.

I don’t know if I can spread that out over thirty miles, though. On soft, hilly and varied terrain.

Ah. A coworker has just sent me an power point email that features babies with inspirational sayings written on them…One of the babies is saying “I believe…That you can keep going, long after you think you can’t.” I think that’s the first cute baby email I’ve seen that I probably agree with.

Bring on the Trail Mix 50K. That baby said I could do it.

A quick word about early morning activities…I really enjoy getting up before the rest of the world is up. It’s all dark out and quiet. That is the best time to have coffee and write in the ol’ Moleskine. Although lately I’ve formed the bad habit of listening to the radio while I do that. NPR isn’t too bad, but the rest of those morning shows are heinous. Complete lowest common denominator…

Anyhoo, back to the run…

It was not a bad transition from relatively slow to kinda fast. I hardly noticed it at all, except for the slightly higher whine of the treadmill motor (please, weather, give me some days above zero here soon). I’m not really griping here, but I’ve found ten degrees to be about my cutoff as far as when I’ll get out and run. Icy and snowy conditions aren’t my favorite, either. I find I wrench my hips too much trying to keep from slipping, regardless of what kind of traction device I’m footing.

Regardless, today’s mileage was 7.11 miles in 60 minutes. On the treadmill at a three point five percent grade.

I have found a great sock. I hope I can find more of them. The problem with testing a wide variety of items without using any kind of method is you really have to think about the impetus of certain things in order to realize where they came from.

I’m enjoying the Smartwool micro-mini sock. They are super thin, but super wicking and fit great. I think I will replace all my other running socks with them. I think I might have gotten them at my LRS, but I am unable to precisely remember…I guess it doesn’t matter, I’m going to have to wait until I can refill the coffers to step foot in that place again. Not because it’s expensive, necessarily, but because I seem to walk out of there with more merchandise than I intended to get when I walked in. I guess I could be spending cash on worse things.

Time to drink water and eat a banana and get to work.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Training Week 3, Days 1 and 2

Day 1:

Monday night run for an hour. I mixed up the tempo a little bit (all speeds at 4% incline on the treadmill):

10 min. @ 6.5 mph
10 min. @ 6.8 mph
20 min. @ 7.0 mph
5 min. @ 5.0 mph
8 min. @ 7.7 mph
2 min. @ 6.0 mph
4 min. @ 8.0 mph
1 min. @ 10 mph

Ended up with a total mileage of only 6.95 for the hour, but felt like I worked my ass off for it because of the sprinting.

Day 2:

Tuesday morning run for an hour. This morning I just tried to keep a steady 7.0 – 7.2 mile-per-hour pace for the hour. I was still on last night’s legs, I think, because this morning’s run just completely sucked. I was sweating buckets and had to stop like, every ten minutes and drink water or pee or catch my breath. What. The. Heck?

Anyhow. Here’s the breakdown (at 4% incline on the treadmill).

20 minutes = 2.26 miles
30 minutes = 3.50 miles
11 minutes = 1.36 miles

for a grand total of 7.12 hesitating, somewhat excruciating miles that in my sprint to the finish somehow pulled a calf muscle. I thought I was in better shape than this. Argh.

I do hope that I can get outside soon. I feel great now that I’m showered and out of the gym. Real strong. Like a bull. Or a mastodon. Because that’s about how slow I seemed to run this morning.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Trail Mix 50 Entry Fee Check Cashed.

I guess this means I am in this thing officially now.

Week 2 Training in Review

This morning was my long run. I planned on an hour and forty minutes at a slow pace, but somehow managed to do it at an average 8.5 minute pace. I wound up at about 12 miles at the end of it and actually didn’t feel too bad, aside from the nefarious chafing that was beginning to happen from sweaty, soaked running shorts. I think it may be time to invest in a stick of Body Glide.

I broke the hour and forty minutes up into chunks again, first doing forty minutes, then ten at a recovery pace, then thirty at 8.5 minutes, and the last 20 at 7.5 minutes. In between sets, I drank a little water, and before the last 20-minute push I downed a granola bar. It was ten minutes longer than I had ever made my body go before. This endurance stuff is interesting and very mental.

By the time I arrived at the gym, I had no other option than to take the treadmill closest to the mirror, underneath the televisions, which usually is a pain in the ass because you constantly feel like you’re going to lash your head on the corner of one of the TV’s. But I made the most of it, trying to make sure my feet were landing straight, and that my knees weren’t bowing in, which causes a little twinge of pain when it does. It also allowed me a focal point besides the buttocks of whoever happened to be in front of me, in this case, either my nose or the middle of my chest. The only drawback was one can see how their face looks when they run, which isn’t always pretty.

My feet felt good this morning. Even the blister underneath the callous on my middle toe felt like it wasn’t about to explode in my shoe. Zoom.

Total mileage for week 2: 35.16 mi.
Avg. Pace: 8.6 minutes per mi.
Steps taken in 35.16 miles: 5,977 (based on a bipedal cadence of 170 steps per minute).
Calories burned: I don’t know. I’m really hungry right now, though. Time to go eat myself out of house and home.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Work That Core! Training Week 2 Days 3 & 4.

I went to a core class last night at the Highland Lifetime. I was expecting someone to come in there and just rock my abs. I was disappointed. I work harder getting out of bed in the morning, I think. It just wasn’t very high intensity.

Planking (putting your forearms on an exercise ball and balancing on the tips of your toes in kind of a push up position) on a SPRI ball is hard, though. Always has been. But when I was out of my mind and paying a personal trainer $80 a session to teach me how to exercise, not only did we plank on the ball, we did push ups and rolled our forearms on the ball while in a plank. That…was a workout. So I snuck in an extra fifteen minutes of running last night after the class. 1.82 miles at a leisurely 8.2 minute pace.

This morning I gave myself the luxury of sleeping in, taking the morning off of work and just being quiet at home for a little while. I did my usual meditation (read: drinking a cup of coffee and writing), took a hot bath to limber up and went to the gym. I definitely needed the mental health day because last night after work; I was thinking instead of a core class, I wished they had a “punching things to death” class. I am feeling vibrant, bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning and just pretty damn glad it’s Friday.

I had a brisk run on the ol’ treadmill. Two thirty minute sessions at an 8.5 mile pace. I wound up at about 7.04 miles at the end of the hour. I am drinking Gatorade, an Odwalla Superfood and eating granola bars. For breakfast I had a half-liter of water and a power bar to stave off the inevitable mid-morning-workout hunger pit of despair that happens if I don’t have a little something before I workout in the morning.

Tomorrow is my long run. I have an hour and forty minutes scheduled and will be taking a spot check to see about the pace. I am thinking it will be a long, slow, distance run instead of the sprint/slow I’ve been trying to do.

I thought a little bit while I ran this morning (between counting cadence of footfalls) about running away from things. This time of year has always been a kind of dismal and dreaded one. The doldrums of February always seem to bring people to their brink (or in some cases push them over). I thought about fighting through things, not fighting through things – not by evasion, but simply letting go. Letting go is something I’ve always struggled with. There’s something that happens when I run that allows that to happen. Even a little bit helps. I don’t necessarily lock it out, but just kind of come to terms with it. Make my peace. Even temporarily. Well. Thank God for that. And other things I don’t need to mention, but which keep me here and alive every day.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Week 2, Day 2

Very pleasurable run this morning.

It’s still a little below zero, so I went up to Highland Lifetime and gave the treadmill hell. I started out at an 8.6 minute mile for my first half hour then broke it up into two 15 minute sessions at an 8.4 – 8.2 minute pace. Ended up at 7.05 miles for my hour run. Not breaking any records, but it was a great workout.

Everything fell nicely into place this morning and I only had to stop to mop my brow since I shaved my head again and sweat just pours down my dome in the relative heat of the gym. I tried only to stop at the halfway points of each of my sessions, simulating rest areas in a race.

Am suddenly loving the Landreth 3’s. It’s like they broke in a little bit and are magic. They feel like a slipper. They feel like a magic slipper.

Of course, I’m trying to have a more positive outlook on things as well – like when I’m gasping for breath with the incline and the speed turned up on the treadmill for the last five minute sprint of my workout, I don’t think “I am going to die.” I think “I am almost to the finish!”

Thank you, Norman Vincent Peale.

If I do decide to start running outside again before the permafrost melts, I am definitely going to invest in a heart rate monitor and some accurate way to measure pace and distance…If anyone’s reading this (ha!) maybe you could throw some suggestions my way. I’m thinking about the Polar RS200 and a Foot Pod to measure speed & distance…

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Training: Week 2, Day 1

I’ve had a couple of days off since my long run and went back to the gym early this morning for my hour run and some stretching. I tried to pick up the pace a little bit, averaging about an 8.5 minute mile. Throw in some sprints and my final tally was 7.25 miles in an hour, but for as hard as I felt like I worked, it made last weeks six mile, one hour outdoor runs, with their gentle hills and cool air feel like a series of cake walks.

I was really trying to push myself harder than I would have on the road, or especially on this morning’s slippery snow, where I know I would be taking it nice and easy to avoid slipping and falling on my beautiful, beautiful face. I ended up feeling like I had quite a workout, having had the incline set up to a 5% grade most of the run, and I tried to work in a series of sprints rather than the consistent pace I have been trying to achieve.

I aggravated all of the blisters from Saturday, but they’ll be fine after a soak tonight. The abrasions on my ankles left faint blood stains on my Ultramax Ironman socks. Ew. These slight discomforts are no reason to miss tomorrow’s hour. I felt good during my run but as soon as I hit the floor for my stretching, the muscles in the front of my shin locked up and it felt like someone was scraping them away from the bone with a fish scaler. I could actually see the muscle spasm and freak out – a hard little ball of confused tissue. Of course this has happened before on long runs. Usually after I push a little too hard. If I relax during my run, the shin splints become a non-issue. It seems like it’s after the run that it becomes an issue.
I am recovering with some Gatorade and a banana cut up into my Cheerios this morning. It's snowing gently outside and it feels like a good day to hunker down and get some serious work done.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Week 1 Training in Review

Total mileage: 28.95 mi.
Average pace: 9.2 min.
Blisters: No fewer than three.

I made the mistake of doing my long run in my Nike Free's. They work great for strength training because they're almost like aqua socks, except with nice flat soles. I ended up in the Free's because after realizing that it wasn't going to get much above zero all weekend, my running was going to be done indoors - and I would benefit from their foot strengthening properties. I thought I could go to the community center and jump on a treadmill or the track there; but it seems like everyone else had the same idea on Saturday morning and there was quite a crowd.

So I broke and went back to Lifetime and upgraded my sports membership to an access membership. I hadn't been using it much since I was running outside just about every day. I even ran outside Friday night when it was nine degrees out. That was a little cold in the wind but all in all not too bad. But Saturday was a different story. There was no way I was going out in that. No f*&king way. -13 degrees (actual temp -- not windchill) is just insane to even think about being outside in.

So I did my 1.5 hours on the treadmill, which was different. One definitely uses different muscles running on a platform. But it's better than nothing. I ended up doing about 9.75 miles in the 1.5 hours, but it really taxed me. I was soaked through with sweat and my calves were very hard. I guess I shouldn't have had the incline up so much, but I figured I might as well make it a workout since I was there.

The Nike Free's are apparently too glove-like of a fit. They abraded my ankles and gave me several beautiful blisters that I lovingly pierced Saturday afternoon. Including one on the tip of my second toe in from my big toe...that's a great spot for a blister.

I am feeling pretty good today and am looking forward to this week's goals. I want to up my average pace from 9.2 to 8.8-9 minutes and not be so content to be comfortable. I think I will also look into a Core class at LTF since I've got to go eight times a month to earn my Medica gym membership credits...also picked up a half size larger Landreth 2 since they're on sale at my LRS. That way I can switch between shoes on the days I train back to back.

It is still very cold outside today at nearly -20F. That treadmill is going to get some use this week.

Friday, February 2, 2007

-6 Fahrenheit, -22 Windchill.

That was the official temp according to Weather Underground this morning. I don't care how hardcore this does not make me. I am not about to try and run in that kind of cold. I fear shattering into a million tiny pieces (TM), or frostbiting the lining of my lungs. I will instead put on some shorts and my trusty Under Armour Heat Gear t-shirt and go up to the dreaded community center's 20-lap-per-mile track this evening for my hour.

Things this teaches me: you do not have the power to change the weather, so why get frustrated about it? Improvise and adapt. Last night when I was looking at the weather forecast for today, I asked my friend Jesse why we live here in Minnesota. He said it is because of the summers. I couldn't agree more. I would miss not having seasons. I would miss the glory that is springtime in MN. I would most of all miss the fall here if I lived somewhere more temperate. All these extremes make me more appreciative of the times when the weather is perfect here.

Final thoughts on the Landreth 3's? They may not be for my feet. I think they're a bit small and narrow in the toe box, even a half size up, and the whole blister situation has got to be solved before I do my long run this weekend. I'll see what my LRS can do for me. I can't wait to be able to go shoeless this summer like last summer. That really is the finest way to run. Although there is one nut who does it year 'round. You can see his feet after a winter run barefoot here. He's definitely pushing the threshold of human physical capacity.

I would imagine that running in this cold would feel like this:

One sub-zero fall morning out duck hunting when I was a foolish young lad, my brothers and I were out playing on the thin ice surrounding the lakeshore. Naturally, I fell through the thin sheet of ice and ended up in water up to my neck. Both of my hip boots quickly filled with frigid water. I was soaked from the neck down. However, since my stepdad had broken through about an inch of ice the whole three hundred yards of lakeshore just to get to this spot, there was no way he was turning back just because some dumb kid couldn't stay off the ice. I quickly surmised this was going to be one of those character-building experiences.

I huddled in the little brown aluminum boat, wet and shivering until everything I was wearing outside of my longjohns had frozen solid, despite moving around as much as one can in a 10-foot long boat. My gloves hit the bottom of the boat with dull clunks when I dropped them from my numb fingers. I remember glaring at my stepdad as he pushed the boat back into shore in the afternoon. I don't think they even shot any ducks. Too cold.

Later on that day, we were driving around some of the dirt roads outside of Alexandria (with the heater on as high as it could go). We stopped and were going to jump a small beaver dam. I jumped out of the truck and both of my knees buckled under me - it was as if I were walking on two dead stumps that could miraculously feel and transmit great amounts of pain to the body's pain receptors. I don't care to ever be that cold ever again.

In hindsight, it was kind of a dangerous thing. I could have easily gone hypothermic, or gotten really bad frostbite. To his credit, my stepdad's never done anything that would directly endanger me before or since that. Put in his waders, I would have had a difficult time turning back at that point as well. I probably would have done the same thing...give the kid a couple coats, keep out of the wind, tell him he'll probably never go out on thin ice again, resume hunting.

And that long-winded account is how I would imagine that it would feel to run in this weather today. I am not a big fan of the extreme cold.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Training: Day 4. 79 Days and Counting.

Today was a "rest" day, where I just get up at the same time I have been getting up, rinse the sleep out of my eyes and hit the mat for crunches and push-ups.

I did my 50 and 50 and am surprised at how taxing push ups are when you add 24 lbs. to them on the push cycle, pushing up and then proceeding to lift the weight up past your chin and extending it all the way up as your torso rotates around -- all this while holding yourself on your planted hand. The crunches will definitely help with the running form, as that seems to be where a lot of my kick comes from.

I still have a little nagging blister on the inside arch of my right foot. The Landreth shoe last didn't change as much as I thought it did, because that's the same spot I used to get them with the Landreth 2's. I am wearing them today just to try and find that optimum lace tension. If it doesn't get any better, sadly I'm going to have to try and find another pair of shoes. I also got some Band Aid blister protection/healing pads. They worked in Colorado, they ought to work here.

I am looking forward to tomorrow's run. It's supposed to be quite a bit below zero tomorrow through Monday, so will probably be on a treadmill this weekend, or at the indoor track.

Got all kinds of nutritious goodies for the long run this weekend. Plenty of bananas, power bars, etc.

I am also going to send in the registration for the Trail Mix 50 this weekend...