Monday, August 31, 2009

Giving ye' ol' legs a break

Easy ride this morning. 25 miles on the stationary bike in 1:05. Levels 13-15 are great cardio, longish-ride settings for me. 13 offers a nice balance of resistance and affirmation (affirmation that the level is easy enough to maintain for an hour plus, while keeping my heart on the lower limits of the cardio zone). This morning's ride was extremely enjoyable.

Level: 13
RPMs: 105-108
HR: 145-155
Calories: 872

I used to have a difficult time keeping myself on any piece of exercise equipment for more than 45 minutes. For whatever reason, over the last couple of years, I have become enthralled with the little stats the machines provide (likely because I rarely utilize fitness facilities - the great outdoors typically beckons). I can stare at the digital display of a stationary bike for hours without losing interest - the same goes for the treadmill... I love watching the seconds blip up, one-by-one. Yesterday, I forgot to stop running after achieving my hilly treadmill work out goal and ended up going 3 miles further (metaphorically, of course, one goes no where on the TM) than planned. Too, the heart rate monitors are always a treat on those machines. It is nice to lock into work outs that are a literal reflection of the heart and its capabilities. Too often my metaphorical heart rejects exercise and acts on the whim of a fleeting moment of discontent with the process. At least with a heart rate monitor, I know, that I am operating comfortably within my limits. Game on. Peace.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Week Recap+Five Fingers, Yeehaw

SA: 21 miles (3 easy AM, 12 mile hike, 6 mile speed work out)
SU: 18 miles (6 easy AM, 12 easy trail w/some vertical PM)
M: 35 mile cardio push on stationary bike+6 miles easy on the feet+weight lifting
T: 21 (11.5 easy AM, 9.5 easy PM)
W: 15 (5.5 commute, 8 speed work+1.5 barefoot on grass/cement)
TH: 26 mile cardio push on stationary/3 easy AM+9 easy PM+1.5 barefoot pavement running
F: 19 miles (2.5 easy AM+16.5 barefoot PM)

51 miles stationary bike
113.5 miles foot travel
19.5 barefoot miles

Great week of training. This week marks the completion of a paradigm shift in running form and philosophy. My first week of barefooting proved revolutionary in my thoughts and feelings towards running as of late. Since mid-Spring I have been, at most, half-pleased with my training and shape. It has been a constant battle with my knees and their response to various shoes and, ultimately, my running form has suffered tremendously - for a spring of 130+ mile weeks I sure was sloppy. With each passing day I became more uncertain and insecure about my training; am I injured? should I take the day off? can I run the work out today, or shall it be another easy day? etc.? No consistency, always fretting and worrying about the condition of my fragile legs. Something had to change.

With the encouragement of my friends Matt and Josh I took off my shoes and ran barefoot. Wow. My world was turned upside down and backwards. Or, more accurately, it was turned rightside up and front forward. My stride corrected itself in real time based on conversations going on between the ground and my feetsies. Makes perfect sense, but it is a total paradigm shift from the greatest of shoe evolution thought that we were all reared in. Tickled pink with barefooting I was still unsure of the practicality of the sport given the surfaces I typically run on. I needed just a bit of protection underfoot for the gravel and trails that I run on; not padding or support, just a thin layer of protection. With a positive review and final note of encouragement from Matt on the Vibram Five Fingers I hurried to the nearest store (literally dropped everything that I was doing, I was smitten) and picked up a pair of Five Finger sprints.

I proceeded to run the rest of the afternoon (a little over 16 miles, probably a bit much for my first go) like a child - carefree and giddy. I ran around Missoula looking for fun and interesting surfaces to run on; gravel, pavement, cement, thick grass, thin grass, single-track trails, polished scree, pine-needle padded forest trails, large rocks and carpet. I wanted to experience it all. Feel the ground under my feet. Feel period. It was glorious.

My legs and feet are a bit sore this morning - in new and interesting places. But it is a good kind of sore. A kind of sore I haven't felt for awhile. The soreness that comes from a day of good training, not soreness or, more accurate pain, from impending injuries. Suddenly, I am rejuvenated, reawakened, restored on running. My running life had been pretty dry for awhile, but no longer. Things are turning around and in a big way. I am excited to see where the Five Fingers take me, where barefooting takes me. For now, it will likely remain a supplement to training; an arena to hone in and correct the pecularities of my "shoed" stride. Perhaps, it will become the only sort of running I do. Who knows. Doesn't matter. For now? I relish in the revelation. Peace.

Friday, August 28, 2009

thursday update w/barefoot

SA: 21 miles (3 easy AM, 12 mile hike, 6 mile speed work out)
SU: 18 miles (6 easy AM, 12 easy trail w/some vertical PM)
M: 35 mile cardio push on stationary bike+6 miles easy on the feet+weight lifting
T: 21 (11.5 easy AM, 9.5 easy PM)
W: 15 (5.5 commute, 8 speed work+1.5 barefoot on grass/cement)
TH: 26 mile cardio push on stationary/3 easy AM+9 easy PM+1.5 barefoot pavement running

Primordial. In a word. That is the word to describe my initial experience with barefoot running. After many months (and years really) of recurring knee issues, I finally took the advice of my barefoot friends and tried a few miles out on grass/pavement this week. Bloody 'ell, it was brilliant.

Because the foot has so many nerve endings it senses/feels every bit of goodness it strikes, with that information, the feet signal the brain to make appropriate stride and striking adjustments to run naturally. The result? Significantly less impact on the knees and a smoother/more graceful stride to boot. Wonderful. Shoes are a barrier in this way, removing the necessary contact between nerves and ground and replacing the relationship with a synthetic, contrived, unnatural response system. In theory, this all makes sense, and now I am finding out, that, in practice, the art of barefoot running is revolutionary - which is ironic, as it is nothing new.

I don't have any intentions (at this point) of becoming a full-time barefooter, but I do see the value in it, not to mention the joy, in retraining the legs how to run more naturally. Save the knees, run barefoot. So, a supplement to weekly runs. That is all for now. Have great days.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mid-week Training Update

Everything is firing properly. Laid-back week this week as I adjust to my new hybrid training regimen. This week marks the total shift of training philosophies - from ultra-high mileage running to cross-training and high mileage running. Less talk. Here is what it looks like:

SA: 21 miles (3 easy AM, 12 mile hike, 6 mile speed work out)
SU: 18 miles (6 easy AM, 12 easy trail w/some vertical PM)
M: 35 miles cardio push on the stationary bike+6 miles easy on the feet+weight lifting
T: 11.5 easy AM, 7.5-10.5 easy PM

That is it for now. The biking has been a welcome change in my training. I would say the ratio (in regards to effort) of biking miles:running miles is 3:1 - 3 miles hard biking = 1 mile easy running. The difference? My knees are saved.

Also, I have been seriously reevaluating my running technique. I am working on a more natural, soft, feel the ground sort of stride and gait. Essentially, trying to simulate barefoot running. No more pavement running for awhile either. I only powerwalk roads. Treadmill and trails are the only surfaces I plan on running for awhile as I refine my soft step technique. Happy trails.

Friday, August 21, 2009

No One Trick Ponies Here

A couple of weeks ago I begin using an ball chair. For those of you who may not know what that it is (I was clueless up to a month ago), the concept is simple... an excercise ball (52cm) is placed on a rolling base and given a small lumbar support. Below is a photo of this interesting concept (mine is yellow too).The chair promotes correct posture and forces you to engage your abdominal muscles while at your desk. The chair is actually quite comfortable - I have come to really love the thing. The best part? You can yank out the ball and do some ball crunches whenever the mood strikes you. It did me, just a moment ago. No one trick ponies in this office. Work your core while working to the core.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Huckleberry-Humble Pie

This post goes out to all those folks making great strides towards, what has become, perennial, expected success.

This week in running I was served a healthy portion of huckleberry-humble pie. For those of you expecting a recap of an epic 160+ mile week in the mountains, I apologize. As much as a dog is doggy, I am humany, replete with physical, psychological and sociological limitations. Inspiration and character are longitudinal virtues. A look at my life, from birth until now, will hopefully yield a strong sense of fortuitousness, strength of character and inspiration through focused and channeled passion.

Before I get to heady... I am tentatively injured; the pain in my right knee, a source of a lifetime of frustration, can no longer be ignored. I am easing off of my training regime sooner than usual; things are not out of hand, the situation is still tenable. Doubtless, a few more weeks at 130+ miles would render that joint ineffectual. Time to pull back the reins. Of course, this is never easy. I love running. I love training. I love running and training at high levels (lots of miles), but alas, often what we need is what we least want or would ever choose for ourselves. Changes are to be made and opportunities are to be seized with this change in regime. What I will have more of... time, energy for daily activities, external focus, love, compassion and passion. There will be less brooding over possible impending injuries from lingering pains. In short, freedom.

Intense, competitive and fast 50 mile training is probably out of the question for this fall. Any training that I do will be geared towards slow, long ultras (100k or 100 miler). Speed work, during this training cycle, has not only become painful and downright pathetic, it is of no real interest at this point and affords nothing close to enjoyment. Slow, trail-running is where I will be while nursing this knee. Too, woods running is infinitely more appealing to me right now. Enjoying running for what it is, in balance with the rest of the whole (life). Next spring, after a restful winter, I hope to return to competitive ultra-running. For now? I intend to turn all of my surplus energy saved from not training as hard towards friends, family, work and new pursuits.

Run for the love of that impetus that finds you out on your feet - health, weight loss, enjoyment, freedom, worship, suffering, competition, etc. Run for joy; because you are able, and that is a blessing. Never forget to give thanks to the Creator of the universe for your bipedal mobility. Live in that moment - running, living, socializing, whatever it may be. Be all there. The sky is the limit and everything in that space between heaven and earth is within the realm of possibility. Do it. Live for what is meaningful, no what is extreme. Often meaningful pursuits are extreme. Just as often extreme measures are patently absurd. If your pursuit finds you at an extreme, respect it, tarry not, and use it as a launch pad to new and wonderful things. Be unprecedented - for the sake of God, human achievement and not personal advancement (insofar as it truncates personal growth). The former brings glory to God and all, the latter... anger, frustration, and eventually devastation. Learn humility, have a bite, a nibble a taste of your huckleberry-humble pie before you are forced to devour the whole. Practice it. Wait not for the walls of your world to crumble. Rather, build paths, outward and yon, connecting to those people and places that bring life to living - and likewise in reverse. Live for empowerment.

All this to say, I was building a small temple; it has been obliterated. Hello world, hello life. Let anticipation of the unexpected be your modus operandi. Peace.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Missoula or Seattle?

Incredible running weekend. 17 miles on Saturday, 19 on Sunday. Today is the first day since I have been back that it hasn't rained. The woods are fresh, green, full of life and moisture. My somewhat wet 13 miler in the Rattlesnake yesterday was glorious. The woods felt tropical and refreshing. Saturday, I had a really clean quick ascent/descent of Mt. Sentinel w/some flat-running Missoula proper running sprinkled in there. Lately, I have been letting it all go on the trails, just running by spirit, not by force driven by unbridled emotions. This weekend was clean in that way. Just good, clean and pure running.

The sky is blue today. I may head up the Rattlesnake again today after work for a rain-free, worry-free jaunt of Stuart Peak. Who knows.

A major change happened in my life yesterday that has left me feeling joyful. More on that to come. Upward steps are being taken towards a more positive life and self-image. It is all very empowering, hopefully I can maintain my composure through it all and let those blessings that grace my life be buoys of joy.

Hmmm, I guess that is all. I wish I were a better writer and had the energy and passion to write interesting, inspiring pieces. For now, we will go with the numbers... 40 biped miles since Saturday. Peace.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Week Recap (8/8-8/14): Intentional Suffering

This week my training focus was on suffering. I had the unexpected pleasure of traveling to Atlanta, GA for the week (a work-related training). Of course, training in GA during a pretty workshop-intensive VISTA training (which was solid - incredible people and helpful information) afforded a wonderful opportunity to get up really early to slip in some miles, experience perspiration at new and unprecedented levels, feel tired - slog through that -, and eat prodigous amounts of hotel food. 

111 miles this week. 

SA: 24
SU: 16
M: 17
T: 14
W: 14
TH: 16
F: 10

Thursday I went out into wild Georgia during the heat of the day on a 12 mile road/trail run. It was sick. I threw down on the trails - was tired, sweated much and enjoyed myself. Admittedly, I don't really enjoy suffering, but it is a part of my training that I am working at being more intentional about including from time to time; to help me know better what it means to push my personal limits and then appreciate what it is to feel great, happy and comfortable. It is pushing our level of comfort in anything that creates space to grow.

Nothing too exciting about my runs this week. Easy week. No speed work. A lot of 7-10 milers on a treadmill in a sauna (the work out room was pretty hot and extremely humid). I was left with soaked shoes and shorts after every treadmill run. I mean soaked; as if I had jumped into a body of water and just stepped out. That sort of soaked. It was unreal. I loved it.

Nice to be back in Missoula though. Dry, cool, mountainous and quiet. It feels like home. I am looking very forward to getting out on a long, easy trail run this afternoon. Yeehaw. Home again. 

Saturday, August 8, 2009

This week in running...

Firstly, I should note that my new running week is Saturday to Friday. This makes more sense to me - what, with a front-loaded long-running weekend, followed by a peak on Wednesday/Thursday, then a lower mileage (higher intensity) Friday. A great week this week. My fitness is getting there. My worry, something that occurred to me this week, is that my fitness might be too good at this early stage in training. So, next week, mostly by necessity, I will be cutting back a bit, keeping both the intensity and mileage low. Then, I will begin ramping it up at a tenable rate through September. 

This week in running:

Sat: 33 (31 race+2 easy)
Sun: 19 (15 steady+4 easy)
Mon: 13 (6 commute+7 easy)
Tues: 18 (6 commute+12 mountain push)
Wed: 15 (8 commute+7 steady, flat push)
Thurs: 22 (7 easy+15 speed ascent, flat running)
Fri: 15 (5 commute+10 flat, tempo*)

Week Mileage: 135 miles
Week Vert: about 14,000 feet

Everything - my legs and upper-body - is functioning well and firing properly. The variety of running that I am doing in Missoula doubtless plays a major role in that. Lots of varied-pace trail running, easy runs, etc.

Life is good. Social life is good. Work is pretty alright. Yeah. Peace.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thursday Follies

Typically, I would save a "follies" blog for a Friday - a matter of semantics. But yesterday. Yesterday was a day of follies. And by follies I mean shenanigans. That helps little... shenanigans? read "epic running" and good times. So yesterday was an Epic Running and Good Times Thursday. Bullet points:

- Correction. Dashes.

- Morning run: out the door on a really slow and flat (and wet) 7-8 miler at 5:15AM. This run proved to be a great recovery run from the previous day's work out.

- Afternoon: went out for my big work out of the day. A steady lung-busting push up Sentinel's lesser travelled and longer north trail. My stomach was not in a good place going into the run, but after a couple of miles of running it out before hitting the ascent it had settled and was ready for the push I so needed. I put in the 3 miles and 2000 vertical in something less than 30 minutes (most likely, my internal clock has gotten pretty accurate with these predictions). I cruised up. There were portions where I was hitting 8:30-9:00 pace. I took a nice and easy descent to save my knees (as tempting as it was to make it a 45 minute round-trip). Ran back to school, then took the long way home on my feetsies.

- Great time at Downtown Tonight with Anna-Margaret, Jordan and Christine. We sat on the hill behind the food vendors and sipped and beers and chatted about this, that and the other.

Yesterday's Stats
- 22 miles
- 2600 vertical
- 2 great conversations
- 1 great beer
- 1 giant box of life cereal

Today will be a nice and easy 15-20 mile day (15 if the weather acts up, 20 if things clear up). Tomorrow will be a single run day - one big ol', mountainous long-run. Can't wait. Tonight? Free wine and hors d’oeurves, conversation and art viewing. Game on. Peace. Happy Friday to all. God bless.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Return to the Blogosphere

Hiatus? Yes. I have been busy. Negatory. I have not made adequate time for writing. It is my shame to bear. But I am back.

I returned to running on the second to last day of June, after a month completely off. I walked 7-10 miles a day and continued core, lower body and upper body strengthening circuits during the break. I put in 300 miles in July - a low and honest number, which I am proud of, considering the self-control it took to not run more. I paced the 3:40 women's Boston qualifier race at the Missoula Marathon after 10 days of training. I ended up taking them in at the 3:36 mark. Oops. I made the run into a 50k (31 miles) to make for a nice training day. Had a great time doing that. With that run, my Fall 2009 ultra training began in earnest.

I then put in several 80-90+ mile weeks leading up to the Elkhorn 50 miler on August 1st. Supposedly, one of the most difficult 50 mile courses in the west. Hard, but necessary lessons learned at that race. Long story short, I dropped out at mile 25 after admitting defeat to the leader who had 5 minutes on me. Probably a silly move (we had 5-6 miles on the pack). Made the run into a 50k at a blazing pace that would have been good for the course record.

Currently, I am coming to the end of my first 130+ mile week since May (a wet 7 miler this mornign). I am feeling great. I am braceless and happy. I have slowed down my training considerably. I would say that 75% of my running is at 8:30 pace or slower. It has made all the difference in the world. I put in 1-2 "speed" work outs a week. But, for the most part, it is all beautiful mountain running. I put in a few of those flat speed work outs a week, but beyond that it is all about the vertical running. I have been averaging about 2,000 vert feet a day. My climbing is getting gnarly-sick. Fast and smooth and my only limit has been the height of the peaks in the immediate area - this has meant several peaks a day on occasion. My downhill is getting better. I have been taking it easy on the gravity-assisted running to save my knees.

Next week, I am heading to Atlanta for job-related training and will take that opportunity to have a cut-back week - let the ol' body rest a bit. Then, next weekend, it is on... A couple of big long runs, followed by a some big and beautiful running weeks. My preparations are for the Le Grizz 50 miler, where I would like to go sub-6 hours this year. Lord-willing.

Alright, back to the blog, now back to work. Daily reporting on training begins! Yeehaw!