Saturday, February 7, 2015

On being ill.

Being sick is no fun. Going from 60-plus miles per week to ten is even less fun. Running twice in a week and then stopping because the body needs time to heal is a decision only based on experience. 

I say this because I am in, hopefully, what is the last 24 hours of this year's annual head cold. It started last Tuesday, Jan. 27 with a sore throat and congestion. The sore throat left the following Thursday/Friday following a period of daytime when my voice was a full octave lower. And then the gunk sunk to my lungs and I started a nice productive cough that is still with me, nine-or-so days later. 

I've taken seven zero days in the past 12 days, almost equal to the nine I have taken from just before I got sick back to Oct. 19, 2014. Seven-day and three-week rolling averages are paltry. And I need to once again adjust my peak weekly base mileage, dropping out the two final weeks of base period - current set for 80 miles - and replace them with 70 mile weeks. I'll still probably keep the peak at 80 for in-season training - I see no worry to cycling up to that high mileage a small handful of times throughout out the year. 

The weirdest effect of being sick is that my motivation to run has been all-but nonexistent, like my body is telling me to not go run. For the most part I have listened to it. Morning runs are basically not happening. Evening runs are affected by how I managed through the day. And weekend long runs just didn't work. 

And so it goes. Adjust training goals on the fly without changing racing goals. Just adapt to meet those racing goals. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Pronounce your goal. Plan for it. Work for it. Be accountable to it.

Every Sunday, without fail, I tweet to the world and my FB friends two things: what I did this week in runs, mileage, time, and year-to-date and season-to-date (i.e. since 10.19.14 re-start) stats. Second, I tell them what I'm going to do next week. If I didn't make last week's goal, I state why. 

At the end of every month, I tweet monthly totals: runs, running days, mileage and time - plus year-to-date stats. 

I keep elaborate spreadsheets to track my running progress (and I also use in addition to Google Sheets). Most importantly, I track rolling averages for mileage and duration for the prior seven days and three weeks. My runs and quality workouts are planned for every day from basically November 2014 to the finish line at Lutsen for the 2015 Superior 100. 


I tell the world my weekly results and next week's goals to keep myself accountable, if only to myself.  No one save myself will every get on my back for failing to meet goals. No one save myself will ever make sure I don't overtrain. But being public with a goal lets the world know you stand for something, and posting your results shows them that you're being accountable to those goals, actively working toward those goals, and achieving those goals. 

Each day, I can look to my plan and see what I need to do. In the past, I simply set a weekly total for miles, picked a day for quality workouts, and let the rest sort it out. I ended up missing a lot of quality days and skimping on the daily runs and weekly mileages totals. I still ran well, but far from my peak potential. 

Now, the process is simple. It is planned ahead, perhaps months prior, and adjusted accordingly as the season progresses. I know what I must do, and I then execute on that objective. 

Results and excuses are mutually exclusive. 

Nothing is free, everything is earned, and everything earned must be worked for. And all work toward that which you earn is hard work. Whether it is slow work - easy running must be easy enough such that it is actually recovery - or fast work - it must be fast enough such that you are achieving your training goals - it is hard work. 

State your purpose. Go do the hard work. Be accountable. Achieve your results.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Book review: Hal Koerner's Field Guide to Ultrarunning

Hal Hoerner's Field Guide to Ultrarunning is what you would write if you had a beer with Hal, asked him to tell you everything a runner who is just getting into ultra marathons should know, and just listened and took dictation. The tone is conversational, approachable, heavy on anecdotes and substance but light on details. For example, you will find recommendations for speed work (hill repeats, tempo runs up to an hour duration, and fartleks are all recommended) and weights (light weight, lots of reps) are important, too. But you're not going to find VO2 max tables or detailed speed workouts here. This is not Lore of Running or Daniels's Running Formula - it is a casual, practical explainer of everything one would want to know before training for and toeing the line at their first ultramarathon. 

The relaxed vibe is the text's strength. Hal's matter-of-fact descriptions of topics and explainers what works and what doesn't sets out the basics with casual ease. For example, Hal himself idoes not follow any specific diet and is not burdened by any restrictions on his intake. His diet used to be burritos, bagels, and beer. He simply focuses on carbs before, during, and after runs. "If my meals aren't measuring up to my mileage, I know it from the first step, and this self-awareness helps me stay on top of deficiencies," he writes. As someone who credits his first 50 mile finish to a change in eating habits and has tried to run after eating something less-than-nutritionally optimal, I completely understand the statement. 

Should you get it? Yes. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

An actual injury - imbalanced pelvis

For several weeks - three or four, perhaps - I have had a nagging ache, very dull, on the back right side of my butt, perhaps in the pelvis area. It has been sore in runs and when bad, wraps around the outside of my pelvis and starts to radiate down the front of my right thigh. 

I took that concern, and a request for a follow-up on my right ankle post-Sawtooth, to my new family physician, Dr. Bill Roberts with the University of Minnesota. He's a family physician, but is focused on runners and is the team physician for Team USA-Minnesota, is the medical director for the Twin Cities Marathon, and also works with the Minnesota State High School League for their track and field events. So yeah, he gets runners and doesn't think I'm crazy. 

When I told him of my right-sided troubles, he said when someone has issues on one side of their body, he always looks to the pelvis first. And sure enough, the top of the rear of the right side of my pelvis is higher than the left. As a result, when I lay down one of my legs (right, IIRC) is appears shorter than the left, and it switches when I sit up. The difference is about the width of a thumb, and it was a little creepy when I was sitting there with my feet extended in front of me looking at how my left foot was closer to my chest than my right. 

It's also possible that the ankle sprain, or whatever it was, that happened at Sawtooth was actually a foot drop caused or exacerbated by inflammation on or around the nerves that run on the front right of my lower leg and control sensation to the fourth and fifth toes. In testing with some monofilament, essentially stiff fishing line, the tops and bottoms of my fourth and fifth toes had less sensation (with more sensation in the fourth than the fifth) than the sensation I had in the big, second, and third toes. 

The solution? A round of physical therapy, however many session the therapist thinks I need up to my referral limit (12), and Dr. Roberts was very optimistic that once this pelvic imbalance was taken care of, my other two issues would go away. I can still keep running as planned - 60 mpw this week and each of the next two weeks. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Test post; via email.