Training Log 5/18-24

Week of Training May 18-24

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 19 Long Run, 8 x 20 sec
Monday 8 6 Core
Tuesday 13 5 Workout, Core
Wednesday 12 5
Thursday 13 Drills and Strides, Core
Friday 12 5 Track Workout, Core
Saturday 9
Week Total 107

This week was another big week, as I covered 107 miles with two workouts. By the end of the week, I started to feel my legs come around, which was some relief. I was worried that my legs would take longer to feel better.

On Sunday Cole had to coach at 9:00, so I ran early with him. It was another “time on your feet” long run, but Cole and I eventually were running fast by the end. My legs were still not feeling quite like normal. I noticed that I was pretty tired on the 8 x 20 seconds, but it was still a good run. Being tired after this run made very conscious of getting more rest this week.

Tuesday’s workout was a standard “hill cycle” workout. The loop we do our cycles on is 400m flat, 400m uphill, and ~300m downhill. The flat is supposed to be around tempo pace, 5 min/mile. Then on the uphill, there are three spots where we are supposed to change gears. The downhill is a float, so not much recovery. As you can see, this workout is designed to be an aerobic workout with lots of gear changing.

Workout:
18 min of cycles, 4 min rest, 13 min of cycles,
4 min of rest, 6 min of cycles

Joe, Chris, and I started out just about perfect, and I was feeling relaxed running tempo pace on the flat section. We went up the hill and I noticed right away that I was not feeling great, especially when I had to switch gears. Eventually all of those gear changes would get me. I got through the first two parts of the workout fairly easily. It was not until the last 6 minute piece that I really started to feel very tired. Some of it was because I ran a 3:10 loop, which is the fastest I have ever run it and second fastest ever by a ZAP athlete (Joe ran 3:06 for the fastest), and also the gear changing ended up getting to me.

Splits:
3:25, 3:22, 3:24, 3:20, 3:20; 3:20, 3:17, 3:17; 3:10

Initially I was not satisfied with my workout. Joe pull away from me again was frustrating. And once again I was unable to change gears when I wanted to. But after some reflection I came to realize that overall, the workout was not bad at all; I just did not have much pop in my legs. I got a good aerobic effort, which was the point of the workout. I also had to remind myself that I have well over two weeks before my first race of my short summer series, so I do not want to peak too early.

Wednesday and Thursday were just typical moderate days. One thing Pete wanted though was Thursday’s medium long to be a tad shorter, in preparation for a track workout on Friday. I will say that I felt pretty good on Thursday, even after a solid 17 mile day on Wednesday.

The weather was perfect for a track workout!

The weather was perfect for a track workout!

On Friday, I got back on the track for the first time since Stanford. I was worried about how I would feel during the workout, as I have not run “track pace” in a while. The workout was designed to have some good aerobic stimulus along with 400m reps at 5000m rhythm. With a big 5000m coming up in 3 weeks, it was important to be comfortable running 5000m pace.

Workout:
1600m, 2:30 rest, 4 x 400m, 1:30 rest;
1200m, 2:30 rest, 3 x 400m, 1:30 rest;
800m 2:30 rest, 2 x 400m, 1:30 rest; 400m;
4 x 100m accelerations

This workout ended up being very unusual. I felt okay, nothing out of the ordinary, on the warm up; and after my strides, I felt pretty good, but once into the opening 1600m piece I felt awful. I came through the first lap in 70, four seconds off of what Pete wanted. Along with being off pace, I felt like I was straining too hard to maintain pace. It helped that after 800m Joe took the lead and I was able to relax somewhat, while he increased the pace. After that I was already frustrated with the workout, but since it was the first rep I knew that I had to at least make it through the next set of quarters before I stopped. With a change of rhythm, I felt very relaxed during the quarters. Sometimes there are no explanations as to why this happens. Once I started the 1200m piece I felt better than before, but still not quite as relaxed as I should have. Again, the quarters after felt as relaxed as before, and were even a little quicker.

In between these two sets I put on my spikes, and I do not know if it was “spiking up” or I was starting to feel good finally, or maybe a combination of both, but the 800m piece felt great. Pete wanted us to run it with the idea that we could go a mile at that pace. I ended up running 2:04 and think that I could have continued to finish the mile under 4:10. It was such a drastic turn around from the beginning of the workout, as I do not think that I could have run under 4:10 while fresh! I guess it takes these “old half marathon legs” a while to get warmed up. The rest of the workout finished off well, which was good considering that the last couple of workouts I have walked away frustrated.

Splits:
4:32, 65, 64, 64, 64; 3:18, 64, 64, 63; 2:04, 63, 61; 59

With this week being the second of three big weeks, I was happy that overall I was feeling better day to day, even though I ran 10 miles more than last week and had an extra workout. I am thinking that this bodes well for my upcoming races, which the first is June 7th at Music City Distance Carnival. I will be running a mile and going for the famed sub 4 barrier. This is definitely one of my life goals and there is no better time to do it than now. After that I head over to the west coast to run a 5000m at the Portland Track Festival.

With my goal of breaking 4 minutes in the mile in a few weeks, here is a video Sir Roger Bannister breaking the 4 minute barrier 50 years ago for the first time.

Training Log 5/11-17

Week of Training May 11-17

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 16 Long Run, 8 x 20 sec
Monday 5 Core
Tuesday 11 6 Drills and Strides, Core
Wednesday 14 8 x 20 seconds
Thursday 10 6 Drills and Strides, Core
Friday 13 5 Workout, Core
Saturday 10
Week Total 96

This week was my first big week of this cycle. I bumped my miles up to around normal and did my first workout. The first big week after a big down week is always hit or miss. Sometimes I have felt very good; others have felt not good. This week was one ended up being just in the middle because I did feel better than last week, but not quite 100%.

Sunday’s run was just another “time on your feet” long run. We did not have any scheduled surges or pushes during the run, but as we went from Black Bottom up to the Manor (around 4 miles), it turned into a moderate climb. This was the first time that I had done much of anything faster since my race a week before, and I was hesitant to go with Cole and Joe. Initially I was not feeling all that great so I hung back and let those two, mostly Cole, pull me along. Surprisingly by the end, I felt better than the beginning, which was a good boost in confidence. When Cole and I made it back to the Lake by the end of the run, we did 8 x 20 seconds surges to simulate strides.

Tuesday’s run sticks out in my mind because was the first day that I really felt like I had “pop” in my legs. I noticed that running a faster pace felt easier than last week, which meant that I was moving toward feeling normal! Also on Tuesday, we started a new core routine, which includes two days a week that are designed to give us more power and pop in our stride. This is important with track season coming up, because you need power to run faster paces. With more power we should be able to more easily kick at the end of races. But the downside of a new routine is that I got really sore. Having focused on longer races this last 8 months, I have not used many of the muscles that generate lots of power. Needless to say, I was very sore for the next couple of days. This took a bit of the pop out of my legs, but I still felt pretty good for Wednesday and Thursday’s runs.

Scissor Jumps - The current bane of my existence.

Friday was my first hard effort in almost two weeks. Since it was a strength/aerobic stimulus workout, I was not worried about it being so long since my last workout. On the warm up, I did not feel particularly good, but more often than not that leads to a good workout (Oddly enough). Once again that maxim proved true as we got into the workout, I felt very good. Running 3 minute/kilometers, around 4:50 min/mile pace, felt very easy and relaxed; like something that I could do all day. When Joe and I transitioned to the 600m snowballs (forward every 200m), I started to notice that I was struggling a bit more. My legs did not want to run much faster than where I was comfortable. It was frustrating seeing Joe pull away over the last 200m of each rep, but I had to remind myself that I had not run faster than 5:30 pace before today in almost two weeks. Pete reminded me that my speed and gear changes will come back after a few workouts.

Short Video of Cole, Joe, Chris, and me during our grass workout.

Workout:

2km, 1km, 2km, 1km, 2km, 4 x 600m snowball; 2 min after 2km, 2:45 min after 1km, 90 sec between 600m

Splits:

6:10, 2:59, 6:00, 2:56, 5:58, 1:41, 1:40, 1:40, 1:39

Training Log 5/4-10

Week of May 4-10

  Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday   11 Race
Monday 6    
Tuesday     Off day
Wednesday 9   Core
Thursday 8   Core
Friday     Off day
Saturday 10    
  Week Total 44  

 

This week was a big down week; Pete calls it a transitional week, as I am transitioning from one cycle to another. The goal of the week is to get a few days rest and let my legs recover from the last race. Even though I was running much less than normal, I did not lose any fitness. I also did not gain any fitness, but I will come in to the next cycle with much fresher legs.

Sunday was the day of my race at Stanford. Looking back at my thoughts on the race, I realized that I did not give any account of the race, just that I was disappointed with my performance. Going into the race, Pete and I had talked little about what times I should try and hit en route. The only one that he thought I should aim for was 14 minutes at the 5000m. Both he and I were thinking that 5000m around 14 minutes would be very relaxed. Then around 6000m I would start to pick it up and finish the last 2000m very well. But as Robert Burns said, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Initially the race went out about as perfect as I could ask. I found a place in the middle of the pack and was hoping to tag along for the ride. Soon I found myself jockeying for position almost every lap, which is an energy waster. I also noticed that there were surges on every straight, which tend to put more strain on your legs than a steady and even pace. In my last big track workout, Pete had me practice surging on the straights, so I was not too worried. With the all that was going on I actually breezed through the first two miles in 9:05. Then the leaders began to pick up the pace and, I started to notice that I was not feeling all that great. I latched on to the tail end of the front group hoping that with not jockeying for position and a steady pace I could relax.

I was pulled through 5000m in 14:02, right where Pete had wanted, but I was loosing confidence. Over the next 1000m the top group was starting to pull away, but other people were starting to fall off as well. While I had no clue what pace I was running, I knew that was still running well, because I was passing many of the people falling off. Then around 7000m my legs started to go out from under me. I fought to keep my cadence high with efficient strides, but it was getting harder. Eventually I broke and noticed that I had slowed down quite a bit and was being passed by people I had overtaken previously. At this point I began to loose focus and it was not until a group passed me with 800m to go that I woke up. I just began to race and try to salvage what I could from the race. I finished in 28:35, 5 seconds shy of the USA “A”/Automatic standard, but I am confident that I will still get in.

Looking back it was a disappointing race, but qualitatively not as bad as initially thought. It was 30 seconds faster than last year, which was just as equally disappointing of a race. It was still my third fastest 10000m. I also had a friend tell me that he would love to have a bad race and still run 28:35. This reminded me that I am very good and that there are people that would love to run some of the times that I have run.

The rest of the week I was running with the team on the days that I ran. All of those runs were just really easy, and I actually felt pretty sluggish and flat on them. This is because the race took a larger toll on me than I thought, and also because I usually feel like this when on a transitional week.

Friday was an off day, but I got to play coach for a day. Joe, Chris, and Cole had a progression run at Todd Railroad Grade Road. Todd is a 10 mile long road, which is flat as a board. The road follows the South Fork of the New River and is in a very pretty valley. Beyond the views, it is great for progression runs and longer workouts where getting in a rhythm is important. Playing coach was a good change of pace, because with an off day, I would not have had much to do. So instead of sitting at home and watching too many TV shows, I drove and yelled mile splits to them. They all ran very good workouts and I enjoyed being coach for a day.

Joe, Cole, and Chris during their workout at Todd.

Joe, Cole, and Chris during their workout at Todd.

Steps Back

As I sit on an airplane homeward bound, my mind is focused on yesterday’s race. Having run a mediocre race, at best, I start to wonder why.

Was it the travel? Sitting on a plane for 7 hours before hand?
Was it my training? Did I peak early, run too hard in a workout, or run too much the week before?
Have I been going for too long, it’s been nearly 11 months without a solid break?
Was I not as mentally prepared for the race?
Was the sickness I had last week still lingering?

In reality it could be one or a combination of all of these questions, but sometimes there is no explanation. Right after the race, I could not explain what happened. I thought, no I knew, that I was ready to run fast. A resounding “NO” would have been my answer to all of the questions above. But with some afterthought, they say hindsight is 20/20, I am not so sure that “NO” is the correct answer. Running is a fickle mistress. Some days you feel like you are invincible, while others will knock you on your ass. Training could be going fantastic for a few weeks, only to run a sub par race. But there are two sides to the coin. Training could be terrible, your confidence low, but against all the odds you hit one out of the park.

If you have been following my training log, you know that I truly believe I am in good shape and expected to run fast this weekend. Particularly when my whole training cycle was geared towards this race. Coming in with such high expectations makes this race that much more frustrating. I went in brimming with confidence and came out much more humbled. Having been running so well with such good results, I seemed to forget that not every race is going to be fantastic, awesome, or great.

Thinking about this takes me back to last summer and what a ZAP guest speaker said, that in a 10 year career you may get 20 races where you feel invincible. If you break that down, it comes out to 2 races a year. I have had many of those “invincible” races, and recently it has been more often than not. The chips have been falling my way, and I have been cashing them in. I have had a string of performances that many young runners right out of college would give an arm for, not a leg of course. I need to remember that one bad performance does not define a career, while a one good one can. As long as my bad races are few and far between, I know that I will have a successful career.

The other day, I came across this blog from Alisha Williams (Also you can follow her on Twitter). Alisha is a Western Alum, and pretty good runner. She holds the Western State record in the 1500m (4:16.42) and was a 6 time National Champion. Ali was also 5th in the Olympic Trials two years ago in the 10000m. Over the last year, she has been fighting injury, and due to a foot injury, she was unable to finish her race this weekend at Stanford. While reading her blog, one quote struck me as explained why she is not going to hang up her spikes after a year of injuries:

“But, here’s the thing, I love the challenge of running. I love doing workouts and pushing myself. Not one to choose the easy route, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and move forward. The thing is, I’m not going to know when I’ve reached the pinnacle of my career until it is well behind me, so I might as well stop trying to time it. Meb’s Boston win is a great example of why you shouldn’t give up if you still have the fire.”

This sums up how I feel about running. I do not run because it is easy; it is the opposite in fact. I like to see how far I can push myself, how far and fast I can go using only my own power. Eventually I know that I will slowdown, but until then I will keep running with the dream that I can run faster.

One last thing that came to my thoughts was what Pete said to me right before my race: “Have fun out there. Not many people get to do what you do for a living.” As a group we have discussed the number of people in the United States that get to call themselves a professional runner. That number is high, most likely into the thousands, but most need a part time or full time job to support their running addiction. It is really only around 100 Americans that get to live and train like myself. What I do for a living is a rarity in this world, I get a chance to chase my dream. Most people had a dream at one point, whether it is to become an All Star Baseball player, the next Michael Jordan, or an Olympian, but most people do not get to opportunity to go after those dreams. I feel fortunate to get the chance to pursue my dream. I also have a great supporting cast behind me. I know that my parents, who came out to watch, family, coach, teammates, and friends are all there propping me up. I am grateful for their encouragement while I put life on hold with the hope that I can represent the United States in the Olympics.

With all that said I want to finish with a quote. It’s not going to be a cheesy one about coming back from failure; you can just Google “Quotes on failure” for those. It is a poem from Charles Bukowski. Lately I have been reading some of his work and he is extremely raw and unfiltered. His works, often autobiographical, are very mundane and crude. You do not read his novels to feel good and happy, but nestled his words are some great insights.

“Roll The Dice”
By Charles Bukowski

 If you’re going to try,
 Go all the way.
 Otherwise, don’t even start.

 This could mean losing girlfriends,
 Wives, relatives, jobs and
 Maybe your mind.

 It could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
 It could mean freezing on a
 Park bench.
 It could mean jail,
 It could mean derision,
 It could mean mockery,
 Isolation.
 Isolation is the gift,
 All the others are a test
 Of your endurance,
 Of how much you really want to
 Do it.
 And you’ll do it
 Despite rejection and the worst odds
 And it will be better than
 Anything else
 You can imagine.

 If you’re going to try,
 Go all the way.
 There is no other feeling like that.
 You will be alone with the gods
 And the nights will flame with fire.

 You will ride life
 Straight to perfect laughter,
 It's the only good fight there is.

Now I am back home in the isolation of the Appalachian Mountains with a renewed sense of motivation. I will keep on training, putting in the 100+ mile weeks, and move on from one shitty race.

Links:

A cool cartoon using Bukowski’s “Roll the Dice”. I recommend looking through his collection of other drawings.
Zen Pencils – “Charles Bukowski: Roll the Dice”

Another good blog fromm Phoebe Wright, a world class 800m runner, about “Dealing with Post Race Depression“.

Afterward:

As I was writing this blog I did not have a title. Eventually I came up with the title, “Steps Back”. I see it contrasted to my first blog about my race at the USA Half Marathon Champs, “Forward Leaps”. Both disappointments and triumphs are a part of running, but as long as you take leaps forward and only steps back, success is inevitable.

Training Log 4/27-5/3

Week of April 27 – May 3

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 17 Long Run, Surges, 8 x 20 sec
Monday 8 6 Core
Tuesday 11 Workout
Wednesday 10 6 Core
Thursday 11 Drills and Strides
Friday 9 Shake out
Saturday Shake out 6 Pre race, 4 x 200m
Week Total 84

 

All during this week I was thinking about my upcoming race in California. I could not wait to get out there to see my parents, who are coming to watch, run against a very competitive field, and have a meal at In-N-Out Burger. Also, with the weather being so dreary and rainy here in North Carolina, I was looking forward to seeing the sun. Another thing this week was that I was going to be on a down week leading up to Sunday’s race, but not too much of a taper. I have found that if I taper too much, I tend to feel flat and sluggish. There seems to be a sweet spot of 85-90 miles the week of a race that really works well for me.

Post Long Run party at Pete and Zika's!

Post Long Run party at Pete and Zika’s!

Sunday was our long run day; I ended up running most of it by myself, which was fine as I was able to let my mind wander. Eventually I started typical one minute surges every seven minutes. As usually this helped the run go by quicker and before I knew it I was almost done. At the end I did 8 x 20 seconds instead of traditional stop and start strides. We started and finished Sunday’s from Pete and Zika’s house, and they served us breakfast afterwards.

Tuesday was the only workout of the week, and I was not particularly excited to do it. The night before, I was woken up, along with most everyone else on the team, by the most violent thunderstorms I have ever witnessed. The lightening was so bright it would completely illuminate my room, and a second after the thunder would shake the skies. Having woken up, I laid in bed listening to Zeus throw lightening bolt after lightening bolt down from the heavens. Eventually the storm subsided and I was able to fall back to sleep for a few hours.

I woke up to a steady down pour of rain, and all that passed through my mind was, “Damn it, the Lake is going to be soft as a Pillow.” I did my normal morning routine, get some toast, tea, and stretch while watching The Daily Show, all while trying to keep the negative thoughts of the workout away form my mind. One thing that did help me was fact that pace did not really matter for this workout. The purpose for the workout was to get the legs moving around threshold pace.

When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining? That doesn't matter. Am I tired? That doesn't matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem. - Emil Zatopek, "Czech Locomotive"

When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining? That doesn’t matter. Am I tired? That doesn’t matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem.
– Emil Zatopek the “Czech Locomotive”

By the time we arrived at the lake, the weather had quieted down, but the Lake was extremely soft. Warming up, I could feel myself sink into the path, but sometimes you have to compete in not ideal conditions to so the least. As a runner, I often have to train in imperfect conditions, which I think leads to a stronger mental state when in better conditions. So with that in mind I continued warming up.

Once my warm up was finished, I did my drills and strides only to still not feel great. My legs were tired and the dreary weather was making it hard to get motivated. But knowing that this workout was not supposed to be very hard, I knew that I would be fine. Joe, Griff, and I started our first rep, 3000m. I just focused on relaxing and not worrying about the pace. We ran a very even, 4:39 and 4:37, for 9:16. We then took around 4 minutes rest before starting a descending Fartlek, 3, 2, 1; 2, 1; 1 minutes. Since I was not feeling great a Fartlek was perfect as I did not have to worry about pace, just run by effort. The rest of the workout was good, but I never really felt great.

Since I had been feeling tired, Pete only had me do a single run on Thursday. He also shortened it from the original 13 miles. I was hoping that a nice and easy 11 mile run would bring my feet back underneath me. I was also hoping that a change of scenery would help rejuvenate me, so Cole, Joe, and I headed to Watauga River Road. Lately we have been doing most of our runs at Moses Cone, and I know that I was getting tired of running the same trails. Also Watauga River Road is a beautiful place to run. It is an rolling, eight mile dirt and paved road that follows Watauga River. This fall we ran many of our long runs there. During this run I did feel better, but that could have been that I was running with friends, enjoying my time outside.

On Friday, we were traveling to California, so I got my run done early before we left for the airport. I have always been a morning person, and it was extremely nice to see the sunrise. The light and shadows change the way things look, and therefore the way you perceive familiar areas. The light from the rising sun was especially beautiful on the lake. Unfortunately I was not able to take a picture to share with you. When we arrived in Palo Alto, George, Joe, Chris, and I did a short shake out run to help clear the travel out of our legs.

Saturday was my pre race day. We headed to the track later in the day, but since it was California, the weather was still nice in the “heat” of the afternoon. From the hotel we ran to and around Stanford’s campus. It was a good run, as we marveled at the beauty and magnificence that is the “Ivy of the West.” Chris probably had the quote of the day when he said, “This looks just like the campus of X-Men. I feel like everyone here should have superpowers.” We finished our run at the track and I did my traditional 4 x 200m. I ran the first 3 around 10000m pace, 33 seconds, and for the last one I went a bit faster. Since these extended strides felt good, I was confident that I had shaken the tiredness that I had the week before. I was ready to roll.

Our trip to Half Moon Bay.

Our trip to Half Moon Bay.

Since my race was technically on Sunday, which is the next week, I will not do a recap of it. But in the next couple of days I should have a blog post out expressing my thoughts of the race.