Training Log 8/17-23

Week of Training August 17 – 23

  Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 8 7  
Monday 12 7 8 x 20 sec, Core
Tuesday 15   Drills
Wednesday 12 6 8×20 sec, Drills, Core
Thursday 15   Workout
Friday 9 6 Drills, Core
Saturday 11    
  Week Total 108  

6 Weeks to Go!

After our long run on Saturday, Cole and I had more days than usual before our next hard effort. This can be a double edge sword as it allows for more time to recover, but with too much time, you will recover and can run too fast during the days leading up to the workout. With this in mind I tried to hold back, being very conscious of pace, but for the most part it was not that hard as I have been pretty tired at the start of every run. When I am running high mileage, it can take me nearly an hour before I warm up and start to feel good. During the start of the runs, I try to not push beyond my comfort zone, even if the group starts pulling away. This is decidedly different than what I would have done in college, and I think one of the main reasons that I have been relatively injury free for over 3 years.

Our one workout this week was not until Thursday, and it was good to have four days in between two hard efforts. With so many days in between harder effort, I was hoping to feel great for the workout. Unfortunately I only felt all right, not terrible though. Looking back, I realized that I ran 67 miles the first four days of the week. Also, starting the workout running faster than anything we have done so far was a shock. The opening piece at 4:35 pace was a wake up to the body, when the fastest sustained pace I had run was around 4:50 min/mile.

1500m Lake Loop, 4 min rest;
Manor-Maze Progressive,
Two forward pushes to the Manor and through the Maze,
4 min rest; 6 x 1 min, 1:30 min rest

This workout is a staple of the Pete Rea arsenal. We will do this workout at least once during any given cycle. Since there are a lot of pieces and parts to this workout, I will try to explain what the purpose of each.

Cole and I finishing running through the Maze!

Cole and I finishing running through the Maze!

We started with a fast 1500m on the lake, which the purpose is to put some junk in our legs. Going a bit lactic early is a good way to teach the body how remove lactic acid while running. Also, doing this will make the rest of the workout just that much tougher. After our rest, we did a climb from the Lake to Moses Cone Manor. It is just less than three miles to the top, and is used as an uphill tempo. After we crest the summit, we have an “active recovery” as we head towards the Maze. The point of this piece is to recover some while running. We are running downhill, so our recovery pace tends to be fairly quick, around 6:30 pace. Once in the Maze, we pick it up to tempo effort. The first 6 minutes of the Maze is slightly up hill and the last 6 minutes is slightly downhill. This makes the last 6 minutes all about getting our legs to turn over as much as possible. Usually the workout ends there, but since Cole and I are in marathon training, Pete added 6 x 1 minute on the lake once we were back to the Lake. He wanted us to keep the same rhythm we had through the Maze. It ends up being a pretty long workout, around 10 miles in total, but with the turnover through the Maze, it should bring back a bit of speed to our legs before our workout/race next week in Virginia Beach.

4:17; 14:20 (To Manor), 12:05 (Through Maze), 35:10 (Total)

After the workout, Cole and I both had the same reaction; we felt aerobically good, but our legs only wanted to go one speed. I guess that is what happens when you are running lots of miles, but I know that feeling tired now will pay off in the long haul. Now this next week I get a down week leading into our workout/race at Virginia Beach. I have always have had a good response to short little down dips. Over my two years at ZAP, I have periodically taken them, and I tend to get my legs back under me for the next few weeks. A good example is the week after the World Half Marathon Championships. I ran 39 miles with a few days off, and then went on to run a good race two weeks later in Boston. While next week will not be nearly as low, I know that few days running only shorter singles will bring some pop back into my legs.

Training Log 8/10-16

Week of Training August 10-16

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 12 6 Core
Monday 11
Tuesday 15 6 Workout
Wednesday 8 6 Core
Thursday 13 7 8×20 sec, Drills
Friday 13 Core
Saturday 19 Long Run, Surges
Week Total 116 Total Runs – 11

7 weeks to go! (Its tacky, I know)

This week was very similar to the previous week. There was a workout and a long run, with many miles in between. If you break it down, running is a very simple and repetitive activity. The way to get better is to run as much as possible. This training principle is echoed through out the annals of running history. Arthur Lydiard called for a big base period where you are running as many miles as you can before starting the anaerobic phase. His athletes went on to win many Olympic Medals and set numerous national records. Arguably the best runner ever, Haile Gebrselassie, is known to have said, “I train twice a day every day, except Christmas.” Even in the classic running novel, Once a Runner, John L. Parker talks about the “Trial of Miles, Miles of Trials.” He says that there is no secret; it’s about the “heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes.” Since the marathon is primarily an aerobic event, the best way to be successful is to do the most aerobic training possible. With this in mind, I am trying to get my miles up and burn through as many pairs of shoes I can.

Once a Runner-Trial of MilesThe beginning of the week was just base running in between the workout on the Saturday before and the workout scheduled for Tuesday. Cole and I ran relaxed and always with in ourselves. That seems to be very important in maintaining equilibrium between running tired, but not tired enough for workouts.

For 10 days, the weather in Blowing Rock had been very gloomy. The sun did not poke through the thick layer of clouds the entire time. Along with no sun, it was raining quite often. This made many of the trails either muddy or soft as a pillow. Tuesday was the first day that the sun poked through, but there was not enough time for the lake to harden up.

Each set was meant to start at marathon rhythm, around 3:50 for 1200m, and work down from there. Going back to marathon rhythm was an important part of the workout because it was teaching us to run faster than marathon pace, then relax and even recover. Of course the ability to do this will be crucial when racing over 26 miles. I will need to be comfortable running fast for a majority of the race, then be able to start racing when it matters.

The workout was on the 1500m loop around Bass Lake, running 1200m then floating the final 300 meters to the start line. All of our workouts we were practicing with fluids, and of late, I have been able to handle the fluids while on a long run, but workouts have been a different experience. There is a big difference of how easy it is to take fluids and how the body reacts to fluids when running 6 min/mile pace compared to 5 min/mile pace. I have tended to not get as much fluid down and have cramped up a bit more while running faster. This day was no different, but I think it was better than in the past. This makes me think that I will figure it out before October 5th.

3 x 4 x 1200m, 300m float (1:30-40 min), 3:30 between sets
First one at marathon rhythm, then descending
Water practice on 3rd of each set

Cole and I started the workout, and I could tell I felt fairly good. Unfortunately, Cole did not, and after the first rep I was on my own. Also, I over compensated from the slow first rep, and went a little too fast. I kept picking it up and on the fourth rep of the first set (3:36), I felt like I was running too close to the red line. Rather than having a blow up, which has happened before on the Lake, I backed off and made a conscious choice to not run under 3:40. I started the next set relaxed and was pleasantly surprised to have run a tad faster than I wanted, so I kept running relaxed for the rest of the set. During this I was amazed at how much better I felt running around 5 min/pace compared to 10 seconds faster. As I got in to the last set, Pete was noticing that my form was changing and made the decision to cap the workout at 11 reps. While I it is always disappointing to not finish the prescribed workout, I knew that the workout will be beneficial regardless of 11 or 12 reps.

3:53, 3:43, 3:41, 3:36; 3:46, 3:44, 3:44, 3:41; 3:48, 3:45, 3:41

For the rest of the week, it was absolutely wonderful weather, highs in the mid 70’s and lows in the 50’s. It seemed fall had come early. Hopefully this does not mean that the winter will come early either. The running was great and these days were just about recovering from the workout and putting in the miles.

For the long run on Saturday, it was possibly the nicest day of the week. Pete wanted us to finish on Bass Lake, so we started a bit early to avoid the morning walkers. Just like a few weeks ago, we were dropped off along the Blue Ridge Parkway and ran into Blowing Rock and Moses Cone Park. This long run was a little bit different as Cole and I had some company, George and Chris, for a majority of the run. Slowly but surely our little group has been growing as more ZAP athletes get back to training after their breaks.

Bass Lake

Beautiful day at the Lake!

The last 45 minutes of our run, we did circuits on our hill cycle loop and laps around the Lake. A hill cycle is a loop that has around 400m of flat, 400m of up hill, and 400m of downhill. Each section does not have be exact, as our loop is somewhere in between 1050-1100 meters. Usually a hill cycle workout is something similar to 25-15-5 min efforts, with the flat at tempo effort, surges up the hill, and relaxing/active recovery on the downhill. Since we were in the middle of the run, Pete just wanted us to keep the effort fairly equal on all three parts.

After 25 minutes of cycles, we jumped on the Lake to finish a bit quicker. Both Cole and I have been feeling the effects of the miles and miles of training, so before the run, we decided to not push too hard on the run. We kept that in mind for the last bit and did not finish the run as fast as previous long runs. It ended up being a good long run, in that we put in a good solid run, but did not blow it out of the water. An important part of training is knowing when to hold back and when to go for it.

1-1-2-1-3-1-7-1-2-2-1 min; 8 min between
Starting at 25 minutes

This week ended up equaling my highest week ever, and I felt very good while doing it. Hopefully this will bode well for the next few weeks. I know that in a few weeks I will get a down week in preparation for a big marathon specific workout/race at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon, but next week and the weeks following is when the work is put in. Until then, I will keep removing the rubber off of the bottoms of my trainers!

Here are some links to interesting articles and commentary on Training:

Arthur Lydiard’s Athletic Training, by Arthur Lydiard
Summer of Malmo, Interview of George Malley
Why I Sucked in College, by Weldon Johnson

Training Log 8/3-9

Week of Training August 3-9

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 14 6 Drills and Strides
Monday 10 45, 30, 15 sec x 3
Tuesday 21 Long Run, Surges
Wednesday 7 7 Core
Thursday 13 Strides
Friday 12 6 Core
Saturday 15 Workout
Week Total 111 Total runs – 10

By now Cole and I are in the middle of marathon training, and I can feel it. Just like last week, I was tired much of the time. While running I do not feel all too tired, but in general I felt tired much of the time. Nine o’clock starts to roll around and I feel like I am ready for bed, and the alarm goes off too early. Luckily with the support from ZAP and Reebok, I am able to rest and relax during much of the day. My responsibilities at ZAP are not very difficult, and do not have to worry about a part time job. Many of the professional runners I know, have a part time job on the side in order to support their running. The system at ZAP has allowed me to focus much of my time and effort on running, and in turn this will allow me to accomplish much more than if I was on my own. As with most things, what I get out of running will equal what I put into it.

Cole and I on our long run!

Cole and I on our long run!

Another reason the past few weeks have been tiring is that I am doing fewer number of runs in the week, but running high mileage. This past week was not my highest mileage week ever, but I did one less run. It may seem that one less run is trivial, but it really makes a difference. For example, last fall I was doing about the same miles, only with 11 or even 12 runs in a week. If you do the math, a run from last fall averages out to be just over 10 miles (111÷11). This week it averages out to just over 11 (111÷10). This means is that in some sense I am cramming around 10 more miles into my week compared to last year. Over time, this practice will have a profound effect on my fitness. (For my highest week ever, 116, I did in 12 runs. So the average is 9.7 (116÷12), even lower than a typical week from the fall.)

The beginning of this week was just over 2 months to the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Cole and I started it with a pretty big day. We met Tim Meigs, a national class master’s runner, for his long run. We did not do the full 20 miles he was doing, but split it up into 14 in the morning and an easy 6 in the afternoon. I noticed later that night, I was a little more than tired than usual, but days like these are what marathon training is about. There will always be the long run and the big workouts, but the key is to put in lots of miles in between.

Before we started marathon training, Pete said that he wanted at least one day in the cycle to be very easy and relaxed. Tuesday ended up being this day. A day like this typically comes either before or after a big workout or long run. This day is very relaxed and used to either recover from or get ready for a workout.

Our long run for this cycle was Wednesday. Once again we headed out to Todd to be on some pavement and some course replication. So far I have only mentioned the Railroad Grade Road, but there are many other roads that branch out to the surrounding countryside; some of which have rolling hills. For our run Pete wanted us to do the first hour of our run on the flat Railroad Grade Road, then head off into the rolling hills. This is an attempt to replicate the course at Twin Cites, which starts flat, and then the last 10km is hilly.

As with most long runs, we had surges through out. The surges started pretty early in the run, 25 minutes and lasted the entire run. With the surges, we ended up running pretty quick for the last 10 miles; just under 56 minutes! Also, the last few miles ended up getting near to marathon pace, which was a good way to finish the run. Both Cole and I were comfortable and smooth at the end, which is a good sign for racing. As Pete so enthusiastically said in the video, “Today was a win.” We did what we were supposed to, run fast but not dip too much into the well.

1, 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 1, 4, 1 min, 9 min between;
Start at 25 mins
Last 10 miles in 55:40!

Once again on our long run, we practiced with both PowerBar Gels and water. This time around, I handled them very well. We had a fluid station every 35-40 minutes, and I was able to get down 6-8 ounces of fluid along with a gel. It was exciting to be able to do so much better with the fluid intake! I tried some things a bit different, like eating breakfast a bit earlier and getting a good amount of water down in the morning. I think that doing both of these had a positive effect.

2:04 hrs for 21 miles! The last 10 in under 56 minutes! Thanks to Soleus for tracking our run!

2:04 hrs for 21 miles! The last 10 in under 56 minutes! Thanks to Soleus for tracking our run!

One thing that I have had this training cycle that I have not had in the past is a GPS watch. Earlier this spring we acquired an additional sponsorship from Soleus Watches. Soleus is a company based out of Austin, Texas focusing on creating watches that are stylish, affordable, and accurate. I use the GPS Fit model, and have been very pleased with how well it works, especially with the fact that before I Soleus sent me a GPS watch, I was very much against using one. I thought that it was best to run was off feel, but after a few uses I have began to really see the benefits. In marathon training, I am required know what different paces feel like. With a GPS, I can have instant feedback on what pace I am running. Also I can see how far I have run in many of my workouts.

On Saturday we headed out to the Virginia Creeper Trail with the Marathon Camp. The Creeper Trail is a Rails to Trails project. The Rails to Trails Conservatory is a non-profit organization that converts old rail lines into trails. The Creeper Trail is 34 miles of a soft dirt surface that runs from Abingdon, VA to Whitetop, VA. Winding through the beautiful, rolling hills of Southwest Virginia, it is a great place to run. The only downside of the trail is that it is a bit of a drive, around 80 minutes to get there from ZAP. But it is worth it for long runs and big workouts.

The Virginia Creeper Trail! A great place to run!

The Virginia Creeper Trail! A great place to run!

The workout Pete planned for us was a Fartlek of 8 to 1 minutes with half float in between. A Fartlek like this is a pretty standard ZAP workout, but in the past we would only do 7 to 1. For the workout we started with an 8 minute piece around marathon pace and gradually got faster as we went down the ladder. In between each fast piece is a float that is half what was just run, e.g., 8 minutes, 4 minute float, 7 minutes, 3:30 minute float, etc.

8-1 min, half float (54 minutes in total)
10 miles of Fartlek in 53:37!

We started the workout at Alvarado Station and ran towards Abingdon. Going this way it is a slight uphill, so the goal was to remain relaxed and feel out the pace. I was feeling good and through out the workout, I gradually got faster. I turned around and the second half was slightly downhill back towards Alvarado. It was different to be moving by the end, as all of the workouts before have been very aerobic and not much faster than marathon pace. I finished the workout having run 10 miles in just under 54 minutes. It ended being an excellent workout and a good way to end the week.


Cole and I did a second video installment of our training for Twin Cities. This was about our marathon specific long run at Todd. Enjoy!

Training Log 7/26-8/2

Week of Training July 26 – August 2

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 19 Long Run, Surges
Monday 7 7 Core
Tuesday 12 6 Core
Wednesday 10 8 x 20 sec
Thursday 16 Workout
Friday 12 6
Saturday 11
Week Total 106

This week I came to the realization that the week off after Peachtree came and went way too fast. In all reality Cole and I have been running for two weeks, but sometimes epiphanies hit you a bit late. For that week, I did not really worry too much about what I was eating, my bedtime, or think about my running (I still followed the track results pouring in from Europe). Unfortunately it took me two weeks to realize how nice it was not thinking about how every action will affect me. But with that said, my week off was rejuvenating and well needed.

Sometimes you need to rest in order to improve!

Sometimes you need to rest in order to improve!

My first two weeks back to running, I felt sluggish, but during this week I was really hit with how tried training makes you. It seems like I forgot this after tapering, then taking a break. So building up was a nice little shock to the system. I have been getting tired earlier in the night and naps are becoming a welcome part of my day. I know that being tired will not be changing anytime soon, as you need to break down the body to get gains (See graph). Placing stress on the body and being tired now should allow me to get a big gain in fitness later on.

One way that I am going to do this is to run longer workouts. The build up to Twin Cites will include similar workouts to what I have done in the past, but I will also be doing marathon specific workouts. These will long and tough in an attempt to replicate what a marathon feels like. The other way that I will try to get more fitness is just to run more. Last fall I was comfortably running around 110 miles a week, so I am thinking that I can bump up to around 120 miles.

On Sunday’s long run, Cole and I practiced taking fluids and Power Bar Gels (I prefer the Green Apple, Berry Blast, and Tangerine flavors). Taking energy during long sustained efforts is very important because it will allow us to sustain energy levels for the entire distance and help stave off the dreaded “Hitting the Wall.” The marathon is a long race and if you find yourself in trouble, it will only get exponentially worse. While taking a gel was not new to any of us, trying to drink 6-8 ounces of fluid every 30-40 minutes was. This ended up being very hard. Around 35 minutes, we received our first water bottle and did a pretty good job of getting 6-8 ounces of fluid down, but it was the next two stops during the run that suffered. As we neared the next fluid station, both Cole and I were not looking forward to it, especially with the hardest part of the run coming up.

Since the start of the run we had been doing minute surges every nine minutes, but Pete wanted us to finish with running up to the Manor and then through the Maze. We took our second water bottle right before the climb. I was not able to get 6 ounces down, and my stomach was starting to grumble. We progressed through the run and made it back the lake; our last bottle was waiting for us. We closed the run on the lake with a 5:15 mile, while taking a gel and water. This was tough and afterwards both Cole and I know that it is something that we will need to practice. Also, my stomach was pretty upset right after the run, which is rare for me. Usually I am pretty starving and ready to scarf down a big meal after a long run, but not this time. Mostly likely it was do to the fluids and to the amount of caffeine I ingested. I had a small coffee before, along with 3 caffeinated gels. Hopefully the next few weeks my body will begin to adjust to the intake during runs.

The beautiful Todd, NC! It was a great morning to be out there!

The beautiful Todd, NC! It was a great morning to be out there!

Being on the 10 day cycle and only one workout, there were a few days in between our long run and workout. So it was not until Thursday that we headed out to Todd Railroad Grade Road for an 11 mile progression run. Todd is a great place to run. The Railroad Grade Road is flat and paved, but the best part is the scenery. You follow the New River, with rolling, green hills all around. (Pete Rea Bonus Fun Fact: The New River is one of the few major rivers in the US to flow south to north.)

Both Pete and Ryan were out of town, so George stepped in to be our guest coach for the day. He did a myriad of things, including filming, handing out water, and being a support crewman in general. He did a great job and gave us a few gems to use in our video.

4 mile warm up, Drills and strides;
11 mile progression run, starting at 5:50 
down to marathon pace (~5:05)

Cole and I did our warm up, drills and strides, and started. The trick to running a proper progression run is to not start too fast. This is something that as a team, we have always struggled with, and today was no different. We started the first mile and clicked off a 5:33 mile. It was frustrating because it felt so easy and relaxed. Since we already started out too fast, we both decided to keep the first 6-7 miles relaxed and try not to pick it up much. Through out the workout we gradually decreased the pace and made it down to around marathon pace on the 10th mile. Cole was not feeling great, so to “keep a bullet in the chamber,” he stopped at 10, and I was on my own for the last mile. By the last mile I could start to feel the pace wearing on me, but I focused on being relaxed and smooth to the finish.

Even though we started out a bit faster than Pete wanted, the workout was still very good. We both felt very comfortable running around 5:25 pace, and though that is not what we would want to run a marathon at, there is a long way to October 5th. I know by then, 5:05 will feel just as relaxed. Again we worked on taking water while running faster. It was still a challenge, like it was in the long run, but I think that I took a step in the right direction. Over the next few weeks, I think that I will get more used to taking fluids and gels.

5:33, 5:36, 5:33, 5:26, 5:20, 5:23, 5:17,
5:20, 5:13, 5:04, 4:59; Total time 58:45 

Cole, George, and I made this video documenting our workout. This will be the first of a series following Cole and I as we build up and debut at the Medtronic Twin Cites Marathon.