Training Log 12/21-28

Week of Training December 21 – 28

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 8
Monday 8 Core
Tuesday 8 Core, Treadmill
Wednesday Off
Thursday 10 Christmas!
Friday 5 Core, Treadmill, 30 min Bike
Saturday 5 Treadmill, 45 min Bike
Week Total 44

I took this week as another week to get my Achilles healthy so that it doesn’t turn into a big injury, like the ones that plagued me in college. Looking back to my college days, I seemed to have a pretty reliable cycle of train hard, get into very good shape, train harder, and get hurt. I went through this cycle numerous times before it finally dawned on me that something needed to change. The most important change I made was once I got into shape, I would scale back training. I now try to find a good equilibrium where I am pushing the proverbial redline, but not continually crossing it. Unfortunately being more aware of how your body feels does not eliminate injuries, it only lessens the chance.

Despite my Achilles not being 100%, I was able to run 6 days this last week, albeit some days were very short. The last two weeks have been frustrating since this is my first (possibly) big injury in many years, but I take solace in knowing that I have been doing everything to keep it contained. Though out the week, my Achilles has gotten progressively better, even while running. The only mistake that I made was I went for my run on Christmas, and felt good so, I decided to keep going. I ran out 35 min and by the time I turned around it was beginning to get sore. While I did not feel like I did not do too much damage, running for that long did not help the healing process. Due to my mistake, I was a quick learner and took the next three days more dialed back.

My brother and me at City of Denver Building on Christmas Eve.

My brother and me at City of Denver Building on Christmas Eve.

Also this week I have had to be running on the treadmill as the Denver area received nearly a foot of snow on Christmas. In retrospect, this has been a blessing in disguise as running on the treadmill allows me to stop whenever I need to. So if I do not think I should run another mile, I do not have to. Because I was already at the Rec Center, I decided to add some stationary biking to my regimen. Since this injury is my first one since college, I have been dealing with much more boredom. With everything that happens while at school, I was able to turn my focus to classes and other engagements to keep my mind off of running. Now I do not have the luxury of a set class schedule, so there is more time to brood over my injury. But with it being the holidays, I have been pretty good at keeping myself occupied.

Speaking of the holidays, Christmas was this week, which should not be news to you, unless you were living under a rock. As I have been in Colorado for the last month, I was able to spend it with my family. After my not so great run in the morning, we had a wonderful morning opening presents and hanging out. In the afternoon we went to see Unbroken. I had read the last year and was excited to see the move, but was a little let down. The movie accurately portrayed the life of Louie Zamperini, but failed to reach the emotional power that the book portrayed. If you enjoy watching movies more than reading books, it is worth a watch.

Thanks for reading, until next week!
TP

Training Log 12/14-20

Week of Training December 14 – 20

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 9 Travel to CO
Monday Off Day
Tuesday 8
Wednesday Off Day
Thursday 8 Appointment with Plaatjes
Friday Off Day
Saturday 8
Week Total 35

Most people know the myth of Achilles; he was born to one parent a god and the other a mortal. As a child he was dipped into the River Styx to gain immortality, but was still vulnerable where he was held, his heal. During the Trojan War, an arrow from Paris found his weak spot. What few people know is that in Greek, Achilles means “grief of the people.” How apropos that being one of the leading injuries to runners, Achilles Tendonitis brings so much grief runners.

This last week, I have been dealing with Achilles Tendonitis, but fortunately it was a planned down week. Last Thursday, I woke feeling terrible, and with my Achilles sore. Since then I have been trying to get rid of this little bump in the road.

Due to this week being a down week, there was not much that happened in training. I was very conscious of how my body was feeling and always took the cautious route. Throughout my career, I have seen many injuries take a turn for the worse quickly. From tales of others, this seems especially true for the Achilles. Just like the Plantar Fascia, there is limited blood flow into the tendon, so once inflamed; it is extremely hard to repair. Along with the limited mileage that I ran this week, I was doing multiple things to help the healing process. One of the most effective things to do is eccentric calf raises. This helps recruit muscle fibers and bring blood flow to the tendon, while minimizing the strain you are placing on your Achilles. I was able to get an appointment with 1993 World Marathon Champion, Mark Plaatjes, which has helped send my Achilles in the right direction.

Right now I am taking things slow and not trying to push anything beyond a braking point. If my injury history shows anything, especially my collegiate career, I tend to do push through injuries, only to be hurt for months at a time. That is not the most effective way to get better. This last year has been my most successful, and I want to continue to build on that the next few years.

Since I have never dealt with Achilles Tendonitis before I looked for anything and everything that could help heal myself. One of the better articles that I found was this one. The language is straightforward and understandable as the author describes what has happens to the Achilles Tendon when injured. He also gives many different exercises to fix it.

Club Cross Country Championships

Week of Training December 7 – 13

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 18 Long Run, Surges
Monday 8 6 Drills and Strides, Core
Tuesday 12 8 Drills and Strides, Core
Wednesday 13 Workout
Thursday 10 Travel to PA
Friday 6
Saturday 11 Race
Week Total 92

While I had a race at the end of the week, this week was used more as a training week. For the first half of the week I was running normal volume, and it was only near the end of the week that I pulled back for the few days before Club Cross Country Championships.

The High Line Canal in Littleton. Great place for a long run!

The High Line Canal in Littleton. Great place for a long run!

Sunday I headed to the High Line Canal to do my long run. The trail is basically a flat dirt road, so with some surges mixed in, I was moving well by the end. But with that said, I made a conscious effort to not run as fast as last week.

Since I had a good long run, Pete decided to move my workout to Wednesday so that I could have an extra day to recover. This made the next two days were just easy running days. On Wednesday I headed to Chatfield Reservoir for my workout. There is a trail there that is well groomed and rolls a little bit. I wanted to get some up and down since the workout was a Fartlek.

Workout:11min, 5 min rest; 3 x (3, 2, 1 min), Half rest, 1:30 between sets

The workout ended up being just all right, nothing really to write home about. I did not really feel stellar, only managing to run just under 5 minute pace for the workout. I was not trying to push it as the race on Saturday was much more important than the workout. Even though the workout was not what I knew as I was capable off, I was satisfied with the effort and gave me some confidence coming into the weekend.

Thursday morning I woke up feeling pretty terrible. I had a headache, thought I was possibly getting sick, and the most troubling thing was that my Achilles tendon was sore. I have never had any Achilles issues before, so this was a worrying development. I ended up just going out for a very, very easy 10 miles, hoping that everything would feel better. Unfortunately nothing really did, but later in the day my headache and possible cold cleared out, which removed some weight off my back. But with having felt so good a few days ago, to feeling absolutely terrible, my confidence was shaken. Now I just had to focus on getting my Achilles ready for a hard cross country race in two days. I traveled from Denver to Bethlehem, PA afternoon and evening, dosed up on ibuprofen.

The next day I ended up meeting the rest of the team at our hotel, as they had some travel problems and had to drive up from Philadelphia. After everyone had arrived, we headed to the course for our preview. I always like running the course the day before. It gives me a feel for what to expect on race day. The impression that I got from the famed Paul Short course was that it was perfectly suited for my style of cross country; there was rolling hills to find a rhythm, but it was smooth enough that I would not have much trouble with footing. This combined with the fact that my Achilles feeling better, I was looking forward to the race.

One good thing about cross country races, is that they usually start in the late morning or early afternoon. None of this getting up at 4:30 so you can be awake for a 7 am start time. Given the later start time, I was able to get up and do a short shakeout in the morning. The weather was supposed to be pretty chilly and windy, so we stayed in our warm hotel room for as long as possible, and shortly before our warm up, drove over to the course. During the warm up, I was not feeling that great. My Achilles was quite sore and did not loosen up for the first 10 minutes, but by the end, I was hardly thinking about it! We did our customary prerace drills and strides, and before I knew it, everyone was being corralled to the starting line.

The Race

Craziness of a 600 person start!

The gun fired and after the stampede of nearly 600 runners (largest in Club Cross history) had settled, I found myself in good position, right off of the leaders. I maintained in the top few for most of the first few kilometers, even leading at some points. While I was feeling relaxed and confident, I was wary because unlike the roads or the track, things can turn sour very quickly in a cross country race. Around the 3km mark Jake Riley, who was my teammate just a few weeks ago in Japan, hammered the first big downhill. His move opened a gap, as he caught the whole pack a bit by surprise. While I am not confident on my downhill running abilities, I counter that by my ability to run the uphills well. It must be due to the numerous hills that we run at Moses Cone!

Jake and Me battling it out mid-race! Photo by Michael Scott

Jake and Me battling it out mid-race!
Photo by Michael Scott

Every downhill Jake would attempt to break away from the group only to get caught soon after, but after 5km mark, the course had a significant portion of downhill, and when Jake took off. I went with him. I was thinking that with so much downhill, I could use him to pull just far enough away from the group and I could push up the hills with a mile to go and pull away for the victory. All of the surges that Jake had made whittled the lead group down to nine. Right before the hills, the chase pack caught us and at that point I was starting to feel the effects of 5 miles of hard running. Being stubborn I still tried to follow my prerace plan and surge the last mile, so I decided to go for broke. My move did not really break anyone in the pack, only give them someone to chase, and with a kilometer to go I was out of gears.

Over the last 1000 meters, I watched the leaders pull away from me. Just as many races over the last year have gone, I was unable to kick over the last 1km, but I was not slowing down. Into the finishing stretch, I knew that the more people that I passed, the more likely that I would earn a spot on to represent Team USA at the BUPA Edinburgh Cross Country Race in January. This propelled me forward and I ended up passing one person to finish 8th. Now looking back at the race, hindsight is 20/20, I should have stayed with the pack and conserved more energy not trying to battle the wind with Jake. But since I tend to be a more aggressive racer, I was willing to take that risk earlier in the race.

Thoughts

The team aspect of cross country is the thing that I miss most about running in the collegiate system. Some of my favorite memories from Western are being out on the grass with the team. Now after college, there is hardly any time you can race for a team title (the notable exception being the Gate River Run). Racing Club Cross Country this last weekend brought many of those dormant feelings back. For nearly the entire race, Andrew was right next to me, just like my teammates and I would do at Western. Having a teammate next to you is a boost like nothing else in running. It makes you dig deeper than had you been racing alone. Combined with the team aspect, cross country often leads to great performances.

Team Champions! Photo by Michael Scott

Team Champions!
Photo by Michael Scott

Also from the weekend we walked away from the race with the team’s fourth Club Cross Country title! This was the main goal for the weekend, especially after loosing by 1 point last year. Even though only Cole and myself were the returning members of last year’s squad, getting redemption was very much a team affair. We all joined ZAP Fitness so that we could be in an environment where we have a team to support each other. So winning this title was fantastic.

I walked away content with my race. Beyond winning the team title, it was a step in the right direction. It was my first good cross country race in three years. Since I graduated from Western, all the cross country races I have run have been mediocre, and have turned me off from cross country. While my performance over the weekend would have not been good enough to achieve my goal of making the World Cross Country Team in February, it was a positive step towards that goal. Now I get respite from traveling, which over the last few weeks, is all I have been doing. Never being in one place for more than a few days. I headed back to Colorado to train in the foothills of Denver, getting ready for the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country Race on January 10th. After that I head down to Tallahassee with the rest of the team and prepare for a great race in Boulder on February 8th.

Results
Race Highlights
Photos by Michael Scott

Training Log 11/30-12/6

Week of Training November 30 – December 6

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 20 Surges, Travel to Gunni
Monday 8 6 Drills and Strides
Tuesday 13 6 Travel to Golden, D&S
Wednesday 14 Workout, Travel to LA
Thursday 10 Photo Shoot
Friday 12 Travel to CO
Saturday 11 Core
Week Total 100
Great 20 miler along the South Platte! Looking at the mountains from the front range.

Great 20 miler along the South Platte! Looking at the mountains from the front range.

I started this week out with a fast long run on Sunday. My legs were feeling better from the race and all the travel last week, so I was ready for a good solid long run. I headed to a greenway trail that follows the South Platte River in Denver. I like this trial because it is flat, but more importantly much of the paved trail has a crushed cinder surface right next to it. Pete had prescribed surges, so I was moving pretty well in the second half. I ended up running as fast as we have for a 10 mile progression at Todd, 53:45! It was a good way to start the week, especially because my favorite type of run is a fast long run. Maybe that is why I am destined to be a marathoner!

After my long run I hopped in my parents’ Prius and made the 3+ hour trip to Gunnison. I had not been there for nearly a year and a half, so I was excited to see everyone and wish the team good luck before they headed to Nationals (The guys ended up 5th and the women 16th). It was also the first time that I got to see the brand new field house! It was amazing how nice the facility is. It is a flat, 6 lane, 200m track with a 9 lane straightaway. After my run on Monday, I did my drills and strides on the track. I could tell that it will be a fast track, especially after the huge altitude conversions that the NCAA gives to 7700 feet. It made me envious of the new generation of Mountaineers, who will get to train on it all winter. That means that they will not have to do 8 x 3 minutes at Allen Lane, or a tempo on the dreaded Frontage Road! Maybe if I had a field house to run in during all those years in Gunni, I would have run faster than 4:15 indoors. But there is something to be said about having to grind out a tempo run in sub zero, yeah not just sub freezing, temperatures; it makes you tough. The trip was refreshing to see a new group of guys at Western putting in the work, grinding out the miles, and becoming brothers in the process, something that has been a yearly ritual in Gunnison for the last 20 plus years.

I headed back to the Denver area on Tuesday in preparation for my workout and more travel the next day. My workout on Wednesday, was an effort designed to get some specific pace work in before Club Cross ten days later.

Workout:
3.5 mile, 6 min rest; 4 x 3 min, 1:45 min rest; 4 x 1 min, 90 sec rest

Overall the workout ended up going well, but it did not start that way. The first 3.5 mile piece felt way too hard for running 5 minute pace (17:30 in total). This made me worry that I had ran too hard on my big Sunday long run. But I collected myself for the next segment and was able to use some downhill to spur my legs on for the 3 minute pieces. I ended up running between 1015-40m for those, so I was running a tad under 4:50 pace for each. Then during the minutes, I focused on being relaxed while running fast. After this workout, I should be ready for Club Cross on December 13!

Last location of the photo shoot. The sun was setting and the clouds were rolling in!

Last location of the photo shoot. The sun was setting and the clouds were rolling in!

The afternoon of Wednesday I flew to Los Angeles for a photo shoot with Reebok. I was excited, as this was my second time that I have been flown out to LA for a photo shoot. Unlike last time, this photo shoot was all video and I was the sole “talent” (industry lingo, not mine). I had an early morning, so that we could get some good shots with the sunrise. Eventually everyone was loaded up in to a trailer and I was asked to run along side so that they could get shots of me running. Throughout the course of the day I bet that I ran a total of 10-12 miles! It was a lot of stop and go, so it seemed like I was running all day. I was able to see some of the raw footage, and from that, I think the video will be really cool and hopefully unique. This is especially true with the video that was filmed using an octo-copter! The entire photo shoot was at different locations just north of LA, including Pyramid Lake, which was one of the most scenic places to run at. It did not look like the rest of the area as it was much more luscious, and by the afternoon, the clouds had rolled in. This gave the air a green-blue hue. It was not hard to imagine that you were in a fjord in Scandinavia. I had so much fun doing this shoot, and would like to thank Reebok for such a great experience!

The trip to LA was not complete without a visit to Griffith Park (the one the famous “Hollywood” sign). My run in the park was fantastic, even though it was a tough climb to get into the park, but as the old adage goes, “It is easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is much better at the top.” And the view from the top was awesome. I was able to see all of LA, and even to the ocean. Even for someone who loves being away from the city, the scene was really breath taking. These are the type of runs that I truly enjoy.

Downtown Golden! This tree was my favorite. It was eerily beautiful.

Downtown Golden! This tree was my favorite. It was eerily beautiful. Sorry if this is sideways, I don’t know why it is that way. It must be something in the website.

The rest of the week, meaning Saturday, I spent recovering from my busy week. That night I headed to downtown Golden with my parents to look at the lights. Usually every year we take a night or two, and walk along Washington Street and Clear Creek. Golden always out does itself in the lighting display.

One more thing before I sign off. This week, my parents have introduced me to a new podcast, Serial. The inaugural season tells the controversial and fascinating story of Adnan Syed, who was convicted of first-degree murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, but there is much doubt whether Adnan was wrongly convicted. The plot and presentation is mesmerizing and unlike anything that I have ever heard. If you have a drive to work, or listen to something while running I suggest you give it a try. You can also listen to Slate’s Serial Spoiler Special, which critics each episode of Serial after it has aired. The Slate Serial Spoiler Special complements Serial well, and helps you digest what has happened in each episode.

Training Log 11/23-29

Week of Training November 23 – 29

Morning Afternoon Notes
Sunday 8 4 x 30 sec
Monday Shakeout 8 Race
Tuesday 15 Travel to CO
Wednesday 11
Thursday 6 6 Thanksgiving!
Friday 13
Saturday 10 Core
Week Total 76
Smoked Turkey for Thanksgiving!

Smoked Turkey for Thanksgiving!

The beginning of the week was the final leg of my Turning Japanese, so I will not get into the details. But the biggest impact to come from the weekend was that the race and travel beat my legs up. By the time that I had traveled the 5800 miles from Tokyo to Denver, my hamstrings were extremely sore and tight. Due to this I took the next few days very slow and relaxed. Learning to take a few days easy and not push through, is one of the things that it has taken me so long to realize. I think that this is one of the most important reasons why I have been able to stay healthy for nearly 4 years (knock on wood). Luckily I was able to get in a massage from a Western Alum, Jonathan Garcia. He did a fantastic job at loosening up all the tight muscles, especially tight hammies.

The other event this week was Thanksgiving! This year was the first year in 2 years that I was at home of the holiday, but this is means that I missed out on running the historic Manchester Road Race. While I was bummed about not running, it was great to be home and be around family.