Saturday, March 22, 2008

Guam Battle Site

Well, We're about to head out for the beaches on the Pacific side of Panama (not that the Atlantic side is very far away...)and I've just finished another 50-mile week of treadmill-only training. That makes 11 weeks of base at 50-57 miles. I'll be running a half-marathon in 6 weeks and haven't run for longer than 85 minutes in 2008...
April will start out still snowy and cold according to the long range forcasts, but I've got to start getting in some longer runs 1-2 times a week. At least 12-15 miles if I want a chance to race well. Fortunately, the half is much kinder to the runner in that it's pretty easy to build up to 15 miles or so, and once at that point, you can run close to race distance without the punishing long runs marathon running require. Maybe I'll be able to get in a good run on vacation, we'll see.

Our last vacation was in 2006 to Guam. Me and the then-GF(now DW) went to Guam from Seoul, as we were both teaching in Korea at the time. Guam's a cool place if you're a WW2 buff as there are still pristine war remnants from the 1945 invasion en route to the remainder of Japan's strongholds. Curiously, many Japanese and Koreans like to visit Guam as well for the beaches. For us, it was the chance to speak English, and buy American products that were not available in Korea that attracted us. We had fun, but I think we'll enjoy this vacation more...lot's to do at the resort. I'll post a pic from Guam.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

From running in sub-zero to tropical weather

Next week I'll be going on a vacation to a Panama beach resort. This is good, right? I mean, the weather here has been a winter wasteland for nearly 5 months now. Me and the Mrs. Ronster are hitting the surf, sun and salsa for a week or so.

But what am I thinking? My streak of 11 weeks running at least 7 miles a day will end, and there will be at least 4 days where running won't be possible due to travel.

Now I'm a rational guy. I know that a week of 15-25 miles isn't going to undo the base built up since November. Also, I know I'll be able to train harder and outdoors once I get back here in April. But still, it's a disruption. Running brings out a limited neurosis in many of us and I guess I'm one of the many.

I need a rest day or two, but you can bet I'll be on the roads near our hotel at least 4-6 days working up a big-time sweat. After all, I have some races to run.

It's amusing how up here in Canada people take vacations to locations most of us Americans wouldn't consider. El Salvador, Cuba, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and of course, Panama. The prices are good.

Having grown up in the Los Angeles area, we never traveled for the sake of warming up. The point would be to see the cultures we have interest in, or to do a specific activity, like ski, dive, or run with the bulls. Of course most of that can be done an hour away from the LA area in some direction. And it was easy to get that running with the bulls feeling if you just took a wrong turn on Sepulveda. I've run with the dog pack at night a couple times in my more picaresque running days.

So maybe I'll have some "running with the drug lords" tales to tell when I get back.

I'll just be happy if the streets are full of pot-holes and the ice and snow is (mostly) gone. Hasta Luego!

Monday, March 17, 2008

What do I consider faulty advice for the marathoner?

For me, it's the "decrease miles-not intensity" during the taper. I've had more success with doing a larger part of the run at warmup pace but forgoing rest days. If I run a week at the low end of aerobic pace with a slight speed-up the last miles, that won't lose any conditioning and reduce both madness and injury.

Also, don't "load" carbos--forget group pasta feeds! Just eat a higher ratio and avoid too much anything race morning... Maybe I'm the only one who gets nervous before marathons, but I will only eat a little toast, or some Ramen noodles race morning...maybe a Cliff bar. But I'm big on taking 2X the gu recommended. My legs have more spring; I don't care why.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More on weight

Response to "how much should I eat?" on RW forum.
I used to believe I could eat almost carte blanche if I trained over 50 mpw. Over a couple of years, I began to race at increasingly heavy weights(from 158 to 167) and saw my marathon times cease to improve in spite of better 5-10K times and the same mileage. Now, I eat a lot, but not quite as generously as before and I'm upping the mileage, so my weight is back down.

My point is that it's not only an individual thing, but that it can change from year to year as your metabolic system changes.

Here is my weight and pre-marathon race for each marathon:
1. 158, 45:32 10K, 3:58 marathon
2. 158, 39:31 10K, 3:35
3. 157, 38:02 10K, 3:13
4. 162, 37:58 10K, 3:24
5. 164, 1:28 HM, 3:12
6. 164, 18:32 5K 3:31
7. 166, 3:28
Now my weight's around 157. The first two I was training at low mileage. The last two, were both affected by injuries or temperature on race day. But the point is that I was training between 45-55 mpw for all of these marathons, yet my weight rose. I think it was mostly a matter of eating habits. We'll see.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Assuming you cannot run fast, long, and high mileage during the same training cycle, which should be emphasized?

It's an individual issue, but having done all three, I'm pretty sure the answer for me is to run high volume. If I run over 55 miles per week, I see improvement in the longer races. If I add 1 tempo or VO2 workout to the mix, the speed is covered.

In the past, I've done a long run every weekend and around 50 mpw. It will get me into good shape, but not nearly my best for marathons. My last marathon(11-06), I was in Korea and couldn't run too far on weekdays(5 miles/day). So I'd do a 20-miler every weekend. It didn't really work too well. My marathon was 3:28. Granted, it was muggy and I am much slower in such weather, but had my conditioning been better, I would probably have run much faster despite less than perfect conditions. I must have run ten 18-22 mile runs preparing for that race-- all alone--and got to a point of hating the long runs.

On the other hand, my two best marathons were built on only 4-5 runs of 18-plus miles with a higher weekly output of around 55mpw. Seeing that I'm at 52 mpw base currently, I should be able to jump that to 65-70 once the snow clears. But I'll only do long runs every two weeks.

I'm planning on the Niagra Marathon in the Fall, so we'll see.

Monday, March 10, 2008

As we age, it becomes less likely we'll train for and run a marathon without problems in health or a race day calamity. Therefore, I posed this RW forum quandry.

Runs of 20-plus miles at any speed seem to raise a higher risk of injury with me.

If I'm training at fairly high volume(65-70mpw), is doing a long run of 18 miles or more worth doing every week, even though it would probably reduce the quality of my other runs, and possibly total volume; or is every other week OK?

I don't think it would be wise to go long every week AND keep a high level of mileage, due to being in my late 40s and having missed most of last season with back trouble. My gut says overall is more important. What do you think?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Yesterday I was watching a DVD of "Northern Exposure," and the men of Cicily embarked on "the running of the bulls"...which to Joel's shock is executed in the buff. Running naked: it's a Spring ritual there. Well, that's something I've done, but not for a long while.

But for those of you old enough to remember 1974 will recall the national streaking fad. I was 14 and a freshman on the track team. As runners, we felt a kind of moral imperative to use our speed to do good deeds. And what, in March and April of '74 in the LA area, could be more natural and virtuous than to streak the popular community spots of interest. So, being on our 4x400 relay team, it was decided that each of us would hit a different location that night in April (before the infamous Academy Award streak). My being a mere freshman compelled me to go first. We drove to the local movie theater where "The Exorcist" was playing. The lines outside the theater wrapped around the block. We pulled up in Dan's car I got ready, and it was on!

My "costume" was knee-high socks, Adidas trainers, an Ace bandage wrapped around my head mummy-style, and a fedora of my father's. The finishing touch was a pair of those plastic reflector sunglasses everyone used to wear. I had to trust my teammates not to drive off--that was the hardest part. Anyway I ran like lightening and circled the theater. I clapped but didn't say anything. I heard a few "Oh my gods" but I was in the naked zone: oblivious to normal distractions. Once in the car, I felt like I'd pulled of a bank heist.

It's wild to think of the things a 14 year-old will do for fun!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Racing a Half on May 4th

Up here in Timmins there are a couple of local races each year, but to run anything else you've got to drive some serious road time. So I was planning on going to Ottawa for the ING HM in late may. It's an 8-hour trip without stops. But now, I've found a good flat HM in Sudbury, which is only 3 hours away and comes up 3 weeks earlier.

So now I'm motivated! Today, I did some tempo work on the ole treadmill. A nice 5K in 20:10 or so with 4.5 other miles warm-up and cool down. It felt nice and controlled, indicating that my fitness has improved since last fall. Now if all this snow will melt, I'll get in some longer runs to be adequately prepared.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sanity on the treadmill...

Some people do speedwork on the TM. Others do long runs or tempo runs. I will be the same way when running outside is an option. But...if you have no choice as to running in or outside, you've got to keep yourself motivated. If I bust my chops doing a 5-mile tempo run at LT pace on the TM, I know I'll have psychological troubles getting on the thing for an easy run. It never seems easy to run over 40 minutes on a treadmill to me. The time is too dilated.
My solution?....doing progressive runs each and every day.
An example:
Mile 1 @ 930/mile
Mile 2@ 840/mile
Mile 3@ 830/mile
Mile 4@ 800/mile
mile 5@ 800/mile
mile 6@ 740/ mile
mile 7@ 720/ mile
cool @ 840/ mile for .3 miles

Some days I'll go easy and never exceed 8:00 pace. Others, I'll go the last 3 at 6:20-6:40 pace. Typically, the average pace is around 8:20, including the first 2 miles, or 7:50 without them. But I'm never so fatiqued that I can't face the thought of hitting the tread the next day. I go 8-10 one day but that's it. I go loco if I'm on the thing too long. Of course I'm doing base training at 50-55 mpw.

Today, I did the above workout while watching the blowing snow out the window. But long runs and a good Tempo run are important. But I'll save that for outdoors.

I don't like this routine, but it's the best for my legs and mind. I listen to my Rock or Jazz CDs burned specifically to be heard over the motor. For what it's worth, I feel fairly race ready for a HM or less based on these miles. It beats running on ice!
I first posted this when the blog was new, but I feel compelled to reassert my opinion on the ED commercial.

OK, here's a truly annoying commercial to see over and over. A fortysomething couple picks up their parents to see a play. Then the car doesn't start. So the son says to the parents, "you go without us" martyr-like in tone. After this poor elderly couple catches a cab the car starts right up. Sonny says, "how did you know which wires to disconnect?" to his wife. Clearly they are headed for the master bedroom.

So...what's the message here? I think it goes as follows: Cialis: while you might be too old to get it up on your own, you're never too old to lie to your parents for some uninterrupted hanky-panky...nice. Makes me proud to be a son.

But here's the thing--performance anxiety. I mean, if Sonny had troubles before, what now? Where I in his position 20 minutes later, here's what I'd be thinking:

This better be good. This HAS to be good. I just ditched my trusting parents onto a cab driven by god knows who, blew a good couple of hundred on unused theater tickets, took a pill that's not covered in my plan and costs a fortune, and have a limited time window to do the deed with my wife of 25 years--the one who used to get the old libido smoking with curlers in her hair! Focus!!! Think!!! Concentrate!!!...On the treadmill, I do some uphill work each time the ad runs--it's less painful than watching. Those lap lights make it just like being on a coliseum track, right?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

After 8 consecutive weeks of treadmill running at around 53 mpw, I'm itching for the weather to warm up enough to help clear the streets. A runner runs best in a more social environment with proper time and space perspectives, which outdoor running has over the treadmill. Also, the long run is much more palatable with a variety of scenery. My longest on the TM has been 10 miles, and that one took a lot of mind games to get through. It's March now, things should slowly change, but Timmins is what I call "one deviation" colder than Minneapolis or Ottawa. Meaning that it is uninhabitable by most standards. Next winter...snowshoes!