Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Perfect Running Pace (Effort)

I've found my perfect running pace. Actually, it's a running effort, not pace. Over the last couple of years, I've settled into a very relaxed running effort (and pace). I often finish a run with an average heart rate reserve of 60-65%. That's a pretty darn easy run. Nothing wrong with that effort, but if you want to improve, you probbaly need to push just a bit harder...even on easy days. I now have a new "easy day" targeted effort--just around 70% HRR. This is still considered rather easy by almost all training plans. It's about 89% of lactate threshold which is easy according to Joe Friel or Matt Fitzgerald (my two favorite "running book coaches"). Still, it's slightly harder than I usually run. It feels right. I'm not totally relaxed, but I'm definitely not pushing hard. It's the "top end of easy" for me. I need to push just a bit. This effort is still very aerobic. It should build aerobic enduance and still allow recovery.

I still need hard days and I will still have some really easy days too. But my new norm is this "top of easy" paced effort. I'll toss in one tempo type run (at lactate threshold effort, about 80-85% HRR) and one speed session (400m-1600m repeats with rest intervals to stimulate VO2max) just to keep things fresh and prepare me for racing. And, maybe once a week, I'll return to my tried and true really easy running day. I call it my "Riddle Day" after local ultra running legend and coach Jeff Riddle. It's slow. It's easy. It's casual. No pressure. If I did this more than once/week, I'd be frustrated and annoyed. It's that slow. In terms of heart rate, it's around 50-55% HRR. This is most effectively done when actually running with Jeff. Good opportunity to catch up on running gossip and maximize recovery.

I track my effort (heart rate) on all runs and I'll try to keep my weekly totals at about 80% easy effort (70% HRR or 89% lactate threshold) and 20% at lactate threshold or above. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Current Pre-Training Schedule

I plan to start an official training schedule right around Christmas or New Years. It'll be a 4-month program leading to the Illinois Half-Marathon at the end of April. More details about the specific training program once I start, but for now, I'm in pre-training mode. Preparing for the real training. Make sense?

The biggest change in training will be more speed workouts and shorter long runs. To prepare my mind and body, I'm now cutting back on total mileage and long runs, while adding a touch of speed. My long runs are peaking at about 10 miles. I'm doing a once per week speed session that consists of running one mile hard (slightly faster than 5K race pace). The other runs are easy efforts at or below 89% lactate threshold heart rate (for me, around HR=144). Here's an example week:

Monday: off
Tuesday: 4-5 miles easy
Wednesday: 3.5 miles, 1-mile fast
Thursday: 4-5 miles easy
Friday: off
Satuday: 8-10 miles
Sunday: 5-7 miles easy

Most runs will still be done on trails, but I'm incorporating road and bike path routes too. The half-marathon will be on roads so I need to acclimate. I thought those road runs would be harder on my body. They aren't too bad. My mind suffers more than my legs.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Run Gum to the Rescue!

I gave up dinking coffee about 4 weeks ago.  I normally drank 4-5 cups every day. Definitely started each morning with a cup at home, then a cup for the road, then one at work, then another after lunch, then maybe one when I got back home (with dinner). It was a habit. My wife thought I drank too much. And she was tired of all the coffee grounds and drips I left behind. Being a coffee snob, I would hand grind my beans each time, use a french press, and not really clean up well. Anyway, I probably did drink too much and I'm now coffee free and doing just fine...with my Run Gum!

Never heard of Run Gum? It's pretty sweet. I'm now a member of their monthly club. It arrives, with discount and free shipping, every month. It was developed by Nick Symmonds, Olympic runner. Basically it's gum loaded with caffeine, taurine, B6, and B12. Energy vitamins and a small jolt of the good old central nervous system stimulant. I can feel it work in just 2-3 minutes. After 5 minutes, I'm fully charged and ready to run...or work...or just be alive and alert. With the colder and darker running mornings that fall brings, it's been a godsend. Alarm goes off, I'm a bit groggy but manage to stumble to my "running room" and grab my RunGum. I chew one piece while I grab my running clothes, GPS watch, and HR monitor. By the time I'm dressed, it's already started to work. I feel ready to launch into the dark abyss and run around the local roads and trails. I typically have another piece on the way to wok and that's it for the day. Two pieces have 100mg of caffeine (about a cup of coffee). No waiting, no bad breath, no messes, and no angry wife.  She does say "do you have to smack your lips so loudly?" Hey, everyone's got to complain about something.

I'm no Olympic athlete, or sponsored runner, but I encourage you to give RunGum a try. Great "pick me up" before your morning runs, speed sessions, or in the middle of your long runs. And it's awesome during ultras too. Tell Nick that "Chris the blogger" sent you. Hey, maybe I can be a sponsored runner!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Next Race?

Now that I've gotten in almost 2 weeks of slow and easy runs, I'm feeling good. I'm certainly not at my full potential, but I'm on the right track. A few more weeks of plugging along should get me to the point I can consider future race plans. I've sworn off racing for the rest of this year. Just good old fashioned running. No focused training. And certainly no Tunnel Hill 50 miler (which is in 2 weeks!).

While I should hang low for a while and not even consider racing, I've already committed to one future race. It's the Illinois Half-Marathon on April 30. That's a full 6 months away. Plenty of time to get back to solid running, develop a reasonable aerobic base, then implement a targeted training plan. I'd like to break 1:30 for this half marathon. I'll be happy with a 1:29:59 finish. That's a 6:51/mile race pace. Not easy, but doable. Even for a 50-year old ultra guy. I'm looking forward to building speed and not doing really long runs (probably staying around 12-13 miles for the longest during this period). It'll be a change from years of ultra slogging. I even plan to follow an actual training plan with daily workouts for about 14 weeks. My plan of choice? The Hansons half-marathon training schedule based on their book. Three "something of substance" runs each week: speed/strength, tempo, and long run. These are interspersed with three other days of easy runs. Six workouts/week. This will be more consistent running than I've done in the past. And much greater focus of speed and stamina. Should be fun!

If this training goes well, I should be looking at a personal record on April 30th. Which might just set me up for another PR in July...when I attempt a certified trail marathon course and a BQ time!