Friday, January 30, 2009

First week

First week (Monday thru Friday) of work (spring semester) and "work" (my 2009 training schedule via Trevor Glavin) is in the books. I hit every single work-out perfectly. I need to keep improving my core work (I'm doing it, but I know I can do it better more effectively, etc.). I did my run today on the mill since work and child care pretty much relegated "work" to that. I was super tired because I worked all day and stayed up until 3:30 last night watching some dudes "work." My wife said DVR the thing, but I watched most of the Nadal/Verdasco Aussie semi-final match. It was epic. I've stayed up for those in the past or woken-up at pre-dawn to watch a match and been disappointed. Not last night. Athletes "working." 5+ hours. That's a 50k. Ha ha ha.

So I was tired doing today's 45 minute easy run. Hit the treadmill and did 15% incline, sub 6min miles . . . ha ah ahdhaa. That's just a nod to GZ. But what picked-up my run? No it wasn't the Celtics v. Pistons. It was watching an indoor track meet being held in NYC. Watching Kara Goucher smoke the ladies in the mile got me going. Turned out to be a great run, great energy . . uh, mine that is. She did well too.

Now, inspired by the beer dude, I'm sipping a Firestone IPA with a Green Flash Imperial IPA waiting in the wings.

I have a bike ride tomorrow and a nice (big) trail run scheduled for the weekend. Life is good.

Go Federer. For those of you reading, stay-up and watch it live from Melbourne, sipping a pint.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thursday - Sunday

Thursday - 4 miles didn't feel great.

Work (spring semester) is underway so stress-level a little higher.

Friday - back at work, zip on the work-out front. My boy's 5th birthday. Other things going on. Waiting, also, for my schedule from Trevor. Can't wait.

Saturday - more birthday get togethering, no work-out. Huge nap!

Sunday - a.m. 9 miles (Harbor Island loop) with Tom. Felt better than last time (two weeks ago) but still coughing. With this inflammation, it might be good to mix-in some spinning since according to Tom's brother, a M.D., the "clearing-out" that seems to be going-on during a solid run is not actually a clearing-out, but rather an "irritating the freaking thing" situation. Hopefully the weather and some smarter work-outs will speed-up my recovery.

Sunday - p.m. 30 min. bigger gear spin at gym and a graded two on the treddy to wrap things up. 11 miles on the day with some good low HR exercise.

I count 40 miles on the week and it was fairly below average. Not bad.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Recovery day. . .

32 minutes jump rope (it's 4 base miles. Try it you'll like it. . .), plenty of single leg. Felt good. Also did some core work and will do more later. . .

Followed that up with a nice 4 mile loop around the neighborhood, plenty of up and down (570ft.up), but nice and easy. 1/4 of it was on a trail. Had to bite the bullet 3/4. Nice and easy.

Uhhhh, that's 8 miles. I'll take it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday and Tuesday

Mt. Crippler in the distance

Monday - 1 hour at the gym: 4 miles and core work along with some needed stretching.

Tuesday am - 10+ miles on a hilly trail, 2000+ft climbing. I hiked some of the steeper climbs and when I did run kept it in a very low gear. The HR soared, but it was a great time.
Tuesday pm - 3 miles and sauna at the gym. A double! 13+ miles.
I'm doing some crunches before I sleep!

My new take on base is not HR related (shocker). It's go long and keep the efforts in check. Frequency and low gears that build strength are key. In fact, MAF is really great strength work; you're just plodding along, big mileage, strengthening the legs/feet/etc., and the aerobic system. . . but I don't think you have to go that soft to strengthen the aerobic system. My 3 mile run today (early in the season my first double) was run at MAF HR and it felt like great strength work. I was putting my body through more work, but very softly. Good for the HR? Sure. But great for the legs. Aet will be the main currency except for recovery runs (slow runs) and my weekly Fun Run(s). Kerrie made a great point on Lucho's blog about the difference between hard and soft runs. Trevor taught me a lot about the importance of recovery in a schedule. I'm going to differentiate between hard and soft. Recovery will be a huge part of the schedule (can you say p-o-o-l?). I've built a great base schedule based on my spring work schedule. It's perfect. I have big days and recovery days. Gotta be realistic and smart. The body and mind work pretty well together along with the nerves, etc. In base, go long and easy (whatever that means). Develop habits (core, strength). Stay away from really hard extended efforts. Start to mix-in the harder efforts based on smart race schedule.

Maybe I'll babble more about this later.

On the health end of things, I'm definitely not 100% and today's run pointed that out. Another good reason to get-in some heavy breathing. If I kept my efforts really aerobic, I might not sense what's going-on deep in them pipes. I felt so heavy (I am) for the first hour. Then I opened up a little. I'm definitely in the base and still recovering from the perfect storm. . . er. . I mean cold, taking it easy but doing exactly what I want to do: run a lot on trails I like. Today's trails are some of the best around (I'll call it Mt. Crippler, JW - I saw the wheel chair twice).

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Mellow 40 minute hilly run. Felt pretty good though a little soreness from the lifting on Friday and run on Sat. I think the health is returning so this should carry over to next week.

Week total: ~5 hours (despite a bad cold)

Must engage core this week.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday and Saturday

Thursday I was really sick. Felt really low. But the weather has been so nice, I mean so nice. Read CV's latest post for that. Friday was a new day. I felt a little better and went to the gym. I ran for 30 min, pushed it some and then lifted for 30 min. because that's what I should do.

On Saturday I ran 10 miles which included 5 hill intervals of the Hudson variety. His discourse on hills that I heard on Running Times via GZ made for good planning. I felt like SHIT for the first 4 miles. So I ran a little harder and then did the hills and then a few more miles, a little spinning and bam. . . .not bad. Then I ate a salad and took a nap. Really good for me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I turned 40 in December. Although I've been fairly athletic all of my life (became a world class 12oz. curler/hurler once I graduated from college), I didn't get started on this endurance journey until about my mid-30s. And trail running (means to the end) started, for me, last year. Naturally, there's a little regret, a little envy looking at all of the amazing athletes out there kicking ass in their. . .mid 20s! What I would give to be 30 again; but that's pretty cliche, meaning it's predictable and barely scratches the surface of one's thoughts on the subject.

My life has been an amazing learning process. And now I have a real passion in fitness and travel (on foot), which is why The Maker has pointed me in the direction of the trail. If I really look at that "regret," I could discern that it stems from the competitor in me. Sure, I guess a loss of time in general (I'm getting old) might make someone a little regretful because he wishes he had more time, but I think for me it's the thought that I could take a stab at some respectable times in certain races, train harder, really immerse myself in the life. As for racing, as one gets older, some of those "times" simply become out of reach.

That's the bad news about aging and athletic performance according to an article in the recent Runner's World. Does age matter? According to Christie Aschwanden in her article, "Age Matters," absolutely; but like most serious discussions, it's more complicated than that. She starts off by saying that with age, one's aerobic capacity falls. There's no escaping that. Supposedly, one's max hr drops about one beat per year. Although she says "no one knows the explanation," it explains why a 55 year old can't compete against a 25 year old: grandpa is "operating at a lower intensity to begin with."

Then there's the decline in muscle mass. According to the article, the neurons that supply the muscles start to shrink and die, and because of that, the muscle fibers die. An exercise scientist from Marquette qualifies it by saying "sometimes [muscle fibers] get regenerated by new neurons, but as you age you can't keep pace with the cell death. Training can slow the process, but it won't end it." The doc says at age 60 the atrophy really picks up and starts to hit fast twitch fibers especially hard. Hence, speed goes before endurance.

The article touches on recovery: loss of muscles means loss of one's ability to store glycogen, so replenishing those stores after a hard effort takes longer. And age-related hardening of the arteries cuts blood-flow to the tissues, so that slows recovery, as well.

This isn't necessarily news to anyone. As we get older, it takes us longer to get out of bed. We can't party the night before and throw-down the next day (in college, my nickname on the soccer team was JW ((johnny walker)); I'm not proud of it, but I could still ball even though my breath was a little shaky). The older we are, the more susceptible we are to injury and slow recovery. Period.

However, the article has some good news in terms of aging and athletic performance, especially for nonelites; "significant age-related losses in endurance performance did not occur before the age of 50. Mean marathon and half-marathon times were nearly identical for the age groups from 20 to 49 years." The article sites many studies done world-wide. One 2008 Austrian study found little difference between the finish times of racers 35 to 49 (top five) in the world mountain-running championships. The authors of that study say the results suggest VO2Max can be maintained at high levels through the age of 49. Great stuff to hear, obviously.

The article covers a lot of ground. In the end, it seems to say that the aerobic base is pretty key (how long one has been training/competing). Anyone can look at various race results and see how fast some masters athletes are. Science seems to support that the potential is there to compete at a very high level well into one's 40s and 50s. But the key is training and training smart. We can't control the clock, but we can control what we eat, how we train, how much stress we have in our lives.

And what exactly is one's prime, say, for the marathon? The article points-out how the trend of competitive running in this country may have a lot to do with our perception of "peak" age. Actually, the author sites Jack Daniels, who says," In the U.S., the conventional approach has been, spend your younger years trying to see how fast you can run on the track, and if you don't make it there, see how fast you can run on the road, and then, if all else fails, try the marathon." Younger runners are definitely discouraged from running longer events. Fine, this may be common sense. I think Ritz and Ryan Hall are representing a little break from that trend. They're 23-25. Are these their prime years? Wanjiru won the 2008 Oly marathon, and he's 21. On the other hand, the Romanian woman who won the 2008 Oly marathon was 38. And the marathon world record was set by Gebrselassie who is 35. Radcliffe (34) and Kastor (35) represent that mid-30s group, too. Is it mid 20's or mid 30's. Lance's comeback will be interesting. He'll be nearly 38 when it all goes down in France. Ironman Tom Evans has done some great stuff, recently winning Ironman Florida in course record time, and establishing a best-ever for OVER 40! Nice.

Obviously, I've been thinking about age. Reading, of course, gets one thinking. Racing does as well. In fact, the older we are the more we think and the more life becomes a race! One truth about me - and one the article touches on - is that I have yet to peak. I don't have any results from my 20s and 30s to illustrate my decline. Other than a few summers when I trained for college ball (soccer) and was in very very good shape, I don't think I've seen my best fitness. So in that respect, the bar can only be raised in my case. And according to science, I should be able to raise that bar - if I'm truly committed to improving my fitness -- until I'm 49 or 50. That's just the way it is.

So, despite all this youth that's tearing-up the joint, those of us a little longer in the tooth still have some gas in the tank! Of course, we're all in this together and our experience starts to play more of role the older we get. Again, I have to point to the journey each of us takes and reading 2008 reviews evidenced how cool those journies are and how much we can learn from each other. Those of us involved in endurance sports have seen a very cool light (headlamp) that we'll use to find our way to the top of that old rocky trail. I feel so blessed to have found the trail.

Now, if I can just kick this F'ing VIRUS and get back out there to kick 2009 into gear!

I guess it's that time of the year

A health update and though a little embarrassing, it's just the breaks!

Monday did an hour of aerobic at the gym, so my legs got to flush-out all that hydrogen? But I was dealing with a little sore throat.

Tuesday - Today I've gotten worse. I've been eating and sleeping like a champ!
But no one no how can have his way with the virus. Sorry. Thanks for trying. . .

A busted week. . .

Sunday, January 11, 2009

First Weekend . . .in a santa ana wind . . .

Saturday - 1.5 hours, 2000ft. of climbing Mission Trails. Hiking and jogging downhill (w/one little uphill at the end). "The stairs" are NICE.

Sunday - 1.5 hours zone 2 run with Tom (the Harbor Island loop!). This run will be done again and again. Out the front door in the dawn. We met at 7am. Had the rest of the day to do nothing today but watch football, but in the future: chores, homework, family stuff, more miles! Early-bird gets the worm!

Pleased with the first weekend. A little volume, an early run, some climbing at the venue of 2/1 race (specificity), pretty good diet. Now for the tough part: the week. I want to hit some volume now. I will work on that, around 8-9 hours this week. Back to the tough part - the core work, jump roping, cycling, ie., back in the mix. I need to mix things up so I can get strong, psyched (have fun) and avoid injury. Take advantage of the time-off from work and a healthier son who is going back to school.

Great article about aging and performance in the new Runners World. I will discourse manana. Adios . . . Chargers. What a lame game.

Bring-on Monday!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Full Circle

Today we begin: the first day of the rest of my life. Me myself and I and the few personalities I've nurtured along the way are turning over the new leaf. 10 days into the year, this is day one. I took 10 additional days off. I'm ready to roll. Today I run/hike, tomorrow the same, and so forth and so on. And I'm very very excited. I liked the downtime, but now it's time to go "downtown," or take my enemies "down to china town!" (Whatever . . .morning blob with three shots of espresso and a little soy.)

When we were on Maui, I piled the family in our rentacar and drove to the top of Haleakala to watch the sunrise. To make a long story short, it was the first day of one of those "4 times a year storms," according to a local. Having said that, at the top of Haleakala (and btw, no weather report indicated such weather, i swear) we were in the eye of the storm, literally, in the middle of a storm cloud. Winds were about 50mph, swirling rain, pretty amazing. Here is a picture of me at the doorway to the visitor's center with evidence of some elevation and cold air. Pic at the top of this post is Hale at sunrise.

Okay, so this weekend last year was Boney Mt. 21k, my first trail race ever. I then drove up to Pismo Beach for a little weekend of central coast with my good friend from Oakland, CA. It was an epic weekend. Here's a picture of me on that weekend and a picture of me from Hawaii, last month: the beginning and end of the first season.

When my kid saw this pic of us in Maui, he said, "Dad, you look sick." Quite an interpretation. . .

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2009 More Specifically

Having gotten beyond the Holidays, what's in store, more specifically, for 2009? I have to mention that this post should have been done earlier, but it's been interrupted a few times because I've been reading about training, planning my day to planning my life, other people's training/training plans, etc. Having said that, what I write here in this post about my 2009 plans is totally subject to change because of A) the reading and any subsequent inspiration; and B) such is life.

I have these races on the "calendar." Haven't even run them by my manager, so this is pretty here and now. My goal for the year is to participate in 10 races.

Feb. 1 Mission Gorge 15k xterra
March 8 Malibu Creek 25k pct
March 22 Black Mt. 15k xterra
April 5, Sycamore Canyon 50k pct
May 9 Malibu Creek 22k xterra
July 4 Angel Island 50k
August 22 Bulldog 50k
September 27? Noble Canyon 50k

Also, I hope to pace for 1 runner during the SD100. We'll see about that.

Right off the top, am I dragging my family to S.F. for July 4? Pretty doubtful, but stranger things have happened. What I have going for me on this sell is the fact that S.F. for the 4th would be outstanding! Another iffy at the outset is Noble Canyon since my wife's B-day is 9/26 (hey, sweetie, I have this killer idea for your birthday. . . ). Interesting that the rest are in San Diego or near and around Malibu. Not a coincidence. I'm passing on Boney Mt. Xduro, which is in the Malibu area but from the east side of the park that's off HWY 101, north of L.A. Although it is a great race, and is site of my first trail race ever ('08), I'm still in off-season. Another possibility is the 25/50k World of Hurt outside of Vegas. I did the 25k (50k is 2 loops) this year and loved it. But for now, I like my list. I love the venues, they're pretty close to home, and if I can manage all (or minus 1-2), that would be a really nice season. I have to stress that other races could definitely make the list in the future because I think racing often is key, especially when "it's on," and also I want to race in Oct.-Dec. and I don't have any representation there. So, a rough draft, but at least I'm focusing. . .

My hopes at the outset include maintaining health throughout the campaign, racing often, and achieving some "results." Results are tangible and intangible, meaning that finishing well in my AG is certainly important, as is the successful build-up to a race, hitting work-outs, making gains on the stop-watch/HRM. I'm looking for a variety of signs and signals that indicate that things are going well. Perhaps the main objective is that my wife appreciates the "work" in that we all three are benefiting from Matt's trail running (everything from cool travel, to improved health, to your basic progression of life between organisms ((i'm wondering how intangible or vague i can get here))).

Training is going to be key. Like the old football coach would say, we get our work done during the week, so the games (weekends) are just going through the motions. If you're prepared, the races are just throwing down as the great JW might say. The execution of my training is going to be the most interesting part of all of this, which makes so much sense. It affects races, my family, my work, and my life. Race results, family relationships (growth), career, and personal health/social life. It reflects the routine. It speaks to consistency, progress, growth. What did Aristotle say about excellence? "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

The general plan: Accountable Early Informed Often and Unpredictable (I just made that up, it's AEIOU and it will probably change, but I like them all).

The blog is terribly key to the training. I will post my training discourse as it unfolds, which helps keep me Accountable. I need to go to bed Early and get up Early (this maybe the most fundamental piece of the puzzle; execute you slacker!). Being Informed is obvious. I'm learning more and more about this running thing. The research should be swimming around my head while I sweat. Also, my training schedule should reflect some thoughtfulness on the work-out, on how that work-out affects the overall plan of attack. I need to exercise Often. The Early bird will get the worm. If I've run 3-10 miles in the a.m., before most of humanity has awakened, I'm going to be Victor the voluminous one. Nailing all of my work-outs and my races (the 10 I run this year) will really add to my fitness. Often is huge. Unpredictable is the caveman clause. If I am supposed to have an easy day but end-up doing something crazy, I'll survive. If I'm supposed to do a 10 mile tempo, but end-up eating, I'll survive. I just need to be wise and honest.

I will be reading Noakes and Jim Fixx for now, but will continue to have a good training text going always. I will read GZ, AC (and CV and GB), TW, and JW like the clock. These folks are a lot of inspiration and like, let's see, how do I say it . . .. . really smart? Matt Fitzgerald seems like another good read, too. I remember reading an article of his a few years ago before I shocked my world with a 1:30ish 1/2 marry; MF was saying how training needs to simulate racing, especially in that last build-up phase, speed-wise. Seems pretty obvious, but I remember thinking I wasn't hearing much about that at the time. Anyways, this reading will certainly inform my approach to the life.

As I get things started-up here in the next week or so, I will be doing about 2 months of "base." This is HRM training and will try to be pretty disciplined about it. I will be doing a lot of strength work, core-work, hiking/biking, etc. As I said previously, I will do a "fun run" once a week where I can go a little harder and have a little more "fun." But the HRM training is pretty key. I trust that approach for sure.

Think of how smart I will be by mid-March or April when I enter another phase? So, it's pretty silly to start to discuss "Sharpening" now. I will address the next phase with my higher priority races, too. But really the training is for the mountainous slopes of this beautiful planet, so my training will be pretty basic throughout. I am definitely, without at first realizing what I'm doing, training to train. Thanks, MF. My best years on the circuit will be when I turn 48. That's one way to look at it. Either way, I'll be having fun along the way.

Right now, I'm not doing anything. Professor Couzins' discussion of the off-season helped me shut things down a little more recently. I have to print part of that post here:

"First of all, what is the purpose of the off-season?

Simply, the purpose of the off-season is to shed ALL of the fatigue accumulated in the preceding season so that the athlete is starting from a blank slate at the start of the next preparation period. If you hold onto just 20% of your fatigue from the previous season, the cumulative effect means that after 5 years you’ll be starting the next season as fatigued as you were at your peak training volume 5 years ago. This is going to significantly compromise your ability to tolerate the extra training load that you want to do that season and ultimately lead to a plateau in your long term performance.

It should be noted that while studies have shown a significant correlation between performance fatigue and hormonal markers of over-reaching/over-training, less of a correlation has been exhibited between subjective ratings of fatigue and performance indicated fatigue. In other words, while you may feel ‘good to go’ and ready to start the next season, it is the lingering fatigue that you don’t feel that will ultimately limit your performance."

Other thoughts/variables that have affected the training now include anecdotal evidence about the Kenyans (when they're off they're off) and the general thought that I'm going to be training and racing (pretty hard/consistently) from January-February to November-December. That's a ton. Sitting on my ass right now is OKAY. Also, this week, the week my son was to go back to school and my break continued, starting a two week period where I might be able to get in some long hikes/jogs along beautiful trails in the beautiful winter air, my son has gotten very sick. He's asthmatic like me and has been battling. It's the worst. So, the PJs stay on and I read and day-dream A LOT. But I think it's the healthiest way either way. Should I be doing some aerobic stuff none the less? Sure it's the off season, but shouldn't I at least be at least skipping or playing hop-scotch? I think not. Again, the training will run consistently and seriously for like 11 months and despite some recovery periods, I will always look to get back on the horse, active recovery, etc. Right now, I should be contemplating the doughnut or the double IPA.
That's where I'm at.

As I do start to train this weekend (in fact!!), I will pretty much stick to low and high aerobic work-outs. I don't think there's anything wrong with 150 HR. That's pretty Steady-State for me and very good for the aerobic system. So my HR for most of the first two months of the season will be 130 to 150. Of course, some strength work-outs (weights, core, etc.) will push the HR as will my fun run. I want to get strong. First things first. Building a strong engine and chassis will give my foundation so much more capability. Of course, volume is another factor. I won't dive in to 50 mile weeks right away, but will very much build quickly to some respectable mileage. If I'm taking it EZ, there's nothing wrong with working towards big weeks. I may have to work with hours of training since I'm not very fast, but that's fine. 1, 2 and 3 hour runs will be the ABC of my weeks.

Obviously, the 50k is on this season's "map." You betcha. I got a little squirrally last season - I probably should have done 50k in Vegas where I was strong. Instead, I ran the 25k with hawaii on the schedule. Errrr. Moving on . . .
I have a feeling this distance will come and go and I'll want more. That's the point of this interview with Dave Mackey. And besides, that's been my experience with most endeavors (at first you succeed and then you want more - in fact this is the root of some of my problems. . .). The 50k will encourage more responsibility, a better use of training, better nutrition and a stricter sleeping regimen (I can only hope). I'm looking forward to knocking down 5-6 hour events on my feet in the rocks and grass.

So, that's it for now. I have some specific things I want to post (links and tidbits from my reading) in the next few days. Plus, the training will resume pretty soon.

Goals (the checklist)

1. 10 races this year!

2. Discernible fitness gains!
a. Race results
b. HRM/speed improvements

3. Establish "the routine"!
a. Nutrition
b. Sleep
c. Training

Monday, January 5, 2009

Post Up 2009!

Christmas was fine and dandy - time at home with the core and a little extended family in the mountains where we were greeted by snow. Jack got in a little sledding and his sorta cousin and he built an igloo. Good times.

The time between Christmas and New Years has always been my favorite. Grades are always due right about the 1st, so this forces me to "close-up shop" and enjoy the holiday spirits that are running high which includes family and friends, new toys, football and the best weather on the west coast always (i'll take clear and cold versus hot and humid, especially to be outside and running around).

We had a little new year's eve party with some friends and good food and aside from a little bit of exercise, I've been just hanging-out, watching sports and reading books and blogs to sharpen some ideas surrounding my training and racing for 2009.

I've been reading a lot of 2008 "wraps" and among the many cool things the reader encounters, the best thing is all that positive energy. I love it. The general purpose of these transitional letters is to identify positive and negative themes/trends that help define the "season" with the idea that it's time then to construct a plan that improves upon whatever happened. You have to dig all of this self-awareness. Brilliant. Matt Fitzgerald wrote recently about TIME and how people, if they're motivated enough, can manage to get in the "work." It's all about motivation. But as I was reading it, I had to remind myself of how most of this "work" is so healthy. So many of us are trying to get good, to make ourselves better eaters and runners and/or even mothers and fathers, etc. But people reading Fitzgerald's post were sure to point-out that the "work" can get obsessive. Then it's not healthy. If that's your case, take it EZ! Most of the discourse I'm encountering is self-critical, honest and really optimistic.

2008 was very successful (optimism). Yet there is so much to improve upon it's ridiculous (honest). I've already been pretty self-critical about my strengths and weaknesses, but now it's time to organize my thoughts. I started racing in January 2008. It's January 2009. Perfect. In my next post, I'll start to get into the details of what I intend to do training and racing wise in 2009.

As for training, I'm currently de-fatiguing. IOW, I'm pretty chill.

How bout those Chargers!