Friday, February 27, 2009

Controlled Chaos

Wow. Looking back, it will be interesting to read this journal that more or less describes what was happening in my training life. This past month has been a disaster short-term, but long-term the situation might prove beneficial.

Training-wise, I only got two weeks of solid training per my coached program, felt great, but then health issues really took over. Starting with Jack's latest bout with asthma, the family has been dealing with a virus (the latest version consists of a headache, sore throat and major eye buggers). The doctor looks at us all and just says, "it's a virus." Either way, it's been a drag. To make a long, bad story short I'm starting over, reconsidering the coaching situation, the training and certainly the race schedule.

My wife is studying for a huge test she takes in May. What was I thinking with such an aggressive race schedule this spring? Well, I was and am motivated. But now my racing doesn't even start until after May. I feel much better just supporting her, trying to get healthy and looking at a solid season which we know is long and hot with a little cool-whip at the end.

So, right now I've got a 50k in August that is certainly big and a XC race series that starts in Aug., runs locally and makes for a huge goal -- just to be fit and ready for that kind of work. I will find some early/mid summer races to do, but for me it's going to consist of training and getting ready for the fall/winter which is loaded with events.

Speaking of, I did get to attend a local cycling event last weekend. Thanks to my brother for setting that up: VIP access to Landis' OUCH team tent.

Soft porn!

Super Dog.

Monday, February 16, 2009


It's been a while since I posted. I've been keeping good notes on my training by just describing my workouts on the schedule that Trevor sends me each week. A few weeks back I was wondering when the fitness would return (whatever I had supposedly accrued last year when I ran a lot); my runs were a little tough, I felt heavy and the oxygen seemed, at some of those efforts, to be endangered. People told me and I pretty much assumed as much, that I just had to give it a little time, etc. Sure enough things came back. My typical week has been:

M - 1:10 steady, core work
T - 45 min. steady, soft surface. This can adjust to 20 min w/u, 20 min tempo (I ran one day barefoot on the beach)
W - Off (I asked Trevor if I should do some core and he said "I don't even want you to think about running, training, etc. Day off." That's been a great added feature to my training, one I will enforce always and recommend it to others. You're given a little more motivation to nail the work-outs leading up to the day-off, and the day after the off day is pretty fun because you naturally want to get after it!)
TH - 1:15 hilly run. I hit the trails, hills on this. Great mid-week work, following a day-off. I love it.
F - 45 min easy with some strides, core
S - 1 to 2 hours of cross training (riding the bike, spinning), core.
S - 1:40 hilly run.

Trevor tends to emphasize that on my longer runs (Tues, Sun) to work the hills. That's cool :)

So, with a couple of weeks of this, I was feeling great. This coincided with some very warm weather in the area. We've had a couple of week+ stints of santa ana conditions so running and feeling pretty fired-up about it all has been easy. Getting out in the early a.m. has been feasible (I'm still not dialed in on that and I better start!). All in all great stuff.

Then the weather turned. About a week ago, it got very cold (certainly this is relative, but considering the heat, the change was pretty drastic). My son proceeded to get a very bad cold, which means, generally, an asthmatic cold where our entire experience (sleep, work, school, play) gets thrown under the bus.

We were actually in the hospital for a day, so that was obviously really tough. Jack has bounced back, thankfully. Being in the hospital for a day is like being on an airplane for a day. Needless to say, I caught a little cold. This was on a Friday. I had nailed a Thursday big run (I mean nailed it!) and then Friday was in the hospital, Saturday was an aerobic work-out (run, spin), Sunday was off. Trevor proceeded to tell me to take a few days off to get better. I did. Felt good.

This past week was off until Friday when I did 45 min. easy, Sat. 1:10 very "steady" and Sunday 1:40 at the gym alternating between running and spinning. I'm still just a little less than 100% and Valentine's day/night was a cool date with my wife - we went big.

(As I write this post it is pouring rain outside. We have two days of this on the schedule and then perhaps some So Cal weather to return.)

So, my life and training have really reflected the weather. That's a natural thing (good) and a bad thing. I think my program can improve in that I am getting my work-outs done earlier in the day. This seems to affect mental health, diet, and work/family life. Perfect example. Last Sat.'s work-out (1:10 very steady, with some little fartlek surges) felt amazing. The rest of the day was great, getting errands done, motivating the family and then going out that night on a hot date. The dinner was really rich (we went big). And there was a little beer and wine, but not much. I think the food played a huge factor. Sunday morning, go do your 1:40 run! I slept-in. I had coffee. Before I knew it, I was doing some errands with family, having a big lunch (not the best health-wise) and then getting in my "long run" in the late afternoon. It was below average. Between Sat. great run and Sunday's long run, I had misbehaved badly on the diet. If I had eaten more intelligently on Sat. night and gotten in my long run early Sun. morn, different man, different athlete. We are what we breathe.

One last note on the program. Last year I was doing a lot of MAF training (strictly aerobic). It was tough mentally, but I was getting the work done, improving certainly on my fitness, etc. The real key to that, I think, reflecting back on it, was that I never got hurt. I had some plantar fascia issues, but that was more a lack of strength that I worked on and got rid off. That was from the sheer consistency of my running. I ran a lot.

This year, really no HRM running. Trevor has had me running "steady" and in the hills regularly (though we just at the beginning of this program). Some of my efforts have been too hard. In fact, getting back at it since this recent cold, I might have strained a muscle in my lower leg resulting in a dull pain that runs through the calf area and into the foot. This affected my Sun. "long run" too, which is another reason I alternated between spin and run, getting my 1:40 in.

I again have to note some of the obvious and well documented benefits of the LSD movement. It's to build the engine, the chasis, the habits the body will need for the long season. I'm not saying I'm injured, but there's a little concern. My training and life reflect the environment. The inconsistent weather, the health, the program are dictating a little too much. I need to be smarter and more practical.

On the flip side, work has been going great. I've started a little side business that's under the table for now, but I hope to keep growing it. One of Gordo's recent posts kinda touched on the importance of certain emphases (work) under certain conditions (recession). Trim "the fat," which means stay busy and spend time with people who matter, who inspire you to succeed.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Viva La Lucha!

Tim continues to lob great running discourse our way, which is only enhanced when he's running! Recently he was talking about the runner's perception of his own limits, which can be negatively impacted by a little experience with gadgetry. We all know how that works, glancing down at the watch, "ok, so this is 7:00. . . and this is 6:45, nice, not bad, but can I hold that, oh, look now, I'm at 6:30, wow, check me out!" So, the watch is telling us this is what we're doing and we're naturally logging that feeling with that number and blah blah blah. In short, Tim is saying to his athlete (and any of us listening), put down the watch, back away from the HRM (btw, this is different Tim from the one who sent me on my BASE way last year, HRM strapped tightly to my bosom), and just run. In fact, I want you to hit these paces. In effect, we probably can hit numbers we never thought possible if most of our running has been guided by numbers.

So, is that how we become the animal that unleashes its fury in its running shoes? All I know is what happens when the competitive juices start to bubble, when the whistle blows and it's on. Coming from a team sport that used a ball, there really was that us (me) against them (you) mentality at work, always. It was always a battle of wills and skills. In fact, even though soccer is very much an endurance sport, I generally worked on my skills much more than my endurance unless you count the year before my freshman year in college when I worked HARD all summer, running as much as anything.

I think if we had to say, even with running, the sport comes down to wills and skills. The will includes endurance, the skills includes the various training methods, work-outs, etc and of course they overlap. My core exercises are becoming part of my skills but the irony is that I worked so hard in my sport on my skills, endurance being easy to come by and here I am loving to a fault the endurance training, but I'm afraid I've neglected some skills (put down the sandwich and give me 50!).

Anyways, I'm a big tennis fan. Always have been. My mom and I used to watch a lot of tennis. If you missed those great Borg v. McEnroe matches, Conners, Edberg, Lendl, etc., you missed a lot of drama and athleticism. Wills and skills.

I mentioned last week in a post how I was staying up late to watch the Australian Open tennis tournament. Great theater. I was running with JW and Tom on Sunday am and the Nadal v. Federer final started live at 12:30am. I kinda wanted to stay-up and watch it, but I kinda didn't. No, not because I supposed to get-up at 6:00am to run a beastly trail. I had a bad feeling about the match. I like Federer. I like some dynasties. They're fun. If I meet someone and they say they ALWAYS root for the underdog, they're not a sports fan. That is one lame cliche, which I think they use because they think people will think that's cool, okay you're a sports fan. I say BS. You don't know enough about the game to know what's going on, what's at stake. And some dynasties are cool. Granted some aren't. But I move on. I have watched a lot of tennis over the last year, enough to know that Nadal has Federer's number. Nadal had just played a grueling 5+ hour semi final and had only 48 hours to recover for the final against the (supposed) best hard court player in the last 20 years (Federer's semi lasted about 2 hours and he'd been off already a few days). So be it. I knew Nadal would be okay. First of all, he's 22. Secondly, he's an animal. He's always had the will. He's never lost at Roland Garros, where they play the French Open. Never. He's that typical great clay court player, characteristically able to run everything down, scurry around and frustrate the more graceful hard/grass court folk. Typical Spaniard. But he's worked hard. He beat Federer at Wimbledon, ending Roger's streak there. Nadal then won Oly gold in China. Now he's won on the hard court (though not as fast as the U.S. Open, it's hard court). He's got the skill, now. I clarified a few of my thoughts on the subject in a comment on The Science of Sport blog. One of the authors there had a pretty lengthy take on the match, among other things - GREAT BLOG. You can read his post here. Here's my response:

Matt said...

"I have to complicate (or simplify) your take on Federer. Last year it's pretty clear that Federer was feeling the affects of mono (I believe that's what he had), so the Djokivic win at the Aus. Open was not so much a case of him surpassing Federer, but of him certainly playing well and Federer not having his A game. Granted the Serb and perhaps Murray represent new blood on the list of men's "contenders."

However, if Nadal wasn't playing right now, Federer would have his take on several more majors - he'd reach 20 most likely. Murray and the Serb are good (potentially great) but DO NOT have the game to consistently beat Federer in a grand slam final. Federer has the mental edge against those guys. And the Serb has some issues, certainly (family, health, etc).

The 2009 Aus. Open final was historical in that it determined who is the best today and most likely Federer's place in the pantheon. He is not the greatest. He's not even the best now (Brad Gilbert actually said that at some point during the coverage). Nadal has brought his game up to speed with the hard court. That's clear. Sure he's at a disadvantage (hitting 10+ feet behind the baseline), but he's done it. He now has the chops to play with anyone. But, he has the mental make-up to beat anyone. One of the best points someone made (BGilbert I think again) about Nadal is that he "doesn't know the score" while he plays. What that means is that he is simply grinding out another point. He doesn't quit. That can be very tough on an opponent mentally, and since Nadal has the edge physically against anyone he plays, the combination is brutal.

That's where Federer is in trouble. His brilliance on the court usually produces some level of concession from his opponent. But not Nadal. And now, Nadal is just as brilliant tennis-wise.

If Nadal can stay healthy, he will go down as the greatest.

Remember, he's 22 years old.

But he's tough on himself, too."

Now, I put this in here to share that point that Brad Gilbert made about Rafa Nadal. If you've ever watched him play tennis, especially in the last year, you'll note he's sick. Sampras recently referred to him as an animal. But Gilbert describing his play as one who "doesn't know the score" is pretty scary, and I think Gilbert is on to something. Nadal could be down 0-40 in a game, down a break in the set and it's not over. Very few players have those kinds of testicles/tunnel vision, etc. He is so in the moment, trying to win the next point (regardless of the context), that you have to literally drive a nail through the coffin. Actually 10 nails.

In a way, there's something kinda mindless about it. It's so competitive it's frightening. Federer actually cried on the podium after the match.

Whatever you want to make of that, I say he knows. Here's a guy about to become the all time grand slam winners, surpassing Sampras (he needs one to tie, two to become "the greatest"), but he knows. It's over. Of course, Nadal's sportsmanships is about as brilliant as his canibalism. He's so soft-spoken, such a gentleman. I want my kid to be the next Rafa Nadal.

So, back to running. Put down the gadgetry and go out there and run. Sure, we need the skills and the gadgetry helps us build those skills, recover, stay on program, etc. But when it's time, it's time. I think that's why we all respect JW so much. He's an animal. He's like Nadal on the trail. What did he make-up on the run at Worlds? 2nd place was probably in tears. That's not fair. I had him. It was over.

All this to say and sorta echo what I think Tim is saying. The watch will help, but chances are, you already have what you need to succeed. The question is how bad do you want it? How far are you willing to go to get it? That's what I'm struggling with because what I say I want and what I've done in the past don't quite jive. That's right, I'm jive talkin. . .so . . .

¡cállate ahora y viva la lucha!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Saturday and Sunday (the beg. of February)

Well, the weekend was fairly solid. On Saturday I did a 1 hour spin (steady) and then some core work. On Sunday I went 1:30 with Tom and JW. Started an hour before the actual Mission Gorge Xterra race, so we had it to ourselves, which means I was assured a podium finish :-)

The profile doesn't do it justice. There are some gnarly grades even GZ would appreciate. So, great time on the course with couple of friends and then the super bowl.

Homemade beet and sweet potato chips

Colorful freshness

and . . my homemade salsa (very healthy!)

The only bummer (i wouldn't admit this but that this is journalishness), I hit a little rock on the trail Sunday --I think in the middle of JW explaining how his foot has finally healed. Not bad, but I felt it. Showered and dressed later I was getting ready to get game ready when I heard Tom mention he'd done a little icing in with his dixie cup method. I don't ice, but thought "yeah, I better, sounds smart." So I grab one of those blue gel ice bags from my freezer put it where I was sitting folding clothes, hit it for 10 minutes and that was it. So, hours later, no pain from the rock, but I had a little ice burn on the foot (so, yeah, no towel around the ice). Anyways, affected Monday's work=out and likely today's. It's okay, I got in 1:10 aerobic training with a little running, today run on the beach, Wed. off, and Thursday go pretty big. That's the program, i just follow directions.

I'm going to do a bunch of core work today! (since I just wrote that down, it assures I'll do it. . .I mean it's going to be killer!)

Speaking of ice, there was a cooler on the porch Sunday with a bunch of very yummy refreshments. This weather is ridiculous. Epic trail runs and good food and drink with friends.