Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Slice of life

Via GZ, excerpt of an interview with Carpenter:

How many miles a week do you run, and are they all on trail?

I go by time not distance. In the mountains and especially in altitude, distance becomes meaningless and can get you in trouble. . . So, I shoot for two hours a day on a consistent basis (just went on a four-month streak with no days under two hours) with 3-4 hours for a Sunday long run, which I may take a little longer if I am training for an ultra.

As for the amount I run on trail, it varies. Before my daughter started school I spent a lot of time on the roads pushing her in a baby jogger. However, once she started going to school I have tried to get as much trail time as possible.

You head up the Incline Club training group with the motto: "Go out hard, when it hurts speed up." Should everyone—even beginner runners, or road runners transitioning to trail—go out hard and hang on as well as they can?

The motto/tagline is more of a life philosophy than a racing strategy. It just means that, when times are tough, that is when you have to try harder. But, if someone literally could pull it off in a race, they would never lose.

In real life, the key in any race, no matter the venue, is learning to run even effort. What is hard for those making the transition from the road to the trails, or even beginning trail runners, is there is so much more terrain variation. For many just starting to run trails if you graph their heart rate you pretty much get a topo map of what they ran as they end up pushing too hard on the ups and not enough on the downs. It takes time and practice to learn to get an even effort on varied terrain.

Of course, great stuff. Time orientation vs. distance. You see these two approaches at work constantly with many athletes. To each his own? One is better than the other? Right now, I'm time-oriented because I'm just "plugging" along. Still, nice to see THE elite using such an approach. May be a better way to monitor consistency.

His point about "even effort" really helped me re-frame my training. I signed-up for a 50k in late August. I'm really excited. So, I go for a run yesterday, mid-day, hot and humid but with a slight breeze. I hit Florida Canyon which is very rolling, not big climbing, but not flat at all. I decided to wear the HRM but not STARE at it. And run by PE. With Carpenter's perspective in mind, I just tried to stay steady (but aerobic), really comfortable at all times. I went up very easy and made sure I cruised going down, keeping the effort as even as I could. For the first 45 minutes, avg. 148 and the last 30 min. avg. 154. I'm also feeling comfortable keeping these runs aerobic almost throughout, but letting things float a little toward the end ala GZ with Tim's blessing! Running is like Catholicism.

My runs will get longer and dial-in this approach -- aerobic with some effort at the end. And yes I will start to climb more. Easy climbing . . .perhaps before the sun throws down! And cycling with big climbs! And beer only on the weekends! And peace love and harmony . . .and

Today, I was in the pool by 6am with homeboy Tom. We swam for about 25 min. and then did some weights, a little circuit work with Tom leading the way. It was awesome. I'll do another 1hr+ run today and then hit the beach with the boy.


  1. "Running is like Catholicism"

    You lost me with that one. Unless it is something about self abuse.

  2. yes the abuse works too.
    I was sorta thinking about the confessional aspect of it. . .

    "Lucho, I have sinned" . . .LOL

  3. beer only the weekends...

    i am kind of on that plan too... but it's hard after a long hot day to sit down watch the pads games (while cringing) and not cracking open an ice cold IPA...

  4. To clarify a bit. I would rather GZ was holding his HR down much more. Just until he saw definitive results in aerobic fitness.

  5. I think the difference (as Lucho and I have discussed, and to reveal to everyone here) is the timing of the training.

    If I were talking about a race 20 weeks away then I think I'd be fine with doing the HR work capped at 150 exclusively. But since I am six and half weeks away from my goal race, I am capping my runs (now at 150) and (about twice a week) letting it go above that after running for an hour to 90 minutes. Additionally, I have some races in the mix (Barr Trail).

  6. Lucho,
    didn't you suggest that late in a longer run, one could push things a little, let the HR go? Obviously, overall avg. HR would still be aerobic, but effort at the end good muscularly? More clarification for, say, a "long" run, HR-wise.

  7. GZ and I went over this today and I deleted a previous comment with a similar though, I deleted it because I caught myself being my usual harsh self. I think it is ok to push at the end of a long run as part of a transition to a "fundamental" period, but it should only be allowed after the athlete has truly built a strong base. If you still have to walk to keep a HR cap then you may not be ready. With GZ- we are meeting half way in prep for Pikes. I am simply trying to suggest ideas that may benefit his training and he is keeping within his own comfort (and fun) level. I think if an athlete is not going to commit fully to the HR training (heaven forbid!!! :))then the mistake may be best allowed at the end of along effort after their muscles are too tired to really push hard.
    In an ideal world- like the one I live in- an athlete would commit to a long range goal that allows them to run with a HR cap until they stop seeing gains, then they would work in to a period of harder running.
    As GZ pointed out to me today- or as I saw it- fun to me is being as disciplined as I can be and doing as much as I can to reach a goal. Not everyone else sees it that way and it may be fun for an athlete to let it fly from time to time. That may be best for an athlete with different goals.
    Does that make sense?
    Cheers Matt.

  8. First, I have to say, I am loving blog commentary WAY more then message board hell (and we all know what board I am talking about). In the past week I have had some very fruitful, insightful, and POLITE conversations regarding training via HR, ultras and USMT selection. This is excellent.

    I was thinking a lot about our conversation today Lucho. The issue is one that is what makes us human. We look to tomorrow, to the horizon, to the future (say this in a Yoda like voice) - because unlike other animals - we can. We can choose to be disciplined for the future goal. That itself is a gift, but it can also be a curse.

    Likewise, we can live in the moment. Run with the wind now, race the ridge, forget about your 401k and live for the now. The ability to do this is a gift but it can also be a curse.

    Finding the balance in life is the challenge. And in running. Not trying to be metaphorical, it just is that way.

    In any case, I have a whole post I want to put up ... but that will have to wait (pun intended). HR training is a mechanism I think to get to a set objective, but it does require a degree of patience and discipline that I see (myself included) very few runners have. That patience and discipline might not be there because the runner has other objectives in mind (race a lot to have fun) or they might be seeing results they deem as positive anyway (this is what the longer post would be about).


  9. GZ- Agreed, if letsrun was the only view I had of other runners I would go postal at the local 5k...
    My problem is that I was a full time paid professional triathlete. My job was to bend my body to my will so I could place on the podium. I still carry a lot of that with me. I can't call something fun if it will hurt my training. And when I get stressed with life the last thing I want to do is run.
    I think this conversation has been great for me as a coach.

  10. Solid stuff! HR training is too fundamental not to include it on some level especially when an athlete is putting his/her heart through that kind of work-out. It's the responsible use of a HRM. Almost every endurance athlete has been introduced to one. So it's seen the boobs once or twice, but does the athlete really monitor the progress? Does he/she, metaphorically speaking, "disrobe" and look into the mirror? Disciplined HR training is getting a good read on how the H is handling the R.

    GZ, you killed it with that last comment, so I won't even try to intertextualize. A good look at the decisions we have short or long term. I was looking at the new Runners World today. . .I wanted to scream "I'm confused!" The generic generalities with which "they" prescribe various "programs" one should follow to reach one's goals seem so superficial and even downright wrong just based on common sense.
    The gist of RW training protocol massively contradicts what I read from Lucho/Gordo/CV and the like.\

    Unless. . .HR training only works if one runs a lot. I think I've even heard Lucho say (or someone), if you can't run very much, go hard(er). Whatever.

    GZ, imagine what you're going to do in 2010? You're program is getting crazy from insanely intuitive to classically disciplined.

    Lucho, I'm really starting to believe in this training. I may have to jeopardize the training here and there for a race, BUT not if I can hold out. For instance, I have a 50K in August which I'm going to tool because I'm going to be prepared. Some of my running ramped-up a little this past week (high 140s, low 150s) because I followed GZ's thinking on the "race" prep (GZ's got it going on!). But I do have more time and I think I can hold-out.

    I believe in this program more because I'm beginning to understand you that much more. Your commitment to the "podium," and your definition of "fun" qualify the dedication a little. It's tough!

    Thanks for the genius, guys.