Monday, September 29, 2014

Happy Belated Anniversary! (Training 9/8-9/28)

I totally missed any type of recognition on the actual date I first posted, however, I did want to take a moment to point out that I've been writing Kansai Kudasai for an entire year! If you are a newer reader, you should check out my first post, What's in a Name, where I talk about the impetus for the blog and more!

Speaking of blog names, I'm going to plug my friend Eric's blog, Baum Temple of Speed, which has a name origin story rivaling Batman's origin story. Eric, brings a unique perspective to the endurance sports blog-o-sphere by including concepts gleaned from expertise in Supply Chain Management and all things mechanical. His guide to spectating, Take Your Spectating to the Next Level, is a chuckle-filled guide to the harder-than-it-looks sport/science of spectating endurance events.

Switching gears, I started to read about the training I was doing leading up to last year's Chicago Marathon. Clearly several weeks out, I felt like I was in good shape, but my left shin was a significant issue. In the week leading up to the race, I wrote:

At this point, it seems like I'm losing the battle to take the shin pain. On dailymile, my friend, Dan M reminded me to try nuking the shin with anti-inflammatory drugs for a bit. I'm taking Monday off and taking some ibuprofen in order hopes it will help me shake some of this shin pain as it is clearly causing me to change my form a bit and put more pressure on my right hip.

One week to go!

Note to self and others: running a marathon with (lower leg) pain severe enough to cause irritation/imbalance is a bad idea. If it is bad enough where you're considering running in trainers like I did, take care! The marathon is a cruel and unforgiving mistress. It may sound simple, but it took me three years of injuries and poor performances to realize the value of showing up to the start line healthy. You may be able to BS a 5k while hurt (I did, setting a PR two weeks before last year's Chicago Marathon), but there is no getting around the fact that a road marathon involves 26.2 miles of pavement pounding that will exploit your every weakness and prevent you from running to your expectations.

Marathons are then a great opportunity to apply the theory of constraints (TOC). The Theory is a management philosophy first described by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and is based around the premise that focusing attention on a few constraints that limit an entire system you can make that system more productive. What were my constraints? Based on my Chicago Marathon race recap and further reflection here's what I'd say:

1) Mechanics constrained by
a) injury to the lower legs
b) muscular development due to the fact I didn't get in longer long runs that would have simulated marathon "time on your feet"
2) Fuel, there are two parts to this one:
a) Constrained by a haphazard fueling plan
b) Constrained by aerobic development, that is to say my ability to run aerobically at my expected marathon goal pace, at the pace I thought I was fit enough to run I was burning fuel too quickly

So in the year following, I shifted my training accordingly, focusing on first running pain-free then on injury prevention, consistent longer long runs both for time as well as at or near marathon pace, practicing a fueling plan and developing trust in certain products, and increasing aerobic capacity.

Leading up to the 2014 Boston Marathon, I spent time in the pool, nursing my lower legs and scraping for aerobic development. A steady diet of long runs during this build up, got me comfortable running beyond 18 miles again. I was also able to find fuel that I enjoyed using on these long runs and began to trust gels again. Introducing a longer bike commute with my new job, padded my training with hours of additional easy aerobic activity, the foundation of one's aerobic capacity. Finally, racing marathons more frequently allowed for longer efforts at or near marathon pace. I believe I've mentioned this before but pace at Boston equated to about 95% of my marathon pace  at Grandma's making the Boston not unlike one of Renato Canova's very long runs a close to marathon effort.

All of this to lead up to the past three weeks of training for the 2014 Chicago Marathon:

A good set of three weeks, there are three key workouts here, one in each week.

24 miles
Leading up to Grandma's I did this run by time, running about 20 miles in LA's Griffith Park. This time around, I did it on the super fast Lakefront Trail:

This one was my second longest training run ever (the first being a 25 mile run I did back in 2009 leading up to the Chicago Lakefront 50k).

3 x 3 miles
This one was a bit funny as I had a lot of time between reps (15 minutes!), but it certainly gives me a bit of confidence to know I was able to run 5:30 pace or better for each effort.

10 miles alternating pace
This is a new workout for me. The goal here was to average marathon pace for 10 miles, but by running above and below goal pace alternating every half mile. If you've ever done Yasso 800s, consider this the next level as you're never really resting, but you end up running a total of 10 "harder" half mile segments. I was really thankful to have Austin with me for this one as it was mentally tough since you could never really settle in and focus on running an even, consistent pace. I'm taking a lot of confidence from this workout.

This one was quite a long blog, but there was a lot of ground to cover!

Identify some of your constraints. What are some ways you can shift your training to address these constraints?

Long Run - Strava Embed Trial

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Stomach Bug (Training 8/25-9/7)

A Quick, Hand-Updated Snapshot of Training

Due to difficulty getting Internet service set up at my new place of residence, I wasn't able to update my Strava account with this past week's data. I was able to upload most of the previous two weeks and have found a free moment as well as Internet-access so though I am rather uninspired (yet hopped up on caffeine) I will attempt to write a quick update.

August 25-31

After a nice seven week segment where I averaged about 73 MPW, I was forced to take a bit of a down week when some sort of stomach bug derailed my long run on Saturday the 30th. Of course this wouldn't be much of a running blog if I didn't talk at least a bit about my stomach troubles. Typically during training I don't have too many issues as long as I adhere to a few basic rules (Rule #1: Don't eat much within 2 hours of starting a run... that's about it). I noticed I was not feeling 100% on Wednesday or Thursday, but this didn't really effect my training much. So I was pretty surprised to find my intended hard 20 miler in Barrington terminated by stomach problems at about mile 8.

I'm not sure what I was dealing with as my stomach has only recently (2 weeks later) begun to return to normal.

That said, despite not running more than 12 miles on any given day, I was happy to very comfortably run over 60 MPW and get in a decent 1000m repeat workout. My body probably needed the break as I was able to get in a 20+ mile long run five of the seven prior weeks.

September 1-7

I continued to be plagued by stomach issues throughout the week, only able to run stop-free when taking medication (TMI, I know).

Despite this, I was able to get in two key workouts for this training cycle: 3, 2, 1 mile ladder and 18 miles at 95% marathon goal pace.

The first workout, I did with Austin and a bunch of other guys (you know who you are) a the Fleet Feet Racing Wednesday Night Workout. It was a big help to have company for this one! I ran 16:23 (4:00 jog), 10:59 (3:00 jog), and 5:23. I went out too hard on this one, but I really did want to make this one a tough/fast one. My conservative goal was to average 5:30 (~goal marathon pace - 10 seconds) or faster for the workout which I was able to do (albeit not by cutting down) averaging 5:28 or so.

We'll see how my planned 3 x 3 mile workout goes this coming week as I'm substituting the first repeat with the St. Michael's Oktoberfest 5k. So I'm guessing I won't be getting faster as the workout progresses.

For the second workout, we were blessed with unbelievably pleasant running weather (sunny, low-60s, and breezy). Austin, Cam, Andrew, and I set out to run 18 miles at about 95% marathon pace; 6:10s or so. Excluding our single stop for hydration at the 31st Street Fleet Feet Hydro Station, Austin and I averaged about 6:05 pace for the run, well below my targeted goal.

So despite stomach issues and struggling a bit to handle paces faster than 5:30, my key, marathon workouts seem to be going quite well. As stated earlier, 3 x 3 miles is the next key workout on the docket, with 15 miles at marathon pace the following week.

What are your key workouts/key metrics that you use as checkpoints during marathon training?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tread-iquette alt. Tr-etiquette

Yeah, I just made up a word; it's etiquette for treading the track.

With the recent addition of a real 400m track and synthetic soccer pitch to the lakefront (between Wilson and Montrose) I thought it might be helpful to write a blog about track etiquette.

Isn't it pretty?
Thanks for the photo, Jeff Fine!

I wanted to start by defining etiquette as it helps inform the full purpose of this blog (which probably started with fear that this new facility would be overwhelmed with track n00bs, but has grown in to something more).

Etiquette is a set of expectations for behavior based on a group's norms. It changes and shifts over time, however it provides structure for interactions. This structure helps facilitate interactions among the group, curbing misunderstanding and conflict. On a more positive note, knowledge of this structure is empowering as it builds of foundation for consistency and comfort particularly for new group members.

After working out on one of the only public 400m facilities on the Northside for over a decade, I have come away with my fair share of stories of misunderstanding and conflict around the oval. Emotions run high when runners focused on hitting goal paces collide with kids running wild, soccer players on the infield, and fitness runners. Since this new facility is in a higher profile location than the North Park/River Park track, it is my fear that it might become a pain point instead of the training asset that it should be.

Beyond minimizing conflict between existing facility users, I believe it is in our best interests as track clients for many people to feel comfortable about using this new facility. If usage is good, perhaps the CPD will see the value of such public facilities. Doing a workout on the track could be a foreign, uncomfortable concept for some runners. Exposing as many clients and potential clients to track etiquette basics creates a more comfortable environment making Chicago an even better place to run for everyone.

Tread-iquette for n00bs and Veterans Alike

1. Be Cognizant that the Facility is Public
Conflict arises when competing parties assume more ownership of a facility than is reality. It can be difficult to share a space however as long as the other parties are abiding by the law and following posted signage, they have just as much right to use the facility as you do.

In other words, your ability to perform your key workout on the track has as much validity as the pickup game of soccer that is occurring on the infield of a public facility.

2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings at All Times
Treat the track like you would a busy street; look both ways before crossing, move with traffic (counter-clockwise), and if you're slowing or stopping, move out of the way. 

Assume objects (human bodies) will be moving at high velocities around the oval and unless you want to experience the effects of Newton's first law (objects in motion stay in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force) make sure you're aware of what is happening around you. This can be particularly difficult after a hard repeat, when it feels like your head is going to explode and you're trying to catch your breath, but if you don't have enough awareness to move to the infield or outer lanes, I would suggest reevaluating the intensity of your workouts (you're probably working too hard).

3. Stay in Your Lane
The inner lane is typically reserved for faster running (for distances longer than 400m). If you plan on warming up or simply running easily on the track, tread-iquette dictates you must use an unoccupied outer lane. If there is a significantly faster party using the inner lane, consider using another lane and the marked staggered start lines for your workout. 

Unlike on a road or path, runners pass on the right instead of the left. Wait until you are clear of the person you are passing before merging back into your original lane. The person being passed should not have to break their stride.

Keep in mind that it is probably safer and more efficient to pass on the straightaways.

There are lots more rules and regulations codified by the sport's international governing body, IAAF, but those principles are the basis for a safe, productive time on and around the track.

What tips do you have for track newbies?

Also, anyone have a nice photo or two of the new facility that you'd like shared? I'm looking for a photo to add to this blog.