Bast Track

Bast Track

Monday, August 22, 2016

Training Summary: Aug 15-21

Aug 15-21
Mon: 5.5 miles easy
Tue: AM - 3.5 miles; PM – 6.5 miles, including turnover workout
Wed: 9.5 miles
Thu: 6 miles easy
Fri: AM – 4 miles; PM – 9 miles, incl 5/4/3/2/1 min fartlek
Sat: 5.5 miles easy
Sun: 5.5 miles easy
Total: 55 miles

In spite of a number of challenges, from more hot/humid weather to a busy week at work, this week went pretty much according to plan right up to the very last day. The problem is, things came crashing down that day, meaning I still haven’t been able to put together a complete week, and somehow or another I need to get that figured out.

Monday was an easy day coming of Sunday’s workout, and I followed that up with some turnover work on Tuesday that consisted of an up and back down ladder of short intervals (30/60/60/90/90/60/60/30 sec with 60 sec rec). I actually felt pretty good the next day and got in a nice medium long run of 9.5+ miles in 70 min (7:18 avg). I felt good again on Thursday, only to have dead legs on Friday for my next workout, which was a fartlek of 5/4/3/2/1 min on with 2 min rec. I battled through that one though, averaging 5:42 for the intervals and closing the last one at 4:49 pace, which I was pretty happy with. My legs were tired and heavy on Saturday, but I fully expected them to be and I took it nice and easy accordingly. Sunday I had hoped to get in 10-11 miles total with pushes of 15 and 10 min in the middle, nothing fast, just leaning on the pace. I woke up feeling bad, however, and when I started the run I knew it just wasn’t happening. It was bad enough that I felt run down and my stomach was bothering me, but that wasn’t the worst of it. My legs just felt completely dead, especially my quads. I struggled through 5.5 miles at an average of 8:04 and called it a day.

Overall this week was a step in the right direction and a model of what I would like my training to look like going forward. As I wrote earlier, I just needed to be able to finish the week strong and couldn’t. I’m not sure if I overdid it in the Friday workout or what, but Sunday was definitely a struggle and more evidence that I have a LONG way to go, a fact I’m slowly coming to grips with. Essentially I’m going to have to spend the rest of this year just getting basic fitness back. If I can do that, then hopefully I can have a solid spring, which will, in turn, set me up for an even better fall. In other words, at this point the real goal is fall of 2017. That’s the point at which I feel like I can be ready to achieve some of the goals I’ve set for myself. It’s a long way away and will require lots of focus and likely enduring some pretty disappointing and frustrating performances along the way, but it is what it is.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Training Summary: Aug 8-14

Aug 8-14
Mon: 7 miles, incl turnover workout (7X60 sec, 1X90 sec)
Tue: 5.5 miles easy
Wed: 8.5 miles, incl fartlek workout (:30/1/2/3/3/2/1/:30)
Thu: 5 miles easy
Fri: 5 miles easy
Sat: 3 miles easy
Sun: AM – 9 miles, incl aerobic interval workout (2 X 1.5 miles); PM – 3.5 miles easy
Total: 46.5 miles

This week had some positives, but it also had one major negative, the heat/humidity. I implemented my plan to start running more workouts, and the first one on Monday went well. Aside from feeling like I hadn’t done hardly any workouts in the last 8 months (hmmmm, wonder why that was?), I ran at the expected paces or faster and then felt pretty good the next day as well. From there, however, things went south quickly.

Wednesday saw the return of high temps and high humidity, and it was 91 degrees with a heat index even higher than that when we did the scheduled fartlek workout on the Salem Distance Run 5k course. Now, the SDR course is tough in the best of circumstances, but when the heat index is approaching triple digits, it’s just plain brutal. I felt bad from the start, including during the w-up, but since I was determined to run workouts this week, I went through with everything as planned, although I was smart enough to temper my expectations and not try to pursue a very fast pace. Unfortunately, that didn’t matter. By the second half of the workout, I was just cooked. That night I got multiple calf cramps and couldn’t even sleep well. A couple days later I jokingly said I thought I had a heat stroke, which I know wasn’t the case, but I did put myself in a major hole that took 3 days to dig out of. So much for a really solid week of training! I did recover well enough to do a workout on Sunday. I can’t say I felt good during that one, but I got some work done and wasn’t totally trashed after like I was on Wednesday.

Honestly I’m frustrated and unsure of what to do at the moment. I want to make a return to racing, but I don’t feel my fitness level is quite good enough yet to do so, and thanks to one of the worst summers for running I can remember, I don’t know how I can change that. It’s so hot I can’t run enough volume and/or enough quality to improve my fitness. Very many miles, and I’m feeling burned out; reduced miles with workouts, and I get something like this past week. There just doesn’t seem to be a good answer. I guess all I can do is try to strike the best balance of training I can and wait for it to get cooler. Morning workouts might be an option, but with my work schedule they’re pretty hard to pull off, especially on a consistent basis.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. Try to stay cool, everyone, and remember, fall is on its way!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Training Summary: Aug 1-7

Aug 1-7
Mon: AM - 3.5 miles; PM - 5 miles easy
Tue: AM - 4.5 miles; PM - 6.5 miles, including 6 X 20/40 strides
Wed: AM - 4 miles; PM - 5 miles easy
Thu: 4.5 miles
Fri: Off
Sat: 5 miles, incl 6 X 20/40 sec strides
Sun: Off
Total: 38 miles

Whereas last week was a lackluster week of training, this was one just a flat out bust. Monday and Tuesday went as planned, but they were forced and then some. In other words, I went through the motions and logged runs exactly as scheduled, but I felt more like sleeping than running. I took Wednesday morning off, with the hope I could salvage a workout that evening, but when time to run came around I didn’t really feel like doing the easy 5 miles I did much less running farther and/or faster. At that point, I realized I’d dug myself into a hole yet again, and the rest of the week became about making sure this coming week went better. Accordingly I took a couple days off and just ran easy the other two days.

So now what? Well, you’d think I would have learned my lesson by now, but old habits die hard. I know what worked for me 10-15 years ago, so I want to repeat it. The problem is: 1) I was in my 20’s and early-30’s then and now I’m…..not, and 2) I’ve missed a LOT of time for various reasons, making it exceptionally difficult to advance back to higher mileage, and the recent heat/humidity hasn’t helped. While I’m not saying I’ll never be able to run 70-80 miles (or more) a week again, I just can’t do it right now. It wears me out and doesn’t accomplish much either.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve accomplished some things over the past several weeks. I’m not struggling as bad as I was back in April and May, and my average paces are a little faster while my average HR is a little lower, all good things. However, in the end, my goal is to get faster so I can race and I feel like I’m more filling up my log book with pretty numbers than making progress towards that end. In fact, I feel like I’m no faster now than I was a month ago. My guess is if I’d done a time trial then and another now, there would be little to no difference, and that’s just not acceptable.

That said, I’m changing up my training to focus less on quantity and a lot more on quality. Going forward you’ll see fewer doubles, shorter long runs, and a lot more in the way of intervals and workouts. I don’t know if it will work or not, but I feel like I have to shake things up and try something. If it works really well, I’ll stick with it for as long as I’m improving, then if I level off, I’ll start tweaking. Time to see if this old dog can learn some new tricks!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Training Summary: 7/25 - 7/31

July 25-31
Mon: AM - 4 miles; PM - 6 miles easy
Tue: 5 miles
Wed: 7 miles easy
Thu: 6 miles
Fri: 6.5 miles w/ drills after
Sat: 6 miles, incl 6 X 20/40 sec strides
Sun: 14.5 miles
Total: 55 miles

Well, thanks to one of the nastiest weeks of heat and humidity I can recall, this week was basically a bust. In the grand scheme of things, after building up pretty steadily and running some of the most consistent mileage I have in a long time over the past three weeks, it was probably a good time for a cutback week anyway, but I would have rather had that on my own terms than as a result of the weather. However, in the end, I did what I needed to do and that was the right move, as forcing things likely would have led to big problems.

I probably made my first mistake of the week on Monday when I tried to double the day after a long run where I’d really wilted the last 5k. I was likely in somewhat of a hole from that and dug myself in a little deeper with two hot, humid runs. Furthermore, I rode my motorcycle to work that day and got caught in a storm heading home that forced me to seek shelter and delayed me by almost an hour. Not good when you’ve had nothing to eat and a limited amount to drink, and once again a compromise to recovery, especially since it also cut into my nightly stretching/massage routine. It might sound silly, but the little things are extremely important, especially as you get older, and if you fail to do them you notice it.

I had intended to double again on Tuesday, but I was at least smart enough to sleep in that morning in the hopes I’d feel better that afternoon. Wrong! Tuesday afternoon saw the heat index hit triple digits and I struggled from the get-go, calling it a day after just 5 miles. From that point forward, I spent the rest of the week playing catch-up. Friday was the first day after 12 straight that the temp didn’t hit at least 90, and in spite of the fact it was still 89’ when we ran, the humidity was down a little as well and I actually felt good. That told me the weather was a big factor, although certainly not the only one, in how poor I’d felt all week.

I closed the week out with a normal weekend. I did an easy run with some strides on Saturday then the longest run I’ve done in quite a while on Sunday. While the last few miles of that run weren’t what I would call easy, I felt the most solid I have in quite a while for a long run, and it showed with the last 3 miles of the run being the fastest, including a final mile of 6:43.

This week I hope to get back on track and log around 70 miles along with a couple workouts. The workouts will likely be pretty light and on the slow side thanks to lack of fitness as well as the heat/humidity, but I need to start incorporating some faster efforts if I’m going to race anytime soon, which I actually hope to do as early as the latter part of this month. Anyway, July is in the books and it’s on to bigger, better, and as hard as it is to imagine, possibly hotter, things in August.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Training Summary: 7/18 - 7/24

July 18-24
Mon: AM - 3.5 miles; PM - 6 miles easy
Tue: AM - 4 miles; PM - 7 miles, incl 6 X 20/40 sec strides
Wed: AM - 4 miles; PM - 6 miles easy
Thu: 8 miles
Fri: AM - 4.5 miles; PM - 9.5 miles
Sat: 6 miles, incl 6 X 20/40 sec strides
Sun: 13.5 miles
Total: 72 miles

This post is going to be one of those “the good, the bad, and the ugly” deals. I’ll start with the good. This was actually the most miles I’ve run in a week since Aug 2014. Furthermore, at the end of the week, I was well in excess of 200 miles for the month of July, and I haven’t cracked 200 miles in a month since Sep of last year. I’m finally starting to build a little consistency and I’m actually starting to see some results accordingly. My average pace is coming down; I’m not struggling to finish runs; and I’m feeling better in general on a day-to-day basis.

Now for the bad. When looking through my log and realizing everything I just mentioned, it’s pretty easy to see why I’m so out of shape. I simply haven’t put in the work. As a result, it’s going to take a quite a while to get fit again. Basically I haven’t trained consistently since Aug 2014 when I hurt my hamstring. When you spend two years losing fitness, you don’t build it back overnight, especially when you’re in your 40’s. I’ve always been someone who thrives on higher mileage, and while I know I’ll never run 90-100 mile weeks again, I’ve certainly got to have more weeks in the 70 range than in the 30 range, and unfortunately the latter is more where I’ve been for far too long.

Ok, time for the ugly, which is plain and simple the weather. It appears we may wind up with 11 or 12 straight days with highs in the 90’s before we get a break, and even then the break simply means upper 80’s. It’s one thing to maintain fitness in weather like that but totally another to be trying to make gains. When the heat index is in the triple digits, it doesn’t much matter if you’re focusing on quality or quantity. Either one is going to be very difficult to achieve. I really need to be adding in some faster work right now, but I’m struggling just to run the miles. There were several days last week where I was really starting to overheat towards the end of runs and doing my longer run for the day in the morning isn’t really an option for me. As a result, I feel like about all I can do right now is put myself in a base phase and wait until the weather is more conducive to ramp up the quality. While this certainly isn’t going to help when it comes to my desire to start racing again in the very near future, it’s actually probably exactly what I need, so maybe in that respect it’s not such a bad thing.

I’ll conclude with some encouragement for all us Masters runners out there. If you haven’t already seen it, check out this story on Australian Olympic Marathoner, Scott Westcott. After narrowly qualifying for the Australian team several times since 2000, he finally made the team this year and will race in Rio just a little shy of his 41st birthday. With Bernard Lagat, who ran 13:14 this past weekend for 3rd place in the London Games, on the US 5k team, and Meb on the US Marathon Team, there will be quite a few of us “old” guys running in Rio, and I’m sure there are several more I don’t know about on both the men’s and women’s side. Age is just a number!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Catching Up the Past Couple Weeks

July 4-10
Mon: AM - 7 miles; PM - 3.5 miles
Tue: 7.5 mile progression run
Wed: 6.5 miles
Thu: 6.5 miles
Fri: AM - 4 miles; PM - 8.5 miles
Sat: AM - 6.5 miles; PM - 3.5 miles, incl 6 X 20/40 sec strides
Sun: 5 miles easy
Total: 58.5 miles

July 11-17
Mon: 6 miles easy
Tue: AM - 4 miles; PM - 6.5 miles, incl 6 X 20/40 sec strides
Wed: AM - 4 miles; PM - 8.5 miles, incl 6 X 2 min on/off fartlek
Thu: 5.5 miles easy
Fri: AM - 4 miles; PM - 9 miles with a little faster finish
Sat: 5.5 miles, incl 6 X 20/40 sec strides
Sun: 13 miles
Total: 66 miles

The past couple weeks haven’t been perfect, but they have been productive. I’ve had a bad trend for quite a while now of hitting anywhere from 60-70 miles one week then bombing out the very next week with no more than 30-40 miles and sometimes even less than that. So, to hit right at 60 one week then mid-60’s the next week is a step in the right direction, especially since I need consistency right now more than anything else.

The week of July 4th involved a mid-week trip to Fayetteville, WV, for Leslie’s grandfather’s funeral, so that threw things off a bit. He was a great man, who at almost 91 years of age lived a very full life. He served his country in WWII, earning two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, and he had a sharp mind and was able to live on his own and care for himself right up until the end. Pretty amazing! Things like this are always sad, of course, but if ever there was a man whose life could be celebrated, this was it.

That event aside, I still crashed towards the end of the week and had to bail on the long run I had planned for Sunday. That led to some serious evaluation of my training and a change I hope will prevent future roller coaster rides and crashes. Essentially I realized that I was never taking any truly easy days. Too many of my “recovery” days consisted of doubles and/or runs of 50 min or more, oftentimes at average heart rates that were more in the moderate range rather than easy range. So, going forward, Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are going to be VERY easy. Most of the time they’ll consist of just one run of no more than 40-45 min and I’ll be focusing on keeping my heart rate well below what it is for most other runs. Hopefully that will allow me to better process the work I’m doing on the harder days and prevent me from having to alter my plans due to fatigue. It’s one thing to embrace the grind, but another to let that grind turn you into dust!

This past week was my first week employing my new strategy, and it seemed to work pretty well. I was able to hit everything just the way it was planned out, and I actually got in a fartlek workout, a medium long run of sorts with a little faster finish, and the longest single run I’ve done since getting plantar fasciitis back in December, 13 miles on Sunday. Considering my general lack of fitness and how hot/humid the week was, I’ll call that a success.

This coming week will likely look pretty similar to the most recent one. As I mentioned earlier, I think the most important thing for me right now is consistency, so I’m focusing on that above all else. I want to incorporate faster workouts as often as I can because I need those in order to get race fit, but if I can get at least one workout, a couple days with strides, and a long run each week, that should set me up well by the time fall gets here and it gets easier to run hard. Right now it seems like surviving the heat/humidity is about enough of a challenge in and of itself. Until next time, run happy…or run angry…whatever…just run!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Training Summary: 6/20 - 6/26

Mon: AM - 3.5 miles; PM - 5.5 miles
Tue: AM - 4 miles; PM - 6.5 miles, incl 6 X 20/40 strides
Wed: 8.5 miles incl 5 X 3 min on/2 min off fartlek
Thu: AM - 3.5 miles; PM - 5.5 miles
Fri: AM - 4 miles; PM - 8.5 miles
Sat: 6+ miles
Sun: 4 miles
Total: 60 miles

This was a decent week with a couple exceptions. First, I was supposed to do a workout on Fri, but instead wound up with a steady distance run, partially thanks to not really feeling up to running hard and partially thanks to a storm that rolled in, complete with torrential downpours and hail. Second, I was supposed to run 11 miles on Sun with the middle 5 up-tempo, and instead all I could muster up the motivation to do was a short, easy recovery run. Based on that, I came up short of my goals, but in comparison to the past couple weeks it was definitely a success.

I still haven’t been able to overcome whatever this sickness is I’ve had for 2+ weeks. Every time I feel like I’ve got it beaten, it comes back. Between that and the heat/humidity this past week, I think it just wore me down and that’s why I faltered towards the end of the week. That said, I think I probably bit off a bit more than I could chew even under a best case scenario. Accordingly, I’m going to back off this coming week, running fewer miles and focusing on keeping my HR in the right range on recovery days. I’ve always been impatient and generally try to rush getting back in shape, and I just can’t do that this time. I’ve lost too much fitness and had too many issues, plus, like it or not, my age has definitely become a factor as well. My goal is to eventually race well again, so better to take my time and do things the right way than rush into a few mediocre at best performances then wind up injured or burned out.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Happy running!