Posts tagged ‘long run’

July 21, 2014

Long Run, Now with 50% More Boroughs

Sunday was the first time in recent memory that I was nervous before a long run.  I think it was a combination of having last week’s pain still fresh in my mind, along with a somewhat sluggish easy run on Saturday morning that had me worried what Sunday’s 20 would bring.  I slept badly and dragged myself out of bed at 5:45 to feed the kitten and make breakfast.  I was thrilled to see solid cloud cover and hoped the temperature wouldn’t climb too much in the coming hours.  Thankfully, the clouds hung around and the weather stayed cool and breezy all morning.  I ended up having perfect conditions for what turned out to be a really lovely run.

Maybe it’s just the architect in me, but one thing I love about urban long runs is having the opportunity to experience whole swaths of the city in a continuous flow.  I always enjoy seeing how neighborhoods  merge into each other (or don’t), and how the urban scale changes and shifts.  I planned my route for the 20-miler around New York’s two great parks–Prospect and Central, but I was also looking forward to all the parts in between.

 

Prospect Park

Prospect Park

 

The Caveboy had decided to join me for the park portions, and we started out with the usual run up Union to Prospect.  We did only one lap this week, and it felt great to turn out into Grand Army Plaza knowing that I would not have to contend with the Mt. Prospect hill any more that day.  From there the Caveboy hopped on the train and I turned down Flatbush Ave to Atlantic, then to Court and on to the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

Brooklyn Bridge, (nearly) empty

Brooklyn Bridge, (nearly) empty

The combination of the early hour and the clouds seemed to be keeping the tourists at bay, and I relished the chance to run the bridge without having to constantly dodge pedestrians, bicycles, and tourists taking selfies.  Once over the bridge, I cut across Lower Manhattan to the Hudson River Greenway, taking in the view along the water.  I should note that I had mistakenly plugged my Garmin into a non-charging port on my computer the night before, so my battery died somewhere around mile 13.  I still had Map My Run going on my phone in my waist pack, but I had no real-time pace data for the second half the run.  I had a bit of a headwind along the water and by that point in the run, I really had no idea if I was running 8:15 or 10:15 miles.  Whatever it was, I was in a pretty comfortably rolling-along pace, so I just went with it and hoped I would end up in the ball park of the 9:32’s I was shooting for.

Hudson River Greenway

Hudson River Greenway

Pretty as it was, the 5 miles along the Greenway were probably the most monotonous of the whole run, and I was grateful that I had a friend to meet me at 65th Street, where we turned east and headed for Central Park.  The Caveboy was waiting for us there and provided fresher legs for pacing.  My route had us looping around the south end of the park, then up the east side, around to the west, and ending around 86th Street, near my friend’s apartment.  I figured that if I could get through the Harlem Hills at mile 18 or so, it would be a good sign, training-wise.  The Caveboy set out at what seemed like a pretty good clip, though again, I couldn’t tell how much my perception of pace was being colored by fatigue at that point.  Overall, I felt really good, though–definitely better than last week’s 18 or my first 20-miler.

Central Park

Central Park

The time in the park went by much quicker than I expected, and before I knew it, the hills were upon us.  I managed the first two climbs without too much trouble, and really only dragged on the final hill, which at least set up a nice downhill finish.  My friend rallied me for a final kick at the end, after which I happily laid down on a bumpy, acorn-strewn patch of dirt under an oak tree and put my feet up.

 

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July 18, 2014

The Week So Far…

Things got a little deadliney at work this week, and while I did get all of my weekday workouts in, I haven’t had much time for anything else.  The schedule was thus:

Tuesday: Intervals – 2×1200 @ 7:13 pace, 4×800 @ 7:04 pace, with 2-min. recoveries [so. very. hard.]

Wednesday: Easy run – 3 miles

Thursday: Tempo – 1 mi easy, 5 @ 8:09, 1 easy [not bad]

Saturday: Easy run?

Sunday: Long – 20 @ 9:32

To be perfectly honest, I’m not all that excited at the prospect of another 20-miler at the moment.  To add some interest, I’ve decided a different route and a new playlist are in order.  On the up side, I was looking at my training calendar, and I think in a lot of ways, these past few weeks were one of the hardest chunks of the schedule.  Next week is a cut-back week, and the long runs in my next four-week cycle total 61 miles, as opposed to the 75 from this round.  I’m also giving myself a bit of a taper week before the Dirt Dash in Charleston, so that should break up the monotony as well.

I’m still trying to keep my weekly mileage below 35 right now, which historically has been a good number for me to improve without getting injured.  On that front, I’m also adding some weekly goals for strength training:

15 min of planks a week

Hip/pelvic stability work 5 days/week

Quality time with the foam roller 5 days/week

Relentless Forward Progress.

-ModC

July 14, 2014

Harder than I Thought

I read a quote recently that went something like, “Most things we deem impossible are really just much, much harder than we expected.”  That kind of sums up my long run today.  I’ve been feeling a little sluggish the last few days, but when I left this morning I was confident I could get through 18 miler on my schedule.  The first red flag was that when I got up at 5:45, the thermometer in the back yard already showed 73 degrees and 75% humidity.  I’ve been really lucky that so far this summer I’ve managed to avoid long runs on days with the usual New York humidity, but my streak was apparently at an end.

After my smoothie and butter coffee I headed out on my usual route of Brooklyn Bridge Park to Prospect.  I kind of spaced out for the BBP section, which was my first mistake.  I wasn’t running crazy fast, but I was not focused on keeping my heart rate down, either.  My stomach was feeling a little sloshy, so I also didn’t drink much in the first 5-6 miles, which was Mistake #2.  When I started up Park Slope’s titular hill to Prospect I finally reined in the pace a bit, but by that point I was almost 7 miles in.  The first lap of the park went okay and I actually felt a little better than I had earlier, thanks mostly to the shade on the west side, but I was still sweating buckets.  When I came around to the more exposed eastern side I tried to control my heart rate and effort in preparation for the hill at the end of the lap.

Lap 2 steadily degraded as the temperature continued to climb.  On a side note, I’ve been toying with the idea of switching to a fat-adapted fueling approach for the marathon, and I made a coconut oil-based gel concoction to try on this run.  I had brought two regular gels and two of the coconut oil, figuring I would use some combination depending on how I was feeling.  I was getting pretty hungry by the time I got to Prospect, but fearing a mess with the homemade gels, I waited until I got to the trashcans around the south side to eat one.   I seemed to tolerate the fat just fine, though it didn’t take the edge off my hunger at all. (Mistake #3.)  I should note here that I did a little research after the run, and confirmed that in higher temperatures, the body shifts to burning a higher ratio of glycogen to fat, so this may not have been the best day to start my experiment.

By the end of Lap 2 I was starting to feel very low-blood-sugary, so I had one of the normal gels before starting the last lap.  The sugar combined with the bit of shade and downhill section of the park helped enormously, but by the time I rounded the lake at the bottom I was dragging again.  I was taking walk breaks on a lot of the uphills by that point, and was just trying to pull it together enough to get the job done.  I only had about half a mile left after I left the park, so I had a mercifully short downhill finish.  Even with all the walks at the end, I still somehow finished just under the RLRF 9:32 proscribed pace.  My watch lost two miles somewhere in Lap 2, but this graph pretty much encapsulates the suck-fest that was this run:

 

140713_Graph

Because who doesn’t like an info graphic?

 

July 8, 2014

Make Mine a Venti

fireworks1
Last week was crazy busy, with pre-holiday deadlines at work, getting ready for my parents, who were visiting for the weekend,  another friend saying with us on Monday night, capped off with prepping for work travel the beginning of this week.  By Friday I was definitely ready for a day off, and we made good use of it.  Before I moved here my parents had really only seen the touristy side of New York, so when they visit now I try to balance museums and the traditional highlights with neighborhoody local activities.  On Friday we walked Brooklyn Bridge Park and DUMBO, went to the Guggenheim, and watched the fireworks from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.  I had planned to hit the gym for a quick XT session at some point, but according to my mom’s FitBit we walked almost 9 miles, so I figured that counted as active recovery.  Since my parents were leaving Sunday after lunch and I was getting on a plane to Florida on Sunday night, I decided to do my long run on Saturday morning.
Thanks to my foolproof alarm, Hungry Kitten (TM), I was up at 5:30 sharp.  In an effort to not wake my parents, I ground my coffee in the closet and put the Vitamix in the bathroom sink to make my pre-run butter coffee and smoothie.  Ah, New York apartment living…  I was out the door a little before 7 and headed down to Brooklyn Bridge Park.  I planned to meet my parents at Prospect later, which meant that I needed to cram in as many miles before I got there as I could.  It also meant that instead of my usual downhill finish home from the park, I’d be finishing on the hill up to Grand Army Plaza, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
This is one of my favorite public art works of recent memory.  It's a full-scale reproduction of a piece of the Statue of Liberty, in this case, her shoulder and raised arm.  If you look closely you can see the real thing to the left of the small pine tree in the background.

This is one of my favorite public art works of recent memory. It’s a full-scale reproduction of a piece of the Statue of Liberty, in this case, her shoulder and raised arm. If you look closely you can see the real thing to the left of the small pine tree in the background.

It was a gorgeous day and BBP was somehow spotless after hosting a crowd of hundreds of thousands the night before for the East River fireworks.  (Thank you, NYPD and Parks Conservancy!)  I tried to just relax and enjoy the view as I did two out-and-backs for a total of 8.5 miles.  I had a gel and then headed over to Prospect, about a mile and half from there, arriving at GAP on schedule at mile 10. The first lap went by quickly and the Mt. Prospect hill really wasn’t too bad.  The west side of the park was still in the shade, so I had a chance to cool down a bit for the first half of the second lap and refilled my bottle and had another gel at Lakeside.  The second run up the hill at the top of the loop was a little more arduous, but after a quick stop for water I took off for lap three.  I ran into my parents at the west gate, and we agreed to meet at Grand Army in 15-20 minutes.  That gave me no out for avoiding the last hill, which I figured was for the best.  I was really happy with how I was feeling; I was physically and mentally tired, but was still holding my form together and wasn’t having any major problems.  My left hip was a little achey and both knees were a touch sore, but on a run that long it’s really to be expected.  I was able to hold it together up the last hill (I think I even kept the pace at around 9 flat), and finished in 3:04:16.   I was feeling pretty low-blood-sugary by the end and I probably should have had a third gel, but I’ll chalk that one up to experience for next time. After finding my parents, I made them wait around for 10 minutes while I laid down under a tree and elevated my legs.
tree
I think the really good news from the 20-miler was that I was able deal with a full day of tour-guiding activities afterward and I really didn’t have any soreness the next day.  I am traveling this week, so I did an easy run last night and will do my intervals either tonight or tomorrow, depending on when I get to go home.
-ModC
June 30, 2014

Week 3 Recap

A few months ago I decided that I really wanted to get serious about incorporating some lifting into my training.  I’ve never done any formal strength training and I wanted to make sure I did it right and learned the proper form, so I signed up for monthly personal training sessions at my gym.  I’ve dubbed my trainer Kali the Destroyer for her brutally intense workouts, but she’s really helped me to pinpoint my weaknesses and target the muscle imbalances that can lead to injuries. I usually schedule my sessions with her with as much recovery time before my long run as possible, but thanks to my travel and work schedule, I ended up meeting her at 7AM Friday morning.  I am generally intensely sore for a couple days after a strength session, so I knew going in that I would not be fully recovered before my long run on Sunday.  I asked KtD that we go easy on the legs, and she took me through a few inclined squats for some hip-strengthening and then cooked up an unholy combination of upper body and core work for the rest of the hour.

Saturday morning dawned painfully, but thankfully I had already booked a 9AM massage. As painful as it was, I think it really did accelerate the recovery process a bit.  My core and arms were completely shot, though, and I was glad I had planned to take Saturday as a rest day.  We did a lot of walking around the city, but otherwise I just tried to hydrate well and stretch periodically.  Sunday morning I was up at 5:30 and out the door at 6:40.  It was already 70 degrees and sunny, but thankfully the humidity was pretty low.  I had 17 miles at 9:32 pace on the schedule, and I decided to start with a flat out-and-back in Brooklyn Bridge Park.  It would have been nice to finish on the flat instead, but the shade there is minimal and I knew that by running it early I would also avoid most of the crowds.  As I got warmed up it became apparent that I was, as expected, still pretty sore from Friday.  My arms were less of a concern, but I was definitely feeling my core on every grade change.

From Brooklyn Bridge Park I headed up Union to Prospect Park.  I texted the Caveboy my progress at that point, which turned out to be a useful benchmark since my Garmin filled up with data a few miles later and started autopausing intermittantly for the remainder of the run.  I guessed it was about 6.5 miles to the top of Prospect, and each lap of the park is about 3 1/3 miles.  I planned to do 3 full laps (which I promised myself would include 3 solid climbs of the Mt. Prospect hill at the end), and then would have about half a mile of downhill to finish, with another mile or so walk home to cool down.  The park laps actually went by fairly quickly, and, although I was definitely working harder in the heat, my cardio effort felt good throughout.  I was stopping for water breaks at the start of each lap, and it seemed that every time I started running again my core would tighten up and then gradually relax as I ran.  My watch was missing what I guessed to be almost two miles by the time I finished the last lap of the park, and I tried to do some conservative mental math about where I should finish.  I thought I had about .75 miles left, and after a quick walk for water I started down Union toward home, feeling pretty good and still holding my form together.  I don’t know if it was the downhill or just fatigue setting in, but after about a third of a mile my lower abs went into some kind of tired spasm.  Every inhale and every step hurt.  I slowed to a walk for 30 seconds and then started up again, determined to finish out the last half mile.  It seemed bearable for a minute or so, but then the spasm returned.  I continued to run-walk, grinding out the last bit slowly and painfully.

As it turned out when I checked MapMyRun later, I had actually finished the 17 miles near the top of the park, and ended up running about 17.6 all told, so technically the complete ab fail happened after the scheduled run was over.  I’ve never experienced anything quite like that level of muscle fatigue on a run before, and it was a good reminder of what could potentially happen in 26.2 miles.  That said, I’m pretty sure this was due to the complete shredding of my core on Friday, so I’m not overly concerned about a repeat performance right now.  Today I feel shockingly better than I did even before the run yesterday, so it does seem that I’m bouncing back quickly.  I have intervals tomorrow, but if I don’t feel 100%, I may cross train instead and push the runs out a day.  This week I have my first 20-miler of the training cycle, so the name of the game is recover, recover, recover.

ModC

May 6, 2014

Finding My Way

Tuesday: Intervals – 5x1K @ 7:21 pace

Wednesday: Easy

Thursday: Tempo – 2 mi easy, 3 mi @ 8:04 pace, 1 mi easy

Saturday: Easy

Sunday: Long – 8 mi @ 8:48 pace

 

Somewhere around mile 8 of my long run on Sunday it occurred to me that I actually respect myself as a runner now.  I wasn’t really sure at the time what that meant exactly, but I knew something had shifted.  It isn’t easy to pin down.  It isn’t about finally being able to run a particular pace, although it has everything to do with the progress I’ve been able to make this year.  It’s not really about dedication and hard work, because I’ve always been committed.  It has a lot to do with PR’s and getting out of my comfort zone this season, but what I would consider the turning point came in a race where I didn’t PR.  What I realized Sunday was not that I had improved my self-image as a runner, but that I had one at all.

I should, of course, know better.  I’ve read a number of sports psychology books over the years, and the model is pretty much the same: We all put perceived limitations on ourselves and it is very difficult, both physically and mentally, to break through those barriers.  The stress response arises when we encounter a situation which requires more than we believe we can deliver.  The cascade of physiological fight or flight responses then ensue, all of which can further interfere with our ability to perform.  For many people (myself included), the realization that this is happening creates further stress and then you’re off on a vicious cycle of stress -> physical symptoms -> poor performance -> additional stress…

The hard part, of course, is breaking the cycle.  I’ve tried visualization, meditation, relaxation, and my old stand-by—reading a ton of books on the subject.  While they were all very pleasant activities, I never felt like I was fundamentally changing the way I thought about things, or what I believed about my abilities.  Self-talk cheerleading is not something I’ve been able to pull off, and I suspect that, like actual cheerleading, the activity only brings out my general sarcasm.
 
I’ve been trying over the past few days to deconstruct what finally clicked for me, and I think it really comes down to finding something I could actually believe in.  For me, that was the way I was training.  The thing I really love about RLRF (and I promise I’ll do a post soon exclusively on this topic) is that it very clearly maps out each workout to get you to your goal time.  If there’s one thing I do trust, it’s empirical data.  Once I could see my training run paces improving, I could buy into the system, and ultimately, trust myself to deliver.   Basically, if I can do the training runs at the proscribed paces, I have no reason to think that I can’t run the predicted finish time for the race.  
 
I still have the occasional bad workout, and when I do, they still stick with me longer than I would like.  I continue to worry that if I take too much recovery time between races that I’ll lose my speed and my confidence with it.  I worry that that tendency will lead to injury.  I’m sure that I’ll always be dealing with my confidence and nerves to some extent.  But I do feel like I’m able to enjoy running in a way that I never have before, and I’m actually kind of proud of myself.
 
-ModC