New phase for strength training

June 30, 2009

Next week our new phase of training for running begins with some steady state and tempo runs, this week I also met up with Mark from South Congress Athletic Club for my next phase of strength training. The last two months were geared primarily towards creating some balance in my upper and lower body where one side was weaker or stronger than the other. I think that has had it’s intended result. I’m basing this primarily on the evenness in soreness in both my legs and other signs like my hips staying relatively stable with high knee exercises etc.

Yesterday Mark started laying out my next phase of strength training, well it’s a lot more strength work than the previous session. Hopefully the last two months have been a good base in getting my body ready for the more dynamic and intense strength work to come.


Too early for my mid-life crisis

June 30, 2009

I apparently have too much time on my hands with this time off. I’ve been looking at cars for a month or so and for some obvious reasons really enjoyed driving a couple of Porsche’s. My first round test driving was with Katie when we tried out a Porsche Cayman and a Carerra. The handling and feel of these cars is amazing, great acceleration, hug the roads on turns and extremely responsive. I was taking turns I would normally take at 25 or 30 miles an our in my Acura TSX at 50 miles an hour without even feeling like I’m pushing it.

Porsche Cayman S

Porsche Cayman S

I drove a few other cars but nothing compared so I decided to go ahead and get a Porsche Cayman S. I was supposed to sign the final paperwork on Saturday but the loan officer was out so it ended up being Monday. I luckily had the car over the weekend and ended up not liking … let’s be clearer I like the car, it’s just not for me. And this I’m sure shocks many, it shocked me, I never thought I’d be in a position where I’d be able to buy a Porsche and it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t want it.

And the reasons for this:

  • I live downtown and the roads really aren’t that great, the hard suspension and road feel of the Cayman is great for speed and turns but the rattling in my neighborhood is a little too much.
  • It’s a really small car. It is a two seater which I can probably get away with but given all the running gear and crap I normally have to deal with not the best situation.
  • I live in East Austin and this car is just way too out of place for 5th and Comal, I need to move to Westlake or Stiner Ranch. That’ll help with the roads too.
  • The car is a little too much “look at me” for my personality.
  • I’m not 40 yet so maybe in a few years when I’m going through my mid-life crisis a Porsche will be more appealing.

I did see Keith with his new Beemer today … the search continues for me. Next on the list are all the new hard top convertibles that have come out.

Garmin 405: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly (Product Review)

June 26, 2009

I’ve gone for years without wearing a Garmin or other gps device to track my paces or distances. Earlier this year I finally took the plunge and bought a geek-o-meter, more specifically a Garmin 405. This post is about two things, one what it’s like to run with a geek-o-meter and then more specifically the Garmin 405.

Running with a Geek-o-Meter
I’ve dreaded buying a gps watch, mainly because I don’t want to become a slave to the watch on what paces I’m running. As you may have guessed from the title of my blog I have a reputation for being able to lock into paces. My reason for getting the Garmin was to run more varying paces and not get locked into my comfortable paces. I wanted to be able to know if I was really getting out of my comfort zone … yes not a normal reason.

I have the Garmin configured to show me my lap paces (each mile), and then the current lap and overall pace. I don’t have it show me my immediate pace since I think I can manage how I feel. I have decided that I won’t wear one on races though or during track workouts.  Even with my attempts at not relying on the Garmin I have to say that I do rely on it now more to know what pace or effort I’m running, something I used to be able to do without needing a GPS before.

The Garmin 405
The 405 looks like a regular watch. That’s a definite highlight. Now for the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

  • Size like a regular watch
  • Lots of settings and customization options to change what information is displayed on the screen and options to have upto three screens you can go between … you should be able to have whatever you want show up
  • Good integreation with a website to log your runs (includes, mileage, splits, map) (see an example)
  • Transfer of data to you computer wirelessly (mac and pc)

The Bad

  • The placement of the button to lap versus start/stop seems to be the opposite of other stop watches.
  • Getting all the settings correct can take some time, especially if you’re not into gadgets
  • Digits on the screen when you have two or more things displayed can be a little small. Stop watches for running seem to have better sized numbers.
  • Turning on the back-light makes use of the bezel. The bezel with it’s touch feature is how lots of navigation is done.
  • Locking the bezel  requires pressing both buttons, but that for me ends up stopping the watch … annoying

The Ugly

  • The watch fritzes out when it gets wet, pretty much when you sweat. After about an hour, the bezel stops working at times and a few times it’ll just start beeping and switching screens on it’s own
  • The getting sweaty wet on some recent runs at the end of the run the button to stop the watch hasn’t been working immediately

Even though it looks like there are more “Bad” then “Good”, that’s me being picky and the Good items out weight the Bad … BUT and it’s a BIG BUT  … the Ugly is too much to ignore.  If I had it to do again I wouldn’t buy the Garmin 405 until they figure out the issues with the sweat and the bezel freaking out.  But for now since I have it I’ll keep wearing it on easy runs, but not on track workouts and definitely not during races where that last thing I need is to worry about my watch freaking out on me.

Training Season Phase I Review

June 25, 2009

This week is the first down week for me in this new training season. We’re also a week and a half away from the next phase in this cycle. I haven’t hit my base mileage target of 80 miles per week, really it’s between 70 and 80 depending on how the week is going with work and other things in life. This down week I should be around 55 miles. The season started for me the day of the Boston Marathon which was unable to race because of injury … coincidentally it was the first day I did run after a close to three week break to heal. My focus during this phase has been:

  • Slow build up of mileage.
  • Comfortable paces in the 8:00 min area, moving to 7:40ish range after a few weeks of running without any pain and then very gradually getting to a 7:20 to 7:30 range.
  • Gym work at least 2 times a week … then the “big 12” was added by Steve (12 push ups, 12 sit ups, 11 push ups, 11 sit ups … 1 push up, 1 sit up

Summary by Week (starting April 20th)

Week 1: 25 Miles 7:55 min/mile avg pace
Week 2: 35 mi 7:42 min/mi
Week 3: 42 mi 7:28 min/mi
Week 5: 45 mi 7:44 min/mi, 2x gym
Week 6: 49 mi 7:55 min/mi, 2x gym, 2x big12
Week 7: 56 mi 7:28 min/mi, 1x gym, 3x big12, 1x Home gym
Week 8: 60 mi 7:24 min/mi, 2x gym, 3x big12, 1x home
Week 9: 64 mi 7:46 min/mi, 1x gym, 1x big12 (traveling)
Week 10: 67 mi 7:42 min/mi, 1x gym, 1x big12, 2x home
Week 11: In progress

The heat and humidity in Austin really set in around week 9, it was brutal. After two weeks it does seem like my body, and that of others I run with, is adapting. Last week was a highlight, the first time I allowed myself to run some faster paces during runs. I’ve been trying to be cautious about any faster paces or closing on runs since that could aggravate my previous injury but feel much better about doing that now. There were a few miles in the low 6’s in week 10 and on other runs since then some closing miles in the low 7’s and high 6’s.

So far so good, Let’s see how the body adjusts to the next phase.

Balance in soreness, a good sign

June 22, 2009

Last week I went for my regular massage with Lisa and I hope it was a sort of turning point for my injury prone training of late. Many people tend to get injured in the same places, I’ve oscillated from my right leg to the left and back and forth and in different parts of my legs. Over the last two months I’ve been very regular with my strength training program from Mark at South Congress Athletic Club and I think it may be paying off finally. During the massage last week Lisa noticed that my hamstrings in both legs were evenly developed and were the same amount of tightness … a first. Also any soreness in my legs, for example the tib area, was present in both legs. This is likely a sign of strain from overuse versus an imbalance. So this week I get to back off on my mileage and keep going from there.

The program for mark is two gym workouts a week and then two home workouts (which I end up doing at the gym anyway). Very light weights for the things that require weights and a decent amount of upper body work to improve my shoulder/torso and hip alignment. I have noticed that my stride is much more even on both legs and in general my running posture doesn’t collapse towards the end of long runs as much as it used to. Given the high mileage and hopefully faster paces I’ll be running I hope this cross training with gym work helps keep me injury free.

Weak or in tune with my body

June 17, 2009

I wrote a few weeks about trying some new shoes out and specifically about running the Elixir instead of the Precision. One area of my foot that bothered me towards the end of my CIM training in 2008 was my toes. Specifically the joint of the toe which would get tight where I couldn’t really bend the toe down on it’s own and pulling it up would hurt. I haven’t had that issue with the Elixir and last week on my trip to Berkeley I decided to run in my Precision again and the felt a little discomfort again. I’ve realized and been told I have some weakness in my toes/foot and need to perform the towel exercises (an example) but what was up with the show change bringing it on. I then went back to my CIM race when I started wearing the Nike Lunar Trainer and when we arrived in Sacramento my toe joint hurt a lot.

Both the Nike Lunar Trainer and Mizuno Precision are very flexible, they pretty much bend with your foot. What that has meant is that when walking or running my foot and toes are flexing more than they really are capable of right now and that seems to be the reason for the soreness and tightness. The flexibility does mean I can get better push off but for now I have some work to do before the Precisions can be used for anything longer than 10 miles.

I was talking to somebody about this at the Rogue Equipment store over the weekend and it was one of those moments where I thought … really, I’m so weak where I can’t handle a small difference in the shoes because of my toes! Then somebody else said runners are just more in tune with their body 🙂

First run with a close for the season

June 16, 2009

Since my injury training for Boston it’s been a steady and cautious build back from no mans land. I’ll hopefully hit 75ish miles this week and then hit my base target of 80 miles per week next week. I’ve been adding 5 miles a week since the beginning of May and had a plan of sorts on my effort and paces. In the last season pushing paces (7:40 easy down to 7:20) in addition to upping my mileage (from 60 miles/week peak to 90 miles/week) were just too much to add in one go and with the time I gave myself.

This time I’ve been adding 5 miles a week and set out a few wide bands of effort/paces to progress from depending on how my recovery is going. The ranges of paces I’m stating aren’t necessarily a “I’m going to run these paces no matter what” goal, recovery days are slower but it’s more of what effort I tend to associate with these different easy paces.

Phase 1 was in the 7:40 to 8:00 effort range, Phase II in the 7:30 to 7:45 and Phase III 7:20 to 7:35. I started this season forcing myself to not pick up the pace no matter how good I felt for 4 weeks, make sure I could build up the mileage and pay attention to the aches and pains that might be indicators of my injury not being a thing of the past and to my running form. Apart from some early shorter 5 mile runs where it was difficult to gauge effort since I was coming off some weeks without running I was above 7:40 for my overall run paces. The last week of May I had a couple of  7:30 to 7:40 runs in the mix. And that’s been the trend, adding in a couple of days in the faster range but making sure I didn’t go under 7:00 min/mile for more than one or two miles on any run and keeping to my overall pace goals. I’ve been in the 7:30 to 7:45 (excluding days of crazy heat/humidity or when I really needed recovery) for two weeks now and today was my first day when I allowed myself to push the pace and close. And close we did, a couple of miles in the low 6 min/mile range.

I don’t plan to reduce my paces to the 7:20 range quite yet but will start with a few miles at the faster end of my easy effort range once or twice a week. The theory is it’ll get the strength back into the right parts of my feet and legs to support the faster paces. I’ll have to play it by ear for a while and see if I can gradually get my body to adapt, backing off when it starts to squawk of course.

%d bloggers like this: