Nice Running Times article on the importance of recovery

October 3, 2010

The September issue of Running Times has a nice article on recovery by Julia Lucas. As runners we tend to be very good about knowing where our mileage is and comparing our mileage and paces to each other and the elites of the world. You’ll hear pride in comments like “I ran 90 miles this week” or “I ran my 5 mile tempo and was 10 seconds faster than my target pace”. When’s the last time you heard an excited statement like “I made sure I ran easy this Sunday” or “I iced my legs 4 times this week”? We might hear about peoples recovery and ancillary training but generally we share those stories under our breath.

The article had a few good pointers from elite athletes, things they do to make sure they can hit their workouts, recover and continue training successfully. I won’t go into the details of what the article discussed since you can always just pick up the magazine (I know Rogue has some copies left) but will share some of the things I know many of us in Team Rogue have successfully worked into our training.

  • Recovery Drinks – Right after you get done with the workout. The effort involved is minuscule and the benefit enormous. What can be easier than putting a single serve carton of chocolate milk in your workout bag?

    Easy, Simple and Tasty

  • Hydration – Drink water and get the right amount of electrolytes (nuun, Thermolytes, Gatorade, etc). This helps with muscle tightness, cramping, and reduces the strain on your cardio vascular system … the list is really endless.

    So Refershing

  • Ice Baths – An invaluable 10 or 15 minutes. It helps reduce inflammation and flush the crud our bodies produce in tough workouts.
  • Recovery Runs – If you don’t recover you don’t get faster. Workouts push our bodies physically and mentally, stressing them so they undergo adaptation. Those adaptations include repairing muscles, growing blood vessels and countless other things. When the hell do you expect your body to do that if you don’t take it easy sometime? If all you do is stress your body it’s going to breakdown, you’ll get sick or injured. There’s no if our but about it, it’s a matter of when.

These four things don’t really take much effort. There are lots of other things people do and recommend, rolling, massages, stretching which you can and should work in to your routine. These four are pretty simple for the return you’ll get. If you’re not willing to make this minimal effort you’re cheating yourself and reducing the chance of success of all the work you’re putting into your runs on the roads and trails. So get on with it, see you out on the roads.


September 2010 Training Summary for CIM

October 2, 2010

September 2010 was a good month.

  • 340 miles (300 in 2009 this far from the race, 220 in 2008 same month for CIM 2008)
  • 3 runs over 22 miles including one race prep at 26
  • Spotty on the gym but managed once  week average for the month (not enough)
  • Pace work and leg turnover coming around
  • Sweet Austin weather last two weeks

There is no absolute “right” answer to many training decisions

July 4, 2010

Training and what an individual needs is extremely specific. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate that benefits of being consistent  with a coach and the people you train with. For one thing how you as an individual react to different types of workloads, stress, mental situations isn’t something you can just write down and give to somebody. It takes a while for a coach and you to establish trust and a mutual understanding. There is no “right” answer for all of us, even all of us training for the same race. With Team Rogue for example, we have a general macro that we’re all using for our training but it’s the individual minor tweaks to our training and race plans that we all athletes have a responsibility to figure out. That is the best thing about the weekly “happy office” hours with Steve. Each of us has an opportunity to talk to him about our specific goals and plans and to listen in to what Steve tells everybody else, and moreover how he differs in advice from one person to another. It takes effort to do this so we can perform and reach our potential as individuals. I think it’s worth the effort, otherwise why not just go online and download some generic macro?

This principle of what is “right” applies to our decisions week to week during our training. Do we run easy? Do we run hard? Do we close? Do we take time off when we’re felling sick or do we push through it when we’re off? It’s evident in every group that our personalities tend to drive these decisions, it’s how each of us is wired. About a week and a half ago I started feeling sick and took a couple of days off from running. Then thought I’d try to run 16 miles last Saturday. After 8 miles into it I decided to stop. I could have run 16 but for me the potential gain versus the risk of getting sicker wasn’t worth it. This week was more of the same, ran one day and that was it. That ended with relatively strong and easy 15 miles yesterday and 8 today. Others might have tried to run 4 or 6 miles every day this week. What’s the right thing to do? For me, using the time as a mental and physical break is ideal. I have to balance my work, personal and running lives and if I’m having issues with my health, forcing my runs doesn’t help it and tends to stress me out with everything else. For others knowing they kept running just a bit and pushing through the illness is what they need mentally.

With marathon training consistency and longevity of training seem like the most important things. As long as all your decisions put together let you train for a few years consistently you can be confident you’re doing the “right” thing. So listen to yourself, and your body. Look at your macro and last two years of training and results and see which decisions were “right” or “wrong” for you. Stick with the “right” ones and try something different with the ones you’d question after reflection. See how that goes after the season, reflect, adjust, put your shoes on and keep on running.

The commitment it takes to perform

March 1, 2009

I was at a party yesterday and talking to a runner. Since I’m getting back from an injury my mileage is much lower right now and I’m able to … well actually go out like normal people. With Team Rogue I usually try to get into bed by 10 so I can be up by 4:30 on most weekdays and 5:30 on weekends to get my runs in. I was talking with this other runner and asked him how he’s doing and he said he hasn’t been able to put in the miles or commit what he needs to excel. Training for any marathon takes significant time and it does result in changing daily habits, diet, schedule. Trying to push your body as hard as you can really does take significant commitment, which we all hope will pay off.

All that talk and then the conversation in the car coming home where the phrase “are you running from yourself” came out made me do a little thinking. Here’s a little reflection on what I set out to do this season and a revisit to the question “Why I run versus why I train?“.

The things I’ve tried to do this season include:

  • Eating better and around 2500 to 3000 calories a day. Which means snacking at work all day long and having a drawer full of food.
  • Strength training at the gym so my body is more capable of handling the increased mileage (from 60 to 80 per week) and faster paces.
  • Regularly stretching, using Trigger Point daily and getting regular massages to keep the body loose
  • Trying to peak at 90 miles per week and keeping my average weekly mileage around 80.
  • Dropping my training paces.

Everybody focuses on something or another each season. The above 3 are the things I was trying to differently and have had varying success. Here are the grades I’d give myself today:

  • Eating Better A-
    Ask anybody at work, I either have an apple, pair, oreo’s, animal crackers, fig bars or yogurt with me pretty much all day. The “minus” is for the quality of what I’ve been eating.
  • Strength Training C+
    I’m doing much better than any other training season but haven’t been regular about it, I got complacent and with 90 miles a week it became difficult to have the time to make it to the gym all the time. I did manage to see Mark at South Congress Athletic Club and have a program but still need to follow through with twice a week visits to the gym to perform the exercises.
  • Stretching etc A-
    I’ve been very about using Trigger Point but realized recently that I needed to work more than the calf and lower leg area that I’ve been focusing on. My quads and hamstrings have tightened and this has restricted my stride in some cases and been a factor in some injuries. Minor adjustment needed now.
  • Increasing mileage and pace B
    This one is a tough grade. I looked at my log for CIM and noticed that I got up-to 70 miles over a pretty long period since I wasn’t really running before May. After I peaked I suffered an injury and then my mileage was in the 55 to 60 range till CIM. After CIM I took a week off and then my weekly mileage went something like this: 22, 58, 70, 70, 82, 90, 50 … injury. I look at all of this with two perspective. The first is what the hell was I thinking, I pretty much ran more than I ever have and really just built up too fast. I was also running a lot faster on my runs, in the 7:20 minutes/mile range on easy runs and getting in the 6 minute/mile range on some parts of it. So doing all of this in one go, faster, farther, longer wasn’t a good idea and my body just wasn’t ready for it. But the reason I’m giving myself a B and not a D is that this really has to be the first time I’ve thrown caution to the wind which is something I’ve been working on with training so I’m glad I’ve done that, adjusting down will be much easier!

Looking at the time that remains for Boston training I plan to bring my mileage goals down a little. If I can manage 70 to 75 starting a week from now I will be very happy. I also think I’m going to adjust my paces from the 2:50 marathon target to a 2:53 to try and break 2:55 at Boston. I feel like my lungs and aerobic capacity is ahead of my body’s physical ability to handle the increased load. So it’s a little lower on the mileage and a tad slower on the paces and a renewed focus on strength training at the gym and some cross training. Next season I’ll try and increase my total load/effort a little more gradually to try and avoid injury.

Now of course comes the million dollar question of why put myself through all of this. I wrote an answer to “Why I run versus why I train?” last year as did many others on the team. It really does come to seeing what I can push my body to do and also the sense of internal accomplishment in achieving some goal.

As I think about it those are pretty superficial statements.  Why do I want to see how far I can push my body and what I can accomplish? To be perfectly honest, I don’t know, that’s just how I’m wired. So for now as long as I get satisfaction out of it I’m not going to worry about the deeper reason and physco mumbo jumbo reasoning behind it. What I know is I look forward to waking up, putting shoes on, meeting up with the crew and running easy, hard, or insanely hard and getting side stitches from laughing along the way.

I’m crazy for training with Rogue

July 9, 2008

I got wind recently about some fun discussion in the Austin running community about Team Rogue and that we’re all a little loopy with the training we’re doing with Steve, Ruth and Karen. I definitely have my share of mental issues, I guess training with Rogue and loving it is just one of the symptoms. I was thinking through my crazy experiences training with Rogue since … what is it now 2004. I think the results say more than anything else. I ran Moto in a 3:27 in 2004. Then I started training with Rogue and ran a 3:10 at Chicago the same year. Ran Boston ’05 for run, took it really easy and managed a 3:13.

Then came my first act of craziness when I joined the first Rogue Performance Project to gear up for Boston ’06 which I managed to run in just over 3:01, basically to plan and expectation on the dot except for the minute slow on the first mile. I’d say that’s a pretty good crazy streak 😉

My guess is the “crazy millage” people hear about Team Rogue doing has them wondering if we’re nuts, are we all going to get injured or burn out? My view on that is this group is a bunch of experienced runners and we know what we’re signing up for and believe in our coaches ability to help us reach our goals. For one thing, this phase of base building is really very different than other programs I’ve done in the past with Rogue or what I’ve seen with other groups. Yeah it’s a good amount for base mileage but we aren’t adding mileage AND frequency AND intensity, it seems like a very measured plan with distinct phases with specific purpose.

I must say though that as members of Team Rogue we do have a lot more responsibility in this program than others we have been in before. This is challenging program that will push some us harder than we have in the past. When Steve says he wants us to run easy all the time except for the Steady run on Tuesday and possibly right at the end on Saturdays in this phase we NEED to listen. If we don’t we may be getting the mileage but are missing the point about the balance to the program and the real purpose of each phase and the run each day … and basically risk not getting the intended benefit, increasing the chance of injury, risk burnout, and decrease the chance of ultimately meeting our goals.

So I’d say, yes I am crazy. I’d be lying if I said I’m not worried about getting injured. But as you can read from my earlier post I’m paying a lot of attention to all the aches and pains and adjusting. As experienced runners we’re supposed to pay attention to what we’re feeling and make the adjustments working with our coaches; the close attention we get from them in this group makes this possible, I took advantage of Steven’s office hours yesterday just for this purpose. That to me is what makes Team Rogue so interesting, it isn’t just cookie cutter, there’s a plan and we’re equally responsible for seeing it through as our coaches are.

Racing as a “team”

June 25, 2008

There’s a nice post by Ruth about Team Rogue on “training together and racing together”, basically about a large group all trying to perform for the same race. When I started with Team Rogue I wasn’t quite sure about racing CIM, it was more of I’ll go there and support everybody but now there is that nagging urge to run a marathon and get that sub-3 out of the way.

The post reminded me of the training I did with the Performance Project from 2005 to 2006, with the Boston Marathon  ’06 being the goal. I’d trained with the same group of people for quite a while as part of the Performance Project, Kent, Duane and Tracy were a few. Even though we were all training together there were a lot of different races and distances invovled so the workouts people were running would be different and the folks with the later races wouldn’t necessarily have too many people to run with towards the end. So I do see the benefit of having the vast majority of us go for the same race.

The postivie of the Performance Project and I think of Team Rogue though is the team atmosphere. Boston ’06 was a great experience for me and one of the main reasons was that there were a few of us that had trained together the whole time and were going up together. I ended up rooming with Kent but Tracy and I were about the same pace so we actually came up with two race plans together, then both agreed on one that was in between both our philophies. We ended up running the first 17 miles basically with each other, I suck at hills so I lost Tracy when they started and caught up at the top of heartbreak hill. After the marathon, we both shared what was going through our heads. I felt terrible the first 5 to 6 miles but didn’t let on since Tracy was there and he apparently felt bad the next 6 … so having that support really is nice. We did agree up front of course that this is the plan but if one person is feeling bad or not having a good day the other needs to run their race and not worry about it. Overall though, the experience of training together for close to 9 months, then travelling to a city, waiting in the athelete’s tent area, and then racing together was an experience that was a lot of fun and very rewarding.

Steve gets some well deserved props

June 8, 2008

I was reading Wish’s latest “heard around the lake” and saw a note about Steve Sisson.

“My buddy Steve Sisson has done a great job reviving the UT women’s distance program. The Longhorn men certainly get a lot of acclaim (deservedly so), but Sisson’s women are starting to make some inroads. The UT women’s team has always been dominated by its sprinters and jumpers, but two of Sisson’s runners have made it to the NCAA Track Championships in Des Moines next week. Temeka Kincy, who was a finalist last year in the 800, has qualified and so has Betzy Jimenez, a sophomore who has improved by eight seconds this spring in the 1500. Jimenez, who is from Hereford, Texas, ran 4:21.28 to finish fifth at the regionals. Hear Sisson has a great recruiting class starting in the fall.” – Wish

It’s great that Steve makes the time to stay involved with the local running community through things like coaching Team Rogue. Also, makes me feel good about the different rogue training programs which Steve has been part of putting together and the coaches at Rogue. As a former Rogue coach I know I found “coaching school” very useful, that focus on making sure coaches really understand the purpose of different workouts as well as how to complete running drills (and more importantly why) makes a difference in the end result of training. That and I know most of the coaches are really into the learning process, I remember talking to Amy about “The Lore or Running” … that book is huge but full of information. It really takes coaches like Amy that care about what they’re doing to have the interest to read a book like that. BTW, that’s one of the books on Steve’s reading list.

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