January 28, 2013

SLC Track Club Winter Series 5K

Andrea was in action over the weekend at the SLC Winter Series 5K. She was under strict orders to use the race as a tempo and finish somewhere around 19:30. She ran 19:29 (Race Report).

Here's her thoughts on the run: The last few days I've had a lot of ups and downs with injury pain so I wasn't sure if I was going to jog this or use it as a tempo run. I felt pretty good on the 2-mile warm-up with Allie and James. So tempo it was! Ran a pretty consistent 6:16 pace throughout. No problems with my hip and only a little fatigue towards the end. I think the fastest I could run with my current fitness is high 18s...not too bad. A great workout!  

Good to see her back out there! :-)

More Photos

January 21, 2013

2013 PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon

I opened up my 2013 campaign running 1:05:55 for a second place finish at the PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon yesterday. This was a very good start to the year for me, and a nice indicator that things are right on track, as I'm 6 weeks out from my spring marathon. I only did a slight taper for this race (100 miles this week) and still felt like my legs had some good "pop" - so with another mini-cycle of marathon training and a real taper, I'm feeling very confident about what I can do in March. Here's the press release from Competitor. And he's my race recap, cross-posted from Fast Running Blog...

My parents dropped me off at the PF Chang's restaurant on Mill Ave in Tempe around 6:30am (that was the staging area for the elite race). Warmed up 3.5 miles including a half-mile at 5:15 pace and some shorter accelerations.

This is a loop course that starts and finishes on the ASU campus, with most of the race up in Scottsdale. The first 10 miles have a gradual uphill gradient, and then you come back down in to Tempe in the last 5K. A very fair course and deceptive due to the gradual elevation gains. I told Andrea beforehand that my ideal pacing would be to hit 10 miles in ~50:30 and then run 15:15 for the last 5K, so I was determined not to go out too fast.

We started right on time at 7:50am. I tried to stay out of trouble as we ran about 150 meters and then made a sharp left turn on to University Ave. I saw my parents around a half-mile into the race and I was in 8th place at that point. I felt like I was jogging at marathon pace yet still hit the first mile in 4:54.

Some guys went out too fast as I suspected, and even though I purposely backed off the pace over the next two miles (4:59, 5:02) I moved up to 5th place by the time we hit 5K (15:27). Glenn Randall was just up ahead but the top three guys were considerably further up. I saw my friends Derek and Allison just as I was passing Glenn around mile #4 (4:58) and then set my sights on the next guy, and caught him by the 5 mile mark (5:10 - noticeably uphill, but it was a good opportunity to move up to 3rd place). Now I knew I was on the podium, but the two guys ahead of me (Scott MacPherson and Danny Mercado) had a big gap. Mile #6 was 4:57 (very encouraging!) and I hit 10K in 31:13 (I love a good palindrome split).

I was down 25 seconds to Danny at this point. He seemed really far off but I just kept telling myself - keep it consistent until 10, and then you never know what might happen. So I just plugged along the gradual uphill for the next 4 miles (5:12, 5:05, 5:05, 5:06) and I could tell that Danny was slowly coming back to me. I felt like I could have thrown in a surge ~9 miles and caught him, but I wanted to wait until mile 10 as planned to make my move. I split 10 miles in 50:33 (although the clock on the road said 50:20, so I thought I had a PR in the bag because of that). Then I made a move on the downhill. I was 8 seconds back from second place at 10 miles, and made up that gap in the next 2 minutes. By 10.5 miles I felt like I already had good gap on Danny. Mile #11 was 4:53. Then I went into "finish this d@mn race and no miles over 5:00!" mode and ran 4:59, 4:55, :34 to close it out in 2nd place, 1:05:55. My last 5K was 15:22. At 12.5 we merged w/ the "mini marathon" (walkers) which made the final stretch a bit of a fiasco. Otherwise, the course was well marked, turns were obvious, and having a bike alongside me for the last ~5 miles was very helpful. Amidst all the people, I did hear my parents yelling for me close to the finish.

Post Race
The first priority after finishing was to find my parents and get them some wristbands for the VIP area, so they could chill out and take advantage of the breakfast buffet while I went out for a cool down. Then we had some breakfast / lunch... lots of free food :-)

Eventually it was time for awards, which RnR makes a big deal. Frank Shorter was there to hand them out!

Most of the athletes on the stage had extensive NCAA All-American / Olympic Trials biographies, so they had no idea what to say about me... the announcer had no clue who I was. That actually made me happy - I beat some very established runners with impressive resumes and credentials that (for now) far exceed mine. I was seeded 8th, so this makes me very confident that I'm on the right track. Fast times are good, but racing well against competition is important too. Its nice when you can do both. I ran a smart race today - I stuck to my plan and almost hit my first 10 mile/ last 5K goal splits right on. Not a PR, but close... anytime you break 1:06 on an honest course you chalk that up as a good day, because its not an easy thing to do.

I always race well down here in Phoenix, and I also tend to race well when my parents are in attendance. So I'm hoping that streak continues in 6 weeks for the marathon!

Top 10 Results (the second place female is 42 years old!)

January 14, 2013

Winter Storm Galdolf

Andrea running in the snow on Friday morning
We got quite a storm in the SLC valley at the end of last week and through the first part of the weekend. In the three winters Andrea and I have lived in Utah, this was by far the most snow we've had down where we live. It was one of those weird storms where more snow fell at 4,500 feet than at 10,000 feet up in the mountains. Some places in the valley got 24-30 inches of snow. There was powder skiing just above downtown.

I had a hard workout scheduled for Saturday, so we ended up having to move it to the indoor track at the Olympic Oval. We got in a good effort and I'm excited about the upcoming Rock and Roll AZ 1/2 Marathon this upcoming Sunday! Its nice to have that facility on days when its impossible to get in a quality efforts outdoors. I don't mind cold, but when all of the roads are covered in snow and ice, you have to adapt (and I'm not a treadmill guy).

We are definitely in a really cold spell for a few more weeks. This weather is a lot different than last winter! Personally, I like the challenge it presents. I think when you have a 6-8 week stretch of really tough weather conditions, that makes you stronger mentally for the rest of the season. If the weather is good all the time, its easy to get soft. And you also have to learn to take advantage of the good weather days, and think hard about how to make those workouts really count.

Mile repeats w/ Kramer and Scott

Andrea and Amiee went for a little ski tour right from downtown SLC when the clouds parted on Saturday afternoon...

Now its gonna get really cold for a while.

You know its cold when you are baking pajamas with the space heater before bed.

January 9, 2013

Andrea's 2012 Review and 2013 Goals

Jake already posted about all the awesome trips we took in his review of 2012, so I'll just add my running recap. 2012 was a tough year....I have officially deemed it the year of injuries for me. I barely had a single month of being healthy!

Jan - Mar : I developed metatarsalgia in both my feet. 
May - Jul: Right hamstring strain that prevented me from running any faster than half marathon pace.
Aug - Dec: Iliopsoas strain, glute and hamstring pain, and a whole lot of other annoyances.

I sure hope this is the only year like this! Despite all these problems, I was able to run a few good races with the highlights being the BAA 5K and the USA 1/2 Marathon Champs.

April 15 - BAA 5K 17:23
April 21 - SLC Half Marathon 1:18:13
April 28 - Thanksgiving Point Half 1:24:15
May 5 - Provo City 5K 17:08
June 16 - USA 1/2 Marathon Champs 1:17:21
July 14 - Lavender Half Marathon 1:24:19

Honestly, the best parts of the year for me were spending time with friends and going on adventures. It was a great year for that!

This year was also a valuable learning experience for me. I learned that

- I have to take significant breaks in between training cycles, both for mental and physical health.
- I cannot ramp up my mileage too quickly. 5-10 miles per training cycle.
- I have to keep the long-term goals in mind and work towards gradual improvement, not immediate satisfaction.
- I have to back off when a "niggle" stays around for longer than a week. Unfortunately, I have become very injury prone and a couple weeks off is way better than getting injured.
- Being healthy, being able to run every day, being able to go hiking, backpacking, skiing, skinning, and all the other activities I love to do are more important than pushing through an injury and risk being stuck on the sidelines for months.

And now on to......
I didn't hit a lot of my 2012 goals, due to so many injuries. So I'm keeping this year pretty simple -

1) Recover from injury
2) Exercise a lot
3) Go on adventurous trips and have lots of fun :)

January 8, 2013

Get a USATF Membership!

Here's a good New Year's Resolution for you - join USA Track and Field!

In addition to the benefits (like the magazine, merchandise discounts, etc), you are showing your support for the sport. If you live in an area with a racing circuit (like Utah!) you are only eligible to compete for prizes if you are a USATF member.

Sign up HERE

For those of you that are members of the Fast Running Blog, make sure you choose FRB as your association club.

The Utah LDR Circuit Schedule for 2013 is as follows:

9-Feb SLC Winter Series 10K
6-Apr Striders Winter Series Half Marathon
1-Jun Holladay Mile
8-Jun Utah Valley Marathon + Half Marathon
4-Jul         Murray Fun Days 5K
20-Jul Draper Days 5K
24-Jul Deseret News 10K
TBD         Alta Peruvian 8K
24-Aug Top of Utah Half Marathon
31-Aug Wildcat Half Marathon
15-Sep Top of Utah Marathon

*This schedule is still subject to change. More races may be added.

January 7, 2013

How I went from Injury Prone to Injury Resistant

In my Recovery Keys for Marathon Training post, I briefly said something about how the fact that I already run a lot allows me to recover a lot quicker. But how do you get to that point, where you can handle a lot of training volume without breaking down? Back in the fall, I did a recap of my running "history" (Full Post) and mentioned that from 2002-2008, I was pretty much an injury prone underachiever when it came to running. I was sporadic and inconsistent. I'd have a couple good races or months of training, then disappear for a while. Over and over again. I didn't run even try to run seriously again for over 2 years.

Then I decided to get back into "serious" training in Fall 2010. It still wasn't with the goal of becoming a fast runner. In November 2010 I wrote - "I want to approach this winter with the goal of being in ridicliously good condition for the start of the spring 2011 mountaineering season." Funny how the goals and priorities change. I started running 100+ miles per week and did that for over 6 straight months before finally "just" running a 90 mile week the following May. During that same time period, Andrea and I were backcountry skiing for hours upon hours every weekend. In the past, this is the amount of training that would have had me injured and mentally burnt out after a month. But I was getting stronger and stronger the whole time.

The amount of activity we were doing was staggering. But you know what else I found out was staggering? - the body's ability to adapt to the demands placed upon it. I started to realize that my capacity for physical activity was much higher than I could have imagined. Even now, I'm still nowhere close to the limit of what I can handle. My theory is that when your body is always expecting you to throw something else at it... it starts to anticipate that, and figures out how to recover quicker. Highly scientific, I know. But once you start logging consistent miles and you are staying healthy, its actually easy to stay in that groove. It becomes automatic.

I would NOT recommend making a jump like I did. You can't build up mileage dramatically over a short time period because your tendons and bones don't adapt as quickly as your muscles and cardiovascular system do. Increasing your weekly mileage by 5-10 miles each training cycle is the smart approach and reduces your likelihood of injuries. That's what you should do if you want to have a reasonable chance of taking advantage of an increased training load.

I got away with what I did for two reasons:

1) I was lucky with injuries.

2) I was preparing myself for the marathon training I currently do, years before I even realized it. I lived in Vail, Colorado (elevation 8,000 feet) for those two "lost" years, from 2008-2010. I wasn't running seriously during that time period... I'd go out for long runs sometimes, but never did a workout, never thought about racing. I thought I was done racing. I didn't keep a log, but probably averaged 30-40 miles per week during those years. Sometimes I wouldn't run for a week. One time I didn't run for about three weeks (jacked up my ribs in a skiing accident!). Sometimes I'd run doubles. I basically just did whatever I felt like doing. I hiked a lot, and I skied a lot, I played recreational soccer and basketball. During the winter, before work, I'd hike up Vail Mountain in the dark (and freezing cold!), then ski back down as the sun rose.

This was my reward for 4am hikes in Vail before work. And I got to ski back down :-)
On the weekends I'd ski all day... when the snow wasn't powdery, I'd just lap moguls until my quads wanted me dead. During the spring/summer/fall, I'd go on epic, long hikes... climbing almost all of the 14,000 foot peaks in the state... many of them several times. I pushed myself hard during these weekends in the mountains. When Andrea and I first moved to Utah in the summer of 2010, we spent a TON of time of hiking and backpacking. Carrying a 30 pound backpack for 225 miles through the Sierra Nevada mountains will strengthen your connective tissue more than any amount of running or ancillary exercises ever will. I also started gradually running more during 2010... I was more motivated once I met Andrea and we started running together a lot. I dropped some weight, and before you know it, I was running better than ever.

Capitol Peak (August 2009). Climbing mountains was a huge part of my life.
So I guess its not really true at all that I wasn't training from 2008-2010. In some ways, maybe I was preparing myself for what was ahead in the best possible way? Thinking about it now, it might have been the perfect lead-in to the hard training that I do now. Take a look at the final quote from the Lydiard and Canova coaches round-table:
I think the perfect preparation of the future would include months of low-intensity concentric exercise firstly to protect the joints while getting the hours into the aerobic and  cardiovascular systems, followed by months of long hikes with heavy packs and boots over very hilly courses to condition all the joint, muscle and tendon systems, as well as being at the ideal pace and power output to get the Type I slow twitch mitochondria maxing out, in order to provide the metabolic furnace that will later on strip fatty acids, glucose and whatever down for packaging and delivery to the faster muscle fibre types required for fast sustained running at the top levels.

That pretty much sounds like exactly what I was doing for two years, doesn't it? I was spending lots of time moving through the mountains (at high-altitude), and I went from being injury-prone to ridiculously injury resistant.

In hindsight, Andrea and I have talked about this, and we agree that is how I did it - how I got my body ready to handle huge amounts of running. There was no plan, it happened by accident and was a perfect storm of sorts. So my recommendation is to either move to Central Colorado, embrace the lack of oxygen, breathe in the cold, cold air, and simply be an outdoor athlete for a couple years... but if that isn't in the cards for you, build up slowly... a little at a time... add in cross-training, add in doubles. It will pay off.

January 4, 2013

Jake's Recovery Keys in Marathon Training

I used my Holiday Training Camp post earlier this week as a way to transition to a more important topic - recovery. I was asked: How do you maintain consistency - high mileage, quality workouts, races - over a long period of time without breaking down your body and mind? I don't claim to have all the answers, but its a fun topic to think about and discuss. When I started to make a list, I realized that I do a lot of things that I don't even think about... they become automatic after a while.

I actually used to be very injury prone - in college and for the couple years after. But I've made some adjustments over the years, and the results have been amazing. Andrea has helped me with a lot of it - especially the emphasis on sleep and protein. Of the items on this list, those very well could be the two most important.

Hopefully, some of my "keys" can be useful in your own approach. And so you know, I take a lot more stock in anecdotal evidence and personal experience than peer-reviewed research and what the "experts" say. These are listed in no particular order, except that I grouped the ones dealing with nutrition...

Consistent Volume / Mileage
Mileage can either build you up or break you down. To be consistent, you first have to be consistent. Talk about talking in circles! :-)

The fact that I already run a lot of miles allows me to recover a lot faster. How do you get to that point? That's a bigger (and very interesting) topic, and I'll post my thoughts next week.

Run Easy
Hard days hard, easy days easy. I never push the pace on my recovery runs, and do a lot of running at 7:30-8:30 pace on those days. A lot of mornings, the day after hard workouts, I'm not even cracking 9 minutes for the first mile or two (or three). Give your body a chance to loosen up. "Pressing" increases your injury risk and is downright silly on easy days. What do you really have to prove on those runs?

Live like a clock
The body loves routine. Exercising twice a day sort of becomes the easier thing to do. I do the majority of my running in the morning. I don't have to think about it - alarm goes off, get up and go. Then I run again after work. Automatic. Having a set time that you are going to run (assuming your job doesn't require you to work crazy, non-routine hours) helps you stay consistent. Same goes for sleeping... go to bed at the same time every night (or as close to that normal time as possible)... and while we're on that topic...

8 hours a night will do wonders. Your body repairs itself while you are asleep. All kinds of stuff is going on while you are laying inside your fleece sheets (yes, fleece sheets, its cold in the winter!) There is all kinds of science to back this up - but everyone knows how good you feel when you get enough sleep (and how bad you feel when you don't). This is an area where I have really improved. In 2012 I started logging my sleep hours, and it came out to an average of just over 8 hours per night. That might seem like a lot of wasted time, but the quality of the other 16 hours per day is a lot greater. During the week I go to bed at 9pm every night. I'll stay up later if I know I'm going to get to sleep in a bit on the weekends... but usually I'm bored by 9pm anyways! Now, this is not to say sleep is more important than the training itself. If I go to bed later, I'm not going to sleep through my morning workout... but you try not to make a habit of staying up too late. The rest allows you to absorb the workload.

The Stick
There are a million gadgets out there for stretching and massaging. I use the original stick that I got when I was in high school, and that's it. I do this for a couple minutes every night... get the kinks out of my hamstrings, quads, and calves. I also do some self-massage on my achilles tendons when I am feeling some tightness (which is often b/c I have a perpetual knot in my right achilles).

Alternate shoes - Different pairs, Different types
I brought 5 pairs of shoes with me to Arizona over Christmas. When Andrea and I go on vacation, we usually have a separate bag just for all of the footwear we haul along. I think one of the best ways to prevent injuries is to constantly be changing your footwear so you don't get used to doing the same thing all the time. Right now I am alternating between two different pairs of Kinvaras (a minimalist trainer), Rides (neutral cushion), Triumph (a super plush cushion shoe for shakeout runs), Mirages (neutral trainer), Fastwitch (marathon flat for tempo runs), Type As (flat for speed workouts). That's like 7 pairs in my usual weekly rotation. The added bonus is that the shoes all last longer as well, since you aren't beating down the same pair every day. Like the human body, shoes tend to perform better when you stress them, then let them recover.

Compression Socks / Sleeves
I wear compression socks or sleeves all day, every day at work. Since I am sitting at a desk most of the day, it helps my legs feel good for my afternoon run. I also always wear them while traveling (airplanes or long car rides). I used to think the compression garments were a gimmick... until I started actually using them. I became a believer very quickly. They make a difference.

I don't have perfect mechanics, but I'm a natural midfoot striker and I think that alleviates a lot of the pounding my body would otherwise be taking.

Mental Attitude
I firmly believe there is a strong mind-body connection. I like to tell myself its not cold outside (even when it is), and that seems to make it seem less cold to me. The same goes for recovery - I assume that I am going to bounce back and feel better when I am tired. Usually my body will follow what my mind wants/expects to happen. Just be positive, that's mainly what I'm saying. A positive mental attitude (Andrea gets SICK of me using that term!) goes a long way!

Training by Feel / Listen to the Body
This is a subject for another long post (that I am working on), but I also strongly believe that you cannot write out a 12 week training schedule and expect to follow it even close to exactly. In fact, I think that would actually be somewhat stupid. I'm paraphrasing Renato Canova: athletes should not follow a training plan, but instead the training plan should follow the athlete. You have to make adjustments and tweak things all the time, you have to be very fluid and understand that no single workout matters all that much - the big picture does, the combination of all the individual pieces. That doesn't mean bailing on a hard interval session every time you feel fatigued and just lazily jogging around all the time. Sometimes the right thing to do is actually run a hard session when you are tired... especially in half-marathon / marathon training. The bottom line is that you have to find a way to be objective and honest with yourself (especially if you are self-coached). And if you can do that, I actually think its an advantage to be self-coached, because no one but you knows exactly how you feel and are responding to every workout session. But its not easy to be objective and I wouldn't necessarily recommend most athletes taking that approach. In additional to being able to hold yourself back, you also have to have the mental capacity to really push yourself hard even when you don't want to. You have to be accountable to yourself.

Be SUPER LAZY Sometimes
There's nothing wrong with coming back from a hard workout (especially on the weekends or a day off from work), plopping down on the couch, and watching movies for hours, only taking a break to make the short walk to the kitchen to get more food and drinks. You need those kinds of days when you are training hard!

I'm not going to try and pretend to understand this aspect of it - other than I realize that I have the ability to recover quicker than most, and genetic predisposition obviously has something to do with it. So... thanks Mom and Dad!

Support system
Friends, family, training partners. I have an amazing group of people that believe in me and challenge me. Their encouragement helps me get out the door when its minus 10 or positive 110 degrees outside. I want to make these people proud of me - I want to inspire them like they inspire me. We're all a part of something that is much bigger than ourselves in this sport, and its important to realize that.

Get enough of them. Yes, being light is advantageous. But when you get down to what some would call "ideal race weight", you are walking a fine line... a razor's edge. You can do some amazing running, but you can also fall apart very easily. And its tough to bounce back once you start to lose your strength. I believe having a small buffer zone, staying just a tad above your ideal weight, allows you to recover quicker on a day to day basis. And you can still run fast. In October 2011, I panicked because my weight shot up a couple pounds before the Long Beach Half Marathon. Andrea told me to shut up and get over it. I went out and ran 1:05:45, probably my best race to date. Plus, food is absolutely delicious, so eat it. I put down an embarrassing amount of ice cream. But the engine needs fuel if you are going to run nearly 6000 miles a year. Other high-mileage runners agree.

The most important food group for recovery (yes, even more important than ice cream). Instead of summarizing 8th grade health class and how amino acids work, lets just agree that your muscles cannot repair themselves without adequate protein. Anyone who thinks otherwise its nuts. And speaking of nuts, I believe (like Ron Swanson) that the best forms of protein come from meat. So I eat lots of animals - cows, chickens, turkeys, deer, fish. I also like to eat a lot of egg whites - another great source (but low on cholesterol, which is good because high cholesterol runs in my family).

Iron Rich Foods / Vitamin Supplements
Iron deficiency is so common among endurance athletes, especially skinny distance runners. I eat tons of spinach, occasional red meat, and other iron-rich food sources. I also take a daily multivitamin and an iron supplement a few times per week during cycles of harder training. I don't have a perfect diet, but I think its pretty good. I eat a wide variety of vegetables everyday, although I could be better about fruit consumption. The multivitamin is just "insurance" to make sure I never get low on anything. I've had my iron tested twice during the past year and both times the results were very good...

The three supplements I would recommend taking are Iron (fatigue), Vitamin D (stress fractures), and Fish Oil (joint health)... or really pay attention to making sure you get enough of those things in your diet.

Diet Mountain Dew
You're just going to have to trust me on this one. Like I said above, I'm not using science to back up all of these claims. I'm using personal experience. If you don't believe me, take HER word for it...

Love It
Sometimes getting up early for a hard workout is tough, the day to day grind can be exhausting... but if you love the sport and find meaning in it (yes, I'm paraphrasing Without Limits), it's worth it 100% of the time. Being passionate about what you are doing ties into that mind-body connection... when you want something, you'll find a way to get it. And that isn't just going to make you a better runner, its going to make you a better PERSON.

I think you should keep things simple. Stick to things that you'll actually do without expending excess mental / physical energy. You can wear yourself out simply reading about all the recovery "secrets" (let alone doing them), and the information is changing all the time. "The Stick" that came out decades ago still works today just fine, and I've had success with it, so I just go with what I know works. None of the things I listed really take any additional time out of my day... they are all pretty easy to do. Eat a balanced diet, do some sort of massage, get enough sleep, alternate your shoes, stay mentally engaged. Not rocket science.

I definitely have room for improvement. I need to extend the duration of my "down" periods of training after hard cycles and peak races. I also can clean some things up with my diet. Those are some of my goals for the upcoming year.

I don't pretend to run 140 miles a week and feel good all the time. That's why I run slow on easy days... I take what my body gives me. On hard days, the tables turn. I've found the balance that I can handle... I've found a system that works for me, and that's what everyone should strive to do. Make it fit into your life, make it your own routine. If you take recovery seriously, you'll enjoy training even more, and you'll run faster! But don't obsess about it either...

I'll finish with a quote I really like from Vern Gambetta's "Lessons from 2012" -
We must take a giant step back and look at what we are doing with recovery. I think we need to learn to use recovery methods more judiciously. Not necessary to ice bath after every workout. We need to understand that the inflammatory cascade is part of the adaptation process. Must educate the body to take advantage of this not interfere with this all the time.

January 3, 2013

Injury Update (Andrea)

Well, I FINALLY have some good news! After 4.5 months of injury terribleness, I'm making some progress. I've been able to run 20-25 miles per week for the past three weeks. I haven't posted until now because I wanted to make sure this wasn't just a fluke :)

What made the difference? Honestly, I don't know... it had to be a combination of things. After 12 days of no running and another round of steroids in the beginning of December, I was feeling as bad as ever. The time off from running was not helping at all. I was mentally drained from hours of therapy, stretching, icing, etc... with no results.

It was time to just try to run through it. Running got me injured so maybe that's what I need to get better. I found a clinic near my work called Performance Rehab Clinic that has an Alter-G Treadmill. These treadmills are becoming more and more popular in the rehabilitation world because they allow you to exercise at a decreased bodyweight (through differential air pressure). This reduces the impact and stress on lower extremity joints, muscles, tendons, etc. and enables patients to gradually retrain. I am now running on the Alter-G 2-3 times a week at 75-85% bodyweight. I am able to run at a decent pace without any pain. I've been able to accompany that with some miles outside now too.

Here is a short video of me running on the Alter-G...

In addition to the Alter-G, I am working with physical therapist Daniel Mills at the same clinic. He is focusing a lot on deep stretching and strengthening. After a few sessions with him, my glute pain was completely relieved. I left for Tennessee over Christmas break and that pain came back, so I know the pain is being relieved by the stretching that I cannot do on my own.

I've come to believe that all the pain in my hip, glutes, abdominals, and hamstring are because the muscles have become overactive and protective in nature and therefore are not performing their jobs correctly. My rehab is focused on re-training and re-educating the muscles to recruit in the proper amounts and in the proper sequence.

Whew...what a mess! I'm still struggling with some pain throughout the day, but it's gradually getting better. One step at a time. I'm very excited to be running for 20-30 minutes every day, and I'm very motivated to be smart and do this rehab the right way.

January 2, 2013

Holiday Training Camp

I was off work for 11 days over the holidays... the longest stretch of not sitting at a desk since hiking the JMT in 2010. Since I was spending 10 of those 11 days in Arizona, I intended to take full advantage of the perfect weather and get in a microcycle of really solid training - quality workouts and higher mileage. Over the first 3 weeks of December I started to phase in a variety of tempo runs (8-10 miles, both progressive and steady), along with some interval workouts (25 x 400m, 6 x Mile... the basics), and several 20+ mile long runs. The goal during those weeks was to prepare myself to be ready to handle a much more intense period over the holidays. Here is my complete December Training Log.

During the 11 day "holiday training camp" here's what I did...

Dec 22
AM - 14.5 mi. LT Reps: 3-2-1 miles. Splits - 15:03 (5:02, 5:01, 5:00), 10:06 (5:04, 5:02), 4:55
PM -  8 miles
Dec 23
AM - 18 miles w/ last 4 in 5:21, 5:18, 5:13, 5:03
PM -  5 miles
Dec 24
AM - 14 miles
PM -  5 miles
Dec 25
AM - 16 miles. 10 Mile AT Progressive Tempo in 53:06 (5:19/mi avg). Splits - 5:33, 5:26, 5:25, 5:21, 5:20, 5:19, 5:17, 5:13, 5:10, 5:02.
PM -  8 miles
Dec 26
AM - 17 miles w/ last 4 in 5:19, 5:17, 5:10, 5:04
PM -  9 miles
Dec 27
AM - 12.5 miles
PM -  11 milesw/ 20 x 200m in 33.4 seconds
Dec 28
AM - 12.5 miles
PM -  8 miles
Dec 29
AM - 15 miles. LT Reps: 10 x 3/4 Mile in 3:41.2 average (4:55/mile pace). Splits - 3:45, 3:45, 3:45, 3:38, 3:42, 3:39, 3:41, 3:41, 3:40, 3:35
PM -  7 miles
Dec 30
AM - 15 miles
PM -  8 miles
Dec 31
AM - 15 miles. 10K LT Tempo in 30:52 (4:58/mi avg). Splits - 5:00, 5:02, 5:04, 4:58, 4:55, 4:55, 0:58.
PM -  7 miles
Jan 1
AM - 20 miles
PM -  8 miles

Now, that's a lot more mileage (253 miles in 11 days) and intensity than I usually put into such a short time frame. But, I didn't have anything else going on - I was sleeping / resting a lot, running on soft surfaces as much as possible, etc. I ran by feel (as always) and my body responded well.

I didn't post this to brag about one good week of running. Frankly, no one cares about that, myself included. I'm in this for the bigger picture, and I thought this would be a good lead-in to a couple different blog posts...

How do you put the puzzle pieces together in a training plan? Most people know the elements they need to include in their training, but putting them together in a haphazard fashion will not yield fantastic results in most cases. Rarely is a really good marathon run by accident. I always have a plan... I work w/ 8-14 week blocks of time... and while the individual pieces are very much fluid, I try to piece them together in a way that makes sense. This is how my first block of training in this marathon cycle ended up...

I'll post more on this topic - how I build training plans - in a future post.

But the next thing I want to address is a question someone asked me a few days ago, after seeing what I did in the 11 days captured at the beginning of this post...

How have you trained your body to recover and bounce back so quickly from each session?

So that's the question I'll address first in my next blog post... at first I wasn't sure of my response because I don't do anything "special"... but then I started jotting some notes on my iPad while flying back to SLC, and before you knew it, I had a pretty good list of things I do to recover quickly... I just don't think of them because they've become automatic for me.

January 1, 2013

2012 Review (Jake)

Its that time of the year - the law of the internet states that if you have a blog, you have to do a "year in review" post or you get kicked off the web. My 2011 Review post came out pretty good, so good in fact that I'm regretting raising the bar so high for myself :-)

Since I have lots of numbers, I'll start w/ the running data. This year I ran 5906 miles (113 miles / week), which was ~100 miles more than last year. I didn't intend to beat that mark, and once again I'll resolve in 2013 to get that number down to 5000!

Probably the best part of that mileage number is that I can say than I ran more miles that I drove in my jeep. I don't have the exact number, but I think I put around or just under 5000 miles on the white wolf. Run commuting obviously makes a world of difference - I only drove my car to work 90 days this year.

The breakdown of that mileage is more interesting than the total itself. Of the 5900 miles, 698 miles were "quality" (marathon pace or faster): 78 miles at 5K pace or faster, 210 miles at 10K-HM pace, and 410 miles at marathon effort. That's a fair amount of quality running.

Monthly Mileage - 2011 vs 2012
Weekly Mileage for 2012
My upper body is still wimpy (perfect for my sport), but I exceeded my goals for perfect pushups and perfect pullups, knocking out 30,125 and 6,735, respectively. I got a little carried away early in the year...

I keep track of a lot of things that I find valuable, including sleep hours, resting heart rate, and weight...
I averaged just over 8 hours of sleep per night for the entire year
My average resting heart rate was 39 point. I can usually tell how well I am recovering by this metric.
And... I got a little too skinny during the summer, despite the massive ice cream consumption!

I met some, but not all, of my running goals in 2012. I was able to win my first marathon (2:22:12, Top of Utah) and PR'd in the Mile, 5K (4:12, 14:10*, Fontana / Santa Barbara), 10K (30:03, Portland), and 15K (45:53, Mountain to Fountain). I also notched my first half-marathon win (1:06:03 at TOU), and ran well at the USA Half Marathon Championships (1:06:02, 27th). I didn't really have any bad races, and I am pleased with my consistency.

There was also that other marathon I ran... you may have heard of it - Boston. I ran slow there (2:30) but finished in 23rd place on a very hot day. It was a cool experience.

Enough on running... I'll post some more reflections on the year and goals for 2013 in the coming week.

We went on some killer vacations in 2012. I've already made extensive recaps, so check some of those out:

We only skied a handful of times this winter, for a variety of reason (mainly- it didn't snow!)... but when we got out, we remembered how much we love it... its always an adventure.

Most importantly, I got to spend a lot of quality time with family and friends this year... I am insanely lucky to have such great people in my life who support me and inspire me. I'm also very fortunate to live in one of the greatest places in the world, where fun and adventure is right around every corner...

Especially this girl... even if she wears sock and sandals all the time :-)