August 31, 2014

August 25-31

I've never done a this-week-in-training post before, mostly because it would always go like this: I ran a lot. Pretty slow. Some hills. Not too instructive. But I did some things this week, so if for nothing else but posterity and, perhaps, to puff up my own ego, here we go.

Monday: Easy 2 hours. Strides. Weights.

Tuesday: Easy 3 miles. 4 mile repeats @ 6ish pace. Easy 3 miles.

Wednesday. Easy 2 hours. Strides. Weights.

Thursday: Easy 3 miles. 8 miles @ tempo "feel". Easy 2 miles.

Friday: Easy 2 hours. Strides. Weights.

Saturday: Easy 1 hour. Strides.

Sunday: Easy 1 hour. 3 mile repeats @ tempo "feel". Easy 30 minutes.

That's... a pretty big week? With quite a bit of quality, really. But looking back, it was mostly doing what sounded like fun at the time. It always was.

My leg is good. Creeping back up above outright anemia is helping too, of course. Excited to see where this goes.

August 30, 2014

UTMB, very briefly

Today is more or less the first weekend of football, and also the conclusion of UTMB. It's on such occasions of overlap that I'm glad for ultrarunning's niche status. The lack of popular media spares us such brilliant lines of inquiry as: Why can't the American (men) win the big one? Are they chokers? Are they even elite? The relative lack of fucks given is actually quite refreshing.

Rory Bosio is the story though, and ought to be. Two in a row. Amazing talent, planning, and execution.

August 27, 2014

Novel Reps

I did mile repeats yesterday, which wouldn't be noteworthy - even in the context of a personal running blog - were it not for the fact that, as best I can recall, this was the first time I'd done such a workout. That's something of an embarrassing admission, if I'm being honest. Nominally, I'm a runner. I present myself as such, and that's the lens through which many people see me. If you're reading this, you very likely know me as little else.

And yet... that's a pretty basic thing to have never done, yeah? For a runner with the occasional result I'm not ashamed by - even down to 5K - to have never really run a hard mile, much less a series of them, seems sacrilegious. And this is Lawrence, former home of Cunningham, Santee, and Ryun (though in Lawrence, the latter is much better known as a generally despised politician), each the best collegiate miler of their time.

So it feels a bit stupid to sit here and write, as a not exactly new 26 year old runner, that I ran mile repeats, and guys, it was really fun. Three easy to start, then four reps, each around six minutes, with full rest (three minutes or so) in between, then another easy three to finish. It feels a bit stupid, because it's hardly a novel thing I've done. You've done such a workout. Very soon, countless high schoolers and collegians will as well. Not to mention the hobbyists, targeting their fall marathons, 5K PRs, or whatever.

Those who might not, I'd wager, are primarily the ultra folks, a term I've never really embraced, though it's largely defined my training for these last three years. I've never embraced it, first of all, because I've always raced plenty of other stuff, and my ultra results really haven't been that frequent or that strong. (In that regard, I don't feel wholly as if I've earned it.) But, like the off color in white paint, it takes only a little to create something else entirely. So, you run high mileage - at the exclusion of anything else - and refuse to shut up about one good 50 miler, and people notice.

That said, the races which first romanced me into taking running somewhat seriously were all long, and they still capture my imagination more fully than anything else. Though as a nod to my stress fracture, I'm focusing on shorter things for the moment, I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge a temptation to do the opposite, to say fuck it, and sign up for a 100 in two weeks, probably crash and burn, but eh, it happens. (I'm pacing instead. Spring, though...) So perhaps I reject the label because it's accurate, and I'm simply being a contrarian hipster? Could be.

All of that is functionally irrelevant to the training discussion at hand though, because mile repeats, or any kind of consistent work at faster than "steady" pace (which I've always been happy to indulge in) is probably helpful. At least, willfully neglecting anything is probably explicitly unhelpful. Magness talks extensively (as Canova) of "never leaving anything behind", even as your focus changes. With that in mind, I followed up today with 10 easy, and then strides post.

Strides. Fucking strides, seriously. Another revolutionary ingredient in my training, that really should be anything but.

Tempo (or threshold, or steady state, or whatever. Hard. How about that?) tomorrow, and then we're damn close to something that might resemble an actual week of training. Hope for me yet, perhaps.

August 25, 2014

Not to Run

My Hawk Marathon status after further - albeit totally unnecessary - deliberation:

Subtitles? Okay. 

I'll probably do some other stuff, which I keep saying, and I do mean. But we'll see. Marathons are long. A hard thing to do, if you're not really feeling it, and thus a miserable thing to fake. 

I'll volunteer instead, which is cool, because I sometimes need to appear a nice enough guy.

August 23, 2014

Kettle, Coil

Deafheaven's Sunbather was the closest thing to a mainstream black metal album we've ever seen, or are likely to see. This assertion is of course contingent upon your acknowledging Sunbather as a black metal album, and not post-rock, shoegaze, "hipster metal", whatever. The urge to classify something as "real" is very strong in the music community, especially among those die-hard fans of niche genres. Compound this further when said genre is nearly always the target of derision, and you understand why black metal fans are very touchy about what they allow into their club.

It's from that maelstrom of mainstream approval and die-hard derision that Deafheaven release their new single. Though I don't claim to know their motivations, this is a much more straightforward bit of blackened death metal, complete with a *ghasp!* guitar solo.

I'm quite fond of it, but then I found Sunbather breathtaking. People who hated that will likely hate this, and from what the internet has told me so far, it seems they mostly do. The critical consensus is thus far positive. So it goes, I guess. 

I simply find it more pleasant not being a genre die-hard, I suppose, but rather more sonically polyamorous.

Now I'm left to hope the band stops in Lawrence again when promoting their next album, as I missed their last show with a stress fracture. (Yes, I could have stood in the back, and out of the fray. But that wouldn't have been any fun at all.)

August 22, 2014

Outliers and Us

Thing about which I'm thinking today: There's a general assumption in the weightlifting community that even very serious hobbyists ought not follow the training plans of the drugged up genetic elite, being that they're neither of those things. (Assuming they are neither. Steroids change everything.) It goes further even than that, stating that much of what we know about training theory is severely skewed, having been too heavily influenced by a statistically insignificant pool of outliers.

(For a couple specific examples: The classic 6 day body part split and uber protein diets really require superhuman testosterone levels to work well. Mortals need less stimulation, more frequently, and can't make use of nearly 2 g/lb protein.)

For many fairly obvious reasons, this lesson could extend to endurance training. Don't think I've heard it echoed, however. In fact, I'd suggest we go the opposite route. Rather than disregard what they do, it seems we tend to look to the elites (athletes and coaches) for guidance and ideas.

If we assume that elite athletes have a decided genetic advantage (they do) and that many are getting chemical help (probably more true than we'd like to think), are we all idiots for more or less aping their training methods?

Yes, we basically always do less volume overall, and less volume of intensity. But the basic structure isn't that different. And it isn't really uncommon to see, say, a 2:40 marathoner training more or less like a 2:15 runner, despite being worlds apart.

Would the 2:40 guy be better off running 40 miles a week, with very specific hard workouts, and little overall volume? (The scientific literature would say yes.) Or maybe it should go the other way, with tons of easy miles. (The sub elite marathon times of the 1970's would suggest this.) Maybe he's got it perfect. Maybe it depends, and is wholly individual. Maybe everything works just about equally well, and none of this really matters.

I really have no idea.

August 21, 2014

Something for Nothing

This season's winter caps are now arriving at Running Warehouse, which is a cruel thing to see when you're running in triple digit temperatures. I don't presume this is some epic "fuck you" to those of us in Kansas - although sometimes it seems as if much of existence is a "fuck you" to Kansas - but that won't stop me from interpreting it that way.

But, yeah, it was hot and I ran anyway. High 7 minute pace for 12 on a pretty hilly route felt like shit, but in that kinda good after-the-fact sorta way. I stood in the shower and leaned on the wall and felt, even as the water was at a moderate temperature, that my body temperature was plummeting. Then I ate a little fruit, drank some water, and yeah, that's it. (Eating a substantial meal after a run is supposedly important, but I've never been able to stomach it, and at this point, I've stopped caring/trying.)

Doesn't seem all that interesting, now that I've written it out. Lacks context. Mundane steps are interesting if part of a journey. If this were a training run for something, there would, I think, be additional narrative heft. But as is, it's a training run for myself, for my own edification, satisfaction, etc. I'm training for everything and nothing.

I've attempted to write out something like a fall schedule, with promises that I'd target things, really train, and try and eek a few shorter distance PRs out of this otherwise somewhat wasted year (in terms of racing). Those were probably always empty promises anyway, given that my training inevitably devolves into doing whatever I want on that day, basically just trying to run a lot, with some hills thrown in. Pretty clear at this point that, no matter what intentions I may claim, that's basically what I'll end up doing.

Enjoying you "training" isn't the worst thing, of course. You could even argue it's the best thing, for those of us in the subsusbsubsub-elite crowd. Maybe we could find a few seconds here and there. Maybe, if we nailed everything, 30 seconds off a 5K, a minute off 10K, so on. Is this worth it? It is if you want it to be, I suppose. It just depends where your priorities are.

Last year, I had two races I cared too much about. And even then, my training was basically "do a lot of hilly miles". (Probably 70-100 per week, if I had to guess. But I never track, so...) Of course, when your biggest target is a hilly 50 miler, that's probably not the worst idea. Not exactly incisive Canova specificity, but not bad.

This year, I don't have anything like that. I'm still going to race, probably, but I'm not going to pretend I have any idea what, or where. Mostly my goal is "get my shit together". Get my iron up above corpse levels, keep fucking around with my "base", get some quality gym work done, keep my leg unbroken, and see when/if inspiration strikes. Frankly, the training will probably look the same regardless.

Not the worst thing.