27 March 2012

I'm a n00b, all over again. I like it....

I have decided to take a whole new look at many things in my life; a major part of which is running, training, and racing.

I am a Hudsonite through and through. His book was the first training book that I read that I could relate to from the very first chapters (see below). I think that he has something for every runner ranging from the veteran who is pushing for a lifetime PR at 10k, or the aspiring marathon runner. Personally I use Hudson-style training and Daniels VDot-based paces and I can very rarely complain about my training – however the application of that training is a lot different.

I spent most of last year running, training, and racing simply to be social, which was a blessing and a curse. I had a great time last year helping many of my friends reach new peaks, but, I finished the year tired and failed at my goal race. All-in-all, I won't complain because I now have a group of friends that are as close to me as family. My LRS has been there and has grown me as a runner. In the end, that is significantly more important than a PR.

But, PR's I do have. Hell, I've set PRs at all of the major distances over the last two weeks and an expected PR coming in a few more days. Right now I feel that I can run a number of distance races up to the Half Marathon and PR. While I may have not produced really awesome races, I certainly trained well.

That brings us to the point of this post. Brad Hudson’s book Run Faster from the 5k to the Marathon: How to Be Your Own Best Coach (no I am not reviewing this for money or anything of the sort). If you are a stickler for plans, he’s got them. He provides three plans for each of the major distance. If you like to “wing it”; he teaches you how to “wing it” with purpose. He doesn’t get a lot of attention around here I’m not sure why. He is usually one of the first coaches that I recommend to people, and I’ve noticed that he is gaining more mentions now, than three years ago. I wonder how many people that ask about training have ever heard of Hudson? How many of the “wing it” crew have cracked his book? He’s not super-technical, and actually writes his book to us: the recreational runner.

He has two rules of running and four principles:
-Understand how the human body adapts to different types of training, and train accordingly.
-Learn how your individual body adapts to various types of training, and train accordingly.

The goal of training is to stimulate the precise set of physiological adaptations that are needed to achieve maximum performance in a peak race.
Training programs must be adapted to the individual strengths, weaknesses, needs, and goals of each runner.
Individualized training schedules must be adapted daily, based on the runner’s response to recent training and any other factors that may affect the runner’s readiness for planned training.
The runner must adapt his or her training from season to season, year to year, in response to the effects of the most recently completed training cycle, to stimulate further positive adaptations.

Every elite running coach has a training philosophy. Mine is called adaptive running. It is based on my belief that a responsive, evolving, creative approach to training is better than an approach that is too structured and formulaic. Simply put, there is no single training formula that works perfectly for every runner. Nor is it possible to predict exactly how a runner will respond to any particular training formula. What’s more, even when a certain formula works well for a runner, he or she changes as a result of using it, so the formula must also change to produce further improvement. For these reasons, a rigid, one-size-fits-all training program will never allow you to realize your full potential as a runner. It may get you started, but it will only take you so far. Adaptive running becomes the natural way to train when you recognize that training must be customized to you individually and adapted every day based on your response to recent training.

imagine another spectrum that ranges from strict adherence to planned training at one end to total spontaneity at the other end. The typical competitive runner trains in fairly strict adherence to the plan, and with fairly little spontaneity. If the training plan calls for 12 quarter-mile repeats in 80 seconds apiece on Thursday, then by God, he’s going to run 12 quarter-mile repeats in 80 seconds apiece on Thursday, even if he feels awful from the very first step of the workout. My approach to training encourages far more spontaneity—not arbitrary changes to the plan, but informed changes based on how the runner has responded to recent training. Naturally, there isn’t a runner on earth who is completely unwilling to deviate from planned workouts. I don’t advocate a make-it-up-as-you-go approach, but I do put far more emphasis on reaction and less emphasis on planning than the typical competitive runner does.

Fitzgerald, Matt; Hudson, Brad (2008-07-29). Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon: How to Be Your Own Best Coach (Kindle Locations 196-203). Broadway. Kindle Edition.

20 March 2012

RR - My HM PR warmup to my PR 5k (and hardware of sorts). Rich's racing weekend, with pics:

Training: Neither of these two races were goal races for the spring, however, each served a specific purpose. The HM was to put in a hard effort and to show how I could do at the end of high mileage week. Also, I wanted some added stress/intensity before the 5k. The 5k was my benchmark. I spent a lot of last year doing races for fun, and not many for time/place. I had an awesome time running high 20 5k’s, but that doesn’t help me become a better racer.

This week is a lifetime mileage high for me at 62.09 miles. That I completed these two races, with the results that I got, gives me a lot of hope for what is to come this season. Skip to the bottom for Cliff Notes.

My check on training: Rock ‘n’ Roll USA, Washington, DC; 18 March 2012
My goal here was to better a very stale and soft PR. I didn’t have a specific time goal, but I wanted to run a good, hard effort. I wasn’t expecting ‘sprawled on the ground’ hard, ‘hands on the knees’ hard would suffice. I train in the area that the race was staged; but I still forgot about the hills.  In training I like to run hard on the up hills and while that is fine in training, it is not so good in racing. 

<5k - 25:15 (8:08). In these first three miles, I was still pretty indecisive. I told myself that it was ok to run splits between 7:50-8:10; don’t ask me where those numbers came from, because I have no idea. (Sidetrack: this is the race where bingo_jenn and I first started hanging out last year). In mile 1, I ran pretty slow, but I thought a lot about how my life has changed since this race last year,; I’ve had a really rough few recent months. Besides gaining Jenn as a friend, I gained an entire community. My LRS and my running buddies have become a second family; I would do anything for them and this mile helped me remember how important they are to me… It is a good thing that I ran slow, because a lot went through my mind! During mile 2 as I was passing through downtown DC, I started to think that this is where I learned about Diva Cups; and well, that is all… Mile 3, ahh, well: please don’t hate me for this. I decided that I really don’t like TnT. There was one of the TnT coaches in the hairpin turn here; he wasn’t doing anything wrong, but for some reason it disturbed me. He was in running gear and had a bib (I’ve seen this with them before and it always irritates me). What makes them special from every other charity and training group? Grrrr… Anyway, I really enjoyed this first 5k. I realized that we live in one of the most awesome cities in the entire world. I may or may not have had a moment in this segment where I got a little emotional; which is very unlike me, if it happened

<10k – 51:25 (8:16) There really isn’t much to write here. The course got hilly and I got confused. I knew, I swear that I knew, that this was a race and not training. My theory is this, “run the hills fast in training, so that you can race the hills strong and smart in races.” Ugh, I ran these hills fast (and stupid), or tried to. It didn’t work. Toward the end of this section I changed my mind to run on effort, not pace. This is a pretty hilly course and common effort does not equal common pace. Oh and just in case you are wondering, most people slowed down in this section; but no one that I saw slowed down as much as I did. I am not very bright sometime. I did realize that I was way off where I needed to be; but no, I did not start to run a smart race all of a sudden. (Oddly enough, this was actually a PR 10k for me).
<10M – 1:23:38 (8:22) Meh. Part of it here was the hills, most of it was me losing sight of why I was racing. I think that I was holding back a little based on needing to race the next day. Really all that matters is that I lost a lot of time. At mile 10, I thought, “kick it in.” My answer was “nah, I’m good.” Luckily I looked down at my watch, did some quick math and realized that I was off sub 1:50 pace. Oops, time to Cowboy Up and rectify that.

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“I went to support a friend at a run, and a foot race broke out”: Paulette’s Steps for Cancer 5k
After the race on Saturday, Jenn and I left DC and headed up to NJ to support Paulette (kayano) and Nic (runnernic); there may or may not have been a 5 guys stop in there somewhere... We arrived on site in the morning and I kept hugging Nic and Paulette. It felt so good to see them. I was also really lucky to meet Amy, and her nice family. Bill (shulaw – Mr. Karma), Jenn, Amy, and I stood around drinking coffee, taking pictures and talking. (Side note: I really love how easy it is to meet other BF’ers and hit it off instantly; I have honestly never met someone from here that I did not genuinely like).

I headed out to do a quick mile w/u. I wanted to hit some strides in the low 7’s but I didn’t feel it in my legs. I had a high mileage week and I was ultra-aware of a little bit of tightness in my left calf, so I didn’t want to aggravate it with pick-ups. I came back just in time to here the ceremony start. There were a few short speeches, followed by Paulette’s talk. The morning had been overcast and chilly when Paulette began talking about her mom (whom she lost in September of last year). When she mentioned her looking down on her, the clouds cleared and the sun started shining. It was almost as if she orchestrated it; really it was amazing. Whether you are religious or not, sometimes things just give you the chills. This was one of those time.
I started taking of my layers as Paulette finished and we all migrated over to the start. I didn’t really know what goals I had, I just wanted to run a good race. Like the HM, I thought that a PR was almost automatic, but by how much? (Side note: Jenn did something pretty interesting last year, she skipped a minute in her PR. She went from 27, down to 25 in one race and I had a thought of doing the same.) I learned from yesterday’s race and I did not want to tie myself into a pace, but I had an idea of a pace not to go above. I stood a few rows back from the start as we waited to be sent off. Nic, Mike (Nic’s dad), Bill, Amy, and Jenn were all in the same group waiting at the start as we joked about what I would run and if I could win the race; I smiled a little inside because I had thoughts of finishing top 10. We went off and I had to dodge a little more than I wanted in the first 50-100 meters (damnit, lesson learned, line up apporiately). I got about .5 miles in and settled down, I looked down and noticed that I was running mid 6 minute pace. I thought to myself that there is no reason that I should be doing that (yet), so I dialed it back slowly over the rest of the first mile. The course had a few rolling hills and I instantly regretted not previewing it first. I mean, I truly believe that ignorance is bliss, however, in a 5k this is not the case. I finished the first mile in a top 10 placing, with the lead vehicle still in sight. 7:04.54.

Mile two started on a decline through a very beautiful neighborhood and as we went down, I thought “in running: what goes down, must come up.” In this mile I was passed by two other runners (A & B), I wondered to myself if they would stay there or if I could pass them again. I decided to hold off and keep them in sight. As we turned a couple corners and began to ascend the next hill, I passed one of the guys. At the end of this hill I was able to pass another (woman) runner that had been in front of me. She was so nice that I almost felt bad passing her. She yelled out “way to go runner,” I smiled and yelled back “looking good, good job”! Right after this, A passed me on a short straight and as we began to run by the 5k runners that were just going past mile one (the course was a sorta lollipop), someone yelled out “fifth, sixth, and seventh male.” I took a mental note that I was sixth and that seventh was close behind. (Side note: it never even occurred to me to see how close fourth was, but that is another lesson learned.) 7:20.0.

As we entered the third mile, I passed runner A and was leading our group of four (three men and one woman). Close to mile 2.5, B passed me and held me off for about 5 seconds. There was a trumpet player at the corner here playing a song that I equated to “charge,” so, I charged! Like that, I got back in front. I didn’t realize it at the time, but another women joined the fray around this time, and one dropped off. Toward the end of mile 3, A surged forward and he looked like he was going to take a commanding lead, but I rallied and got back in front. I felt like I was in HS and sprinting home at the end of the 4x100m relay. I had excellent knee lift, my arms were swinging purposefully and I continued to sprint to the finish (I’m sure that to the spectators I looked like a suffocating fish). 7:00

I went into the chute and the timing lady attempted to grabbed my bib to get my place in the standings. She tried to stop me, but I almost bowled her over. The guy behind me, A, slowed down in time for me to skip out of the way and avoid a collision. I had to go back and give the lady the bib tag that she asked for; I think that the placing and timing got mixed up here, but I’m not sure. I walked out of the chute and shook hands with runner A and runner B and the two mystery women (who were 4th and 5th place for females). As I got a water and took off my singlet I saw Runner A was sprawled across the grass and it made me smile, because I knew that we both pushed each other.

I jogged back on the course for a c/d mile. I cheered on the walkers and runners as I passed and it really warmed my heart to see so many people living this healthy lifestyle.
 Post race with the RW BF Crew (Shulaw, RunnerNic, me, Kayano, Bingo_Jenn)
Before the race (Amy, Jenn, me, Bill)

At the finish. My pain courtesy of Maureen (Mrs. Shulaw). This singlet was a gift from the mammals, when I was stationed in Afghanistan.
Post race, it was warm.......
A very special thanks to Paulette who put on a great race. The hospitality was nothing short of amazing and the people were all super friendly. This race is a permanent fixture on my calendar and I’d suggest you do the same. I traveled over 180 miles for a 5k, and I will continue to do so, as long as I am able to.

Cliffs notes:
Weekly Mileage: 62.09. Mon-6.52, Tues-11.21 (2runs), Wed-7.6, Thurs-15.20 (2 runs), Fri-3.1, Sat/Sun-18.47 (2 races and w/u, c/d).
RnR USA(8:17): O/A 1896-16291, AG 285-1147, Gender 1242-5584
Paulette’s Steps(7:05): O/A 7th, Gender 4th (I won a comfy and really nice sweater for being top 5).

Top 5 Men (number 3 left early). Pacer's on the Podium!