Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September Running Milestones

Most miles in a month: 120.7
Most miles in a week: 29.8, week ending September 20.
Longest run to date: 14.2 miles, September 19.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekly Training, September 21-27

Sunday: Recovery run; Nice and easy; 3.2 miles; 37:49; 11.81 pace. 7:45 AM, 76 degrees, 96% humidity. Resting HR: 49 bpm; Workout HR: 143 bpm.

Saturday: 14.2 miles. Started @6:45 AM, 71 degrees, 98% humidity. No new record attempt today, just aiming to hold last week's gains by doing last Saturday's new distance a second time. For a little change up, I experimented with Jeff Galloway's Run-Walk approach to long run training. For this experiment, I walked 1 to 2 minutes for every 8 to 10 minutes of running. The idea is that the walk breaks push the fatigue factor further back, allowing for a stronger finish. Today, this approach resulted in a longer total time than last Saturday's 14 miler; 2:49:22, 11.93 pace. However, it seemed like each level of fatigue came about two miles later than the previous run. Last week, I struggled to complete the distance, and this week I felt like I could have gone a couple additional miles. I also think I could reduce the walk times and get the same benefit. Galloway says that the early-mile breaks are more important than later-mile breaks.
Here's a link to an article by Jeff Galloway.

Monday through Friday: Alternating Easy runs and Tempo Runs. As I've read more, I decided to try substituting Tempo Runs for the sprint intervals. The sprint pace came with enough extra shock to aggravate my heel pain. Like most runners, I'll experiment with a lot of methods and settle on what works best for me. Unfortunately, I've mostly learned "what not to do" the hard way; by trying things and quitting whatever hurts. Anyway, the Tempo seems like a good middle ground, harder than long-run and easy-run pace, but not not nearly as intense as all-out sprints. In theory, Tempo sounds good for long-distance training. Seems like there is a lot of confusion out there about what a Tempo Run is. I had to search a little bit to find articles that defined it well.  It's just a run of at least 20 minutes at threshold pace.  The idea is to train just below Lactate Threshold (or Anaerobic Threshold), or at 85 - 90% of max heart rate, which results in pushing the LT/AT farther back.  The training should boost speed, and also help delay onset of "the wall" on longer runs. Pace is easy to determine by using a heart rate monitor.  To determine pace based on time, The McMillan Running Calculator  is a good tool.  The calculator estimates running time for various race distances based on a good, recent race time at another distance.  It also gives pace ranges for different types of workout runs, including Tempo Runs.
Here's a link to a good article on Tempo Runs. 
Here's a link to another Tempo Run article.

Monday: Tempo Run; 3.1 miles; 28:16; 9.12 pace.
Tuesday: Easy Run; 3.1 miles; 30:44; 9.91 pace.
Wednesday: Tempo Run; 3.1 miles; 28:12; 9.10 pace.
Thursday: Easy Run; 3.1 miles; 31:08; 10.03 pace.
Friday: Rest Day.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Bottled Water Scam

The sale of bottled water is a case of brilliant marketing—to convince the public to buy filtered bottled water—at a price per gallon that is higher than gasoline! The cost is great to the environment and to the consumer. 

Most plastic bottles do not get recycled.  Even if the bottles are recycled, they are the product of an energy consuming supply chain.  Bottling plants consume a lot of energy.  In addition, consider the diesel fuel consumed, and the resulting air pollution, from transporting thousands of truckloads of bottled water all over the country every day.

And the cost to the consumer—if a 16 oz. bottle of water costs $1, that’s $8 a gallon, twice as much as gasoline at its summer 2008 peak! What a scam!  It is ironic that we pay this price for water in a nation that has the cleanest and most widely available public water systems in the world.

A few statistics:

  • 70 million bottles of water are consumed in the U.S. each day.
  • Americans threw more than 22 billion water bottles in the trash in 2006.
  • Eight out of 10 plastic water bottles become landfill waste.
  • Plastic bottles take 700 years before they begin to decompose in a landfill.
  • It takes over 1.5 million barrels of oil to manufacture a year’s supply of bottled water. Apply the principle of supply and demand and consider the effect of the demand for a needless 1.5 million barrels of oil on the price of our gasoline! 
Most bottled water is just filtered municipal tap water.  We can save hundreds of dollars per year (and help the environment) by buying any one of several types of filtering pitchers or systems, filtering our own tap water, and filling our own reusable water bottles. The result is water that is just as clean and good-tasting as commercially filtered water.

As a runner, in addition to water, I use sports drinks for electrolyte replacement and for energy.  I've found that a good substitute for a bottled sports drink is a powdered sports drink and a reuseable aluminum bottle.  For a 32 ounce sports drink, consider how much fuel it takes to ship a few grams of powder, versus the fuel it takes to ship the same ingredients added to 2 pounds of water!  Sugar-free powdered electrolyte mixes come in a lot of flavors, and come in very small packets that fit easily in a pocket.   I like these when I just need hydration.  When my bottle is empty, I refill at a water fountain, and add the powder.  For long endurance runs, I may want a carb boost in addition to the electrolytes, so I carry the sugar-sweetened Gatorade mix in pre-measured portions in small containers.  I find that small prescription bottles make good containers for powder.

Run Green!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 20, 2009 - Recovery Run

Recently, I’ve been taking Sunday off after my Saturday long run. However, today I decided to try following the long run with a “recovery run.” I didn’t think about starting this technique until recently; I just started really pushing the long run distance last month. When I first started increasing distance, I followed the long run with a normal medium distance hard run on the next day. That turned out to be a mistake. Then, for several weeks, I took the day following the long run off completely. That worked out better. However, recently I’ve been reading more about the benefits of the recovery run. Here's a link to a good recovery run article. 
To summarize, this article discusses the widely-held assumption that recovery runs, relatively short, slow runs within 24 hours after a harder run, clear lactic acid from the legs and facilitate recovery from preceding hard training. In this article the author maintains that lactic acid levels return to normal within an hour after a workout; that recovery runs do not actually enhance recovery. He sees the real benefit of recovery runs coming from working out again in a state of lingering fatigue from the previous training. Long runs boost fitness by taking the body well beyond the point of initial fatigue; recovery runs are performed entirely in a fatigued state, so they boost fitness despite being shorter and/or slower than key workouts.

So, I took a 3.2 miler, very slow and easy, 44:37, had to consciously hold back to keep it really comfortable and stayed under 125 bpm. It felt good- a light workout while still a little achy warmed everything up and seemed to help the aches, without being hard enough to cause any additional fatigue or foot pain.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

September 19, 2009 - New Distance Milestone!

Today’s goal-- stretch the long run a little farther, to 14.2 miles: 1 mile between the house and the trail in the park, out-and-back, plus 6 laps in the park, 2.2 miles each.
Laps 1 and 2: Nice, comfortable running, in the groove, feeling good, endorphins flowing like water. The sun is just now rising, and it’s a beautiful morning in the park. It’s 72 degrees, and feels soooo much better than the 78 to 82 degree morning lows that we’ve had since June.
Lap 3: Concentrating on mechanics. Smooth stride, staying relaxed. Feeling like I can go like this all day. I’m a running machine. I own the trail. The trail is mine.
Lap 4: A little fatigue was setting in around the end of mile 7; a little second wind building in mile 8.
Lap 5: Struggling a little more going into mile 10; my HRM is reading 160 bpm. I don’t need to push too long beyond 95% of max HR. I had thoughts about cutting this one off after 5 laps, and slowed down to a walk. After about 2 minutes, HR was down to 128, and I continued the run at a little slower pace.
Lap 6: The slower pace feels OK, 145 - 150 bpm, and what's one more lap at this point? Just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, and this approach gets me home, 14.2 miles, 2:39:05, 11.2 min/mi. Another new distance PR. My feet were a little sore, and I soaked them in a bucket of ice water...OH YEAH. Afterwards, after soaking, stretching and showering, I felt pretty good.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Weekday Workouts, September 14-18

3.1 mile runs Monday through Thursday morning, plus an extra 3.2 miles on the bicycle Tuesday afternoon, to double-check my weekend lap distance with the GPS. No run on Friday morning, just a light cross-training day (6.2 miles, bicycle) to be fresh for the Saturday long run.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Weekly Training, September 7-13

Sunday - Day off; Rest and recovery.

Saturday - I backed off to 11.5 miles; my left heel still a little sore after this week's sprints, no need to push another distance record yet. I tried a little different variation and skipped the carb loading for the long run. I'd been loading up to provide extra energy for the increasingly longer runs, to prevent running out of gas before making the distance I wanted. However, I read about a training program that recommended skipping the carb load on some of the long runs. The theory is that by intentionally letting the glycogen reserves become depleted, it trains the body to switch over to drawing on stored fats for energy when needed. And then by loading carbs after the run, in a more depleted state, the muscles would adapt to store more glycogen than before. Just have to be prepared to "hit the wall" and push through it during the transition. Sure enough, heavy fatigue set in after about an hour and a half, and the rest of the way was a struggle, taking 7 more minutes than the same distance two weeks before. I don't think I'll continue to carb-deprive myself. Maybe something to try later, after I've worked up to marathon distance.

Friday - I planned to take a rest day Friday before my Saturday long run. However, after skipping Thursday, I ran another 5K Friday instead (feet still a little sore, resulting in a slow run - 30:41).

Thursday - Unplanned rest day due to early morning thuderstorm.

Wednesday - 8 x 400 meter sprints, resulting in sore feet. I'm going to back off of the fast runs; they give a harder pounding to the feet. The most important thing at this point is continuing the long runs.

Tuesday - Nice 5K, felt good, decent time, 27:47, 8.96 pace.

Monday, September 7, Labor Day - I felt good after resting Sunday, and tried a new trail, the Goose Creek Stream Greenbelt Hike and Bike Trail. It starts out by the Bayland Park marina near where Goose Creek meets Tabbs Bay, off of Galveston Bay. The trail follows Goose Creek upstream and links two other Baytown city parks, turning around, and returning along the same route. It's a 2.44 mile trail, out-and-back, for a 4.88 mile total. The trail also has a couple of nice uphill stretches that I don't get on my routine routes. I didn't feel like I was pushing the pace, but made it in 42:28.29; 8.7 minutes/mile, only 0.07 off my best 5K pace.
Here's a link to trail details.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weekly Training, September 1-5: Half-Way There!

Saturday - 13.7 miles, 2:32:16, 11.11 pace. Another new distance record! I had to push a little on the last lap, but not as difficult as I expected. A little sore in the legs afterward, but only a little heel pain. I bought some cushioned arch/heel support inserts for my shoes last week, and they helped a lot. I also iced my feet after the run, and that helped too. Last week's formula worked well, so I'll take my recovery day Sunday. My intermediate goal on the way to the marathon was to run a half-marathon race. Now that I've run the half-marathon distance fairly comfortably on a training run, I may not set a race as a priority, and just train for the marathon. The Houston Marathon has been filled up for months, but I recently learned that Beaumont, Texas will have its first ever marathon race May 1, 2010. I'm sure I can be ready by then.

Tuesday through Friday - Easy 3.1-mile daily runs. Better pace than last week; times in the 27s and 28s. Threw in one 8 x 400 meter wind sprint interval routine on Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Green Running

Earlier this year, I came across an interesting collection of articles on "Green Running" at Runners World.  Here's a link to the articles. I really liked the article titled "How to Be a Greener Runner," "30 things even a busy, sane person (i.e., you) can do."  Here, the environmentally-conscious runner will find "Good," "Better," and "Best" suggestions in a number of categories.  I think that the important thing to recognize is that it may not be possible for every runner to use all of  the suggestions.  However, the power of collective action is for concerned individuals to be aware and to each just do what they can; the cumulative effect makes a big difference.  Here's what I'm doing:
  • I start most of my runs from my home. Of course, this may not work for runners living in busy urban areas.  I'm fortunate to have a park within running distance and fairly quiet neighborhood roads to run.  Of course, we all need a change of scenery occasionally.
  • I haven't run a lot of races, but when I race, I'll target local races as much as possible. Of course, if you don't live near Boston, and your life's ambition is to run the Boston Marathon, why not go for it?  We all have to make choices every day and make trade-offs based on what's important to us. 
  • I buy powdered sports drinks and mix them myself. I use a reuseable bottle for sports drinks or water.
  • I pick up litter along roadways and park trails where I run, and recycle the plastic, aluminum and glass. 
  • For cross-training, I bicycle from my home, use a stationary bike at home in bad weather, and work out with dumbells at home (instead of driving to a gym).
Run Green!


I set up the Blogger account in September, 2009.  Selected pre-September postings have been migrated in from previous blog platform.