Sunday, February 28, 2010

Marathon Training Program: Week 9

Week 9 of the 18 week schedule represents the half-way point in this training program.

This week was a third step-back/recovery week, following two more weeks of increasing mileage. The biggest difference from the previous week's schedule was a reduction of Sunday's long run from 17 miles to 12 miles.  I changed the distance on several of the runs slightly from the scheduled miles, the weekly total worked out the same.  I ran two extra miles Tuesday, three less  Wednesday, and one extra Sunday.

On Sunday, I ran the marathon route for my May 1 race, The Gusher Marathon, following the 13.1 mile half marathon course.  On race day, half marathoners will run the course once and full marathoners will run it twice.  I'll probably run the course again, when a similar distance next falls on my training schedule.  On race day, it shoud be an advantage to already have a feel for the course.

The next two weeks will be challenging: a 45 mile week and a 50 mile week.  Long runs increase to 19 and 20 miles!

9 weeks down, 9 weeks to go!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Training TIp Thursday

"Stretching is important for marathoners, who risk losing flexibility because of their high-mileage training. Include some stretching in your daily running routine. The best time to stretch is not before you run. Pre-workout muscles may be tight; the risk of injury is increased. Instead, stretch during--or after--your run, when muscles are warmest. If you own a hot tub, do some stretching while you're soaking."

Note that this tip begins with a link to recommended stretches!

From Hal Higdon's Marathon Training Guide, Intermediate 2 Program, Week 9.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Green Choices Wednesday

                         This..............or This?

At one time, the question "paper or plastic?" was commonly asked in stores.  Currently, paper bags are used much less, and plastic bags are most commonly used.  "Paper or plastic" isn't a good question anyway; they are both poor choices, because they both generate waste after a single use, and both consume resources and energy.

The relevant choice is "plastic/paper or reuseable?"

Plastic bags are everywhere!  They create ugly trash along our roads, in our waterways, hanging in trees and bushes, and caught in fences!

Plastic bags also exist in abundance in less visible places.  Hundreds of billions are used every year.  Most of them are not recycled, so they go into landfills.  They take hundreds of years to completely decompose, and as they decompose, they release toxins into the soil and groundwater. 

Plastics pollution is an ever-growing menace to sea life and birds.  Millions of marine animals and other wildlife die from strangulation or choking after becoming entangled in bags, or ingesting them.  My thanks to Zach W.  for referring me to this link to NOAA's Marine Debris website, a good source of information on plastic and other types of marine debris.

In the photo above, the plastic bag on the left is made made from oil, a precious and dwindling resource, in a process that creates pollutants.  The distribution and disposal processes waste even more resouces and energy.  It's one more example of a disposable product that converts resources into garbage after a single use!  The bag on the right is used over and over, and is made of recycled polyolefin, so it creates another outlet for recycled materials.  Cloth bags come in many varieties and are also good choices.

Some Earth-friendly activities require some sacrifice.  Not so, in this case.  Carrying reusable bags when shopping is one of the easiest ways to make a big difference.  We keep bags in our vehicles so that we have them wherever we shop.
Please consider replacing disposable products with reusable ones!
Think Green and live Green!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Running is the classical road to self-consciousness, self-awareness and self-reliance. Independence is the outstanding characteristic of the runner. He learns the harsh reality of his physical and mental limitations when he runs. He learns that personal commitment, sacrifice and determination are his only means to betterment. Runners only get promoted through self-conquest." 

-Noel Carroll, Irish track trailblazer

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Marathon Training Program: Week 8

After a significant increase in intensity in Week 7, Week 8 represented very little change.  The midweek 4-8-4 and Saturday 8 were identical to Week 7, except that the Saturday 8-miler was at a pace of runner's choosing, instead of at marathon pace.  The only mileage difference was the Sunday long run  increasing from 16 to 17 miles. 

This week's 17-miler was not nearly as difficult as last week's 16-miler.  While miles in the mid- to upper-teens are never easy, I felt pretty strong up to 17.  Last week's run felt like a struggle for survival from 13 to 16 miles.

Week 8 total: 41.1 miles, a tie with the week of 22 November, 2009 for my highest mileage week ever.

Next week will be the third step-back/recovery week, after which mileage increases again.

8 weeks down, 10 to go!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Training TIp Thursday

"To improve your ability to concentrate, visualize your race during workouts, particularly during marathon pace runs. "Put yourself into an emotional marathon mode," says Bob Williams, a coach from Portland. Oregon. "Picture different parts of the course." One workout, practice cruising miles 8-12; the next, rehearse miles 12-14. If you're running a hometown marathon, run specific portions of the course during practice for familiarization. If it's an out-of-town course, and you've run it before, replay the memory. Running Boston: Is there a hill similar to Heartbreak Hill near where you live? "Training on terrain similar to that on which you plan to race is essential," emphasizes Williams."

This is an interesting tip.  The published course for my May 1 marathon runs the 13.1-mile half-marathon course twice.  My training schedule calls for a 12-miler week-after-next.  I may consider adding an extra mile and run the half-marathon course to get the feel of it!

From Hal Higdon's Marathon Training Guide, Intermediate 2 Program, Week 8.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Green Choices Wednesday - A Pledge To Reduce Botted Water Waste!

Reduce bottled water waste! 
Do a world of good!

Together, filtered water and a reuseable bottle are an ideal solution for going green at home and on the go.

I know I've ranted about bottled water in earlier blogs (see The Bottled Water Scam, September 27, 2009).  However, I recently came across this pledge campaign, so I'm on the soapbox again!  Follow this link to if you'd like to consider taking the pledge, and to find interesting information about bottled water waste .  Or just consider privately take a pledge on your own to stop supporting bottled water waste.

This campaign is sponsored by the producers of  Brita filters and Nalgene bottles, so a case may be made that the campaign may not be totally altruistic.  Obviously, these companies will make more profit if home-filtering replaces purchased bottled water.  However, these are good products, compared to the alternative, which is buying bottled water that is filtered in a filtering plant and shipped hundreds or thousands of miles, wasting fuel and resources, adding greenhouse gases, and filling up landfills.  I'd much rather support a sustainable industry with my spending than a non-sustainable one!

I'm not here to make a product endorsement.  I've used the Brita filter pitchers for years; I've also used the Pur filter that attaches to a kitchen faucet.  There are many other good filtering systems.  I use refillable stainless steel and aluminum bottles instead of Nalgene.  I don't care what you use; just please consider using SOMETHING reuseable instead of the disposable bottles!

Think Green and live Green!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two Good Reasons to Train Smart

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  The graphic above is one of the charts from my 2009  Running Log.  The log is actually an Excel workbook into which I enter every available daily running stat-- miles, time, heart rate, temperature, humidity, which pair of shoes I wore, etc... you get the idea.  Yes, I'm a stats junkie.  The daily stats feed formulas for daily calculations of pace and mph, weekly and monthly totals and averages, and charts!

The point of posting this chart is to illustrate two reasons to train smart.  I'll call the first reason March, and the second reason December.  The distinguishing feature of each month was a forced reduction in mileage.  Both were results of poor training decisions.

March, 2009:  I had been running fairly seriously for about a year, and had become very comfortable with distances up to about 5 miles.  I was running 7 days/week, 1.5 to 2 miles on weekdays, and 5 miles on weekend days.  In late February, I felt like I'd kind of reached a plateau, and decided it was time to step things up a bit.  So, I doubled  my weekday miles. Two weeks later, after a severe flare-up of plantar fasciitis, I was unable to run at all.  I decided to walk 2 miles daily while my foot recovered, but on the first morning, I was limping before I walked 100 feet down the road.  So, I stayed off of my feet almost completely for two weeks, limping around the house and at work.  As it improved, I cautiously started running again.  Looking back at the stats later, I realized that I had disregarded the "10% Rule," increasing weekly mileage by 44% at one time!  Bad move!

December, 2009:  The week before Thanksgiving, I was proud that I had just run my first 40-mile week. I'd been following the 10% Rule, and everything was going well.  I ran a 10K "Turkey Trot" race on Thanksgiving morning.  Having taken several rest days before my race, I was low on miles for the week.  I ran hard on Thanksgiving, and ran a pretty good 10K race.  I stubbornly wanted to log another 40-mile week, so I followed the Thursday 6.2-miler with 8 miles Friday, 10 miles Saturday, and 12 miles Sunday.  By Monday morning, my right knee was hurting.  I ran short and easy, and the pain didn't go away.  This case of Runner's Knee resulted in a week of no running, followed by 7 weeks of very cautious, lower mileage running.  I'm sure my mistake was running 4 days of progressively increasing distance, the last 3 after running hard in a race.  Good training programs alternate distance and intensity, giving ample recovery between hard runs. 

Lesson learned:  small lapses from smart training principles can really be costly.  Greed for a few extra miles can result in downtime and the loss of many miles. 

Train smart!  Don't learn the hard way, like I always do!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Quote of the Week

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

Native American Proverb

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Marathon Training Program: Week 7

Week 7 raised the intensity a lot, following the Week 6 step-back week.  The pattern continued with short-medium-short on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, then medium and long back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday.  The most notable changes were the medium runs increasing to 8 miles on Wednesday and Saturday, and Sunday's long run increased to 16 miles.  Sunday's 16-miler was extremely difficult.  I've run this distance more comfortably in the past, but I'm sure the difference was having the 8 and 16 back-to-back.  In the past, when I ran this distance, I ran it following a rest day.  Hal's consecutive medium and long runs add an entirely new dimension of endurance.

These two weekend runs yielded 24 miles, almost marathon distance within a 24 hour time period.  Surviving these runs gave me greater confidence about handling the 26.2 miles on race day!  Week 7 total: 40 miles.

Next week increases again, after which I'll get a third step-back/recovery week. 

7 weeks down, 11 to go!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Training Tip Thursday

"Marathoners need to learn the value of strength. If you plan to win the marathon, running is not enough. Most top runners head to the gym two or three times a week to pump iron. That's good advice for anybody. Machines and barbells work for the elite, but you can stay in shape with push-ups and sit-ups in your own front room. Then you can flex your muscles while crossing the finish line on marathon day."

From Hal Higdon's Marathon Training Guide, Intermediate 2 Program, Week 7.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Green Choices Wednesday


                      This..............or This?

Here's another paper vs cloth choice.

Paper napkins are technically a "renewable resource."  However, the production and the distribution chains for paper products expend irreplaceable fossil fuel and create greenhouse gases and other pollutants.  It is true that paper products are biodegradable, so they don't stay in the landfill forever.  My point is that disposable products still turn resources into garbage after a single use, wasting fuel and generating pollution in the process.

Production of cloth napkins also consumes resources, but cloth napkins are used over and over, and may be recyled into rags when worn.  They are commonly available in cotton or linen, and the DIY'er will find "Sew your own cloth napkins" directions widely available on the web.

My family is continuing to look for ways to eliminate "disposable" items from our lives. We've recently started using cloth napkins at our meals instead of paper napkins. 

Consider ways to eliminate "disposable" products from your life!

Think Green and live Green!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own, sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction."

William James, philosopher

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Marathon Training Program: Week 6

Week six was a week of comparitive rest, the second step-back week in the training schedule.  Every third week provides a little recovery to prepare for two more weeks of increasing mileage.  I continued to use a hybrid of Higdon's Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2 programs, running #1 on weekdays, and #2 on the weekend.  This week reduced the long run distance from 13 miles to 10 miles, and dropped the weekly total by a little more than 3 miles.  This week's total: 29.2 miles.

Next week will be quite a bit tougher.  The mid-week medium run increases from 6 to 7 miles.  If I continue with the hybrid program, Sunday's long run goes to 16 miles.  The total for the week should be around 39 miles.

Six weeks down, twelve to go! 

Friday, February 5, 2010

February Challenge - Food Waste Reduction

Here's an interesting challenge for February-- Food Waste Reduction!

This challenge is posted on the Crunchy Chicken blog, one of my favorite environmental blogs. 

The biggest value of challenges like this is to spur the additional thought process, the additional level of awareness and focus that often leads us to personal discovery.  For information on the challenge, and on the food waste issue, just follow this link, or click on the graphic on my sidebar.

For further information on the issue of food waste,  see Jonathan Bloom's Wasted Food blog.  It is an excellent resource.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Training Tip Thursday

"Tip(s) of the Week: Shoe care is important for success in the marathon, not only your racing shoes, but your training shoes. Here are some quick maintenance tips: 1) Always untie your shoes before removing them. 2) Never wash shoes in a washer, or dry them in a dryer. 3) Don't store them in a cold garage, or leave them in a hot car. 4) Don't use them for other sports. 5) Always wear clean and dry socks while running. 6) Have more than one pair of shoes, so you can alternate, allowing shoes to dry between workouts."

From Hal Higdon's Marathon Training Guide, Intermediate 1 Program, Week 6.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Green Choices Wednesday

        This..............or This?

Paper towels are technically a "renewable resource," but the production and distribution chains expend irreplaceable fossil fuel, create greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and the paper ends up in a landfill after a single use.

Production of cotton towels also consume resources and create pollutants, just as does the production of almost any item.  However, a cotton towel is used over and over again, and may be recyled into a rag when worn.

I've been looking for ways to greatly reduce or eliminate "disposable" items from my life.  I've recently started keeping a washcloth or small hand towel in my workplace office.  I'll either carry it to the washroom with me, or return to my office with damp hands and dry them there.

Consider ways to eliminate "disposable" products from your life!

Think Green and live Green!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Marathon Training Program: Weeks 4 - 5

Two more weeks closer to marathon!  The program continues to follow the same cycle as the first three weeks, two weeks of increasing mileage followed by a step back week of reduced mileage.  The pattern  is cross-training Monday, short run Tuesday, medium run Wednesday, short run Thursday, rest Friday, medium run Saturday, and a long run Sunday.

The past two weeks raised the medium runs from 5 to 6 miles, and the long runs to 11 miles and 12 miles.  It  feels pretty comfortable, as it is now getting up to the mileage I was accustomed to in last several months of 2009.  In the past week, with the help of continued strengthening excercises, my sore knee feels almost 100% recovered.  Encouraged by this improvement, I have added just a few miles to my published schedule here and there.  I've been running 4 miles on most of the 3-mile days, and yesterday, I ran 13.1 miles instead of the scheduled 12, and managed to work in some hills.  I'm well aware of the dangers of overtraining; I'm just trying to enhance the training program slightly.

I initially wanted to try the Intermediate 2 program, but decided that it might be slightly more than I could manage, and settled on the Intermediate 1.  The main reason I decided against the Intermediate 2 was that the mid-week medium-distance run goes up to 10 miles at the peak of the program, and I just wasn't willing go get up early enough to run that long in the morning before work.  Other than that, the main difference between Intermediate 1 and 2 is that Intermediate 2 goes a couple of miles longer on the Saturday and Sunday runs.  So, I figure that I can add up to 2 miles on my weekend runs and actually run a hybrid of the two Intermediate programs without overtraining.  The feature I liked best in the Intermediate 2 is that it peaks at a 10-mile Saturday run followed by a 20-mile Sunday run!  I think the 30-mile weekend total would be better preparation for the rigors of the 26 mile race than the 25-mile weekends in the Intermediate 1 program.  So, depending on how strong I feel as the schedule progresses, I may stretch the weekend portion of the #1 to either equal or approach the #2 program.

The coming week brings the second step back week, and will reduce mileage slightly. 

Five weeks down, 13 to go!

Quote of the Week

"Free your mind, and your feet will follow."

Kevin Nelson, The Runner's Book of Daily Inspiration