Saturday, July 30, 2011

Training for Richmond: Week 1

     Intervals (Mon): Goal was to keep the sprint laps in the 6's and the recovery laps in the 8's. Actually that's a long term goal, I was happy with my paces and expect to see some easy improvement next week.

     Tempo (Wed): 4 mile treadmill sprint: Long term goal is to keep my Tempo runs in the 6's, I will probably be doing this on the treadmill for the next 2 weeks. I paced a 6:38 this week and look to do a 6:23 pace by Aug 10th.

     Recovery (Thurs): Felt really good, kept it evenly paced uphill and down just to add some challenge to the up hill, pace was in the high 7's. Perfect. I hope to do this every Thursday at exactly this pace.

     Long (Sat): Just a little bit disappointed that my pace was in the mid 8's instead of the mid 7's, not sure where my energy was today. I'm not too concerned about it though. Plenty of time to pick up the pace.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Few Words on Strength Training

       I started lifting weights in Aug '09 as part of my regular fitness routine. Somewhere in the back of my mind I have always had the idea that the bench press is the ideal measurement of upper body strength. When I first got my weight bench I devoted myself to measuring my strength with the 10 rep max as the measuring tool. I know some people will argue that the 1 rep max is a better tool. I also have a place for the one rep max test, but I seldom use it and when I do its just to test the accuracy of the one rep max calculator.

     My first bench presses were like 1 set of 10 at 45 lbs. That's just the bar. It wasn't very challenging so I quickly escalated to the 80-90 lb range. That is when I started to "feel the burn" or "lactic acid build up" as the more articulate might call it. It has been a long slow journey building strength, but in its own way its just as rewarding as any cardio based activity in that goals are set, eventually achieved, and then the cycle repeats with even higher goals.

     In the pursuit of physical fitness, one age old bit of wisdom has been ringing in my ears repeatedly..."If you don't use it, you lose it." This has proven to be true across all disciplines, but in my experience it has been most notable in the area of strength training. Jan 9 2011 was the first time I was able to bench press 1 set of 10 reps at 140 lbs. I didn't repeat it for some reason and then a few weeks later training for the Blue Ridge Half started and I kept strength training to a minimum while I focused on getting my running speeds and endurance back up.

     Next thing you know the Blue Ridge Half (BRH) is over and I've got this window between Apr 17th (First day after the Blue Ridge Half) and July 24th (first day of training for the Richmond Full). Now I scheduled in a lot of races during that period, but did very little specified training for any of them. My plan was just to hold cardio fitness levels at about 80-90 percent and focus primarily on getting my strength back up. My first bench press attempts after the BRH showed about a 15% loss with a 10 rep max of 120. Unacceptable.

     I didn't stick to the plan very well. I ended up ditching speed work, but continuing tempo runs and 4 mile sprints. I had just bought a new (to me) road bike and I started pushing for faster cycling speeds too. Perhaps, by doing this,  I made it harder than it had to be, but here it is July 10th, just 14 days before Richmond training starts, and I am only just now getting back to peak strength by repeating the 140 lb 10 rep max bench press this morning for the first time since Jan 9 '11.

     In my fitness theory, which is ever evolving, I tend to believe that a rising tide floats all boats. Also, I theorize that physical performance should resemble a sine wave over the course of a given time period. With strength at or near a peak I may not be able to get much further with it before I start de-emphasizing it, but I do intend to A) use the next few weeks to push for a new peak (even if only slightly higher using questionable standards) and B) not lose more than 7% of said peak strength over the course of marathon training. This should work into my theories fairly well. Time will tell.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Four on the 4th-Recap

      Since I started running as a matter of routine I have never put my running shoes on and go out for a run that I didn't intend to run at least 4 miles as a minimum. Sure, I did a couple 1 milers on the treadmill, but that doesn't really count because I wasn't at the gym to run so much as I was there to do other things and then decided to squeeze a run in on top of it. Now, I have had no more than 2 or 3 occasions where I stopped short for one reason or another, but those were flukes and seldom repeated. The fact is 4 miles is my "comfort zone" distance and I was thrilled to participate in my first 4 mile street competition this morning.

     The inaugural Four on the 4th street race is a local run created to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia and they designed a 4 mile course that struck me as being a mutant hybrid child of the Drumstick Dash, the AEP Festival Run, and a sprinkle of the Blue Ridge Half Marathon all rolled into one and condensed into 4 miles. I thouroughly enjoyed the course for its familiarity and ease of navigating.

     I can't say much about competitiveness in this years running. I'm sure their was plenty, but after the starting shot was fired their was the standard 1/8th mile of everybody getting spread out and their just wasn't much passing took place after that. I started on the start line and immediately established myself in 8th place. I kept the race leader and 3 others who were trailing him in my sights for about a mile before they pulled off. That left me and 3 others, I passed one male and one female at around the 1 mile mark and held 6th for about a mile when the lead female passed me back and that was all the passing that I was part of. Indecently a bandit runner overtook me at mile 3, so for a while I thought I had slipped into 8th again, but he altered his route away from the finish line with about 1/10 mile to go so I knew I had 7th. It's a good feeling to run a race and know what position your in from start to finish. This was only the second time I've been able to do it with the first time being at the 2011 Explore Your Limits 5k trail race where I took 3rd overall back in March.
Me getting passed by the 1st place female. She hollared out something encouraging as she went by

Finish line sprint.
     So I felt good about my time considering that my training of late would have statistically only have supported a 28 minute 4-Miler. I finished with a 26:31.7 which is only a minute slower than my best 4 mile training run and that was on a treadmill about 6-8 weeks ago. I suspected an Age Group award, but was plesently surprised with the 1st place masters award. I turned 40 this year and was very much looking forward to a masters award but this region is saturated with some hard core 40+ runners who always seem to edge me out. Some didn't race today and those who did either got a top 3 overall or didn't have anything for me today so I got my first masters. I'm thrilled.
Masters Award was this nice cooler.

     Final Results:
Four on the 4th 4 Miler
2011-time 26:31.7 (chip), pace: 6:38, Place 7/244 overall,*1st Place Master* 1/7 in my age group, 6/113 among men