Saturday, December 29, 2012

Framing the Mind: addicted runner goes through detox

This is either useless drivel, or a turning point in my life. I haven't a fuckin' clue which one though. Maybe they're not even mutually exclusive.
I sit here in my home, at the kitchen table, watching snow come down onto the horse pasture. Sipping coffee as I nurse this week’s second hangover.

I decided I wanted to take a break from running. Not because I felt burned out, or was suffering an injury, but because it was partially consuming me. I hadn’t totally immersed myself in my running, but rather used it as a distraction from the notion that my life had yet again coasted to a standstill. Somehow, I want to assure you that I’m not depressed by this. I smiled as I thought to myself, “Hey, at least you’re aware of it. Many people aren’t so lucky.” Of all the places to do so, this point is as good as any as I pause in my dawdling through life. I had this idea. I’d remove the quiet hum of running that filled this otherwise quiet period in my life. My ears needed to ring with silence. I needed to eliminate the only distraction so that I can hear what my heart is saying.

It was also a challenge- a real challenge. Since getting the “running bug” about 4 years ago, I’ve never truly taken time off. I’ve done “easy” weeks of 20 miles, or done long bike rides or hikes to replace runs. I’ve heard fellow endurance athletes talking about doing things out of their comfort zone to spice things up. Usually, this involves some other form of endurance training. How creative. That seems akin to an alcoholic switching from beer to liquor(which I wouldn’t recommend. Better pop another aspirin), or a smoker switching from cigarettes to cigars. Let’s not kid ourselves. Many of us think that simply running far makes you a valuable person. It doesn’t hurt, but I wouldn’t say it helps much either. Running, for me, is seldom filled with hardship because I love it. We've all heard stories of addicts turning to endurance sports as a healthy, legal alternative to whatever scumbaggery they've involved themselves in. If I don't keep running, perhaps I'll do it in reverse. It's both a good and bad thing that I seem to have a low tolerance for most stimuli.

I ended 2011 with a last-ditch effort to crack the elusive 100-mile week. I ran 120 miles in the final 6 days of the year. Essentially, I decided to try the opposite this time. Sloth-a-thon. Running 20 miles a day for 6 days was my way of proving to myself that I can do something if I set my mind to it. I took time out of my life to do what I like doing. Not all that creative, is it?

There’s also the training factor. I firmly believe that a 16 week training plan is going to prep me for Umstead. I seem to be able to get into shape relatively quickly. I’ve always been a procrastinator, and maybe my body is as well. I run high mileage for too long, and I get burned out. I take care of myself and focus on quality for short-term, and I reach my typical upper end of my abilities. Last Summer, I felt better about my fitness 6 weeks before the Tahoe 100, and feel as though I was back near base fitness when the big day came.

Now that I’ve babbled about the “why,” I’ll tell you how it went. The first few days were actually kind of nice. I thought, “I should get out for a run,” then I remembered that had I let myself off the hook. So I kicked back, read a book, went for a walk, or whatever. I then started to get bored. I’d see my flashy New Balance 1600s and want to get out for a road run. I’d trip over my inov-8 trailrocs and want to find a hilly trail. I found something else to do. Split wood. Give my car a long-overdue cleaning out and oil change. Go Christmas shopping. Drink Beer. After 10 days of not running, what I was hoping for finally happened. The noise stopped, and I was able to think a bit more clearly about my life.

I realized that my work situation wasn’t going to change on it’s own. Nobody was going to stroll by the pool, notice me, the odd-looking exercise instructor, and know right then and there that I was the next big thing in the lucrative and satisfying field of…whatever, I don’t know. We are the result of our actions, not our intentions. This dude explains it well.

Something turned on inside my mind. I picked up my phone and made calls. I got online and did research. I called friends from college to pick their brains. As I write this, I’m in the process of dropping back into school. I’ve got a couple semesters of prerequisite classes to do, some observation hours to complete, and a GRE test to study for. Enough wishing for things to fix themselves. I’ve been afraid to admit what I really want to do, because of a fear of failure. It’s easy to shrug things off and say we never really wanted them when we don’t fully commit. I’m usually pretty relaxed and let the little things slide. My life is not a little thing to me anymore.

A few phone calls. A couple forms. Yet another financial aid paper filled out. Small steps to build up steam. The goal: A doctorate in Physical Therapy.  Would this have happened, had I not broken the trance I was in? Maybe. Maybe not. Many of my friends have simply transitioned from undergrad to graduate(or from undergrad to career) in a seemingly seemless way, keeping on the grind and going after what they want. My hat is certainly tipped to them, especially since I seem to struggle. I imagine it’s my tendency to over think. If I can clear out the clutter in my mind and get things done, I’d bet that anyone else can too.

This took me several days to write. I started with negative thoughts: Underemployed, Barely utilizing my education, too much free time with only my hobbyjogging to focus on.

I ended with positive thoughts: I work in a rehab hospital(a perfect place to learn before grad school), I have time to go to school, and I'm more inspired than ever. Spending some time in the working world and a clinical setting has made me value education.

ISU, Pocatello Idaho
Will this be my home next year?

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Someone once insinuated that I'm addicted to running. I just googled "insinuate" to check the spelling. Well, I ran twice this week, and it was only because I was invited to. Didn't really feel like it, and I wanted to see if my hip flexor twinge would go away with rest. It did not.

13 miles this week. Boom!

No rambling about motivation, boredom, or metaphors for how my boring life is similar to my boring running? Surely, this can't be all.

It is.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

(nearly)Every Day, I'm Shufflin'

Goal for the week: Run every day. Let's see how it went, shall we?

5 miles - No watch, just a jog around the block to shake my legs out. Legs felt zippy on the flat pavement.

5 miles - Road run with three tempo miles in the middle. 6:45, 6:35, 6:06, shuffle home. I've come to the realization that I prefer workouts(hills, tempo, trackwork, etc.) to easy jogging. I know how to run slow. Working toward running fast makes me feel like I'm doing something more worthwhile.

10 miles - 5 mile warmup on the xc ski trails. Might as well. No snow on them. Found rooty, technical hill that took a little less than 90 seconds to sprint up. 7 repeats on it, with the downhill as the rest period. 3 mile cooldown back to the car.

6 miles. Night of no sleep. Up sweating all night, and not in a good, "recreational" way. Easy run to the bank and back.

4 miles at the state park with Sam before work.

4 hours of water exercise classes.

8(ish)miles - 1.5 miles to the track with Jeremiah, some warmup laps, then a floater workout. 200m(200m float), 400m(400m float), 800m(400m float), 1200m(400m jog), 800m(400m float), 400m(200m jog), 2x200 sprints. 1.5 back to house. Not a ball-buster since we had no watches. A good reintroduction for Dr. C into the training grind.

12 miles/fartlek - Cutdown 6 mile warmup. Dropped pace steadily from 7:50 to 6:50, then stopped a moment to stretch a bum hip flexor. 6 mile return trip was alternating easy and hard miles. 6:10, 7:00, 5:50, 7:05, 5:48, 8:00. I should be doing longer stuff, but my local trails are a 25minute drive, and the 38degree/rain combo just blows ass. Grinding out a workout was more appealing than a long slow run with numb junk. Must by new tights or electric underpants.

Just like the Detroit Lions, I managed to fall short at the last possible moment Is that even accurate? My sports knowledge is based on scrolling through facebook. My hip flexor is acting up ever so slightly, and [list of excuses to be edited in later]

50 miles. Fifty miles. 80.4672 kilometers. cincuenta millas. matter how I say it, it does not imply "100 mile training." Oh well.

As the year comes to a close...

It's funny to think that I've landed in nearly the same spot as I did 1 year ago. Not somewhere different, but an eerily groundhog day-like sameness. Back at home and underemployed, fantacizing about adventure after half a year of doing what I felt is right for me. Instead of feeling like it's out of my system, I only want more. Another year has gone by, and I'm back where I started. Maybe I can't run on treadmills because I'm already on one. I don't mean to sound pathetic or self-loathing. I've done things that have made me incredibly happy. I'm still happy. I seem to go back and fourth between thinking way too much and thinking too little.

The Umstead 100 is the first weekend in April. A 4 month training period will be good considering that I'm coming from a period of relative fitness(40-70 miles a week consistently, and some solid leg speed). It presents an interesting situation. I'm in decent shape now. I'm not sure if it's my tendnency toward self-sabotage, but I'm thinking of doing a long, speedy run to get it out of my system. This could be followed by a week of real rest, then the start of training. Sort of like plowing a field to cultivate new crops. Whatever. If I feel the urge, I'll burn it down to start anew. My gut tells me that since I've run long already(embarassingly long), I've got the base to cover 100 "easy" miles. What I need is the strength to cover them faster. That will require focusing on speed over distance, not just distance. The hardest part about that will be trusting myself when my weekly mileage looks abysmal compared to that of my fellow ultrarunners.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snow Grew the Fire

22 miles - Not as long as I intended, but hey. Should have left from home to do my "lighthouse run" to Pere Marquette beach and back, but opted to stay off the busy, foggy highway. Paved bikepath to the beach, then 3 loops of stairs at Kruse Park. The stairs woke up my sluggish legs. 7:45ish pace on the way out, and bit quicker on the way back. Final three miles before cooldown were 7:05, 6:55, and 5:58. At least the stairs and tempo-paced final miles slightly compensated for the short distance.

Run roads to sand. Touch water. Contemplate Swimming. Turn around.

AM - 5 mile cruise around the house. Thought about making yesterday and today back-to-back long days, then I didn't. Cool story, right? Not quite time to pound out miles yet.

I came across this peice a few months ago, and it really inspired me (on Bernd Heinrich). I'm not this caliber of runner by any means, but Dr. Heinrichs approach, described in more detail in his book Why We Run, showed me that there is room to perform when I call upon my body to do so(given enough notice to train) without doing the typical ultrarunner thing of training for years with little voluntary rest. Heinrich's book is also filled with long sentences(made longer with parenthetical notation) that somehow avoid being run-ons, just like this blog! What truly inspired me was that this man had a passion for running and competing, but also for other things. Running is a means to an end. If something is going to feel like a job, it had better provide some useful stuff(money, helping people, nudity, etc.)

AM - Splitting wood for 3 hours, then hauling it up to the house. Then a bike ride to get coffee, where I sit here writing this. I sat on a log and drank a beer in the middle of a cold, sunny afternoon, thinking about all I have left to do, and just sort of breathed a sigh of relief. Most people would love to be right where I am. In more ways than one, I love it too.

PM - Ya caught me. I slept until 11am. There was no PM. See AM for PM. I'm in a delightful, yet unproductive mood. I have a sudden feeling of wind leaving my sails, but simultaneously am enjoying it. I think I'll focus on other stuff for a couple weeks, and run when I please.

Just the exercise classes today.

7 miles - A loop at Hoffmaster. Felt like a train wreck today. Once my lunch of two bowls of salad and two bowls of potato soup descended a little, I got into a groove. I did, however, feel like I hadn't run in a month, and not in a good way. I carried a couple 40lb grain bags out to the barn a couple days ago, and decided to lunge them out there, what with my fresh legs and all. Bad idea. Still hurts.

27 miles - Road tripped it to the great white North with Jeff for his long run to prep for the Yankee Springs 50k. M-20 Trailhead near Hesperia. 2:25 out, 2:18 back. A few inches of fresh snow made for a really great run. We packed more than necessary(clothing, gear, food, water, headlight, fancy biodegradable toilet paper) for the sake of preparedness, and to keep the pace slow and easy. Nothing incredibly steep, but not flat. Typical Michigan singletrack. The quiet trail was wonderful. I missed the sound of ear-ringing silence that comes from an oak-filled forest with fresh snow covering everything. During a time when I seem to lack motivation, this run was a blessing. It's not about races or blogs or gear or belt buckles. These times outside are more precious than any pretentious pants accesory. Running will likely never be my job, but that doesn't mean that I can't be passionate about it.

0 miles. Moved furniture for a few hours, then spent some time with the family. I actually felt better today than before yesterday. If I were in training mode, I'd say, "I feel good after that run, I'd better do a shakeout and take advantage of the opportunity to train." Since that's not until February, I say, "I feel good after a long run. Not feeling like shit is cool. Pass the beer." I suppose there isn't much of a difference, really.

61 miles for the week. I only ran 4 days. That's kind of dumb, isn't it? Oh well.

Where the hell did my whole "miles per week" fixation come from? When I'm not thinking about anything, my inner monologue sometimes sounds like "22 plus 5 plus 7...shit."

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Week Sauce

11 miles- Met up with Abbey for an easy 10 miler around GVSU's campus. A few hills, but generally flat road route. Hit the campus trail system on the river. Great run.

8 miles - 3 hours worth of exercise. Rode my bike to the state park, then an hour and twenty minutes in the dunes. Taped my ski poles to my bike so I could work my upper body too. Just not in the mood for a "real" run I guess. Pushed through 28 degrees and wind to try to fight the yearly cycle of "wow, I'm in the same funk as last year already." Time flies.

3 hours of exercise classes in the evening. Really helped get the aches out.

3 miles. 3 measely miles. No energy today. 1.5 miles in each direction from home. Thought of contingency plans in the event of feeling like this for an extended period. Then, I realized that I should either stop being a bitch or just quit. Got down to my usual cruising pace of 7:15. Can't explain this dip in morale lately.

AM - 7 miles - Warmup from the river to the local high school track. I'm assuming it's open to the public, due to the fence being quite scalable. 10x400, 200m slow jog recovery. 400m seems a bit short, even for my standards, but I wanted some variety. Some longer shenanigans planned for later this week have me seeking balance.

PM - Water classes. I'm a cross training machine! Don't mess with the dude who trains with seniors and pregnant ladies for a living.

8 miles - I have no idea here, just a guess. Stayed moving for 1:20, but felt slow and sluggish. Made sure I stayed on the hills. Overslept by, say, 4 hours and never really woke up all day. Sat on the beach and pondered life for a while afterward. Can't help but wonder what exactly I'm doing wrong.

cero. Family functions.

13 miles - Jeremiah and I did a loop and a half at Luton Park. He's on the rebound from some time off, and we're trying to re-gro the mojo. It's a great park with some small but plentiful hills. A change of scenery and time with a good friend. Not a thing wrong with that.

50 miles on the week. Reminds me that I can be relatively unfocused for now, but still run decent mileage. After some thought, I've decided to keep the mileage low(50-60/week max) until January. A 16 week training plan will suffice as long as I can stay in shape. "Training" for 6-7 months is half a year or more, and that, friends, is more than this slacker can handle. Running is a hobby, and not a job. You don't have to know me long to know how I feel about jobs. I'm about due for my monthly long run, and I'm looking forward to it.

I've noticed something.

Stressing about mileage
-barely(but occassionally) run over 70 miles/week
-feel like shit
-run when I don't want to
-no increase in performance

Not stressing about mileage
-barely(but occassionally) run over 70 miles/week
-feel good
-run when I feel good
-PR for shorter distances
-Easily cover longer distances


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Turkey Trottin' Week

21? miles - 2:45 on the rolling hills at Yankee Springs and the North Country hiking trail. Nice back to back runs from yesterday and today, and I feel pretty good about it. It felt nice to do a little of what I used to, just putting miles on and enjoying the trails. I can tell that the pep would be taken from my step if I did it long term, so I'll go back to shorter, intense efforts for the weekdays. Great times with Evan on the trail, hoping to not get shot by the orange coats. Finished up with beer and fries. Nobody else was in the bar at 2pm. Weird, yeah?

zippity - Installed drywall at my sister's place, then went to work for exercise classes. I didn't really feel bad about missing a run, nor did I really *need* to skip it.

4 miles - Another busy-ish day of drywall, drinking apple pie flavored homemade liqour of some sort, and a little wood splitting. Snuck out for a late 4 miler, with alternating 30sec on/30sec off for about 5 minutes. Turkey Trot in the morning. I felt decidedly unfashionable for not getting drunk on the biggest bar night of the year, but Sam worked all day, and the obnoxiousness of the crowds appealed to neither of us. Lonely in solitude. Uncomfortable in groups. The human condition, isn't it?

6 miles - Barely a mile's worth of warmup, then the Thanksgiving day Turkey Trot at the Muskegon YMCA. A great turnout this year to raise moneys for the food bank. Over 600 people turned out for some good times in good weather. I really love these kinds of events, in spite of them being low-key and not geared toward "serious runners"(what does that even mean? We all just run around and go nowhere. How the hell is it serious?). Looking around at these places, inspiration is plentiful. Kids running their first 5ks. Adults making their first steps toward getting healthy. College kids coming home and being with Families. Exercise for it's own sake, and people enjoying each other. Big races like the Leadville 100 are unforgettable in their grand uniqueness, but the realization that fun exercise and a smiling commnity exist in our backyards on a daily basis is even better.

Anyway, 17:38 on a flat out/back 5k course. 600 people running, jogging, strollering, and dog-walking right at me down the bicycle path made for some fun obstacle course style running. Even jumped over a small kid who darted out in front of me(he's fine, I even got my legs high enough to clear his head). 1st place. Its incredibly fun to see everyone on the course, especially my own family. My mom, aunt, cousins, sister(8months pregnant and walking briskly, no less), and girlfriend were enjoying the morning too. A mid 17minute 5k is what I was running while training in college, and it usually resulted in being laid up for a couple days with a bruised foot or tweaked knee. Today? Absolutely no pain whatsoever. A win is a special thing no matter how small the venue, and I'm thankful for the boost in confidence that comes with being the fastest on that course on that particular day. All I have to do is run a whole minute per mile faster to be a real 5k'er. No thanks.

2 mile cooldown back to Samantha and 12 year old cousin Emily, who were running together, and ran them in.

5 miles - First snow accumulation of the year, a nice recovery run was perfect. Spent a couple hours stacking wood in the cold air, then took off for a nice 5 miler. Started out kind of stiff, which I think was mostly from sitting on my ass all afternoon yesterday. Should have doubled. Got down to a 7 minute mile for number 4 before cooling down, so I feel restored back to my normal state.

4 miles - damn, I'm slacking this week. Fairly typical behavior for me, given the circumstances. The long runs tend to suck the ambition to plod out more boring miles. The holiday has presented more social obligations, as has the temporary joining of family into the "not-so employed club" due to holiday vacations. And I'm sure my subconscious has proclaimed "You've won two local, turkey-themed 5ks recently. If you don't back it down a bit, you'll be in the same boat as that Armstrong fellow."

...oh, right, the run. 4 miles in about 27 minutes. Did it as sort of a "blind time trial." Set my stopwatch on the table in the garage, did the loop, and checked it. Not an all out effort, but I knew the clock was running.

AM - 1 hour at the State Park. Ran about aimlessly, taking some pictures along the way. 5 miles worth would be my best guess. Lots of stopping and looking around, which just felt right. Every day can't be fast I guess.
Nice overlook over Snug Harbor.

One of my favorite hills to slog up. Holding a running gait up it is tough.
...unless you're staging a photo of course.

Great little section of trail. I think it's a deer run. One slip and you're cartwheeling down to "Lost Lake."
Cool overlook that was recently installed over the Gulf Coastal Plain.

PM - 2 miles - Kind of a random run. The sun popped out for a moment, so I did too. Only double of the week.

47 miles for the week. I told myself I'd chill out after the 68 mile week, and apparently I'm good at doing what I'm told, provided it involves laziness. Trust the plan, trust the plan, trust the plan, even if it's my own plan that doesn't jive with conventional ultra wisdom. 5k legs with just enough endurance just might beat a conditioned shuffler if I play my cards right.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Road Worrier

28 miles - (3:22) - Yep. An actual ultra distance run, albeit barely. A sparse dusting of snow was coming down this morning, and I knew I wanted to snag a long run to take advantage of a few mellow days of running last weekend.  The weather was awfully cold and wet, but hey, I had nothing better to do. Tights, my favorite joggin' flannel, hat, gloves, and my Ultraspire Spry vest. I put bananas in the back pocket, and GU in the zipper pocket. Perhaps I shall rename it the "banana hammock."

Started out easy and settled in for a long, boring jog along the roads that snake along the Muskegon River. It's not pancacke flat, but not not incredibly hilly. There are a few climbs of 100-300 feet, and a bit of a rolling flow to it. As far as roads go, it's tolerable. Before I knew it, the Garmin was ticking off miles in the 6:50-7:15 range. I just rolled with it, focusing on breathing from my belly and staying relaxed. Regardless of pace, I have to focus on staying relaxed and keeping my stride light. Doesn't matter if it's 10min/miles, 6min/miles, or 12. If I'm going to get my shit together, I have to make sure I can keep running even when it hurts. I'll get there, but for now, I'll be happy with the way this first installment of monthly long runs has gone.

AM - 3 miles(24:00) - Planned on an easy 6, but felt decidedly un-recovered from yesterday. My legs felt heavy, my intercostal muscles were sore, and I just felt sort of off. Called it good at 1.5 miles and turned around. No time to drive to the trails, and 28 miles of roads yesterday had my mind saying "no more roads, please."

This run, in spite of it's brevity, was enlightening. The sore, achy feeling was not only unpleasant, but vaguely familiar. I realized that it was familiar because it's how I felt for almost two years. I've been on the wrong side of the thin line between pushing limits and exceeding them. For the past couple months, I've been feeling better than ever. I'll try to keep it that way.

This is difficult as well. I'm getting quite excited about ramping up my training and moving on to a new phase but a slow recovery from a long run kind of took the wind out of my sails. On the plus side, there are no injuries to speak of, and I'm excited for a workout tomorrow. I may never put together weeks of back to back awesomeness like my ultrarunning heroes, but I can do the best I can with what I've got. I'll stop babbling and go to work now.

PM - 4 hours of water exercise. This may be the other thing that is keeping me feeling spry lately. Working on the core muscles while gently stretching and going the the range of motion of all joints for 4 hours has me feeling pretty great.

AM - 7 miles - 7 miles, right? Yeah, whatever. 7 miles. 3 mile warmup on the trails with Evan at the State Park, then 7 repeats of the Block House hill. The first was an easy time trial, but ended up being faster than the others. Fresh legs I guess. Each climb was in the 1minute range, with the last 20 seconds being about a 15% grade. Jelly legs and near vomitting by the end, which felt kind of awesome. 2-3 mile cooldown afterward.

PM - 4 miles - Shakeout in the dark. Felt a bit sluggish on this one, but got down to a normal pace by the end. Around the block, then out to the barn to feed animals.

9 miles - An easy/flat run from home, just for kicks. Overall pace was about 7:10. Somehow, my cruising pace has gone from 7:45 to 7:00-7:15 on flats and rollers. I won't question, but keep the course steady and keep the fingers crossed.

Water classes at night, followed by a 3 hour drive up North for hunting.

0.0 miles. Lots of swamp/woods walking with a gun and backpack strapped to my back, and big ass boots on my feet, but no running. Some serenity and tranquility in the woods. Not used to struggling to keep warm. The constant movement usually takes care of it. The sitting part was tough. In primitive times, I would have been to slow/sickly to be a persistence hunter, and too impatient/blind to be a "sit and wait" hunter. I guess I would have been a farmer.

...also didn't see a damned deer. Winning a turkey at a 5k has proven to be a more fruitful and cost effective form of hunting.

13ish miles. Met up with Jeff at Hoffmaster for his long run. It was the best weather we've seen in a while, and it was great to trot around on the trails with Jeff. 2 hours and 15 minutes of hills, trails, and beach sand. There was a special hunt going on in the park, so we had to stay in one particular part. Not sure how cramming 17 dudes who "will be shooting at movement"(the words of the steward who told us to leave), into a 30-40 acre plot of land with a bunch of deer who have never known hunters is okay, but I don't argue with people with guns, even if they're lazy pussies.

4 miles easy with Samantha and her baby-eating pitbull at the State Park. Mostly hiking, but an hour and a half of working against sand kept the heart rate up.

Is distance worth noting, no matter the pace? Ah, who gives a shit? I'll start wearing a pedometer all the time and logging my Christmas shopping at the mall while I'm at it.

68 miles - Considering two days off, this is a solid week. 68 miles is creeping into the "high mileage" range for this hobbyjogger. I guess when you run more than a marathon on the first day, its easy to knock off low mileage for the rest and still get a half-decent total. Though I wasn't happy to take two consecutive days off, it's no big deal. Still got some execercise and about 16 hours of fresh air each day. Within three days, I pulled off a fast-ish marathon+ and a hill workout. Cool beans.

...once again, I just have to stay mindful of injuries and try to keep the legs snappy.

Happy Thanksgiving, readers(friends, family, people who were searching for shoes, people who searched that weird picture of Street Sharks I posted a year ago and gave me more hits than anything else, etc.) !

Sunday, November 11, 2012

All Out-of-Doorsy and What Not

AM - 5 miles(35:05) - Just a cruise around the block to ease back into the week. First day this year that it's been "cold," not just "chilly." Tights, arm sleeves, hat, gloves, and 7min/miles couldn't warm me up. Not what I'd call an easy pace since I had to focus on my stride, but it felt smooth.

3 hours of splitting, hauling, and stacking firewood.

I woke up this morning and caught myself in a mental state that I shall avoid forever. I thought about my employment situation, and said to myself "I'm in a transitional time, I'll wait and it will get better." I never want to take such a passive approach to life. Certainly, there are times when patience is required for success. That fact lends itself to apathy and loss of focus. On a large scale, I need to put forth more effort to pursue my passion. On a day-to-day scale, I can't sit on my ass and wait until tomorrow to go to my part-time job. I grabbed my splitting maul and decided that if I'm not able to afford my own apartment/dog/baby/whatever the proverbial "next step" toward a stressful adult life is, I'll do my part to keep my family's home warm. Life is one transition from birth to death. If we spend too much time in a "waiting state," then that's all it will ever be.

A 14lb wedge welded to a pipe. As long as I can keep picking it up over my head, it does most of the work.
PM - 5 miles(34:20) - Afternoon run. Felt warmed up much earlier in this outing than the morning run, so it was a bit faster due to the first mile being faster. Same loop as the AM, but in reverse. On these runs, I run on the edge of the road. It's equally as boring as a road, but it has a few more obstacles to contend with that offer the chance to switch up the gait. Potholes, discarded McDonald's cups, dead animals, etc. It may be a temporary thing, but I love these runs.

An entire day spent outside. It was great.

 AM - 10 miles... I guess. 1 hour and 40 minutes on trails at the state park.  No pace or distance, so I'll just assume a pace of 10min/miles and divide. I was likely running a bit faster, but this could help even out all the bullshitting I do on a regular basis. Really relaxing run of varying intensities. Barely visible deer trails, crushed limestone, root-laden single track. A little of everything. Just kept saying to myself, "stay." Stay focused. Stay away from the car for at least 90 minutes. Stay upright.  Stay in that cool yurt building if the door happens to be unlocked.

PM - The usual - 4 hours in the pool doing active recovery, core work, super light cardio. Felt great afterward.

AM - 7 miles or so. 1 hour run. I was bored and didn't have the time to drive to the park for a run. This head cold came back with a vengence and sapped motivation to do a workout. Behind my house is an old, overgrown single track loop on 2 acres. I used to use it as a "test and tune" area for my dirtbike when I'd work on it. Not enough room for a good ride since its flat and sparsely wooded, but enough room to see if I got the jetting right on the carb, or adjust this or that. I ran around this loop for 60 minutes, each loop taking less than 2 minutes. Boring to say the least. The trail was filled with small tree limbs, thorns, and horse shit. If discomfort is a part of mental training, then this was a successful day.

Itchy, wooly legs.

4 miles - 45 minute jog was all I could muster on this day. Woke up feeling crappier than I've felt since beginning my bout of this cold. Barely coherent, I drove to Hoffmaster State Park in between leading my exercise classes(tought 6 today). Really easy loping around on the cross-country trails. It was so cloudy that a headlight was nearly required at 2:30pm. Today was a day that I don't feel as though I ever woke up before going to sleep. Tomorrow will be better.

AM - 7 miles - 3 mile warmup on the trails of the State Park. Mostly the more technical trails and sandy hills. Circled back to the car to do 6x1min repeats on the Block House hill. Not a super intense workout, but I wanted to get some intensity in to help shake the sickness out. I tentatively planned on a long run today(20-25 miles), but didn't want to tax the weakened immune system. 3 more miles to cool down on the gravel trails.

PM - 4 miles - Some easy jogging from home after lunch. Easy 7:30-8:00 pace for miles 1,2, and 4. Mile three was a 6:15, just for shits and giggles.

PM - 2 miles - I got bored. I hate TV and being inside lately, so I went out for a couple more. One tiny hill, maybe 50ft over 1/8mile.

Wore 3 different pairs of shoes today. inov-8 Trail Roc 235s, New Balance 1600s, and Brooks Cascadia 4's. All felt fine. Maybe all the ailments I've been blaming on shoes have just been my own sloppy form all along. Interesting. Maybe tinkering with shoes of varying weight, heel drop, cushioning, and sole thickness could allow for simultaneous stretching/strengthening/recovery of lower limb connective tissues.

A day off, and none too thrilled about it. I did, however, spend 4 hours stomping around in the dense swamps of Northern Lower Michigan getting hunting spots ready. The vegetation is so thick that my father, brother-in-law and I had to mark our way in(and out) with a hatchet to avoid getting lost. Two stream crossings, one of which required the building of a makeshift bridge. Our old one was washed away by the waist-high stream. We used logs and dead pine branches to make ground blinds. Not exactly high-intensity exercise, but it was 4 hours of stomping around in cold, wet boots and carrying soaked wood.
I also sharpened my hatchet throwing skills. Useless tricks are my specialty.
1 hour hike and a 4 mile run at the State Park. Running out of creative things to say about trails I run on a near-daily basis. Beautiful area with some challenging terrain, and some easy running.

48 miles. Ouch. Had some nice progress going there. Damned cold and a whole day off took its toll on the total.Some solid days that I refuse to believe were "undone" by not running. I've vowed to take less stock in the quantity of miles run, even though I'm aspiring to a 100 miler. I'm due for my monthly long run, so maybe I'll take advantage of some fresh legs.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Doin' as I Please

9 miles - 1 hour at the State Park + 2 miles at home. Not quite a "double" since it was only about 20 minutes between the runs. Just an hour of continuous running over the gravel cc loop and the sandy ridges and hills. I was thinking about how lucky I am to live so close to such a park. It's not the expansive trail system of the Boulder area, but it's less crowded provides adequate training grounds.

5 miles - Apparently the cold wasn't done waging war on my body. Felt achy, lethargic, and my joints hurt. An easy run at Hoffmaster, followed by some off trail running. Chugged up the back of a large dune to get a view of the big waves. Though I'm probably able to attempt a workout, I think it would be best to let the sick feelings pass. Not a bad run, considering it was 40 degrees and raining.

Typical 4 hours of water aerobics instruction. At least I have some exercise built into my day.

4 miles - 30 minute run from home. Slept nearly 12 hours last night, still woke up feeling stuffy and congested. An easy jog to keep from feeling cooped up and to clear my sinuses out. I realized that I may be a streaker. Perhaps trying to avoid total days off could benefit me.

AM - 17.5 miles. 2:01. Ran most of the Grand Rapids Riverbank Run course. Some rolling hills, but mostly pavement. E. Greez and I were really dreading this run, but did it anyway. I was aprehensive considering I'm barely feeling recovered from this cold, but I thought I might be able to hammer it out. To run 7:00 miles at such a casual perceived effort felt good. Headed to work for 4 hours of pool exercise classes.

...When I think of how well this run went, its a bit disconcerting. Though it was a successful run, I still realize the general not-so-awesomeness of it. Does a 2 hour 18 miler in any way indicate a successful 100? Maybe, maybe not. I've got a plan in my head, a goal in my mind, and a good feeling in my gut. I'm enjoying my training. Is it sad that 5 weeks is the longest I've ever trained consistently? It's exciting to build momentum and get a glimpse of the shape of things to come. I've had success in the past. That was almost two years ago. It's time to get over myself and accept that work will get me back to where I was. Starting where I am, not where I wish I was. I can run long and slow. These days, you have to run long and fast. I'm cool with that.

AM -  2 hour outing at Muskegon State Park. 5 miles on the ski trail, then a little over an hour in the dunes. While warming up on the ski trail, I felt disoriented and my vision was blurred. Had to slow down to a crawl and make it back to the car. Sat on my tailgate eating an apple and drinking water for a few minutes before heading to the sand. Mostly just hiking up the dunes and running the downhills. Testing out the sand proofiness of the MT110W. Awesome shoe for sand and (probably) slush.
If yesterday was about fast, easy gliding, then today was other side of the coin. Slogging up the uncooperative grades of sand trying to embrace the toils of hard, slow movement. Discouraging and encouraging at the same time.

PM - 3 miles (22:00) on the dirt roads in my Trailroc 235s. Free shoes, bitches! Review coming soon. Just when I thought I'd tank my blog with boring weekly mileage reports and no pictures...oh wait, that's been every week for two months.

7 miles - Maybe 6. 10 minutes of jogging with Ryan before the Turkey Trail Trot Gobble Wobble 5k Drumstick Dash Gravy Gallop or whatever it's called. A hilly, sandy trail 5k at Hoffmaster. It's on my favorite local trails, and my week has been pretty light on the workouts. Started out with the lead pack, and realized I was in the front. Once the course left the parking lot and started climbing, I stayed in front until the end. I think the hill repeats paid off, since I was able to put ground on 2nd and 3rd on the climbs. I feel like a poacher for winning a 5k with a 20 flat, but it was honestly a pretty fun course. Admittedly, I ran just hard enough to win. Running fast on technical trails is a lot of fun. I think I'll be signing up for more trail 5/10ks if I can afford it. I haven't won a race in a while, and it's a good feeling that should help spur me on in training. I don't expect to win or set a course record any time soon...unless I find another inaugural running of a virtually unadvertised race. Hey, I'm a drastically underemployed college graduate who lives at home with his parents and an ungodly amount of cats. If this is the beginning of a rags to riches story, it's a good one. Give me my fuckin' win, okay?

Cooled down 3 miles on the trails. inov8 trailroc 235s are awesome. This is #4 on my list of race wins, all of which are done on brand new, previously untested shoes.

6 miles - 3.2 on the trails around Lost Lake and adjacent ridges with Ryan, then 2-3 miles of hiking with Samantha.

2 hours of hauling/stacking wood with Ryan. Seriously, just stacking firewood. Sounds dirty...not that there's anything wrong with that.

60 miles. Once again, things went well this week. In spite of feeling sick and haggard early on, it evened out nicely. A bit of a breakthrough mid/long run, my first  real doubles in a while, some strength-building dunes, and a 5k win. Great hike on the lakeshore to top it off, and I'll call it a solid week. Slowly and steadily, I'll get there. As long as I don't get injured or lose interest or get a real job or any other such thing.

Enjoy whatever you're doing. I truly am.

"Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life."
 - Abraham Lincoln

Halloween Ridiculousness.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Insert Clever Title

6 miles - An hour run at the park. Beach, technical trail, sand dunes, and a little pavement on the channel. Shoes got so packed with sand that I blew the toebox out of my MT110s. Shitballs. Oh well. They were the same prototypes I wore for Pike's last year. They had to go sometime. Not quite a "workout" in that there was no real plan, but my legs and lungs were pushed a bit beyond "easy."

4 miles easy on the dirt roads. Either my perception of "easy" is changing, or I'm due for a long run. 29:35. Just before heading off to work to teach pool classes.

11 miles - Short work meeting, then off to Hoffmaster for the first workout of the week. 3.1 mile warmup on the trails (25:20), then 2x10minutes on the back half of the loop. 4 minute rest between the 10min intervals. Just under 1.5 miles per interval. The first rep was more intense and focusing was easier. The second was far hillier and more technical. 4 mile cooldown on the beach barefoot, taking advantage of the last warm days of the year(hopefully, I'd like some winter).

Later, a 1 hour barefoot hike at Muskegon State park, a little soccer, and carrying some 50lb grain bags out to the barn. Apparently I've decided to document every moment of physical exertion. What a clown.

AM - 14(maybe 15...ish) miles with Evan at Hoffmaster. Two loops down to Coast Guard Park and back. As is usual when we run together, this run was faster and more steady than if I had run it alone. Every time Evan slowed up, I sped up, and vice versa(the vice versa happened more often). Maybe the best weather I've seen since my return home. The leaves were thick near the oaks, so it made running a solid pace by braille on the technical trails pretty interesting. Really excellent run. Though it's 15% of my goal race distance, I feel stronger as time wears far.

PM - 1.5 hours of carrying, splitting, and stacking wood at a leisurely pace The heat is going away, the trees are colorful, and everything comes in pumpkin-flavored varieties.

8 miles - 2 mile warmup, then I marked off a quarter mile. I purposely chose a section with a longer, mellow gradient, finishing with a steeper incline. 8x400, 1 minute rest. Back and forth on the pothole-laden chip and seal road that parallels the expressway. Not exactly a scenic or motivating environment, but I think that's what was motivating about it. The mostly downhill sections were in the 1:15-1:20, and the mostly uphill sections in 1:20-1:30. 3 mile cooldown. Will this workout lead to increased ultra performance in any way? Meh. Just not in the mood to pound out hours of running just yet.

Another 1.5 hours of busting logs open. Beats the hell out of going to the gym, and it will keep the house warm.

8 miles - Met up with Evan for a 1 hour jog. 8.76 miles with a pace of 6:30/mile. 30 minutes out, then turned around for a negative split. I was planning on a 20 miler, but took Evan up on his offer to meet me halfway between our homes. Maybe I was in "long run" mode, or perhaps a bit tired from the consecutive days of quality, but I was sitting on the struggle bus for most of this run. I thought we were running closer to 7:30 min/mile, so I was happily surprised to hear the pace when we finished. Talked the whole run and enjoyed cool and sunny weather.

...One hell of a Halloween party to follow.

5 miles - Woke up to a nasty head cold. My nose had a steady drip and I was sneezing uncontrollably. After running some errands, I set out to do a slow easy run. Threw on my Brooks Cascadias, which I haven't worn for about 4 years. Surprisingly comfy, even on roads. Granted, I felt like a slug with my head all congested, but my legs didn't break. Doesn't that fly in the face of the views of the cultish following of minimal shoe runners? Maybe I was too tired to overstride and it kept my form honest. Either way, I finally got my pace down under 8 min/miles and called it a day.

...As much as I hate to say it, I might have to abstain from drinking if I'm going to train. Giving up a Sunday run because I weakened my immune system hurts after having such a good rhythm going. Such is life. As a kid, this was the time of year for my annual visit to the hospital for athsma-related complications. I'll count my blessings and jog on.

56 miles - Consistency. This is the 4th week in a row that I've run steadily, gotten in some quality speedy efforts, and had all my runs feel pain-free. If I'm smart, I'll slowly and steadily build on this weekly structure, using it as a framework to which I'll add volume in the form of two-a-days and a monthly ultra distance run(to practice fueling).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Not a big week, but solid

13 miles - 1.5 mile warmup to the bridge near my house. Shook the legs out, caught my breath, and ran 10 at what I can describe only as a "low end tempo." Just tried to focus on running comfortably, yet deliberately. As I try to get a handle on a possible goal pace for a flatter, nontechnical 100, I'm just listening to what my body tells me. I listened to my breathing, kept my stride short and quick, and visualized my feet, ankles, knees, and hips as I ran. Tried not to look at the watch any more than I needed to, but was surprised to see the pace whittle down from a 7:45 down to a 6:28 for the last one.6 of the 10 were sub 7min.  Damned flat roads, making me run fast. 1.5 miles cooldown home. Runs like these make me feel pretty good about my ability to train and improve. Still no idea about a goal pace, but I assume it's too early to tell. I'd wager somewhere between 4 min/miles and 40 min/miles is appropriate.

Adding an "official" warmup and cooldown helped for some reason.

AM - 6 miles - I felt my legs this morning. Not in a bad way, but I could tell that I had run the day before. Just an easy jog on the dirt roads to shake things out. I want to do a hill session tomorrow, so I'll just prep the legs for that.

The goal is to focus high intensity efforts and let the gratuitous volume sit at a distant second for the time being. To run a fast 100mile, I must first run a fast(ish) mile.

AM - 7 miles or so. Hill repeats at the Block House hill on the lakeshore. 1.5 mile warmup, then climbs of varying distances and grade. It's a fun hill because I can run up the Northern or Southern side. All 6 efforts were between 2 and 3 minutes, and had me chugging up the final cracked sidewalk to the top. Doing hill repeats solo is tough, so I was happy to stick with them all and still get quite a bit of intenstiy. Felt kind of weird to go there and not run the trails, but searching for a hill that has a long, runnable grade usually leads me to the pavement. Enjoyable workout in great weather. Actually got nauseous for a minute. Awesome.

Led one water aerobics class for an hour, then a 30 minute hike with Sam. We watched a storm roll in, then got rained out. More for loosening the legs than any fitness gains.

AM - 5 miles at an easy, watchless pace. This run felt quite easy and painless. A cold rain was coming down, but I had a waterproof shell on to keep me warm until I heated up from the inside out. A black lab followed me for most of the run, playing in the rain and sprinting ahead of me. No collar, no tags, and I have no idea where it came from. It was just wandering around, darting like crazy, splashing in puddles, and didn't have a care in the world.

PM - 4 hours of leading water aerobics. Not sure how long I can keep calling this training, but at least I'm not doing something stupid like assigning a mileage value to it.

5 miles of mostly off-trail running at the State Park. Steep grades and ground covered in wet leaves and logs made for slow going, but all the speedy road running lately had me craving dirt. My legs felt the burn during the run, but felt better than ever afterward.

4 miles - Crunched for time, so I just set aside 30 minutes for a run to clear my head. I didn't feel rushed, but really enjoyed feeling quick on my feet. Without much effort, my easy effort level got me down to a 7:05 mile. Getting excited over a 7:05 seems silly, but given the rather effortless feel of it, I'll just be glad.

13 miles - I'm holding off one more week before doing a long run. The springy feeling in my legs is just too nice to risk just yet. As an alternative to the 20-25 miles I had considered, I just chose to run for 90 minutes and take a GU every 30. Gel hadn't touched my lips since Leadville, and it's time to reconsider my fueling strategy. Whatever I did at my last two 100s wasn't totally wrong, but needs tweaking(ya know, like, not forgetting to eat for 4 hours.). I want to get in the habbit of checking the watch and taking a gel. I tried the "go totally by feel" approach, and it fell short. Sipping the bottle every 10 minutes or so and having a gel every 30 is a good starting point. I may experiment with calorie/electrolyte drinks, but usually don't like them.

This time around, I'm not making any assumptions. I have the time and the drive to find out what kind of training and fueling works for me. Though I've finished two difficult 100s, I don't think more of the same is going to be what takes me from the back of the pack to the front. I've learned how to run fast on no food, bonk, and hike for a whole day on nothing but soup. I'm glad I did it, but I'd love to leave my more inconsistent days behind me.

54 miles
9 hours of miscellaneous core work and water exercise
7 days of running

I think my excitement about this week is mostly related to the mental breakthrough in training. There wasn't a time where I opted to lay in bed and let the run slip, and I focused on the workouts instead of the mileage. Lo and behold, I hit a reasonable distance for the week anyway. If I had to choose between a week like this, or three to five random runs that barely qualify as long runs, I'd take the consistent week of quality. Really happy with the way it turned out.

The plan is to play it cool like this for the next few weeks and creep up the distance on the long run.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Some quality early on, but tapered off toward the end.

AM - 6 miles flat and easy. After a weekend of hardly any running, I felt like easing back into it. Dirt roads. Unfortunately, flat is the norm. Fortunately, there's a way to make it harder: run faster.

PM - A couple hours of wood cutting. Rolling logs and running the chainsaw. Not an "official" workout, but its nice to be outside and it will keep the house warm.

AM - 12 miles. 6 out and 6 back from home. Felt like putting on the Ultraspire vest with my camera in it and having an easy run down to the river flats. Some rolling hills and dirt roads go me to some nice scenery. Sped up a little on the way home and hit a couple 6:30 miles.

PM - Tried some new stuff at water aerobics to improve the balance and core strength of the participants, and we all got a workout. nice. 4 hrs

AM - Track work, approx 9 miles
2 mile warmup to the track from Gazelle
2mile - 11:15
400m rest
 1mile - 5:33
400m rest
800m - 2:35
400m rest
400m 1:17
2mile cooldown

PM - led one water exercise class. 1 hr

.Pretty much DNF'ed the rest of the week.

Friday and Saturday were spent crewing for Jeremiah in Pennsylvania at the Oil Creek 100. Pacing the last 50k of the race was the plan, things went awry when some nasty back pain plagued him. So goes life, especially under the reign of the 100miler over the lives of my little group. This goes to show that even those who aim for top 10 finishes still must finish. The 100 is no different from other races in that needs to be approached with unwavering confidence and courage, but also an acute sense of how much is too much.

6 miles at the State Park. A quick loop on the 5k xc ski loop(can't wait for some snow), then some hills that lead out to the beach. A really mellow run to shake my legs from a sedentary state back to business as usual.

Some great travelling and good experiences this week, but nothing special on the running front. Watching a 100 unfold always brings motivation for the next week.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Small Steps

5 miles - Started out easy, and decided not to look at my watch. I'm not even sure why I brough it; I haven't even worn it in weeks. Eased into the run, and just ran a little faster each time I heard it tick a mile off. 7:15 or so for the average, and a 6:20 for the fastest mile. I was surprised to have a pretty casual effort be fast. I've had much more intense attempts come up short. The key to success here is to keep feeling good. I have a tendency to ramp up the mileage too quickly, or to continue running too fast until blowing up.

AM - 7 miles easy. Nice warmup, then 2x3:00 at tempo pace. A mellow run overall. other than one small hill, flat as hell.

PM - The usual leading of 4 exercise classes back to back. Mostly core work, squats, and light cardio.

Track Workout
2 mile(ish) warmup
2x1 mile - 5:35, 5:28ish. I was a second or twelve behind Evan and Rob and I had no watch on. Just hung on.
2 mile cooldown

Fell off toward the end, so I resorted to some shorter, faster efforts to round out the workout. It's a bit early in the game to destroy myself during a track session. Raising the ole heart rate and getting fast turnover in are important right now. I also bought a pair of New Balance RC 1600s, and they are awesome.

AM - 9 miles easy around the house on the gravel roads. This weather and sun can even make this boring route fun. Finally took it easy. Did I really run 4 days in a row? There was a time when that would not have been a big deal. RC1600's worked well. I was a bit afraid to run in a 6mm drop shoe, but so far so good. They're not squishy by any stretch of the imagination.

PM - 4 hours being all "aqua Richard Simmons" and what not.

Took a day off for no reason, other than running sounded boring.

5 miles - Got up early and drove down to Kzoo for the Campus Classic. It's a "homecoming" event for WMU, and I never ran it while I attended. Why not go jog it, right? Jogged in the morning, visited friends and tailgated in the afternoon, and had a few drinks in the local pubs at night.

5k's tend to make me a little nervous since I have a habbit of going out too hard. No watch(as usual lately), so I just tried to keep it as mellow as one can in a 5k. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 18:15, near as I can tell. Considering the infantile state of my post-100 rebuild, I'm quite happy. After a short cool down jog, I felt like I could have given another hard effort. 3rd in my age group(I don't really get the whole "age group" thing. If I get my ass kicked by a 12 year old, no system of age brackets will spare me any embarassment.).

I was a bit...shall we say...sluggish? Trip up North to help my gradnpa winterize his cabin and watched a soccer game.

37 measely miles, and the usual other stuff. Considering the overall quality this week, it was a bit of a breakthrough. Now, if I can add about 90 miles of fluff to that, I'll be sitting good for Umstead.

Oh, yeah. I'm running the Umstead 100 on April 6th. Better write myself a plan and stick to it. I've learned a lot in my last two 100mile adventures, and I think that if I give it some thought and apply my lessons, I can have more success this time.

Happy trails and what not!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Getting the Itch

0.0x10^13 miles. A day of sitting around for orientation at work nearly put me into a coma.

No running miles, due to a 14 hour day of two orientations, paperwork, and leading exercise classes. I did, however do 4 hours of water resistance training. I lead 4 50 minute classes back to back, so I think I've found a way to get my resitance training in and treat my imminent overuse injuries when they pop up. The work pays didly, but at least its fun.

AM - 3 mile jog to the creek and back from home. Needed to clear my head and run in the quiet before attending a staff meeting.

PM - 29 miles with Ryan on the bike. Climbing the bigger hills aggressivley felt good. Buuuut the achy goochal region evened out the pleasureable parts. Still a couple hours of quality exercise I wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Thanks Ryan.

AM - 11...ish miles with Evan and Rob. A warmup on the lakeshore on the North side of town, then a 20 minute(the plan was 40minutes) tempo run up "Block House Hill" and back down. To do a 40 minute tempo effort, I'd have to go out at a pace slower than 5:30-5:50 min/mile. Times like this make me feel a bit down because I'm not improving. I've decided to chill out and start anew next month, and this is the downside of that. Putting my ego aside and doing what I feel is best for me is difficult when I feel out of shape. So goes running with fast people. It was still a hilly run with some fast middle miles, so it's cool.

PM - 4 hours of leading water aerobics classes. Each class is back to back, and gets progressively more intense as they go. Now that the awkwardness of the first day is over, the classes are fun and fairly intense. I can't maintain fitness with them alone, but they'll make a great supplement even if my skin is falling off from bromine exposure.

AM - 5 miles at an easy pace on the house loop. Could barely feel the previous day's run, which was a pleasant surprise. Low volume training is sweet! I took it easy and picked up trash on the side of the road. If you live near me: Pick. up. your. shit. you. lazy. fuck. I filled up the bottom third of a trash bin with all the garbage I gathered. On a 5 mile run? Ridiculous. Sat by the creek for a good 30 minutes afterward and checked out the colors. Fall is the greatest time of year.

PM - 1 hour bike ride, 1 hour hike, and 1 hour ride back with Sam. Along the lakeshore to the State Park and back. My legs felt fatigued, so there goes my confidence in my legs. No biggie.

4 hours or so of cutting/splitting wood. Shoulders and back, I apologize. It felt good to work away at something with measurable results. The pile of wood should keep the house warm for the winter months, provided I get it hauled up to the house.

A morning 15 miler with Jeremiah. A mellow road run was all I needed for the day, and it was all he needed to bridge the gap between last week's 50M and the upcoming 100. My half-assed bumbling around as of late must be paying off. At one point, he mentioned running too hard and that we were running about 7min/mile. Considering that we were babbling mindlessly as we ran, I'll take it as a good sign for his readiness to culminate his training, and to start mine.

30 something miles and over 10 hours of other exercise. Fun stuff, and I feel like I'm getting ready to climb out of a year long slump. Keep on truckin.'


Sunday, September 23, 2012

More Time Loggin' than Joggin.'

Zip. Spent the day driving across the state with my dad for work stuff. Cool day, but lots of butt-to-seat time.

4 miles of slow yoggin' and some lunges/squats. Thats. about. it.

2.5 hour hike with Sam, with some higher intensity dune intervals thrown in. Rained on and off all afternoon, but it was fun nonetheless. With enough high intensity work and diligent training, I'm starting to feel convinced that one could be a competent mountain runner with the absence of mountains. Not that I'd know anything about that.
Some of the best trails I've ever run. Not an expansive or overly technical trail system , but I'm grateful for it.

Man Pris. Bamboo ski poles. Cotton t-shirt. I know, an icon of style.

Hard not to heelstrike like mofo on sand downhills. Last week was 5x1 of the big dune. This week was 2x3 of the varying sizes. Eventually I'd like to make a really long effort out of it, but I've deemed the next two months "lazy time."

9 miles with Jeremiah and Dave at Pigeon Creek. They're both racing the DWD this weekend, so I did a "sympathy taper" and jogged with them. I rather like this whole "running easy without sweating my balls off" thing. Feeling good.

2 hours of kayaking on the river. The recent rain made for some difficult upstream navigation, but it made for a good time and a decent exercise effort. Colors are turning on the river, and the bugs are retreating. Might have to dress in warm clothes and continue the late season patrols.

Less than stellar day in the garage. 0 anything.

4 miles. Standard dirt road jog around the house. A short hike added in there in the afternoon, but nothing noteworthy.

8 miles. Flat, lonely dirt roads. I'm barely running lately, but feeling no pain at all during runs is starting to make me feel enthusiastic. I may not be the type of runner who maintains a high level of fitness all year. Thinking of time as a cyclical, as opposed to a linear, suits me a bit better. Peaking in time for races could be more my style. I suppose it's as close as one can get to "cramming" for such an event. Either way, I'm feeling better during this short reprieve, even if I've found that my ego is a bit wrapped up in my mediocre running.

About 8 hours of exercise this week. ACSM recommends at least 30 minutes a day. At least I'm doing more than the bare minimum.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Leisure on the Lakeshore

I did not do a damned thing on Monday.

1.5 hours of Kayaking. Some open water action on Muskegon lake. We stuck to the lakeshore for the most part, since waves were coming up over the top of my skirtless kayak. A couple miles paddled to the channel, then through it to check out the WWII submarine that rests near the Coast Guard Station. Nice outing to enjoy the Landscape in a non-running way. Being a runner who only runs is damn-near impossible here. Luckily I'm trying not to train at the moment.

A track workout with Evan and Rob in Grand Rapids. A couple miles of jogging to the track, then a 3x1000 at 5k race pace. Only flaw in that plan: I'm substantially slower than these two. We broke up the third 1000 into a 2x400, then a 32second 200 for me. I'm not feeling super fast, but I do love me a good track session. Feeling fresh for a track workout was really enjoyable. Sticking with 1 track session and a long run per week just might slow my decline while I slack for a couple months and get my mojo back.

An easy 4 around my house in the cold weather. Wearing a flannel and running shorts in this cool weather makes a slow fall run under the changing leaves feel just right. Only a few leaves on each tree are red, the sparse highlighted embers on the canopy over my dirt road.

2 mile warmup on the hills in the State Park, then grabbed the ski poles for some dune repeats. Jogged over to the tallest dune in the  park, then ran/hiked/slogged my way up it. Using the poles isn't something I plan on doing much in races(unless that whole Hardrock thing works out), but the benefit of using arms and shoulders is nice, and mixes things up a bit. 6 repeats(about 2:00 each), with a little standing and bombing back down for recovery. Really fun, enjoyable workout.
I follow the path up to here, and try to keep the sand churning up.
Ok, it's not a mountain view, but I love it anyway. The cool air has me excited for winter.

2 hour run on flat, dirt roads and rolling hills on the banks of the river. Perfect weather, and a run just long enough to call a long run. As a little mojo starts creeping back into my stride, I keep thinking about a "runable" 100miler. Mountain and technical trail running will always have a special place in my heart, but for the sake of contrast I'd like to take on a different challenge.

3 hour mountain bike ride with Sam. A long drive up to Traverse City to ride the vasa singletrack/pathway. Some quad busting sand hills, perfect weather, and topped it off with some damn good Thai food. I never broke into a balls out/ near-miss/ skinned elbows on tree bark pace, but used the hills to build leg strength. Sam was never more than a few seconds behind me. She's only been on the trails a few times, but casually keeps a solid pace. She's not into running, but we may have found a fun way to share the outdoors together.
Some thick vegetation and water everywhere. Probably one of the last green weekends up North

Sand feels foreign after rocky riding

Like a Yeti picture.

One of the best weeks of outdoor recreation I've ever had. Instead of worrying about miles, workouts, or goal races, I just thought of a fun way to get my heart rate up and make my body a bit stronger. I've proven that I can exercise for 30 hours straight, and wasn't all that impressed with myself.
If I'm going to tackle another 100 and improve for next year, I need to get stronger. Here's the plan:

Oh, and some of this:
Instead of worrying about gaining fitess, I'll just take a little time to enjoy what I have.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A week's review and Run Woodstock Through Hazy Hindsight

AM - 1.5 hours of kayaking. Started on the river flats, and padalled upstream for an hour. The scenery on the water was amazing. Green is a color I didn't see all that much of out west. The mud, logs, cat tails, and willow trees reminded me that no matter where I go, this is my home. Sam and I made our way up the river, following a tall heron as it flew from bank to bank. I got close to it, and it stood taller than I sat in the kayak. Great morning to enjoy the water, and it felt nice to get my heart rate up without beating my legs.

PM - 2 hours of trail running. Jason and Jeremiah convinced me(convinced=casually mentioned to me) to come run at Cannonsburg. A loop at the Game Area and up the back of the ski hill. No pain in the knee, so I was happy. Running in true minimal, zero drop shoes on these flat trails seems to keep the ITB pain away. My feet and calves can feel the difference, but nothing compared to the burn of Iliotibial band pain.

2 miles of easy yogging and some squats, lunges, and core work with Samantha. Spent the rest of the day cleaning up my old truck to get it up for sale. It was the first vehicle I ever owned, and I rolled it over 4 weeks after getting my driver's license. I rebuilt it from the ground up with my parents' help the next Summer, and working on it was one of my longest-standing hobbies before taking up running. The brakes were locked up from sitting in storage for 4 years, so it literally had to be drug out with my Dad's 3/4 ton truck. I was forcing a relic of the past out of a dusty, dirt-floored barn with a screaming diesel engine so that I can make some money to get a new life going. It fought me every step of the way, just like when I worked on it as a kid. It wanted to stay in the uncomfortable, yet familiar darkness, just as I tend to do when I get complacent. Hopefully dragging it out is a step in the right direction for us both. It will make someone else happy, and I'll be one less unnecessary possesion away from getting...wherever the hell I'm going.
Getting the dust and goat hoofprints off.
9 miles - Met up with Jeff and Jason for some running at Pigeon Creek. Good times with cool joggers. The weather was humid, which reminds me that Colorado is awesome. The green scenery didn't dissapoint. Though I already miss my mountain running dearly, being able to run continuously for a couple hours without breaking into a hike or stoping to take in the view(taking in view=holding back puke) is really nice. Jason and I both noticed that all the mountain running of the past few months hadn't really translated into groundbreaking flatland speed. They're two completely different sports, which speaks even more to the versatility of runners who can adapt to flat conditions as well as hands-on-knees mountain courses. Hal Koerner's most recent feats of Javelina, Rocky Raccoon, and Hardrock come to mind. I'm a hobbyjogger no matter the grade, but it's okay.

All day was spent road trippin' and hydrating with Jason, Shelly, Christian, and Amy. For reasons unknown, we drank a lot.

Mine's the one on the right. Good thing I post here anonymously and
this couldn't possibly be seen by potential employers or family.
...oh shit.
Unknown amounts of jogging around the Hell Creek Ranch and the surrounding trails. A mellow day of greeting the usual suspects in the Midwest running scene. All of the major running events in the state serve as reunions for a great group of people who come together for a love of being active outside. Great times with great folks

30 miles -ish.
AM: Ran the Hippie Half in the morning, where I ran a 1:40 or some shit. Not great, but considering that I hadn't done any fast running in over a month, it felt pretty good. I never broke into a full on "race pace" mostly because I don't remember quite how. I haven't run a 5k, 10k, or half marathon in over a year. My ultra shuffle kept trying to pop out on the hills, even though I felt fairly peppy. I've got some "unlearning" to do in order to get my speed back. The beer caught up with me mid-race, causing two stops in El Juan before finishing. The course was incredibly fun, with the exception of the flat tow path in the first few miles. The last 4 miles were incredible. I somehow ended up alone on a a small lolipop loop as I followed the course markers in and out of tight corners, over fallen trees, and through the mud. The sun shined through the straight lines of the pine grove, illuminating the ground covered in pine needles and cones. I realized at this point that in spite of drinking the kool-aid and heading west for a while, Michigan will always be home. I was told I was third across the finish line and bragged accordingly all day, but looked it up today to find out I was 14th. Call me Paul Ryan, I guess(lame political humor quota: met)

...8 beers later...

PM: Ryan was running the 50, and they allowed pacers. He may never ask me to pace him again, but I had a good time asking him to run when he was enjoying the scenery. Before heading out with him, I felt like I would have been content just hanging out. Withing the first quarter mile, I was honored and happy to be there. Being there with a friend as he broke down a personal barrier was a powerful experience. There's no glory in running. No money. No shoe deals(unless you're a sellout blogger! Look for my trailroc 235 review coming soon!). The only thing that mattered was putting one achy foot in front of the other one. I've been known to jog a mile or two, but watching someone else perform is even more powerful. I couldn't see any of the negative stuff going on in Ryan's head. All I saw was a guy who was running when every muscle in his body was telling him to walk. With all the camping, multiple events, music, and various hippie-inspired shenanigans at Run Woodstock, nobody but your friends might notice you finish. The crowds thin out and people go home, but runners trickle in triumphantly as the sun sinks down behind the Oaks. There's nothing particularly heroic about running laps in a muddy muddy trail, but if you look closely, you can see that there's no limit to what we can accomplish. The goal isn't to finish the race but rather to take what we learn about ourselves during the race, go forth into the world, and make something happen with it. Physical activity is a vehicle for change in our society.

...but what the hell do I know? I'm just the douche who posts pictures of empty beers and lifted up trucks.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Minimalism 101: Back to the Basics

Giving my body a bit of a reprieve has shifted my focus from racking up miles to making sure I have a solid foundation. I was attempting to "get by" and use devices like cushioning or a slightly raised heel to soften the pain of roads and downhills I've been experiencing. Two things wrong with this:

  • Those things don't work(for me) - Since injuring my knee a few years ago, any raised heel on flat ground, and 4mm on mountain trails, hurts my right knee. Though more options are released each season, functional shoes on a zero-drop platform are very outnumbered by higher-heeled shoes.
  • My "trail skills" are deteriorating - A couple years ago, I was much better at running technical downhills. Wearing thinly soled shoes made me more aware of the obstacles on the trail. I assumed that if my trail running chops declined, I would attempt my usual pace and fall on my head or something. Instead, I gradually slowed down and felt less confident.
One run in my Trail Gloves put things back into perspective. Instead of stepping on sharp rocks and roots, falling, crying, having to gnaw my foot off, going through a life-changing rehab process, becoming inspired to run in the paralympics, winning gold at the 2016 games, marrying a supermodel with great boobs, having 4 kids(3 of which I like), dying from eating bad tacos, and having my dead body bronzed in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Something entirely predictable happened. My cadence sped up, I watched where I was going, and my knee pain never flared up. Well I'll be damned. I should know this, since I've learned it before. I've shared my experiences with many others, and they've taken my word for it. Just goes to show that we have to keep opend minds, and strive to be students of the sport and our bodies.

I've gotten away from a purist/minimalist approach to running and headed toward an open-minded "do what works" approach, mostly after being passed by people in Hokas, Huaraches, and everything in between. As I encountered difficulties garnering speed on technical trails(more specifically rocky downhills), I tried to buy speed by bulking up my shoes. The problem with that logic was that I was faster a couple years ago running in thinner shoes. I was moving away from what previously produced a desirable result. Perhaps it was arrogance on my part, but I thought I had maximized my potential skills(not my fitness), and needed to find the right equipment to enhance it. Not so much.

I learned from my mistake, and plan on adding more barefoot and minimally shod running to my regimen. The most shoe I've worn as of late is the inov-8 f-lite 230. As much as this shoe is marketed as minimal, it still allows my form to get sloppy and hurt my knee within a couple miles. I don't mean to sound snobby and look down on anyone for wearing what they like; I'm talking about my own situation specifically. Minimalism is all the rage, but I wish I could wear racing flats. Most of them have a 6-8mm heel differential, in spite of weighing as little as 3oz. Breakin' mah balls.

Making sure I have a solid body to build on next year means less stressing high mileage, and more concern with strength, speed, and nutrition. The best part about this "new idea" is that my mileage will probably go unchanged. Whether I obsess about total weekly distance or not, it hovers between 60-90 miles during peak season.

...Totally unrelated: Blogging is weird. In order to write anything, you sort of need to operate under the assumption that someone will want to read it. I wouldn't want anyone to assume that I think I'm some sort of "temporarily embarassed" elite runner. I'm well aware of my average-ness, but hope someone gets something out of this thing. I've won a couple races, got a couple top 10 finishes, barely made cut-offs, and had the letters "DNF" scribbled next to my name. I've been a beginner at age 20, and run at a collegiate level(sort of). Experience is valuable, and we should all share ours.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Enough is enough

I'm cooked. Running a 100, a 40 miler, a 100, and a marathon + 13 miles in 5 weeks has put me into a cycle of slower than average running, even for me. Although continuing to string together ultra distance runs would be a feat at any pace, its just not my style to keep the engine running while it misfires. The final straw fell on my back when I completely botched a trail run with Jason and Jeremiah. I was limping in pain without even realizing it, thinking it was normal. The only joy I found in it was the company of two good friends, and thinking "holy shit, I'm still moving."

Time for a little rebuilding, and I'm looking forward to it. Cycling, resistance training, and hiking. After all, if I'm going to be a rehab specialist, I'd better practice what I preach(a novel idea, yeah?). I've been thinking about why I've resisted this type of regimen for so long. Why turn my nose up at some cross training? Why not head out for a bike ride when it's the off season and I haven't got any races coming up? I think its my affinity towards the aesthetic of the commited trail runner. There seems to be a search for duality in our athletic culture. You're either a trail runner or a road runner. You're either a runner or a triathlete. You're either a minimalist or a traditionally shod runner. If you're a runner, you don't ski or bike. You run. The commited trail runner I aspire to be wouldn't enjoy roads, cycling, swimming, or spending some time at the squat rack.

Trying something new will breathe a little life into stagnant training. That being said, it's not even than new. The best year of ultras that I've had so far was preceeded by swimming, weights, and a shitload of short runs. This leads me to believe that the perfect training plan has little to do with science, and a lot to do with keeping a fire burning. Anything that prods us out of complacency and drives us to push beyond our comfort zone. To paraphrase the Love Guru, I'm not out here to be the next Tony Krupicka, I'm out here to be the first Jesse Scott. Running will be back into the spotlight in a few short months, and never leave compeletely. A semblance of a plan will crystallize if I get into Western or Hardrock in 2013.

My goal for the fall and winter is to loosely adhere to the following criteria:
  • At least 45 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • One intense running session per week(tempo, fartlek, track, hills)
  • Train each major muscle group once per week
  • Do an absurdly long bike, hike, or run each weekend(4+), or short race.
This should also add some muscle to my skinnyfat frame, making my up and coming male prostitution business much more profitable. It will also be scrapped completely if I get drunk and somehow get into the Arrowhead 135.

Since I have no set work schedule yet, I also declare the right to rearrange things...and do whatever I want all the time, undoing any of the aforementioned rules. I had beer, ice cream, and french fries for dinner. Doing dumb things for fun is my specialty.

This sounds less manageable than it is. It adds up to less than 10 hours per week. It makes more sense than sitting around feeling sorry for myself, and eating fruit snacks until I can no longer poop. I'm home for a while, and even have some pretty great job prospects rolling in. Worst case scenario: I get by and gain experience until I decide which mountain town to move to. Best case: I do sports-specific rehab in a clinical setting for people in my hometown, still travelling occasionally to have fun.

Running is a metaphor for life- The lows feel like they'll last forever. Have some water, take a deuce, have a shot of whiskey and a burrito, and head out for some more, for it will pass and be worth it.