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.