Monday, August 16, 2010

8/9/10-8/15/10 week in review

Well, this week treated me much better than the last. After a few consecutive weeks of feeling burned out and doubting myself, I needed to do a little soul searching. Why am I feeling this way? Am I exiting what could only be called a running "phase?" I realized that I had come too far, and enjoyed running far too much to simply let it go.

I had to look at my running career thus far. Woodstock weekend has not even happened yet. It's over a month away. That means it hasn't even been 1 year since my first 50k, which was one of the most challenging things I've done so far, much more difficult than the Steelhead half-ironman completed in the same year.

Side Note:

After Steelhead, I sprinted the finish, took pictures with my family, then sprinted to the beach and swam. After the 50k, I staggered to the post race food and fell asleep. I had fun at both events, but the trails gave me a beating and I was undertrained. Cardiovascularly, I was there. Steelhead was completed in 5hours and 20 minutes. The woodstock 50k took 5 hours and 45 minutes. The problem was specificity of training. My longest trail run was about 21 miles, and it was by no means easy. My longest road run was approximately marathon distance, but was completed the previous summer. Both of these runs requied substantial recovery.

So I realized that in less than 1 year, I had accomplished much more than a "non athlete" like myself should ask for. I PR'ed in the 5k by 3 minutes, did the majority of my transition to barefoot and minimalist footwear running, took 2nd in a trail 25k(Vasa Trail Run in Travrese City), won my age group at the Kal-Haven Trail Ultra(Actually got second, but there's a "no double dipping rule" and the winner was my age), completed the Mind the Ducks 12 hour, and completed a 68 mile training run(double crossing of the Kal-Haven) with Jason Robillard and Mark Robillard. I'm very happy with the year so far and have been humbled by flying a bit too close to the sun. I've experienced some of the general malaise that comes with overtraining in the past, but usually attributed it to lack of focus or laziness. This case, however, may be full-blown overtraining syndrome:
  • Depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Alteration of sleeping habits
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tired, achy joints/muscles
  • Loss of focus
  • Easy workouts felt difficult
Last week, I logged a total of 24 miles. In 7 days, I hadn't even covered marathon distance while "peaking" for a 50 miler. This was the last straw. It sucked, but there's something liberating about hitting bottom. I was freed from expectation and pressures that I put on myself. I was able to return to a state of mind that fits me much better than forcing numbers and figures onto something natural. I simply ran as far and fast as I felt, whenever I wanted. Resting for 4 days allowed me to do start over. I brought the Garmin, but vowed not to look at it unless I stopped for a break.

My newfound liberation, coupled with rest, must have done something to my body and my psyche. I ran nearly 60 miles in 3 days, and 86 miles in 1 week. My favorite part about the week was that I included 2, count 'em 2, rest days. 3 days of doubles, 1- 22.5 miler, and a couple good tempo efforts on the days that I ran. Each run felt great, with the exception of the 13 miler, which was done in 90+ degree heat on fresh, black asphalt with less than 20oz of water and no source of calories(I'm not known for my "detail work" like survival essentials).

The first two days of the week were two-a-days. I mostly used them to dust off the cobwebs and get back into enjoying the trails. Day one was 12 miles of dunes and fairly technical trails at Muskegon State Park, followed by a nice group run at Hoffmaster State Park. Day two was the aforementioned 13 miler, followed by a tempo 7 miler at Hoffmaster. Day 3 was a tempo-ish effort with the Wednesday night running group at Gazelle Sports in Kalamazoo. Thursday was an easy 7 at Hoffmaster. Friday was a day in which I felt like doing nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be, I spent some time with my dad, did some work around the house, and helped Samantha's parents get their boat out of the water. I also ran 1 mile easy barefoot.

Saturday was a great 22.5 miler on the North Country Trail. Mark, Tony, Ryan and I headed up to Hesperia to check out the trail head and do an out/back on the Northbound trail(we chose North because I won Rock/Paper/Scissors). Ryan and Tony were in need of a 10-ish miler, so I ran ahead and marked a 5 and 6 mile turn around point for them. I paused my Garmin for this, and forgot to restart it for an unknown amount of time. Once I realized this, I started it again. I fiugured I hadn't run that long, so I would just run until my watch said 10 miles, then turn back. I would double the excess miles over 20 upon my return to the car to determine the actual mileage. The rest of the "out" part went well, and I maintained a solid pace, hitting a few low 7min. pace sections. I turned around at 10 miles, and started to feel guilty about Ryan and Tony waiting for me to drag my ass back to the car. It wasn't long before I saw Mark. He was essentiallg going to just run until we met and do whatever mileage that turned out to be. I did manage to bring my phone on one section and took a picture to uglify my blog a bit.
I felt bad about not doing the entire run with Mark. He is a great friend and a strong runner, but I felt a twinge of pain from adjusting a notch or two down. Some days he leaves me huffing and puffing, but not that day. I took off on a hill and noticed that he was just slightly behind, but looking good. I started taking off at what felt "comfortably fast." Then I was faced with a slight ache in my stomach. I knew I was going to need to...ummm... find a bathroom. Luckily, I had just read Jason's blog post on pooping in the woods(Thanks, Jason!). So much for my lucky bandana. Mark had silently passed me as I hid off-trail. I now had the urge to catch back up to him. I began to chase, and the realized that I was running very low on GU and water. I had no GU and about 3oz of water. 1oz per mile in high heat/humidity on unknown trails? Genius.

I reached a stream crossing that we had run across early on in the run. The crossing, like the rest of the trail, is beautiful scene of Michigan wilderness. The more I see of this state, the more I appreciate its natural wonder. I was happy to know that we were close to the car(and water), and I looked down at my watch. I was already .85 miles over the 20 mile mark. That means that my watch had been paused longer than I had estimated and that our 2o miler had turned into a 22.5 miler.

I made it back to the car, but slowed down about 1 mile from the finish. I think my body has learned to start cooling down on its own, so my "self-preservation" mechanism is pretty dependable. I also was simply getting tired, since my entire caloric intake for the day included 2 small Powerbar Naturals Bars(100ish calories each), 2 GUs, and a RedBull. The run ended well, followed by an exuberant, "Where the hell have you been?" from Ryan.

The last day of the week, I went canoeing with my family. It was a great time and consisted of no running whatsoever. It's not that I couldn't have, but I just felt that it may do more harm than good. My hamstrings(more specifically, Pes Anserine and associated muscles) have been tight after hard climbing efforts. I thought it was a knee joint issue, but I realized the other day that extending the knee in anything but a standing position aggravated the medial(inside) side of my knee, and the pain radiated up into the hamstring area. This is commonly known as "swimmers knee," but can also impact runners. From what I can gather, people who suffer from the occasioal bout of Iliotibial Band Syndrome(like me) often complain about Pes Anserine bursitis.

North Country 50 is too close to do damage, and I feel that any fitness gained last minute would be too great a risk. My focus for the next two weeks will slowly shift from running when able(hopefully in the 60-70 mile range, but I'm not bound to that number) to gentle cross training and stretching/massaging the offending parts. One of my best friends since childhood is getting married this weekend, and there are great times to be had as a member of the wedding party. Moving away and life in general have kept me from my friends, who are more like brohters and sisters, and spending a couple days in their company beats running alone in the dark any day. I'm excited for this and it will be the final wedding that I'm in for the summer.

here's a breakdown of this week's mileage.


AM-12 miles(1:52:00)

PM-11 miles(1:54:00)


AM-13.5 miles(2:00:00)

PM-7 miles(1:00:00)

PM-2.5 miles(25:00)


PM- 9 miles(1:16:00)


PM- 7 miles(1:07:00)


PM- 1 miles(6:00)


AM- 22.5 miles(3:20:00)


Zilch- canoeing and goofing off.



Here's one last picture(sorry for the crappy quality). I cut the heel/arch out of my old pair of Vibram Fivefingers KSOs as an experiment. Im going to use them throughout the week on my road runs to attempt to nix a slight heelstrike I acquire when I start getting lazy. Upon cutting up the heel, I realized that even with about 2,500 miles, the heel is still thick. The thin amount of padding can still allow for a bit of slop in my form, so I out it goes. I'll be sure to follow up on this next week. Why not hack up an 80 dollar pair of hard-to-find shoes?


  1. The run ended well, followed by an exuberant, "Where the hell have you been?" from Ryan.


    "Why not hack up an 80 dollar pair of hard-to-find shoes?"

    SO THEY ARE SHOES!!!! ;)

    Maybe sometime next year I'll be at your level so I can keep pace with you and we can trade some more family guy quotes :-P

  2. hahaha!
    Yes, anything on your foot is a shoe, in my opinion. Thats why its hard to explain to some people that I'm not actually a BAREfoot runner.