Saturday, January 31, 2009

I SAID GO HOME!!!: HR Training - Day 41

The last light run of the training plan, I had the fortune of running at my in-laws place in North Bend, WA. The skies were clear, so the view of the Cascades, Issaquah Alps, and Mt Si were in full view with their mild snow-covered caps.

I usually run to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, but I decided that I would try to run on the roads. I took the original run and added an extra 15 minutes on it to make it a 15m-3m-15m-3m-15m run, using the first 15 minutes as a warm-up. For this warm-up I tried to keep my HR under my Aerobic Threshold, but as you can see in the graph - it didn't work well (although my HR didn't jump that high on the watch that I can remember, it recorded otherwise - go figure). Eventually, my heart rate settled down and overall my HR did try to stay at or below my Aerobic Threshold, occasionally drifting over. I sometimes wish that someone could invent a pair of glasses that have the HR numbers displaying in a Heads-Up Display like a video game. That way, you don't have to keep looking down at your watch to figure out where you are and when you'll be bleeding over your HR.

On the way back to my in-laws house, this insane dog decided to show its authority and come at me. I stayed remarkably cool and screamed at the dog to GO HOME! The dog gave me a WTF look and backed off. Lucky for the pooch.

I do need to practice running below my Aerobic Threshold outside. I personally think I've gotten it down decently on the treadmill, but races don't happen on a treadmill and being outside in the nice weather for the run was a good exchange for having a HR that wasn't as smooth as it would be on the treadmill. I am confident that it will improve as the weeks go on and I put more time into my training.

Last day of the plan tomorrow. I wonder if I'll be able to stay with the group? I wonder how much distance I'll cover?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Slowin' My Roll: HR Training - Day 40

There was something about this week that just seemed...draining. Originally, I was going to run immediately after work to catch some daylight left, but some force in the universe was sucking the life out of me. Maybe Dick Cheney was nearby? He is out of the White House after all. (Damn that Jon Stewart and his Star Wars comparison!)

Anyhoo, I decided to go down to the dungeon again after dinner. However, I decided to hold back during the Base Builder II run. I did my best to keep my Zone 1 runs at 135 bpm or less instead of hitting the Aerobic Threshold of 138 bpm. I also was trying to keep my Zone 2 HR at or below 150 bpm (but I was looking to keep it at 148 bpm as best as I could.)

I have to say that it was a good run. My ground speed was between 3.7-3.8 MPH for Zone 1 runs and 4.3-4.4 MPH for Zone 2 runs. I didn't have too much HR drift and I think due to the good warm-up, I was able to maintain my HR's in the right places.

Tomorrow is my light run that I'm going to do at my in-laws place, Sunday the last day of the training plan (an LSD Base run) that I'll do with the group. Looking forward to the end of this and building on what I've developed these past 6 weeks.

Feeling things out...

Setting up my training schedule for Cascade Crest and the rest of the year is going okay.

I decided to run based on time and less on distance. This way, improvement can be seen by how far I traveled at the same intensity and time. I had trained this way in the past and it was pretty effective, although a bit odd when you would tackle a route where you're use to running a 4 mile loop in 40 minutes, but find yourself having to go just a wee bit further past the loop's original starting point. I'll also be cross-training as well. I've found that I'm lacking some core strength and need a boost in firing up my metabolism, giving me overall strength (stronger muscles help dealing with the impact that running does to the body), and help burn off some of this excess fat that is weighing me down. So, back on the bike for commutes and going back into CrossFit again (beginner's routine to start).

This is the weekly schedule I've got setup at the moment:


- Cycling commutes totaling about 7 miles of distance each workday, gradually increasing the distance as time goes on (and weather gets better).
- Following the CrossFit Beginner's Routine during my lunchtime at the company gym. (It won't be Rx'ed - Barbell will be replaced by Dumbbells for the Deadlift & Push Press; Running 400m will be replaced with 500m rowing on a Concept-2-Rower.)

For the actual running part...

I've labeled things the Maffetone/Mittleman way for now until I tweak things a bit. Remember MAP (Most Aerobic Pace/Zone 1), MEP (Most Efficient Pace/Zone 2), & SAP (Speedy Aerobic Pace/Zone 3)?

Mondays: Rest or MAP
Tuesdays: MAP
Wednesdays: MAP
Thursdays: MEP or SAP
Fridays: MAP (possible Rest if Saturday's a race day)
Saturdays: Rest or MAP (possible Race instead)
Sundays: Long MAP, Long MEP, Combo Run (combining all three zones), or Race (possible Rest or regular MAP if Saturday was a Race instead)

Most runs will be anywhere from 40-90 minutes during the week and the long runs will range from 2-6 hours or even longer depending if it's a race or I need to train for further specificity. For the mileage nuts, this would make my weekly milage anywhere from 35-ish miles to as much as 65-70 miles depending on the situation. I will be also flexible with my training. I'll really focus on listening to my body and deciding on whether I'd genuinely need a rest day or two more based on physical needs and not because I'm just wussing out.

Hope this goes well!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Setting the Dial: HR Training - Day 38

The last Base Builder run in the training plan. I did it as Rx'ed for the 40 minutes.

Certain facts I have to face:

1.) You can't win the lottery without atleast buying a ticket.
2.) My warm-ups will always be a challenge.

I did a brisk walk at a 3.5 MPH speed and my HR was hovering around a 109-115 bpm. I did this for about 8 minutes. However, once I started to get into a light jog, the insanity in the first 10 minutes showed up. As you can see, things really didn't settle in until after those 10 minutes were up and I was running in the 5 minute block at zone 2.

However, I decided to lower my intensity and try to keep my HR well below my Anaerobic Threshold of 161 bpm in Zone 2 and below my Aerobic Threshold of 138 bpm in Zone 1. As you can see, it actually did work and I was pretty steady for the most part. I did notice something else though. When I was keeping my HR around 130 bpm in the middle of the run and then shifted to the second Zone 2 interval, it took more to raise my HR to get it around the sub-150 bpm range. In my training after this week, I need to have each workout setup to run at certain points with the zones. This means possibly breaking up the zones I created into smaller sub-zones. This way, I can tune my body into the right exertion perception against my HR, eventually getting this working in my races.

Since I'm nearly done with the plan, here's the rest of the plan for the final week:

Thursday: Rest
Friday: Base Builder II
Saturday: Light (I might extend this to an hour)
Sunday: LSD Base (planning to join the group again for this one to see how my body behaves on relatively flat roads versus hilly trails like I had done the previous two LSD Base runs)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Expectations and Astronauts: HR Training - Day 37

Another group run, doing a Base Builder II workout. As you can see in the image, the warm-up isn't there. I tried to do one, but it was a serious flop. I had tried to do some brisk walking and some very easy jogging to get my HR going and the blood flowing, but my HR dropped back to the resting state again after standing around too long before the actual run.

I'm still trying to learn how to monitor myself on the ground versus the treadmill. I'm also trying to get use to running with the group without getting sucked into everyone elses pace. There are some steady moments, but not enough steady moments within the zones. I will be tightening this up as time goes on in my training after I'm done with the plan for this week and beyond.

Afterwards, Eric and I had a good solid talk about his expectations versus my goals. As I told him, I'm always willing to listen to people - even if I decide to do something else in the end. This would be one of those times. Eric's expectations based on what I've been blogging about and what his experience is, he recommended that I postpone Cascade Crest for 2010 and focus on my HR for the next 9+ months, maybe do a marathon or 50k as a race to focus on for this time (my calculation, that would put either the Portland Marathon in October, Seattle Marathon in November, Baker Lake 50k in September, or the Ron Herzog 50k in November as a single thing to focus all my efforts towards.) This means that other races throughout the year that I would desire to do would be off the table - no White River, no Chuckanut, no Mt Si, nothing. It would all be HR training and tuning. He said that it was something I probably didn't want to hear. He was right and I decided to go against the recommendations.

We talked at length about everything. The training. My progress. My goals. Everything that could make and/or break me for Cascade Crest. I totally saw where he was coming from - get the HR thing down to where everything afterwards would be awesome later. My thing was to simply aim for the stars. For the past several weeks while training, I had been reviewing all of my data from my past races and training schedules. Looking at what worked well and what didn't. This is what I found so far:

1.) HR training in the past worked (although I went off of the 220-age thing)
2.) I cross-trained a great deal (swim & bike when tri training, bike commuting, and strength training) which added more hours to my training weeks.
3.) I had only one session a week that was dedicated to just faster running (tempos and intervals). All the other runs were either easy or long. Looking at my times during my triathlon training and my half-marathon training for Chicago, the swim/bike/run gave me stronger legs with a better core, the HR training then when going out for my easy runs got progressively better as each day went on - the HR staying under control. The strength training also helped me as well, especially with my metabolism. I was able to process fuel better since the muscles were leaner and more active. Also, I could take the pounding better and recover faster in a shorter period of time.
4.) I ate better. Don't get me wrong. I don't eat the junk like I use to, but I haven't relaxed the portion control on some things.
5.) I weighed less (but that was from very tight control of my diet and workouts to the point of being obsessive-compulsive). I also had less muscle compared to now (although having more muscle mass isn't a bad thing), which made me faster since I carried less while running.

So this is what I decided to do:

1.) Sign-up for Cascade Crest this year.
2.) Focus on my HR for my training aimed towards Cascade Crest after I'm done with the current training plan.
3.) Re-incorporate my cycling (not to mention cycling work commutes) back into my life
4.) Re-incorporate strength training back into my life as well (Looking forward to doing CrossFit again, but starting back on the simple routine using the CrossFit Beginner's Program)
5.) Do my best to buckle down on some of my eating habits to find a good balance between how much I burn during training versus what I need to consume for proper living.
6.) If at any time Cascade Crest seems like it's not an attainable goal based on what I'm going through, I will request the RD (Charlie Crissman) to defer my entry for the following year.
7.) I will use various races from now till Cascade Crest as an aid to help me train, but it won't be a monsterous amount of races. Every training run, every race will serve a purpose.

I had told Eric that I want to experience all that Cascade Crest and moving 100 miles will do. In the past, I had told Eric of my first ultra - the 1st Annual Pigtails Flat Ass. I had gone through some insanity that winter and with my amount of frustration in life, I wanted to run long and just hurt. However, the hurt was short-lived and the euphoria of moving for hours (under 5:30 to be more specific) took over. This is one of the major reasons why I run. People mention their Love/Hate relationship with running and exercise in general. Hell, New Balance made a few commercials on this. The one thing that I did not want my training to turn into is ALL WORK. I want moments to enjoy as well. It took some doing, but I found a bit of the joy in the current training, usually in the slow light runs or when I hit the trail those two times. However, the stress of having to deal with mini-intervals on a daily basis and memorizing the patterns did deflate some of that fun. So this is what I'm left with: Perform at my Potential or Have Fun.

The answer: I choose a happy balance. I will HR train and do alot of cross-training to help facility my aerobic capacity. However, I will make sure that every run counts and that I can smile along the way.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Manic Moderate Mondays: HR Training - Day 36

After a good amount of debate on whether to do the Base Builder II run or the Moderate run, I had decided to do the Moderate run as a double. Basically the same run as I did on Thursday (or rather, I did HORRIBLY on Thursday), but it would be on the treadmill again at the usual 1% incline. As you can see, I was able to maintain a consistant heart rate for each of the 12 minute runs in Zone 2, only rarely bleeding past my 161 bpm ceiling. For each 12 minute part, I was able to maintain a decent speed of 5.6-5.7 MPH until the last set where I decided to slow it down to just 5.0 MPH and learn to relax more. The HR ended up being lower on the last one compared to the others, but not by huge leaps and bounds (about 3-4 bpm less than before).

It was a good run, but I was in that moment of "When is this going to be over?". It's been awhile since I've felt like that on a treadmill run. I can only assume my brain and body need more outdoor stimulation from running.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Grief of Good: HR Training - Day 34

Today was the Pigtails Run. In the past, this was my track record:

First time in 2007 - Ran the whole 50k course in 5:28, two minutes slower than my first 50k run (which was the Pigtails Flat Ass, go figure).
Second time in 2008 - Ran two loops, fell asleep while running in the start of the third and decided to bail out. The new job I had really messed up my sleep schedule ever since, even though I quit and went back to my old company.

So, now I have this event as my third time running it and my expectations were:

1.) Do your crazy LSD Base run on the course, but keep your HR more consistant.
2.) Try to enjoy the moment.
3.) If you have time and the family is cool with it, run more loops. Maybe even finish the 50k.

Well, 1.5 out of three ain't bad (ain't good either!)

I did the same course last week, same workout. There were some things that were royally screwed up.

1.) Warm-up sucked. My HR was pretty low one minute, then high the next, waivering back and forth within the first 10 minutes, even though I did a couple of repeats to get the blood flowing in the beginning.
2.) HR was recording some really strange crap on some of the run. I would run hard and it would register 118 bpm. Seriously, WTF? Was the HRM losing contact with my chest?
3.) Footpod stopped sending data to the watch. Dying battery? I had to stick the thing in one of my strap pockets on my Nathan's Hydration Bladder to have it communicate to the watch. Seems that the beeps from the watch would only go off with the footpod being on. (Note: Alot of the data in the chart doesn't totally flow with the run, mostly the interval times.)

But with the things that failed, there were the good things too:

1.) I did enjoy that there was company on the course. Seeing people before the start, my Maniac bros & sisters and friends from the Balanced Athlete group. Honestly, it has gotten too lonely on those training runs sometimes.
2.) My HR was a bit more steady on the ups and downs as you can tell (well, when the HRM wasn't going nutty). If you compare with the previous time, I have done better.
3.) My wife and daughter being there. I usually run most of these things solo, but it is nice to have family. However, I did wish my kid was more patient and not begging for me to quit (I ended doing only one loop and lot of time to kill - next time, she's getting a babysitter).

Below, you can see how I did on Saturday versus the other day on the same course. My Training Effect ended up being higher, but there is more consistancy in the more recent run then the previous one. The recent run is listed in black. (Note: The interval points are in the wrong place for some stupid reason - don't ask me why.)

And as always, the recap for the week. Week 5 is officially over and I'm on the last week now. (Note: I skipped a light run that I was planning to do the following day, but decided to just run errands and spend time with the family. Sometimes, you just gotta do that.)

Tonight, I'm stuck between doing a treadmill Moderate run or swapping that with the Base Builder II run instead. I'm planning on meeting up with the Balanced Athlete group on Tuesday for another group run (I know, I'm asking for trouble), but Eric did say that he had some additional thoughts on my training (some things I won't like he says, but it'll be better for me in the long run) and I'm willing to listen...mind you, I may not DO everything he says, but I am willing to listen to everything. :-)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Blazing my own trail: HR Training - Day 32

In my attempt to try and run with the group, it could be only described in one word that populates the internet greatly...


The reasons for the fail:

- No warm-up. Note the chaos in the beginning. Although, I think that the area near the store might also have some interference as well (that's my take on it anyway).
- Letting the group dictate the pace instead of me doing my own thing. But that's the problem with going with running in a group when you're focus is how your HR is doing and no two folks are alike. The guy that eventually ran with me (Rob) the entire 4+ miles has HR trained longer than I have and even though he's coming off of an injury layoff, he's able to run at a faster clip with a lower HR. But it was a good balance that evening since my comfy pace (note the middle where it holds pretty steady) and his easy pace where he's running at a lower HR (around 135 bpm for him, I think) were pretty close.
- Not being able to actually hear the beeps this time from my Suunto to tell me to switch from Zone 2 to Zone 1. It was supposed to be a Run 12 minutes at Zone 2, run 2 minutes in Zone 1, repeat three more times. Do you see the odd markers in the beginning? That's from straight-up confusion when was running. I didn't realize to drop zones until it was too late. I also didn't complete the run (should have covered 6 more minutes worth of time).

Thankfully, I didn't get beaten up during this run like I did in the past ones, which proves that I am improving from when I started. I also did have the company of atleast one person (Thanks Rob), which was a nice change instead of being on a treadmill or alone on the roads all the time.

I had asked Eric about the training plan and what comes after day 42. At first, he said that we weren't there yet and not to rush the plan. I was very suprised to hear that response since it would be 10 days until the end and the idea of not even knowing what to do with myself after the plan just doesn't sit well with me. If this was just a fitness thing and nothing more, I would be fine with it. But since I have a goal race for the year, not having a plan of attack is foolish.

He then gave me some more detail, but not quite what I expected. He wanted me to fine-tune my HR training some more and repeat a certain week where my HR stayed the most rock-steady (after you remove the garbage data of interference, coffee, no warm-ups, or experimentation.) What? Repeat a week? THAT didn't sit well with me either. Fine-tuning my HR further, great - I'm all for it. But just repeating a previous week? That doesn't make much sense. I know I've made gains. I KNOW I'm not rushing the plan and I'm really doing my best to focus on my HR. Looking at my past data, everything does look good when you remove the crap. However, it has also been a very big learning experience and alot of information I had to figure out on my own (which is why I've been posting all this stuff).

There was an extra nugget that he tossed me though that I kind of figured on my own, but he confirmed. He said that he trains in 5 zones, while noting that I only have three (technically 4 if you include the peak zone that is usually reserved for the last minute kick in races or a flight-or-fight response that people get when in danger). Now this helps greatly since that will let me breakdown those zone runs further for my benefit. Remember the whole MAP/MEP/SAP thing I mentioned? This is where things might fall better into place.

Here are my current zones based on the VO2Max test taken on Dec 16:

Low Zone: 79-138 bpm
Moderate Zone: 139-161 bpm
High Zone: 162-178 bpm
Peak Zone: 179-183 bpm

Here are the zones based on the Maffetone 180 approach with the Stu Mittleman twist (Congrats Stu on making into the Ultrarunning Hall of Fame!):

MAP Zone: 119-138 bpm
MEP Zone: 139-149 bpm
SAP Zone: 150-169 bpm

I've made an adjustment for my age since my original calculation was when I was on the cusp of moving from age 30 to 31. Note how now my Aerobic Threshold of 138 bpm from the VO2Max test matches to the highest number of the MAP Zone. Coincidence? I think not.

Remember my comfy pace? My HR stayed around 145-149 bpm. Check out the MEP number. See how it is in the lower part of the Moderate Zone?

Update: I re-did the calculations for the other options of "If you're an experienced endurance athlete (3-5 hrs of running or more a week), add 10 points" and "If you're active but not experiened (less than 3-5 hrs of running a week), add 5 points".

Adding 5 points:
MAP: 124-143
MEP: 144-154
SAP: 155-174

Adding 10 points:
MAP: 129-148
MEP: 149-159
SAP: 160-179

Yeah, based on my VO2Max test, these numbers are WAY off if I raised them.

So if I start chopping things up from the VO2Max test and the Mittleman numbers, this is what I end up with:

= Low Zone =
Zone 1a: 79-118 bpm
Zone 1b: 119-138 bpm

= Moderate Zone =
Zone 2a: 139-149 bpm
Zone 2b: 150-161 bpm

= High Zone =
Zone 3a: 162-169 bpm
Zone 3b: 169-178 bpm

= Peak Zone =
Zone 4: 179-183 bpm

So the question does this help me out now? What does this do for my training?

This is how:

= Low Zone =
Zone 1a: Warm-Up/Cooldown/Recovery, usually walking briskly or a slow shuffle
Zone 1b: Easy Pace, using fat for fuel

= Moderate Zone =
Zone 2a: Comfy Pace/Steady-State Pace
Zone 2b: Tempo Pace

= High Zone =
Zone 3a: Long Interval Pace, aid with increasing Anaerobic Threshold
Zone 3b: Short (but Harder) Interval Pace, aid with increasing Anaerobic Threshold and VO2Max

= Peak Zone =
Zone 4: The final kick (BOOM goes the dynamite!), aid with increasing VO2Max (to be used judiciously.)

Now that I have my numbers more fine-tuned to what I need to do, I just need a structured running plan (or enough info to devise my own, which I'm pretty close to). I'll try and ask again in the last week, otherwise I think I'm going to have to find my own way and hope for the best.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Incline of Death: HR Training - Day 31

Another light session, but I decided to not run this time. I wanted to change things up and test other aspects of putting one foot after another. Since my "A" race requires me to climb every mountain (no Sound of Music jokes, please), I figured what would be a good baseline to setup is a treadmill walk with incline increases.

When I started, I was moving at a 3.8 MPH walking pace at a 1% incline. When I finished, I was moving at a 2.5 MPH walking pace at a 12% MAX incline. As I progressed, my HR struggled to stay within the aerobic zone. This is a good thing to know for those long climbs that are more either very steep and long (atleast 1 mile or longer). I know that as I continue to train, my HR will drop during the ascent if I powerwalk/powerhike and will make it possible for me to run (if only for a short time). Yeah, downhill running is what rules in ultras, but if you can get up the hill faster than others AND have good downhill running ability - you'll have the edge over many in the field and be able to survive.

Looking forward to tomorrow and running with the group (if only for a short time). Tomorrow's run: A Moderate Run (12 minutes in Zone 2, 2 min in Zone 1, repeat) and doubled! That should get me 4 miles for sure, enough distance during the group run to participate and fast enough to keep up due to the HR zone.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Built like a racehorse, stubborn as a mule: HR Training - Day 30


Even I can't believe I've hung in this long! Although, technically it has been over 30 days since I had started dabbling in aerobic-HR training about a week or two before the VO2Max testing. I'll make a mild comparison at the end of this post.

After a few calls, I finally got my lab results from my physical. All my fears came to rest. No sign of diabetes. Glucose levels were 95, Hemoglobin A1C's were a 5.2% - diabetics are usually over 6%, non-diabetics are under this number. So I'm still a former "Type II" and despite my increase in size, I'm still good. Cholesterol, HDL, LDL, Triglycerides - they're all in excellent ranges. The nurse that gave me the info was very impressed with the data and wanted to know how I have such good numbers. I do get amused when people get shocked at the idea of ultrarunning, but you can't argue the end results of the training. :-) (Oh yeah, I also agreed to give the doc a second chance. What can I say? The nurse was really convincing!)

As for the training today, I decided to be a jackass and not warm-up to test the waters. A mistake? You betcha. A standard Base Builder run, kept at the 10m-5m-10m-5m-10m:Zone1/Zone2 pattern. I treated the first 10 minutes as a warm-up by walking a decent amount of it before running. However, since I didn't warm-up like I should have, it reflected within the 5 minute-Zone 2 bursts. My HR was already hitting the Anaerobic Threshold of 161 bpm at 5.0 MPH. That's 12 minutes a mile! I've ran faster at that higher HR before! However, the second 5 minute burst was better since my body finally was in the groove and I was able to run to 6.2 MPH before it was over.

There were some good things I did notice though and compared to the first few times when I started this training, this is what I've noticed:

1.) My walking pace has increased (able to shuffle at 16-17 minutes/mile), but my HR stays pretty low (in the 100-110 bpm range).
2.) My aerobic pace ground speed has increased. On the treadmill (w/1% incline), I'm able to cruise at a 4.0 MPH (15 minutes/mile) and have an HR ranging from 128-134 bpm usually (although I do experience some HR drift that bleeds over past my Aerobic Threshold of 138 bpm). On flat ground, I'm able to move at a sub-15 min/mile pace (best efforts at a sub-13 min/mile pace) and my HR stays around 135-138 bpm and tends to hold steady.
3.) My comfy pace on the treadmill is usually a sub-12 min/mile pace. Outdoors on flat roads, it goes between 10-11 min/mile.
4.) My fastest ground speed that could be considered a Tempo effort for the moment outdoors has been around a 9 min/mile pace, but I haven't had to hold it for too long compared to the other runs.
5.) The fastest speed I've done period during this training has been a sub-6 minute/mile pace when I went balls-out during the LSD Base run on Sunday. But the downhills kind of gave me an advantage, so I can't take all the credit.

Compared to when I first started, I was moving alot slower and having more HR difficulties. Body composition-wise, I haven't changed too much (lost about 2 lbs of just body fat only). However, this is also due to the fact that I have only been running and not doing anything else. I believe that once when I incorporate my CrossFit Hybrid training in the mix, I'll shed some of the excess fat that I don't use as fuel during my runs and I'll be better prepped for my races (and life in general).

12 days left of this plan. I'd love to know what happens afterwards. :-)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Missing my Doc: HR Training - Day 29

Today was my physical. My old doctor decided to retire after many years of being in the medical game, so I was assigned a new guy. Although I should really give him a decent chance, first impressions - he seems like a douchebag. I felt like my physical was somewhat rushed and he was really pushing the pills on me before I even had to give blood for testing. Seriously, he was pushing Metformin and Baby Aspirin on me without discussing any possible alternatives and without all the data being available from any kind of lab work. I know that Aspirin is toted as a wonder drug at times since it works on so many things, but come on - don't give out any recommendations until you get all of the data. I'll find out what my full results are by tomorrow (hopefully), but I have a funny feeling I might be seeking my medical services somewhere else in the near future.

Anyway, the run today was made to be light (no doubling up today - not in the mood to do that on the dreadmill in the dungeon). Thankfully, it was the first run where I actually managed to stay within my parameters of Zone 1 for both 15 minute blocks. I also took it really easy, refraining from the temptation of a faster pace. Good thing the run was short. If it was longer, I most likely would have pushed the pace a bit more.

Checking the schedule for the rest of the week, there is another new type of run tossed in that might be fun - stay tuned.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Trip to LSD: HR Training - Day 28 & Week 4 result

Today was my first LSD Base run according to the training plan. It's one of the most complicated runs in the entire list, touching all three HR Zones. Here's the pattern:

5 min Zone 1
5 min Zone 2
5 min Zone 1
3 min Zone 3
10 min Zone 1
10 min Zone 2
5 min Zone 1
3 min Zone 3
15 min Zone 1
10 min Zone 2
20 min Zone 1
10 min Zone 2
15 min Zone 1

Total time is supposed to be 116 minutes (not including my 15 minute warm-up). But there are two problems I have with doing this:

1.) The pattern is insane! No way I can remember this! I knew that I'd mess it up somehow. (Which I did during the Zone 2 and Zone 3 runs).
2.) The 3 minute bursts in Zone 3 cannot be programmed into the Suunto's interval timers anywhere, so I'd have to mess with this too, setting my watch to go off every 5 minutes and with the Zone 3 runs, run hard for those 3 minutes and then slow down after for the remaining 2 minutes. This would make the run at 120 minutes instead.

So, with a complicated run like this, what do I do? I make it more complicated by going to a trail with rolling hills (aka Lake Youngs). Sure, like I don't have enough problems already.

However, this would be a good test to see how I would manage myself on the ups and downs while maintaining my HR in the appropriate zones.

As you can see, compared to my past runs, this was all over the place. There were some good points where I was able to keep my HR in zone 1 while going uphill and downhill in spots. However, if I'm going to be able to take on Cascade Crest, I'm going to need to train on hills MORE and get my body toughened up with some core work (hence, my CrossFit training using the Gant Hybrid after day 42.) And I ALMOST finished the whole loop in the 2 hours (2:04:27).

Other good things: Flying on the downhills! Change of venue! The sunshine!

Hopefully, I'll do better next week for the actual Pigtails Run where I'll do the same loop again - maybe faster or have a better controlled HR? We'll see.

And as always, the week in review. Compared to previous weeks, I did alot more harder runs according to the training effect.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Puggle Shuffle: HR Training - Day 26

I don't know why, but I had it in my head to take the Daisy out with me for my run.

I should have just played in traffic.

See those spikes? Every time she would pull on the leash and I would have to fight to keep her in control...BAM! It was a tug-o-war the entire time. I covered close to 5 miles. Her back and forth efforts made her cover 10.

But, for the chaos I brought onto myself, the run was okay. Seems my groundspeed on flat land has been staying more within the 12-13 minute/mile range, going no slower than 15 minutes per mile if I have to really back off. So, with just a month, I've gone from 17 minutes per mile to almost 12. So does this HR training actually work? I think the data speaks for itself. :-)

Thinking to the future, I have to figure out what happens after day 42 in the training plan. Do I get some structured advice to build my own plan? Do I get another set of days that are outlined like what I got after my Metabolic/VO2Max Testing? One thing that I'm definately going to do is to re-incorporate my cross-training again. As I said before, I'm looking to do CrossFit, but following the Gym Jones idea of "Crosstrain for overall fitness, but you need to go long if that's your sport." If I didn't believe that you had to run long for ultramarathon conditioning, I would do the CrossFit Endurance workouts instead. But the idea of just hammering yourself into the ground with intervals, tempo runs, and time trial runs that are no longer than 13.1 miles just doesn't sound right - especially if you mix that in with the standard CrossFit 3/1 workout routine (and those WODs are already tough as hell if you do them Rx'ed.

Thankfully, I found some info on a hybrid system that uses some CrossFit, but focuses on gymnastics, Olympic lifting, and slow lifting with limited metabolic conditioning...aka Gant's Hybrid Program. I can do Gant's program at work during my lunches and do my shorter runs in the morning or at night during the work week and a long run (or two) on the weekend. Gant's Hybrid would help condition me without overtaxing me and I'll have enough energy to run. Plus, it's structured on a weekly 7 day schedule - which is a bonus. I'm really looking forward to it.

Tomorrow: A nice rest day. Sunday: My first ever LSD Base run! It's two hour long and a mix of everything, including zone 3 - ZONE 3!!! But, I'm going to give this a whack at the Lake Youngs Trail. I figured what better place to test this out and get some experience with hills than to go there since the hills aren't killer, but there is enough variety to test my HR and see how my exertion perception is when going up and down (not to mention trying to have a low HR when going downhill.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What else can you say but...WTF?: HR Training - Day 25

For the past two days at work, I've been stressing out. Although yesterday's run sedated me, today's run wasn't going to cut it the same way. Also, I went on a caffeine kick again with a Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte at Starbucks (hey, its been some time). But I don't think it messed with me this time since my workout was several hours after the java.

The positives of this Base Builder II run:

1.) Warm-up was better (even with the HR spikes).
2.) I've been maintaining a speed of 4.0 MPH for more of the zone 1 runs...until the last 15 minutes of them at the end of the run.
3.) I'm able to go up to 6.0 MPH (usually hovering under at 5.8 MPH) if I gradually increase the speed. This means that in the real world, if I decided to push my pace - I have to push it gradually like how you would shift gears in a manual transmission car, one gear at a time and not rushing it.

The not-so-positives:

1.) My best efforts to stay within my zones and not bleed over wasn't doing so well.
2.) I should have had a full bottle of water beside me on the dreadmill. I think some of my HR drift might have been from water loss via sweat.

And those sudden drops in my HR during zone 2, that's the true WTF moment. I actually SAW it drop and without reason it seems! I KNOW that my HRM isn't a lemon, despite it being used (and I know that my friend wouldn't burn me like that). So what happened? Too much sweat getting between the belt and my chest? Not enough Buh-Bump cream? What was it? Why drop like that and climb back up? Can Suunto's just not have a 100% reliable device? What gives?

One thing I know. I'm not going to just toss it out with the money I spent on it, so I'll just have to make due in the mean time. But it is giving me enough good data to where I can see improvement within myself.

Light run for tomorrow. I'd like to do double the time like I did yesterday, but I might end up with just doing the standard.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In the Groove: HR Training - Day 24

A light run that I extended to double the time (the 15m-3m-15m-3m-15m-3m-15m pattern) and it was the best thing I've done for myself.

Despite my now refined abilities to go mentally numb on the treadmill, I've found a bigger joy in being outside and running. So, I went mildly minimalist for the cold 40 degree temps. A tech shirt, running shorts, and my SOLE baseball cap were the things that I had on to keep me "warm". I strapped on the reflective vest, headlamp, and flashing redlight for the night. So with a cap on my head and SOLES in my shoes, I decided to steer myself to a different direction that I decided to choose. (Yeah, I'm stuck in Dr. Seuss mode for a moment.)

I decided to take a south path again and after my chilly warm-up, I headed off. I focused on being more relaxed and to soak up the gentle quiet world that comes out at night in my little town. Don't get me wrong, there is traffic. But the traffic was mild and no drivers were being jerks this time.

Since my running routes are so common for me, I know where each mile is based on a landmark. Well, to my delight, I reached my first mile in UNDER 15 minutes. I was ready to do backflips! Would I be able to keep it up? Answer = YES! Even with the 3 minute rests (and I actually STOPPED and stretched. No walking at all during those moments), I covered almost 4.5 miles! (Note to self: MUST CALIBRATE DAMN FOOTPOD DEVICE!)

This is a very good sign. More proof that this is working and at this rate, my easy pace will be fast enough to not only keep up with the group, but also be easier on my body during events. Hell, who knows? I might just move up into the middle of the pack for a change!

Tomorrow: Another Base Builder II run in the dungeon. But it ain't gonna keep me down!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Like a Rocket: HR Training - Day 23

Another visit down in the dungeon, another Base Builder II run.

Despite my inability to control my HR as much as I wanted as the run continued after the first half, I did have alot of positive notes to this run compared to previous ones:

1.) I had a much better warm-up since I decided to walk briskly for 5 minutes, then I alternated between walking and doing intermittent strides about every 10 seconds, eventually increasing the strides into a lighter jog.
2.) The first two sets of 5 minute runs were so perfect that I could sing praises to heaven above. I was maintaining a relative HR of 130-134 bpm and moving at a 4.2 MPH speed (that's a sub-15 minute mile!) during my Zone 1 runs. My Zone 2 runs were even better, moving at a speed of 6.2 MPH (a sub-10 minute per mile pace, almost approaching a 9:30/mile speed!) and my HR was just barely touching the anaerobic threshold of 161 bpm!

However, this was not to be once I got through the first half of the run. For some reason, when I tried to repeat the same results again at the 35 minute point, my body wasn't having it. The faster speeds from before were not acceptable to my HR, it shot up to 176 bpm! Seriously, WTF? I had to drop to a much slower speed to be near my anaerobic threshold. My slower running in zone 1 also suffered. I couldn't maintain my HR without it drifting so much. Seriously frustrating, although I'm glad I'm use to the annoyances that come with HR training.

I have to figure out why I was able to maintain faster speeds with lower HR's in the beginning, but not as time progressed. Seriously, if you could run faster and use less exerted effort, you know you'd totally want to.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Brother, can you spare a heart transplant?: HR Training - Day 22

After many days of toiling in the dungeon (aka the treadmill in my downstairs rec area at home), I needed to have planet EARTH under my running shoes for a change instead of a moving piece of rubber that is controlled by a computer and motor.

But, I always keep forgetting some of problems of my area.

1.) TOO MUCH INTERFERENCE FOR ABOUT 0.5 +/- MILES! Even when I was WALKING, the HRM went apeshit! I even did a 20 minute walk with my family before my run to warm-up with no difference!
2.) Drivers in the town are assholes! I had to jump further into the ditches since there is no sidewalk on my roads for some distance.

My HRM wasn't cooperating in the beginning at all. High jumps all over the place and even though the Suunto itself had some lower numbers, they obviously didn't get recorded.

It wasn't until I got a good mile OUT of my neighborhood when I was able to have normalized readings. I was truly grateful for that. I noticed that my pace is moving a great deal faster than being on the dreadmill (compare 16-17 minutes/mile on treadmill versus moving at 12-13 minutes/mile at nearly the same HR). However, I did have more HR drift outside than being on the treadmill, so I had to intermix walking with running a bit more. The other thing I noticed is that my body was going OVER my Anaerobic Threshold level more. My efforts seemed to push at a "comfortably hard" pace, but I think that my body still feels somewhat taxed from the harder runs the past few days. The schedule doesn't give me a light run day until Wednesday and Friday of this week. However, it's a mixed blessing since my HR is staying in the Aerobic range while my speed is picking up more. Good trade off so far and an okay run for a Base Builder workout.

Back on the Dreadmill tomorrow for another Base Builder II run.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This Boogie is for real: HR Training - Day 21 & Week 3 Result

Over the weekend, I had a few choices. Either take Saturday off or turn it into a 5.1 mile muddy, horse-crap covered, cold, dark trail run at Bridle Trails. Thankfully, better heads prevailed and my senses said to stick with the training schedule.

So, originally I was going to run outside to do the Base Builder II run with a 15 minute brisk walk for a warm-up. But then something started to nag at me and I decided to hold off on doing it outdoors, settling again for the treadmill hell that I've developed an unusual and sick liking for. Sure enough, a sudden downpour showed up at the time I was planning on heading out. Dodged that bullet. I have enough to worry about with managing my HR in the training plan, I don't need the pain of being cold and wet (mostly wet) until I get this thing nailed down first.

So, on the treadmill again with a 1% incline, doing the same run as I did on Day 16 and Day 18, except an even longer warm-up (15 minutes versus 10) and I would try like mad to keep my HR in better check in the zones. I also chose to run a bit easier in Zone 2 and not try to push it to the 161 bpm Anaerobic Threshold limit.

I have to say that this was another interesting find. I kept the speed between 3.6-3.7 MPH and my HR hovered roughly around 134 bpm on average, usually staying relatively low for the first two Zone 1 runs. It eventually creeped up as time went on as I maintained the same speed settings for those 5 minute spots. When I was required to go to Zone 2, I didn't push as I said. I went easier and more comfortable than in the past. As a result of that, my set speed was at 5.0 MPH and my HR stayed in the relatively lower 150's! I knew I had it within me to push more in the zone, but as I said - I didn't want to force it. Also, checking past data points from previous runs in the same "moderate" zone, I had a higher HR on average, more points where the HR would be floating above the 161 bpm mark, and my speed was not all that much faster than 5.0 MPH (between 5.1-5.2 at best and I HAD to slow down for those times!)

There is also something else that I noticed. Every time I took a swig of water, my HR would go up a few points (anywhere from 2-4 beats). If I drank where the water slowly entered my system, the rise was less than if I swigged and gulped. I wonder if the body processes it as fast as it can, causing the HR rise? I can only assume that if this is indeed true (still trying to find any documentation that can support this), eating on the run will also diddle with the numbers as well.

Well, this is the half-way mark in the training plan and I have another three weeks left. For the remaining weeks left, I have to start heading outside. The new run on the weekend (The LSD Base Run) requires that I'm out for 116 minutes (this doesn't include any warm-up or cooldown times) doing a combo of Zone 1, Zone 2, and even some Zone 3 (yeah, my HR gets to get jacked up past my 161 bpm Anaerobic Threshold limit a few minutes at a time). But one nice thing is that I can use one of these LSD Base runs to do an event! More details to come on that.

And below is the progress for Week 3.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Remarkable Thing: HR Training - Day 19

Another light run, but I did my damndest to keep it under 138 bpm - I really did!

However, it was not meant to be with this run and I ended up spiking above in spots, letting my HR drift oddly again. Plus, not having enough Buh-bump! cream on the HRM didn't help things either.

But I did figure out some stuff.

1.) My HR doesn't stabilize in the first 10-15 minutes, even if I'm running "easy". It will stablize if I walk briskly though.
2.) Seems after the 10-15 minutes, my HR turns more consistant (guess I should warm-up more often and walk a good 10-15 minutes before most activities?)
3.) Once properly warmed-up, the slow speed that I was running at (about 16 minutes/mile) ended up giving me an HR in the low 130's/high 120's! I had to kick the treadmill past 4.0 MPH (15 minutes/mile) to start approaching my Aerobic Threshold of 138 bpm. Another piece of proof that this training IS working.

However, I'm still questioning why I have those low HR drops in the 2nd half of the run. The watch itself didn't display this data, so I'm wondering why the Suunto Training Manager is? Then again, I didn't use enough Buh-Bump cream.

Taking tomorrow off and enjoying the rest. Getting ready for Sunday's Base Builder II run. It'll be a nice change to not be subjected to a treadmill. :-)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

And BOOM goes the Dynamite!: HR Training - Day 18

Well, comparing this Base Builder II run to the one on Day 16, the EPOC and the Training Effect were virtually identical. The HR zones that I was able to stay in at was not too far off either. But there was one CLEAR difference between the two. Today's run covered MORE DISTANCE and I was able to run at faster speeds within the same HR limits! Max speed was at a 5.7 MPH, 5.7! That's creeping closer to my 10 minute per mile pace that I've missed running at. Compared to when I was running in my Zone 2 level when I started (around a 5.2 MPH speed), this is showing me serious progress. I have also noticed that during the 5 minute zone 1 runs, I'm either at or just below a 15 minute per mile pace (4.0 MPH). This is also something very positive for me as well. If this keeps up, my easy/light pace might end up approaching 5.0 MPH or higher sooner than later.

The one thing that mildly bugs me though is that my HR was seriously drifting in the last 15 minutes of zone 1 running. It would suddenly crawl up to 145 bpm for a moment and then drop back down. I even dropped my speed below a 17 minute per mile pace and it was STILL doing that. I don't know whether it was dehydration (did sweat alot and sucked down my 16 oz bottle of water quickly) or just physiological changes from running a medium-hard run two days ago, only to do it again.

Looking forward to the light run tomorrow to give my body a bit of a break and I'll definately enjoy the rest day on Saturday!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Near Death Experience?: HR Training - Day 17

See the first dot at the bottom of the screen? That's the 8 minute mark where my HRM read ZERO. Yeah, no beats per minute. The same HR that a corpse gives. I stopped my Suunto t6 and had it reconnect to detect my HR Belt again.

The light run was okay. I kept it at the original plan of 15m run-3m rest-15m run. My calves are mildly tight and I wanted to just get enough in since I have the Base Builder II run tomorrow.

I've noticed that my HR does tend to drift. Not too high after I'm warmed-up well enough, but enough to be annoying at times.

Good thing is that my need to walk to calm my HR down is becoming less and less. Plus, more of my HR steady beats are within the 132-136 area and only will crawl to 137-138 bpm (the limit of zone 1). If I push a bit more however, that's when it starts to crawl up to 139-141 bpm. Like I said, not too high of a drift, but enough to be annoying since my perceived exertion isn't THAT hard of a push in my opinion.

Oh well, the joys of trying to exercise PATIENCE.

Base Builder II tomorrow. Will I be alive for that one the entire time? Find out next time! :-)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Sonic Boom: HR Training - Day 16

This was a very taxing run. Not to the point of all-out sprints, but to maintain the intensity to shift back and forth between zones 1 and 2 within 5 minute spurts was an interesting one.

The Base Builder II consisted of running in 5 minute patterns of zone 1-2-1-2-1-1-2-1-2-2-1-1-1. I decided to take a queue from Stu Mittleman and do a 10 minute walk to warm-up. He advocates walking as a warm-up for 5-15 minutes, depending on the type of run that will be done. It also helps start up the Fat Mobilization process as well.

So, as you can tell, the EPOC curve is alot more gentle in the beginning than in my previous runs. Throughout each 5 minute moment, I did my best to stay in my respective zones, but if you're set to run 5 minutes at a faster pace to then drop to a slower one 5 minutes later, your HR will need time to drop. From what I gather, I think this teaches the body to recover faster and get into the lower HR zone more easily. But, it was a fun time to be able to run 5.4 MPH for most of the zone 2 stuff (about an 11.5 min/mile pace).

Seems that keeping my HR belt tighter nearly did the trick...almost. Still had one HR dip that was from a really quick adjustment during the speedy part.

The suprising thing was probably the EPOC and training effect landing in the Level 4 area (a Training Effect of 4.4). I worked just hard enough for the Suunto to consider this a "Highly Improving Training Effect". However, there are warnings not to get into this area too often and I hope that my second Base Builder II run on Thursday will be a good one too.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Pullin' back on the reins: HR Training - Day 15

After a few email exchanges with Eric, I decided to do my best to pull back on the effort and try to stay MORE within my zones and not really diddle with the plan (he said to double the time with the same pattern at most, but not to go beyond unless I want to mess with my positive results so far.)

So today, I would keep the workout for the Base Builder at 40 minutes, the original time. Not increasing it to 55 minutes like I had been, not doubling it up to 80 minutes (although I'm allowed it), not tacking on other runs on it like I did on Sunday. I would keep to the zones as best as I could as well.

So during each 10 minute spot, I went at a slower speed than before and did my best to keep my HR hovering around 132 bpm. I ran at a slower speed for the 5 minute bursts, keeping it around 153-157 bpm as much as possible. I would do this and do my best to remember how the feeling was.

All in all, not bad. Some of the HR drifts were typical, but less than usual. I had one HR drop, but that was from a re-adjusting of the strap (I tightened it, but not enough - I might have to just buy one online or find a vendor who just sells the strap alone.)

Tomorrow - Excitement! Base Builder II! More faster running! More duration! Did I say excitement?

Breaking out the Duct Tape: HR Training - Day 13, Day 14, and Week 2 result

The light run on Saturday (Day 13) was a "Perfect 3" as Suunto would say. Although I should find a way to warm-up better to control the initial wonky HR. I would have preferred to have it for an hour, but the 33 minutes (15m run-3m rest-15m run) was good enough.

Sunday's run (Day 14) was going to be longer than I had done in some time. I missed being out and just soaking in the world. Despite my current ability to run on a treadmill and not get bored out of my skull, I needed to get outside and get some Planet Earth under me for a change.

The run was originally a Base Builder run, but I figured that trying to run for over 90 minutes doing basically 6 medium/hard runs and 7 easy/recovery runs so soon was out of the question. I'll have to contend with something like that for Day 21 anyway, so why rush things? But I did need more time on my feet. So after I didn't get any word back from Eric on tweaking the day, I decided to blend the Base Builder day with some light running before and after, throwing in an experimental run based solely on my RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion)...figured that would make things a bit interesting.

So, this is how the workout went:

1.) 15 minute light running in zone 1 (basically, this is the warm-up)
2.) 3 minute rest
3.) 10 minute running in zone 1
4.) 5 minute running in zone 2
5.) Repeat #3 & #4 three more times
6.) Run at what I think feels comfortable to me for about 5+ minutes and see where the HR lands
7.) Cooldown run/walk for another 7+ minutes.

The beginning part was messed up, but some of that is attributed to the powerlines in the area by my home. I've always had to deal with the insanity of those when I had HR trained in the past. Once the actual workout started, it was fine...until the insta-drop in my HR after 40 minutes into the entire workout. I was approaching an area that is notorious for creating unusual surges in electronic devices, but seeing my HR drop so much was definately pointing at other possibles. I was feeling fine. My exertion levels were good during both parts of the run when I would switch from zone 1 to zone 2 and back. I got back about a mile away from home and then decided to just run based solely off of feel and seeing if I can determine my steady-state/Most Efficient Pace (MEP) for myself. So, for about a half mile, I tend to feel steady at a 11 minutes per mile with an HR of about 150-153 bpm.

I can't say this was a good run, but it could have been worse. I doubt that I screwed anything up, but after doing some more research on the reasons for so many HR drops, I finally found something from Ironman triathlete Mark Allen (one of the huge supporters in this kind of training) and he says that these drops are common and caused by HR belts that are not strapped on very well. This would explain alot, especially since my HR belt does seem to want to slip. I'll have to try and tighten it up a bit more...then again, nothing like a bit of duct tape to fix that thing on for good, eh?

And for the 2nd week's progress so far:

Friday, January 2, 2009

Breakthrough!: HR Training - Day 12

Another base builder workout on the treadmill again like Day 8 and Day 9, except no lunchtime light run since I had too much to do (left work early to return a rental car and to pick up my car at the shop half-repaired).

Compared to the previous days doing the same workout, this was much better. My HR was able to recover better and my speed was around 5.5-5.6 MPH (sub-11 minute miles, hell yeah!) for each of those 5 minute bursts, my HR staying relatively in the high 150's to the limit of 161 bpm, occasionally rolling up a point or two above the limit. The 10 minute recovery runs in the low zone were also at a steady pace as well, between 15-16 minutes a mile.

I have another one of these workouts for Sunday, but I really have the desire to go long (atleast 2 hours or more). I need to ask Eric about how to do the workout if I want to go longer and whether it's smart to just repeat the pattern, but for the longer duration.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Shell Game: HR Training - Day 11

I should have done this run yesterday, but due to a series of unfortunate events (car going crazy, leaving it at the repair shop, having to get a rental car at the last minute on New Years Eve - just alot of drama), I couldn't get this run in. So with all plans, I had to adjust and basically shift everything over one day (giving up a Saturday "day off").

So, the typical light run of 15m-3m-15m-3m-15m-3m-15m was on the menu again. Another treadmill run with a full stop for the 3 minute rests. Comparing the data to the previous days doing the same workout, I have indeed increased my capacity. The distances that I'm running has increased and on the treadmill itself, I am maintaining mildly faster speeds compared to when I first started this and having less HR increases as I'm going.

The added bonus I would have to say is that when doing these runs, I am often left with feeling like I could go another hour or two (or five!)

A nice birthday run for me. :-)