Thursday, February 26, 2009

Flu shots - Phooey!

I was under the understanding that a flu shot was supposed to PREVENT you from getting the flu.

For the last 72+ hours, I had been fighting a really bad case of just...yuck!

My lungs had felt like they went through a Cuban Tabacco Harvest. Breathing was damn near impossible. I might as well have been at high-altitude or deep under water with the lack of oxygen. Workouts have been a big fat zero as well. I haven't ran or done any kind of CrossFit workouts at all this week.

I guess I'll just call this a recovery week. I'm already set now to train for the Oregon 100 (Hundred in the Hood) and making that the focal point of the year. I've got 30 weeks till that run and thanks to fancy-Nancy (aka Nancy Shura from the UltraLadies, she's shown me the way to my first 100 miler. I'll still incorporate HR training, but it won't be the major focus. I will use some events as supported training runs, but I've taken myself off of a lot of the races on the Maniacs calendar. I am confident that I will be able to do this and do it right. But we'll see.

Adventure awaits!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Perception is Everything

The short: 4 miles, easy feel.

The long: My wife pushed me out the door after work to get my run over and done with. I decided to test out my Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) versus what my HR would say. My aerobic/easy pace is supposed to be at 138 bpm. As you can see, it took about 10 minutes for my HR to chill out, even though I was moving at roughly a consistant 15 minutes per mile. Once when those 10 minutes passed, my HR would hover anywhere from 135 bpm to as much as 142 bpm. So my body is starting to adapt, it's just not 100% there yet. But with more time and training, it will be. My RPE seems to be better than before, so I think that I'll lean on that, but always do a double-check against my HR to be sure.

No excuses left...

Since my last post, I carefully looked over what options were available to me and decided to jump in and test some newer uncharted waters. So now I'm officially registered for the only 100 miler in Oregon, Hundred in the Hood - put on by the very awesome Olga.

Since it's my first 100 miler and the course is the first time a 100 miler has been put on in Oregon, the pairing will make for an interesting situation.

I checked over the course from the description on the website and following the Pacific Crest Trail that it will be following. There are some premo advantages to running this over Cascade Crest as my first 100 miler.

1.) It's one month further out than Cascade Crest, so it'll give me more time to train.
2.) The elevation gain and loss is about 10,000 feet for the entire 100 miles. Cascade Crest is double that (over 20,000 feet). The White River 50 has about 17,000 feet of elevation changes and I managed to get out of that alive.

The first half, which is the PCT 50 mile ultra has about 5000 feet of overall elevation gain with most of it being in the first 25 miles to Timberline. I'll have to work on improving on my hill climbing more, but I think it's more doable.

The second half that goes south on the PCT, I had to gmap-pedometer the trail as best as I could. However, the elevation profile looks like you go up one hill for about 1000 feet in six miles, then drop down for about 3 miles back to the previous elevation, then rise again for another 2000 feet for 6 miles, drop about 500 feet for 4 miles, go back up 500 feet for 3 miles, then drop down 500 feet until you hit the turnaround at the Olallie Meadows Campgrounds. I think some Mt Si repeats, a few of sessions at Tiger for a 12 Summits, 3 Summits, or a Seattle Favorite Loop might do me good for this. I don't expect intense climbs, but enough to make things interesting.

3.) The cost is a bit less. $150 versus paying almost $200. However, I'll be using that up with gas for the drive and camping out, so it's kind of a wash.
4.) Running on the Pacific Crest Trail. I've been wanting to do that for some time. Even though it's in Oregon, the PCT spirit stretches across the entire Pacific portion of the USA. Totally kick ass. :-)
5.) More drop bags for me to have access to along the course. I was going to be crewless for Cascade Crest and there are only 4 drop bag points there. This race will have 6 points, but you have a few extra times to access them along the course since it's an out-and-back. That will help make up for not having a crew.
6.) Lots of fellow Maniacs will be there as well, although a great deal of them will obviously be finished well before I am. However, since it's an out-and-back in both directions, I'll see them at the start, coming back from Timberline (the 25 mile turnaround), and coming back from Olallie Meadows (the 75 mile turnaround).

So the cash has been laid down - no refunds, no excuses. I've gotta train smart and well.

Now onto other things...

Since my last post, not too many things are different.

CrossFit workouts done:

Wednesday - 30# DB Push Press (18,15,12)
Friday - Swapped the squats with some Turkish Get-ups (33# DB x 6 each side)
Monday - 33# DB Dead Lifts (15,12,9)
Tuesday (today) - 500 meter row x 2 (1:51 & 1:54)

Runs done:

Wednesday - ~3 mi run at a steady state, keeping HR below 150 bpm.

Saturday - ~13 mi run along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail from Tanner Road going past Rattlesnake Lake. I did my best to maintain my HR around 149 bpm going up, but going down I let gravity take over and said screw it for the HRM. My HR ranged anywhere from 150 bpm to 175 bpm, with my pace bouncing from 10 minutes per mile to 8 minutes per mile. It felt freakin' awesome and I didn't feel winded at all letting gravity take over. I think that I have a high tolerance for running at my Lactate Threshold, which may explain why my perceived exertion is odd.

I have a feeling that I'm going to HR train for about half the time, allowing more time to actually ENJOY the running moments like I did on Saturday.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The defeat of the slacker

Cascade Crest has pretty much been filled and due to events with finances, I couldn't get my entry mailed in a timely manner.

I can always volunteer, but it looks like I'm going to have to try and find another 100 miler to train for.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The latest...

So far this week:

Monday - Dumbbell Deadlifts (18 reps @ 40lbs, 15 reps @ 45lbs, 12 reps @ 52.5lbs)
Tuesday - 500 meter row in 1:53, really cranked it hard at the end and almost felt like puking.

And some running:

I decided to do the same type of treadmill run as last time, maintaining a HR average well below my aerobic threshold of 138 bpm. Despite going over it a few times during the warm-up for some reason as it was recorded, it went well and I did 3.5 miles worth of distance. I'll gradually increase the distance/time as the weeks go on.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Germ Warfare

This week was not a good one for training. I had gotten sick on Tuesday and it really hit hard on Wednesday and tapered off on Thursday. You'd think I would do my best to protect my immune system with having a child in the house who interacts with other kids at school (school = germ factory). So no runs for me. However, I did manage to do most of my CrossFit workouts. I figured that I could go through a very intense workout that CrossFit in a short time versus doing a run that would tax my system at a "lower intensity", but for a longer period. Although, the ideal workout day would have been to CrossFit during my lunchtime and then run in the evening a few hours later. Anyway, here's what I did workout wise:

Tuesday: 500 meter row @ work. Damper set to 5, completed in 2:02 (focused on form)
Wednesday: Sick at home, but managed push-press DB workout. 33 lbs dumbbells, chipper workout of 15/12/9. Focused on form, not time.
Thursday: Still sick at home, but feeling better. No rowing machine, so substituted 500 meter row with 50 Sumo Dead-Lift High Pulls using 33 lbs DB's. This took some time after the first 25. Unbelievably sore afterwards!
Friday: Returned to work, but opted to rest this time instead of doing squat workout.

And we get to today...

I wanted to go long and easy. So the prescription was a 2-hour run (8 miles), trying to stay at or below my Aerobic Threshold of 138 bpm as best as I could. As you can see in the image, most of the HR spots that go above th 138 bpm point are usually hanging around 140-141 bpm, so I'm doing better with handling my HR outside of a treadmill environment, but I need to stick with it and tighten up the zones even more.

Another thing that I noticed is that after an hour of running, my EPOC gradually declined as I continued to run around the same HR. It looks awfully familiar to previous sessions where my EPOC dropped during a long workout. However, the curvature of the drop is alot more easy than before. Doing some research on this (pretty tough since alot of the info was white papers) and remembering various things from my calculus classes back in the day, I believe that what should happen when I continue to run at the same HR zone, the curve will start to flaten out. The 10-minute warm-up that I did will not rise into the Level 2 area for the Training Effect and the EPOC peak will land in the lower points of the Level 2 area of the TE, like a 2.2-2.4 if things progress well and there are no setbacks.

But basically, I ran 8 miles (old running route) in under the 2-hr time and I was able to keep my HR avg in the 136-137 bpm area, so I'd say I didn't do badly this run.

Tomorrow, I get to re-learn what it's like to be on tired legs. 3 hours, same workout intensity. I'm eager to know what the numbers say! Update: Didn't happen. Did alot of walking while running errands, but that's it!

Monday, February 2, 2009

That's one slow step for man...

On my own now with my training, I've been pouring over information from various sources on being able to have a balance between:

1.) Developing an optimal training plan that will help me get to Cascade Crest this year.
2.) Having fun as I do it.

Today's workouts consisted of:

- About 7 miles of cycling for my work commute (3.5 miles each way)
- A return back into CrossFit again, using the Beginner's Routine (Today's lunchtime workout: Dumbbell Deadlifts of 15 @ #30, 12 @ #35, 9 @ #40)
- 30 min run (w/10 min warm-up) in Zone 1b.

For the run, I opted to do this on the treadmill. I wanted to see how tight I could make the HR stay within 135 bpm or less, but not go over my 138 bpm Aerobic Threshold. The warm-up was better than most other ones, but seems that 15 minutes might be the norm of when my body starts to settle in. Needless to say, I was very happy about the end Training Effect (TE) result of a 2.1 for the run. (Notice the general solid line in the training effect once it hits the Level 2 area.) This is good to know, since a majority of my training will have to be in this area to help with the fat-burning and running longer. I'll have to see how my body does doing a training run of a TE of 3.0-3.9 & 4.0-4.9 and figure out where my HR zones fall specifically around that.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The last thingy: HR Training - Day 42 & Final Thoughts

Today was a very odd day. After a stint in fixing the toilet tank in the bathroom all night and into the morning, I woke up too late for the group run. I figured that I could possibly run in the evening and subject myself to one more night of treadmill hell, but I was really tired - almost to the point where I felt like I hadn't even gone to bed at all.

After running my errands for the day, I decided to just take that final day off for my own good. This was the only one of two days where I actually bailed out during the entire training plan, the other being a light run a week earlier.

So this is what my last week ended up as for the Training Effect:

And the overall since the beginning:

So what was the point of all this?

Well, this is what I got out of it:

1.) HR Training does work, but it does take a great deal of time and patience in it. If I was an elite career athlete instead of a weekend warrior, I would probably devote a whole year to just tune in my HR and not do any events. But I'm not on the cover of a Wheaties box, so the idea of me strictly doing that doesn't fly.
2.) If you run for fun and only for fun, then HR Training isn't for you. The fun for me was gradually sucked out and I tried my damndest to enjoy the runs with what I had.
3.) If you have a very specific goal in mind, HR Training can work for you. But your patience will be tested greatly. Expect to be frustrated with yourself for the first two weeks. It will get better once your body "gets the message", but it'll suck at first.
4.) If you decide to do HR Training, expect to be ALONE. Unless you can exercise restraint and not get sucked into the semi-competitive nature that group runs can generate, you're better off being alone and focusing on yourself.
5.) If you train on a treadmill, you can tune your HR better - but it can turn to crap when you're outside. However, 99.9% of races will not be done on a moving rubber belt, so learning how to run outside while HR training is necessary. There's no point in learning how to develop perfect-pitch in vocal music if you're not going to practice actual songs for a concert. This goes back to the goals thing.
6.) If you decide to pursue HR training, get a VO2Max/Metabolic test done. There is a cost, but you'll have the most accurate information to help you out and the motivation factor of "I PAID FOR THIS, I BETTER USE IT" really kicks in. I doubt I would have taken my HR Training as seriously had I not paid for my testing.
7.) If you are not able to mentally handle HR Training while doing other types of workouts (cross-training), you might have to abandon your cross-training for a little while. I had to since my brain was stressed out from trying to remember the training patterns for my specific HR training.
8.) Get use to radio interference and those transmitter belts just going nuts for no reason. Mine would lose signal or give off a reading that didn't match my perceived exertion.
9.) Figure out what your perceived exertion is using the HR data. The better you know what your breaking points are, the more in-tune you'll be with your HR when you lose the connection or get erratic readings. My perceived exertion has gotten better since my start of this training 6 weeks ago.
10.) If you train outside, you need to REALLY focus on matching your perceived exertion against your HR. Reason: You may not hear the beeps or the HRM might not operate properly in spots. The world isn't a quiet place usually.
11.) If you decide to HR Train, do as much of it as possible to adapt faster. I walked alot more and did alot of the slower light-runs when I had time. The more time you put in, the more does come back. However, it also has the negative effect of getting really boring and giving you the desire to scream obscenities frequently.
12.) Don't be afraid to ask questions or to question the methods of any HR Training plan. I know with my training plan specifically, there were alot of crazy things and every run seemed like it was an interval run. Eric told me that the training plan he devised for me was to tune into my HR zones better. However, looking back I think my training zones were too wide and I should have had more sub-zones to train at. Running at my Aerobic and Anaerobic Thresholds made me go as fast as I could within those zones, but I know that isn't always the best thing to do now. You need a variety of HR Zones or sub-zones to train in depending on what you're aiming for in your goals. This is why I developed those sub-zones for myself based on my own observations in my training.

As for my actual performance, I'll let the numbers do the talking...

These are the numbers for the runs that were "light". Check out the average speed and the top speed of these:

12/18 - 21:50 avg/15:30 max (this was before the official training)
12/22 - 23:23 avg/13:27 max
12/23 - 20:16 avg/16:51 max
12/25 - 17:39 avg/10:44 max
12/26 - 17:57 avg/13:02 max
12/27 - 19:39 avg/13:29 max
12/28 - 16:06 avg/9:52 max (this was a very good day)
12/29 - 18:23 avg/15:28 max
12/30 - 19:23 avg/14:53 max
01/01 - 19:52 avg/14:27 max
01/03 - 18:27 avg/13:58 max
01/07 - 19:23 avg/15:57 max
01/09 - 19:35 avg/14:19 max
01/14 - 16:47 avg/11:12 max
01/16 - 15:17 avg/10:45 max
01/19 - 19:02 avg/15:52 max
01/21 - 20:07 avg/16:28 max (powerwalked, cranked up treadmill to max%)
01/31 - 17:01 avg/10:56 max

As you can see, the overall speed has increased within a six week time. Also, my HR has been more steady as well (although I do need to fine-tune things a bit more).

Overall, I would have to say my experience was good and I will be taking some aspects of what I've learned and incorporating it into my training

For those in Seattle, Tacoma, or points in-between, definately do your VO2Max training test at The Balanced Athlete in Kent. You'll get your test plus the bonus of a training plan and advice on improving your performance...and making sense of crazy HR Training zone runs.

Well, now that's over - on to the future!