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Miwok 100k Training

There’s a lot that goes into racing an ultra distance race. Training takes time, money, and social sacrifices. If you’re not a paid professional runner married or dating another professional runner, then all those things I mentioned are a strain to the person running and to those close to them.

Preparing for Miwok hasn’t been consistent. I didn’t hit my long mileage goals, but I’m happy with the work I did during all of my runs. In the 11 weeks following Sean O’Brien I averaged 61 miles, 12-20 hours of running, and 12,000+ft. of climbing weekly. There was a period of seven days where I didn’t run, otherwise I kept to a six-day run week with Mondays being a complete rest day.

I’m in awe of people to work full-time and manage quality training weeks. To put into perspective what my typical training day is, I wake up two hours before a run to eat and prep. When possible I take two hours to rest and recuperate after a run. This includes eating, stretching, and napping. What happens more often is I have to rush off to work without proper nutrition and recovery. I hate running at night, so when I’m pressed for time in the morning, I often cut my run short to have time after for a light meal and commute time. I’m constantly rushed to get to work where I try to recover. Never a successful endeavor. So, when I say I run so-and-so hours in a day there’s actually more time beyond “time-on-feet.”

One thing that has been consistent have been the kind of trails I’ve chosen to run. I prefer to keep a consistent running pace so I prefer to run less technical trails. I run Mt. Wilson Toll Rd. at least once a week, running to Idlehour trail or to the top rather than the more Instagram scenic Old Mt. Wilson trail where it’s more crowded and rugged. I feel the 10 mile downhill runs have helped toughened my legs more than the uphill sections. Although I’m still slow on the descents, I can consistently run long downhill sections.

I’ve also lifted a lot more weights. I go to the gym twice a week and I can feel the difference in how I’ve been able to handle fatigue during long runs and the pain-free day afters. Since I started lifting heavy eight weeks ago, I’ve managed to get pretty close to my four-rep. maxs. When I paddled my four-rep maxs were: 70lbs dumble bench, 185lbs barbell bench, 225lbs squat, 275lbs dead lifts. Just last week I lifted 55lbs dumble bench and 185lbs squat. I’m a gallon jug of water and 2 scoops of protein away from becoming a bro.

Well, all that to say I’ll most likely have an average day out on the trails this weekend. My goal was a top ten finish, now I’m aiming for a sub 12-hour finish. My training frustrates me because I know the work that needs to be put in to run a competitive ultra race. I know 70-mile weeks aren’t enough for a 62-mile race. I know the value of a 25+ mile run and the need for recovery, but I can’t put it all together. I know a race is determined long before the start. It’s determined in the preparation. One of these races I’ll have my act together and be able to compete as I know I’m capable of.


Trying out Altra Lone Peak 2.0 for the first time since the Inov8 Ultra Race 290 were too stiff and opposite of cushioned. After two runs in the Altras I’m digging the design and concept of a cushioned zero drop shoe.

If you care to follow my decline (bib #46)…


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What About Running?

It seems that I’ve been doing everything else except run recently, but I’m writing this post to reassure all of my fellow run nerds that I’ve been putting in miles. I took last week off because of back spasms caused by parkour and snow shoveling. I’m back at it this week, so far running one hour a day. Thanks to @mk_liveloverun for sharing some of those miles.

This week I’ll most likely hit 50+ miles on 6 days running. Next week I’ll be back to my base building schedule (the last two weeks!). In January I’ll be introducing some speed to my weekly runs before going all out February and March. I’m excited about my racing prospects in 2014. Looking forward to new PRs.

I didn’t race that much in 2013, that was intentional. I wanted to put in the kind of work in training that would carry me to a new level, being able to toe the line and know good things will happen. This current training plan is very aggressive on the miles. I feel that mileage is key to becoming a competitive racer.

I’m looking at my training from Camarillo Marathon to replicate a few behaviors and practices. It was my perfect race! I’m going to need to run with sub 3:00:00 peeps. I was also running about 20-30 miles of trail with 4,000 ft+ of climbing weekly along with Tuesday and Thursday speed work. Man, I miss those Gritty City runners!…and the San Gabriel Mountains!


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2013 Christmas Wish List

I like to think I have a very simple taste in running gear. I don’t necessarily fancy the newest and best gear. I gravitate towards things that give me the greatest value for the type of activities I enjoy.

socksSmartwool PHD Nordic Socks – These merino wool blend socks will keep your feet dry and warm during snowy runs. A bonus is they don’t stink after runs and can be worn multiple times without washing! I own a pair and they’ve become my go to for long trail runs in cold weather conditions.


clif-energy-gel_thumb Clif Shot Energy Gel – I’ve tried a lot of gels and Clif has by far been the best tasting. The consistency of the gel is not thick like other brands and it isn’t loaded with too much things (protein, vitamins, supplements, etc). My favorites are Chocolate Cherry and Strawberry if I need a little pick me up and Raspberry for sustained energy with the caffeine buzz. When racing I mix the shots with water in a bottle for easy consumption on the go.


Mountain Hardwear Integral Pro Mid-Layer – Mountain Hardwear is known for making durable, high-quality outdoor apparel. This mid-layer has a great fit, comfortable feel, and does a really good job at maintaining body temperature. I’m a fan of merino wool blends for their ability to wick moisture and keep you warm while maintaining a light profile. Versatility is what makes this piece a good value. It can be worn on it’s own (flat-lock stitching eliminates chafing) or with a shell for really cold runs.

PETZL-NAOI’ve never owned a Petzl, not because I didn’t think their headlamps weren’t any good, on the contrary, I think they make the best, but the kind I’ve wanted were too expensive. Since this is a wish list, the NAO has to be included on the list! This headlamp has everything you would want while running hard in the dark. It has a sensor that will automatically adjust brightness, a beam setting that is more like a theater spotlight, operate in extreme weather, and fit and comfort! I hate having to go through light settings while running. I’d prefer my arm to be free to help with my balance. This headlamp has programmable light settings and the sensor allows for hands-free use!

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Developing A New Training Plan

I’ve gone through two training cycles I developed using pieces of Daniel’s running formula and a book called “Advanced Marathoning.” The most recent 16 week cycle produced a half-marathon PR, a 5k PR, and the highest average weekly mileage. Although it was a successful season, I felt like I was capable of more. I know my limits, but feel I can push myself to run at those limits for longer distances. My biological and physiological limitations will never allow me to run a 2:30:00 marathon or a sub 16:00 5k, but I can at least train to run to my limitations without straining.

Having reviewed my most recent training data I saw that I over-ran my actual pace/distance capabilities leading me to burn out and cut distance and training days in order to recover. I lacked a solid aerobic base and blindly followed pace suggestions for my target half-marathon time goal of 1:20:00. Big mistake! I would have done better had I been more honest with myself regarding my fitness level and ability. The result being tired legs and fatigued fitness come race day.

Lydiard_PyramidWhat I’ve decided to do is commit the next three months to building a solid aerobic base devoid of any strenuous speed and strength work. I’d like to run a marathon PR  in mid April and again in October and will follow the Lydiard training cycle. He proposes a solid base built over the course of at least three months, then one month of anaerobic specific work, one month of “coordination”, and six weeks of race specific training. I’m using a running journal to log data and comments to better assess my progress and carefully monitor over-training.

I know even the thought of “anaerobic” work will shock some regular blog followers, but I’ve played around with some pace/distance adjustments to continue the focus on longer intervals. (No, I will not run 200m repeats!)

The thought behind a long “aerobic” cycle is to build muscles and aerobic efficiency needed for longer races. Makes sense, right? I’ve always believed in training specifically for goal races. Marathoners need long miles and longer “time on the feet” workouts.

What I’ve been missing is a solid base built upon a long building cycle. In the past I’d run 4-6 weeks of base work. According to Lydiard, this is not enough. Runners need to look at the long-term development of the aerobic and muscular systems, which he says can only be attained with a solid “jogging” background. He suggests 3 months of aerobic work at the very minimum for beginner runners. Having a solid foundation also lessens injury risk and the ability to withstand increased work loads.

I’m encouraged by the potential of his theories by all of the great “older” runners I know that continue to run fast. I know their success is the result of many years of running injury free. If I’m ever disappointed in my results and development, I know I can look to those guys and the example they’ve set so I’ll gain a better appreciation for patience, perseverance, and success.Long_Distance_Running

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Kaua’i Half Marathon Pre-Race Thoughts

The Kaua’i Half Marathon is special in so many ways. It will be the first race Cristina and I run as husband and wife. We’re going to be married the day before in front of our biggest fans; our family! The race will also be a true family affair because both my sisters will be joining us on the course. Lastly, it’s my “A” race for the fall running season. I’ll be trying to run as close to 1:23:00. My initial goal was to run sub 1:20:00, but after reassessing my training I know 1:24:00 is more realistic.

My 14 week training plan generally consisted of three “hard” sessions a week. Usually two speed sessions (long intervals and a tempo run) and a long run no less than 13 miles and no more than 18 miles. I averaged 55 miles a week with a high of 82 miles.

The Kaua’i course is challenging with gradual climbs and rolling hills. The humidity also plays a big factor in performance. When I ran the inaugural marathon in 2009 I suffered some cramping and dehydration because of the heat and humidity. The course is scenic and winds its way through the Poipu/Koloa neighborhoods. It’s one of the few races I’ve ran where the locals embrace the experience of cheering on the runners. You wouldn’t believe how many people are out on their lawns cheering and offering refreshments.

As for race strategy, I plan on negative splitting the race:
Mile 1 – 6:50
Mile 2 – 6:50 13:40
Mile 3 – 6:40 20:20
Mile 4 – 6:40 27:00
Mile 5 – 6:30 33:30
Mile 6 – 6:30 40:00
Mile 7 – 6:30 46:30
Mile 8 – 6:30 53:00
Mile 9 – 6:15 59:15
Mile 10 – 6:15 1:05:30
Mile 11 – 6:10 1:11:40
Mile 12 – 6:10 1:17:50
Mile 13 – 6:00 1:23:50
Basically, conserve energy energy until mile 7 where there are more climbs, then hammer home to the finish where it’s downhill to flat. Hopefully there will be a group of us running similar paces so I can work off of them and stay motivated.

Nutritionally I plan on eating 3 hours before the race with a bagel and banana chased down with water. Twenty minutes before the race I’ll take in a Chocolate Cherry Clif Shot Energy Gel with caffeine. During the race I’ll drink water at mile 4. At mile 8 I’ll take in another Chocolate Cherry Gel diluted in 6 ounces of water. At mile 10 and 12.5 I’ll drink water. Hopefully my stomach holds up well and I can finish in good enough shape to have a beer or three.

I’ll be wearing the brand new Mizuno Wave Sayonara with a pair of ultralight Wright socks. To keep with the blue theme (our wedding color) I’ll be wearing the Sugoi race shorts. No, I won’t be wearing a shirt because I feel the cooling effect of the trade winds better without one on. The sun will be in my eyes on the final stretch home, so I’ll be sporting the orange Merrell sunglasses I got for free while running a local 5k. I wore this race outfit at the Merrell Carmel Racing 5k series to make sure it was race ready. It was!

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June & Six Month Totals

Bowerman and Choy

June Totals:
Miles: 295.89
Time on feet: 44:36:26 h:m:s
Max time: 2:32:26
Long run mileage: 16.60
Number of activities: 41

6 Month Totals:
Miles: 1,223.05
Time on feet: 202:11:12 h:m:s
Max time: 6:24:15
Long run mileage: 37.83
Number of activities: 153

I’m off the trails and on the roads! June was a pretty intense month. The pace started to get faster, the distances (on average) got longer, and consistency prevailed!

I’ve had to be creative with my long runs and hill work living in a flat metropolitan city. Luckily there are a few places that are hilly and routes that are uninterrupted with traffic. I like driving a little bit south to the Martinesville area where the country roads are rolling and are mostly free from traffic. I run all of my “track” workouts on the road to better simulate conditions for the Kaua’i Half Marathon.

I alternate between  strength building runs and speed work from week to week. One week will be about running hills and the next week will be about functional speed. The focus being on fatiguing my body by overloading stress with either speed or strength movements. The better I can hold my speed on tired legs, the better I’ll do in the race. I think this approach is best for Kaua’i because of the challenging course and the weather. I remember when I first ran the race it was hard to get into a rhythm with the rolling terrain.

The Kauai Marathon 2011

The weather in Central Indiana has been helping simulate conditions for Kaua’i. It’s been consistently in the low to mid 80’s with a high degree of humidity with a few windy days a week. Hopefully things don’t get out of hand this summer like it did last year when temps. hit an all time high almost daily.

July will be a heavy month in terms of mileage with longer distances at race pace. The key, as always, is to stay healthy. Luckily, I haven’t been hit with any injuries or illnesses.

What are your training philosophies? What workouts have you tried in the past? Any favorites? How were the results?

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April and May Recap

Bowerman and Choy

April Totals:
Miles: 240.96
Time on feet: 38:35:46 h:m:s
Max time: 3:40:18
Long run mileage: 21.41
Elevation gain: 9,999 ft.
Number of activities: 23

May Totals:
Miles: 193.95
Time on feet: 32:47:14 h:m:s
Max time: 3:39:30
Long run mileage: 18.20
Elevation gain: 5,956 ft.
Number of activities: 29 

I’ve fallen behind on my weekly updates so I decided to give monthly updates for April and May. I’m working on the June weekly updates and should get back to some kind of consistency.

April and May were the last two months of my base building before I started my half-marathon plan in June. I peaked at 240 miles in june before dropping down a  bit in May to rest the legs a little before starting on the plan in June.

I didn’t have any major injuries. A few turned ankles as would be the case when trail running, but no repetitive use type injuries or lingering pain.

What I’ll miss most about the past two months is the time spent running without much care to how fast or how far I’ve gone. Granted there was one run per week that I keyed on speed, but the rest were mostly time on feet and looped runs.