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Training. Gear. Nutrition. Racing & Inspired Running.

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Bulldog Thoughts

When I registered to run Bulldog 50k in July I had every intention to train hard with long miles and serious climbing. What happened instead was a bunch of short runs with not a lot of sustained climbing and downhill running. The combination of settling back into life in Los Angeles and general fatigue due to activities related to moving led to s a lot of uninspired runs. I would often start my runs with double digit mileage in mind, but I would cut many runs short. So, most runs looked like this: Scary Post Run. An intended 17 mile run that I bailed on.

Picture 12

What do I wish will happen this Saturday? Well, I hope my lack of training miles actually leaves me with a healthy body and inspiration to prove to myself that the impossible is probable. What I think will actually happen is I’ll finish middle of the pack leaving me with the comfort of knowing I finished strong  without a good training base. I’ve ran this course many times and I know what is possible. I can only hope for the best and pray that I’ll be able to will myself to push past the comfort zone and finish at an effort I can be happy about.

So, here it goes, my predicted times:
“A” Goal: Sub 4:10
“B” Goal: 4:15
“Deserves all the beers” goal: Sub 4:20

The specs:
Shoes: Mizuno Wave Kazan
Clothing: Sugoi Titan run shorts, Wright CoolMesh II socks
Accessories: Ultimate Direction Jurek Essential belt and Handy 20 handheld water bottle.
Nutrition: NUUN Hydration Strawberry Lemonade, PowerBar Berry Blast and Kona Punch, and salted pretzels


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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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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!


My Dietary Needs – Pill Me!

My diet is hit or miss. I like to think most days I eat healthy, but there are days in the week when I indulge a little too much on the bad stuff: McDonald’s, Long’s donuts, beer, anything deep-fried, most things from The Sinking Ship. To cover my bases nutritionally and support my active lifestyle I supplement with a number of pills: spirulina, fish oil, BioAstin (astaxanthin), iron, and B-12.


My morning cocktail. Spirulina, BioAstin, and a fish oil capsule.

The supplements I take are specific in helping me stay healthy as a runner. They help reduce and prevent inflammation; create and maintain energy; form and maintain red blood cells; prevent muscle damage; prevent sun damage; support urinary and digestive health; support skeletal  and muscular systems; and strengthen cardiovascular health.

I believe every serious athlete needs to supplement with something they feel is lacking. For me, those are usually the vitamins, minerals, and proteins vegetarians lack in their diet (80% of my diet is vegetarian). Ideally whole food sources should be targeted as primary sources for our daily vitamin needs, but as athletes our nutritional needs are more demanding which require us to eat more food to meet those needs; not ideal for an athlete with time demands and looking to maintain a competitive weight. Supplementation, then, becomes necessary.

What I’m sharing below is specific to my needs and what I have found to work for me. I’m no expert, yo!

I usually add iron in the weeks leading up to a race, and only in limited doses, usually 1 pill every other day. I don’t eat much red meat or fish, if any, and have found that cycling iron doses helps stave off fatigue during hard races.

I pop a B-12 lozenge 2 hours before a hard run to help keep my energy level up. It also helps maintain red blood cells as our body processes blood at a higher rate for energy production during intense exercise.

I take two doses of fish oil pills to help with reducing inflammation that occurs after exercise. By keeping this daily regimen I feel that I’ve been able to train hard on consecutive days with little aches and pains. Recovery from long runs have been shortened.

BioAstin is a name brand astaxanthin product produced by Nutrex-Hawaii. I started taking this supplement in 2008 when I first started training for marathons on the Big Island of Hawaii. I remember watching a commercial featuring Tim Marr and was intrigued enough to try it for myself.  Five years later I’m still supplementing with BioAstin, although it’s become harder to find in the midwest and have resorted to stock-piling during my trips to Hawaii and California.

Astaxanthin helps with joint and muscle health, but where it helps most is during the summer while training under the hot sun. It helps to repair tissue damage caused by heat and UV rays. I often up my dosage during this time to prevent fatigue and the ill effects on my skin due to sun damage. It’s helped me stave off cramping when taken after my pre-race breakfast.

I started taking spirulina while living in Hilo. Back then I ingested it in powder form, usually in smoothies. I took it because a runner friend recommended it and said it was a super food that can provide all the nutrients I would need as a runner and paddler. It got too expensive and when I moved back to California I stopped taking it. A few months back I started taking it again, this time in pill form. It’s really a kind of multi-vitamin, but with a complete protein compound! — Thanks to Nutrex-Hawaii (and my brother from another mother, Eddie O!) for providing me with more spirulina supplements to support my running addiction.

Lastly, I add whey protein to my post run smoothies. Whey is easily absorbed and doesn’t upset my stomach. Running breaks down muscle, so we have to take in more protein to repair damaged cells. I know my diet provides me certain types of proteins that may not be efficiently processed by my body (soy and dairy), so supplementing makes sure I round out my protein needs to provide long-term relief from muscle soreness and aid in cell regeneration.

If you get anything out of this post it should be to look beyond the nutritional recommended needs. By pushing our bodies to our limits, we abuse and demand things from our body the normal sedentary person doesn’t. We have to at least be aware of what those things are that are keeping us from progressing, then looking at how nutrition and supplementation may be able to help.

Do you take any supplements? What are they? Have they helped with performance?

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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.