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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.

…btw.

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)…http://www.ultralive.net/miwok/webcast.php


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Shoe Variety (and Sean O’Brien race shoe choice)

When I plan for a race, and even training runs, I wear shoes to match the intended pace and terrain. This means I sometimes wear two different type of shoes running the same route on different days. For instance I love to wear my Saucony Rides on days I want to work on faster downhill running on the Mt. Wilson Toll Rd. On the same course I’ll wear my Mizuno Kazan, Montrail Bajada, or Brooks Cascadia on days I need better grip to work on speed hiking or faster uphill running. On streets I’ll either wear Mizuno Wave Sayonara or Saucony Triumphs depending on distance/time-on-feet and pace. I’ll even wear Sayonaras on trails for speed workouts (Brown Mt., El Prieto, Sam Merrell, Cheseboro, and Griffith Park). So, all this to say you should be varying your shoe choice. Shoe variation improves strength, helps with injury prevention, provides specific feel for different surfaces, and extends the life of a shoe. At the very least have a second pair that is the opposite of your regular trainer. If you run in a supported shoe, keep a second pair that is more flexible or less cushioned or a lower ramp height for recovery runs or for speed work. It will activate, stretch, and strengthen muscles, tendons, and joints that normally wouldn’t be in a more supported shoe.

At the very least have a second pair that is the opposite of your regular trainer. If you run in a supported shoe, keep a second pair that is more flexible or less cushioned or a lower ramp height. Use the less supported shoe for recovery runs or for speed work. It will activate, stretch, and strengthen muscles, tendons, and joints that normally wouldn’t be in a more supported shoe. Running in minimalist or barefoot shoes? Try a firmer shoe for racing so the shoe can help with biomechanical efficiency. Softer/minimalist shoes use more muscles and more joint movement from foot plant to toe-off in slower paces.

What you’re all dying to find out, what shoe did I use for Sean O’Brien 50 mile race a couple of weeks ago? I wore the Mizuno Kazan. Same shoe choice as Bulldog 50k. Picked this shoe mostly for the outsole. I wore the Montrail Bajada and Saucony Rides on all trail runs leading up to the race. I knew I needed a shoe with a firmer and cushioned heel for the downhill running, but also having some flex in the forefoot for steeper climbs. Cushioning would also be key because of the rocky terrain and the walking I would do at some part of the race. The Kazan only became an option when I wore it on my last training run up Mt. Lowe. Although it wasn’t as cushioned as the other shoes, it provided the best grip. I would sacrifice comfort in the Kazan (especially when running downhill), but the shoe’s flex through the forefoot provided better options overall for faster running.   Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 8.12.43 AM

 


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Trying The 50 Mile Distance…Again.

Although I fell behind my training schedule for Sean O’Brien due to the bike accident, I managed to pull together four solid weeks of running.
Distance: 322.64 mi
Time: 57:12:54 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 67,823 ft
Max Elevation Gain: 7,492 ft
Max Time: 4:55:08 h:m:s

I feel confident I can finish the race in under 9:30:00 based on my training. I would estimate a better finishing time, but I was unable to go on a 5+ hour/30+ mile run. So, all I can hope for is to run a gritty race. Two weeks ago I ran the back half of the course as a training run and was physically beaten by the amount of downhill running. I’d like to think all those runs up and down Mt. Wilson Toll Rd. has prepared me well.

I think I’ve been a responsible eater most of the time. I made sure to eat a recovery snack post-run (mostly in the form of a smoothie) and calorie/nutrient dense food most meals. I hydrated fairly well, being conscious to drink water first thing in the morning and intermittently during runs. I haven’t had any major stomach problems and have dialed in my race day nutrition plan. I’ll be using GU gels, Nuun tablets, and Probar chews. My mindset has been to eat for energy; food as fuel. It’s helped me stay focus and limit junk food.

Seven more days until I toe the line. I have goals for the race and none bigger than to keep moving forward no matter what happens or how I feel at any time. Big question is, music or no music?

The course and elevation profile:

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Hydration Bottle Reviews

I bought these bottles and was not compensated in any way by the manufacturers.

10419406_835520959799507_1758108178761869361_nUltimate Direction Fastdraw 2010665919_835520936466176_282894039378198914_n oz.
The best thing about this bottle is it doesn’t leak. Even when you leave the bite valve in the “up” position, not a drip! Two other good thing are the larger zipper pocket that can hold more items from the previous holster (phone, gels, keys…I’ve stuffed it full!) and the thin, chafe-free hand strap. Unfortunately two glaring deficiencies about the bottle and holster need to be addressed.

First, the pull-strap is very thin and twists easily when adjusting on-the-go. With this holster you’ll find yourself having to constantly adjust because the strap doesn’t hold in place and constantly loses tension. The loose strap is very annoying and I found myself having to grip the bottle tighter than I would have liked to (which lead to hand/grip fatigue during my 50k race).

Second, the bottle itself is very firm and hard to squeeze when you need to have a strong flow of liquid. Personally, I had a hard time squeezing out a consistent flow as I bit on the valve, even harder during my early morning runs in the cold when my hand is numb from the cold.

Recommendations:
A wider and calloused pull-strap may help with keeping the holster snug to the hand. Softening the plastic a bit to allow a better squeeze.

10629623_835521703132766_2209032509370364899_nSimple Hydration Bottle – 13 oz.
This is an innovative approach to carrying liquids. Simple deserves credit in trying to design a bottle that is easy to carry in the hand and also stuff in your shorts. I think they saw pictures of ultra-runners stuffing bottles into their tights and were inspired to make something for the masses that would like to have a hands free experience without the need for belts or packs.

After using the bottle on four runs ranging from 4 miles to 14, I found the bottle to be more of a nuisance than a relief. Three things stand out the most.

First off, the bottle cap is hard to pull up. I found myself having to bite down hard and jerk the cap up to start the flow of water. It also doesn’t go back down very easily. In fact, when you push down on the cap you’ll find it doesn’t go back down completely. When I squeeze the bottle while the cap is down a small drip starts. Not what you’d want if you were holding the bottle during a run. (The bottle is a softer plastic and easy to squeeze, which is good for a consistent flow of water.)

Second, the bottle lid doesn’t form a tight seal. When the water sloshes around the bottle, a consistent drip appears. Only when the water level is half full does the leak slow. Very annoying for me during my long run because I can feel the water soak my shorts early on the run.

Third, the bottle will weigh down your shorts! I first wore the bottle with my regular run shorts. While the bottle did fit comfortably on my back, I noticed the weight of the bottle start pulling my shorts down. After running half a block I had to pull the bottle up from my shorts and hold it in my hand because my shorts were well on their way to being around my ankles. The hook on the bottle that is supposed to hang on the shorts slipped from the waistline and the bottle went down my shorts. Only when I wore my running short tights did the bottle manage to relatively stay in place (as it continued to leak). As I ran downhill, the bottle moved around a lot and I found myself having to reach back and realign the bottle vertically while sliding it back to a comfortable position around my waist.

Recommendations:
Smaller bottle size (maybe 10 oz.?) will lessen the tendency for the bottle to weigh down shorts. Lengthening the “hook” while narrowing the gap may help with keeping the bottle on the shorts. Rubber bite valve similar to the Ultimate Direction bottle or adding a rubber gasket to the plastic cap while loosening it may help with the leaking. Softer plastic lid may help fill in gaps around the contours of the bottle where the lid screws onto.


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Undertrained Yet Overjoyed: Bulldog 50k Post Race Thoughts/Review

I thought I was being realistic about a top 10 finish even considering my weekly mileage leading up to the race was minimal, but I was wrong. I ended up running a 4:44:09, 13th overall. After I crossed the finish line I was just glad to have ran without injuring myself and having run a race I was proud of.

Bulldog Garmin Race Profile

Before the race I made the decision to put myself in a position to compete for a podium spot by running with the lead pack for the first loop. This was a crazy strategy, but made a lot of sense at the time. I figured one never knows when it may be the day for a breakout performance until you put yourself in the position to do great things. Can’t be scared about running up front! (Note that this strategy only works with proper training:-)

The first few miles were spent waking up the legs to get ready for the climb ahead. This course is great because the first three or so miles are relatively flat so there’s ample time to prepare the body for the heavy climb and steep descent.

I managed to consistently run 4th-6th place for the first lap. I ran a personal record of 1:56:xx for the first lap (previous PR was 2:02:xx at Malibu Creek 25k race). I was just starting to feel some cramping after stopping to refill my water bottles and tried to hang on for a mile before having to walk. At this point I decided I wouldn’t be able to maintain any kind of competitive pace and decided finishing healthy would be the best thing to do. New strategy: power walk the climbs and controlled running downhill. The new strategy led to a 2:46:xx lap. My lungs were fine, but the legs just couldn’t hang. Now I’m excited to race Bulldog next year and run to my potential.

What’s next? Lots of slower miles and lots of climbing. Simple, but effective for me.

Major thanks to:
My wife Cristina and sister Pureza for coming out and cheering me on. Nancy Shura-Dervin for putting on a festive and very well organized race. Nuun for adding some pizzaz to my water. Mark from Mizuno for the pair of Wave Kazans. The Kazan enabled me safely bomb the fire roads down without fear of slipping and with firmer cushioning under-foot to help dissipate shock. A Runner’s Circle for their support of my running. Very lucky to be working for a company that understands my passion and enables me to spread my love of running to others.

Finally, pictures! (Thanks to Rony Sanche, Becky Galland, and Deo)
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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.

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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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2013: Year-In-Review

Miles: 2,231.62
Max Distance: 37.83
Elevation Gain: 58,943 ft.
Time: 338:29:15

I was surprised I ran so many miles. Most of them were training miles and I rarely ran for fun (not that training wasn’t fun, but most of those runs felt forced). I only mention the vertical gain so I have something to compare my 2014 total with. I plan on running “up” a lot more this year.

Nutritionally it wasn’t the most healthy year. I ate a lot of fast food and drank lots of sugar. I think I would’ve felt better on more runs had I eaten the right kinds of food. I also depended too much on fueling during the run rather than fueling before.

I’d like to think I was physically strong during the previous year. I did a weekly routine of push ups, pull-ups, core exercises, and lunges/squats. What was missing was flexibility work and active recovery. I hope to do more preventative care while continuing body weight training in 2014.

Overall, it was a good year of running. I earned my first buckle, set a half-marathon PR, a few podium finishes, learned new training/nutritional techniques, discovered new trails, raced/trained with friends, ran alongside my wife, and was injury free!

Photo taken by MK.542732_482048085184070_1140172712_nIMG_0427

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