Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Need for Speed

As the previous post mentioned, I've been thinking a bit lately about my training plan. I've been revising it on the fly to balance my non-running life and running goals. I really can't afford to add more running days per week. Three or four is going to have to do. For the three day week, I've been doing one short run (3-5 miles), one medium run (6-9 miles) and one long run (10+ miles). When I do 4 days, I'll add a second medium distance run.

I've decided to incorporate more speed training. My short run will now focus primarily on pushing speed. When the weather finally clears (and my nearby high school track is ice free), I'll be doing some repeats around the track combined with a fast 1-2 miler on the way there and home. I'll run a "relaxed" medium run. For the weekly long run, I will run at a relaxed pace also but will be doing some quarter mile pick-ups every 2 miles to try and infuse some speed into the longer distances (without - hopefully - wearing myself down). That's the plan for now.

During last summer's training for the Chicago Marathon, I primarily worried about building endurance and simply increasing mileage with complete disregard for speed. I'll be focusing on speed a bit more now that I know I can cover the distance.

To that end, last night's run (no repeats though) around the couple neighborhoods near my house looked like this according to Garmin:

4.36 miles
31:02 time
7:07 per mile

Mile 1: 7:07
Mile 2: 7:03
Mile 3: 7:07
Mile 4: 7:07
.36 mile: 7:20 pace

I'm pretty happy with this. The roads were still icy in spots causing temporary slow downs. When will the spring thaw begin?!! My marathon anxiety is starting and I'm itching (literally) to take off these layers...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Quality vs. Quantity

Quality versus Quantity. In a runner's world, I know these two are not mutually exclusive. I know there are many training plans, testimonials, examples, etc. of runner's who have managed to employ both quality and quantity in their regiment.

I am not one of them.

I am constantly learning more and more about running and how to improve my training and enjoyment. The one area I have made little progress is understanding how to manage quality runs against endurance building quantity. I have always tended to focus on high quality training runs at the expense of high mileage weeks. I value my rest. I almost never run on consecutive days despite the fact that most training plans prescribe just that. I never run at a pace like 90 seconds off my race pace (sometimes called a recovery run.) Most of my runs are probably 1-2 notches below how I would run during a race. For example, if I do a 10 mile run, I would train at 7:45 pace while I could do a 7:15 pace in the race itself. Occasionally, I might even train at a 7:30 pace for that distance. All of the time. The point is, with each run, I'm trying to run at a fairly brisk pace. It is a habit I started while training for the smaller 5k speed races and I really haven't changed despite moving on to longer distances.

I'm not sure if this is okay or I'm actually holding myself back. In my mind, I've always convinced myself that, hey, I may not be doing the big mileage but when I do go out I go out hard and fast. High quality runs. I type this rather sheepishly (not sure how you convey that in the written word) because I know that if I ran this by a training expert, the entire notion of High Quality Only runs would be immediately torn to shreds. The thing is that, when you only run 3-4 times a week, I would feel like I'm not getting anything out of 1-2 relaxed runs at a pace 60+ seconds slower than usual. The little voice in the back of my head (which also tells me to sit on the couch and drink beer occasionally) tells me this is incorrect but so far hasn't managed to convince the conscious reasoning part.

I'm sure I'm going about this training thing all wrong. But, for now while I keep seeing improvement, I'll press on with the emphasis on Quality rather than Quantity. It will probably not sink in to make the change until my training levels off.

Week in Review:
Despite what you have just read above, for the first time in over 2 years, I ran on 3 consecutive days (and 4 of 5). A little guilt crept in from the low mileage previous week. For the past seven days, I did nearly 32 miles. For kicks, during one run, I decided to really turn it on about halfway through one mile just to see what time I could post for that mile. I was happy to see 6:57 for that mile (and only "went for it" for half of that mile). I haven't registered a below 7 minute mile in awhile. Nice to know it's still there if I need it. And I may soon. I'm eye-balling a 5k in late March.

Monday, February 19, 2007


I'm in a weather-induced running slump.

I have no treadmill....or access to one short of paying for a gym membership which I don't want to do just for 2 winter I have to complete my runs outside...

Now I remember why, in prior years, I didn't run much in Jan and Feb.

I was in danger of posting only 6 miles for last week. SIX MILES!

The wife and I took a long weekend in Traverse City and returned yesterday at 6 PM. I rushed inside, threw on my running gear and took off for another 6 mile run (supposed to be 11 but who's counting?). For the week, I managed a pathetic total of 12.25 miles. I am determined that this is the low point. With the weather looking better, it's time to get serious.

6.13 miles
7:48 pace/mi

Side Note #1: I had this weird sensation that I was about to be attacked by a wolf while running at the back of a heavily wooded neighborhood. I think it was because it was dark and I heard a large dog howling in the distance. Pretty ridiculous...but it did put a jump in my step. Ever get one of those weird feelings that something is stalking you while running?

Side Note #2: I want to give acknowledgement to my lovely, supportive wife. She reads this blog periodically and mentioned to me the other day that there was not much in here about her. Now, I thought I was doing us all a favor by keeping the personal business of the other innocent members of my family out of this column. However, I'll try and change that. :)

Wife put us into a hotel for the weekend. Cold weather, hot and kids. You can see where that went. Also, we tried one of the newer Traverse City restaurants - The Blue Tractor - which replaced Dill's Olde Towne saloon. Weird not to see Dill's there but this place was reasonably priced, pretty solid food, and had a nice atmosphere. Nothing fancy though. If you want a decent meal without going to a chain restaurant, I recommend.

Friday, February 16, 2007

President's Weekend, etc.

My son has a poster in his room of the 41 presidents prior to George II standing or sitting in chronological order. It's a print of a drawing and each of the presidents look vaguely cartoonish wearing over stylistic garb from the era they represented (Ronald Reagan looks out of place and time wearing a cowboy hat and boots but, hey, what are you going to do). When my son was 4 years old, he could name every president by sight. It was a neat party trick to pull out for friends and family. And a terrific memory game for him. I don't know if it is related to that exercise or not but, at 9 years old, he now has one of the best memories I've seen.

I was going to subject you, the reader, to a political rant this morning. As always, there's a lot going on and much to be commented on. But, frankly, I just don't have the motivation or energy.

Instead, you'll have to deal with half-baked thoughts....pretty to look at but still gooey on the inside. And it won't taste good going down.


I chuckle when I hear the outrage directed at illegal immigrants. And laugh out loud over the notion of building a 500 mile fence to keep "them" out. Hey, I'd prefer everyone enter this country legally as well. But, make no mistake, they come because LARGE CORPORATIONS run by conservative white men will hire them for a reduced wage. No jobs = no stampede across the border. Want to turn off the "supply" of illegals? Get rid of the "demand". I was reminded of this again while reading Fast Food Nation and the meatpacking industries recent history of hiring illegal immigrants. Even going so far as sending "recruiters" to border Texas towns to load people on buses and drive them to Nebraska and North Dakota for low wage work. A large percentage of the workers on the lines at the beginning of the fast food pipeline are illegals. They work cheap. Don't try to unionize. And will not be provided company paid health care or unemployment. Next time you find yourself in a debate over immigration, let's direct our anger to the root cause: exploitative corporations.

2008 election

Honestly, we are dealing with this already? It's become a non-stop campaign cycle in this country. At this point, does anyone really want a retread of the old, stale politician - a veteran of the Partisan Wars (1994-current). I want a fresh voice. An innovative thinker. I guess everyone wants that too. Do we have one in names like Clinton, McCain, Giuliani, etc? I'm not sure. I think our next president hasn't identified him or herself yet. In a word, I think our next president needs to be INSPIRATIONAL. Somebody needs to inspire this nation back to our core ideals and get people believing in "America" again. And I have an inkling of who that might be.

Iraq War

This is over right? Let's get back to rooting out the terrorists. Why do I never hear Bin Laden's name anymore? I haven't forgotten. Have you?

Presidential History

Why did our ancestors vote for Grover Cleveland in two non-sequential terms? He has screwed up our presidential numbering system and, most importantly, my son's poster. Do you draw the same guy twice - on either side of Benjamin Harrison? Not likely. Despite the distinction of being the president Most Likely to be a Member of Biker Gang (check out that cool mustache and portly figure) he's thrown a monkey wrench into the nice sequential presidential order.

Happy President's Day! I don't know what I'll buy my wife to celebrate. And how is it that the chocolate industry hasn't jumped all over this "holiday" yet. Where is my little box of edible chocolate presidential busts? The Bush one is filled with nuts! Mmmm, I love the Calvin Coolidge.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Into the Wind

Just a quick maintenance post here. I missed my weekly LR last week. Originally, this was scheduled as a cutback week but it became a push week instead.

This was a tough run. Sunday morning it was around 19 sun...and a wind that wasn't evident from my front porch. It blasted me about a 1/2 mile in. I managed to turn away from it for a couple of miles but 4 of the last 6 miles had me taking it full frontal. I don't think I needed to use my own inhale function as the wind filled me up like a balloon with each breath. It seems like you can be maimed, embarrassed, or killed by over-consuming or over doing anything in life. I don't think there is such a thing as too much air is there? Death by air?

9.5 miles

...and happy to be done....all things considered.

After a run like that, I rush to the mirror to see if, by chance, I might have sprouted two more chest hairs. I know my voice sounded deeper the rest of the day...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Back the Truck Up...

...brain dump coming...

I guess this would fulfill the "random thoughts" portion of my blog subtitle. Things are pretty monotonous these winter days: work, running, work, basketball, work, kids' events, work, running, etc.

So let's unload in no particular order.

Reading Update:
I usually juggle two books at once. Yes, it would be much quicker, easier, and less confusing to read one at a time but, you see, I have one stashed in my car to read on lunch while at work and another around the house for bed time/poopy time reading (designated "bathroom" book). My only rule is that one should be non-fiction and the other fiction. I made the rule for no particular purpose. I guess just to avoid getting story lines crossed.

Anyway, the Bathroom book right now is Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. This was billed as an "expose" of the fast food industry...kind of a non-fiction, modern day The Jungle (Upton Sinclair, another terrific read). It is pretty interesting so far but I'm still getting to the (processed) meat of this story. The upcoming chapters are titled "Where the Meat Comes From" and "Why the Fries Taste Good". Do I really want to read these chapters? Or remain blissfully ignorant while I eat my Wendy's single (minus onion)?

Boob Tube Update:
The wife and I rarely watch dramatic TV series...while they are on TV. We, of course, wait to rent the entire season after they have aired so (1) we can watch them without commercial interruption (2) we don't have to worry about missing an episode and (3) we feel the need to pay for something that was otherwise free originally.

Winter is the time for catch up. We have completed HBO's Oz (final season), Lost season 2, and Nip/Tuck season 2. Currently, working on Nip/Tuck season 3. Decadent entertainment!

Basketball Update:
Played my second time last night and am relatively pain-free today. The kinks are being worked out. I came down with a case of Dead Legs in the final game resulting in a number of missed easy shots...which of course my team lost 11-10... due mainly to my missed shots. But, things are starting to come back together. Still a step slow recognizing play development and defensive adjustment. Ahh, but the beauty of a nice post-up, one dribble, turn-around, pump fake, fade away...NET!

Dr. Hoops

Running Update:
After a nice 5 day lay-off, I got in 4.4 miles on Tuesday in a 7:30 pace. I'm looking at 5 miles tonight and a 9 miler this weekend. Here's to hoping the zero degree weather is behind us.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


I was reading in the paper this morning that today is the day high school football players from around the country make their final decision on where to play/attend college.

Which reminded me of this picture I stole from the net several weeks back that I thought was pretty funny. This is supposed to be at an elementary school in Ohio. I love how the kids are not laughing or crying...just looking like a normal school picture. Like both "parties" understand the division created by their fan loyalty and accept it.

Pretty funny. Probably an oldie but still a goodie in my book.

Let me know if the picture didn't come through. I've been having trouble with that recently.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I'm guilty. I fooled myself into thinking I was in great shape.

...after all, I run 5+ miles every other day. I lift weights. Watch my diet...

Surely I can go play a few games of basketball without any problems right? In a 35 and older league where, being 35, I'd have to be one of - if not the - youngest person. Some of the players had gray hair. Others had more braces or wraps covering different parts of their bodies than NOT covered.

Nah, shouldn't be a problem.


Except...I'm in pain this morning. Hell, I was in pain the moment I left the court last night and limped to my car. I feel like that kid in Shel Silverstein's 'Sick' poem. You know, the one with the litany of problems spelled out as to why she can't go to school:

"My hip hurts when I move my chin,My belly button's caving in,My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,My 'pendix pains each time it rains."

My back is most certainly wrenched. And the back of my legs haven't been sore like this in awhile.

This is my first experience in a 35+ league and here is one observation that jumps out: there is a lot more leaning that takes place. By that, I mean, generally speaking, men this age aren't as spry and,when you come anywhere near the basket, like to lay their elbows on you, apply body weight, and try and pin you to the floor. The basketball equivalent of the sleeper hold. And that is tough on the back.

The other observation last night is that you cannot take a year off from playing and expect to JUMP again. I could not even jump high enough for simple lay-ups. They were a struggle. I hit the bottom of the rim on a couple which is pretty embarrassing. That's why a lay-up is also called a "gimme" or "bunny". You're supposed to make them. Easily.

Basketball is a game of quick spurts and quick stops and turns. Running, obviously, involves continuous, almost static, forward motion. And no jumping. It is very horizontal.

My horizontal is fine. The vertical, well, that's another matter.

The 5 miler tonight should be interesting.