My last week of training (8/23-8/29)

Last week was another good week of training as I inch closer to being ready to workout fully. I got close to 100 miles on 10 runs and had 3 days with runs over 90 minutes and another day with some light surges.

On Wednesday, most of the guys were doing a 2k-1k workout at the Boone Greenway and Pete gave me the option to throw in some light 1 minute surges during my run. I ended up doing 8×1 min at around 4:55 pace and my hamstring held up well. It was far from fast but I was pleased that I was able to change gears and spice up my run a bit!

On Saturday I ran 2 hours 5 minutes with Griff who was doing an 25 miler as part of his Twin Cities Marathon build up. Usually once or twice during a marathon build up Pete has his athletes get in an almost 3 hour run. These runs are usually not particularly fast but more a “time on feet” run to callous the body to all the pounding that the marathon will deliver. I enjoyed running with Griff and I think he was happy to have the company! Check out this map he scribbled out to show all the sights and sounds of his 2hr and 45min adventure through Blowing Rock.

Griff's map. Not to scale.
Griff’s map. Not to scale.

And to finish out a busy week I was excited to get to watch Esther run in the IAAF World Marathon Championships in Beijing. She has been gone for about a month and although I want nothing more than for her to get home, I was really excited for her race. The women’s marathon is the last event of the championships and Esther was also ready to get it on!  She spent time in Austria, Japan, and finally China in her last few weeks before the race. As usual, she had prepared well and was ready to face the distance with excitement and maturity.

So on Saturday evening after a long day of coaching, I made my way to Town Tavern in Blowing Rock to watch the race on Universal Sports. Nearly all the ZAP team came out to support Esther as well as a parent from one of the teams I coach (GO ROSS!). David Rogers of the Blowing Rock News came as well and wrote a very nice recap of her race here.

Esther finished in 24th place after being in 48th at 5k. She is an incredibly smart marathoner that seems to have an uncanny ability to accurately measure her effort throughout her races. I know that she wanted to finish in the top 20 but I would have been proud of her if she had finished dead last. To be honest, when she came onto the track in the Bird’s Nest and kicked by a Bahraini athlete I was very close to tears. I had been watching the race for over 2 and a half hours and to finally be able to see her running was an amazing moment. And to see her kick by someone made it even cooler!

She’s tough, she beautiful, she’s tenderhearted, and she’s going to be my wife very soon. I am a lucky man to say the least.

My girl.
That’s my girl.

Thanks for reading!

Here is my last week of training (8/23-8/29):

Sunday: AM: 8 miles

Monday: AM: 16 miles

Tuesday: AM: 10 miles   PM: 4 miles

Wednesday: AM: 10 miles (8×1 min within run)

Thursday: AM: 13 miles   PM: 4 miles

Friday: AM: 9 miles   PM: 6 miles

Saturday: AM: 19 miles

Total: 99 miles, 10 runs

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My last week of training (7/26-8/1)

Goal: More easy 2nd runs this Fall. Moses Cone should suffice as the venue.
Goal: More easy 2nd runs this Fall. Bass Lake should suffice as the venue.

I will again be brief in my weekly recap. I have once again been busy with both ZAP camps and ASU soccer camps while also continuing to run and recover from my hamstring attachment issue.

I ran 92 miles last week with a few more doubles tossed in than normal. I have been thinking a lot about the frequency of my runs and think I may begin to double more often once I’m back up to full speed. Right now, I run 12 runs per week at the most and 9 runs per week at the least depending on my current training volume. But at some point I began taking an odd pride in seeing how few runs I could do in a week while also stacking up the mileage.

During some weeks it has made sense to incorporate longer single runs but in other more high intensity weeks I think I have been bull-headed to the point that I wasn’t recovering as optimally as I could’ve been. With a busy Fall of both soccer coaching and running I need to be more mature with the length of my recovery days.

In simple terms, a single 14 mile run will provide a greater aerobic benefit than a 9 mile run and a 5 mile run, but the longer single run will not allow my body to recover as quickly. It’s a bit of a Catch-22 as improving one’s aerobic base/capacity is incredibly important in distance running but if you overdue that side of things you may get injured and not be able to run at all! So intelligent doubles may be a smarter long term solution to my training in the coming years.

There is this badge of honor that many long distance runners wear with pride if they are able to log lots of miles in as few runs as possible. I certainly fall into that category as I like to convince myself that if I train this way I am somehow working harder than the other pros I race against. This may in fact be true but if I get to the starting line tired what is it really worth? Racing is the reason for the miles in the first place so if you don’t perform optimally there something needs to change!

Don’t get me wrong, I still plan to try and squeeze in as MANY miles as I can while still staying healthy but I think there is always room for improvement in one’s training. Tweaks, adjustments, and self check-ups are vital as you move forward in the sport. Stagnation or contentment in action or thought is deadly.

Each time I sit down for a meeting with Pete and Ryan I ask them if there is anything else they think I could be doing better on a daily basis. I ask not for running suggestions but for an outside evaluation on my daily life as a professional runner. Am I sleeping enough? Do you think I’m eating well? Have I been doing the appropriate amount of supplemental gym work?

Usually, I have an answer for each of these questions but I value Pete and Ryan’s opinion a lot as well. These check-in’s are important and I encourage anyone with or without a coach to find another person very familiar with your training and get feedback on how they think you’re doing because often you’ll be surprised with the answers you hear.

Thanks for reading!

Here is my last week of training (7/26-8/1):

Sunday: AM: 8 miles   PM: 6 miles

Monday: AM: 5 miles   PM: 7 miles

Tuesday: AM: 12 miles

Wednesday: AM: 14 miles

Thursday: AM: 8.5 miles  PM: 5.5 miles

Friday: AM: 11 miles  PM: 5 miles

Saturday: AM: 10 miles

Total: 92 miles, 11 runs

The Challenging Art of Easy

“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors”
-African proverb-

The art of easy running is not so easy. Building up after an injury can be a stressful and emotionally draining time and as contrary as it sounds, running easy each day can be incredibly challenging.

Risk takes many forms in distance running. The goal of training is to push your physical limits little by little over the course of a training cycle while not getting injured or burnt out.  An athlete must pursue the “red line” in earnest but then stalk it from close distance while being sure to not cross over it.

I crossed the line after the Boston Marathon and have been dealing with the consequences every since. And to be honest, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I’ve found that when something is hurting it can go 1 of 3 ways:

1. Keep training normally, get treatment between runs, problem goes away gradually.

2. Keep training normally, get treatment, problem persists, reduce training load by eliminating hard workouts, problem goes away gradually.

3. Keep training normally, get treatment, other problems arise from compensation, reduce training load, problem persists or worsens, drastically reduce training load by taking days or weeks off…problem eventually goes away.

Option 1 is the goal (and dream) while 2 and 3 are far more common. Luckily I find myself firmly in #2 on my scale. I’m not injured enough to be unable to run easy miles but I am not healthy enough to do anything of quality (i.e. under 6 minutes per mile pace). This limbo is an odd place to be but I’m fully aware it could be far, far worse. I mean, I ran 92 miles last week for goodness sake!

The goals that I came to ZAP to pursue are long term and require a vision beyond any bad week or month. This far reaching view is exciting yet equally arduous and often times vague and unclear.

Here is what I know: my body wants to run fast again. I enjoy an easy, smooth 90 minute run as much as anyone at ZAP but I also feel my body gently accelerating on a downhill or ever so slightly attacking an uphill and I know that going fast is something I want and need to do soon.

Here’s to keeping things easy even when it’s hard. Thanks for reading!

Here is my last week of training (7/19-7/25):

Sunday: AM: 15 miles

Monday: AM: 8 miles

Tuesday: AM: 11 miles

Wednesday: AM: 14 miles

Thursday: AM: 10 miles  PM: 5.5 miles

Friday: AM: 13 miles

Saturday: AM: 15.5 miles

Total: 92 miles, 8 runs

Treatment in Richmond

This week’s entry will be short and sweet because I’m working the ASU men’s soccer camp as we speak! I spent much of last week in Richmond, VA visiting with Esther’s family and getting some much needed treatment on my hamstring attachment. Dr. Rob Green of Active Chiropractic was kind enough to see me on short notice. Dr. Green is a triathlete himself and has visited ZAP several times through the years so he is familiar with the group and what we put our bodies through.

I went to Dr. Green’s office 4 days in a row and received a combination of ART, Graston, ultrasound, as well as guided PT. Although the first 3 treatments were very painful I was excited that on the 4th day my run was much less painful. My proximal hamstring (high hamstring) had a lot of built-up scar tissue and needed to get cleaned out so that new healthy tissue can develop.

Dr. Green believes that although treatment has helped a lot I will still need several more weeks until I’m ready for workouts. I was able to run 83 miles last week very relaxed but I can tell that my hamstring is not ready for anything under 6 minute pace right now. I will continue to get after the PT exercises he gave me and hope that my recovery continues!

Esther and I returned to Blowing Rock on Thursday in time for the start of the ZAP July Mini-Camp. Esther will be here for a week until she heads off to Europe before ultimately making her way to Beijing for the IAAF World Marathon Championships in last August.

Thanks for reading!

Here is my last week of training (7/12-7/18):

Sunday: AM: 12 miles

Monday: AM: 11 miles

Tuesday: AM: 8 miles   PM: 4 miles

Wednesday: AM: 12 miles

Thursday: AM: 9.5 miles  PM: 5 miles

Friday: AM: 9 miles

Saturday: AM: 9 miles   PM: 3 mile shakeout

Total: 83 miles, 10 runs

Battered and bruised

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Last weekend was supposed to be my return to fast racing but unfortunately my body had other plans. After a very solid climbing workout last Friday I was excited to toe the line in Frankfurt, KY on July 4th for the Buffalo Trace 5k. This small and intimate race offers great prize money, fast competition, and uniquely loops around the grounds of the famous Buffalo Trace Distillery the entire race. And Esther was going to be meeting me in Kentucky for the race so I was very intent on making it to the starting line!

But after my Friday workout my hamstring never settled down and I was faced with a tough decision. Even after a good long run with George on Sunday, where I felt the hamstring nearly every step but not in an alarming way, the tightness only worsened. After opting out of my Tuesday pre-race workout I got a light massage Wednesday which seemed to only anger the hamstring more!

Stubbornly I took 1 day off in the hopes that it would clear up and then made the drive down to Kentucky to meet Esther anyway. But after speaking to Pete we decided it made very little sense to run the race. Not starting a race is always a difficult decision as I have taken pride in being very present on the racing scene since I arrived at ZAP, but racing was simply out of the question.

I quickly turned my attention to cheering on Esther and ZAP teammate Sarah Porter on July 4th. The weather was muggy and the course had lots of turns but Esther ran a very smart race and came away with the victory and $3,000 payday in 16:31. Sarah ran the last race of her long season and nabbed 3rd place.

Although it would have been better if I was fighting it out for the win on the men’s side, I was very excited and proud to watch Esther pull away in the late stages of the race and beat some very good women. She is certainly rounding into form nicely as Beijing and the IAAF World Championships loom.

I plan to take the next week or so very easily and get as much treatment as I can. I will be running the US 20k Championships in September and the Twin Cities Marathon in October so my goal is to simply get healthy so I can have a healthy build up for those big races…and then the Olympic Trials will be here before I realize it.

Thanks for reading!

With the CHAMP!
With the CHAMP!

Here is my last week of training (6/28-7/4):

Sunday: AM: 15 miles   PM: walk

Monday: AM: 7 miles   PM: 6 miles

Tuesday: AM: 9 miles

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: AM: 5 miles   PM: 3 miles

Friday: AM: 5 miles   PM: ART/massage treatment in KY

Saturday: AM: 7 miles

Total: 57 miles, 8 runs

Onwards to Kentucky!

I had a very busy non-running week and a very easy training week coming off the BAA 10k. In an attempt to be organized and brief I am going to tell you about my week in a list format. Lazy, I know, but best when trying to recall all that I did!

Sunday: I raced the BAA 10k in the morning and then hopped on a plane back to Charlotte in the afternoon. I arrived in a balmy Charlotte (90 degrees) at 5:30 pm and headed back towards Blowing Rock with Griff. I was extra excited to get home as Esther was also making her way to Blowing Rock to move in all of her stuff.

With the World Championships in Beijing this summer she will not have a lot of time to move in so this week was a great opportunity for her to settle in before heading back to warmer training temperatures in Richmond, VA.

Boone+Jefferson+Wilkesboro=Blue Ridge Alliance Soccer Camps.
Boone+Jefferson+Wilkesboro=Blue Ridge Alliance Soccer Camps.

Monday: 6 am run with Esther before heading into Boone to work the Blue Ridge Alliance Soccer Camps. Run by HCSA, these camps run from 9-3 each day and they’re a lot of fun. The morning consists of coaching a particular topic and after lunch is mostly games. After getting done with camp I returned home to a much fuller house and got in another run with Esther. We then had dinner in town with Tyler!

Dinner with Tyler and Esther at Town Tavern in Blowing Rock, NC.
Dinner with Tyler and Esther at Town Tavern in Blowing Rock, NC.

Tuesday: Another very early morning run with Esther and Tyler through the Mayview neighborhood of Blowing Rock and Bass Lake. Then another warm day of soccer camp! Esther and I then headed to Boone for a nice dinner at Los Arcoiris.

Wednesday: Esther didn’t run with me as she had a workout later in the morning but I had another easy, smooth morning run. After getting done with camp Esther picked me and up and we headed for Charlotte to buy a couch from IKEA.

We had already picked one out and Tyler was nice enough to let us borrow his truck as he was in Eugene for USA’s. We got in an easy 2nd run in Hickory on the way to Charlotte and after a quick meal at (welcome to) Moe’s we made it to IKEA. After scooping up the couch we eventually made it home around 11 pm. It was a long day to say the least. I got 17 miles of running, 6 hours of soccer, and 4 hours of driving squeezed into 1 day. Tiring but productive.

Thursday: Esther headed back to Richmond after another nice medium long run. It was great spending a few days with her even though I was busy most of the week and she got a lot done at the new house! I put the couch together after she left and the living room actually looks livable now as opposed to 3 weeks prior when Pete had to lend me a chair as I had none in the house!

Esther and I's nook is beginning to take shape.
Esther and I’s nook is beginning to take shape.

Friday: Pete had a moderate climbing workout on the schedule for Friday morning but with camp starting at 8:30 am I decided to flip-flop my day and get in an easy shorter run before coaching then do the workout in the evening.

After getting in an afternoon nap I headed to Bass Lake for the ZAP classic Manor-Maze workout. The plan was to run a 4-3-2-1 minute fartlek with halftime rest up to the manor house, easily jog to the start of the maze, then run a 4-3-2-1 fartlek through the maze. Put together the workout is about 7 miles in length and has a little bit of everything in it: flat, climbing, and downhill.

I had a very good workout. I felt surprisingly rested and got to the manor in 14:37 (just under 3 miles) and through the maze in 12:19 (just over 2.5 miles). The only downside of the workout was that with about 2 minutes left I felt my hamstring pull slightly. Hopefully it’s nothing serious!

Saturday: My hamstring was incredibly sore during my run but my legs felt good. I really feel my fitness coming around and I’m proud that I was able to get in 90+ miles for the week while coaching a lot and running errands with Esther.

Next week will be very relaxed as I prepare to make my way to Frankfurt, KY to race the Buffalo Trace 5k. It’s a really fast course with good prize money and I will try my best to attack my road 5k PR of 13:51 if all goes well!

Check back next week for a recap of the race.

Here is my last week of training (6/21-6/27):

Sunday: AM: 12 miles (BAA 10k, 30:35, 12th)

Monday: AM: 7 miles   PM: 5.5 miles

Tuesday: AM: 12 miles

Wednesday: AM: 11 miles   PM: 6 miles (8×20 sec post run)

Thursday: AM: 13 miles

Friday: AM: 5 miles   PM: 12 miles (manor-maze workout)

Saturday: AM: 10.5 miles

Total: 94 miles, 10 runs

Back to Boston!

Coming off of the hilly Asheville 10k last weekend, I was excited to get in another good week of training. After a controlled, or “time on feet,” long run on Monday, I was at the ASU track on Wednesday to work out with Griff, George, and Cameron. All of those guys were doing pre race workouts as Griff would be in Boston for a 5k, George in Portland for a 5k, and Cameron in Indianapolis for a 3k steeple but we overlapped at the beginning of the session. The plan was to run 3x2k at threshold pace followed by 8×300 meters at mile effort. Here’s how it went:

3x2k with 3 minutes jog rest:
1. 6:00
2. 6:00
3. 6:00

8×300 with 100 meters walk rest:

45, 45, 45, 47, 45, 45, 45, 44

As expected the 2k’s were very comfortable and the 300’s were challenging. As I stated in an recent blog, I’m really placing emphasis on getting my legs turned over more this summer and improving my leg speed and these 300’s certainly worked towards that goal.

Aerobically, they were fairly easy  but I was really having to focus on keeping my form together as my legs were a bit tired from the 2k’s earlier in the session. The discomfort from doing faster repeats is very different from the discomfort from strength based work that I’m used to. Overall, it was a good session and a positive step forward as when I did 8×300 2 weeks ago it was much harder.

After an easy few days of running I was off to Asheville, NC again for the 2nd and final weekend of the US Soccer National Youth License coaching course. The final weekend consisted primarily of the testing portion (written, oral, practical field, etc) of the course and I think it went well but I will have to wait 4-6 weeks to find out if I passed.

Next up for me is the B.A.A. 10k on June 21 in Boston, MA. After a disappointing finish at the marathon in April, I am excited to return to the city and get in a great race. From what I hear the course is fast and the professional field is strong I’m excited for the challenge.

Check back next week for a recap of the race. Thanks for reading!

P.S. Esther returned to Litchfield, CT for the historic Litchfield Hills Road Race over the weekend and successfully defended her title with a big win and personal best on the challenging 7.1 mile course! She has now won the race 3 years in a row and is quickly becoming the Queen of Litchfield. Congrats to her!

Here is my last week of training (6/7-6/13):

Sunday: AM: 6.5 miles   PM: 6.5 miles

Monday: AM: 17 miles

Tuesday: AM: 9 miles   PM: 6 miles (8×20 seconds post run)

Wednesday: AM: 10.5 miles (3x2k, 8×300)  PM: 6.5 miles

Thursday: AM: 11.5 miles

Friday: AM: 13.5 miles

Saturday: AM: 9 miles (10×20 seconds post run)

Total: 96 miles, 10 runs

Asheville Recap

Last week was a busy one for me! I began the week with a solid long run at Moses Cone with Tyler and then came back Wednesday for a workout with Griff and Joe at Mulberry. The plan was to run 6x 1 mile at threshold pace followed by 4×400 meters at roughly 5k effort. Pete measured out 2 miles with each 400 meter mark indicated by a cone. We did 2×1 mile with 75 seconds rest and then had 3 minutes rest before the next pairing of mile repeats. Here’s how it went:

2×1 mile (x3), 75 sec rest between intervals, 3 minutes between sets:

4:54, 4:52, 4:47, 4:48, 4:40, 4:41

4×400, 90 seconds rest: 65, 65, 65, 65

The miles we were running were mostly flat with the exception of the last 400 meters of the 2nd mile which rose a decent amount. All 3 of us felt strong and controlled throughout the session and were pleased with how it all played out.

After an easy few days of running I made my way to Asheville to run a very low key 10k to open up my season. The BAA 10k was originally going to be the start of my summer racing season but I was going to be in Asheville over the weekend anyway for a soccer coaching course so this race seemed like a good fit. I got into town the day before but was unable to check out the course so I had no idea what it would be like, although with it being Asheville I planned for and expected to see lots of HILLS!

My assumptions were proven correct as the course was nasty! In fact, I would say it was one of the harder courses I have ever run on. The opening 2.5 miles were rolling downhill and then the tough stuff began. Let’s put it this way, I comfortably got to 3 miles in 14:20 and then I passed the 4 mile mark in 20:25! That means I ran over 6 minutes for that mile which consisted of a healthy dose of switchbacks and steep, steep inclines. In the end, I finished 2nd behind a Chapel Hill based Kenyan and made a few bucks. My time was not good but in the context of my week it was another hard effort that will ‘serve me well’ (Pete Rea-ism) as I move forward to my target races.

National Youth Coaching Course

After the race ended I got in a quick cool down and made my way over to the Carolina Day School to take part in US Soccer’s National Youth License coaching course. This course is designed to provide club directors of coaching, youth coaches, and administrators with the knowledge to successfully structure soccer environments to players ages 4-12. The course focuses on how to provide developmentally appropriate sessions for the very young ages so they are properly prepared once they make the jump to more competitive levels of the youth game.

Although many clubs focus their best coaches with the high school aged teams, often the most qualified and able coaches are needed at these early stages so the foundation is properly set moving forward. I had a good time and have lots of work to do this week before returning to Asheville next weekend for the testing component of the course (written, oral, and practical field test). Wish me luck!

Carolina Day School Soccer Complex in Asheville, NC.
Carolina Day School Soccer Complex in Asheville, NC.

Thanks for reading!

Here is my last week of training (5/31-6/6):

Sunday: AM: 17 miles (8×20 seconds end of run)   PM: walk

Monday: AM: 7 miles   PM: 6 miles

Tuesday: AM: 10.5 miles (8×20 seconds end of run)   PM: 4 miles

Wednesday: AM: 13 miles (6 x mile, 4 x 400 workout)

Thursday: AM: 12 miles

Friday: AM: 9 miles   PM: 4 miles (4×200 accelerations)

Saturday: AM: 12 miles (Asheville 10k)  PM: US Soccer National Youth License

Total: 95 miles, 10 runs

Another solid week

This week’s entry will be short and sweet as I’m busy getting settled back into High Country life. Training wise, I was able to get in 2 good sessions during the week. On Wednesday I did a ZAP classic 7 to 1 fartlek at Bass Lake with Tyler, George, and Colley. The 7 to 1 workout consists of harder running in increments of 7 minutes, 6 minutes, 5 minutes, etc. all the way down to 1 minute with half time rest after each piece. The goal of the workout is to run each harder piece progressively harder and allow the recovery pieces to be run progressively slower throughout.

The workout started fairly well but I realized early on that I was slightly over-matched by my race ready teammates. Tyler has recently run 13:40 and 28:22 while Colley and George are both sharpening up for a fast mile in Boston, MA at the end of the week. Although I did the 2nd half of the workout alone I was able to get faster with each piece and it was a decent session after all the traveling of the previous few days.

On Friday, I did an easy 8 mile run that finished at the Appalachian State University track in Boone. Once at the track Tyler, George, Colley, Cameron, and I did 8×300 with 100 meters jog to toss in some speed work to finish out the week. I ran around 45 seconds for each interval and felt decent doing so. My hamstrings and glutes gave me some issues towards the end but I think they are continuing to heal, albeit slowly. Pete and I feel it’s really important that I get in some quality leg turnover work as I transition into shorter races over the next few months.

The ASU track which sits at EXACTLY 3,333 feet above sea level.
The ASU track which sits at EXACTLY 3,333 feet above sea level.

This week I will have a moderate mile repeat workout at Mulberry in Lenoir and then rest up for my season opener/rust buster on June 6 at the Asheville 10k. I am excited to test my fitness at this lower key event before getting into the meat of my season.

Art

Thanks for reading! Check back for my race recap next week!

Here is my last week of training (5/10-5/16):

Sunday: AM: 15 miles (8×1 min surges within run)

Monday: AM: 5 miles   PM: walk

Tuesday: AM: 12 miles (8×20 seconds post run)

Wednesday: AM: 14 miles (7 to 1 fartlek)

Thursday: AM: 10 miles   PM: 5 miles

Friday: AM: 11 miles (8×300 at ASU track, 44-45 seconds)

Saturday: AM: 10 miles

Total: 92 miles, 8 runs

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