Posts Tagged ‘listening’

I waited an extra day to write this post, just to be sure.  I thought I felt this way last week, but haven’t experienced “the training groove” in a while; so, I waited to see if it would pass.  But, it didn’t.  I’m in the “groove”.  It’s a dorky term, but I don’t know a better one.  Training grooves don’t happen often, and if you’re new to running or cycling, they may take a while to show up.  The training groove is a little similar to the ‘runner’s high’ except that it happens over a period of weeks (months if you can make it last).  It’s that phenomenal kind of time when all your effort and persistence starts to pay off and instead of tiny little gains, you see big ones start to happen.

During most of the Spring, I was rebuilding my running and riding mileage; mostly due to an injury in January.  I have finally cleared that hurdle and have made some adjustments to my training schedule to work with Summer heat and get ready for Fall races.  I just finished signing up for the Dallas Marathon in December and I have the Hotter-n-Hell 100 that happens in late August topped off with a tri in September.  Therefore, I needed to get my running mileage back to 20 miles per week and make sure I had at least one good, long ride each week as well.

To accomplish these short-term goals, I changed my workout schedule about three weeks ago to more aggressively work on running mileage during the week and leave my Saturdays for rides.  That meant more running days per week than the three I had been doing.  My schedule went from the following:

Mon: 5K, Wed: 8 miles, Thur: 5K

to this:

Mon: 4 miles, Tue: 5K, Wed: 8 miles, and Thurs: 5K.

At first, it might appear that looks like too many miles to add.  However, I didn’t do it all in one week.  I added the extra Monday mile during one week and then hit a ‘cut back’ week where I didn’t run.  After that week, I added the extra 5K to Tuesday.  Because my routes aren’t perfectly measured on those runs, I was then at about 17-18 miles per week.  That left me with all morning Saturday to devote to riding.

I started getting up early on Saturdays so that I could be on the bike at first light, just when it got light enough to see.  I rode with a tail light and a bright yellow jersey.  The roads at 6AM were almost bare and by 6:30AM, the sun was up.  I also went north in my city to a long trail called Campion and rode there to cut down on road miles.  Campion is a 12 mile round trip on the bike.  Combined with getting there and an additional extension, I can do 40 to 50 miles easily before traffic builds too much.  However, with Summer getting later, the sun is also becoming tardy.  I’ve cut my ride back to 40 miles or so to compensate and will probably have to move it lower as time goes on to the Fall.

Two Saturdays back, I got a little bored on the bike and came home a little early.  I didn’t feel the workout should be over, so I put on my shoes and went for a short run.  At 10AM, it’s starting to get hot here, but I’d already been out for three hours and was acclimated.  I put in a good 5K that morning and decided it’s time to add in the brick miles.  In addition, I’ve moved my weight training up another notch, so the whole week goes something like this:

Mon: 4 miles running, Tues: 5K morning, weights and swim in evening, Wed: 8 miles running, Thurs: 5K morning, weights and swim in evening, Fri: Rest, Saturday: 40 mile bike/5K run brick, Sunday Rest.

Weights and swimming I was already doing and with no events until late August, I have a good long time of just working out.  So, where’s the groove, right?  I’ve felt it mostly in my runs.  My paces are picking up even though I am still running easy most days.  I mean, really picking up; like a minute or two of faster pace.  Additionally, the running is getting easier even with better pace times. And, this is all happening during a warm Summer (average morning temp 79 degrees).

On top of things just in general being better, I am also more ready to work out when it happens.  I do admit that last week was a struggle some days because we were working extra hard at work.  However, over the past three weeks, I have been more ready for my runs and rides than previously.  These things are the ‘groove’ that I am talking about.  I have noticed it mostly in connection with my running, though I also feel it when riding or swimming.  I have the feeling that improvement is really happening instead of just keeping up with the motions.

I have no idea if anyone else experiences these training grooves.  This is at least the second one I can remember and I think there have been others.  The most recent groove I felt was late last year when I was doing my marathon training.  A training groove probably isn’t an official term or phenomenon, but I know they exist and they are nearly as good as a ‘runner’s high’.  Possibly they are even better since they last a while.  I am hoping this one carries through at least until it turns cooler and I am working on my marathon training.  Tell me if you have experienced a similar groove in your training.


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Back this January, I injured myself while swimming.  Yes, while swimming.  The injury put a real cramp on my training; no running, no swimming, no cycling for a few weeks.  I didn’t want to stop training altogether and looked for something that wouldn’t aggravate my injury while it healed.  I found I use our city’s senior fitness center’s machines and work on strength training.

In my distant past, I had tried weightlifting on a couple of occasions.  It seemed boring and I didn’t have a way of measuring the effectiveness.  I tried and then quit.  I figured I could use strength training as a filler for not getting to swim, bike, or run and then dump it when I could go back to my previous workouts.

I don’t use a complicated workout.  Our fitness center has four machines that work on different upper body areas and another four that target legs.  I start with one of the machines for upper body and then switch off to one that works legs; back and forth until all are done.  I only do 10 reps (repetitions) of three weight levels.  The top weight level is just about at exhaustion for that machine.  It’s hard to lift all 10 reps of the highest level.  I only move up in weight when I can lift 10 reps on the highest weight with facility (not when it’s easy).

I kept that up for a month or so while I healed up.  Because my injury was a little complicated, it took a little longer and I’ve had to slowly work back into full workouts.  So, I kept doing the strength training twice weekly.  Then, I started to notice something.

I noticed that my running paces were starting to get quicker.  I noticed that I could run my longer distances a bit easier.  I also noticed that my swim speeds were getting better and my strokes were more true to form.  My swimming was getting easier.  Apart from the fact that I liked the improvement, I wanted to know what was going on.

It was actually my sweetie that noticed the connection.  It was the strength training.  Because I had kept my strength training up, I had increased my weight levels three times over a few months.  As I increased the lifting, my upper body and legs were better able to help me swim, bike, and run.

I have read a good many articles touting the good results of strength training.  Guess what? They’re right.  It does actually work.  With only a half hour of strength training twice weekly, I have improved my running pace by two full minutes per mile on a good day (11 min/mile down from 13’s).  My swims are still getting easier to do and more close to form.  I am currently working on getting a total of 600 meters with only freestyle.  I usually only was able to do that distance with half freestyle and half breaststroke.  I am almost there.

Therefore, my injury and the subsequent downtime did me a lot of good in my training.  Not that I would wish any injury on anyone.  It just took the injury for me to look for something different in my training and to focus on quality instead of just quantity.  While I’ve still got a ways to go to get back to my original distances, I know now that when I get there, I’ll be doing them faster and better than before.  Don’t leave out the strength training if you can help it.  Happy tri-ing.

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This past Monday, I decided to restart my speedwork again as it groweth closer to Cowtown time again.  None of my speed workouts for my marathon training were pickups, so I had not done any for several months.  I thought it would be a good time to run some (not so) gentle pickups again.  And, as usual, I would run mine with my trusty Garmin and heart rate monitor.

Now, if you’ve read my original post on doing pickups by heart rate, you know that I set a heart rate alarm on the Garmin that is slightly under my max heart rate.  My max heart rate had been running about 180-182.  When I first started running with the Garmin, I calculated my max HR (220 – 50; my age) at 170, but I measured my heart rate going to 180 when running flat out.  For a couple years, I’ve been using an alarm setting of 172.  When my HR gets to 172, I hear the beeps and run out the pickup for as long as I can hold, then slow down.

As long as I have run, that formula has worked just fine.  Until last Monday when I took off on my first pickup and kept going and going and going.  No beeps.  No alarms.  I look down and the Garmin says, “162.”  Ok, so slow down, jog a while and try it again.  My HR drops back to 130 and I start off again.  Maybe I didn’t run the pickup out fast enough?  You’re only supposed to reach about 80% of top speed.  Maybe I am just out of practice.  So, I’ll make this one faster.

I’m waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the beep.  None comes.  I’m going all out now and I look down, “164.”  What’s wrong?  Why won’t my HR go up?  I run the rest of my pickups by feel and just monitor the heart rate.  It never exceeded 167, and that was on the last one.  What has happened?  I know I’m fit.  Has something change?

Of course it has.  I’ve dropped 30 pounds!  And, I’m slightly older now.  OK, so my age only drops the max HR by 2 bpm, but when you go in with the idea that I’m now back to my calculated HR (220 – age), which is now 168, almost 167, you see the difference.  My extra weight artificially raised my max HR because of the extra stress.  Now, I need to figure out a new HR limit for pickups and try it again.

Of course, now, I’m not sure when that will be.  Tuesday evening I went for my regular swim.  Every time I tried to fully kick in the freestyle stroke, my left foot hurt.  I eased up on my kicking and could keep the pain under slight control, but at least once every lap, one strong kick would make me wince.

Just when I crossed 800 yds., it got worse.  Now it was throbbing and moving up the leg.  I stopped and made it back to the shallow end to see what was going on.  I could feel a large knot on top of my foot near the ankle.  It wasn’t hard and after a while, the know moved when pressing on it.  The pain was increasing.  My friend stopped to see how it was and I told him I was done for the night.

I hobbled home and put some ice on it.  I took some ibuprofen and wrapped it for the night.  It remained quite painful all night, but when I got up, the pain when down, the swelling went down, and I could walk.  I went two days at work with no real problems at all.  No problem walking.  I jogged a little coming home and didn’t feel anything either.  However, I got up this morning and could see a small bruise down near my toes.  That was odd.  I didn’t have any pain down there.

I thought I’d try spinning and see if that would be a problem.  For 52 minutes, it wasn’t.  Then it started again.  I got off and checked.  Sure enough, the swelling was back and the bruise had gotten larger.  Well, that bites.

Now, I am going to have to stick to my plan to do no workouts until Monday at least.  I can’t find any medical conditions exactly like it on the Internet.  The only one that is close sounds really bad.  I don’t think I’ve ripped a ligament or tendon.  That pain would remain…I think.

Well it happens.  You can’t get everything right.  I’ve gone a considerable length of time without an injury.  I guess you might say I’m overdue.  It’s just not a good time with a race coming up.  I’m going to be patient and wait until Monday.  Then, I’ll have to reassess whether this needs a doc or not.  I sure hope not.  They tend to go overboard when there is an injury.  And, my experience with a lot of docs is they aren’t all great diagnosticians.  But, we’ll just have to see.  Be careful and have fun running.

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There is a story in the Old Testament of the Bible; in a book called 1 Kings.  It tells the story about a prophet from Judah sent to tell the rebellious king Jeroboam what God had to say.  Though there were many prophets in Israel and some are famous like Elijah and Elisha, we do not even know this man’s name. (more…)

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I went out for my last run this morning as I get my final preparations underway for the race this coming Sunday.  As I was going through my mind the steps I would take to get ready, I realized that I hadn’t ever written any of these down.  I also know that many of my friends are running races this weekend for their first time and any help might come in handy.  I am certainly not an expert in these matters, but between RunnersWorld.com and my friends, I have learned a few things that make a race more enjoyable, if not faster.  In addition, please allow the disclaimer that no one has to listen to my dribble on race prep if they don’t wish to do so. (more…)

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Though yesterday morning was freakishly warm (66 degF), I got up and ran my 4-miler.  More than I would usually run on Mondays, but as this is a taper week, I thought I’d start at 4 and work my way down.  Nothing seemed wrong with the run, except for sweating and huffing through the humidity.  My day went fairly well.  I wore shorts to work just in order to dare the weather to turn cool.  It actually did. (more…)

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Art, Crayons, Athletes…

First, watch this video:

Recently, in a fit of inspiration, I posted this video on Facebook along with my idea that someday 140.6 would be a good round number.  This video of the 2008 Ironman Championships is fairly common amongst triathlon fanvids, but I especially like the song “Infinity” by the Guru Josh Project.  I made it part of my running playlists this week.  Though I know that the Project’s official video is rather different, when I listen to the words alone, I hear it differently. (more…)

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