Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hope You Didn't Hold Your Breath!

Well, folks - I hope you took my advice and didn't hold your breath waiting for an update. Because if you did you're dead by now and I would lose a follower. Boo hoo! Right now I'm in the Red Carpet Club in Chicago waiting for my flight back to OC, and I thought I would give the blog a quick refresh.

It's been a whirlwind couple of days. A canceled flight on Tuesday got me into Philadelphia at 12:30 AM Wednesday. Lucky for me Geno's is open 24 by 7! I grabbed my car and headed over to 9th and Passyunk for one of my favs - a cheesesteak!

Don't worry Patrick - I still think that a Beef on Weck from Charlie the Butcher's in Buffalo is better. But an original Philly Cheesesteak is a close second!

Here in all it's glory - my Cheesesteak (ordered using two words - "Wiz Wit"):

And my Cheese Fries:

Can you tell this is the heart of America?

Oh - and on my way back to the airport today - guess what?

Another Cheesesteak!
I'll be back home tomorrow. I'll be filing an update from the running front! Thanks for hanging in there!

Monday, July 27, 2009

9 times 2 plus 20 = 2 Much

Okay folks. I figured out something yesterday. Something I'm going to refer to as my physical balancing equation. I really hammered out the miles over the past three days. Nine on Friday AM, followed by 20 on Saturday, and 9 more on Sunday.

I felt pretty tired starting out yesterday, but I was able to make it through the first seven miles of the scheduled nine mile run. At that point, I actually had to take a little sit down to rest my quivering legs. Hmm. Maybe that's why a five mile recovery run was on the original plan? Next time I have a 20 miler on the schedule (in 3 weeks), I *will* rest the day before and *will* limit my recovery to 5 miles like on the plan.

All in all though, I was able to slog through the days and miles. As promised, I did take it easy. Other than Wednesday's HMP run, everything was well below the 10:00 per mile pace. But, I was able to set a new mileage mark of 55.5 miles. In addition to the running, I put in 5.5 km on the rowing machine on Monday. (Wow - a weekof 5's). I am officially exhausted. Saturday I was in bed by 7 PM and didn't stir until 7 AM!

I'm off on another business trip this week. As a result, I am going to have to reduce my miles from the planned 49 to 36. I was going to try to get some miles in today (13 or so), but the way I'm feeling right now, I definitely need the rest. Here's how the week will shape up:

Monday: Rest. Nothing. Nada. Well maybe erg this evening. But I am going to stay out of the running shoes.
Tuesday: Fly to Philadelphia. This becomes an all day excursion to get across country. Nothing planned except a Geno's cheese steak after landing Tuesday night.
Wednesday: Client site. Dinner meeting. Crash at hotel. Start a new streak of not running on a hotel treadmill
Thursday: Client site. Fly back home. Land at 10:30 PM local time.
Friday: Back to running (yea!). Nine miles GA with 10 X 100 stride outs.
Saturday: 16 miles broken down by 4 miles warm up and 12 miles at marathon pace (10:15).
Sunday: 11 recovery miles
Total: 36 miles.

I'm actually looking forward to the rest the first few days of the week. I'll try to blog Wednesday night, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

20 Miler - Check

First - I want to take a moment and congratulate all of my fellow blog peeps who finished the San Francisco Half/Full marathon today! Way to go chicrunner, Planet Ynnep Running, L.A. Runner and Fit Life SF!

On the running front - I finished my first 20 miler on this training cycle yesterday. This was only my second ever. Woo hoo! It really wasn;t a bad as I thought it was going to be. I took it slow and easy and tried to stay comfortable. Final stats - 20 miles in 3:52 and change and an average heart rate of 75% of max. I don't care what you try to tell me - 20 miles is a long way. Being out in the sun for nearly 4 hours is a whole worout on its own. I am in awe of those folks that I read that are doing their 20 mile runs in 3 hours or less. That is friggin' amazing!

I took a little break Friday night and went to the Orange County Fair for a concert and some good down home fair food. My youngest son wanted to go to a concert, so we shelled out $20 a ticket and saw "X". How could we go wrong? This is a band that was popular back when I was in college in the late 70's and early 80's! It was strange seeing a bunch of grey haired people in punk garb! But it was a great show! Who would have thought that a bunch of 60 year olds on stage could still shell out the punk!

Sorry for the bad quality - this was video'd from my iPhone:

But -the best was yet to come! After the concert we roamed the pathways for Fair Food! Yummy! I pigged out on a good old fashioned funnel cake and a deep fried twinkie! Call it carb loading for Saturday morning! Mmmmm!

Friday, July 24, 2009

What a Strange Run

I missed yesterday's run. On the schedule was a 13 miler. Sitting in traffic on the freeway at 7:30 in the evening pretty much put the kibosh on that though.

So, I mashed my schedule around for the remainder of this week. I did have 13 miles on Thursday, 20 on Saturday and 5 on Sunday. I moved things around so that I have 9 miles Friday morning, 20 on Saturday, and then 9 on Sunday. Bottom line miles remains the same - I'm just messing with the order.

With this new schedule in hand, I headed out for my nine miles this morning. This was a run that has to go down in my diary of strange runs. First off, I had to get myself out of bed at 4:30 after not getting to bed until midnight last night. Then, I had to break out the headlamp and rear blinkers. I started at 5AM and it was *dark*. I started off down the street toward Crystal Cove. Everything felt fine. Breathing was normal. Heart rate was on the low end of aerobic range. I felt comfortable. I felt like I was moving along pretty well. I made it to the halfway point and checked my pace. Now, I don't expect this route to be particularly speedy - hills, streets and the like make it a little tougher than a simple flat run. But I was shocked when I looked down and saw 10:30. WTF?!?! It sure felt like I was moving faster than that!

Well, I guess it wasn't pretty, but I finished the run. Average pace of 10:37 and average heart rate of 75% of max. I'm sitting here now with some very sore legs and a really fatigued body. Time to suck it up though! 20 miles tomorrow!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Am I Sore or What?

I wanted to start today's blog by thanking everyone for your kind comments and tweets the past couple of days about my last post. I appreciate the words of encouragement. Training for a marathon means a long journey to get there. I am finding that I need to force myself out the door every now and then to put in a run. Especially those long boring ones.

Second - I need to apologize to those whose blogs I try to loyally read - I'm behind! Work has been really hectic, and when I pile an extra 2 to 3 hours a day for running, I kind of run out of time and energy before I collapse in bed. I'm going to try to get caught up this weekend (but, I need to work and put in a 20 miler on Saturday..hmmm...).

Speaking of running - I am *sore* today. But, last night was a quality workout. 5 miles general aerobic followed by 6 miles at half marathon pace. Everything went per plan - first five miles at a 10:01 pace with heart rate at 78% of max, the final six miles at an average pace of 9:40. (I was targeting the slower end of my half marathon training pace (9:15 - 9:45 per mile) due to the heat (it was still 82 when I started my run) and because I'm feeling some tweaks and niggles here and there.) But I am paying for it today. My legs and lower back are screaming at me. Did I say I'm sore? Oh yeah.....

I'm hoping to work through it though so I can push through the 13 miler on the books for this evening. Wow. I *never* would have thought that this old man would be pushing though these miles! If I can do it - so can you!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Six More Miles Down

Oh the boredom! Oh the monotony! Even though I'm still new to the whole running scene, I've have been through this before. The toughest part of a training cycle. The middle weeks. It's kind of like being a Sophomore in college. One year is behind you, but you can't see the end yet. Same with these weeks of training. Behind me is a lot of running - about 400 miles or so the past 12 weeks. I know out there on the horizon is a marathon - that's why I'm doing all of this. But I can't quite see it. And for now it's just a mash of miles and miles and miles. Seems like I can't get out the door, do my run, and back in less than 2 hours. Such is the commitment of the marathon. It's the hours and miles that I'm doing today. And tomorrow. And the day after.....

Speaking of which, yesterday I put in 6 recovery miles. Felt comfortable the whole way. Average pace of 10:03 at an average heart rate of 75% of max. Today I'll be out for 11 miles - 5 miles general aerobic followed by 6 miles at half marathon pace.

Sorry for the lack of juicy tidbits or stories today, but not much else other than work and run are happening! Facebook and the Runner's World Forums have become just a thing of the past at this point. It's pretty much me, the office, and the trails. Oh - and Twitter....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cross Training Fat Guy

It's been a while since I've spent time cross training. The last couple of opportunities to do so found me with sore legs and tired spirit. But yesterday I felt pretty good, so I had no excuse. I made it home from the office, hopped on my ergometer, and ripped through 35 minutes of rowing.

The basic workout was 5 minute warm up followed by 20 sets of 1 minute on 30 seconds rest. Sounds like a basic interval workout on the track doesn't it! Well, it was. My intervals started with 5 at a moderate 2:15 per 500 meters at stroke rate 18, then 5 at a 2:05 at stroke rate 24, followed by 5 at 2:15 at 18 spm and finally 5 intervals at 1:55 at 28 spm. (Sorry for the foreign language runners. Rowers out there will understand.) Total damage - 5.75 kms on the erg. I was literally dripping and my legs were shaking when I got up off that little seat. W. H. E. W. !!!!!!

I'm back to the trails today with a slow and easy six mile recovery run. I wonder about a week that *begins* with a recovery run. Hmmm....

Monday, July 20, 2009

Half Way Done!

I am now at the half way point of my training plan. Twelve weeks down. Twelve to go. I wrapped up last week with a six mile recovery run and some time in the gym late yesterday evening. Final stats for last week - 33.25 miles. They weren't fast and they weren't pretty, but they were. My long run on Saturday was a pretty humbling experience, but one of those every now and then doesn't hurt.

This week should put some hair on my chest. It will be my first week ever over 50 miles:

Monday: Rest.
Tuesday: 6 recovery miles
Wednesday: 11 miles total - 5 general aerobic miles, 6 half marathon pace miles
Thursday: 13 medium long miles
Friday: Rest (I'll need it)
Saturday: 20 miles (first of three on this plan)
Sunday: 5 recovery miles

Total: 55 miles.

The plan: with exception of 6 HMP miles, it's slow and easy for Glenn this week!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Commitment and Misery

I learned something valuable yesterday. Do you want to make sure you are going to finish your long run? Simply do a long loop or an out and back. And leave your phone in the car or at home. You'll have no choice but to finish the run! Needless to say - that's exactly what I did yesterday. And I was wondering about my commitment about 12 miles in when my calves started cramping! I "ran" (okay - shuffled) the last six miles.

I knew that heat was going to be a factor, so I was out the door at 6AM. I pulled my stuff together (fuel belt, a couple of Gus (vanilla bean and espresso love), an Apricot Clif bar) and headed on down the San Diego Creek trail. Now, eighteen miles of out and back didn't really appeal to me, so while I was running, I was trying to figure out if there was a new route that I could somehow piece together a long loop instead of an out and back. And then I had a stroke of genius:

(1) I could run the first nine miles on the San Diego Creek Trail.
(2) At that point I would be running on the same route as the Cinco de Mayo Half marathon, I could run that for a couple of miles and I would be pretty close to Shady Canyon
(3) Finally, I could run through Shady Canyon, pop out where I started that run, and just continue a couple more miles back to my start point

Sounded like a plan!

The first 8, heck, the first 10 miles were pretty uneventful. And boring. But I kept the feet moving and before I knew it, I was sitting at the same table in Shady Canyon I had been at a couple of weeks earlier. I grabbed my Clif Bar and refilled water and was off to finish things up. I started up the hill into Shady Canyon when my calves started cramping. These weren't your little "Oh - take it easy will ya!" cramps. These were outright big muscle knot cramps. I stopped and released them, but things went downhill pretty quickly from this point. My "run" became a shuffle for a mile or so, stop and work out cramps and repeat. On top of that, my heart rate started spiking. The only way I could keep my heart rate down was to slow down. Slower. And slower. Ouch! More cramping. Crap. Ole Sol up there in the sky was beating me down! Slower and slower and slower.

I did finish. Not out of choice though. I was miserable. I was reduced to walk shuffle walk shuffle. Not even a wog. I wish I could say that I summonned some tremendous will power or channeled some higher energy source. It was knowing that the only way that I was going to get home was to make it back to my car. I had no cell phone , so calling for a pickup was out of the question. Since this is Southern California, cabs don't exist outside of an airport. So I just kept shuffling....

The ugly truth: eighteen miles at an average pace of 12:15 per mile. Average heart rate 75% of max (only because I had to go so damn slow the last four miles!) I'll try to work out the soreness this morning with a short little six mile recovery run (yeah I know - since when does six miles equate with short - ring the elitist bell on me!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Back Home - Whew

Well, I'm back from my whirlwind tour. Business travel these days has become a bit more of a hassle than it used to be - the economic times mean fewer and fuller flights. It used to be pretty common to have an empty seat in a row when flying. But with today's higher fuel costs, airlines are flying fewer flights (after all - fewer flights means fewer people and less fuel you have to buy), which means that even if the overall number of people flying has gone down, each plane flies a little fuller. Which means each flight is a little less comfortable. Oh well - it's not like we have a lot of options. right?

The other thing I've learned to live with when travelling are ever present weather delays. During the summer, delays for afternoon/evening thunderstorms are not uncommon. Well - guess what? I almost didn't make it home last night for that reason. We boarded our plan in El Paso just as the thunderstorms started. We then proceeded to sit at the gate for an hour while the lightning, thunder, and torrential showers pelted the airport. I had an hour layover in Phoenix, so I had some serious doubts whether I would make my connector.

It was close, but I made my connector. In fact, this particular airline (okay, okay - Southwest) held the connector for me so that I wasn't stranded in Phoenix for a night. Now that's service I'm not used to from the big airline I usually fly! Thank you Southwest!

I was going to try to sneak in a quick run yesterday, but I had a conference call at 8AM, and a family dinner at a fancy schmancy restaurant for my daughter's 21st birthday at 6PM, so I wasn't able to crank out any miles.

I'm getting ready to leave the house now for today's 18 miler. Next time someone please stop me when I start showing interest in a marathon.....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Finally - a Good Workout

Sorry I missed my post on Monday. I guess I took "rest day" to heart. In fact, I was in bed asleep by 7:30 Monday night. Yes - you read that right. It has been years since I got 10 hours of sleep in a single night. It was very nice. It sucks getting old. Oh wait - we're supposed to need less sleep the older we get? I did get some time to read and comment on a bunch of blogs that had been backing up in my queue, so not all was lost.

All good things must come to an end though, and I did get out for last night's training session. I say "training session" instead of run because that is what it was. I hit the Corona del Mar High School track for a three and a half mile warm up, 6 X 800 yard intervals with 400 yard rest step, and a 1 mile warm down for a total of nine miles. That's like 36 laps. I used the Magic Shoe 5K course to get in most of the warm up in before running in circles. So I think I ended up running only 22 laps around the track.

It wasn't long before I started to worry about this workout. I was well rested, but had trouble getting to a good aerobic heart rate without sucking wind during the warm up. Once I was on the track though, everything started clicking. The goal was to run each 800 at 10K pace, somewhere between 8:30 and 9:00. I ran by feel for the most part, just checking with the Garmin to make sure it said "10K" on the goal screen. I actually had to slow down a couple of times. In the end I ran the most consistent set of intervals I ever have:

Interval 1: 4:15
Interval 2: 4:16
Interval 3: 4:14
Interval 4: 4:15
Interval 5: 4:17
Interval 6: 4:24 (obviously tiring here)

Two things struck me about this session: (1) The runs were for the most part effortless. After checking my heart rate data this is evident - I barely made it into LT zone (greater than 88% max heart rate); and (2) All of these times are at the lower end of my current 10K range. Maybe all those aerobic miles are starting to pay off.

Now I get to really rest. No more running until Saturday (well, maybe Friday morning I'll try to sneak in a quick 6 miler). I'll be climbing on a plane later this morning for a whirlwind trip to El Paso TX. The only running I'll be doing is from air conditioned building to air conditioned building. Weather forecast for today? 106 and thunderstorms. I have post for either tomorrow or day after regarding lactate training, so stay tuned!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Week 11 in the Books

I wrapped up week 11 yesterday with an *easy* 5 mile recovery run. I emphasize easy, because I kept the effort pretty low key. Just like yesterday I stopped on the trail and chatted with a family friend. Who said that running is not a social activity? I finished up by making it to the gym for stretching and core work. Final stats on last week - 48.5 miles.

This week is supposed to be my first week ever above 50 miles. But I have a whirlwind business trip to El Paso, so I'll end up having to forgo Wednesday and Thursday's runs. This week stacks up like this:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Was supposed to be a 6 mile recovery run. I'm putting Wednesday's run here instead - 3 1/2 mile general aerobic warm up, 6X800 intervals at 10K pace, 400 rest in between, 1 mile warm down for a total of 9 miles.
Wednesday: Aluminum tube to El Paso
Thursday: Aluminum tube back to Orange County
Friday: Rest day. Daughter's 21st birthday dinner with family (in other words I better not run).
Saturday: 18 mile long run
Sunday: 6 mile recovery run. Hit they gym.
Total mileage: 33 miles

So, the elusive 50 mile week is still tantalizingly close. But then a year ago, I never would have thought that it was even possible.

Finally, thanks for all the concern about running alone! I do belong to a running club (Cal Coast Track Club) that meets for long runs on Saturday mornings. But there are two things working against me. First, I'm using a training plan that the club is not - so I'm out of whack with everyone else. Second, three to four hours running is a big time investment. I'd rather do it early and get it over before the rest of family is up and moving around so they don't have to suffer the wrath of my schedule. Running alone is something I've brought on myself.

Plus - it's not as bad as it could be. I use the time to catch up on news and current events. While most people listen to music while running, I listen to a couple of podcasted radio shows: the Phil Hendrie Show and Coast to Coast AM. I can listen to some news, comedy, and things that go bump in the night. Out of curiosity - what do you all do to work through the boredom of hours on the trails and paths?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Now These Long Runs are Getting Long

What was I thinking? That's what I kept on asking myself yesterday. Heaven knows I had enough time to answer. This is the part of marathoning that I don't really like. Long runs by myself. Hours spent on a trail alone. I'm spending a lot of time at long and medium long distances. I'm told that it will all pay off in the end, but for now it sure makes for a lot of reflective time.

With the weatherman calling for heat, I wanted to be done while it was still cool. 7:30 AM with the my Cal Coast club was *not* going to cut it. I ended up putting my 17 miles in by 9:30. Pace was slow at 11:15, but that included a couple of stops to fill up my water bottles and some time stopped to chat one of my Cal Coast/Runner's World buddies that I ran into on the trail. It's kind of neat to run into people I know out on a run!

On another note - I've been tagged by B.o.B of discom-bob-ulated Running. The challenge was simple - go to my first photo folder, select the 10th photo and tell a story.

I wish I had a pithy or funny story about this photo, but no such luck. This was taken at the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund's Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon. There wasn't a lot of fan support on the course, and about this point (10 miles in) I was in some pain and distress. These two folks were doing their best to cheer us on while sipping on their coffee and snapping a few pics.

And sorry - no family photos or embarrassing photos of me. Most of those are up on my Flickr site, or my older Fotki site. Feel free to bounce over and have a look. Warning - there are *a lot* of boring baseball photos.... So now it's time to pass the challenge on. Eenie, meenie, meinie, moe.... Patrick you're it!

Friday, July 10, 2009

These Short Runs are Getting Long

I've got to be a little more careful with time management. I headed out late for my run last night and ended up finishing after dark. I guess it didn't register that my midweek runs (used to be "short") are going to require a little more time to get done now that they are lengthening. If I start at 7 PM, I've got to remember that I'm likely to be finishing up after dark.

I wrapped up 11 general aerobic miles at an average pace of 10:15 and an average heart rate of 81% of max. I wrapped up just as it was getting hard to see. I have all the dorky night running stuff (headlamp, rear blinkers, reflective vest, etc.), but it didn't occur to me that I would be finishing that late. I had to slow way down and run gingerly for the last couple of miles because it was tough to see and, even though I was wearing a white tech shirt, I didn't want to take my chances with the cyclists and cars on the street. It was even difficult to see the uneven surfaces on the sidewalk. Note to self - next time start earlier or grab the headlamp!

One thing that I noticed today is the past couple of Fridays I've been pretty exhausted. I needed my Friday rest days. Today I'm actually feeling pretty good. I've increased calorie intake a little and I think that has a lot to do with it. I've been dropping weight a little faster than I wanted, and I'm sure the lack of fuel was contributing to my exhaustion. I'm not tracking religiously, but I increased from around 2300 calories a day to around 2500 a day. At the old number I was dropping about a pound a week. With the new number I should get back to about half a pound a week, which is consistent with my weight loss goal this year of 20 pounds. Among the tons of things I've learned the past few weeks, weight loss and marathon training is a delicate balance!

On tap toda - rest. Even though I'm feeling good, I think I'll still take the day off. Then, this weekend, I'll be putting in a 17 mile long run and a 5 mile recovery run to wrap up my 48 mile week.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mid Year Checkpoint

I have time to do a lot of thinking these days. That happens when you have a couple hours to yourself each day. At least it seems like I've got a couple hours to myself as I ply the trails of Orange County. So, I thought about the running goals I set out at the beginning of the year as I jogged my recovery miles yesterday:

(1) Build my base to 35 - 45 miles per week: I think I'm finally there. So far this year I'm averaging 29 miles per week. For the next 12 weeks I'll be up above 40. This is tough! I'm in awe of those folks that are putting in 60+ per week.

(2) Put in 1500 miles during the year: As of the end of June, I've put in 750 miles. Assuming I can stay injury free, the rest of this training cycle will add another 600 or so miles in, so this goal is certainly attainable. The key is staying injury free.

(3) Run one marathon: Got one on the calendar. What was I thinking? I don't drink so I can't blame the alcohol.

(4) Keep it fun!: So far so good. My comment about a couple hours to myself each day is only partly in jest. Two hours in running shoes seeing the same scenery day after day can turn things boring pretty quickly.

So, just like a lot of the advice I dole out to others, I'm keeping my nose to the grindstone. I put in my 5 recovery miles at an average heart rate of 73% of max. I've got some tweaks and niggles starting. I did make it to the gym for some stretching last night, so I'm hoping Wednesday's DOMS starts subsiding. Plus the Motrin should help. It sucks getting old!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Nothing Like a Good Butt Kicking

Yesterday was the first day in the lactate threshold cycle of my training plan. Yow! I got my butt kicked! I think it's been so long since I've had to ratchet it up a notch that I think I just plain overdid it too early in the workout. No doubt I have DOMS going this morning.

On paper, the run looked pretty simple - 10 miles total, first 5 GA, second 5 LT. The first five was pretty easy. I thought about how all those miles I've been running lately are paying off. Five miles went by pretty quick and pretty easy. I made the turn around and headed back. I stepped it up a notch (probably a couple based on what happened later) and got my heart rate into LT zone. I was clipping along okay. Until mile 8. At that point my body had had enough. Slowly the pain started shouting in my legs and lower back. I *had* to slow down. The last two mile were attempts to fire the old body back up, run in LT zone for a half mile, and then shut down and recover. It really makes me appreciate how the elite athletes of the world can run through this pain. Essentially the brain flips the legs the bird and tells 'em to keep on moving. Well, my brain is still a wimp.

Still, the workout was respectable. 10 miles at an average pace of 9:37 and an average heart rate of 81% of max. As I've said in these pages many times before - I am amazed every day at what this body is able to do - especially when I think back to what it used to do just a couple of years ago.

On the table today is a nice, SLOW, enjoyable five mile recovery run. Whew!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More on Heart Rate Monitors

I want to thank everyone for their comments and questions about why I use a heart rate monitor. Since yesterday was a rest day (and I took advantage), I thought I would take today's blog to answer some of the questions that were asked:

(1) Which Heart Rate Monitor do I use/recommend: That's pretty simple because all I do is run. I use a Garmin Forerunner 305. I don't think there is a better device for runners on the market. Maybe the Garmin 405, but I'm not sure the smaller form factor is worth the extra $200. By the way - watch the specials if you are going to buy one - I've seen prices as low as $150 (Costco).

(By the way - mine doesn't look like that. It has a scraped face from my wonderful pavement kissing episode last summer.) The disadvantage of the Forerunner? It works best doesn't work indoors. So, if you spend time on treadmills or the like, the Forerunner will not work very well. Everything is calculated based on speed (velocity) and time. And to have speed you need to be moving according to the satellites. Also, the Forerunner doesn't work very well on a bicycle without the $50 cadence/speed sensor.

As an aside, I also own a Polar F4 for the time spent on my rowing machine. The Polar allows you to set heart rate ranges and will alert you when you go out of your training range. But, it doesn't have the GPS to allow you to track distance. I purchased this before I was a runner, and for $100 it certainly is a great tool for heart rate monitoring. One big advantage of the Polar is it is compatible with most gym equipment. So, you can wear your strap and see your heart rate without having to hold onto the pads.

So, if you're an old fart like me, putting in miles and wearing it all the time, a Garmin is the right choice. On the other hand, if you spend a lot of time on the treadmill, or plan on just using it on a hard run to measure heart rate, a Polar is probably the right HRM for you.

(2) AKA Alice also has another question - just how comfortable is that strap? Yeah well. Okay. Yeah. I guess I really don't feel it any more. It was uncomfortable when I first started. I even had a couple of sore spots where things didn't quite fit right. And chafing? Oh yeah. But after a couple years of daily use, I don't notice it's there. The bigger problem? HRM tan line!

(3) Irene asks if it makes any diference whether you're training for distance or speed: No I don't think so. If you have an LT session or a VO2Max session, you can still use an HRM to make sure you are in the right zone. The difference between training for shorter versus longer distance would be things like the distance of an interval (typically 400s/800s for short distance, 1600 for marathons) or the length of a long run (typicall less than 10 miles for shorter distance).

So there you go. Everything I know about HRMs. Plus some opinion thrown in. For the past few weeks I've been using mine to keep me from going too hard. Starting today, I'll get to use it to get me into that next training level. On tap today is a Lactate Threshold session - 5 miles general aerobic followed by 5 at half marathon pace. By the way - it turns out that the pace runs *are* considered LT runs. I found buried in Advanced Marathoning this past weekend - Pfitzinger considers a lactate threshold run as something about an hour in duration run at between 15K and Half Marathon pace. I'll be changing the goal of these runs on my Garmin from HM pace to the proper heart rate zone.

Stay cool and stay hydrated!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Week 9 in the Books

Sorry about missing my post on Sunday. I was wrapped up in a project this past weekend. It was pretty much run work run work. I didn't even get the evening off for fireworks. I'll wrap the project up today. Don't feel sorry for me. The money's good, so it was worth it.

I did get my runs in though. Five recovery miles on Saturday and a 16 mile long run on Sunday. Hey - I found out Sunday morning - 16 miles is a long way! I checked out yet another new route that took off from mile 6 of the San Diego Creek trail that headed north toward the hills. It seemed like I kept going forever! Eight miles out into the bowels of Irvine. Past three freeways. Whew. And I lied about doing nothing but run work run work. It was actually run work run nap work. A long run really takes it out of me.

Week 9 wrapped up with 44.25 miles in the books. This is a new weekly record for me. To be sure, I am slowing down, but I feel pretty good this morning - especially after a 16 mile run yesterday. Long runs are still pretty intimidating, but at least I can see that a 20 miler is doable.

But, I don't need to worry about a 20 miler for a couple weeks yet. On the schedule this week (Week 10):

Monday: Rest day. I may get the erg down for an *easy* workout.
Tuesday: 10 miles - 5 miles GA followed by 5 miles at half marathon pace.
Wednesday: 5 recovery miles. Hit the gym for stretching and core work.
Thursday: 11 miles medium long run.
Friday: Rest day.
Saturday: 17 mile long run.
Sunday: 5 recovery miles. Hit the gym.
Total: 48 miles.

I'm tired just thinking about this week. I'll get caught up on everyone's blogs later today. I promise!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Why I Use a Heart Rate Monitor

Ask a runner if a heart rate monitor is important and you'll get one of two answers. Either a hearty "Yes!" with an explanation of the merits of heart rate training, or else a resounding "No!" with why using a heart rate monitor is a big waste of time. Since yesterday was a rest day, I thought I would spend today discussing why I'm in the camp with the "Yes" men.

Before using an HRM, I ran every training run like it was a race. My PRs plateaued and I wasn't getting any better. It took Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger to connect the dots.

My introduction to a heart rate monitor occurred about three years ago. At the time, my daughter and youngest son were pretty serious about rowing. They were going to a local rowing gym run by Olympic Gold Medalist Xeno Muller. One of Xeno's motivating speeches is the importance of aerobic conditioning. He credits his conditioning for his Gold Medal in 1996 and Silver Medal (despite having a chest cold) in the 2000 Olympics. Part of my kids training involved understanding this concept. They were required to use a heart rate monitor. Every few weeks, Xeno would perform a blood lactate test on them. After a good warm up, a blood sample would be taken and a testing device used to measure lactate concentration. Then, the intensity of the workout would be increased and another sample taken. This would be repeated for about 30 minutes. Xeno would then construct a graph of heart rate vesus lactate concentration. The point where the curve took off provided visual feedbck to the rower about the heart rate where lactate treshold occurred. Then, to aerobically train, the rower simply rowed or ran or cycled for hours on end just below (10 beats lower) that rate. Train harder and lactate would build at a rate faster than the body would flush it - reducing the effectiveness of each workout and leading to more time required for recovery, essentially taking time away from the time that *should* be used to build an aerobic base.

The same philosophy holds for running. The key to any good training plan are the hours and miles we put in at intensities below lactate threshold to build aerobic conditioning. Now - do we need a heart rate monitor to do that? Nope. Not at all. Running slow can be completely done by feel or by pace. But, the reason that Xeno used an HRM was to concentrate on heart rate instead of pace to measure a workout's effectiveness. He was a huge proponent that this was a more accurate measure to use when conditioning.

Now - back to the original question - why do I use a HRM? Well, I've bought into Xeno's philosophy. My daughter ended up with a scholarship. My son was racing internationally in the single scull by the time he was 16. It obviously worked for them. I use my heart rate monitor to make sure that I am not training too hard when I shouldn't be or not training hard enough when I should be. In theory, it keeps me out of lactate threshold when I shouldn't be there, and gets me there when I should be. If I ran purely by pace, I would have run too hard on Wednesday. My recovery run wouldn't have been a recovery run, but another lactate threshold run.

Should you use an HRM? If you are the type of person who would be bugged because the HRM is telling you to slow down, then it's probably not for you. If you want to (and can) run every hard workout BTTW, then it's not for you. But, if you are the type of runner who is frustrated because your PRs have seemed to plateau, or you can't seem to shake the injury bug, or you are frustrated that you just can't seem to get over that hurdle from 10K to Half or Half to Full, then maybe the problem is your aerobic conditioning. A HRM may help you stay out of lactate threshold and spend more time in your ideal aerobic zone. One thing for sure - it will make you understand that patience is a virtue.

In closing I can tell you this - using an HRM is not going give me the athletic talent to run a sub 4 marathon. But, I can't help but think that using my HRM has helped me get into better shape and has kept me from being injured. It has definitely kept me from turning every training run into a race. It's the reason that I am starting to worry about finding the *time* train these days.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sore Morning

I'm enjoying my first cup of coffee this morning wondering how I can be sooooo sore. It's like I spent a day in the gym lifting weights! My back, quads and shoulders are screaming at me today. No - I'm not getting a cold or flu. The pain I'm feeling today is that "good" pain. As in the "no pain no gain" type of pain. I'm just wondering why. Yesterday's run was kind of normal. Nine mile aerobic run on my now normal Corona del Mar to Crystal Cove route.

I ran by heart rate. When I got back and checked my data - heart rate looked fine - 81% of max. But I noticed that my pace was 30 seconds slower than Tuesday's pace on the same route- 10:16 versus 9:45. Hmm. Let's see here. Fast on Tuesday. Heart rate running away on Wednesday. Slow on Thursday. Sore on Friday. I'm glad today is a rest day!

Here's what I think is happening. I'm exercising at a rate that it foreign to my body. Perhaps even pushing a little too hard. Three out of the last four months have been 140 miles or more, and the one month that didn't hit 140 was 136. Right now I'm clipping along at a 180 mile pace for this month. Last week's 43 miles burned about 6000 calories. This week's 44 miles will do the same. I've dropped about 3 pounds in the last two weeks. That pretty much means that I'm not even close to putting back in what I'm using. If I do this too long I'll break. It's still early in this training cycle. I think it's time to slow down a little. Run my recovery and general aerobic runs at a little lower heart rate for a couple of weeks.

When I think about where I was just a few months ago, it is really amazing what this old fart can do. It just sucks getting old!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Slower I Went, the Faster it Got

I had a very interesting problem yesterday - one that I don't think I've seen before. I was out for a five mile recovery run. I have my Garmin programmed to chirp me if my heart rate leaves "Zone 2" (65% to 75% of max heart rate) when on a recovery workout. Normally, when I hear the chirp, I'll slow down and I'll hear another chirp letting me know my heart rate has dropped back into the desired range. Well, yesterday I had trouble with that second chirp.

The run started out fine. Mile 1 in 9:45 in the target heart range. Then a chirp. I slowed down. Chirp? Where are you? I slowed down more. Listening... I finally dropped to a walk. Ah there it was. Back into my target zone. Time to pick it up a little again. Huh? Chirp? What the?

Well, you get the idea. This was a tough "run". I put "run" in quotes because at times I had to resort to a brisk walk to keep my heart rate in recovery range. My splits show my struggle: 9:44, 10:17, 10:34, 10:59, 11:17. And my average heart rate over the five miles was still above the target - 77% of max. Wow. Tough day. Oh well - every run can't be the best one I've ever run.

Oh - after several weeks of absenteeism - I finally made it to the gym. It actually felt good to get in a good stretch and some planks and crunches.

Today I'll be out for a nine mile GA run. I'll keep my fingers crossed!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Feeling Tired

I'm feeling pretty tired today. But then maybe if I didn't stay up until 12:30 playing poker I wouldn't be so tired! Why am I bringing up poker? Because, believe it or not, there are a lot of similarities between running and poker.

Yesterday for example - I made the final table of an online tournament. I got there by taking a few calculated risks along the way, but mostly by outlasting my opponents. I made it by maintaining my concentration through hand after hand after hand. As I was sitting there yawning, I couldn't help but think about how much like marathon training this was. Each day I play an hour or two. I follow my play plan. Even when the cards my tempt me to deviate. Sometimes I make a few bucks. Other times I lose a couple. Each day I run an hour or two. I follow my training plan. Even when my mind or body tempt me to deviate. Sometimes I feel like I've accomplished something. Other times I don't.

But the bottom line is I put in the time to get better. Both on the trails and the poker table. Day after day I see the same scenery and the same lousy cards. Why do I do it? Because every now and then there's a seat at a final table that most players won't get to. And because every now and then there's a finish line that most people won't get to.

Oh - yesterday's run? Just a boring nine miles. Average pace 9:45. Average heart rate 80% of max. As hard as I try, sometimes I just can't keep things fresh. Speaking of which - on tap today - five recovery miles.