Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Less than two weeks to the IAAF World XC Championships: Last week's training.

Gate River came and went quickly as big races always do. I am a bit disappointed with my 5th place finish this past weekend at the USA 15k Championships, but I ran as hard as I could on the day and left it all out there. I don't know exactly why I felt a bit sluggish, but I did. The heat and humidity were challenging, but it was challenging for everyone running on Saturday morning. The four athletes in front of me are excellent runners, and could have each won that race on a different day, so there was no shame there. My training has been going as well as it ever has, so I will simply count this as a slightly off day and push my focus to the World XC Championships on March 28th in Guiyang, China. I'd like to extend a big thanks to Richard Fannin, Doug Alred, and all the motivated
 volunteers for another excellent weekend of racing. It was nice to see Christo Landry recognized as the new 2012 Gate River champion as we were all given shirts featuring Yoda and an anti-doping slogan. There are few US Championship road races that haven't been affected by this issue over the last few years, and I think we all appreciated the message.

There isn't much to discuss in terms of training last week, as it was quite light heading into Gate River. As we're already less than two weeks out from the 12km XC race in China, there is really only time for one decent workout this week. I will take the time in between the two races to let all the quality training catch up in an effort to make my 5th World XC race the best of my career. Next week I'll share some memories regarding the 2013 USA Silver Medal team as well as discuss our goals for this year's team in China. Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below.

Week 17 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11.5 5.5 40 minutes 17
Tuesday 5 8 x 1km @ 2:56-2:58 w/1 min rest + 6 x 200 @ 29-30 16.5
Wednesday 9 5 14
Thursday Off, travel to JAX 7 7
Friday 5 + drills and strides off 5
Saturday shakeout + race off 17
Sunday 9 off, travel to PDX 9
TOTAL 85.5

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Less than a week to the Gate River Run USA 15km Champs: Last week's training.

We're days away from the 2015 USA 15km Championships during the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, FL. I'll be heading out of Portland for the long flight early Thursday morning, getting there in the mid-afternoon with enough time to get my run in along with some drills and strides. While it is nice to get the run over with before flying, running after the flight does make me feel better the following day. The weather looks to be fairly typical for this time of year: warm and a bit humid. The low for race day currently shows 63 degrees, which means it will be a little sticky when the gun goes off at 8:30 AM. Because this is a championship race, time is not important, so I don't mind challenging weather conditions when you are simply running for place. It adds an extra element that puts emphasis on patience, experience, and knowing your body.

8:30 AM is a nice start time for a 15km if you live on the East Coast. For those of us coming from the West Coast, and there are many, that is the equivalent of starting at 5:30 AM and waking up for breakfast at approximately 2:00 AM. It's not possible, for me at least, to get myself to sleep by 6:00 or 7:00 PM PST in order to make up for this. My strategy has been to stay on my own body time, which means going to bed a bit later and sleeping in later on Thursday night to make sure I get a full night's sleep, and then you just put up with a short night heading into the race. The adrenaline of race day is enough to get you going, and your job is done for the day by 11:00 (8:00 PST) after a cool-down and awards, so you can head straight back to bed!

Training went well last week as I bounced back from a mediocre mile repeat workout the week before. The 8 x 800 meter workout on the track was another confidence booster as I was able to average 2:07 with less than two minutes rest for 4 miles of work. That was followed by another 4-mile tempo in 4:41-4:42 and some smooth 200 meter repeats. The weather has continued to be outstanding, making these workouts much easier to get through than they should be this time of year.

I'm all set for Jacksonville this weekend. My fitness is significantly farther along than it was when I ran this race last in 2013 where I was 3rd, but I would argue the field is deeper this this year. There are too many names to list here, but this will be one of the strongest US road race championships of the year, and I'm looking forward to putting myself into the mix. Thanks again for reading. Feel free to check out last week's training below, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Week 16 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11 5.5 40 minutes 16.5
Tuesday 5 8 x 800 meters 2:06-2:08 (avg. 2:07) w/1 lap rest (< 2 minutes) 16
Wednesday 12.5 Off 40 minutes 12.5
Thursday 10+drills and strides 5.5 16
Friday 5.5 off 30 minutes 5.5
Saturday Off 4 mile tempo @ 18:47 + 6 x 200 meters @ 28-29 12.5
Sunday 14 off 14

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Less than 2 weeks to the Gate River Run US 15km Champs: Last week's training

We are down to less than two weeks to the Gate River Run US 15km Championships in Jacksonville, so it's time to start bringing the volume down a bit. My coach, Dave Smith, and I decided to keep the volume a bit lower following the US XC Championships and focus a bit more on quality workouts. I have a huge base under me from the fall marathon training block, and the winter prep season, so now is a good time to back off the mileage just slightly. After a few weeks of mostly strength-based workouts following the XC Champs, I was looking forward to getting on the track for a 10 x 500 meter workout last Tuesday. While the workouts have been going well, I wasn't sure how I'd feel getting after it at 5km pace and below. I surprised myself. I ended up averaging 78.5 on 40 seconds rest (100 meter jog). The first half of the workout stayed in the 79 low range before gradually moving down and eventually closing the final rep in 75. It was a near perfect day in terms of weather for a workout, so I'm glad my legs were feeling up to taking advantage of it. With very little track work preceding this workout, I am very pleased to have felt as sharp as I did. Combined with all the tempo and long interval sessions, I am confident heading into Gate River and the IAAF World Cross Country Championships at the end of the month.

Unfortunately the Saturday workout did not go as well as I had hoped. After having a solid 10 x mile session the week before, I was looking forward to getting a little more aggressive over 8 x mile. I went to Seattle for the weekend to hang out at the Brooks headquarters and to watch some college track (what a weekend for indoor track by the way!). This meant doing the mile workout in unfamiliar territory at Magneson Park. While the gravel loop at the park was excellent for intervals, it was very windy and packed with people on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I was also feeling a little sluggish for some reason, so this all added up to a fairly sub-par workout. I haven't had a disappointing workout in months, so this is no big deal at all. I took the next couple of days easy, and now I'm feeling back to 100%, ready to nail a couple more workouts before resting for March 14th.

Feel free to check out last week's training below. Thanks again for reading and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Week 15 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11 5 + drills and strides 40 minutes 16
Tuesday 5 10 x 500 meters w/40 seconds rest (100 meter jog), avg. 78.5 16
Wednesday 14 Off 50 minutes 14
Thursday 10+drills and strides 5 15
Friday 10.5 5 40 minutes 15.5
Saturday Off 8 x 1 mile w/90 seconds rest, avg. 4:52 15
Sunday 16 Off 16.5

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Less than 3 weeks to the Gate River Run: Last week's training

Another gorgeous week of weather in Portland means another enjoyable week of training. The unusually warm and sunny February has made for unexpectedly ideal running conditions. A year ago, Portland received an uncanny week of snow which forced me into the University of Portland indoor track, and eventually a train ride to Seattle in order to continue training for the London Marathon. That was followed by the normal cold and rainy February Portland days. To all those in the midwest and northeast, don't worry, we will surely pay dearly with a cold and wet March and April, but I'll enjoy it while it's here. At least the Jacksonville weather won't be quite the shock it has been in the past for the Gate River Run.

Speaking of Gate River, the elite fields are out, and the men's startlist is as strong as expected. I'll certainly have my work cut out for me, but I am happy with my fitness, and I'm looking forward to mixing it up with some of the country's best on March 14th over the 15km USA Championships. I'm also looking forward to running with two former Oklahoma State Cowboys, Shadrack Kipchirchir and Girma Macheso. Shadrack is beginning his young post-collegiate career, and Girma will look to build off a solid year on the US road circuit.

All three training sessions went well last week, although none of the three were overly intense. The long term goal is looking at the US Outdoor Track and Field Championships which are not until the end of June, so my coach, Dave Smith, has decided to back off the intensity for a little longer so I can make it to the summer feeling strong and fresh. I am the most pleased with Saturday's workout of 10 x 1 mile on the road with a minute rest. While I started conservatively, I was happy to see the times progress into the 4:40s and finish in 4:35. I felt strong and smooth the entire way, and I'm looking forward to testing myself a bit this week with fewer repeats and longer rest. The miles took place on a segment of road with gentle hills, going out a mile, stopping, and returning a mile. As you can see by the times, the return mile had wind at my back with a very slight net downhill. Overall, I'm feeling strong and fresh, but not quite sharp. There is still plenty of time for that.

Make sure to check out all the indoor racing starting Friday with NCAA conference meets and the USA Indoor Championships. I'll be cheering for all the Brooks Beasts in Boston, the Cowboys and Cowgirls in Ames, and the local UP Pilots in Seattle. Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below. Follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Week 14 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11.5 5.5 50 minutes 17
Tuesday 5.5 4 mile tempo @ 18:45 + 6 x 200 meters @ 28-29 17
Wednesday 14 Off 40 minutes 14.5
Thursday 15 x 200 meters @ 31 down to 28 w/200 meter jog recovery 5.5 15.5
Friday 11.5 50 minutes 17
Saturday 10 x 1 mile w/ 1 minute rest (4:54, 52, 48, 51, 47, 52, 46, 47, 35) on road Off 15.5
Sunday 18.5 Off 18.5

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Less than 4 weeks to the Gate River Run: Last week's training

A little over a week has passed since the USA XC Championships, and I'm happy to say that I'm feeling fully recovered. I took a day off after the race, and then bumped the mileage back up pretty quickly, but there were easy miles and were taken completely by feel. I did a few sets of 150 meter strides to loosen the legs up during the week and then jumped into a 10-mile tempo for my first workout back on Saturday. I wasn't sure how my legs would feel after coming down from altitude and following the 12km XC race the weekend before, but they responded surprisingly well. I ended up running 49:23 for the 10 miles (4:56), but more importantly, I felt smooth doing it. The unusually warm and sunny February weather here in Portland makes it easy to get out the door and get pumped up for training. I feel a little guilty even mentioning it with the East Coast and mid-East taking a pretty solid beating again, but I'm sure we will pay for it with a rough Spring in the Northwest. You don't get a beautiful February like this here for free.

Over the next few weeks we will start upping the intensity of workouts again in preparation for the next several races (Gate River Run - March 14th, IAAF World Cross Country Championships - March 28th, and Payton Jordan 10km - May 3rd). Gate River is the US Championship for 15km in Jacksonville, FL. The large prize purse and fair weather attracts a deep elite US field every year, and I expect this year to be no different. My best finish thus far has been 3rd place in 2013, and I hope to improve upon that next month. This will leave me with 2 weeks until the IAAF World XC Championships in Guiyang, China where I will represent team USA over a 12km cross country course. The rest of my season will likely be completely track oriented through mid-summer before making a final decision on a fall race plan in preparation for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials a year from now.

Thanks again for reading. Feel free to check out last week's training below, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Week 13 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 10 5 15
Tuesday 11.5 5.5 30 minutes 17
Wednesday 11.5 5 + drills and strides 17
Thursday 11.5 5.5 40 minutes 17
Friday 11.5 5+drills and strides 17
Saturday 10 mile tempo @ 4:56 pace Off 16
Sunday 19 Off 19

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

USA XC recap and last week's training

I'm very excited to have made my 5th USA World Cross Country Team this past weekend in Boulder at the US XC Champs. The men's field was deep, and the altitude and heat completely changed the dynamics of the race. After watching the junior races and senior women's race, I knew that I would have to race conservatively in order to give myself a shot at making the top-6 and world team. I'm not exactly sure what place I went out in, but I would guess somewhere around 30th, although we weren't far off the lead. Looking back at my splits, I stayed fairly consistent until the last 2km. I felt in control and within my limits through 10km, but after making an attempt to go for 2nd place, I had to really fight on that last 2km loop. At altitude, there is a fine line between running hard, and putting yourself into a debt you cannot recover from. I think I was riding this line quite well through 5 laps and then dug in for the final lap. Had I been more aggressive, maybe I could have contended for 2nd place, but in the end I can't be upset for running conservatively and locking in a spot for the 2015 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China.

The World XC Champs may be my favorite race to take part in as a professional. I miss the team atmosphere of NCAA cross country, so this is as close as I can get now being a post-collegiate. Cross country allows you to get away from the watch completely and simply go after the body in front of you. It's pure competition with a simple goal: Beat the guy in front of you. Times mean absolutely nothing. After achieving the team silver medal in 2013, expectations have risen, and I think the six of us will be disappointed to come home without a medal this time around.

There is nothing particularly interesting from last week's training as it was the week leading up to the race. I'm happy to be back at sea-level in Portland, and I'm awaiting my blood results from my return. I suspect I was altitude too briefly to see much or any increase in levels, but I will know shortly, and I will post the results on my blog next week.

I'm excited to announce that I will be returning to the Gate River US 15km Championships in Jacksonville on March 14th. I had the same schedule in 2013, and it worked out so well that I've decided to replicate it in 2015. Gate River is one of the most competitive US road races each year, and I hope to improve upon my 3rd place finish from 2013.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Twitter contest last week for the XC Champs! This one required a little homework, and I was surprised how close many of you come to nailing the splits and final time. I will look to get creative for the World XC Champs as well, so stay tuned. Feel free to check out last week's training below, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Week 12 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 11 + drills and strides 5.5 30 minutes 17
Tuesday 5 x 1k @ 2:58-3:00 w/1 min rest + 6 x 200 meters @ 29-30 5 15
Wednesday 9 5 14
Thursday Off - travel to Boulder 8 7.5
Friday 5 + drills and strides Off 5.5
Saturday 1.5 pre-race shakeout Race 12km USA XC Champs 14
Sunday Off - travel to Portland Off 0

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Twitter Contest

As you know, on Saturday February 7th, I will be racing in the USA Cross Country Championships in Boulder, CO. I've come up with a contest as a fun way to get you guys involved in the race. Here's how it works- guess my 4k, 8k and 12k (finish) times. After the race, I'll add up how far away you were from each split, and the person with the lowest time total will win a Brooks Essential Run Jacket (below). Tweet at me using my Twitter handle (@ryanvail) and include your three splits with the hashtag #VailUSA before race time on Saturday (1pm MT). 


Your tweet: "@ryanvail 12:03, 24:10, 36:41 #VailUSA"

4k- 12:03 vs. 12:08 (5 sec off)

8k- 24:10 vs. 24:00 (10 sec off)
12k (finish) - 36:41 vs. 36:35 (6 sec off)

Your total time would be 21 seconds. All official splits will be posted online at usatf.org after the race. Good luck!