Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Week 2 in Flagstaff

After nearly two weeks in Flagstaff I'm slowly becoming more confident in my training at 7000 feet. That's not to say that I'm not exhausted, but I'm learning to pick my battles by creating a greater distinction between easy days and hard days. Altitude has forced me to take my easy days significantly easier than I'm used at sea-level. It has also forced me to take recovery and rest more seriously than I have in the past. Without the usual distractions of home, I've managed to get into a healthy rhythm of training, eating, napping, training, eating, sleeping. It is helpful to be in a town where it is the norm to be in bed at 9:00 PM in preparation for the next morning's run. I've really enjoyed exploring the town and getting to know the hangout spots and dining options such as Diablo Burger, Martanne's, and Bellavia. I have quickly learned that Diablo Burger exclusively employs elite runners, Martanne's breakfast/lunch should only be eaten if you don't plan on running again for at least 12 hours, and Bellavia is the only restaurant in Flagstaff where you won't have to wait an hour on the weekends. There is still a great deal to see, and with trips planned to Sedona and the Grand Canyon in the near future I will be able to check a couple major sights off the list.

Last week included my first two structured workouts since coming to Flagstaff. I introduced myself to Lake Mary Rd. with a fartlek consisting of 10 x 4 minutes hard and 90 seconds rest. I started off a bit too quick and suffered the last couple of reps, but that was the reason for starting with a fartlek as opposed to specific intervals or specific paces. This was followed by a 12 mile tempo run on the same road Sunday morning. Fortunately I had the opportunity to jump into the workout with the Northern Arizona Elite crew and tag along with more experienced guys like Scott Smith, Ben Bruce, and Matt Llano. Coach Ben Rosario was also on hand with splits and fluids. Being only my 11th day in Flagstaff, I was still nervous about overdoing the workout, so I was grateful to play the part of the rookie and let the NAZ athletes set the pace. While 5:16 pace was certainly challenging, I didn't dig myself a hole. The effort was right, and it gives me confidence heading into this week's workouts.

I took a big leap in volume this week, although it didn't feel as big as it looks on paper. After taking only a short break after the track season, I'm entering this marathon training segment with a great base, so I didn't feel the need to slowly build back up. I also knew that the intensity last week would stay somewhat low, so I wanted to take advantage of the altitude by putting a good deal of time on the legs. After 145 miles last week, this week will bump up slightly to 150 before backing off for a week and upping the intensity of workouts. With only 2 and a half weeks left in Flag, I'm anxious to get more quality in before heading back down to sea-level and resuming my normal marathon training.

The day before heading up to altitude I had my blood drawn by Dr. John Howell at Portland Integrated Health and Medicine. I will will have it analyzed once again immediately after returning to sea-level in order to determine the effectiveness of the trip to 7000 feet. While this blood work is common among athletes, the response to altitude is extremely individual, so the specific results will be meaningful. I will post both the initial and follow-up blood work on my blog as soon as I return. Feel free to check out last week's training below, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates. Thanks again for reading.

Week 2 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 15 6

Tuesday 14 7 + drills and grass strides 40 minutes 21.5

Wednesday Fartlek – 10 x 4 minutes hard, 90 seconds easy 6

Thursday 14 7 40 minutes 21

Friday 13 + 8 x 200 meter hills 6

Saturday 10.5 6 30 minutes 16.5

Sunday 12 mile tempo @ 5:16 pace 4 mile shakeout



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First Week in Flagstaff

After another long week of traveling, I'm finally feeling settled in here in Flagstaff. After taking much of the previous week off in preparation for marathon training, I squeezed in as many miles as I could between the flights. I started the week with a 10 mile tempo run, which sounds early to throw in, but we wanted to get some kind of hard effort in before traveling from Europe to Portland, Portland to Flagstaff knowing that I would not be able to train hard for the rest of the week. I spent a day and a half in Portland which was enough time to unpack from Europe and repack for Flagstaff. I'm living with Nick Arciniaga for the month, and I'm getting connected with the huge running community here.

I arrived in Flagstaff on Thursday, and after a canceled flight, a delayed flight, and a missing bag, I was exhausted. The evening run that night felt terrible, but each day since has been a slight improvement. The Sunday long run was the first real test, and I was pleased with how it went. There was an excellent turnout for the run, so I had plenty of guys to key off as I learned the ropes of the A1 road. Fortunately for me, the marathoners decided not to hammer the run which kept me in it and kept me from digging myself into a hole early into my altitude experience. We got through 21 miles in 2:08, respectable on the tough course, but I know these runs will be getting significantly faster. I got to tag along with veterans Scott Smith, Andrew Lemoncello, and Nick Arciniaga. It's great to be up here with guys with so much experience. My first training experience at this elevation is off to a fairly smooth start, and I'm looking forward to a high volume week with a couple of workouts thrown in. Feel free to check out last week's training below. Thanks again for reading and follow me here on twitter for more updates.

Week 1 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday off 10 mile tempo @ 4:59

Tuesday Off – traveling from Prague to Portland 5 easy shakeout following overseas flight

Wednesday 14 6 40 minutes 20

Thursday Off – travel from Portland to Flagstaff 8 easy following flights

Friday 14 5 40 minutes 19

Saturday 13 6 + drills and grass strides

Sunday 21 miles, progressively faster, 2:08 overall off



Friday, August 8, 2014

Ninove, Belgium: Ending the season with a PB

I had no idea how my legs would react following the brutal 10km course in Castelbuono, Italy the previous week. I did my best to get in a fair number of easy miles and no workouts to speak of other than a few rhythm 200 meter repeats. Each day was a little better, and on Saturday I felt ready to go again. Since I've been traveling every week for the last month, I decided not to leave to Belgium until the day before the race. The race wasn't until late Saturday evening, and it was a simple 70 minute direct flight. I opted to spend one more night in a familiar environment rather than restlessly sitting around the hotel room for another two days. The race itself was fairly slow through 5km, but this was expected as the majority of the field was only worried about running 13:30 for the European Championships. This has been the case for all European 5km's this summer, so it has been extremely difficult to find a race paced at 13:20 or better. This uncertainty is what comes with having a late track season as opposed to going for the dependable California races in April and May, so I decided that no matter what the pace was I would simply race to win. After the slow first 3km (I believe 8:12ish), the pace started to pick up the last 2km, and I looked to put myself in position with the leaders. I was with the leaders until the last 500 meters in which I was dropped pretty hard by Tahri (who recently ran 13:12). While I was hoping to get into a race where I could be pulled to a big 5km best, I have no regrets. I accomplished what I was looking for, and that was to get the wheels moving in between marathon build-ups. Coming off the London Marathon in April I was able to achieve my highest ever finish at the US Track Championships at 10,000 meters (3rd) and came away with a PR of 13:28 in the 5km. Onto marathon training!

Since the last month has been very low mileage for me in between races, I don't feel like I need much of a break. I am taking this week very easy by only run a few days and only with my wife. I'm confident I'll be able to hop right into marathon training next week. I'll be heading back to Portland on the 12th and then heading to Flagstaff on the 14th to start a month long training session. I'm looking forward to giving altitude a full go and seeing how my body reacts when I come down. I'll be heading into Portland Integrated Health to have my blood drawn and get initial readings before heading up to 7000 feet. I will then have it checked again right when I come down. Based on these results as well as how my body reacts to the changes, we will see if this will become a regular part of my training.

My down week has been spent in the Austrian Alps where I've been able to get some nice hiking in, as well as some gorgeous runs with my wife as she prepares for her first marathon in Victoria, BC in October. This part of the alps is only a few hours drive from Eva's parents' village, so it makes for an easy trip. I'm looking forward to getting back to work in another set of Alpine mountains in Arizona next week! Feel free to check out last week's easy training week below, and follow me here on twitter for more updates. Thanks again for reading.

Week 16 AM PM Strength/Drills Mileage
Monday 10 5

Tuesday 10.5 + drills and strides 5 40 minutes 15.5

Wednesday 9 4.5

Thursday 6 miles + 6 x 200 meters @ 29-30 w/ 200 equal jog rest off

Friday Travel to Brussels 5.5

Saturday 2 mile shake-out 5km race at Memorial Rasschaert – Flanders Cup (13:28, 3rd place)

Sunday Off – end of season off