Friday, September 22, 2017

2 days to the Berlin Marathon: Last week's training

I'm sitting in my hotel room in Berlin, counting down the hours until race-time. The race starts at 9:15 (CEST) on the 24th, so the middle of the night for those trying to follow in the United States. I left for Prague on Sunday and arrived Monday evening, so I will have had almost a week to recover from travel. The jetlag is hitting me much harder this time than it did earlier in the summer, but fortunately my sleeping is almost back to normal with two nights to spare. I arrived in Berlin yesterday, and the brief 30 minute flight was as easy as it sounds.

This past week has been mostly focused on risk aversion: Flying to Europe early, sleeping as much as possible, being deliberate with food choices as to avoid food poisoning or any other digestive issues, thoroughly washing hands, pre-preparing my fluids for race-day, etc. I even switched taxis at the airport when realizing immediately that the driver was very sick. There is no reason to lose the last 11 weeks of marathon prep over something that is in your control. Now it's all on me come Sunday.

We will find out the final details regarding pace groups tomorrow, but it sounds like I will be in a 65:30 group at this point. I think this still puts me in a good position to set a PB as my current personal best is from London where we came through in 65:15 and faced some headwinds the second half. If I had run these same workouts before my stress fracture cycle, I would probably look to be more aggressive, but because I have not had many opportunities to race the last two years, I need to be patient and do my best to take a step forward toward the Olympic Trials for 2020. Even though my volume hasn't been quite as high as in the past, the quality has been steady across the board, and I think I have a chance to give sub-2:10:57 an honest shot.

As I mentioned previously, the front end of the race is going to be incredibly exciting, with Kipchoge, Kipsang, and Bekele all in contention for a new world record. Be sure to tune in at NBCSN.

Thanks again for reading. The final two weeks of training are posted below. Follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Weeks to go: 2 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 14 off 40 minutes 14
Tuesday 12.5 5 + drills and strides 18
Wednesday 4 x 2 miles @ 4:40-4:45, rest = 2 min off 15
Thursday 12.5 off 12.5
Friday 11.5 4.5 40 minutes 16
Saturday 45 minutes + 8 x 200 meter hills off 9.5
Sunday 15 miles easy off 15
Total: 100

Weeks to go: 1
AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday off - travel to Czech off- travel to Czech 0
Tuesday 11.5 6 30 minutes 17.5
Wednesday 5 x 1km @ 2:55, rest = 1 min 4.5 15
Thursday 9.5 off 9.5
Friday 7 + drills and strides off 7.5
Saturday 4-5 miles off 4.5
Sunday Berlin Marathon off 15

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Less than 2 weeks to the Berlin Marathon: Last week's training

I'm on my last few days in Portland before heading to Prague to rest before the Berlin Marathon on the 24th of September. With the world record under serious threat, I am a little jealous that I'll be running several minutes behind the leaders as opposed to seeing the race play out! With that said, it would be an honor to hit a new personal best during the same race the world record falls. Let's hope for both!

I'm looking forward to getting to Berlin and discussing the final pacing situation with the other runners and pacemakers. It seems that we will have a solid group being paced somewhere between 64:30 and 65:30. That is a big difference, but I am hoping that we can meet somewhere in the middle as 64:30 might be a bit aggressive for me at this point!

I pushed my mid-week workout back by a day this week after the 16 mile tempo because that workout took a lot out of me. I had a suspicion it would, so we had the option built into the calendar. I also came down with a cold starting Thursday night which knocked me down for a couple of days, but I felt surprisingly good by Sunday. We had originally planned some threshold intervals followed by an hour run, but due to the cold I decided for a moderate 19 mile run. I was pleased that a 5:26 average felt easy, especially considering my first two miles were 6:40 and 6:15 respectively, meaning the other miles were mostly in the teens. It was also my last chance to practice with my fluids which I have dialed in.

Everyone has their own hydration strategy, but I keep mine fairly simple and straightforward by mixing one Powerbar Powergel (Tangerine or Double Latte w/ 50mg of caffeine) with 400 mL of water. I drink about 230 mL of water per bottle which will be available every 5km in Berlin, and I have been training with this exact ratio for several marathons by now. It's important to know how your body will react to supplements when you are under duress, so I always encourage runners to test out their nutrition plan several times before race day.

Thanks again for reading, and feel free to check out last week's training below. My next blog will be coming from Prague as I rest and prepare for the big day! Follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Weeks to go: 3 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 14 off 40 minutes 14
Tuesday 12.5 6 + drills and strides 18.5
Wednesday 12.5 6 40 minutes 18.5
Thursday 4 miles, 2 miles, 2 x 1 mile @ 4:45-4:48, rest = 4 min, 2 min, 1 min 6 21
Friday 14 5 40 minutes 19
Saturday off-sick off 0
Sunday 19 miles @ 5:26 off 19
Total: 110

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Less than 3 weeks to the Berlin Marathon: Last week's training

Berlin is approaching fast and the majority of training is in the bank. There is still plenty of time to make mistakes, so I  need to remain vigilant in diet, rest, and injury prevention. A few more hard efforts are in the near future, but the most important long runs are now over after last weekend's 16 mile tempo. I averaged 4:58 for the workout, but I was at about 5:00 through 13, closing in around 4:50 for the last 3 and feeling strong. I have averaged faster for this tempo workout in the past, but I was very pleased with how comfortable I felt. Since returning from Europe I have ticked all the confidence building boxes I was hoping for, and now the focus turns to feeling fresh and healthy on September 24th.

Portland has been choked by smoke since a fire broke out in the Columbia River Gorge on Sunday. It has begun to improve today, but I have had to balance treadmill miles to save my lungs while not hurting myself with 20 mile indoor days. Hopefully we are through the worst, but ash falling from the sky, blood orange sun and moon, and scratchy throat and eyes have all been very disconcerting. Unfortunately most of the west coast is experiencing poor air quality at the moment, so a quick escape for healthy training is not easy.

I head back to Prague in 9 days to give myself enough time to recover from the travel and time difference. In Prague I'll be able to cook and run in a familiar setting as opposed to living in a hotel for a week. From there I'll have a snappy 30 minute flight to Berlin 3 days before the race.  A few years ago I had the privilege of pacing Shalane Flanagan in her American record attempt, so I have run 26 miles of the course and am familiar with start and finish line procedures. One less thing to worry about!

Pace groups will be finalized over the next couple of weeks, but it appears that we will have a decent sized group going through at around 65:00ish, which will be perfect based on the marathon block I've had. Looking forward to sharing that info when it becomes available.

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

Weeks to go: 4 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 14 6 40 minutes 20
Tuesday 14 + drills and strides 5 19
Wednesday 6 x 2km starting @ 4:45 pace down to 4:28 pace, rest = 90 seconds 5 21
Thursday 14 6 40 minutes 20
Friday 1 hour run + 8 x 200 meters @ 30-31 off 12
Saturday 6 off 40 minutes 6
Sunday 16 mile tempo @ 4:58 off 22
Total: 120

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Less than 4 weeks to the Berlin Marathon: Last week's training

I've only just returned from Europe 11 days ago, but I already feel pressure to finalize plans to fly again in two and a half weeks. It seems that my fatigue and struggling in the Czech highlands has paid off, as I have felt fantastic since flying back to Portland. I know I will start to feel human again at some point, but for now I'm proud of the way I pushed through the tough days earlier in the training cycle as I am being rewarded with a feeling of fitness and optimism. I was happy with both of the workouts this past week, but I was even more pleased with the perceived effort. Nothing was forced, and the overall daily volume has been very manageable. I have no doubt that a fair amount of the mental and physical lightness has been thanks to the help of Cam Levins, having recently moved to the neighborhood, and I am looking forward to continuing our cooperation in the future. I hope I'm rounding into shape at just the right moment before Berlin!

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

Weeks to go: 5 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday off 9.5 40 minutes 9.5
Tuesday 14 + drills and strides 6 20
Wednesday 4 mi tempo @ 18:59, 10 mi run, 4 mi tempo @ 18:57 off 24
Thursday 14 6 40 minutes 20
Friday 75 minute run + 8 x 200 meter hills 6 20
Saturday 12 6 40 minutes 18
Sunday 20 miles moderate + 4 mi push @ 19:31 off 20
Total: 131.5

Friday, August 25, 2017

Less than 5 weeks to the Berlin Marathon: Last week's training

It was a long trip home, but I'm happy to be back in Portland for the time being. My wife and I had booked our tickets to Czech well before I had committed to Berlin, so we had built in a stopover in Barcelona on the way home as the tickets happened to be cheaper. We were there for three days, one of which happened to be the day of the attacks. We were about 10 blocks away with plans to walk toward Las Ramblas after lunch, so while we never felt that we were in any danger, it was a sobering experience. I feel terrible for the people of Barcelona as I am sure it strikes you completely differently when something of that nature happens in your own backyard. The rallies of solidarity the following day were inspiring. Most encouraging was the ability of the Spanish people to stand against fear while embracing the Muslim community of Barcelona.

On a lighter note, I chose my week of travel to be a down week in terms of intensity. I had a strong mid-week workout before flying to Barcelona, but used the uncertainty of the weather as an opportunity to force myself into a Fartlek for my Sunday run. I decided to push my long run until a few days later once I was back in Portland.

I did my best to grind out every run and every workout while in the Czech countryside in the hope that it would pay off with some confidence building workouts once I returned. I am relieved to say that I have felt amazing since landing and am looking forward to sharing the details next week. I have also been fortunate that Cam Levins is back in the neighborhood and we have been able to link up for a workout as well as some easy running. Most of my training since leaving Oklahoma State has been solo, but I am very appreciative for any opportunity to train with someone when possible, especially with someone with the work ethic and credentials of Cam. Hopefully we can help each other to our goals this fall and further into 2017/2018.

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

Weeks to go: 6 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 14 6 40 minutes 20
Tuesday 12.5 + drills and strides 6 18.5
Wednesday 15 x 1km, 2:58 down to 2:51, 1 min rest 5 23
Thursday 11.5 5.5 40 minutes 17
Friday 13 5 18
Saturday 4.5 + drills and strides off 40 minutes 4.5
Sunday Fartlek: (5,4,3)(4,3,2)(3,2,1)(1,2,3) w/equal rest off 19
Total: 120

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Less than 6 weeks to the Berlin Marathon: Last week's training

After another week of solid volume I am happy to report that I am tired but healthy. My body is holding up as well as I could ask for, and I am now on the second half of the marathon training block. That does not mean that I am in the clear from injury by any means. Before the Olympic Trials Marathon last year, I was diagnosed with a femoral stress fracture the week before the race. It's easy to ignore warning signs of a serious injury when training is going well, and I am determined to not make that mistake again. Predicting an injury before it gets past the point of no return is very difficult, but my experience the last couple of years has at least forced me to take time off when in doubt. A week in the pool is much better than 12 weeks in the pool, and very little fitness is lost. I hope I continue to feel this way over the next 5-6 weeks, but I am trying to stay closely tuned in to what my body is telling me and am prepared to adapt if needed.

I'm now on my last few days in Czech. Going home is always enjoyable, but Czech has become a second home to me as I have spent a couple months a year here for the last decade and even lived in Prague for about 18 months. In terms of training, the timing is perfect as I will be able to use my last 5 weeks to train on faster terrain and at sea level in order to put the final touches on the training segment before Berlin. I'll be back in Czech a week before the marathon to recover from travel and adjust to the time difference. I always prefer to stay somewhere familiar where I know the running routes and can cook my own food for as long as possible before a race, so I consider myself very lucky to have a home base in Europe that allows me to do that.

There are several guys living in Portland who are training for fall marathons currently, and I will do my best to recruit some training partners for this next stretch. I haven't run a step with another person since I left Portland last month, so a little company would be appreciated. Thanks again for reading and feel free to check out last week's training below. Follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Weeks to go: 7 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 14 6 40 minutes 20
Tuesday 12.5 + drills and strides 6 18.5
Wednesday 4 mi, 3 mi, 2 mi, 1 mi starting 4:46, finishing 4:37, rest = 4 min, 3, 2 5 22
Thursday 14 6 40 minutes 20
Friday 1 hour + 8 x 200 meter hills 6 19
Saturday 10 off 40 minutes 10
Sunday 15 mi tempo @ 5:06 (hilly) off 21
Total: 130.5

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Less than 7 weeks to the Berlin Marathon: Last week's training

It's easy to find a little extra motivation for training watching the IAAF World Champs this year with all the fantastic performances so far. It has been a real pleasure to see the US efforts by Amy Cragg, Jenny Simpson, and Evan Jager, and plenty of excellent races off the podium as well. Seeing the disappointment on the faces of the US men in the 10km after running PBs in a championship race really shows how far US distance running has come over the last several years in terms of expectations and mentality. There is still a good deal of racing left, and several great US distance stars on deck.

As for my training, I had another productive week in southern Czech. I'm feeling stronger over the difficult terrain and slight elevation, and my workouts and easy runs are slowly starting to show it. I'm feeling exhausted most of the time, which is a normal part of marathon training, and I'm combating the fatigue with daily naps, long nights of sleep, and a high protein diet. It feels good to be putting in this kind of mileage again. Before NYC this last fall, I limited myself to 100 miles per week, and while my workouts went well, I went into them quite fresh which isn't necessarily ideal during marathon prep. My mileage is now oscillating from 120 -130 miles per week now, but with 1 very easy day in order to average closer to 20 miles per day on the other days of the week. So far the body is holding up very well, so my long term goal remains to get back to 140+ miles per week come next spring. It's been a long road since the injuries began in 2015, but I'm very close to being back to where I want to be.

The next 5 weeks will be the real meat of the training cycle and I'll be able to make a more realistic goal for Berlin during this time. Getting back to Portland and knocking out a few faster long runs on a more Berlin like course should give me the last bit of confidence that I'll need heading into September 24th. I booked my flight yesterday, planning to arrive a week early to adjust to the time change and recover from the flight. That step has made the race feel much more tangible and I'm fighting off any sudden sense of urgency as I am not even half-way through this training block.

Some of the training posted below was already posted last week, but I wanted to get back to a Monday-Sunday calendar going forward, so what you see is my last completed week of training which started 8 weeks before Berlin. Thanks again for reading and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Weeks to go: 8 AM PM Strength Mileage
Monday 14 6 40 minutes 20
Tuesday 12.5 + drills and strides off 12.5
Wednesday  4 mi tempo @ 4:45-4:46, 30 minute run, 3 mi tempo @ 4:42-4:43 4 22
Thursday 12 6 40 minutes 18.5
Friday 1 hour + 8 x 200 meter hills 5 17
Saturday 7 off 40 minutes 7
Sunday 25 miles, 18-22 @ 4:52 off 25
Total: 122

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Less than 8 weeks to the Berlin Marathon: Last week's training

It's been a little while since the Peachtree 10k US Champs, but it took some time to settle on my next race. While the 10k wasn't a perfect race, it was a huge step forward for me after the injury ridden last 18 months. I went through 5km at 13:52 and the wheels didn't fall off. The first 5km is mostly downhill, but regardless, I felt more like my old self than I had in any race since the injuries began. Now that I have many months of consistent training and my blood work back to normal, I am optimistic about the fall and winter.

After a lot of deliberation I have decided for the Berlin Marathon this fall.  After getting out over my skis in New York this fall, I am looking for a controlled environment in which I can gain confidence heading into the spring. I would like an extra month of training for confidence, but that is almost always the case. I went backpacking for a few days following Peachtree to have a mental break before the marathon buildup, and then jumped right back in where I left off, leaving myself with about 11.5 weeks to prepare for Berlin. It looks like we'll have a small group of runners shooting for the 2:09-2:10ish range, so I should have people to run with as well as a couple of pace makers. Scott Overall (2:10) will be in this group, which is a big boost, as we have run in the same pace group during two of my PRs in the past (Fukuoka and London). Hopefully our training will progress at a similar pace and we both end up healthy at the starting line and can feed off each other on September. 24th.

I am currently back training in the Czech countryside as we spend time with my wife's family. I've
mentioned this in the past, but the running routes are fantastic in southern Czech (Vysocina), although hitting times is quite difficult as it is very hilly with a little elevation (2500ft.) The elevation isn't much, but combined with the hills, workouts are still fairly challenging. It's a great spot for base building, so the timing couldn't be better. I will be in Portland for the final 5 weeks of training and will be able to fine tune then.

I'm slowly building my mileage back up to marathon range but will still keep my volume between 120 and 130 for this segment. That includes one day (Saturday) of either very easy or off meaning that I am still averaging 20+ miles per day the other 6 days of the week. I am looking to get my mid-week workouts to 16-18 miles most weeks including warmup and cooldown to build strength as well.

Below are the last few weeks of training, and I will be posting the rest of the weeks leading up to Berlin. Thanks again for reading, and follow me here on Twitter for more updates.

Weeks To go Weekly Miles      
11 120 Monday    
    Wednesday   10 x 1 mile starting @ 4:57 down to 4:40, rest = 1 min
    Sunday   22 miles with 4 mile push @ 4:55
10 125 Monday    
    Wednesday   tempo runs 3.5, 2.5, 1.5@ 71ish, rest = 2 min, 1 min
    Friday   Run + 8 x 200 meter hills
    Sunday   23 mile moderate long run
9 130 Monday    
    Tuesday   8 x 1 mile @ 4:45-->4:25
    Thursday   Run + 8 x strides
    Friday   12 miles @ 5:00
    Sunday   24 mile moderate long run
8 120 Monday    
    Wednesday   4 mile tempo, 30 min run, 3mile tempo @ 4:45ish

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Less than a week to the AJC Peachtree 10k

We're 5 days away from the AJC Peachtree 10k, and I'm looking forward to toeing the line for the first time since early May. After a disappointing Bloomsday Run, I took a couple of low intensity training weeks while I tried to figure out why I felt so wiped out even though I had been hitting solid workouts for a couple of months. I decided to get my blood work looked at, which I normally do a couple times per year, but didn't expect to find anything interesting as my key levels (vitamin b, iron, hematocrit, etc.) have been consistent for years. In the past I have actually had to back off my iron supplement as my levels were getting a little higher than necessary. This time was different; my ferratin levels had dropped by two-thirds from my last test even though I had been supplementing regularly. It seems the most likely explanation is the way in which I had been spreading out my calcium supplement throughout the day. I knew that calcium and iron should be taken at separate times in order to promote absorption, and I thought I was allowing enough time in between. Following my string of three stress fractures in 2015 and 2016, I was very persistent in my calcium, vitamin d, and magnesium trying to improve my bone density, but until this year, I had been taking them all at once before bed. A nutritionist recommended I spread these supplements out by taking them 3 times throughout the day (1 tablet was only 33% of daily recommended dose) to help with my bone density. It seems that this recommendation was likely preventing me from absorbing iron from my food or supplements thus causing the unusual fatigue. While I was able to have decent workouts, I was not recovering well and was having to run very slow on other days. Once I got the results after Bloomsday, I increased my vitamin b and iron supplementation, began taking calcium once per day in the evening, and did my first several workouts based purely on effort without looking at my watch until the end to ensure I wasn't racing to chase times. Within about two weeks, I started to feel like my old self again, and not only were workouts clicking, but easy days felt smooth as well. Unfortunately this has delayed my training by a few weeks heading into Peachtree, but I have had a solid 5-6 weeks, and it's not like I was starting from scratch. I'm optimistic moving forward, and I'm looking forward to using this as a spring board into a fall marathon, which I will hopefully be choosing within the next week. 

As usual, the Peachtree field is loaded, and the extra time between the USATF Championships and this race will allow more runners to come back. 10k will be a bit of a shocker for my body, but I've done what I can to prepare, and I plan on sticking my nose in it. I arrived in Atlanta 10 days before the race in order to acclimate to the heat as we've had an unusually cold spring and summer in Portland, and the humidity can be a tough adjustment. I feel great mentally and physically, and I'm looking forward to competing on Tuesday at 7:30 EST in Atlanta.  My last few weeks of training are below. They're not as detailed as before;I will add specifics for my week by week recaps leading up to the fall marathon. I'm looking forward to a great second half of 2017! Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday6/6/20178 x 1 mile at 4:48, 4:44, 4:40, 4:36, 4:32, 4:28, 4:24, 4:20, 2 min rests
Thursday6/8/201712 X 200m @29-30 or hill repeats
Saturday6/10/2017Tempo 3 mile, 2 mile, 1 mile (4:40, 4:438, 4:27) with 2min, then 1 min rests
Sunday6/11/2017Long. 2 hours
Tuesday6/13/2017 Weekly total: 110 miles
Wednesday6/14/20176 x 1 mile @ 4:36, 4:32, 4:28, 4:24, 4:20, 4:18 with 3 min rest
Saturday6/17/201710 miles @5:10->4:45
Sunday6/18/2017Long, 2 hours
Tuesday6/20/201715 x 200m hills, Weekly Total: 110 miles
Thursday6/22/20174 tempo @ 18:50, 6 x 200 @ 29-30
Saturday6/24/2017Long 1:45,
Monday6/26/201710 x 500 @ 78-79 w/100 meter jog (about 40 seconds)
Tuesday6/27/2017 Weekly Total: 90 miles
Friday6/30/20175-6 x 1000m @ 71+ 4-5 x 200m @31-32