2008 Training: Year in Review

Taking a look back at my training log for 2008, it is clear where I began my path to injury through over-training and lack of cross-training. By reviewing where I went wrong, it will allow me (and hopefully you) to avoid similar mistakes that may lead to common running injuries.

I started off 2008 strong. I was running at least 3 times a week — Monday with Adidas Urban Run Club, Wednesday with Nike Run Club and Saturday with my long distance running group. In January, I was logging around 20+ miles a week and feeling good. February brought similar numbers, but the mid-week runs grew longer consisting of 8-12 miles on Mondays and Wednesdays. March is where it looks like I hit my peak, logging 25-30+ miles a week with my pace decreasing in min. per mile. It was around April where I started to feel burned out and it carried through to May where for those two months, my weekly mileage dropped below 20 per week with some cases of shin-splints and heavy legs. (early signs of trouble)

With a full marathon around the corner in early August, I used the long runs on Saturdays as building blocks, but limited the mid-week runs. Here is where the problems came full circle and showed their ugly head... with my mileage increasing on Saturdays to 17-20 in a single run, I changed my mid-week runs to rest days rather than switching to a low impact cross training session. I could feel the strain on my legs and would feel the repercussions for the remainder of the year.

Post marathon I kept my mileage modest through August and September, logging 10+ miles per week. However, my IT Band started to bother me on some hills and longer runs early on and would limit my strength. I took the entire month of October off (minus a half-marathon 10/5) to see if I could recover through rest. With a half marathon in early November, I decided to walk the majority of it and try to avoid aggravating the IT Band. In order to recover from my IT Band ailments, I decided to continue my rigorous stretching along with use of the foam roller, but decided to start from scratch in miles. This is where I went back to the basics I was taught in my original marathon training program and began the road to recovery.

I started with an easy 3 miles one week, then 5 the next, then 8 and so on until I built a strong base. I worked in some cross training and light weight lifting to keep me fit on off days and now I'm feeling fully recovered from IT Band issues and slowly building up my weekly mileage conservatively. I should roll right into 2009 with high hopes for the year. By reviewing where I went wrong in 08 with over-training, I can learn to avoid similar mistakes with the new year. It's always best to keep a running log so that you can monitor where you are feeling strong and where your body may be telling you to ease up. I purchased a monthly desk-top calendar from my local dollar store and it works out great.

Here is to a healthy training schedule in 2009. Have any success (or stumbles) in 2008 you'd like to share? 


2008 Events: Year in Review

With 2008 running down to a halt, I'd like to look back at the year and review the highlights along with look at areas for improvement. 2009 is a year filled with running hopes and dreams, so now is a great time to look back and learn.

2008 was to date my busiest year event wise. I participated in 5 events, 3 half marathons, 1 full marathon, and a single 10k.

Kaiser Half (Feb.): Not time focused, ran with 2 friends and felt strong. Enjoyed the pouring rain along Great Highway for the last 3 miles.
Adjustments for 2009: Focus on time, shooting for 1:45 or sub 1:59

Newsom Stadium to Stadium 10k (June): First 10k, from Giants AT&T Park to 49ers Candlestick Park. Finished a little over an hour, but enjoyed the distance and will look to run again next year.
Adjustments for 2009: Focus on a sub 60 min finish along with setting pace to run full distance without stopping.

RunSF Full Marathon (August): Started off strong and on pace for strong finish. Hit obstacles at mile 14 and never recovered through remaining 11 miles, causing a slower than expected finishing time. However, felt strong and finished with a PR.
Adjustments for 2009: Train better to plan for a negative split and repeat or improve the pace of the first half.

San Jose Half Marathon (Oct): Overall my favorite local race. Had a time goal set but IT Band injury limited my training before hand and affected finishing time.
Adjustments for 2009: improve quality level of training to avoid injury and set PR along with beat Lisa Kim (long, but funny story).

US Half Marathon (Nov): IT Band still a factor, ran with no time goal and walked majority of the hills to avoid aggravating IT Band.
Adjustments for 2009: Not sure if I will run this event again. It included a number of hills and I wasn't overly impressed with the organization. If I run it again, it may be used as a training run with no time goal.

So that sums up the events I participated in and adjustments I need to make to improve in 2009. Later in the week, I'll be looking at my training log to see where I need to make alterations and what may have caused injury throughout the year.

If you'd like to share some 2008 events you enjoyed or disliked, please share in the comments. Run Strong.


FREE Nike Treadmill Workout

Recently Updated: Sorry everyone - the download code expired April of 2009. Maybe they'll issue new ones for 2010, if so I'll post again. Thanks for reading.

Back in August, the Nike Human Race took place and Nike was handing out FREE 30-minute coached workout on the treadmill. If you shoot me an e-mail (pavementrunner@gmail.com), I'd love to send you the download code as a Holiday Present.

It includes coached instructions to complete a 30-minute workout on a treadmill. Basically, there is a gentlemen that instructs you how to adjust the settings on the treadmill with music clips in-between to keep you going. It starts with an easy warm-up, a gradual progression in speeds based on your ability and suggested incline percentages (BONUS: It includes a session of speed intervals set to techno music).

If you are an advanced runner, this may not be ideal, but it may be something new to try if the weather outside isn't cooperating. This may be a great start for beginners to. I have plenty and would love to give a little something back. Hope everyone has a safe and Happy Holiday.

I'll be running 5 miles tomorrow morning... care to join me in spirit? It's a great way to start off the day and gives you plenty of reason to relax and enjoy some holiday food.


Winter Tactics

It's always a tough thing to stay motivated during the winter. Whether it is the dark evenings, the busy holiday rush, or the cold mornings that seem like they are all trying to tell you not to run. So how do you maintain your level of fitness that you worked so hard to develop all summer/fall during this time of year?

Well, if you are fortunate enough to have a gym near you and can afford the monthly installments, then it might be life in the treadmill for a couple months. Some people loathe the treadmill or "dreadmill" for various reasons: lack of scenery, sense of running and not going anywhere or plain and simply put "it just doesn't compare to the feeling of an outdoor jaunt." But maybe this is your chance to mix it up. If you have never run speed intervals, this could be a great place to try them out. Most treadmills have distance and speed displays so why not try doing some variation of a speed interval? This is perfect if you don't like being at the gym for extended periods if time since you can keep the time short, but get a good workout when the weather isn't cooperating. Various intervals (link) can be easily tracked on the treadmill.  This is also a great chance to work in some cross training on your non-running days.  Hop on the bike, elliptical, or try a core workout to strengthen your running form.

If the gym isn't possible (weather permitting) lunch runs are always a possibility. With a 60 min lunch break, factor in 10 min to change before and after leaving you 40 mins which could be a 20-30 minute run and 10-20 mins to eat. If a shower is not available at work (probably for the majority) then baby wipes are always helpful. Here is a link from Runner's World that also has some great tips for mid-day runs. .

But I agree, nothing beats the open outdoors and getting in some serious miles under your belt. Over the weekend it was around 40 degrees in San Francisco and I was scheduled to run 10 miles. I had little sleep and with the cold, I was not looking forward to the run. If there was a magic time machine I probably would have wound back time and stayed in bed. But fortunately there was no such thing so I ended up running 12 miles... that's right 2 more than I was originally scheduled to run and it was fantastic. Afterwards, I was glad that I woke up early and got in my morning run. My legs were stiff and I was cold when we originally started, but about 10 minutes in I was nice and warm and starting to break a sweat. After that it was clear sailing. Sometimes the right attire to stay comfortable in cold weather is all you need to get out there. After that let your love of running handle the rest. Once you get going, you'll be glad you're out there.

Of course that is easily said since we don't get snow in the Bay Area. For those of you in colder weather or the snow, my thoughts are with you... Feel free to share your advice or experiences in the comments.


Planning for 2009

With only a couple weeks before 2009, it wouldn't be a bad idea to pencil out next year's race calendar. With the cost of registration fees increasing as race day gets closer, it always helps to save a few dollars by registering in advance.

Here is how I am planning 2009:

Print out a Calendar (Link)
Let's be green and try to use the back side of scratch paper for now. We can move it to it's final position later since there may be a lot of scratching out and erasing initially.

Choose the Events:
I usually pick one race a month, regardless of if you think you'll be ready. When I say 'pick' I don't mean register, think of it as a wish list. If you could race that month, which would it be. Be practical and think local for the majority but don't be afraid to mark down some that are in other far away cities/countries. If you choose a race that isn't local for the month, also pencil a local event in case the 'out of towner' doesn't pan out. Also include some Half Marathons and 5 or 10ks. It doesn't really matter right now how many you pencil in since you will be marking which ones are ideal later.

Set Goals:
If you are looking to PR, choose which race you are targeting and work backwards. I'm looking to PR at Big Sur in April, so any full marathons that I marked in Jan-Mar are out since I plan on
concentrating on training. However, 10ks and Half Marathons are good to use as training runs. If you are at a position where you can use a race distance (full marathons and ultra marathons included) as a training run, it is a great way to see how prepared you are for your goal. This strategy can work for multiple races annually.

Hopefully that process will give you some insight into planning for 2009. Remember running is an individual thing so what works as a plan for me, might not be ideal for you. Runner's World has some great training plans along with charity programs such as Team In Training. Find out what will work best for you.

Here is my current list of races in 2009: 

*In bold red are the events, I plan in participating for 2009. But am still looking for an Oct-Dec. Full Marathon.

Jan: Carlsbad Marathon - Carslbad, CA
Feb:  Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon - San Francisco, CA
Apr: Boston Marathon - Boston, MA - We can all dream, can't we?
May: San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon - San Diego, CA
June: Mayor Newsom's Stadium to Stadium 10k - San Francisco, CA
July: RunSF Half and Full Marathon - San Francisco, CA 
Sept: Lake Tahoe Marathon - Lake Tahoe, CA
Oct: Chicago Marathon - Chicago, IL
Nov: New York City Marathon - New York, NY
Dec: Las Vegas Marathon - Las Vegas, NV

If you have any other event suggestions or training tips, please feel free to share...


New Intervals - A Success

This past Saturday was our running groups 2nd crack (my first) at running 9:1 intervals. We started at the top of Golden Gate park and did and out and back to the cliff-house. The first half started off well and having run the park many, many times, I knew that we were starting off downhill and coming back slightly up hill. With tongue in cheek, i though to myself: "Stay strong, don't over due it and be prepared for the (slight) uphill coming back for the last 4 miles."

Around mile 6 (as predicted in the last post) I could feel my legs begin to get tired as they were adapting to the new intervals. Again, knowing the route played to my advantage and once we ran by the De Young Museum, I knew we were on the home stretch. Overall, I felt great, and think that the new intervals are going to improve my running style.

This morning, I did some Yoga (on the Wii Fit) to get in a good morning stretch and headed off to the gym. I'm hoping that 2009 is going to be a great year and I'm not waiting until January 1st to get my butt into gear. Any plans for 2009? Share them in the comments section.


Kickin' It Up a Notch

Many are surprised to hear this when I tell them, but I train using the Galloway Run/Walk method. It was the training method that was used in the AIDS Marathon Program to teach many first time runners (and advanced) in completing a marathon. That was over 2 years ago, and I (along with my training group) still use the run/walk ratio to train for events.

I started off training at a 3:1 run/walk ratio (run for 3 minutes, walk for one minute, repeat) and have moved my way up to a 6:1 ratio, progressively over time. Our training group has decided to 'kick it up a notch' in 2009 starting as of last week. We are switching to a 9:1 ratio and my first run using those intervals will be this weekend. I am nervous and excited at the same time. I have confidence that I can maintain the 9:1 intervals for the first 5+ miles since on runs that are around that distance (including 10ks) I have no problem running straight through without walking, however it will be a new experience after that. On marathons I typically don't stay to the strict time ratio and will usually bypass a walk break or two if I feel I have the energy and am not pushing myself. 

Running with a group of people is going to be what gets me used to the new intervals and the strength to push through the adversity as my legs become accustomed to the increased running time post 5-6 miles. This past Thursday I was able to get through a 3 mile run (with a single walk break of 30 sec at 15 min) and post my best time at an 'out and back' around my house... improving my previous PR by 3 min. (24 min 26 sec). Honestly, I feel like I am hitting my stride and have high hopes that if I can stay injury free in 2009 it is going to be the fastest year to date.

'Clinky' (like 'cheers' - the sound of two glasses 'clinking' together) to high hopes and to new challenges. That is why we do what we do, right?


Big Sur in 2009

"If we were told that we could run only one marathon in our lifetime, Big Sur would have to be it."

Bart Yasso, Runner's World

The date has been set for April 26, 2009 and this week, I will be registering for the 24th Presentation of the Big Sur International Marathon. As of right now it is at 42% capacity and is expected to sell out (as it does every year).

The Big Sur course is heralded as one of the nicest/sceneic courses in the world, just ask their web site:

“Spectacular, rewarding, mystical and unforgettable” are just a few of the words that have been used to describe our events. Finishing a marathon is a life-changing experience…finishing Big Sur will enrich your soul. Please join us the last Sunday in April for a run along the ragged edge of the Western World.


A Running Adveture in Iowa - by Manny

Today, we have a guest blogger, Manny. He is a training partner of mine and a good friend. He was kind enough to share a recent adventure in Iowa. (the italicized green sections are written by me to offer some clarification)

I thought I would share a running experience from this past weekend (weekend of 11/23). Obviously, I’m no John D (a running friend), but I’m beginning to enjoy John’s travelogues and his “love of life” voice. I’m also reading Dean Karnazes’ “Ultra Marathon Man” (thank you, Lori), and it just seems like writing is something that endurance runners do to get it out of their system.

I traveled to Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Friday to make a business presentation – at least that was the business purpose. Actually, I went to run in Iowa. A colleague, Gary W., is in-house counsel at a major insurance company that is headquartered in Cedar Rapids. When I last visited Cedar Rapids, I met Gary and he just seemed like a great guy – an ultra marathoner (he is training for the Coastal Challenge 150 mile race in Costa Rica January), who is in great shape, is about my age (Gary is 53) and has a positive outlook on life that is infectious. When Chris L. ran the Las Vegas 50K race last year, Gary was also at that race. Gary’s office is adorned with at least 40 marathon ribbons.

My business presentation Friday went well, and Gary and I had picked our race for Saturday in advance. Gary said he had always wanted to run the Living History Farms race in Des Moines, and I blindly signed up for it in San Francisco the week before. But that evening around 5, we decided to take a 3.5 mile run in Cedar Rapids. It was a cold 25 degrees (the day had started out at 8 degrees). I had packed layers, long running pants, a hat and gloves and was ready. The company has an in-house fitness facility, with showers, so I changed out of my suit into my running gear, and off we went. It was cold, and Gary runs at an 8.5 minute mile pace. Having run the early morning runs with Tom and Lori, and getting comfortable with Tom’s sprints down the final stretch, I knew I could do 9 minute miles for 4 miles, so I tried to keep up. The terrain was beautiful rolling farmland, trees and a few hills, and the sun was just setting. The coldness just gets into you at the beginning, but after about a mile you get used to it, somewhat. At about mile 2 we went off road and started on a forest trail. You had to watch your footing, and it was still cold, and I had no idea where I was, and Gary was running way too fast. I kept my pace around 9 minute miles and tried to enjoy myself. Running in a forest is a trip – you see trees, you’re on a trail, there are shrubs and stuff and it’s just not like our San Francisco runs. The combination of cold temperature, wind, and the quiet solitude of the rustling of trees and approaching darkness just makes it seem like you are on another planet. It’s heart pumping and a little scary (I kept thinking “can my body really do this – well, yes”) . We exited the forest and started running back to the corporate headquarters building. Only one thing Gary forgot to tell me – there was a hill, and I mean a real hill – more than we generally do. It was like going up the hill to the Presidio on Arguello, but it kept going for about 4/10ths of a mile. Gary slowed but just kept going. I was not going to be outdone. I slowed and thought of Lori telling me to just keep going and that I was stronger than I was, and made it. We then kept running and finished after sunset. We were both laughing. It was exhilarating.

We showered and went to dinner and we were both famished. The cold weather running makes you real hungry. We had a great dinner and said goodnight. Gary went home. I went to the hotel bar for 2 hours (hey – its me). Hit on a few women, bought a few rounds, stuck to the vodka and went to bed (alone, thank you) at midnight.

Saturday morning started early, at 5:15. I woke up, got into the same layered running outfit and Gary picked me up at the hotel at 5:40. We picked up another colleague of his from the insurance company and started our 2 hour drive to Des Moines to run the Living History Farms trail run, a 7 mile run through various “living history” farms. For non-Iowans, “living history” farms is a large area of working farms from four periods, an Indian farm, the 1850 prairie farm, a farm from 100 years ago and from today. I can’t verify this, but Gary said it is the largest trail run in the United States, and with 7,500 runners it looked it.

The 2 hour car trip from Iowa City to Des Moines was an adventure in itself as it started snowing hard and the tractor trailer trucks in Iowa just kept barreling by creating a wake of snow as they passed. We saw a few overturned or otherwise disabled cars in the ditches on the side of the highway and slowed down – it was single file for a while. We didn’t know what the weather was going to be like in Des Moines and it was starting to look like a bad idea.

When we got to the race exit on the freeway, we had less than 50 minutes before race time, and the highway exit was blocked by the highway patrol. Too many people were trying to get to the race start and the State Police just stopped traffic at the highway exit. Gary made a “command decision” and we drove to the next exit and double backed on the north and parked the car on a side road off the freeway. We then ran to the starting line on the other side of the freeway. How did we do that? We ran through a culvert under the freeway – yes a culvert with freezing water up to our ankles. It was the craziest thing I had ever done. We just ran from the car through trails for 1 mile (thanks to my Garmin, I have everything documented) and made it to the registration area with 25 minutes to spare.

Our toes were freezing and we could barely feel our feet because of that culvert stunt. We joined the other 7,500 runners, most dressed in costume. It was windy and it was below 20 degrees, and yet there were at least a dozen people running bare chested, two men ran in diapers, and some women in bikinis. People were running in pajamas, and many in just shorts. These Iowans are crazy people.

I didn’t know what to expect about the race. The web site picture shows people jumping through mud entering a stream, and I just thought that it was a joke. Gary said the race was going to be wet, cold and muddy. What, I asked, did he mean? He just smiled. Well, we ran through trails and farms and crossed 9 streams. How did we cross them - by running through them, mostly on rocks, but they were slippery and you couldn’t avoid losing your footing sometime and getting a sneaker full of freezing water. We climbed hills through brush. How did we climb them – on all fours. The trails were marked, but sometimes barely, and you just had to walk and climb in areas. We ran through mud, and farmlands of hay and corn. The frozen terrain made for unstable running and you had to stay focused and run smart – no flat out sprints or you could twist an ankle easily. One of the stream crossings was on logs where you had to put one leg on one log and your other leg on another parallel log about 5 feet apart and just walk across – it was the scariest thing I had ever done – and did I mention it was 20 degrees. One thing about running in 20 degrees weather on a trail run – there are no water stations, and I never thought I needed one. There were a sufficient number of natural run/walk situations because of the terrain that it just felt right. You also don’t feel much in below freezing weather and your focus gets sharper, and so you run through the pain easily.

It took me 1 hour, 42 minutes to complete the 7 mile route, and I was pumped and exhilarated and amazed that I had done the craziest thing I had ever done. And then it started snowing! We met at the yogurt stand, picked up our bags and I scarfed down a huge doughnut. Gary then made another command decision and said we shouldn’t stand around and freeze up. So he, his colleague, Brent, and I started running back from the finish line through the snow to the car on the other side of the freeway. This time we got smart and found a tunnel without a culvert and ran through it. We just had to figure the return route back by instinct (which way was north west from where we were?), and we did. And it enabled us to beat the real traffic of hundreds of cars heading out of the race area – so “everything happens for a reason.” We drove back to Iowa City, smelling of manure and caked mud, and laughing all the way.

So, I figure I did about 9 miles on Saturday in one of the wildest races I will ever participate in. Writing this on the plane back to San Francisco, I feel a little achy and tight, but good, and I am still reliving the race and the people. Great “swag” from the race, including a long sleeve shirt, a “wool” blanket suitable for sleeping, a book on the Living Farms project, a pottery type bowl, and a nice medal.

Iowa is beautiful farm lands and the terrain is nothing like San Francisco, but the people are soooo friendly and “honest” in their emotions. It was great experience.

If that didn’t prepare me for the Sacramento marathon in 2 weeks (12/07/09), I don’t know what will.

Thank you Manny for sharing this wonderful adventure... The weekend of 12/7, Manny and some fellow runners will be in Sacramento conquering another 26.2 miles... wish them luck.