Tuesday, August 19, 2014

HURT 100 Mile Training Plan (take 2, part 1)!

Mike Wardian just raced two ultras this weekend on top of a 100 mile week. Anton probably logged 30,000 feet of vert and 24 hours of running in the last seven days, and I have no doubt that Killian jogged to the top of several peaks faster than anyone in history (while smiling and chatting with hikers and taking shots of tequila). I spent all day Monday flying commercial, then spent the week jet lagged in Texas running flat roads at night. Make no mistake about it, I want to be competitive at both the Peacock 100k coming up in six weeks, and at the HURT 100 in January. But my job takes time and takes me away from places conducive to training, and my family deserves as much time from me as possible. It's just not possible or fair for me to take the time away from them. Speaking of family, our fourth child is due in just three weeks. We area very blessed, and I can't wait to meet him! But there's no way that the little guy is going to help me improve, unless some new study shows that lack of sleep and less free time makes runners faster. Anyone else out there in a similar boat? I'm thinking yes... We mortals that sit behind a desk wishing we were able to run FKT's for a living! We mortals that run boring road loops over and over again because it's quicker than getting to a trail head. We mortals that sometimes would rather hang out with family (on a umm, tropical beach) rather than run for six hours on a Saturday! So what's the plan? Relax! This is only part 1! A road map if you will. A guideline I'm putting in writing in the hopes that I can actually heed my own advice. A plan has to solve a problem, so first I must identify the problem(s) accurately. The goal is to be truly competitive with some great runners coming to HURT. This year I proved I can do just that so it stands to reason that I could repeat. The problem is simply getting enough miles/vertical/quality/recovery in order to maximize my potential. This would be the same problem everyone has. Even the runners with tons of free time often mess themselves up by skimping on the recovery. So here's me talking to myself: -Written Training plan. For us people living in the real world, it's gotta be flexible. But a written training plan can help maximize your time, and keep you on track with important workouts. Without a plan I tend to run about the same amount, but end up doing less focused speed work in favor of tons of moderate miles. Also, I highlight really essential runs on my written plan. For ultra that will be the really long runs... it doesn't really matter if I miss the fartlek workout. Every week I do back to back 'medium-long' runs, and try to get runs in that last over two hours, but in the months leading up to a 100 I will accomplish several runs around the six hour mark. These are key, and something that just has to happen. This is why the plan has to be flexible. In my case I will make every effort to ensure that those runs happen while I'm on a work related trip, even if that particular weeks schedule didn't actually call for a 'long-long' run. Shuffle the deck, do the long run.. you may not get another chance! -Run when you can. Too many times I've delayed a run because I just wasn't feeling it right then. A few more minutes checking email or otherwise whiling away the time often has led to either no run, or a drastically shortened run when work or family duties end up popping up. Keep the eyes on the prize and get out that door! -Doubles. Along the same lines as the last one. If you can get out for a few miles now, then do it! Hit the road again later to up the training impulse. I like to take my oldest son out on his bike. He can ride sub 8min/mile for six miles, so that's perfect, and really is quality time. The double jogger works with the other two. -Include the family. Want to run some North Shore trails on Saturday? Maybe if you pack everything for the kids, but leave several hours early you can plan to meet up at the beach. Win-win! -Start going to bed earlier. I'm a night owl. It's time for my wife and I to talk and relax without a thousand requests and questions. But all too often the time is wasted in front of a screen. Earlier bed will make the early morning run more palatable, and/or improve that vital recovery! -Include upper body and resistance work. Hey, the goal is to be a machine that can last all day and all night in the mountains! I'm not talking about turning into a gym rat. I'm talking about dropping off the desk every few minutes to do pushups, bridges, dips, squats, lunges, pull-ups etc. I can't figure out why I'm so lazy when it comes to this obvious stuff, but I am. I suspect that many runners are the same. Time to keep the eye on that prize. The result will be a more capable body all around, and hopefully one that will feel more comfortable after the miles get long. A side benefit might even be improved work productivity, and improved motivation for the run. Nothing sucks the life out of me more than several hours at the desk. I barely feel like walking to the bathroom let alone trail running! -Force yourself out the door even when you don't want to go. Permission to quit after one mile! An oldie but goodie. If you plan on running on any given day, then make it happen. Many of my strongest runs happened when I least felt like heading out the door. That's all for now. I've got a few more floating around in my head, and I'll get another HURT training post up as we get a bit closer. Now off to bed so I can get up earlyish and run!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

What the heck happened to the running?

After getting hurt at HURT I wanted to jump right back on the wagon. My head was hurt as much as my leg, and as soon as I was reasonably able I started back in, and made plans to run the Bighorn 100 in June. My ego said I needed to run that with the intention of being in it to win. It went well for a while, and I really jumped into training. I won a shorter trail race here, and had some epic runs in places like Australia and New Zealand. Then I developed a terrible condition in my other leg. Best I can tell it was some kind of pirformitis, or a nerve near my rear getting pressured and causing symptoms down the leg. Imagine an achy feeling down the thigh and terminating in the knee. Terminating with a vengeance like a spike in the inside of the knee! I'd run one mile feeling fine, then suddenly hardly able to walk. My knee even buckled while walking a couple of times! Shocking, kinda scary, and even more frustrating when I'd feel just fine 30 minutes later. I ran a 1/2 marathon in Guam. For some reason the knee held up (didn't seem to develop the same symptoms when starting a run at a higher intensity), but the flat run was a disaster that had me over 30 seconds per mile slower THAN MY TRAINING PACE! I was demoralized, and quit running for a couple of weeks. I decided there was no way that I could make Bighorn, and pulled out of that, leaving my schedule open for the summer. I bought a sweet mountain bike, and took the wind surfer out a few times... then... Well, it's difficult to manage an injury that doesn't manifest any symptoms until after one is already out running, but after a couple of weeks I just knew that I would have no trouble. My first run back in early May was on a treadmill in Canada. The next day a couple of hours on a beautiful trail in Maryland. Since then I've built back up to 60-70 miles per week. I'm on the trails, and I'm running a few fast miles on the roads. I've got new kicks in the form of Hoka Huaka's (love them), and I just found out I'm going to be running the HURT 100 against some seriously tough competition. Time to turn it on! Training is going to have to be smart though. We have a baby coming in September, and that is sure to be a limit. One that I'm happy for! I won't be running 100+ miles per week, but I'm going to show that I can run with the best at half that!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Junk Miles!

Truth is, I don't think there is such a thing as Junk Miles in the sense that is commonly referred to. Often speedsters seem to think that most any miles that aren't part of a 'workout' are junk. I disagree. I think any miles that take away from your objectives are potentially junk, but that could be a workout that lasts too long, or a long run that wears you out rather than builds you up. But sometimes those miles are good for the soul, and if that's the case, they're good enough for me! I've been running tons of Junk Miles for the last few months. And enjoying many of them! Five miles pushing a double jogger while my oldest son rides his bike beside me? Awesome! And that adventure run that turns into a hike on a barely passable ridge trail? Worth it! But I've been putting in some work too. Workouts, hills, trails and hot roads. I'm ready for my first serious race in months. Maunawili 22 mile. Tough trail, and lots of runners (for a HURT race). Some competition too. The win is not guaranteed by any means, but it's a stepping stone to defending the title at Peacock 100k.

Shoe Reviews! Hoka Conquest review, and Hoka Rapa Nui review.

I've done a bunch of running in these shoes this year.  After getting a killer HURT discount on the Hoka Rapa Nui and later the Conquest at Kailua's awesome little running store 'Be Fit Kailua' I'd say I've found two of my favorite shoes. I just picked up a pair of Huaka's, and they seem fantastic, but I have got to wait and see if they are durable enough for the kind of running I do.

First the Rapa Nui.  It's like a more svelt Stinson, and for me that's good, because I had trouble with the Stinson's large footprint and my narrow stride (too narrow?).  It's got less cushioning than the initial Hoka models (Mafte, Bondi, Stinson), a narrower footprint, and nice medium lugs that cover the entire outsole.  It also comes with speed laces and a set of traditional laces should you decide the speed system isn't for you.

My initial impression was of a nice trail shoe that seems pretty comfortable on the road, has good cushioning, and light weight.  After a while you get used to the cushioning, and it's never as obvious as with a new set of Bondi's.  Throwing on my Scott Kinabalu's told a different story though... the Hoka's have WAY more cush!  The tread seems to be a good compromise for most trail conditions and the occasional road section (important here in Hawaii as I'll often connect very technical and/or muddy trails with sections of road).  Uppers are not slipper-fit, but are comfortable with no obvious flaws.

My complaints with this shoe have a lot to do with the fact I have unique feet.  Very wide across the toes!  The shoes felt narrow from the start, and after the HURT 100 my toes were DAMAGED in a bad way.  This was partially my fault for choosing Injinji toe socks that actually serve to widen my feet slightly.
The second issue was that I found my feet sliding around to an unusual degree after my feet got wet (even just sweat).  This quickly causes 'bumper toe' blisters and lost toenails.  I took out the inserts and that seemed to create more friction and held my feet in place better without tightening the laces unfomfortably.  Speaking of which...
The speed lace system works ok, but when I really wanted to get the shoes tight (to alleviate the slipping in the uppers) and tried to cinch the laces down I found the plastic clip that the laces run through would abraid the laces and cause bulges that rendered the system almost inoperative.

Overall I love the Rapa Nui's.  I'm on my second pair, and feel like they serve as an excellent long distance trail shoe.  Small and light enough to feel fast and nimble, but with cushioning not available in shoes other than Hoka's!

On to the Hoka Conquest.  This seems to be a higher tech approach to the simple plush of the Bondi.  Still a large outsole, but not as obviously 'clown shoes' as the earlier Hoka models.  You can easily go elsewhere for the specific technologies; I'll just cover my impressions.

Initially it's clear that this is a road shoe as there are no significant tread lugs.  Same speed lace option as the Rapa Nui, similar midsole thickness as Bondi.

I found the upper to be tight across the toe box.  Disconcertingly so at first.  I quickly wore some blisters on my little toes, but after about 50 miles the shoes wore in enough that the problem all but disappeared.
The midsole cushioning is again not nearly as obvious as on the Bondi, despite the thickness.  The feeling is similar to a normal cushioned trainer from any of the big companies.  The difference seems to be in its longevity.  My Bondi's quickly showed compression of the midsole.  These Conquest's have run over 500 miles and the midsole looks... new!
There also seems to be some gentle stability control, and I feel less like my feet are rolling around in a pillow. 
The uppers fit well (other than the afore mentioned narrowness), but drain sweat poorly.  Not a problem in some areas, but here in Hawaii sweat accumulation will turn the shoes into heavy soggy like you've been running in the rain, and drying happens slowly.  Drainage ports work well for getting the slosh out after a deep puddle, but feet just seem to stay wet forever.

Conclusions:  I've enjoyed the Conquest, and they make a solid partner for all road running, and any dry/not slippery trails.  The fact is I prefer the the Bondi's plusher feel, but the Conquest feels more stable, and lasts way longer.. an important factor when you're dropping some serious dough on new kicks.