February 2010 Archives

Finally some good running weather

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The weather in my part of Germany has taken a radical turn for the better, warm days (16°C/61°F), a bit of sunshine and NO SNOW. This weekend rained a bit, but it was a pleasure to run.

On Saturday I met Birgit, part of the dynamic duo that is running the 100K race with me in June, for a long run. We knocked out almost two hours before joining up with our running club for the rest. Andreas, the other half of the dynamic duo and who is also Birgit's husband, joined us for a couple kilometers before running on ahead. We were running a bit faster than the mid-pack group, but decided to keep our pace rather than slow down for them. We ended up running 28 km (17.5 mi.) at an average pace of 6:09/km (9:54/mi.), well under the pace required to complete our 100K event.

On Sunday RB joined me on the first part of my run, the first 15 km (9 mi.) quickly melted away as we chatted our way through the forest. It was only with the utmost regret that I had to leave her at her doorstep and finish the last 9 km (5 mi.) alone, a good running partner is worth their weight in gold! In any case I finished my 24 km/15 mi. run at a faster than planned pace, around 6:15/km (10:05/mi.)

I can tell that my training is working, my legs felt good on Monday, despite the back-to-back long runs on the weekend. I guess the fact the snow is gone may also play a role, it is a lot easier to run when you don't have to slip and slide along the way. Last night I ran a 13 km (8 mi.) run with Birgit and felt like I could have easily run a second loop, but decided to save my legs for my run with RB tonight.

I am thinking about running my first training marathon in March rather than April, I think my training is far enough along that I can manage one. I have two possibilities, either the Bienwald (Bee Forest) Marathon on March 14th, or the Eschollbruecken 50K on March 21st. Both are flat courses and within an hour's drive. The 50K consists of ten 5K loops, so is the less desirable of the two, but the I have run the Bienwald Marathon several times and find it rather boring, mainly due to long straight stretches that never seem to end. I have a couple weeks to think about it in any case, I would love to do both, but I don't need to get on my wife's nerves so early in the season ;-)

Running in the Snow is Difficult

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By Saturday my legs were feeling better after the overambitious speed training on Wednesday, so I decided to go ahead with my long run as scheduled. There was several inches of new snow on the ground so I knew it would not be an easy 28 km (17.5 mi.) run. I arrived at the running club trailhead around 2 p.m., with the intent of getting in several miles before joining running friends Birgit and Gerd at 2:45 p.m. I headed out over the first couple miles of the running club trail, than circled back around returning to the trailhead shortly before Birgit arrived.

As I greeted Birgit she said that Gerd had contacted her and wouldn't be coming, so we headed out on our own, running the running club trail in the reverse direction. The trail was covered with snow, so the running was demanding, we both noticed it in the legs by the time we returned to the trailhead. We joined members of our running club who we assembling for our group run, but after a couple minutes decided it was too cold to stand around any longer and took off on our next loop. We were joined by our friend Uli who energized us with new conversation. After about 5 km Birgit decided to cut her run a bit short and turned back toward the trailhead, Uli and I continued on around the loop.

The last few miles were increasingly harder, running in 4-6 inches of fresh snow is quite demanding, my legs were quite tired by the time we finished the run, despite a slower pace. I stayed a few minutes to chat with friends, but quickly grew cold in the wet clothes, so headed home for a hot shower and food.

On Sunday after church I again headed out on the snow covered trails for a run. I had 24 km (15 mi.) on my schedule, but my legs were tired from the long run the day before and the trails were slippery. After slipping and sliding for 16 km (10 mi.) I decided I had enough and called it quits for the day.

Last week was a particularly hard week, not because of higher mileage, rather due to a poor training decision, namely running a longer training run at a pace that I was not used to. This together with the slippery trail conditions have left my legs in poor shape, I still have not recovered completely!

This week will be more slipping and sliding as the snow has remained, despite a slight increase in temperature. I need to pay particular attention to my pace and be careful to allow enough recovery time, even to the point of dropping a run or two if required.

I guess after three super years of running and racing the body is trying to tell me that it might be time to slow down, especially after passing the half-century old mark last year. We'll see what happens, in any case I still have lots of time to train for my 100K in June, I just have to train smart.


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On Wednesday is was still light outside when I got home from work, so I changed quick and headed out the door for a run. After warming up for 5 minutes I decided to push the pace for a few kilometers before it got dark. The snow that we have been having was gone and the trails dry, so before long I was cruising along at near 10K race pace. After 7-8 km I started feeling a twinge in my left leg but was having a good time so ignored it. By kilometer 10 or so, the twinge was replaced with pain, I knew I had stretched out my pace (and my muscles) a little too far. Unfortunately I was still about 5 miles from the house...I slowed down, but by the time I was home I knew the damage was done.

When I woke up Thursday my leg was still really sore, I actually hobbled around a bit until my muscles warmed up. By the time I got home from work my leg felt better, so I decided to go ahead and meet friends for a run around the local research center. It had snowed all day, so I knew the pace would be slow. The first few minutes my leg was stiff and running a bit awkward, but once I warmed I was fine. I ran the rest of the 6.6 km loop feeling better with each step, but decided not to run the second loop, no sense overdoing it.

Today my leg muscles are a bit sore, but much better. Tonight I will take an extra rest day and hopefully by morning I can continue with my training.

Training is going well

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Without really meaning to, my blogging has traversed from an almost daily routine to more of a weekly routine. Somehow work and life has left me too mentally worn-out to think of anything clever to say. I have also been wondering lately where I want to go with my blog, I guess we all do this from time to time, and I know sometimes blogs hit the wall and DNF. I think for now I am going back to the basics, which means for me archiving my training so that I can use it as a training tool. In March race season will be kicking in, so race reports and hopefully pictures will once again begin flowing from this site.

My main training goal for 2010 is the 100K race in Biel, Switzerland on June 11th. As part of my preparation I have decided to run at least the following races:

The Escholllbrucken 50K on March 21st (a flat course consisting of 5 km loops)
The German Wine Street Marathon on April 18 (a hilly road marathon)
The Westerwald Forest 50K on May 13 (a very hilly 50K run over fields and forests)

This past week I ran four times:

Wednesday: 17 km (10.5 mi) @ 6:12/km (9:59/mi) average pace
Thursday: 13 km (8 mi) @ 6:30/km (10:28/mi) average pace
Saturday: 26 km (16 mi) @ 5:51/km (9:25/mi) average pace
Sunday: 22 km (14 mi) @ 6:51/km (11:00/mi) average pace

On Saturday morning I ran the first half of my long run with a friend from my running club, we ran a bit faster than I generally run my flat long runs this time of year and I decided to keep up the pace for the second half. The last few kilometers I actually speeded up somewhat, which surprised me on the one side, but also left my legs in less than good shape for Sunday.

Saturday night we got home late from a friend's birthday, so I had a hard time dragging myself out the door on Sunday afternoon for my second long run. I also had to fight the desire to skip my hilly workout and settle for another run around my flat town. Luckily I remembered the upcoming hilly running events in the near future and drove to Weingarten to run my hilly route.

My legs were a bit stiff as I warmed up with a flat kilometer before heading up the first hill, but I knew that once I started climbing this would pass. I kept the pace down, but stayed with my plan, running the most challenging hills that I could find without pause. The route that I picked basically had me heading up the hill, turning right, heading back down the next path, repeat. I literally circled my way around the hilltop until I ran out of trails. From here I headed into the next valley and headed up the next hilltop. By this time my pace was dwindling so after a long climb to the top I circled back to my original hill range and made my way up and over the plateau back to my car. I ended up with 22 km (~14 mi.) with approx. 1150 meters of elevation gain and 1175 meters elevation loss.

The weekend double long run left my legs tired and a bit stiff, to me a sign that the training is providing the necessary effort. My legs were still a bit tired on Monday, but no aches, pain or discomfort. I took a training day off, as planned, and today will only do cross-training (swimming). This week will be a repeat of last week's training; the only difference will be a 2 km (1.2 mi.) increase for my long runs.

This post is for Rachel, Rachel asked how can my body endure such high mileage without injury? High mileage is relative, I think my mileage lies somewhere in the middle compared to others ultra-runners.

Let me first outline my training that I have used the last couple years.

My principal race the last four years has been in June and consisted of a mildly hilly 50 Mile (80 km) or 100 km race (or both). I also try to run a fast marathon at the end of August.

I have a base building period, usually from January to March where I build from around 35 miles a week (4 runs/week) to 65-70 miles (5 runs/week). During this time I usually use sandwich training, whereas I run X miles on Saturday and X-minus-3 miles on Sunday - these runs are "sandwiched" between two rest days on Friday and Monday. This year I have also added two swim nights, usually Tuesday and Thursday.

From April to the end of May I run at least on hilly long run a week and start cycling.

In June I taper, race, and recover. This year I will be doing more swimming and cycling in preparation for my first sprint tri on July 11.

During July and August I run an average of about 45-50 miles a week (including one long hill run) and try to bike as often as I can, usually 3-4 times a week. This seems to work in preparing me for a fast marathon.

In September I start cutting back on the mileage. From October to mid-November I rest, reducing mileage to 15-30 miles a week. Mid-November to December I gradually build up for January's training.

So back to your question, here is a list of thoughts I have on why I can endure such high mileage:

  • I follow the 10% rule, I try not to increase my total mileage or long run by more than 10% a week.
  • I run my long run distance for two weeks before increasing it, for example 16 miles for two weeks, then 18 miles. I think this allows the body to adapt more easily to the increased mileage.
  • I don't do any speed training while training for my June ultra race(s).
  • I vary my pace based on how I feel on a given day. Since I am training for a 100K race where my average pace is 11:25/mile, even a 9:30/mile pace is speed training ;-)
  • I warm-up with military style callisthenics (jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, etc.) before a run and stretch afterward. I also run the first mile at a warm-up pace.
  • For long runs beyond two hours I eat and drink like I would during a marathon.
  • I watch my diet, take a daily vitamin, use calcium/magnesium tablets (reduce cramps) and try to get adequate sleep (hard to do).
  • I vary my running surface as often as possible: trail, asphalt, hills, gravel/dirt.
  • I don't race every race, last year I ran 7 marathons and 3 ultras last year, but only 3 at a competitive pace.
  • I make sure that I have one rest day a week where I really rest.

The most important consideration for me is the PACE. Speed training is really hard on my 50 year old legs, since I have replaced speed training with hill training I have no trouble maintaining high mileage, and my race times have improved significantly.

Will this work for you? If you speed train and have significant injuries you might want to try cutting the speed training back and start running hills. It has been my experience that running a long run at a reduced pace (1-2 min./mile) on a demanding hilly trail is at least as good as running a flat long run at marathon pace - and I recovery more quickly.

Another week of icy running


I had hoped that the weather would warm up and the snow that has blanketed my running paths would be gone by Wednesday. My good running buddy (RB) that I ran with most of last winter said she would run with me if the trails were clear, but alas it wasn't meant to be: The snow did melt somewhat, then froze again, leaving the trails worse than ever. RB contacted me midday and said it was too slippery for her, maybe next week.

After work I headed out anyway, the streets heading out of town were even worse than I expected, and the logging trail leading into the woodline not much better. I switched to single-trails through the forest, which were still covered with snow and could at least run on these.

Last Thursday it snowed again, blanketing the icy streets and trails with a new layer of tread that made running much easier. I met friends Bernd, Uli and Birgit at the local research center and we ran two 6.6 km loops around the lighted compound. For the most part the ice and snow covered asphalt service road was runnable, albeit at a reduced pace.

It warmed up again on Saturday morning and as I drove to my running club trailhead to meet friends in the afternoon I hoped the trails would be free. My hopes were dashed as I slid into the parking lot with my car, you could barely walk across the frozen surface. As I waited for Birgit and Gerd I went for a test run, the trails were really icy, it was only possible to run on the edge where a bit of snow remained.

We headed out slowly on our first 11 km (8.7 mi.) loop, it was treacherous, but we kept the pace down and hugged the snow on the side of the trails. Somehow we made it through the loop without any major mishaps, Gerd took a plunge while navigating one corner, but only damaged his pride. Upon returning to the trailhead Gerd headed home and Birgit and I joined the smaller-than-normal group of runners from our club for a second loop.

The faster runners soon left us behind, as we did the slower group behind us. We gingerly made our way over the forest trails again, slowly feeling the effects of our slipping and sliding around, the quads paid a price this day. As we neared the end of the second round I mentioned to Brigit that I still needed a couple miles, so I headed out for another short loop. I found a single path that was in slightly better condition and was able to speed up a bit, but as I made my way back to the trailhead everyone was gone - except for Birgit and our club leader Gisela who had waited to make sure I come back safely.

I ended up meeting my goal of 26 km (16 mi.) on Saturday, only at a bit slower pace than I would have liked - but okay considering the trail conditions. On Sunday I woke to more snow, I was curious if I would be able to complete my planned 22 km (14 mi.) run after church. I cleared the sidewalk in front of the house, showered and walked over to church (almost across the street). As I came out of church it was still snowing, I decided it was too dangerous to drive to Weingarten and run my hilly route. I suited up and headed into the woods on the other side of town.

The logging trail through the forest was covered with 4-6 inches of fresh snow, but on top of a layer of ice. I took the single trails that I ran last Wednesday, they were still untouched by walkers, sleds and cross-country skis. It was snowing heavily, the snow clinging to my eyelids and clothes, it reminded me of my youth growing up in upstate New York. I let these memories carry me over the miles, as I plodded my way through the fresh snow past the local research center. I circled over to my running club trails, but stayed on a parallel single-track trail through the woods - it was easier to run. The snow ceased after an hour or so, and eventually the sun found its way out from behind the clouds.

As I headed over the open field paths towards home the sun was shining brightly, only the wind reminded me to hurry along the way. I arrived with tired legs back at the house and cooled down by sweeping the remaining snow from the sidewalk. Time for a warm shower and some hot food, have a great week!


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This page is an archive of entries from February 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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