Thursday, March 31, 2011

Long day in the car

3/31 roadtrip  12 hours!

So I've always got my eye on Craigslist for a good deal and yesterday one popped up.  We've been wanting a set of bumper plates for awhile now, as we currently do our Olympic lifting with regular plates (no dropping the weights).  Thanks to all the Crossfit crazies, the prices keep going up and the deals are few and far between.  In this case, that meant Cullowhee, NC.  Cullowhee is on the other side of Asheville and the home to Western Carolina University.  So, today, my training partner and I made our way down to pick up a set of 45,35,25 and 10lb plates with a rusty Cap 1200lb barbell.  We really needed another barbell, as the one we use for Olympic lifts and deadlifts is seriously bent and comes apart on every set.  As a bonus, Anson, of Silverback Strength Equipment had a 170lb atlas stone ready for us, so we made a stop in Salisbury to pick it up on our way back to the triangle.

Nothing like 12 hours in a car eating only what you can forage from gas stations to really jack up your system.  I'm glad I wimped out and skipped my intervals this morning.  Sitting for so long in car has DOMS from Wednesday's workout kicking in.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

50 reps and stick a fork in me

3/30 lift power clean 5x200 deadlift 5x380

5 sets of 5 reps is no fun after running 9 miles the day before.  It didn't help that I had just finished eating lunch right before we started working out.  I got my feet moving properly on the cleans, but the pull got ugly towards the end.  I nailed my knees one time with the bar and I started pulling wide afterwards, which screws up the catch position.

Deadlifts weren't fun either.  The last 2 reps of the top set were about as close to the ragged edge as you can get, but it felt great to pull them hard without any back pain.  I was too wiped to do any auxiliaries.  Tomorrow I plan to do my intervals in the MT10's if my foot feels good.  I had to help my brother move this afternoon and now my foot is bothering me again.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In the Zone

3/29 run 1hr 58 mins on Company Mill and Loblolly @ Umstead in MT101 with Superfeet Green insoles (no tape!)

HR avg 149 max 184 (maybe I ran into some powerlines)

Today I went out with one goal, and that was to keep my heart rate under 75% of max for the run.  I set my watch to alarm if I got above 155, which is more like 77%, but close enough.   I did have to partially walk most hills, but the pace turned out to be faster than I expected.  I plan to use this same heart rate plan for the first 8 miles of the race.  The +1 joined me after work and we did all of Company Mill and a partial out and back on Loblolly.  The weather was basically perfect, in the mid 50's the whole time.  The real shock of the whole run is that I covered about the same distance as my last long run, but with 16 fewer beats per minute average.  Physically I feel fresh, but my knees and feet feel just as beat up as before.  I used two gels plus carried my 2 bottles. 

Our run was going well up until we finished Company Mill and headed for Loblolly, around 10 minutes in, on a gradual downhill stretch we had some folks and a dog approaching from behind while the +1 was telling me a story about her work.  I started to instinctively pick up the pace on her and she got a big 'ol helping of trail lovins.  She was behind me at the time and I heard a loud crash along with an abrupt stop to her story.  I turned just in time to see her water bottle rolling my way.  Her knees, palms and entire right arm were skinned up pretty bad, but like the super trooper she is, she wouldn't let us quit no matter how much I begged and pleaded for her to call it a day, so I could carry her back to the car and dress her wounds.... OK OK, more like, I stood there looking dumbfounded and asked her if she was ready to get going again until she finally got pissed off enough to start running.  So off she went swelling, bleeding and cursing at me the whole way.  I figured if I got her ticked off at me enough, she wouldn't have time to focus on her wounds!

This is the first long run I've done without taping my left foot in a LONG time.  I wish I had the time to change individual variables, but with the race fast approaching I had to pull out all the stops in order to heal my foot.  First, the Strassburg Sock has worked miracles on my left foot.  I didn't realize how much my left calf, arch and toes were tightening up at night in comparison to my right side.  Wearing the Strassburg Sock has given me back the flexibility I've always been missing on that side.  It has also reduced my foot pain tremendously.  I could always passively stretch both sides equally, but if I was to try to simply flex my foot and toes upward I couldn't achieve the same degree of flexion on both sides until now.  Now, I will say it's not the most comfortable thing to wear while you're sleeping.  I find it mashes the ends of my toes, in addition to the awkward foot position.

I got my Superfeet green insoles yesterday from Jason at Bull City.  They really thicken up the heel of the shoe and increase the heel-toe drop significantly, but if it allows me to run without pain and tape, then it's a step in the right direction.  My left foot never felt like it was rolling in and collapsing with the Superfeet, but I did find the added sole height made it easier for me to roll my ankles on technical sections.  The increased slope of the shoe seemed to bother the ball of my right foot and gave me some top of the foot pain on that side.  Perhaps I can figure out a way to wear only one insole...  After the run, my left foot didn't feel nearly as sore or as painful as it normally does after a long run.  Now, I wish I could say it was the sock or the insoles, but I really think it's the combination of the two.  I'm looking forward to wearing my New Balance MT10 Trail Minimus again on Thursday for speed work.  This will be a good test of where my left foot is in its road to recovery.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Five Sets and Foot Injuries

3/28 lift box squat 3+2x300 towel bench close-grip 5x205 snatch 3x100 right only pull-ups +55lbs and some rotator cuff band work

Struggled to move up on the box squat, feeling weak in my left leg for some reason.  I'm slowly working out a way to bench without too much pain.  It seems as long as my elbows stay against my body, my shoulder doesn't feel like it's being ripped out of the socket.  My plan is to stick with reduced weights and close-grip benches until it feels better.  I couldn't pull off my heaviest set of snatches on the left side with the shoulder bothering me.  Pull-ups went ok, I'm starting to feel the shoulder a bit on them, as well.

In injury related news, I've worn a Strassburg Sock the last couple of nights in the hopes of healing my left foot.  It's been going down hill since I ran Sal's Branch in my Minimus Trail last week (even with tape).  Today I got fitted for a pair of Superfeet Green in my MT101's.  I'm not a big fan of the added heel lift, but if they allow me to run without tape or further injury I'll be ecstatic.  I'm planning to do my last long run tomorrow before the MST 12 miler with the goal of slowing my pace down for the first hour or so.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Show me your O-run

3/26 O-run 63 mins @ Palmetto State O-run with the team in MT101's with left foot taped

Got up at 4am to leave at 5am for South Carolina.  We were worried about rain, but the weather held out until our trip back, as our start time was 10:23AM.  After a slightly round about trip through Charlotte we arrived with less than an hour to spare.  We suited up and lined up to wait for our number to be called.  It was around 50 degrees with a bit of wind, thankfully I didn't have to wait long before we got to start.  The clock hit 10:23 and off we went.

I'm not going to give an obstacle by obstacle breakdown, but some of my favorites include the "Golden Child balance posts" and the "3 baby atlas stones."  I really liked the course, it was basically flat with plenty of climb and carry based obstacles.  Nothing extremely technical, but quite a few that required team work, like the ten foot wall and the tire flip as well as several carries that required multiple team members.  The lack of congestion getting into and out of the event was also a plus.  We actually started at the EXACT time we were supposed to start!  I can't say enough about how well this event was put together.  For someone who still wears contact lenses, it was great to have a course that isn't intentionally designed to ruin your clothes and your car's interior when you leave.  I think we will definitely be back next year. 

In terms of my personal performance, I was blown away by how much my conditioning has improved since the USMC Mud Run.  It seems running is the real key to success in these events.  Due to the team nature, there was never a point where I really felt like I was pushing myself that hard.  I felt about 10x better afterward than I do after my weekend long runs.  My plan is to get in a long run on Tuesday but to maintain a heart rate of 80% during the entire run.  In a bit of irony, the t-shirts I ordered for the team arrived in the mail that Saturday after I got back.

I Don't Know Squat.

3/25 lift squat 3x265 bench press 3x225 plus pull-ups +55lbs and rotator cuff band work

Today was a wake up call for skipping two weeks of regular squats.  I needed to do 285 for 3 to duplicate last month's effort, but reality set in and I did 265 for two sets of 3 instead.  My box squats have continued to move up, but I guess they don't translate as well as I thought to regular squats.  I also think I have finally figured out the weak link in my squat.  My original thinking was that my back was the issue from my injury, but I now believe it's an anterior chain issue that's causing me to bend forward too much to compensate.  In short, I believe my quads are the weak link, and I lean forward to kick in my hip flexors in order to get out of the hole.


It was definitely too early to load my shoulder on the bench.  135, I can control with no discomfort.  185, I start to feel it but it's more of a nagging sensation.  225, and it feels almost as bad as when I stopped a month or so ago.  Looks like a doctor's visit might be in my future.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Minimus Trail on the Trail

3/24 run 45 mins on Sal's Branch @ Umstead in New Balance Trail Minimus MT10 with left foot taped and Injinji socks

HR avg 163 max 174

I really wanted to wear my Trail Minimus for another trail workout, but I was worried about squeezing my taped foot into the glove like shoe.  I taped up and did a test fitting.  Surprisingly, I got the shoe on and off without any problems!  So off I went to put in another run.  Even taped, I can tell my left foot and calf took quite a beating.  I put in close to 4 miles in socks this time.  A few spots were getting warm toward the end but no blisters!  I didn't have any traction issues, even though some parts of the trail were still muddy from the rainstorm last night.  I really enjoy the added ground feel, except on the extremely rocky sections.  They stick well and I haven't had any issues with foot movement on downhills.  I'm not ready to tackle a long run in them yet, but I plan to keep them in the permanent rotation for tempo and speed work.  I think they are by far THE BEST minimal shoe you can buy that is truly capable of trail running at race paces.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Full Pull

3/23 lift power clean 3x215 deadlift 3x390 plus 21's x85 and a few dips and ab work

I finally sorted out some of my recent power clean problems.  I've been focused so much on getting my feet to pop out that I was shorting my pull.  I went to pull 215, and missed my first one, hit my second and missed another.  About this time with some observations from my lifting partner I began to realize where I was breaking down.  I pulled the next two cleanly without issue, making a point to complete the pull with full back extension before dropping under the bar and popping my feet out.  I guess sometimes you just need to slow down and take your time.  At least it makes sense now, as I couldn't understand how my pull could get weaker, while my deadlift would move up.

I moved up on the deadlifts, as well.  Sticking to my 5lbs a workout to keep me on track to regain my previous form.  I've been feeling strong in my legs and back lately.  Which is kind of surprising with my ever increasing running volume.  Although I've been on a reduced lifting volume thanks to skipping my Friday squats two weeks in a row along with a bunch of missed bench days.

My left foot is aching a bit tonight.  I was really hoping to pull off another genuine trail run in the NB Minimus Trail MT10.  I've only managed one so far, as I continue to use them for my Tuesday interval workouts.  The intervals are probably the hardest workouts for my feet and calves, but I prefer the added feel I get from the MT10 for these.  I think the shoes really help me feel my way to improved running economy.  I'd like to push it, but I don't want to get myself into real trouble before the obstacle course this weekend.  I'll wait for those first steps of the day, as always.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I guess I have a little ways to go before I hit that 4 minute mile...

3/22 run 50 mins (2x1600m 1x800m repeats) on American Tobacco Trail soft side in New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail w/ Injinji socks

1600m
1. 8:15  HR avg 159
2. 8:37  HR avg 169
800m
3. 4:09  HR avg 167

HR avg 141 max 176 (average heart rate includes warm-up, cool-down and rest intervals)

I'm still sorting out my warm-up transition into my first interval, but I felt better this time.  I think for shorter intervals I need to start off with some sprints and then a slow jog before my first repeat.  The +1 and my brother came with and it was all I could do to keep up with +1 at the start of the first 1600m.  She's still recovering from a half marathon this past weekend too!  My times aren't as close as I would have hoped.  Oddly enough, I actually thought my 2nd 1600m was faster and I might have held back a little.  This was my first time doing 1600m repeats, so I really tried to pace myself as I screwed up my first 800m last week.  The +1 remarked on how hard it is to run on this side of the American Tobacco Trail and that made me feel a bit better about my lackluster times.  I guess rocky terrain and minimal footwear will do that to you, but I figure this is the best way to improve my trail performance.

My knees are still swollen from Saturday, but they didn't bother me on the run.  My left foot felt kind of raw in the beginning, but it seemed to work itself out.  Once I get fluid in my knees it always takes forever to completely work its way out.  I'm just hoping to run through it this time, as it's not too bad yet.  I am concerned about my lifting tomorrow.  Hopefully things will improve overnight.

Today I mowed the lawn for the first time since last summer.  To give you some background, I have this ancient 36" Exmark walk behind.  It weighs a couple hundred pounds and is a real beast to maneuver thanks to some very touchy hand controls and no brakes.  I could really notice a difference in the level of effort I had to put forth, so maybe there is something to this running stuff.  It could also be that I didn't wear my normal dust mask though...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Week of the O-run

3/21 lift box squat 3x315 towel bench 3x230 plus snatches 3x75,85,100 pull-ups with +55lbs

I was really happy with my progress today.  I struggled with 305 on the box squat 4 weeks ago and today I did 315 without an assist.  I only did two sets on the bench due to my shoulder bothering me again.  Added 5lbs on the pull-ups as we've been using 50lbs for at least two months now.  Managed to hit all my snatches on both sides.

I wanted to do some full squats for warm-ups, but my knees are still a bit too swollen from running to do them.  This coming weekend is the O-run, which should be fun and hopefully not too taxing on me.  I still have to get in a long run that weekend.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Way too long Run

3/19 run 1hr 55mins on Company Mill & Loblolly @ Umstead in MT101's with left foot taped

HR avg 166 max 178

I made sure to get started extra early today at exactly 11am sharp.... sadly this is early for me, but I did get up at 9am to make this start time.  I was worried about the heat (high of 74), not to mention how clogged the trails can get on a beautiful Saturday.  My goal was to do 100 minutes, which is what I would have liked to have hit for the distance I covered, but the heat and accumulated fatigue of the week got the better of me and my pace slowed to a crawl at the end.  I started with an out and back on Company mill equal to about 35 minutes, hit the water fountain to refill one of my bottles.  Ran across the parking lot and started making my way down Loblolly.  I took a Thermotab around 55 mins in and did about half a gel as well.  This was my first time to ever use a gel.  Thankfully I didn't inhale it.  They are kind of gross, but WOW, I certainly got some life back in my legs.  I did the other half around the 80 min mark on my return trip and took my other Thermotab.  The gel definitely put some spring back in my step.   I guess I really need more calories on these runs.  I think I will start using a gel every 30 minutes if I have to run more than an hour.

This run wasn't as hard as last weekend, in part, because I decided I would focus on my heart rate and not worry so much about my pace.  I didn't want to wreck myself completely for the rest of the weekend.  My feet decided to breakdown on this run, with blisters on the ends of a few toes on both feet and my ongoing monster blister behind the ball of my left foot.  I think this is due to my feet swelling, which allowed my shoes to eat my toes on the downhills.  I could also feel the pain in my knees more than I have in awhile.  I've changed up my SAM-e dosage to 400mg every other day.  I really think my knees would look like grapefruits right now if I wasn't taking the SAM-e.  It's given me a few stomach issues, which I hope to resolve by taking it every other day instead of daily.

Next weekend is the Palmetto State O-run, which is a 4 mile obstacle course, even though I need to get in one more long run before I cutback.  My plan is to move the long run to Tuesday.  I'm not sure how well this will work if we lift on Monday and Tuesday, but I don't have any better ideas yet.  This is all assuming I'm healthy enough to do another long run.  My feet and knees would prefer to start tapering now.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Feelin the Heat

3/17 run 30 mins on Sal's Branch @ Umstead in New Balance MT101's (no tape)

HR avg 165 max 177

I wanted to wear my MT10's but I think I was pushing my recovery limits by skipping the tape.  This was another hard run.  I don't know if it's the warm weather (69 degrees) or residual soreness, but I feel like I'm struggling the whole time.  I did push the pace and shaved about a minute and a half off my time for one loop (24:26).  The turn at Big Lake always marks the beginning of the hardest part of the course for me.  I think it's the mild uphill grade, plus the accumulated fatigue, but this is the part of the course where my heart rate climbs and my pace slows.

In other news, I'm starting to notice variance of greater than 10% from my Garmin 405 on the same course.  Admittedly, this is under some serious tree cover.  My Timex seems to be much more consistent on the same course from one workout to the next.  It seems as though the Garmin will read longer than the Timex one week and shorter, the next.  I've also heard that the April firmware update for the Timex Global Trainer will add the ability to configure distance based workouts.  This is my only major complaint with the Timex and the reason I picked up the Garmin in the first place.  I will probably continue to wear two watches though...

I hope I can cruise for at least part of my Saturday run.  I need to start having some good long runs, otherwise I don't see myself surviving a 12 miler.  Looking at the weather, I think I need to get up early and run before the temperature starts to climb.  I think my perceived effort level rises sharply with ambient temps, at least that's my theory.

I also did a little bit of lifting today with my lifting partner.  This was his first day back after having a CT-guided sternoclavicular joint injection to help with his shoulder issues.  I passed on the squats today and did some ab work, push-ups, dips, rotator cuff bands and 80lb kettlebell swings.  I'll be squatting solo on Friday, as he's out of town.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Solo 4,4,2 day

3/16 lift power clean 2x225 deadlift 2x390 plus curls, abs and rotator cuff work

I went ahead and did my regular Wednesday workout solo.  No records were broken, but I felt good and didn't miss any lifts.  I have to do squats and run tomorrow, so maybe it wasn't the best idea, but I hate missing a workout.  My cleans felt weak again, but my deadlift feels strong, so I'm not sure what that is about.  I had some bad visions of back injury on 4,4,2 day, as this is they day I hurt it before, so I resisted the desire to move up and kept the weight the same.

I can feel the residual soreness from my intervals yesterday and I'm not sure how that is going to play out over the rest of the week.  I wonder if I'm slowly adding to a recovery deficit that is going to bite me in the ass on a day in the near future.  Something in my diet has been giving me some stomach pains lately and it's screwing up my eating habits and causing me to rethink each item I put in my mouth.  I think it might be one of my vitamins, as I switched brands of glucosamine or perhaps it's a cumulative effect of the SAM-e.

Less Slow, More Fast

3/15 run 60 mins (5x800m repeats) on American Tobacco Trail soft side in New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail w/ Injinji socks

800m
1. 4:17 *technical issues... HR avg 164
2. 4:02  HR avg 163
3. 3:54  HR avg 167
4. 3:58  HR avg 166
5. 4:01  HR avg 166

HR avg 147 max 177 (average heart rate includes warm-up, cool-down and rest intervals)

I screwed up my first interval by stopping too soon trying to figure out why my Garmin was showing the wrong data.  Turns out I had flipped it to the wrong screen.  The other intervals went well.  I find I have higher perceived effort with increased turnover as opposed to increased power output.  I learned this from spinning, where, heart rate being equal, increased cadence feels much harder than higher resistance with a slower cadence to me.  This could also relate to the specificity of my training, where I'm used to grinding up hills with my heart rate soaring, as opposed to kicking up the pace on extended flats.  I was shooting for 4 minutes and I stayed on target.  I like to think the terrain and minimal footwear slows me down a bit, but probably not as much as I would like to think.  I could definitely feel some residual soreness in my calves from the start.  Thankfully my left foot blisters and raw spot didn't bother me at all!  I think the MT10's might be almost broken in at this point.  I want to hit some more technical terrain with them again, but only if my foot is up to it.  I continue to play the edge with my ongoing plantar fasciitis issues in my left foot.  Taping up when necessary and wearing my MT10's when I'm feeling healthy.

Interval days are the only time I include a warm-up and cool-down period, but I keep it active by doing butt kicks, high knee to opposite elbow and skipping drills.  I'm wondering if it might be worth adding an active cool-down into my other running days.  My lifting will be off schedule for the rest of the week, so I will either have to double up on Thursday with running and lifting or run again tomorrow.  I haven't decided how I want to do it yet.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Baby Steps

3/14 lift box squat 6x290 towel bench 6x225 plus snatches 3,1x100 pull-ups w/50lb kb and rotator cuff band work.

I think missing my lifting session on Friday contributed to my poor run, so I was eager to get back to some strength work on Monday.  I'm always surprised at how much pain and stiffness I have in my knees post-run and today was no exception.  I wanted to do some full squat warm-ups before getting on the box, but I couldn't bring myself to bend my knees all the way.  The box squats went well.  They were near my limit and the higher reps helped to work out my knees.  I made another 5lb increase on my top set.  I decided to try benching again as my shoulder is pain free outside of lifting.  I could still feel some instability, but the dagger like pain was gone.  I only did 3 sets and kept the weights light.  My snatches were suffering today and I believe this is directly related to missing my workout on Friday and the extended recovery from the increased running.  I felt especially weak on my left side, probably related to benching again.  Pull-ups have been feeling strong and I think doing curls occasionally has helped to clear up my forearm tendinitis almost completely.

My left foot is somewhat jacked from my run on Saturday, and I'm not sure how to tackle this for my speed work tomorrow.  I have a giant raw spot directly behind the ball of my foot on the arch side and the issue between the digits where they started eating each other.  I'd like to wear my New Balance MT10 Trail Minimus again, but I'm not sure if my foot will be healed enough to handle the added work.  I'm going to wait and see how those first steps of the day feel.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Doing Sycamore with Less

3/12 run 82 mins on Sycamore Trail @ Umstead in New Balance MT101's with left foot taped

HR avg 168 max 178

Everything felt wrong from the first step.  My body had no desire to move, it was as if my forward motion was entirely the result of my mental resolve.  I'm thinking it was the jump from two to three runs this week.  In the past my body would breakdown if I tried to run 3 days, so I would spin or ride my bike on one of my short run days.  I knew I wasn't fully recovered going into the long run today, but I didn't realize how tired my body was until I had begun the act of running.  Maybe the higher temperatures had something to do with it.  The temperature was around 66, so I brought a couple Thermotabs with me after talking with the +1, as she ran in the morning on Company Mill and Sycamore.  All I could think about during my run was how excited she was after her run and how much fun she had, yet here I was having a horrible time wishing I could lie down, go to sleep and wake up like it never happened.  I remember checking my watch only to find I hadn't even covered 2 miles and the thought of having to complete over 7 made me want to turn around and go home.

I had my trusty dual handhelds, one with water and the other with my carb/bcaa drink.  I couldn't decide if I was drinking too much or too little.  It seemed like what little energy I had would be sucked out every time the sun hit my back.  My stomach felt off the entire time and my poor breakfast choice didn't help (quinoa with blueberries, blackberries, pecans and a little maple syrup plus 2 hard boiled eggs).  I should have eaten something less fibrous and bulky, I think.  I tried taking the first Thermotab around 20 mins in and I don't know if it made things better or worse.  I took the second Thermotab around 45 mins as I was approaching a hiker.  The only problem is I didn't get a big enough gulp of water and ended up inhaling the Thermotab instead of swallowing it.  So here I am about 10 yards behind this poor woman and I must have made the most horrible gagging/wheezing noise, as she jumped and immediately turned just in time to seem me cough up the pill into my hand.  I wheezed out a "sorry" as I passed.  I never broke my stride during all this, although it felt like more of a death march than a stride.

This was my first time running all of Sycamore.  I've done around 70 mins on this trail back in January and walked out the rest, but I've never run the whole lollipop until today.  The sad part is my pace was only 2 secs a mile faster than my January run.  I wish I hadn't looked up that bit of data.  Hopefully I have gotten faster and I just had a bad day.  My bad day continued when I got back to the car as I found my left sock was nice shade of crimson.  Apparently my toes decided to do their best impression of an Uruguayan rugby team and tried to eat each other during the run.  Also, despite my best efforts to keep the taping job as smooth and seamless as possible, I got the worst blister on the edge of my arch.  I normally get a small one here, but today was a new record.  I'm going to see if placing a piece of tape over this area before my regular tape job might help.  Both my knees feel like bags of rocks right now and I'm wishing I had compression tights instead of socks.

Too Much work

 3/11 work and lots of it

Got stuck with way too much work to do on a Friday and never got a workout in.  After what I went through on Saturday...I think it was for the best.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Drippy Drippy

3/10 run 36 mins on Sal's Branch @ Umstead in New Balance MT101 with left foot taped in the middle of a massive rainstorm

HR avg 161 max 176

My goal was to do at least 3 miles and I think I ended up with 3.3 miles depending on which GPS watch you believe (Timex or Garmin 405).  I couldn't drop the hammer in part due to the conditions (pouring rain and standing water everywhere) or my already sore lower legs.  I also ran the trail in the opposite direction.  This is my first time running Sal's Branch counterclockwise.  I'm not sure why I haven't done it before today.  I think if the trail was dry and I had run clockwise, like normal, I could have gotten into the high 10's.  Since it was pouring down rain, I wore my REI Airflyte Running Jacket but with temperatures in the low 60's, I went shirtless underneath.  This turned out to be a good strategy as I still ended up with the jacket mostly open, but I did leave my Mizuno headband on the whole time.  It did a good job keeping the rain from dripping down into my eyes.  The Jacket is awesome,  it's incredibly thin and lightweight but blocks out all the wind and rain.  It breaths better than anything else I've tried that's waterproof/windproof.

Apparently I'm not the only person dumb enough to run in a downpour as I crossed paths with another runner two times.  She was going in the opposite direction and it look like she was seriously booking.  I'm glad we weren't running the same way or she probably would have lapped me.  Ok, I'm exaggerating and it could be the speed differential between us combined with the poor visibility, at least I hope that's what it was... 

My left foot was pretty sore on this one and my calves were still aching from the speed work on Tuesday.  I'm glad I taped up lefty and wore my MT101's, plus I didn't want to get my new MT10's all wet and muddy!  I put on my Zensah mantyhose when I stopped back by the house before heading out to get groceries and pickup dinner.  Yes, I have no shame and wear them in public with shorts and flip flops.  I'm hoping they will work some of their magic and give me a pair of fresh legs for my Saturday long run.  This week will be a big jump in total running time and I would really like to stay healthy, but I need these long runs if I plan to survive the 12 miler.

400

3/9 lift power clean 1x235 (almost on my 3rd attempt) deadlift 1x400

My legs are tired from the speed work yesterday, but thankfully my knees aren't hurting as badly as they normally do after a run.  I think there might be something to this SAM-e stuff!  Today 4 of the 5 sets were over 300lbs on the deadlift.  This will put me right at a 405 single for the month of April, which is the same month last year that I injured my back.  I'm still not 100% on my squats, but the deadlift is where I hurt myself.

My power cleans today went ok.  I shouldn't have tried for that extra 5lbs.  I got it to my shoulders but I didn't have my balance and had to dump the weight.  This was on my 3rd attempt and I was out of gas after that.  My feet were moving well and I was able to get under the bar without too much trouble, but it was another week of subpar pulls.  My explosiveness through the pulling phase of the lift isn't where it needs to be right now.  I did little bit of rotator cuff work with the bands and called it a day.  My shoulder has stopped bothering me in daily life, but I'm still hesitant to start pressing with it again.  I'm thinking next Monday will be a good day to test it out.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Need for Speed Work

3/8 run 54 mins (7x400m repeats) on American Tobacco Trail soft side in New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail w/ Injinji socks

400m times
1. 1:48  HR avg 168
2. 1:42  HR avg 164
3. 1:48  HR avg 167
4. 1:49  HR avg 164
5. 1:41  HR avg 166
6. 1:49  HR avg 166
7. 1:42  HR avg 166

HR avg 141 max 177

Total time includes 400m rest intervals, warm-up and cool down.  I figured I would list out my 400m times so I can start tracking my progress on the intervals.  I need to tighten up the numbers, but overall I'm very pleased with how it went for my first ever track interval workout.  I'm not sure how much faster I would be on an actual track in real shoes, but I don't really care at this point.  My goal is to improve my speed and performance for trail running and obstacle courses.  I've got 3 events coming up in the next 5 weeks, which is kind of scary, but also very motivating.

Now, you might notice there are only 7 repeats, which is an odd number.  I was supposed to do 8, but I was trying to unlock the screen on my Garmin 405 and it thought I was hitting the lap button, resulting in a skipped interval.  I couldn't figure out how to go back, so i just skipped one.  I figured it's better to err on the side of caution when doing a workout for the first time in shoes I'm wearing for the second time.  I also walked the rest intervals, in part to minimize the stress on my feet and in part because I felt like taking it easy...there, I said it.

I guess this is a good time to discuss something else.  If you are the one person who actually reads this blog, you know I use the Timex Global Trainer GPS watch to handle my data recording.  Well, didn't I just say Garmin 405?  Yes, I did.  Once I decided to start including distance based interval workouts, I immediately grabbed my Timex Global Trainer and tried to figure out how to setup the intervals.  I had done time based intervals on the watch before and figured it would be just as easy.  This is where I discovered the biggest shortcoming of the Timex Global Trainer, in my opinion.  There is no way to setup distance based intervals.  You can configure time based intervals and associated heart rate zones only.  If anyone out there knows a way to do it, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!  So I was stuck with two options.  Either go to a real track or get a device that can do distance intervals.  Yes, I realize I could just monitor the distance on my Timex and hit the lap button each time, but this is way too much for me to think about when I'm working on breathing and staying upright.  I'd rather just run until I hear a beep, walk until I hear another beep and not have to think about anything else.  So I picked up a used Garmin 405 for cheap on Craigslist (everybody hates the touch sensitive bezel).  I've been wearing both watches for my last three runs and I've discovered some cool things along the way.

1.  You can have two GPS watches reading from the same ANT+ heart rate strap (Timex) at the same time.  So far both watches are reading dead on for the same peaks and averages for heart rate.
2.  The distance reported by both watches are closer than I would have thought based on reviews I have read.  This could be due to the latest firmware updates.
Garmin 405 sw:2.70 gps:2.10
Timex Global Trainer sw version:2.94
Distances recorded on my last 3 runs:
2.39 Garmin 405
2.35 Timex Global Trainer
*5.45 Garmin 405 *I might have paused the watch for bathroom break, not sure
*5.64 Timex Global Trainer
4.33 Garmin 405
4.28 Timex Global Trainer
3.  Whatever algorithm the Timex uses for calorie consumption gives me WAY more calories than the 405.  Now, I know the 405 uses only a very basic speed/distance/weight based formula to calculate calories consumption, whereas the 405CX uses the Firstbeat Algorithm (1st generation of their heart rate based algorithm).  The Timex Global Trainer has a rather advanced activity setup screen that allows you configure things like activity level, type, gear weight, and power output.  It then uses this data combined with your user profile and heart rate data to calculate calories consumed.  I'm not going to get into the debate about heart rate and what part it may or may not play in calorie consumption here, but I figured this data would be helpful to someone who is trying to compare devices.  The Timex Global Trainer doesn't support New Leaf Test data profiles, which the 405 does.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about that is probably a good thing.

I few more thoughts on the New Balance Minimus Trail MT10.  I still need more time in them before I can write a full review, but so far everything is going well.  I wore a pair of Injinji socks with them today.  I also put a bit of Body Glide on my right heel and the edges of my big toes.  I haven't developed any new blisters, so I think break-in is going well.  I'll have a better feel after my tempo run on Thursday.  It was nice to really dig in with them on my speed work today.  They offer great feel and feedback for faster runs with minimal ground contact times.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Progress Report

3/7 lift box squat 1x315 plus snatches 3x75,85,100 on both sides, pull-ups with 50lb kettlebell and a set of 21's

Shoulder was really bothering me last night.  I could feel it on the squats with the weight across my shoulders for the first time.  I think perhaps I had some shoulder fatigue issues from running the other day (I run with 2 handheld 20oz bottles).  Didn't really bother me on the snatches though.  I did a little bit of band work for my rotator cuff.  It feels pretty good tonight, maybe it's going to start getting better.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Easter Comes Early! ....to my yard

This little guy decided to show up in my front yard.  He also brought one of his friends!  I didn't see any Cadbury eggs, but I guess he expects me to hunt for them.

I'm not sure who decided to loose their domestic rabbits upon the neighborhood, but I think they are multiplying.  Thank goodness the rabbits are smart enough to stay out of the clutches of our dogs.  Maddy (our lab/newf) about lost her marbles each time she would go out to use the bathroom as they would continue to nonchalantly nibble away a few feet outside the length of her lead.  Tyson (our boxer) is mostly oblivious to these kinds of shenanigans, but he did spot them eventually and seemed to be locked in a staring contest with the brown one for over 10 minutes before he gave up and came back inside.

Sloglolly

3/5 run 74 mins on Loblolly Trail @ Umstead in MT101's with left foot taped and socks ;-)

HR avg 167 max 179

I tried to keep my heart rate in the lower zones on this run and I did a good job for about the first 10 mins.  I think I must have hit an incline about this point and things kind of went downhill or rather uphill from there!  I ran out to the gate past the park boundary, took a bio-break and started my return.  I found I really like this trail, even though it seemed to be exceptionally challenging, with a lot of long, slow climbs and downhills.  I felt more isolated on it and I think this is part of what I enjoy the most about trails.  The feeling of being in the woods, without civilization intruding.  It was good to get in some decent mileage after over a week.  My legs were already stiff and sore from squatting on friday but they held together well enough.  I hit a few walls here and there but worked through them pretty well.  I'll blame the squats for my mediocre performance ;-)

My joints felt better after the run than they have in awhile and I'm wondering if this could be the SAM-e working its magic.  I'm going to wait a few days before I pass judgment.  It would be nice to not already be in pain before lifting on Monday.  I was rushing to get home for work, so this could also have something to do with it.  My plan for Tuesday, if I'm healed, are some 400m repeats on the ATT (American Tobacco Trail) soft side.  I hate running flats, but I have to do something to improve my speed, if I want a chance at hanging with the wife once she settles in.

Squat madness

3/4 lift 5x185,205,225,245,270 plus 3xpull-ups bw+50lb kettlebell, curls and rotator cuff band work

I still don't understand how my body has never recovered it's squatting ability, but here I sit struggling with 270lbs for 5 reps.  I guess it's just slow to recover, but it seems like my deadlift is nearly back to pre-injury levels while my squats continue to lag.  I'm not sure if the running is partially to blame.  My back is definitely a weak link on the squats.  I've never felt the core stability I had before my back injury.  I'm not even sure if I can do bent-over rows now.  I would like to try adding them and some heavy good-mornings.  Today I was pressed for time with my work schedule so I wasn't able to add anything to the routine.

My left shoulder doesn't seem to be improving at all.  I'm adding in more rotator cuff work, as I know I haven't been doing enough.  I just hope I didn't tear anything.  If things don't get better in the next week or two, I'm scheduling an appointment with the orthopedist.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

ROCK STOP™ is for sissies!

3/3 run 26 mins one loop of Sal's Branch @ Umstead in New Balance Trail Minimus (MT10) no socks no tape

HR avg 169 max 183

 Today was my first run in the MT10 aka New Balance Trail Minimus.  I put in about 2.6 miles on one of my favorite trails, Sal's Branch.  This is a shorter trail with rolling elevation changes and some roots and rocky areas.  The sides of my big toes started to rub enough toward the end that I would probably be in bad shape if I had gone another half mile.  I also had some rubbing on the back of my right heel.  I'm going to wear a pair of my Injinji socks next time and see if this will cut down on some of the hot spots.  I'd like to be able to go without socks, but I don't want blisters either.  Otherwise things went pretty well, except for the rock or root I must have stomped on.  Overall pretty good protection for the number of other roots and rocks I did step on, including the portion by the lake that is like a giant rock driveway on a downhill slope into a hairpin turn.  I think it was around this portion of the trail that one made it's way through, creating the photo op above.  Compared to the MT101, I could definitely feel the whole shoe and especially the forefoot flexing and spreading around me as I would plant my foot on each step.  It was a very different feeling, especially on the downhills at first kind of scary but I never had any slipping issues.  I'll do my long run in my MT101's on Saturday and use the MT10 again for my track repeats on Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Balance Minimus Trail First Impressions




I am digging these...alot.  Now the big question?  Are all the things I hate about VFF's fixed in the NB minimus trail?

Things I have never liked about my Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek:

1. The individual toes
Ok, I like the idea in theory, but in reality my toes curve in and they vary in length.  I find VFF's make my feet feel like I'm wearing five little toe speculums pushing them all in various directions.  Then there is the issue with sizing.  I find I buy one size and half my toes are smashed into the ends while the other half are flopping around.

2. Seams
When I've gone to look at VFF's, I'll try on multiple pairs in the same size as every pair has slightly different seams and pressure points.  My current pair have a seam in the pinky toe on the left shoe only that drives me nuts even in socks and there is the issue with the hot spot I always get on the inside of both my big toes (feels like a lump in both shoes).

3. Arch & Stability
Ok, I understand the whole point is to have as little support as possible, but I find VFF's feel less stable than my bare feet.  I think this is in part due to the slightly rounded profile of the outsole.  I spend A LOT of time barefoot.  I do all my weight lifting except olympic lifts barefoot and I've done all my various yoga, MMA and crossfit training barefoot.  I spend all my time indoors barefoot, as well.

4. Comfort
I have never felt comfortable in a pair of VFF's.  I've worn them for runs and walks of various distances but they have never felt comfortable to me.  I could never wear them for more than a couple of hours.  A pair in a larger size will feel like they are sliding around causing hot spots and a pair in a smaller size will rub some of my toes raw.

So does the New Balance Minimus Trail resolve any of these issues?

I am happy to report my initial impressions are very favorable.  I can't speak about running until I do some but a few right off the bat impressions.  No individual toes, ok, this is good for someone with curved funky toes like me.  The interior feels smooth and seamless.  I think I can actually wear these sockless without issues (something which I have never successfully done in a pair of VFF's).  They have a pronounced feeling of medial stability and arch support.  I actually really like this feeling in such a light and flexible shoe.  They have a tight rubberize strap that wraps the widest portion of the forefoot and feels very snug upon first putting them on, but this is to prevent sliding forward in the shoe on downhills and seems to have quite a bit of give.  It reminds of the feeling of having my foot taped.  I'm really excited to try these out on the run.  My plan for tomorrow is either track repeats or a short tempo run in them.  I'm also very curious to see what level of under foot protection they offer against rocks and the like.  I know they lack the rock plate of my current favorite shoe, the New Balance MT101.  I expect to have a full review and comparison between the New Balance Minimus, MT101 and Vibram FiveFinger KSO Trek in the next week.  Here's a shot of the trio:

Who wants to do 10 sets of deadlifts and power cleans?

3/2 lift power clean 5x200 deadlift 5x375

How do you tell if your deadlift form is correct?  Look for the blood on your shins!  Note the New Balance Minimus Trail in the photos  Initial impressions and review to come in the next few days, and no, I do not wear them for lifting...



Today went pretty well.  I had some trouble getting my left foot out with the heavier cleans and I think this is because I'm getting a weak pull due to my left middle back soreness.  Deadlifts went well, moved up another 5lbs.  My training partner decided to do some calculations and looks like we move almost 8,000lbs over 5 sets of 5 reps on the deadlift alone.  When you look back at some of our earlier numbers, this is a TON of increased volume as we have tightened up the weight on all sets (255,275,315,345,375 for me).  Compared to when we used to start with 155 or even 135...

I've been taking 400mg of SAM-e every morning for the last few days, it's hard to say if it's helping as I still haven't run in over a week now.  My plan is to hit the woods on Thursday.  I've setup some track repeats on my watch and my plan is to do track repeats on ATT (American Tobacco Trail) soft side on Tuesdays, a shorter tempo run at Umstead on Thursdays and keep my long run for Saturdays.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shoulder Therapy aka self medication

2/28 lift box squat 5x295 plus snatches 3x70,80,100 (r side) 3x70,70 (l side) pull-ups with 50lb kb and 80lb kb swings

Still resting the left shoulder this week.  A marked improvement on the previous 5x5 week, as I did my this same top weight in a 3+2 rep fashion.  The dumbell snatches were fine, but going heavy on the right side only is starting to tweak the left side of my back.  I think I tweaked it on the barbell snatches on Friday when I missed a rep.  Didn't run this weekend at all.  I'm not sure if this is for better or worse.  I realized I had been feeling very lethargic and tired this past week.  Hopefully I can get it together going forward.  I'm not sure if it's related to nutrition or over-training.  Nutritionally, I tend to under eat and skip meals unless I watch myself.  I also have a tendency to eat too little protein and vegetables.  I'm going to get back to eating my regular breakfasts, lunches and dinners to see if this will help me feel better.  I think my work schedule is also causing some problems.  I work nights two days a week and sometimes the hours can run long and this completely screws up my natural sleeping schedule.  That's part of why I'm up at 4am writing a blog post.  I went to bed around 11 but woke up after 3 and can't get back to sleep.  Monday nights are the worst, as this is my first "regular" night after working two night shifts back to back.

In an attempt to calm the constant ache in my knees I'm trying out some SAMe therapy.  I few months ago I went through a bottle of GNC glucosamine plus SAMe and I distinctly remember my joints feeling the best they had in awhile.  I looked for this product in the following months, but it appears they discontinued it.  So I've decided to try taking a specific SAMe supplement on top of my regular glucosamine and chondroitin supplement.  I'm not going to get into the science or lack there of, but I'll keep everyone posted on how things go.  I discontinued use of cissus quadrangularis over a week ago, as my forearm tendinitis is mostly healed at this point.  I definitely feel like the cissus made a big difference, but I don't feel it's something you should take for more than 6-weeks continuously.