Right knee

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Sorry for the lack of updates this week – I’ve had to rearrange my schedule a bit for it all to work and as a result, every minute matters. I have posted daily videos on Instagram’s story platform (you have to follow @pacpie on Instagram and look for my “story” at the top of the app) following most of my runs this week.

Don’t worry though (as if), I will continue to blog about the march towards a BQ while training with a power device.

I wanted to briefly touch upon my right leg. Since last Summer, it has given me issues I’ve never had to deal with before. I did a lot of self diagnosing which led to inconsistent results and ultimately, an aggravated right knee. I then saw a professional. After feeling like all they wanted was a weekly co-pay, I abandoned that. I then figured it out on my own (for now).

I am thankful for how good my right leg/knee has felt for the past week or so. The last thing I wanted to deal with before my official training block begins with Coach is a bad or weaker knee. So I prioritized it recently (along with figuring out my GI issues) with the hopes of going into my marathon specific training block as close to 100% as I can be.

It was never what I’d call an injury (recently, at least, maybe last Summer it was) but rather an annoyance. My right leg was definitively weaker than my left and I had to figure out why. One benefit of seeing a professional was getting and learning how to do specific exercises to correct this imbalance.

Next up is getting some answers on my GI issues – something I’ve dealt with for a while now. I have a temporary solution in place and I am going through a round of tests to rule out stuff, like Celiacs for example. I had blood drawn for that last week and the results came back negative.

This week was my first full load of workouts in 3 weeks and it hasn’t been easy but it hasn’t killed me either. Tomorrow, I have to run long in the early AM. But everything has to go right in order for me to make it work (that includes waking up early enough, getting to the Arena as soon as the doors open, doing my morning duty, etc..).  I’ll let you know how that goes.

In about 3 or so weeks (maybe 4), Coach will start with the marathon specific training and I really look forward to a long but productive training cycle. I want this to be one of my best ever.

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Whatever it takes

The workout lived up to the pain I expected. It wasn’t my legs that couldn’t handle it but rather my lungs this time. I only felt sorry for myself ONCE (during the 4th rep) but I got over it quick. Check out where my HR maxed out below and you’ll see I WAS WERKIN’.

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Also important to note that Coach prescribed my range as 252-254W, slightly above the range of recent similar workouts. I was a little ahead on the first 3 reps as you’ll see above. This is called a SUPRA Threshold workout. I freakin’ love that name, by the way.

My buddy Andrew gave me a song recommendation as motivation for my upcoming training block leading up to Buffalo. The song? Whatever it takes. The message? Do whatever it takes to get that BQ. That helped me crush my first few reps here.

Afterwards I used Instagram Story to document the pain verbally. I was a hot sweaty mess.

You’ll see some extra laps before the 5th rep. That was my bad. Total accident. I went to change the song (to get extra pumped up!!!) but I accidentally hit the cool down button which caused a comedy of errors. First it slowed down dramatically and then when I raised the speed it came back down so I just had to restart the run.

I was much stronger (mentally) on my last rep. Held on and left no doubt I would finish this damn workout.

 

It’s time to pick it back up

Coach gave me a full week of EZ running last week.

I took it as an opportunity to refresh my mind and my legs because he had an interesting note at the end of this past week: “20 weeks until Buffalo”

Now 20 weeks may seem like a long time to you but to me it’s not. I’ve traditionally done 18 week builds. And then another 4 weeks later, he noted, “16 weeks until Buffalo.”

If Coach doesn’t decide to start the marathon build at 18, I’m sure he’ll strongly consider somewhere around that 16 week mark.

He asked how I was doing and if I’ll be ready to start marathon specific training in “4-5 weeks” which lines up with the thinking above. I told him let’s roll!

I feel like a bit of a wimp from these last 2 weeks being mostly EZ running. Tomorrow is my first workout in that time period. I am nervous and excited about executing it. I know it won’t be easy (they never are) but necessary.

I will hopefully blog about it afterwards at some point. I am trying to update my Instagram “story” (@pacpie) on a daily basis. I hope to sprinkle in as many training updates as I can, as more instant updates. And then I’ll send you back here for the full scoop.

New Years Resolutions

It’s 2018. A brand new day, a brand new year.

I love thinking about and setting goals for the short and long term.

Here are some of the big ones for me:

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BQ or BUST. 
Of course, this one is to be expected. It is the name of this blog after all. But seriously, I need to make it happen this year. I need to end it. The Buffalo Bills just ended a 17 year playoff drought and similarly I need to end a 35 year BQ drought. Granted, I’ve only been running for so many years but you get the point. I’d really love to get this monkey off my back. I knew it was a stretch for it to go down in 2017. I knew I had no chance in 2016. But something feels right about finally getting that BQ in 2018. “If you believe it, you can achieve it.”

Better Balance.

I’ve talked about this a little bit and it remains a goal of mine. I tend to obsess over one thing and it becomes my singular focus. I’d really like to be better balanced as a person. My goals in life are to be the best father I can be. To be the best husband I can be. To be a good friend. To be a good son. To be a good employee. To be a good runner. I think I’m decent at all of these most of the time but I tend to be really good (or really focused, I should say) on one of them until I move onto the next. 2018 is the year I conquer better balance.

Stronger, not lighter.

2017 was a year where I tested the theory: lighter = faster. I think it applies in certain situations (like if you’re 180lbs, and roughly 10-15lbs overweight, getting down to 165 could make a big difference). But for me, that is not the case. I ate incredibly healthy for a period of time and got down to a weight where I felt weak. Since the bod pod test, I’ve packed on some weight and feel better about my goal of getting stronger. I have this out-there theory that I’m fortunate where my body puts on muscle rather easily and if I just tried a bit more in that category, I could see results. I’ve always been “skinny jacked” – a phrase I’ve coined for those who show more muscle because they’re so dang skinny. I’d like to actually develop a little more upper body muscle and not feel like I have a wimpy chest.

Full body strength

As kind of a follow-up to that, I really want to be consistent with a strength routine of some kind and my goal right now is to follow Jay Dicharry’s program (in his new book) with some degree of consistency. All it takes is 3 times a week (20 minutes a session) for his program and that sounds doable to me. It could lead to a big breakthrough (it could for most), in my opinion (this I believe x 1000000). I love his new book and I think he explains it all so well. My biggest issue is perfecting how to do the movements in his plan. It takes good form and that’s something I’ll have to practice a lot of. I’m so terrible at trying these movements.

Solve my stomach issues

My GI issues are no secret. I still struggle with them to this day. This will be the year I figure out how to fully manage the situation. The other week when my runs were being interrupted on a daily basis – I couldn’t deal with it. It’s embarrassing having to note in every single run to Coach that “hey, that pause after mile 2 was me using the restroom.” It’s normal to happen every once in a while but not every run. And I’ve experimented and tried a lot of things but I’ve finally set something up with a specialist to talk about the issue. I admit that here in an effort to be as transparent as possible on this blog. For now though, I have some tricks up my sleeve that help me avoid Code Brown on some days. It’s when my routine is thrown off is when I struggle the most.

Continue the path of good eating

I recently had my blood drawn to be analyzed by the fine folks at Inside Tracker. My dude Jonathan Levitt strongly recommended the Ultimate Plan so that I did and I’m anxious to see my results. I hope to maximize this opportunity and find out what I’m lacking and learn from it. I made huge strides this year learning about what is good food and what is bad food and what works well for me. Again, it comes back to being better balanced in this area. I’ve done the ultra healthy style and I’ve also binged on pizza & wings & sweets. A little moderation goes a long way.

Be a better blogger

Blogging is hard. It’s an outdated way of communicating in this day and age, it feels like (side note: I’ve been trying to use Twitter/Instagram story more for training updates). But I think it has its place and just because it’s not the most popular method doesn’t mean I have to give up on it. Sometimes you can spend hours penciling a piece only to receive 1 comment. But I’m not doing it for that reason. I’m doing it to become a better writer, to learn from previous mistakes and it’s my form of therapy sometimes. Don’t get me wrong – this blog has built up a nice amount of followers and every time someone new subscribes via email, I get excited. When I first started this, I wrote every single day and tried my hardest to keep it entertaining. But over time I realized it wasn’t sustainable. Again, I won’t use that as an excuse to not write. I hope to continue to write as often as I can and deliver worthwhile content. I thank you for following along and hope you can pull something meaningful from this blog.

Here’s to a great 2018. On a personal level, 2017 was the most challenging year of my life. But my wife and I not only survived it, we came out stronger from the many road blocks in our way. I learned a lot about keeping the faith, staying strong in your weakest moments and believing that the best is yet to come. In my heart of hearts, I believe 2018 will be a fantastic year. Let’s make it happen..

An extra rest day

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Darn, I had a feeling it was coming.

Saturday’s long run went down without too much of a hitch. But I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said it was easy.

The first part felt normal. But as the miles progressed, I just felt more fatigued. The plan was to do 1 minute intervals x 6 @ 5K pace at some point but because this entire week was changed around, I decided that doing what I normally do (4-5 miles @ 220-225W) would suffice. I don’t think to do this (change the plan) normally but because this week was all goofed up, I hope Coach didn’t mind. Doing 5K intervals on this particular treadmill I was using didn’t sound like fun or easy to pull off (from a technical perspective – the speed button is a toggle switch).

So 11 miles roll by and I started the next set of miles @ 220 watts. I knew I was in for it as my legs and breathing were not on par compared to previous efforts.

I decide (pretty early in the 11th mile) that 4 miles at this pace was all I had in me. I couldn’t stretch it to 5 like previous weeks. And it was hard getting through that 4th mile but I got it done and 16 miles in total (after a slower than usual cool down mile).

I was worried what Coach would say in his weekly comments to my runs.

But it happened. Based on bailing out of the Critical Power test and what transpired during my long run, he thought it was a good idea for me to rest some more.

So he gave me an extra rest day today (Monday) and kept all of my miles easy this week. At first I thought, “bummer.” But then I realized it’s probably for the best long term.

I noticed at the end of this coming week he put a note on the calendar: “20 weeks until Buffalo” and similarly  4 weeks from then “16 weeks until Buffalo” and I thought, “holy moly we are getting close!”

I don’t think I was burnt out this week. I think I was just a bit tired. Coach put up a nice post about my progression since starting with him and we’ve increased the workload every week successfully.  I was due for a small break in the action.

I normally can just keep going and going but there’s no sense in risking burn out when we haven’t even started the marathon specific training.

So while at first I was disappointed about not running today, I know it’s for the best. And as a result, I’ve really felt so much better these last 2 days. I know I’ll come back super strong.

Before I know it, the real work will begin.

Up next (hopefully tonight): New Years Resolutions..

 

Getting off the canvas

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Today was a good day. I got off the canvas.

Let’s cut right to the chase – the holidays put me over the top and I felt like going right back into normal training this week would’ve been very difficult.

I had to go back to work on Tuesday so it was right back into the swing of things after Christmas.

Lucky for me, Coach had a Critical Power test set up on Thursday and everything before it was EZ running. This gave me a chance to catch my breath and get myself together.

But Wednesday came around and I still felt pretty tired. I expressed my concerns to Coach and we agreed to call off the CP test this week and keep it EZ.

This turned out to be a huge positive for me. I didn’t realize it until we had the conversation that I needed an easy week. I have been putting in pretty damn good weeks (50+ mile weeks) lately with high quality workouts.

And throw in the busy holiday season, it just caught up to me.

Yesterday was my breaking point. My usual running spot at the Arena is closed all week for its yearly maintenance period. I hate when it’s closed as it’s my favorite place to run (on a treadmill). So I’ve had a weird week of having to adjust just about every run and where I run.

Temperatures have been bitterly cold with wind around here. Throw in icy roads and it’s just not the safest combination to run so I’ve been hitting the treadmill.

Back to yesterday. I went to Crunch Fitness to run. I knew my stomach was in a bad spot and my run would likely be interrupted by the urge to go. Sure enough it happened. Unfortunately there was a freakin’ line at the shitter and these dudes were taking FOREVER. So I waited. And waited. And Waited.

It felt pointless and frustrating.

By the time I finished up and started my run back up, I realized I didn’t have a lot of time. But it didn’t matter.

I wore a new pair of shoes and they felt like the worst pair of shoes ever. My feet actually hurt while running in them! I took them off after mile 3 and called it a day. I hope I can exchange them for another pair of Brooks Launch 4 (which feel great so far).

It just wasn’t a good run. And I felt really bummed afterwards, like I let myself down or something.

Then today happened. A chance for a soft reset. And it went super well. No interruptions. My legs felt fresh. The run flew by (even on the Tready).

I made sleep a priority yesterday and will do so again tonight.

It’s sometimes hard to know when you need to back off for a few days but you have to catch it before it gets bad. And when you do that, let the adaptation happen!

Onward and upward…

Coming soon: Treadmill & calibration and how to make it work

Long run stoke

Impromptu blog entry.

The family is sleeping and I have a few minutes to get some thoughts off my chest.

  • Today’s EZ run went so much better than I expected. Almost every recent EZ Friday run has been crap because I’m either looking ahead to the long run or I’m still feeling Thursday’s workout or I’m just not super inspired to do an easy 6. But today was different.
  • Getting out of work early is such a great feeling. We were unexpectedly released 3 hours early! What a treat as it’s been a really busy few weeks at work.
  • I’m typically a 1 cup of coffee type of guy lately but I had a 2nd cup in the early afternoon figuring I needed a pick-me-up after not getting as much sleep as usual and boy did it work. I went to Tim Horton’s (very rare for me to make a special trip but I was out of K-cups at work) and it..was..awesome.
  • I’m pretty psyched up for tomorrow’s long run. One strength of mine seems to be the slow burn. While most would freak out at the idea of running 15-16 miles on a treadmill, I seem to thrive at it. I much prefer it over the workouts I endured this week. Maybe some of it is I get some of my Netflix fix in.
  • Speaking of Netflix, after finishing Punisher, which I lovvvvved, I’m seeking out the next show to watch. I should finish Ozark’s first though.
  • Mindhunter and Dark keep coming up as suggestions from others.
  • I started “Bright” this morning expecting it to be a show but it’s a movie starring Will Smith. Different and a bit weird so far. I only have 50 minutes left but I feel like I have to finish it since I’m invested. Maybe it’ll finish super strong. I’m not hooked by it yet and usually I LOVE Will Smith movies involving weird creatures (I Am Legend is one of my favorites).
  • I decided to bite on a pair of Brooks Launch 4 since they were $50 with the Negative Splits Discount code on RunningWarehouse. So glad I did. I wore them this morning and they felt really freakin’ good. I’m a big time shoe snob. Very few work for me well (I literally returned 2 pairs of Nikes not long ago) so I was thrilled how good these felt.
  • I finished the edit for next week’s Negative Splits Podcast tonight and I am happy with how it turned out. Sleepy G and I did a Splits-style episode and I’m usually hyper critical of myself but it was a fun show hanging and chopping it up with my brother.
  • Today was one of those rare super productive days. I managed to squeeze in 2 loads of laundry as well trying to get ahead of the game before Christmas Eve/Christmas festivities.
  • Every time I tune into Top 40 radio, I hear some good shit but ultimately it sounds like something I’ve heard not long ago. Not many stand-out blockbuster songs lately. I like variety so I’m willing to sample most genres but yeah, nothing has made me say “I need to SPOTIFY this now!”
  • So happy I’ve had no power glitches with data this week. Stryd was super efficient in cleaning up some mishaps from last week.
  • Is now a good time to mention I went to see a physical therapist, the best in my area, to get ahead of my right hip? I think it will pay off huge for me. He confirmed an imbalance in strength (on my right side). I have the exercises and I’m excited for my right side to feel as strong as my left does. More on this another time. I haven’t talked about it too much because truthfully I didn’t want Coach to think I was falling apart.
  • It’s icy and cold out over here which is why I’ve had to run indoors so much. We did have a few days of 30-40 degrees but accompanied by wind. It didn’t last long though.
  • Next week looks like a high of teens for the week. Oh well!
  • Really hoping I can avoid any restroom stops tomorrow. Last week’s long run almost felt like a miracle not having to stop.
  • The 2 biggest things I have to correct before the official marathon training cycle begins is my strength imbalance in my legs and my stomach. And that I will do. It’s been a priority of mine lately.
  • Speaking of marathon training cycle, I asked Coach recently what his thoughts were on how long we’d make it – 12, 14, 16 or 18 weeks? He basically replied that it will depend on my fitness in the next few months.
  • Yesterday’s 2 x 20:00 was as tough as advertised. The 1st rep was really hard. I couldn’t believe it but I had brief thoughts of calling it after the rep was over. VERY BRIEF, OKAY. But then the 2nd rep went so much better. I learned something. Keep your head in the game. Be mentally strong and stick with it – even when it’s uncomfortable. I ain’t going to punk out like that!
  • I foam rolled my right glute tonight and my lord, it was agonizing. But then the pain dissipated and turned into a feeling of comfort. These exercises are already working.
  • As challenging as these workouts have been the past 2 weeks, I feel like it’s some of the best work I’ve done in training. Coach has my zones nailed down perfectly and is firing on all cylinders with my rep count and interval length. If I don’t improve from this, I’m out of answers!
  • I can’t wait to see my son’s reaction on Christmas Eve and Christmas.
  • Time to head to bed and rest up for tomorrow’s long run!

 

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The rep I should long for

I feel like 90% of this blog is me talking about how painful my workouts are.

Following in that tradition, let me tell you about how much the last rep of Tuesday’s workout challenged (crushed/destroyed/demoralized) me.

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It was very similar to last Tuesday’s workout: 5 x 5:00 (3:00 recov) with the difference being the prescribed wattage was 102% of FTP (so 252-254W vs. 200-201W last week). At this point that’s somewhere between 6:30-6:40 pace.

Coach hit me with this bombshell of a comment on last Tuesday’s workout:

Good work! I want to eventually build you to 8x 5 min within 3 weeks of the Buffalo marathon. First though, is to get your power comfortably up to 102% of FTP on these.

Just the thought of doing 8 of these reps is scary.

You wouldn’t think the extra wattage would make too much of a difference and let me tell you – for the first 3 reps I handled it REALLY well. Much better than last week. I was seriously proud of myself in the moment.

The 4th rep is when it started to hurt. But I knew I’d get through that one. The 5th one is where I looked at the timer almost every 10 seconds – praying time would suddenly move faster.

It was a memorable type of hurt. My legs were handling it but I was gassed. It was exactly the type of work one in my spot needs to see progress. But it’s also the type that sticks with you for hours after. I can’t tell you how happy I was when the last rep was done.

It really is the rep I should long for. You can’t replicate it or even try to do it often. It has it’s place. Coach couldn’t have drawn this up much better. I honestly didn’t have much left in the tank after this one. In the moment, it’s impossible to appreciate. But afterwards, it’s something you’re so damn proud of.

Check it out! I only came up 1 watt short on the 3rd rep. I’ll take it.

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Look at the difference in my average HR on the 1st rep compared to the last. Quite a jump! And I felt every bit of it. Deep down, I know  I need to suffer like this to get to Boston. It’s the only way I can convince myself to keep coming back for more.

Next up (tomorrow) sounds like a brutal one: 2 x 20:00 @ 235-240W (roughly 94-95% of FTP).

Long run city

One of the hardest things to explain with running is how you can feel like junk one day and then feel like gold the next. I went from a totally uninspiring run on Friday (that should’ve been celebrated as the easiest run of the week!) to what has become one of my favorite runs of the week – the church of the Long Run.

I admit – my anxiety is a small factor in how I view these things. It’s not some big issue I deal with but it’s there. I will never let it get the best of me – that’s for damn sure.

For Friday’s EZ run, I think it’s a matter of importance – or lack thereof. Don’t get me wrong – EZ runs are important but deep down, I know getting to the Arena and being mentally up for the workout days are far more important (for me). I can hammer off the EZ days without much thought. But that lack of heightened awareness causes me to settle back on everything – like my arrival to the Arena, or my urgency when getting my gear stashed away and so forth. Besides that, I was favoring my right side a little more than usual. On top of it all – I had to stop and use the restroom for the first time all week. It was just an annoying Friday morning run.

In my mind I had firmly planted the thought – “JUST GET THIS OVER WITH, MAN.”

Then came Saturday. My father-in-law Dave is my go-to sitter on Saturdays. I am extremely grateful for him doing this favor for me. Without him, I’m not sure how I’d make this work. I would make it work but it would be under far less favorable conditions (and less miles). In this scenario, I get to sleep in, get some food in, go to the nearby Crunch fitness and get a solid 2 hours in without much stress.

It’s awesome but something I can’t get comfortable with as he has his own training to take care of. A big 2018 awaits him and I’ll feel guilty if I’m taking away from it. I do have some ideas on how to work around this when the time comes. Sacrifices will have to be made on my end but whatever it takes to get the training in, right?

ONTO SATURDAY ALREADY. Man, I felt better than expected. This went well. No bathroom breaks (unlike last week’s long run). I felt pretty comfortable at what I’d call a decent clip. The miles seemed to click by pretty fast and I knew with the pace I was holding I could likely squeeze 16 miles in (which feels like a really good number to hit). Once I hit the 10 mile mark (see the yellow highlighted area below), I had to hit a goal power target of 220-225W. I believe this will be close to goal marathon power by the time Buffalo arrives. By then, the pace will be much faster, I hope. Usually I look forward to this segment ending but because of how good I felt, I decided to ADD 1 mile on at this power. Schedule always calls for 4 miles at this range but since I was adding a mile onto the entire run, I didn’t think Coach would mind me adding this extra Tempo work. And it felt good! Check out the DEETS (slang for details) below:

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The plan was: First 10 miles @ 205-210W. Next 4 @ 220-225W. Finish off at the starting range.

I almost finished watching Punisher on Netflix. WHAT A SHOW. I thought I was on what I’d call an epic season finale but it looks like there’s one more episode. Maybe this helped make the miles tick by as well.

Did I mentioned Dave also brought over cookies for us as well? He is a rock star of a grandfather and father-in-law (among other things). What a treat to come home to (because I was hungry!).

All in all, it was an up and down week filled with some tougher moments and some glorious ones as well. Looking forward to the next week ahead as we continue to march forward…

 

 

My lungs and my legs

Yesterday was the first workout that challenged my lungs AND my legs.

In previous workout’s I felt they usually worked my lungs more than my legs and never to a point where I was questioning my life’s decisions. Yesterday, I questioned everything.

Here was the workout:

5:00 x 5 @ 250-251w (which is my FTP/CP). 3:00 recovery between reps.

Note: Last week we did 4 reps. And in previous weeks it was less so we’ve been building up to this.

Before I describe the pain, here are the results:

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The last rep, by far, felt the hardest. Maybe I went into it a bit mentally weak. At no point was I in danger of quitting on the workout – I just knew I had to put in some serious work.

But it was exactly what I needed. Rarely have I had to confront these thoughts (“WHY!!!”, “What am I doing?!”) during a workout. It’s a good thing though. Being comfortable with the uncomfortable. It’s possible the treadmill made this harder but that’s just a guess. There was no attempting this outdoors given the conditions.

I think this workout will pay dividends down the road.

My average HR per interval doesn’t look too bad but don’t be mistaken – I was riding high 160s and even 170 for most of them.

I’ll be curious to see my RE for these as well. When Coach provides that at the end of the week, I hope to relay it here.

I’m still deciding if I loved or hated this. I can tell you with certainty that in the moment I hated it but afterwards I loved the feeling of accomplishment.

My legs felt fine for today’s easy run (7.5 miles this AM).

Onto the next workout tomorrow which is another step up from last week’s Tempo run (2 x 15:00 last week, 3 x 12:00 tomorrow!).