Update on shit

I’m coming off some super good workouts and I believe my fitness is on the rise but I can’t help but think about the work I need to do to ultimately reach my true potential. My form is just flat-out pitiful. Anyone can list off the tenants of good form. Go ahead, think of some. Chances are, I need work in that area. I’ll show you proof in a New Yawk minute.

First, let’s talk about what’s happened in the past few weeks:

  • Kayak Dutch, aka B.I.G. Sean, came out to film my last time trial on August 31st. That’s the footage I’ll show below. I immediately realized that it was time to pull the plug on a weekly time trial. I ran 19:53. 1 second off the previous week’s time.
    6:37, 6:44, 6:32 were my 1600m splits. On a positive note, that last split was my fastest 1600m split of any single one since I started doing these. But my rationale for pulling the plug on a weekly time trial is this – if I couldn’t do much better when I actually had someone there, I don’t think doing a weekly one will lead to gains quicker. Hear me out. I could keep trickling away the seconds and hoping I keep doing that on a weekly basis, or just do what normal people do and put in the appropriate speed work so that I can run even faster. The other part is, I was having a harder and harder time getting up for these time trials. They became a bit too stressful. I can definitely do one every now and then but a weekly attempt isn’t fun to me. And I most certainly will run another one in the near future, if I feel like it.
  • I’ve incorporated 20 minutes of drills whenever I can fit them in. I need to practice better habits while running fast.
  • My long run is now 90 minutes and that usually means between 10 and 12 miles. I’m good with that. By the end of it, I’ve had enough.
  • Last Friday, a day I reserve for time trials, I opted for 1600m repeats instead and ran some of my fastest ever. 6:26, 6:18, and 6:23 were the splits with less than 4 minutes recovery. Really happy with that middle rep. They were all faster than any single 1600m I’ve done in a time trial so that’s a win. This workout gave me the confidence to start looking for a 5K to hop in soon.
  • This past Tuesday also gave me some hope. Check this track session out:
    • 5 x 800 meters: 3:11, 3:09, 3:11, 3:11, 3:14.
      1 x 400 meters: 1:30.
      Once I saw 5:14 on the last 800, I decided to call it on that note and just run an all-out 400 with whatever I had left in the tank. I did 400m repeats a week ago I think and this rep was in line with those so I’m happy about that. As for the 800s, I really wanted to see what I could do with minimal rest (200m jog recoveries) and if I could stay close to 3:10. Mission accomplished. I was spent after my last rep here.
  • I usually save my long run for Saturday but moved things around this week. I ran it this morning before work which is such an awesome luxury to have. Seriously, 5K training rules because of that flexibility. I don’t need to run super long which requires a lot of time. Instead, I can squeeze it in before work. And when I run around here (near work), you are guaranteed flat and fast. I started off slow as shit due to being half asleep but I eventually picked up the pace. My legs were pretty sore by the end so maybe I still had some of those 800m repeats in me. I need to get back on my HRV tracking.
  • I believe I have picked a 5K to race next Saturday (9/22). Pretty stoked because I get to wear the very expensive Vapor Fly’s I bought and have only used them once for the Buffalo Marathon.

That about covers any worthwhile training updates. Now let’s talk about form.. I’ve recorded almost every drills session I’ve done and have played around with a lot of different ideas but Jay Dicharry’s Running Rewired book speaks to me every time I pick it up. In short, put a 10lb weight on an empty pop can. It will hold it fine. Now, put a dent on either side of the can and try the 10lb weight again. It will crumble. That’s what is happening to us if we have bad posture. Our can is crumbling and preventing a lot of good things from happening, like for me, the ability to extend my leg back. I have a lot of posture work to do. Anyways, I know I’m my own worst critic but without further explanation, here’s the video that changed how I felt about some things..

 

Here’s some super slow-mo footage from my 1600m repeats last Friday (only taped first rep):

And some drill work:

Results & video of 3rd time trial

I conducted (last week I wrote conduced lol) my 3rd time trial after another solid week of training where I threw a few curve balls. Let’s take a looksie look.

What I did:

  • Monday: 4 x 3:00 FAST, 4:00 recovery. 2 x 100m thrown in
    • Sauna for 15 minutes.
  • Tuesday: 5 EZ on my birthday with 6 x 100m thrown in at the end
  • Wednesday: 5 min warm up, 25 minutes @ workin’ pace (7:20)
    • Sauna for 15 minutes.
  • Thursday: EZ 30 minutes (no spice thrown in)
  • Friday: Time trial
    • Sauna for 15 minutes.
  • Saturday: Long run with hills. Hit 12 miles+ for the first time in a while and kept a brisk pace.
  • Sunday: TBD. (Will likely keep it EZ AF)

The time trial on Friday went really well! I saw the improvement I hoped for last week. Actually, even a 10 second improvement last week would have made me happy so this one more than made up for it. I made a 25 second improvement.

Here are the splits for each 1600m:

6:33, 6:39, 6:40.

Full splits (I hit the lap button every 800 meters for pacing purposes): 3:13, 3:20, 3:19, 3:20, 3:24, 3:16.

Only one stinker of a lap and overall a positive split but I’m not too concerned about that. Next week will be an interesting one as my boy Dutch will come out and film the time trial. It will be nice to have someone there. I’m sure it will add to it.

I did a bonus podcast episode on the Negative Splits Patreon page (you only need to pledge $1 to hear it) about the whole thing: https://www.patreon.com/posts/bonus-episode-20962426. If that isn’t your thing or money is tight, just hit me up and I will gladly pass along the file. Without further ado, here’s the video version! I will also throw in my slow-mo version which helps me take a look at what’s going on with my form.

 

 

2nd time trial results & video

I conduced my 2nd time trial after a solid week of training.

What I did:

  • Monday: 4 x 3:00 FAST, 4:00 recovery
  • Tuesday: 3EZ
  • Wednesday: 6 miles with 6 x 1:00 fartleks thrown in
  • Thursday: 7 miles EZ
  • Friday: Time trial
  • Saturday: Long run chasing hills
  • Sunday: 3.5 miles with 6 x 100 meter dashes thrown in

The time trial on Friday went OK. I thought I ran faster than I actually did immediately after the run (see the video below). Turns out I ran the same time as last week – 20:17. But one thing I did better was run more evenly with splits of 6:45, 6:45, 6:47. No need for me to freak out about the result or anything as it’s still very early in the process. I spoke about it at length here.

In short, my form is really not efficient at all. It’s evident in the video below. Lots of work to be done but I’m already working on it…

Video of first time trial

 

Hope to film some more for this Friday’s time trial.

I used the time-lapse feature on the iPhone camera last week for the time trial and it didn’t come out like I hoped when I slowed it down (I also tried that for space purposes on my phone). After freeing up some space on my phone I’ll try to use the video recorder this Friday.

Training has been going fairly well this week. Monday’s speed session was really good. I made some poor eating decisions over the weekend but hey, that’s going to happen. Tuesday I decided to go EZ because a very busy day at work forced my hand. Today I ran 1 minute fartleks, 6 of them, and it went well despite being a little sleepy. I hit the sauna up afterwards as I continue that experiment.

I hate the act but I love the challenge

3miletimetrial

Some old dude named Frank once sang something about doing things “my way.” Yeah, I’m down with that strategy Frank.

There is no such thing as a one size fits all training plan. We all respond and adapt to running in different ways. There are certainly some tried and true methods that have been repeated ad nauseam throughout the years. Ultimately, my feeling is if you experiment enough you can find the right approach for you.

I’ve been tinkering around and trying different ways to get some speed work in. And along the way I decided it would be fun to do a weekly time trial to track progress. I loved the idea of a 3 mile time trial, specifically. I like working with round numbers. Sure, adding some meters on to make it a 5K makes sense to some degree but that didn’t interest me as much. And I had to do it on a track to get some exact splits. GPS isn’t 100% accurate, especially on a track (where my watch skews way faster, see the splits pace above). I hit the lap button every 800 meters (2 laps) so I could get some sense of pacing.

Before I get into the results and some thoughts, I want to clarify that in some sense I’m wingin’ it, but everything is done with a good reason in mind. Well, I can at least make sense of some of the decisions. Like back-to-back fast days on Monday/Tuesday. My time to run is very limited on those days. So why not do some faster stuff (quarter mile repeats on one day for 30 minutes, half marathon->marathon pace on the next for 30 minutes (wouldn’t make sense to kill yourself with really fast intervals both days)). Some would consider this an unconventional approach. From everything I’ve read, you never should do back-to-back workouts and always give yourself an EZ day in between BUT.. I’m not running for a long duration so I’m not thrashing my legs and my weekly mileage isn’t crazy either. I also hit the sauna up for additional recovery (been working wonders). Then on Wednesday/Thursday/Fridays I can run in the early AM and run whatever I want with limited time constraints. This week I chose to make Wednesday strictly an EZ day. Thursday was a negative split run on the treadmill to keep my legs fresh. And of course today was used for the time trial. Tomorrow I’ll run longer and seek out hills so I don’t care how fast or fresh I feel.  I’ll tweak this as I go but I love how this week went and how I felt. Even on my EZ day I threw in some strides to remind the legs that they need to be ready on a whim.

stridelength

I won’t bore you with analysis of this data but I wanted to include screen shots of this data for future reference. Need to improve that stride length.

powerchart

So officially I ran 20:17 with splits of 6:37, 6:48, 6:52. I started off with a 3:13 half mile and knew that was probably too good to be true this early in the process. Listen, I’m not trying to fool anyone. I’m working my way back into 5K shape. This is a process and it will take several good weeks (months?) of training before I see the progress I hope to see. But I’m a patient man. I will watch grass grow for the next 25 years if I must.

Overall, it was my breathing that held me back the most. My legs had more to give as my last surge indicates. But I hated that last mile – just wanted it to be over with because I knew I was slowing. I hate the act of doing this but love the challenge.

My mind is whirling with ideas to implement for the upcoming weeks but it all comes down to consistency, in my opinion. I’m excited to do this all again next week!

I should come up with a name for this. Like the Billy Z 4800 (in reference to the meters I’m running). Or the less original 3MILE/TT. I also recorded some video this morning. I asked my bro bro Sean if he could whip together an edit. He’s awesome at that. Not sure it’ll see the light of day but if it does, I’ll post it here.

This is my benchmark – time to crush this shit!

Still alive

I hate the idea of quitting or not seeing something through. I knew many months before Buffalo that maintaining the bloggin’ standard I set was not going to happen. I’m not entirely sure this medium is the best way for me to communicate but I do like to write when I have the time so at the very least I’ll keep this alive, for now.

To sum up what happened since the last entry:

  • Did a bunch of CP (critical power) tests and made very small progress.
  • Ran a few 5Ks, expected to knock it out of the park but instead hit a single at best.
  • Ran the Buffalo Marathon and did not reach my goal of BQ’ing. Do I have to rename this blog now? (BQ or Bust was always meant to be a long-term objective for me)
  • Jacked up my right leg somewhere in the early part of the year and it lingered throughout. It was definitely not the reason I came up short, but I needed to fix it after the marathon.

So what happened? Was this experiment a failure? Will I give up on power? Do I still have a coach?

I don’t have all the answers but I can start with the easy ones.

My latest 3 month period ended with Coach Palladino and all along my plan was to take a break from structured training after Buffalo. I needed it. I have literally trained to run a fast marathon for 6 years in a row.

But there was one issue; my previous 3 month period ended right before Buffalo Marathon’s taper and I couldn’t not re-up at that point. It would’ve felt silly to have spent 6+ months with him and not get the final few weeks of the plan for the goal race.

With the benefit of hindsight, I would’ve asked him to extend that period for some extra money or figure something out along those lines. So I re-upped for another 3 months and that meant I’d have a few months with Coach after Buffalo.

But my right knee was not right. I had to figure out what the hell was going on. Turns out, after a lot of trial-and-error, I figured out it was a very tight glute medius, which was pulling on my quad, which was pulling on my kneecap. Never assume a pain is occurring in a spot because something is wrong with that area. There’s usually something else happening down the chain (or up the chain in this case) causing the issue. After a few weeks of rolling the glute medius out with a lacrosse ball (ouchhhhhhh), I have had no knee pain since. Special thanks to my PT friend Chris for helping me with this.

I chose not to run during that time. Coach didn’t have to do anything, really, because there was nothing he could do. And plus, I had no desire to run.

I do wish as a client I could’ve asked him to pause our agreement until I could run again. But I’m sure most coaches don’t operate this way. I do feel some mixed emotions about missing out on that because I paid for it dammit but in the end, injuries happen.

So for now, I am coach-less and that’s how it will remain for a bit. I’ve tried many different training methods and have learned some things along the way – figuring out where I need to go won’t be an issue. I like the accountability of a coach but the cost can add up quick. I also wanted to do my own thing.

As for power, I will still wear it and reference it when I need to. I think it’s a great training tool. It’s not perfect – nothing out there is but it still ranks among the best tools available. I don’t think it’s the great predictor for races but I never personally wanted it for that reason. And I still prefer it to HR.

But screw all those gadgets. I’m just running the way I want to.

My plan after the marathon was to figure out my bugaboo – speed. I really wanted to focus on the 5K distance for a bit and maybe throw a fast Half in before the end of the year (Mighty Niagara?).

Then Bristol happened.

On a whim, in an effort to be more spontaneous with running, I decided to do the 13.1 mile version of the Bristol Mountain challenge with my buddy TETO. It’s this crazy race up a ski slope, basically. It was fun for at least 9 of those miles. There was hardly any running. Lots of power hiking and trying not to fall down on the descents. But something about the atmosphere and the people resonated with me.

It opened up my mind a bit more to Ultras than before. In particular, it’s made me strongly consider doing the Mendon Ponds 50K in early November.

BUT, I still want to PR in the 5K. Those goals don’t work hand-in-hand but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Run a fast 5k. Run a fast 50K.

I haven’t committed to Mendon Ponds yet. I am literally just getting into the swing of things again with running and a routine.  I don’t want to think that far ahead.

Last week was the first full week of running I’ve done in a while. I didn’t even run much on my week long vacation in ADK the week before that. Just didn’t have the desire to.

I was proud of last week though – I threw in speed, I threw in hills and I threw in a long run (that wasn’t something I’d call long when I was training for Buffalo).

This week is even better. I am winging it and having fun again with running and the pursuit of a goal.

1533839488175_0607771177_359259a4_v1.jpg

There’s a shot of my old-school log for the week. Lots of Sauna. More on that another time.

Tomorrow I time-trial – something I hope to do often and measure my progress.

Catch up soon.

How to do a track calibration test

It came to my attention that doing a track calibration test with your Stryd power meter isn’t as simple as go to a track and run a few 800’s.

It requires some prep work and an understanding of the different data pushes you may have synced up with your watch, Garmin, Power Center, etc.

First, why would you want to calibrate your Stryd?

GPS, as we know, isn’t a perfect measurement of distance and real-time pace. It’s definitely in the ballpark and can be pretty close on certain days in the right circumstances. But at its worst, you can experience data dropouts of screw-ups (we’ve all had them – crediting us for our fastest mile when we weren’t even trying to run that fast). If you are data dependent, it’s definitely wise to have a few sources (just in case). My buddy Andrew experienced that on his run today and was shortchanged on many of the important power related metrics for his intervals because of an errant GPS file. Once he plugged in the Stryd Power Center file, it was far more believable and in line with what we normally see in WKO4.

Also, it is commonly known that Stryd comes out of the box REALLY WELL calibrated without the need for adjustment. But there have been cases where it is generous with distance and pace estimates, and if you rely on it for those during a race, you are making a mistake. You should definitely test its accuracy at a track first. I recall a friend who ran a marathon (I also read a similar story from a fellow blogger) relying on his Stryd measured distance and pace estimates and was not pleased when he finished and saw 26.8 miles. Even if you think it’s close (there are ways to compare it to GPS files, but this isn’t the best approach since we know GPS isn’t 100% accurate to begin with).

With that said, let’s get on with how to do it and learn from the mistake I made.

The first thing is to make sure your calibration is still set to the default value of 100.0.

Then, pick a day where you can find a local track and make sure your watch is configured to use STRYD as your speed source (“Use as speed source – Always” is in the sensor setting). I would also turn GPS off as well because it will override the above configuration in most watches. Alternatively, you could just use your watch in indoor mode, and that would do the trick as well (probably the easiest way to go about doing this). In this scenario, you will lose your map on your run file.

The reason you need to do this is (and I learned the hard way here) is because if you leave GPS on when your run is done, your Garmin pushed file (which should contain power) will contain GPS measured distance for each lap you take! You want Stryd measured distance – thus allowing you to change the calibration (if needed). I made the mistake of setting a calibration value off GPS data and then when I went to test the new calibration value the next day, the results were even more off. Lesson learned.

Once at the track, you can run several laps, staying in Lane 1 about 12 inches off the inside line. That should measure out to 400 meters exactly if you run it correctly for each lap. I recommend switching up paces and doing 400s, 800s, 1200s and making sure you are hitting the lap button with each distance.

You will then be able to see the Garmin pushed laps with the Stryd measured distance.

Here is how I have my push settings for all of my sites:

Garmin pushes files to Strava, Final Surge (for my Coach), Training Peaks (I rarely use this now but when I did, it was for the Threshold notification) and Power Center (I like having 2 files, the raw file from Stryd and the Garmin file – more on this in a bit).

Without you pushing the Garmin file to Power Center (even if it’s just once or twice for the track calibration tests), you will have no way of knowing when you started and finishing your intervals with the raw fit file (I’ve never had to use the app so I can’t say with 100% certainty that they have a lap button on it but imagine trying to do that with a phone on the track. It can be done but it won’t be pretty).

The other way of checking out how many meters each lap is, is if you have WKO4. You could simply load your Garmin pushed file, and the laps will be evident.

However you go about it, you can see how many meters are being measured per lap and settle on a calibration value.

What’s the formula for determining the newly calibrated value?

(Actual distance/Recorded distance) * Old calibration factor = New calibration factor

example: (400/403 = 0.992) * 100 = 99.25

Having said all that, I’ve seen a fair amount of track calibration results and most come in <1% off the true distance.

If you train by power, distance and speed isn’t as important as it used to be. It’s more about training stress (rTSS) and time in your zones. However, the accuracy of speed (distance/duration) is critical if you are fully utilizing Running Effectiveness in your analytics.

I still like monitoring pace and distance after the run even though I only have power on my data screens (along with lap time) so it would be nice to have accurate distance and pace.

How do you know if it’s accurate after you set your new calibration value? Go back to the track and run another few laps following the same protocol above and see how the data shakes out. If you can get within 1%, you’re pretty damn close.

Quick summary:

1) Configure watch for track test
2) Run on track at various distances/paces, manually lapping each one
3) Check your data source and make sure it is not reading from a GPS file
4) Plug your numbers into the calibration formula above and set new calibration value
5) Repeat track test to confirm new calibration value

HUGELY important test

I hate putting pressure on myself but I’ve learned that I do best when I have something on my calendar to execute that carries significant meaning.

Tomorrow is a hugely HUGELY important day.

It is my first CRITICAL POWER test with Coach.

See, I had one scheduled many weeks ago but I was feeling very close to riding that line of over-training. The holidays damn near pushed me over. Sensing that, he canceled the CP test and gave me nothing but EZ miles to run for 2 weeks.

It worked and it was needed.

But several weeks have passed and we are approaching 14 weeks to go before the big marathon. It is TRULY the time for another CP test.

Here’s why.

My CP (critical power) went down recently to 245. Devastating news for me at the time (was at 250). I can’t afford to have that happen again. I not only need it to go back up to 250 but it would be much preferred if I could get it higher than that.

All of my training zones are a percentage of my CP. The higher the CP, the faster you’ll be training. At this point, I’m nowhere close to BQ pace on Marathon Paced (I never train by pace but rather power but for our purposes, Zone 3A is meant to simulate marathon pace) runs (probably around 7:30-7:40 when I need to be at 7:07) so it’s imperative I keep improving and get as close as possible to that pace.

Tomorrow is indeed a big day. And thank goodness – it appears I can do the test outdoors. Part of the reason why I flaked out the first time was I had to do the test on the treadmill, something that sounded awful (even for this treadmill enthusiast).

I freakin’ hate the idea (not because it’s bad but it sounds painful). Here’s the plan:

Workout Description:
– Warm up with 15 minutes of EZ running with 4x approximately 50m accelerations.
– recover breathing fully
– run 3 minutes at maximal 3 minute effort (try to pace as evenly as possible)
– recover breathing fully
– run EZ for 5-10 minutes
– recover breathing fully (there should be at least 20 minutes between test segments)
– run 10 minutes at maximal 10 minute effort (try to pace as evenly as possible)
– recover
– EZ running cool down for balance of planned duration

After the run, to get your CP/FTP estimate, you can enter the average power for the 3 minute and 10 minute segments here: http://www.cyclingpowerlab.com/MonodCriticalPower.aspx

All out for 3 minutes and 10 minutes? Yikes.

Worst of all – I know my buddy Andrew took this test and KILLED it. In my head, I wanted to approach his numbers (ugh – constantly comparing myself to others) but I’ve finally let that go. I just need to do me and do the best I can. However the numbers fall, I can live with (as long as the effort was there).

The plan is to record another power podcast with Andrew soon and I will reveal the CP test results there and discuss what it means moving forward.

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

On a roll?

I needed to get this on here before I forget.

Last week (2/5 – 2/11) was a damn good week. I hit 55.2 miles. I nailed all 3 of my workouts.

Coach even agreed:

Great week! I completely agree with this being your best training week. You are now officially on a roll.

The weather has still been up and down (mostly down) and very iffy on productive outdoor running. If I’m not sure I can run 7 miles @ tempo pace because of the conditions, I will use the treadmill so I can get that quality workout in like I did for this past week’s long run of 18 miles. It was my longest long run with Coach.

But the forecast looks promising for next week. Hoping things turn around soon in that area.

15 weeks to go (pretend you read this post 2 days ago on Sunday 2/11)

My FTP dropped!

I didn’t even realize this until later in the week but my estimated FTP (in the software Coach uses, WKO4) went down to 245. If you recall it has been at 250 since my last race.

Bummer.

You never want your FTP to go down when you are at the same weight. You only want it to go up. If you edit your weight often in Stryd (DON’T!!) then obviously your FTP should change.

I ultimately concluded that this happened because after a strong collection of weeks with Coach, I was riding that over-training line a little too close. Throw in the holidays and I was a mess. Afterwards, Coach gave me nothing but EZ runs for 2 weeks. And then last week I had 2 days off for a small operation. I wonder if the software took all of this into account and some of my struggles during recent workouts. Figuring that in, it makes sense that my FTP went down.

It also didn’t help that I was binging on sugar and often going into workouts feeling so sluggish. That’s another story and I’ve since cleaned that up.

The news fired me up and if I’m being frank, it pissed me off! I train hard. I train often. But damn, I was making some stupid mistakes along the way and it was time right the ship. I don’t even know if that’s the exact phrase but I’m leaving it there.

I went into Friday’s EZ run with a chip on my shoulder and executed it perfectly. The previous 2 EZ runs, my RE (running effectivess) was much lower than usual (0.98) and I think I can explain why but I might sound crazy if I do. Either way, I found out my RE was pretty dang good (from manual calculations) after Friday’s EZ effort of 8 miles. Form felt strong.

2018-02-03 14_04_30-Bill's RE Calculator - Google Sheets