today’s BQ-paced glory & pizza farts

For the past several weeks my BQ paced workout has been pretty much this: 4 miles @ BQ. My hope was to keep bumping that up but after a conversation with the Melo Man this past weekend, he brought up some good points and recommended a different approach.

I’m stubborn in some ways. With training, I have certain ideas that I stand by. But I don’t pretend to know everything. I’ve done many different training programs and have taken a little something from all of them. Every now and then it’s good to revisit an idea in your head.

Like the idea that I could just build my BQ pace by running as many miles as possible at that pace in a single workout that week. Well, there’s better ways to get to the final destination. Alternate routes, or in this case, a more obvious one is sometimes the preferred path.

Melo suggested I break up the workout and have a small recovery period. Don’t try to be a hero, basically.

So today’s BQ paced workout was going to follow this protocol:
2 miles @ BQ pace, 3 minute recovery, repeat 3 times. Or as I wrote it on Strava, 2 miles @ BQ pace x 3, 3 minute recovery. [I tend to debate how to write the workout in the Strava title. I just want it to make sense!]

It went GREAT. [tip of the cap to Melo]

The 3 minutes recovery between sets really kept me fresh the entire workout. I think I could have easily gotten another set in but I didn’t want to overdo it. I want to properly build these workouts up.

Everything was going so well during the first set (aside from a few pizza farts), I debated doing 3 miles x 2 but figured I should stick to the plan.

The cool thing about this workout is it’s easy as hell to modify as you progress. Next week I will get that 4th set in. Then I can cut back recovery to 2 minutes the following week or make it 3 miles x 2 and progress to 3 sets. The options are endless. The point is simple – run as many BQ paced miles as I can in a workout without killing myself in the process.

Let’s take a look at the results for today:

Actually, real quick, I should mention my confidence was low going into this. I went to bed much later than I should have and I ate like a pig yesterday (was up a few pounds this morning). Pizza farts for dayssssss.

images (1)

FIRST SET: 6:52, 6:52

SECOND SET: 6:51, 6:52

THIRD SET: 6:47, 6:53

After the first set, I used the restroom real quick as my recovery. Each recovery period I got off the treadmill and jogged around the gym and on the artificial field.

As you can see, this was faster than last week. I intended on being closer to 7 minute pace but that 6:52 range felt just fine. When I clicked off a 6:47 mile, I told myself whoa buddy, back off a bit.

I’d prefer if I was consistent with this and remained closer to 7 minute pace. On the positive side of things, being a little faster on the treadmill is probably better as it’s easier than running outdoors. The hope is when I do this outdoors, it won’t hurt too bad.

My average HR for these splits was really good. Peep it below:

2020-01-14 09_44_44-Garmin Connect

I ran downstairs this time and it wasn’t nearly as warm as the cardio deck and my HR reflects that. Being around low 160s for this pace is really good for me. I’m anxious to see what my HR is for a continuous tempo run at 7:30 pace on Thursday (aiming for 7-8 miles).

One other minor note, the treadmill I was using was a touch faster than any tready I’ve used on the cardio deck. I like that.

This is week 1 of 18, babay! I’m excited again! I used to dread workouts and now I’m actually really stoked to take on Thursday’s tempo run.

I did some dynamic stretches and foam rolling before the run and I ran some strides right after this workout on the fake football field they have so yeah, I’m doing some good things before and after the workouts. That can only help. And I hit up the sauna for 20 minutes too. It’s not getting much easier! But I left feeling great afterwards. [If you’re thinking of using a sauna, build up your minutes and don’t start too aggressively]

Now if I can only avoid those pizza farts the next time…

 

the secret ingredient to my 2017 marathon

I looked back at my Strava training log (great feature and all the reason more to mark your runs as workouts and races when appropriate!) to find what stood out about my training cycle leading up to the 2017 Buffalo Marathon – where I PR’d with a 3:15:XX. 2 things reallllllllly stood out to me:

2020-01-13 19_52_12-Window

  1. I ran 9 20 milers. NINE. If I recall, I asked Matt Fitzgerald for his opinion about running as many 20 milers as the body would allow and he LOVED the idea. So I ran with it and just did as many as I could. I only went as high as 21 as my longest run.
  2. I hit 3 70 mile weeks. A few 60 mile weeks as well.

Looking back at my actual workouts – seriously unimpressive. By far, the least structured I’ve been with workouts during a training cycle. Not sure if I was just trying to survive or what but they all seem so random when I look back on them now.

So that’s it folks – run a bunch of 20 milers and you’re set.

I wish it were that easy. Maybe there is something to it. If I can pull it off, I will try to run as many as I can.

My concern with the bigger mileage weeks is I’m not sure I can get that high again but maybe 60s would work just fine?

I’ve already got a solid plan for workouts during the week – much better than what I did in 2017. I guess I need to add a few miles onto my long run so when I do hit 20, it’s not such a shock to the system.

I bring all of this up because I’ve never felt as strong in a marathon as I did in 2017. It was magical. I would love to feel that feeling again. It was truly special. I believe I ripped off a low 7 minute pace final mile too. How do I get that back? There’s no easy answer. It will take lots of consistent hard work and a solid strategy. And just maybe a bunch of 20 milers…

Things I did well this week

Sometimes a little self reflection is a good thing. Let’s review the things I did well this week and what I’d like to carry over into the next week:

  • I ran 2 workouts during the week.
  • I surrounded them with plenty of EZ mileage.
  • I tracked my HRV all week and reacted accordingly.
  • I hit the sauna up 3 times this week. If it were up to me, I’d be in one every day. I expect to be in one more this coming week now that I have a good one at Catalyst.
  • I ate pretty clean all week, sans Saturday because of a birthday party (can’t avoid that certain days).
  • I foam rolled like a mother fucker
  • I started doing lower core exercises because that’s a big weakness
  • I used my Mobo board at work when I could to work on strengthening my foot.
  • I ate a lot of avocados this week!
  • I blogged almost every day this week (debatable whether I did that well though).

Things I could do better:

  • Come up with a consistent hex bar routine. I’m really all over the map currently with it.
  • Get a little more sleep on certain days
  • Wake up earlier on the days I go to the gym early (tuesday through friday). I could get a lot of good stuff done if I can make this happen.
  • I decided to give up caffeine for an entire week (more on this another time) so I hope I can stay strong and resist. It’s not good for me man!
  • String together the workouts with a really good long run. I haven’t had a good long run in 3 weeks.

That’s all I can think of for now. I am working my way to really dialing in on a good routine. I ate chicken and rice all week for lunch and kind of got sick of it but I didn’t really over indulge at work which is a big win for me. My wife and I ate really good dinners with veggies and a meat. This was my first day without caffeine and it was a bit tough during the mid part of the day. I was feeling lethargic and had a headache. Once I ate dinner, everything went back to normal. More on my reasons for doing this soon!

 

Buffalo 2020

On Tuesday night, right before we started recording an episode for the Negative Splits Podcast on Thursday, it was brought to my attention that all 3 of us would be taking part in the 2020 Buffalo Marathon. A deal was struck, lets say.

I was pretty close to making this decision anyway and in some ways it seemed inevitable but I still wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted to go through everything I will put myself through.

I can’t help myself. Once I commit – I’m all in. There’s no half assing a marathon. You either put your best foot forward or expect lots of pain. And sometimes you get lots of pain either way.

Getting that final nudge on Tuesday was a good thing.

BM20thHeader

I’ve been super excited ever since. Now comes the hard part. I need to lay out an 18 week schedule because I believe that begins after tomorrow.

I looked back on one of my most successful training build ups back in 2017 to see what worked and discussed some of that with the Melo Man. I learned a lot about what didn’t go right in my last attempt in 2018. There were some good things that happened in that training cycle though so it wasn’t all bad.

But mapping out an 18 week program isn’t the hard part. Doing it with consistency is!

I’m not in this to run a nice time. I’m not in this race to accept anything less than a PR point blank. So I look forward to laying it all out, trying new things, trying old things and pushing myself to new limits.

I haven’t thought of a goal yet but I have some ideas in my head. I want to see how training plays out before I put it out in the universe.

After 2018’s experience, I knew I needed a break. For a long time I absolutely had no interest in running a marathon but the time feels right. Sometimes you just need a nudge in the right direction.

find me a runner that likes to foam roll

Ever meet a runner that genuinely LIKES to foam roll and prioritizes it?

Yeah, me neither.

Sure, some of you out there may stumble upon this and genuinely like to do it but please understand you’re in the minority. All of my running friends say they are going to do it more but often forget about it after a few weeks (if they make it that long). That said, if you are one of the few rollin’, you’re doing the right thing.

We should foam roll more as runners.

1578690916016_0390319307_359259a4_v1.jpgmy new foam roller and a bunch of bananas

Just like we should do a lot more things as people. I won’t go on listing those things because that’s dangerous territory.

But yeah, it took me 7 years to start the act of consistently foam rolling. 7 years! All it took was one small purchase at Aldi. A $10 grooved foam roller that’s small enough to bring with me everywhere. My other one at home is larger and smooth.

In the past, I only foam rolled if I was hurt. But what about prehab over rehab?

Just like the many new things I’ve incorporated into my act of late, foam rolling has become something I attempt to fit in on a daily basis.

Speaking of which, I should write a post about the things I do every day. I don’t know how long I can sustain it all but it’s fun to do for now.

I’ve had issues on my right leg for a while now and I’ve been able to learn a little bit more about those kinks just through the act of foam rolling.

Like my glute medius, for example. Definitely something there when I use a Lacrosse ball or this new foam roller. And my tight IT band. That has seen some improvement since I started. Beyond the leg, I’ve also made it a point to hit other areas like my back, my calf muscles, hamstrings and whatever else I’m in the mood for.

 

I told myself – do it with consistency or don’t do it at all.

This isn’t groundbreaking or news at all but perhaps another reminder since we’re still close enough to the New Year that maybe you should try to squeeze a few minutes (that’s all it takes) of foam rolling in your life. It’s the little things that add up and make you more of a running machine.

Plus, how hard is it to fit in when you’re streaming something from Netflix before bed time? Maybe your partner will get annoyed the first time or two but after that, they get used to the occasional grunt!

Today was a good day

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I was going to try out a new gym today and the short story is it is awesome. Perhaps the best gym I’ve ever been in. Brand spankin’ new. Super modern. Bumpin’ music. Clean locker room. Pristine might be a better description. Beautiful people. Cardio Cinema. And on and on. OK, let’s get to the good stuff.

My plan was to run at a 7:30 pace. Wasn’t sure how long I’d go but somewhere between 5-7 miles sounded good. As I went on, I really wanted to go as long as time allowed. I also wanted to squeeze in a sauna session after. More on that in a bit.

I chose 7:30 pace because I ran 4 miles @ 7:00 pace on Monday and of course I wanted to mix it up for today. The more variety in training, the better.

I even wore the Vapor Fly’s for the hell of it.

2020-01-09 19_22_32-Window

All in all, I was pretty happy squeezing a 7th mile in. My HR started low and climbed up to what I saw on Monday for a faster pace and there’s a good reason – it was warm on the cardio deck! They have treadmills at the lowest level and on a second level where you can view everything below. I chose to run there because the treadmills looked a bit better and I like being further away from the weights.

I had to adjust the speed of the treadmill I was on. 8.0mph wasn’t giving me the 7:30 pace I was expecting (as you’ll see in the first mile). So then I bumped it up to 8.2mph and my pod picked a slightly faster pace.

I brought a bottle of gatorade to sip on because I felt super dry mouth on Monday. Glad I did since it was so warm. I should note I saw a friend on one of the treadmills before I began and it was nice to have some company for a little bit.

And then I ran off to the sauna and aimed for 20 minutes. This sauna was much bigger than the one I was in yesterday and one thing was clear – it seemed much hotter. The odd thing is the temperature read between 170 and 175 degrees. But it was on the opposite side of where the heated stones are whereas the thermometer in Crunch Fitness is literally above the stones – so perhaps a bit misleading there? Peep the HR data below – I hit 140bpm! (10 higher than yesterday)

2020-01-09 19_23_01-Window

It was intense. I had to hunch over to lower my HR again. I only lasted 17 minutes and barely 17 minutes. Literally could not last much longer. I was kind of in disbelief because yesterday felt somewhat easy. But perhaps the combination of doing a moderately hard work out and then getting right in caused me to feel hot. I made sure to chug down some fluids before I came into the sauna.

But then, the best part.. I got a major rush from the experience.

Years ago when the sauna was hotter at Alumni Arena, I recall having a similar experience after trying to gut out 20 minutes.

It’s hard to explain but instantly my mood was boosted and I felt a huge rush of energy. It was awesome. And I can’t wait to suffer again.

Sauna power

I used a free guest pass at a different gym today for one big reason (and lesser – to get my EZ run in) – the sauna.

The current gym I’ve been using is Planet Fitness but they do not have a sauna at the two locations I frequent. I love the gym because the treadmills are pretty new and the place is clean and it’s well lit. I also like the people there. I signed up here a year ago when I didn’t have a treadmill at home since a location was within 5 minutes of where I live.

My old gym, in Alumni Arena, which is close to my work has a sauna but it doesn’t have a thermometer and I suspect the temperature is not close to the recommended minimum I’d like to be in (180 degrees). I don’t like guessing games.

My membership is just about to expire at Alumni and I’m not sure if I’ll re-up. The treadmills are TOP NOTCH but there are some things that I don’t like about the place. I can still use the locker-room to clean up when I run outside in the area.

Enter Crunch Fitness.

My father-in-law, the Melo Man, told me a while back that Crunch has a Sauna with a thermometer and the thing is often 190 degrees or higher, depending on how many people open the door to it. My buddy Gordon Bolles also confirmed this and even sent me the following picture:

1578497609430_0879603735_359259a4_v1.jpg

Perfect, I thought.

I was a member of Crunch many years back. My memories of it were not that great because the treadmills were old and the locker room wasn’t clean and often stunk like shit.

The more things change, the more they don’t.

I’m grateful for the free guest pass. I’m grateful for getting in the EZ run because I don’t need the treadmill to be fancy for that. I’m also grateful for using a sauna where I know the temperature.

But I won’t be signing up for a membership just for their sauna.

They have some great equipment – make no mistake about it. But in general, the locker room felt nasty. The showers smelled. And the scent of someone dropping a serious deuce was way too close by (the shitters are fairly close).

And the reason why it’s not as clean as others is simply (to their defense) they have a lot of traffic, it seems.

I’ve always said never settle for less than what you deserve, especially if other options are readily available.

I’m going to give Catalyst Fitness a shot. This place is literally next door to the Planet Fitness I’ve been going to (the one close to work) so there’s no difference in ride time. It’s brand spankin’ new too. I called to confirm they have a sauna as well. I’m hoping the treadmills are in good shape and the locker room is taken care of.

As for the sauna experience itself – I followed the recommended protocol of 20 minutes (I did 21).

Check out my HR data (I used the “Other” Garmin mode to capture it):

2020-01-08 10_45_28-Garmin Connect

I really enjoyed it. It felt hotter than any time I’ve been in the sauna at Alumni. And as you’ll see above, my HR came close to hitting 130!

The last 10 minutes is when I noticed a jump in HR and the last 5 minutes were challenging (but at no point did I feel the need to leave early).

You’ll notice 2 major dips in HR there, after the 10 minute mark and after the 16 minute mark. Instead of sitting back with an upright posture, I hunched forward and kept an eye on my watch and noticed my HR fell in this position. I’m not sure why other than I’m probably more used to being in a hunched position than upright.

So once I caught this – I went back into an upright position. I want the maximum benefit – no short cuts!

Immediately after I felt a wave of energy and a nice boost to my mood. I love the sauna and would like to use it more often, especially on harder workout days. I’ll need to wake up earlier to make it happen with higher mileage though.

Another BQ paced workout, vs. last week

Today felt like the right day to do my BQ-paced workout (8.7mph on the same treadmill I use at Planet Fitness for at least 4 miles). I did not go as hard as I thought I would on my long run this past Saturday and ran real EZ on Sunday so it made sense to give this workout a go if I felt decent (if my morning HRV score pointed me in that direction and that it did).

Quick thoughts on how the workout went: this was the toughest BQ-paced workout I’ve done even though not much changed compared to the last few attempts. The last mile felt tough – the opposite of last week where I wanted more but ran out of time. I’m not entirely sure why. Work was busy so I had to delay doing it a bit which also caused me to eat a snack later than I wanted to but those aren’t really good excuses. Anyway, I mostly just chalk it up as one of those runs you have to fight through. [Though I was really hoping 5 miles would be doable]

Let’s look at the data to see if anything stands out.

12-31-20191-6-2019

Nothing really jumps out. My HR was higher on the 3rd and 4th splits today compared to last week and it felt that way. Cadence and stride length look similar. Pace was a tiny bit slower today but that was because I didn’t bump up the pace toward the end of the mile to creep under 7 minute pace like last week.

Even though there wasn’t much to learn here, I think it’s still worth to look over the data and look at metrics that can be improved over time. Maybe a few weeks from now we can look back on these screen shots and compare them to hopefully improved BQ-paced runs.

As I write this, I’m feeling pretty damn tired. I did not sleep well last night and hope to get a good night’s rest tonight. I have to run in the AM (thankfully I have that option tomorrow) and pick my son up from school so no room for a lunch run while at work. I’ve made myself a healthy smoothie the past 2 days as sort of a replacement for my coffee and I really do enjoy it so far.

The only question I have at the moment is sorting out what I’ll do for the rest of the week. The beauty of getting this workout in today gives me lots of options to get another one in before my long run. So maybe Wednesday or Thursday? And what? TBD.

Quitting coffee for the 89th time

Yeah, I done did it again.

Even though I knew the eventual result, I still tried squeezing coffee back into my life. [like something you’ve continuously romanticized from the past only to realize there’s a reason you eventually dropped it]

download

But as previous attempts proved, it wreaks havoc on my stomach and causes my digestive system to work at a faster rate than Walmsley on a downhill. [please tell me you’ve seen his most recent 30 mile run]

No matter what I did – use oat milk as a replacement for creamer, almond milk too, decaf (what’s even the point?), time it out perfectly, chug water beforehand, etc. etc. etc. – it all resulted in the same thing – multiple bathroom breaks during and after my run.

Either way, I can’t do it and not deal with the repercussions. And those repercussions are not worth the small amount of satisfaction I get from coffee. [ok – some days it may feel worth it when I get the right buzz from it]

But sometimes it’s hard to get out of your own way and it took me many weeks to come to this conclusion.

And if you think I’m being dramatic about the effects of it – I’m not talking 1 trip to the restroom every now and then. I’m talking at least one trip during a run every single day, and many more trips outside of the run. It sucks! Know what sucks even more? When you’re running outside and there’s no bathroom in site and you have to find some sort of safe area to do the deed. That happened on my long run yesterday and that might’ve been my moment where I decided “enough!” [I can’t even admit where I went]

I do not know what I’ll do for my caffeine source now. Perhaps the caffeine was the reason why my stomach decides to create mud sandwiches at the least convenient times but I used a caffeinated gum for a long time and never had these types of urgent situations. Maybe other issues but not these.

I bought some Nuun that has mostly electrolytes and some caffeine. I’ll try that for now.

The best part about coffee was the buzz. And the warmth during these cold January days. I also came up with some really tasty combinations. But I can live without it. If I’m seriously considering running a marathon in May, I gotta get my shit together. [pun intended]

Others have told me to drink it after a run on occasion as a treat. I’m not sure I want to test my will power like that. One cup could lead to many.

Thankfully I’ve gone cold turkey many times so this won’t be a big deal. But maybe I’ll miss it a little bit some days. Is there something you really enjoy that you’ve had to sacrifice?

Not exactly what I was hoping for

Today’s long run looked very similar to last week’s (with one minor tweak to the route). But in so many ways it was different.

The lack of wind was good but there was precipitation throughout and by the end, my socks were pretty wet as was most of my gear and that sucked. Besides that, I just didn’t have the same magic as last week. And I had a bathroom interruption which really pissed me off.

The mind wasn’t right for whatever reason. I woke up and knew I had to try change it before the run but nothing seemed to help. The hills felt a bit more challenging too which is odd because I had 3 easy days in a row so I thought I would be freakin’ ready for a hell of a run.

The good news is I didn’t have any thoughts of quitting and even though I wasn’t loving it, I still finished the damn thing.

These runs happen. You can’t control certain things. I’ll just chalk it up as one of those days and move on from it.

I’ll have an easier time moving on from this than the Bills playoff loss but whatever, I’d rather not go there.

1578192868538_0844844823_359259a4_v1.jpg