Weeks 3 and 4

3:27, 3:37, 3:32. As I closed out an abbreviated week 3 these were the times for the Yasso 800 workout.

Temperature about 30°C or about 86°F with 78% humidity, it was muggy.  I needed to get outside and wanted to finish the week with a good strong workout. I also wanted to ride my bicycle and then get in a run. The track was beckoning for the run, and a quick loop on the bicycle, the long way around and I was warmed up and ready.

I arrived at the track, deserted as usual, probably because it is not real smart to run when it is 30°C with high humidity. I had plenty of water and there was a nice breeze blowing, so I started off immediately with a quick 400 to see what my time would be and was surprised to see it was taking me less than 1m50s to run at probably 70% race pace. I proceeded to alternate walking and running for three more laps. At this point I still had not decided if I was going to try another Tempo run or if I would attempt three 800’s. I got my extra water bottle and placed it beyond the finish line, decision made, I would go for the Yasso 800 workout.

The times! I was surprised and yet not surprised, knowing that the first few weeks into any kind of conditioning program, from my experience, is when gains and improvements are made in bunches.

For the second run of the week I decided that I would go for another long run of 8K.

Zoot Running shorts with compression liner.

Running Shorts

The weather conditions were more of the same from the weekend, hot with a chance of rain. I set off into partly cloudy conditions with a slight breeze, 32°C and about 60% humidity. FUN! I was feeling fine, but my legs were still sore from the Yasso 800’s. Then it hit. The farm nearby was burning weeds and trash and the local firefighting school was holding an outdoor class with lots of flames, smoke and fumes. I decided to continue to the 2.5K turnaround and then walk back until clear of the smoke and fumes. Once clear of the visible smoke I ran some fartleks using light posts as markers. Total distance 5K.

For the third run of the week, I figured that I would ride my bicycle instead.

Picture of my custom Bike Friday AirTriday model

Green Gear Bike Friday AirTriday

I wanted to put in a long sustained effort, something that I just was not having any luck with on the runs. It was still hot upper 20’s and the humidity was high 50~60% and rain was forecast, but never materialized, I knew on the bicycle I should be able to ride for an hour or longer. There is a loop that I ride that is about 17K, so my goal was to ride three circuits before the sun went down. Each loop was taking about 30 minutes so I put in a little over 1.5 hours in the saddle.

During the last week, the fourth week since starting this plan, I did not get in any runs since I was actually on vacation and visiting with family. And it was great. Enjoyed lots of really good food, and time just doing, well, nothing. Looking back I can see where I could have taken a couple of runs, and I did contemplate it, but opted not to. It will be interesting this week to see how I am doing. I am planning to start the week with another long bicycle ride and will be adjusting my running courses as I move towards more evening runs, so I will be looking for more lighted courses.

Mid-August I will be in downtown Tokyo, and I always enjoy running there. It is seriously a concrete jungle and even running at 7 or 8PM you can feel the heat radiating off the street.

Until next time: Still Running!

Catching up…

It’s been one of those weeks. Staying motivated and getting out and running, but not taking the time to sit down and write about it. The second weeks runs were completed and in the books, and I was getting ready to start week three but due to the wonderful rainy season I needed to postpone the planned runs. During rainy season we often get days of rain without any let up.  24 hours of continuous downpour, the kind of rain where unless you absolutely need to go out, you don’t. This necessitates adjusting schedules, and identifying alternatives to keep active, otherwise breakfast, lunch and dinner go directly to fat. A couple trips up and down the stairs (8 flights), push-ups, sit-ups and dumbbells are my usual choices. I also make use of the 7 minute workout app on the Kindle.

The rain disrupted the plan for week 3 of the 18 week plan that will help me meet my goal of successfully running a 10 miler in mid-November. Not a great way to start considering that I really needed these first three weeks to build a base, since I have already identified that week’s 4, 5, 8 and 9 are going to test my dedication and time management efforts.

The You Can Go the Distance (YCGTD) workout plan only has three running days built in, and for the second week I needed to complete the long and the tempo runs. I was able to get these in before the rains hit. I chose to run the same distance for the long run of 8K, which I had in the first week.

For the Long Run the day was hot and significantly it was quite humid, approaching 75%. It usually takes me a few hundred meters to get comfortable with running, but from the beginning I was not comfortable breathing in spite of a good stride and posture. I decided to keep at it, and just concentrate on posture and deep breathing hoping that everything would fall into place. I arrived at the turnaround for the 5K route and checked the trusty Accusplit 620 only to discover that I must have inadvertently stopped it. Nothing to do, but note the time, hit start and continue running. I finished with a Mystery Time for the 8K.

The final time will be a mystery.

Mystery Time

I estimated that my time was about 46 minutes based on the time and my previous times for the 8K and the 2.5K splits. During the last half of the run, my breathing became more comfortable, but I never really felt good. I believe that a combination of the heat and humidity were the cause, since I was not able to find anything internally to be the cause.

On Sunday (7/10) I decided to brave the track for the 12 agonizing laps of the Tempo Run. I rode my bicycle over to the track, and then jogged a mile to warm up and to see if I was still going to have breathing issues. I did not. The temperature was close to the same, but the humidity was only around 60%. I told myself to be careful with the Start/Stop button on the trusty Accusplit 620, as I hit the start button and started the run.There was a fairly strong head wind on the finishing straight that was all but imperceptible on the back straight when I was hoping for a tailwind (it was there, I just couldn’t feel it).

Picture of stopwatch on the running track surface showing the time of the run

Accusplit 620 on the track!

As suspected, I wasn’t really enjoying running in circles, but I wanted to check my time on an accurately measured course. I did not really pay attention to any splits, just checking each lap to make sure that I had not accidentally stopped the timer! I finished the 3 miles on pace with my expectations at 26m14.59s.

Then the rain came and threw a wrench in my running plans. To get caught up and in the spirit of the Tour de France I wanted to put in some miles on my bicycle beyond just a short ride to the track and back, so I started with two laps around the area which is about 40K, and then a quick change and out for a run. When I was in Sasebo, this was a favorite weekend and summer workout, ride for an hour, and then run. I tried a new route for the run and while it was a bit short of my 5K goal, I think I can make a couple adjustments to get it there.

Until next time: Still Running!

Week 2 and some more Yasso 800’s

After enjoying a few days off with the long Independence Day weekend, I had to get back into it. The weather on Tuesday was cool and there was a constant drizzle. I decided to put my run off for another day. Wednesday dawned with clear skies and yet the temperature was still remaining cool at about 25° C., so I knew I would be running later in the afternoon. Even though it is summer and I could head out at just about any point in the day, I want to set up a routine that will work when school is back in session, so I took care of some home chores and decided to head out just after 5PM.

As I was getting ready to go, I decided that I would once again ride my bike to the track and tackle the Yasso 800’s. Using the YCGTD plan for week 2 I needed to run two 800’s. Once at the track, with such a short ride, I felt that I should try to run at least one mile as a warm up, so I changed into my running shoes and set off. I was running at a steady pace, but not pushing it, I just wanted to get warm, work up a little sweat and be loose for the 800’s. I was pleasantly surprised when I finished the fourth lap and the Accusplit 620 showed a time of just over 9 minutes.

I grabbed a drink of water and walked about 200 yards and prepared for the first of the 800’s. Since I am changing the target time for my goal of a 10 miler in November, I decided that I would not set a target pace for today. I still wanted to be at least close to the times I ran last time, but I wasn’t going to be deliberately slow or fast, I was just going to let my body dictate pace. So after positioning my water bottle about 15 yards past the start finish, I walked back to the line, counted down, and took off. The first 400 was completed in just over two minutes, and I was settling into a steady rhythm, consistent pace and good posture with regular breathing, and crossed the line in 4m03s. Not too bad, but could I recover in a few minutes and do the same? I picked up my water bottle, took a drink and walked a lap.

Passed the line and replaced the water bottle, prepared to go for Yasso 800 number two. No difference in pace, maintaining posture, head up, regular breathing,

Stopwatch with time for an 800m run

3m58s

just watching my feet hit the track, running on the line, calling cadence in my head, I finished the first lap and it took all my will not to check the time. Coming around the final corner and I was holding back the urge to pick up the pace, to sprint, and go for a strong finish. I maintained my pace, crossed the line, hit the stop button and took a look, 3m58s!

I walked a lap and held an internal debate on whether or not to try to run another one or to pack it up and go home.

I packed it up and went home. I have a plan, a road map, and a goal. I am going to revise my target time and also work on modifying the actual YCGTD plan to work more with a 10 mile distance. A Super-Typhoon is causing chaos with the weather in the area, but the good news is that the current forecast is for hot days with no precipitation. I am looking forward to a long run on Friday and then finish the week with a tempo run on the weekend.

Until next time, Still Running!

Tempo Running

Thursday promised rain. All day the forecast indicated that there would be a 50% or greater chance of rain. I was banking on it. I was going to be able to delay my first tempo run, because I am not interested in running in the rain (yet) nor was I really interested in a tempo run. Work was completed, and it hadn’t rained, I walked home and it wasn’t raining, consulted the weather app, and now it was showing that for the next two hours it would be clear. I really didn’t have any choice now. My legs had also been aching in that way where the only “cure” is to go for a run. I wasn’t motivated to do it, but I knew that I needed to get out and get this first week of the training plan in the books because it will either just get easier (or more difficult) in the coming weeks. So I pulled on my trusty running hat and headed out the door.

Pearl Izumi Hat

Trusty Hat

The YCGTD (You Can Go the Distance) plan is designed for a marathon and it shows that the week 1 tempo run should be 3 miles. I am not going to run a marathon (those days are gone), I am looking at a 10 miler. Plus I am building a base and was looking for something attainable and meeting the spirit of the plan. I was contemplating running at the track, but the number of laps (12!) was more than I could (mentally) take, in the end I opted for another 5K. I thought that this distance and the time would give me a good picture of where I need to go with adjusting my goal time, and also give me an idea of how much work I need to do to get comfortable with Yasso’s and tempo runs. Distance, I can do distance (Long Slow Distance all day). I am going to have to take a look this weekend at the plan and modify it for a 10 mile goal. I am also going to have to look seriously at modifying my goal time.

As I hit the road the sky was very overcast and looked like rain was closing in from the North, South, East and West, in spite of the look there was not a strong breeze. Since this was a tempo run the suggested pace per mile was at Race Pace minus 30 (RP-30).  I jumped out to a strong steady cadence. My trusty Accusplit 620 measuring the time, and my internal tach advising me of the pace, I was feeling good and looking forward to the split at the 2.5K mark.

As I approached the turnaround I was moving good and looked at the split and was surprised to see it at 12m:48s. Doing some quick mental math I roughly estimated a 5K time of about 26m. I honestly didn’t think I could maintain the pace and was already feeling it in my legs and lungs, and I’m at sea-level! I just needed to keep working hard to maintain and finish without walking. I was on a data-collection mission, finish. As the course wound its way back to my house I felt like I was just hanging on, and I was not looking at the stopwatch, I just wanted to get close to the 26m, which would still be well within the RP-30 pace. As I crossed the line I clicked stop and was shocked to find the time was 25m22s. This time meant that even though I was not feeling good, I still negative split the return leg. Not too shabby.

So the first week of the plan is down and only 17 to go. I am confident that as long as I continue I can build the endurance needed to complete the 10 miler. It is going to be easier for the next two or three weeks to get the runs in, it will be more difficult as time goes on and the summer draws to a close. At that point and in the Fall it will come down to dedication to the goal.

Next time – Yasso 800’s, and some cross training. Until then, Still Running!

Long Run…..

I know that I should be running and training in all conditions, and this paid off for me when I was in competitive athletics, but right now I am in this just for my health and fitness goals, so I am not ready to spend an afternoon running in the rain. I live in a country (Japan) where rain is as common as the sunshine in my home state of Colorado, so I was checking the weather forecast and it looked like rain was coming my way. I wanted to get out and run before the rain. On Sunday I ran the Yasso 800’s and firmed up my plan, so on Tuesday I was debating either putting in the tempo run or a long run. As much as I dread the track work, the tempo runs probably bother me more, so I opted for the long run. I set my distance at 8K, since I have a course that I have mapped and this distance was marked and I also knew that I could make it. I consulted the plan for a target pace and set off.

Knowing that I have about 20 weeks until the event and realizing that I am really working on building a base and trying to not allow my exuberance push me into an injury, I tried to keep my pace down, but at my 5K turnaround point I was already nearly 30 seconds ahead of my most recent 2.5K time. Yet, I couldn’t slow more. Running deliberately slow to me is very difficult, and I have spent enough time previously with heartrate monitors (HRM), and stop watches with split timers, to just listen to my body and adjust my effort based on how I am feeling. As I have previously posted I used a HRM a long time ago, and now I just don’t feel like investing in that kind of tech, I do invest in other tech such as my collection of compression wear, and I don’t have a personal cell phone, so my timing is courtesy of my trusty Accusplit 620. Accusplit620It can take a split, but it does not store them. It’s good for a total time and that is all I need.

I made the turn at the 4K mark and the time showed about 23 minutes, and the target time for a run like this was about 57 minutes based on the goal I had established. Now I had not run this far in quite a while so I was concerned with running all the way to the end, and maintaining form. I feel I did a pretty good job, I tried to maintain pace and was not concerned with doing a negative split (I really like negatives, maybe a carryover from years of swimming), I just wanted to complete. As I turned the final corner there is a slight downhill and then up and left to the finish, I could feel the angle and crossed the line in 45m:33s.

Climbed the stairs to home, took a shower and layered on the compression wear. I had to get up and go to work the next day and I needed those legs to work! Last year I got a pair of CW-X Endurance Generator tights and I love them both during a run and after a run. The fabric is really like taping. I woke up the next morning ready for work. Endurance Generator

Looking at the times and the plans, I am going to have to take a long look at my goal time of 2 hours for the 10 miles. I think that I am simply running too fast already for that time to be a challenge. I am going to wait a couple weeks until I do that. I have a week coming up where I am going to be free to really engage in running and working out, and then I will also have some time in late July and early August, where I will have to make a strong effort to get a run in. I don’t think I will hurt my chances of success if I continue for a few weeks and then change the goal time, as long as I don’t wait until September!

My next run is scheduled for Thursday and it will be a tempo run. I am not sure when I will run, it will depend on the weather forecast. I may try to run at the track since that will give me my most accurate measure of distance. Until then – Still Running!

The Plan

So last night I spent some more time reviewing the applicable chapters of Bruce Van Horn’s book You Can Go the Distance, specifically the chapters on setting a goal, choosing a plan and the dreaded Yasso 800’s.

This allowed me to add to and revise or solidify my goal. I added a time constraint to the goal of running in a 10 miler in early to mid-November 2016 with a time goal of 2 hours. The actual date of this event has not yet been determined, so I have a little wiggle room. The time constraint of 2 hours is very generous, but I need this goal to be attainable.

I made use of the resources that Bruce includes in the book and have printed out the training plan, and while it is formatted for a marathon, I am going to use it for a 10 mile event. I also used the calculator to identify some targets for various runs.Plan

As I posted yesterday, I am quite motivated to do this and I woke up with that feeling and a need to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors and I couldn’t resist attempting some of the dreaded Yasso 800’s, well, at least one set of two. Using the calculator my target time for the 800’s would be 4m27s.

We have a local track and I thought I would hop on my bicycle to ride over to it. AirTriDay Bike FridayThe direct ride is probably a little over a mile, so I was able to warm up a bit on my way there. Once at the track, I jogged an 800 and then set off on the first for time. I am not a fan of running of a track. They are hot, it’s a big oval, and to me it always seems to be harder running on a track. This experience was no different. The surface though is a nice thing, being softer than pavement. I felt confident that the pace would be right for meeting the target time, and I was correct. The first 800 was completed in 4m21s, and I started a recovery walk around the track to set up the second 800. TrackI stopped by my bicycle and drank some water and then walked up to the starting line and began. About ¾’s of the way around the track, I realized why this is such a powerful workout, I could tell right away that I was going to have to work to meet the target on this one, and I also could confirm that I don’t have the baseline that I really need in order to really get the most out of this plan. I finished the second 800 at 4m30s. Not too bad. Could I have done another one? I don’t know, probably. But I was not going to try, I was just happy to have completed the first set and pretty close to the target time.

On my way back home, I was feeling good about the track workout and I decided to put some more miles in on the bike, and I ended up probably riding close to 8 miles as I followed the bike path home the long way.

What’s next? I will spend the afternoon researching more about what goes into a tempo run, and the long run and confirm my courses for these.

Running those stairs

It was going to be one of those weekends. Three days, where at least two were going to be impacted by the weather you would associate with a Super-Typhoon. Windy, rainy and generally not the kind of days where you are outside for any length of time. VonFong (Typhoon 19W) was making its way towards us and while it was predicted to track to the NW, we were still looking at two days of indoor fun.

Saturday woke up and we were on the road early. My wife and I wanted to be out and enjoy a full day outside and in that we just about succeeded. We went hiking and enjoyed about 6 or 7 hours out and about, walking in some fine autumn conditions. There was never any hint of the typhoon that was guaranteed to hit the area in less than 24 hours. The proverbial calm before the storm.

A full day of walking and hiking does wonders to motivate me to workout. Unfortunately the weather was not going to be conducive in any way to my usual outdoor biking and running. I try to complete my regular daily fitness routine with fidelity. 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and recently I have added the old favorite of 100 jumping Jacks. It is simple and I never allow myself to fall into a routine of doing X number of sets, or reps. I knew that this weekend I would need to also throw in some stair running.

I have written before on this topic, and while I would like to say I have been running the stairs with fidelity, it would not be a true statement. Frankly running the stairs is hard. In 20 minutes of running the stairs, my legs hurt more than after a 20K, and I am breathing like I just ran a 5K at race pace. I don’t consider myself lazy, but the stairs are tough. My goal today was to run for at least 20 minutes and to see if I could get 10 round-trips in (up and down). I went a little over the time goal, but I did get in the 10 round-trips. About halfway through I decided to try some stair fartleks. Running up a flight with my normal stride, essentially skipping a step, and then on the next flight I would slow and hit each step. Much like a fartlek on the road, I was soon breathing hard and considered this new tool a success.

The typhoon came and went. We had some serious winds, and some rain, but nothing too bad. Stuck inside for two-days, but I enjoyed two satisfying workouts. Now with the weather cooling off, I might be running the stairs a little more often.