Well, That Was Fun!!!

If you look up at the top of the page, it says “Bill’s Racing, Rambling and Photos”.  For the past couple of years it’s been more like “Bill’s Photos and Rambling”.

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been any racing (which there really hasn’t), but there have been a few posts that leaned towards the athletic.

But if you look at my Races tab, the last race I have entered was back in January, 2010.  That was a great race in a blizzard – the Rodgau 50K.

Since then, it has mainly been play.  Fun runs in the Alps and fast stair climbs.

Then there was a grand bike tour.

But that’s not a race.  Although there was some racing.  Mainly me trying to catch up to the pack every time the road moved off of level or we hit a secteur pavé.

Although I could leave the fellas scattered by the wayside once I got the diesel engine wound up and started the sprint from a kilometer out.

And while that’s all great, great fun, it’s not an organized race.

And the reality was, as I posted in February of last year, I was athletically rudderless, not really interested in pursuing a specific athletic goal.  Mainly because most of the ones that interest me take so much time away from Goddess.  In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m quite keen on the Goddess.  That means I am quite protective of my time with her, so I wasn’t wild about the 4-6 hour (or more) weekend training days that marathons, ultra-marathons or grand bike tours require.

So I just kept an unfocused training regimen, focused on having fun and staying fit, while not demanding too much time from Goddess.  And I kept a thought in the back of my mind, which I did verbalize to a few folks, that I wanted to remain fit enough that I could fake my way through a half, whether that be a half-marathon or a half-Ironman triathlon.

That brings us to today.

On a lark a couple of months back, I signed up for the Heidelberg Half Marathon.  It was to be interesting, since I had no plans to specifically train for the race, just rely on my fitness and see how it worked out, since my training at the time was focused on a grand bike tour.  Plus, considering that I have not run greater than seven miles in the past two years, save for one other lark of a 14-miler that involved running straight up the side of the Alps, then back down, running 13.1 miles was going to be a stretch.  Especially this one, with some pretty steep sections and 3,400′ of cumulative climbing.

I was going to have to rely on the diesel engine and hope that the suspension held up.

Here’s the race map, overlaid on terrain:

Heidelberg Half Marathon
Heidelberg Half Marathon

That gives you an idea of the terrain.  But it doesn’t tell the truth like the profile does:

Heidelberg Half-Marathon Profile
Heidelberg Half-Marathon Profile

Like I said, this was a lark.  In the previous week, I had run three times, including a fairly fast 1.5 miles for my fitness test.  Before that, I had not run in a month, thanks to a combination of things.  I had injured myself playing frisbee, which halted any running.  Then I went on the grand bike tour and didn’t have time to.  Then I got back and came down with some crud that kept me down for over a week.

And that led into this week.  Monday was a slow 5-miler to make sure everything still worked properly.  Wednesday was a hill run which included the same set of stairs in PR; this time I set a new PR and ran up the entire set of stairs without stopping, although the pace was decidedly slower than 9:35.  Then on Friday was my PT test, so basically it was a short race.

In short, I didn’t train for this half-marathon, nor did I taper.

I was walking into it cold.

When I signed up, I took a stab at a finishing time and selected two hours.  I based that on the terrain and hope.  Unfortunately, hope is not a technique.

I seeded myself appropriately in my corral (#4 of 4), towards the back.  I cracked jokes with a few first-timers that I’m surprised we weren’t surrounded by people with walkers, complete with tennis balls.  We were only there a few minutes, then the gun went off for our group (some 850 people).  It was time to settle into a comfortable pace and see how the day worked out.

It wasn’t long before I was passing people.  That turned out to be the theme of the day.  I started out near the back of the 3,445 that finished and I finished 1,416 overall.  The math is simple – I passed over 2,000 people in 13.1 miles.  On this course.

Luckily a good portion of this run is on familiar ground, with the first large hill being part of our normal Monday run.  So I knew what to expect.  However, the course splits from where we normally head back down to the valley and continues upstream, then crosses further up than I am familiar with.  Then heads straight up the other side so that we can loop behind the Heidelberg Castle.  So after the midway point, it was all new territory.  And that kept my effort in check.

The only spots I walked were the water points.  No sense in trying to run and drink, instead sloshing water all over myself.  Although plenty of people did and gained nothing from it.  I did find it interesting that so many thought that they were saving time, although they had to slow down so much to prevent the sloshing that they might as well have been walking.

The flats were OK.  The uphills were great, probably because that’s where I passed huge chunks of people each time.  At one point, in the closing miles, we were climbing a series of cobbled switchbacks that were steeper than 20% grade and I had a flashback to the grand bike tour.  And the downhills were fun, cruising past many folks who just weren’t comfortable with letting go.  I was amazed at how many were walking the gradual downhills, even only halfway through the race.

As you can tell, I had a great time.

But there was one significant annoyance, for which I’m partially at fault.  The race is capped at 3,500 registered participants, mainly due to the narrow streets in Heidelberg as well as the narrow trails through the forest.  My fault was ignorantly seeding myself way at the back.  The annoyance were the many, many, many runners who could not hold their line while running, instead darting side to side even though they gained nothing from the maneuver.  I spent more time than I cared guiding people with my forearm, especially when their erratic movement threatened to push me off the trail and down the hill or into a ditch.  Or gently guiding someone forward who would dart into an open spot, but not overtake the people around him, while many of us were flying downhill at a much greater pace than they were.  But once we got past that section (and ran straight up a wall), the crowds were all but torn apart and the running became smoother.

My piriformis started talking to me at about the eight mile mark, but nothing more than a gentle reminder that I was abusing them.  In the closing miles, my calves started twinging, telling me that they were close to cramping up.  I’ve been there before, so knew how hard I could push it, keeping right at that point where they would twinge, but nothing more.  In the last half mile, a time where I’m usually flying past other runners, I didn’t.  But none caught and passed me either.

So the time?


Without training for it.

Just keeping myself fit with a good mix of high intensity and endurance training, mainly on the bike.  And that time fit nicely within the cluster of times for the half-marathons that I trained specifically for.

The trick will be seeing how I walk on Tuesday morning.

Now about that half-Ironman…

Bavarian Knee Buster

Just got back from a rough week in the Bavarian Alps.  Business calls, you know.  ;^)

Days full of meetings, nights full of discussion.  I know that all of the world’s problems were solved at least once, but I doubt anyone took notes.  Sorry world.

But one afternoon was set aside for a team-building hike.  Seven of us decided to make it a run.  Nothing long, just 5.5 miles.  Starting at 3,575’, dropping down to 2,000’.  And then back up.  Did I mention that this was in 5.5 miles?

Profile goodness:

Trail Berchtesgaden, Germany 3-30-2010, Elevation - Distance 2

That’s 2,029’ of total climbing.  Sorry guys, not the 2,400’ that the Garmin was telling us, but I warned you that the Garmin adds a bit.

And the driveway at the bottom of the steep climb?  Corrected grade of 45%.  That’s before it got steep.

Somebody please remind me – who’s idea was it to run this thing?


All done with this training cycle.  Now for a bit of active recovery this coming week.

But first, I need to give credit where credit is due.  I’m married to a true Goddess.  The one who asks me what I want to do during my holiday break, to which I answer “sleep and run”, and she gives me that “Are you serious?” look, to which she already knows the answer.

So that’s what I did over the past two weeks, which was my last Base period before racing at the end of January.

All told, 110.97 miles of running in the past two weeks; 50.43 miles last week, 60.54 miles this week.  Snow, rain, well below freezing, well above freezing.  The whole stinkin’ gamut.  And it was all good.

I did get a few commutes to/from work on the bike, but swapped one ride home for a run, which served two purposes.  And instead of 35 minutes to get home, it took 1:20.  So it really didn’t impact the home life too much.

And the runs were a mix of short hill runs, medium tempo runs and long steady runs.  In other words, a normal training plan.  But it wasn’t all normal.

– A 10-mile tempo+ run last Monday, which started out slow thanks to the 50 miles of the previous week.  The first three miles were OK, but nothing to get excited about.  Then the gears switched and I was rolling through the forest at a comfortable clip, finding my groove.  The (+) portion of the tempo was when I decided to go visit an old friend, the pain cave, whose threshold I hadn’t crossed in quite a while.  I didn’t want to get too deep in, but decided to head over, open the door, look around the make sure that the drapes hadn’t been stolen.  Nothing was disturbed, but there was definitely a layer of dust from lack of use.  I’ll have to get back there soon.  So even after the slow opening miles, I finished the 10 miles just a few minutes off my 10-mile PR.  But I did feel it the next day.

– The 20-miler on New Year’s Eve was a mixed bag of weather.  It was a steady 45F, rapidly changing from sun to pouring rain and back again.  Since the rain was going to be intermittent, I left the shell at home, which made for a few borderline hypothermic moments.  Luckily it cleared out just before sunset, which let it cool down quickly into the upper 30’s(F).  So soaking wet, cold.  I couldn’t get into a warm shower fast enough.  But that worked out well, since it was New Year’s Eve.

– New Year’s Eve detraining – lots of resveratrol was consumed, which my doc (“drink early, drink often”) swears is good for my heart.  And let me tell you, the German’s know how to greet a new year.  I swear every family up and down the street bought hundreds of euro of fireworks.  It looked like a war zone out there.  It did my teenaged-boy heart good.  And though I was perfectly fine the next day, I just didn’t get out the door to run.

– Today’s 15-miler through the ice/snow was great, especially considering the amount of miles these legs have endured in the past 14 days.  Although after a poor night of sleep, I wasn’t too motivated.  Goddess got me through that (something about “get out now”).  The legs were heavy and tired, but found their rhythm after a few miles.  Then a nice negative split.  Nothing too drastic, but considering the abuse that I’ve put myself through, I can’t be anything but pleased with that.  It was a great way to close out the cycle.

So now it’s a recovery week, which will include some thigh-busting skiing in the Alps.  And if that doesn’t teach the quads who’s boss, I don’t know what will.


Year in Review – 2009

Lots of thoughts during these long runs about posting a year in review.  Some discussion with other folks on their year’s in review.  For me, the review is only meaningful to the one posting it, unless the numbers posted are compared to the year’s goals and/or previous year’s totals.  Otherwise they’re just numbers.

So for those of you who want numbers, you won’t find them here (unless you read above).  I look through my numbers fairly often in both Training Peaks and SportTracks.  Matter of fact, I keep a rolling 10- and 28-day chart in my SportTracks to make sure I’m not doing anything too crazy.  With the move to Germany this year, there wasn’t any sense in setting annual goals, since there were way too many variables.  All of my short-term goals were early in the year (March’s LBL 60K and April’s Country Music Marathon) and were resounding successes, even if I didn’t meet certain time goals.  I learned quite a bit, including how much I enjoy a good trail run.

But thanks to the commute to/from work, my bike mileage jumped considerably over last year, which had a six-month chunk taken out thanks to a deployment to Iraq.  No cycling during that time.

And what will 2010 bring?  Who knows.  A 50K at the end of January, then I’ll start searching for something to do later in the year.  The Antwerp 70.3 looks fun (I love that distance triathlon), but finding a swimming pool with good hours is a trick.  The local pool is open 10am-10pm, but is too far from work for a lunchtime swim.  After work I’m usually too knackered to do anything.  Plus, that’s Goddess’ time.  So unless I think I can pull off a 70.3 without any lap time…

So here’s to a great year for each and every one of you.  If you’re one that makes resolutions, I hope that the resolve you currently have lasts through the year.

Building Up & Breaking Down

Lovin’ the weather here in Southwest Germany.  Winter finally arrived last week, smack dab in the middle of my recovery week.  Not just a tease, but a full-on, in your face arrival.

Thursday morning’s very isolated snow-shower pretty much shut down any commute for anyone on the south side of Heidelberg.  But not for me.  Gotta love the bicycle.  I floated through the forest and across the fallow fields on a pillow of fresh snow.  Shaking my head at all the poor folks in their single-file parking lots.  Once I got into town, I dropped the tire pressure to 35 p.s.i. and the studs stuck to the ice.  No issues at all.  My commute was extended by only 2-3 minutes, which would be about the time that it took for me to let the air out of the tires as well as account for some creeping around corners (I haven’t found the edge of control with the studs yet).  For those on four wheels, the commute was extended anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.

Friday was a bit more of the same in the afternoon, but everyone on four wheels seemed to behave themselves.  Then the cold set in.

Saturday was a bit chilly, dipping down to +4°F (-15°C) and gradually warming up to +12°F (-11°C) by early afternoon.  Luckily there wasn’t much wind, so the run wasn’t bad at all.  Matter of fact, I layered too much and was peeling off layers, caps and gloves just a few miles into the run.

Here it is, Monday, the Winter Solstice, and we still have a fair covering of snow on the ground.  Perfect for jumping in to the next Base period.  But I’m jumping ahead of  myself.

As I said above, last week as a recovery week.  That made it week three of my Base 2 cycle for my next race on January 31st.  Being the “old guy” that I am, following Friel’s protocol of using three week cycles for folks over 40, vice the four week cycles for those under 40, has worked quite well for me.  Especially since I’m not focusing on long-course triathlon right now, but instead basically living the life of a duathlete.

So Base 2 was a good cycle.  Through the second week I pushed my running mileage up to 35.5 miles.  Nothing extravagant, but on top of my 90-miles of commuting each week, the legs are getting abused a bit.  And with another Base cycle, leading into my Build cycle, I’ll be dancing very close to my upper manageable limit of 60 miles per week of running.  That’s not counting the commute.

Besides, if I’m to run more than 60 miles per week, I better be getting paid for it.

The workload wasn’t overwhelming, but for some reason the recovery took a bit longer than normal.  Perhaps all of the holiday parties?  Typically I’m good to go by Wednesday.  Last week it took until Saturday before I felt fresh.  But that’s OK. 

It’s the result of doing good work.  And some good parties.

Today’s run, warmer than this weekend, looked similar to the photo at right, although not as deep.  The nice thing is that it adds a nice bit of strength training to the run.  Although strength training in the middle of 10-mile runs are typically not the best thing for the legs.

But it’s good work.

Since I’ve taken this week off from work, the commute isn’t necessary.  So that leaves my legs fresh for the runs, which will tally up to ~50 miles.  Next week there will be just a few commute days, so bike mileage will remain low, but I’ll have to ramp up the miles through the weekend, seeing how close to 60 miles I can dance without overdoing it.  And then rush headlong into the next recovery week, which includes several days of skiing.  But it’ll be good recovery from running.

What’s interesting is that right now, with a full Base cycle followed and Build cycle still to come, I’m aerobically in better shape than I was going in to last March’s 60K Trail Run and significantly better than when I ran my 40-miler in September, 2008.  That isn’t a subjective feeling, but looking objectively at output from the Training Load plug-in for SportTracks.  So things are looking good.  The trick will be keeping injury free over the next few weeks as I ramp up the miles.

Then crank out an enjoyable 50K in six weeks.

But my challenge right now isn’t with the running.  It’s with eating.  I know that’s a funny thing to say during the holidays, but it is what it is.  With this workload I need to be ingesting approximately 4,000 calories per day on average.  That’s a lot of food, especially since I don’t eat a “normal” western diet, full of processed carbs, fats and salt.  Basically, if I can’t identify it as something that came directly from a plant or animal, I eschew (or would that be “won’t chew”?) it.  Within reason, of course, because life’s too short to be that strict about anything.  And although I could reasonably identify a Whopper as mostly coming from animals and plants, I stay away from that stuff as much as possible.  And the recent results of my blood work tell me that I’m definitely on the right track.

So I’m typically falling short of that 4,000 calorie mark by somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,200 calories.  That’s a lot to miss.  It does hamper my workout recovery.  And since it’s such a large daily deficit, I’m not losing weight since my metabolism is slowing down to hold on to every calorie I ingest.  Basically, my body is going in to survival mode. 

Someone hand me a cookie!

<DISCLAIMER: Any and all training that I describe works for me and flies in the face of much conventional wisdom.  The reason it works for me is that I have a few decades of activity and fitness under my belt and know that my body can recover quickly from a given workload.  So don’t think that you could, or should, jump from 35 miles of running one week to 50 miles the next.  If you do, you’ll get hurt.>

2009 Clarksville Duathlon

Why couldn’t we have had this weather last weekend.

Overnight there were flood watches and warnings issued.  It pissed down rain pretty much all night.  When we woke up at 5 am, we were drying out, with all of the rain north and south of us.  By the time we left, the hole we were in filled in, so it pissed down rain again.  But no lightning, so all was good.

Transition was set up in the rain.  The pre-race brief was held in the rain.  The start went off in the rain.  And it was 52F.  Perfect.  But it must have scared some folks off.  I don’t know how many registered, but only 24 folks showed up to race – 20 individual competitors and two 2-person teams.

The course was a 2-mile run, a 13.1-mile ride and a 2-mile run.

Mind you, other than four quick 5-mile rides this week to make sure the bike worked properly, this was the first time I had ridden since doing this race a year ago.  I was banking on my running fitness getting me through the bike leg.  Of course, running fitness was highly questionable after last Saturday’s very warm Country Music Marathon.  Typically after a Saturday marathon I’m feeling fine by Tuesday or Wednesday.  Even during a short run yesterday my legs felt like bricks.  So I really had no idea how I’d do today, but that wasn’t a worry.  This is a fun race that is all about going all out.

So the start whistle blew and we were off.  The idea was to get out quickly and then settle down.  Mind you, settle down needed to be right at LTHR.  Actually it ended up a bit higher, with most of the run in Zone 5a:

Run Leg 1, Heart Rate x Distance (with Pace)

Both Goddess and I measured a touch over 2.1 miles for the leg on our Garmin 305’s.

So that was 2.1 miles in 14:59, for an average pace of 7:06/mile and a peak of 5:55/mile,which I used to get ahead of the start line melee.

Arriving at T1, I was fourth overall.  First was way the hell in front, while second and third were about ten seconds ahead.

I forgot how much fun it is to bend over to change shoes while your heart is exploding in your chest.

Out the gate on the bike and I settled in, making sure I didn’t put too much power to the cranks in the opening miles, knowing that this was a rolling 13.1-mile course with a few turns.  Those that pushed hard in the beginning would pay dearly near then end and especially so during the final 2-mile run.

A mile in, a cyclist flew past me like I was standing still, putting me in fifth overall.  He’ll become important later.  Two miles later, I passed the guy in front of me, so I was back in fourth.  By now the rain had stopped, so it was quite pleasant. 

There was a hilarious moment at mile 4.5 as we had to negotiate a hairpin turn onto a new road.  I saw a minivan approaching the stop sign as I was slowing to make the turn.  The lady driver had her window down and was telling the volunteer that he needed to do something about the cyclists, because with the mist in the air we were impossible to see.  Mind you, in my chosen field of meteorology, surface visibility is an important parameter to observe and forecast.  I looked off at the tree line in the distance that I could clearly see, which I estimated to be 1.5-2 miles away.  I couldn’t figure out why I could see those trees, yet she couldn’t see us in the opposite lane.  For the next mile or so I calculated that she must have been traveling in the neighborhood of 750 mph in order to not have the appropriate reaction time.

I want that van!

Anyway, as I said, the course had some rolling hills.  Here’s a shot of the Garmin-calculated grade, with a curve of my speed (blue line) overlaid:

Bike Leg, Grade x Distance (with Speed overlay)

Between miles eight and nine, I was passed, putting me back in fifth.  The much older gentleman that flew by had some speed.  Immediately thereafter, the guy that I passed between miles three and four passed and asked if this was a drafting race.  I found it interesting that he was able to catch and pass me, since he was a couple of hundred yards behind me when I passed the lady with the amazingly fast van and fell ever further behind with each mile after that.  I replied “No, it’s a USAT-rules race”.  He should have known what type of race it was, since they handed out a USAT rule crib sheet with every registration packet.  I passed him a second time about a half-mile later.  I don’t know if he was drafting; only he knows that.  But his bridge up to me was while I was maintaining a 22mph average through that stretch is pretty impressive.


In the last mile, I saw first and second heading out on their last run leg.  Soon after, a woman went flying by too.  Turns out that the guy who flew by me at mile one of the bike leg was part of a team.  So that meant I was fourth overall in the solo division.

And to the right I am on my (archaic by triathlon standards) Softride with old, old-school Spinergy’s as I dismount going into T2. 

I am quite upset that they no longer make those bikes and I can’t have another for my next bike.

Considering that I had only 20 miles in my cycling legs for the past year, I was very, very pleased with my bike leg.  Goddess and I both measured 13.33 on our Garmin’s.  I covered the distance in 40:12, for an average speed of 20.37 mph.  Not too shabby.

I hit T2 in fourth overall and flew through.  The much older gentleman that rolled in to T2 in front of me arrived at least a minute before, but I exited right on his tail and passed him within 100 yards, putting me in third.  Then I settled in to work.  This time I knew I’d be cranking the legs as hard as they’d go.  I focused on my turnover and tried to keep the cadence high.

Run Leg 2, Heart Rate x Distance (with Pace overlay)

We were running out one mile, turning around an orange cone and heading back in.  At about 3/4 mile, I heard feet behind me.  Turns out it was the guy that asked about drafting.  He had some wheels on him.  Much more than I had.  We hit the turnaround at the same time and he pulled steadily away after that.  At this point I settled in for a bit, waiting to see if he would tire.  With a half-mile to go, he did slow, so I ratcheted up the pace.  He turned around and saw me coming, so he picked it up and held me off through the finish line.  So I finished fourth overall amongst the solo racers, first in my age group.

For the last leg, since the exit to transition was in a different place than the start line, I measured the advertised 2-mile run at 2.15 miles, covered in 15:52, for a 7:22/mi average.  Not as evenly paced as the first leg, but still not too shabby.  Especially with the 6:17/mi pace as I crossed the finish line (below left).


This was the second edition of the Clarksville Duathlon.  If you read last year’s race report, you’ll recall that they had some issues, which are to be expected with a first-run event.  I can guarantee you that they more than overcame those issues and put on a high class event this year. 

I also have to give the organizers a huge congratulations for picking such a great cause to give all of the proceeds to – Fisher House.  As you may recall, I ran a donation drive for Fisher House last year as I was preparing to run my 40-miler in Baghdad.  And if you come to this post from my blog’s main page, you’ll see that the link to Fisher House remains in the upper left.  I maintain that it’s a great cause to support, so if you’d like to, please click and donate.  I get nothing from it (I already got my t-shirt), so don’t worry, all of your donation goes directly to Fisher House.

So if you are anywhere near the area next May, I highly recommend this event.  The timing, one week after the Country Music Marathon, is perfect.  It forced me to get out on the bike and spin my legs to loosen them up.


Now it’s time to look forward. 

If you stayed awake through my post about planning and Training Load, you’ll recall the segment on Training Influence.  If you didn’t stay awake that long, the gist of it is that based on my personal recovery rate, the training that would have the most influence on my next race would typically be approximately 28-32 days prior to the race.  After that, there’s diminishing influence until the my taper date, which is typically 10-12 days prior to the race.  After the taper date, no amount of training will have a positive influence on the race, so that’s the time to back off and let the body rest.

Anyway, since my next race is on May 30th, my calculated max training effect date was yesterday.  But I clearly didn’t go out and crank out a 20-miler.  No way.  Not after last week’s very warm marathon.  However, the marathon, even though it took a lot out of me, could have a huge positive influence on the outcome of the race at the end of the month.  Much like the 60K I ran in mid-March had a huge positive influence on my ability to survive last weekend’s very warm marathon.

So if you are in the Paducah, KY area at the end of May, meet me for a fun run, otherwise known as RUTS.  Run five, 13, 26, 50 or 60 miles.  Your call.  But having fun is mandatory.


After the long, geeky, techy post the other day covering the SportTracks plug-in Training Load, I did some thinking (uh oh, that’s dangerous).  I realized that during that post, I only covered past performance.  I should share how the plug-in can help with planning.

Granted, my experience with using it for planning consists of one race – the LBL 60K.  But by all measures, it was a highly successful race for me.  And I’m confident in saying that my “discovery” of this tool had a significant role in my success.

Here is the updated chart, with all of my planned workouts up to and including the Country Music Marathon (CMM), which is on April 25th (click to open in a new window to see detail).

ST-TL planning

If you compare this chart to the ones that I posted in that last post, you’ll see that I’ve clearly resumed my training.  And I’ve jumped back in with a vengeance.  This week is a scheduled 60 miles, which should be interesting, since 60 miles was my breaking point leading up to the 60K.  This morning’s run finished up an accumulated 20 miles in the previous 36 hours, leading into a 24 hour rest interval, then a 20-mile run tomorrow morning.  I’m definitely beating myself up this week.

And that load is by design.  As you can see in the lower right, the calculated max training effect would be today, March 26th.  So I loaded up my runs to straddle today, which luckily my work schedule accommodated.  Also, if you look at the Training Influence curve (the shaded red area), you can see that my Acute Training Load (ATL) , aka “fatigue” (the thin red line) coincides closely with the peak of the Training Influence curve.  Theoretically, that’s my peak.  Then my fatigue falls off rapidly as I begin my long-term recovery.

As the Training Influence curve falls away to the right, less and less of the workout for that specific day will have an influence on my race.  Therefore, it’s counterproductive to schedule a long run (say 20 miles) on 11 April (for example), since it would significantly fatigue me, but little of the potential fitness gains from the run would be realized on race day.  And once the Training Influence line crosses into the negative side of that scale, that’s when I start my taper.  As you can see in the lower right, that date would be April 15th, ten days before the race.  After that, it’s short, quick runs at race pace to keep the motor running, but not fatigue it.

Looking at the overall picture, the blue shaded area is my Chronic Training Load (CTL), aka “fitness”.  The dark blue fitness is past and current; the light blue fitness is forecast based on scheduled workouts.  I’m self-coached, so I use Training Peaks’ Virtual Coach to help me build the framework of my training plan.  Once I’ve developed my training schedule in Training Peaks, I manually transcribe the workouts over to SportTracks.  Luckily I need only a few parameters to get the Training Load plug-in to work.  The most “difficult” portion of the forecast workouts is determining what my average heart rate will be for the workout.  But all I have to do then is look at similar workouts that I have completed and plug in that number.  Pretty easy.

Once I’ve got the planned workouts loaded, I can see how effective the plan could be.  I can then adjust my plan based on the forecast impact to my fitness.

So the peak of my fatigue will be realized with tomorrow’s 20-miler.  That’s to be expected.  But I recover quickly over the weekend, since I’m working and have an easy 5-mile run scheduled for Saturday before my standard Sunday rest day.

But then I realized that I have an even higher peak to my fatigue levels, which falls on April 1st.  As I look at the workouts, nothing out of the ordinary is scheduled for that day.  A comfortable Zone 1/2 5-mile run to work in the morning, and then a tempo 7-mile run home after work.  But then I looked at my rolling 10- and 28-day mileage totals (not shown on the chart above) and see that by running those two workouts as planned, my 10-day total mileage as of that day will be 82 miles.  By comparison, my training leading up to the 60K topped out at 69 miles for a 10-day period.  So I’ll have to monitor my body carefully and adjust accordingly.  No sense in running myself into an overuse injury.  But by smartly loading (overloading) my body, I can start the race stronger than I would if I hadn’t.

As scheduled, I would be rested on race-day morning.  The way I see that is by looking at my Training Stress Balance (TSB), which is the shaded gray area, which reaches into the positive numbers on April 18th, a full week before the race.  But as I look at the chart, I can already see areas for improvement that would deliver me to the start line even more rested and ready to race.  Like a haircut, with a little nip here and a snip there, I can adjust my workouts and recover more deeply.  For example, I have a 5-mile tempo run scheduled for April 15th, which is the start of my taper.  That’s the little spike in fatigue.  But as I look at my Training Influence curve, I can see that a tempo workout that day would translate very little to race day, so I’ll likely relook that specific workout.  And there are a few others in there that I’ll look at tweaking as well.

As it stands right now, I’d arrive at the start of the CMM less rested than I did for the 60K.  The problem with that plan is that the CMM is my “A” race this spring season and the 60K was a “B” race.  So based on the information conveyed in the chart, I know that I’ll have to rework some of my workouts and back off on both volume and intensity in the coming weeks.

And we’ll have to see how it works out on April 25th.