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.


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.