Whew

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.

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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.>