THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY

Trail 003-2015
Lessons learned from my second 50K (notes to self)…..
The Countdown:
Trail 006-2015Trail 004-2015
3) THE UGLY
  • I should have expected the unexpected (spring snow)….I trained often and I trained hard leading up to the race, but I did not train long or hard enough in snow conditions.  I should have “mushed” more and “plowed” through more snow (sacrificing training mile split times).  Lord knows there was enough snow. Some place deep down inside I just hoped that it would have magically melted for the race. Then we got 6″ of new fresh powder.  My mind was not ready for it.  Worse of all, either were my legs.  I expected up to 5 hours of running, just not at such a high intensity.
  • I should have trained specifically, specificity matters (trails, jumps, leaps, time on feet, pain)….I expected to run slower on the trails but I trained for +/- 8 minute marathon, not a 31 mile trail race in the snow. My muscle strength just wasn’t there.  after about 12-15 miles my mind caught up with the my legs.
  • I should have conquered my mind over matter (again)….I made some of the same mistakes as last year….Went out to hard following my friend; I jumped and leaped over obstacles, which I promised myself I wouldn’t do (stretching out my muscles, staining them, expending valuable energy throughout the course).
Trail 001-2015Trail 002-2015
2) THE BAD
  • Follow the plan (plan? I don’t need no stinking plan)….Plans change I know, but they are there for a reason.  Next time I really need to stick with the plan…. start off slow, even a 10 minute mile is OK for the start; progressively get quicker as you go along.  It is really disheartening (to me) to see my average pace slipping away with every passing mile.  My dream of a 9-min per mile average pace slowly slipped to just below 10-mi. per mile pace by the cross of the finish line.
  • Don’t be stupid (Stupid)….This one is the hardest one.  You plan your run, then you run your plan.  I let my ego take over and I had to swallow my pride at the end of the race as I slowed down, just trying to finish.
  • Fell for it (again)….I thought that I could hang on; and I did great for the first 10 miles; by mile 20 I knew that although my cardio was great; I had to reduce my intensity if I was to finish the race.  Once I adjusted my heart rate from 150+ down to 135 or so I was OK.  The intensity of the first 10 miles killed my chances for a 4 hour 40-45 minute 50K.  I ended up with a slower time than last year, my first 50K, when I didn’t know the course or the race.  I was pretty upset.
Trail 005-2015Trail 007-2015
1) THE GOOD
  • Mental toughness (momma didn’t raise no quitter)….Lots goes through your mind during a 5 hour race.  After the first loop (out of three) I felt good and if I could have continued at that pace I probably would have finished top three for the 50K.  The reality was I did alot of cross training, swimming, biking, and running, and I was prepared to run a solid race for 3-4 hours.  I was not prepared to run an Ultra. I was not prepared to run a Trail run.  I was not prepared to race 31 miles at top speed, especially through old harden snow and fresh powder to boot.  I just did not have the strength or the conditioning for the sort of race I needed to run to meet my goal of a 9 min per mile race.  The good news is that I defeated my mind which wanted me to quit.  My legs paid the price, but I finished, and only a few minutes slower than last year despite worse trail conditions.  Last year was no picnic but there was some relief between the packed hard slippery snow, the mud, and leaping through streams and transversing makeshift plank bridges.  This was a tougher race and I finished within respectable time from last year.  I’ll check that off as a win.
  • Physical pain, the other side (break on through to the other side)….This was the most gut wrenching run I have ever done.  Mentally, I broke through into a zone from miles 26-31 that despite physical discomfort I was able to push through and complete what I set out to do.  Another victory.
  • Mission accomplished, the bigger picture (Off-season)….Maybe the secret is already out.  I’m just a guy, a dad, a husband, a son, a brother, a friend.  I am not elite, I am not great, I am not gifted (I just tell myself all those things when I train so I stay motivated and keep pushing myself, my limits, my boundaries).  I work hard, like to stay fit and in shape and I enjoy mixing things up.  I rather sacrifice a race than my training (fitness).  I rather be strong, above-average all year than peak and dip throughout the year.  I like to be well maintained to do multi-sports at any given time throughout the year, i.e., swim a strong mile, bike solid for an hour or two, run a fast 10K or a half-marathon distance fun run on the weekend, that sort of thing.  Living in NJ, in the off-season, options are limited.  Doing the long race keeps me focused and motivated from December to March.  It takes a lot out of me, but it certainly gives me a great base for the rest of the year.  Recover in April, and start doing some more fun stuff in May and June.
Trail 003-2015
Conclusion:
Time and places are not the only productive goals to have.  There are other things that matter.  Things like staying healthy and injury free.  Staying motivated and meeting challenges head on.  Although I am disappointed with certain aspects of this year’s race, overall I am impressed and happy with myself for coming this far in such a short time.  During the end of the race and immediately after I crossed the finished line I thought and said I would not do this again next year, maybe in the future, but not next year.  After resting for two days I am already starting to strategize how I can improve my experience for next year.
This Year: (2nd 50K) on Strava
Last Year: (1st 50K) on Strava
Sincerely,
Frank
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Posted in Fitness, Motivation, Ultra

Latest Article Published by Clifton Roadrunners Club

CRRC February 2015 Newsletter (1)_Page_12

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Posted in Fitness, Motivation, Run

Things to Work on for My Swim

Swimming

Ever wonder what the life-guards are thinking when you are doing your early morning swim workout?  I always did. Well…

Today I found out and it wasn’t pretty. I trust this kid, he is a lean 25 year old grad who is a lifeguard at the gym I work out at. He also happens to be a swimming coach, spinning instructor, and a triathlete (and he mentioned something about Nationals). After talking shop for a while he asked if he could critique my swimming stroke. The results are in and besides my entire swim everything is 100% perfect…. I’m not discouraged, I have a few months to work on these weaknesses and come back stronger this year for my second triathlon season. Here is what he said.

Splashing

  • Reduce splashing
  • Smoother swim

Cross Over

  • Avoid passing centerline
  • May be result of my kick-board grip

Pull Mechanics

  • Pint fingertips towards bottom of pool

Bi-Lateral Breathing

  • More rhythmic/consistent
  • Switch sides every three strokes

Catch & Finish

  • Improve Technique
  • Poor catch
  • Follow through another 8” at final part of stroke

Vary Intensity of Workouts

  • Do not do a workout at the same speed
  • Swim at various speeds

Other than that, everything is great.

PS In my own defense he was critiquing me after I worked out 5 days straight logging 20+ miles running and 50+ miles biking, but that’s no excuse. I’m humbled and determined to try harder!

Stay tuned for an update soon (if I don’t drown in my self wallowing).

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Run Faster & Longer By Running Less

RunningBW

The best way to become a better runner is to run….of course.

Accumulating lots of miles (volume) will certainly help you become a better athlete.

With increased volume there is also an increased potential for injury or burnout.  The experts say to increase weekly volume (for up to three weeks) no more than 10% of the previous week, recovering every fourth week with fewer miles before slowly increasing mileage again.

The progressive volume of running may look something like this:

  • Week 1 = 20 miles
  • Week 2 = 22 miles
  • Week 3 = 23 miles
  • Week 4 = 17 miles (Recovery)
  • Week 5 = 23 miles
  • Week 6 = 25 miles
  • Week 7 = 27 miles
  • Week 8 = 20 miles (Recovery)

Volume

Build-Rest and then Build Back Up – Repeat.

This seems to be the best bet (according to the experts) to give yourself a good pre-season base as well as increase volume for a longer race.

What else can you do to increase (or maintain) fitness without risking overuse and over fatigue of your muscles (mental and physical ones)?

Consider adding some cross-training to your weekly workout routine.  Mix it up.  Here are some potential benefits I have experienced:

  • Stay fresh, less miles = more productive runs
  • Longer recovery period between runs = quicker speed workouts
  • Mixing up your workouts will keep you motivated and break the monotony that comes with increased running volume
  • Avoid overuse of your “running” muscles while developing other “muscles” — swimming increases your “lung” muscles and improves breathing patterns; cycling (or spinning) increases your “cadence” (turn over) muscles with lower impact (to joints; ankles, knees, hips, etc.)

If you choose to cross-training…. Start slowly.  If you train 4 days a week, try swimming, cycling or cross-fitness strength training one of those days.  Your legs (and feet) will thank you for it.

Once you acclimate your body to cross training you can even try to mix up your workout with multiple activities (often referred to as BRICKS, by triathletes), where you swim/bike, bike/run, run/bike, bike/swim, run/swim, etc., with little or no rest between each set.  These are called BRICKS because you are stacking workouts (like bricks in a wall), they make you tough like a brick wall, and because your legs will feel like a “ton of bricks” in the beginning of the second session, especially bike to run.

This should keep things interesting and fun.  If you try it, please let me know how it went (good or bad).  I would love your feedback.

PS I am currently training for a 50K using this “marathon” plan by Hal Higgons (only with added swimming and cycling volume) compared to last year where I logged 50-60 miles during my peak weeks.  I will report back and let you know if the cross-training helped improved my performance from last year’s 50K.

Cheers!
Frank

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Why This Year is My Year

Experience

1) Experience 

  • Older and a bit wiser, I’m no longer a Triathlete (swimming/cyclist) newbie
  • Train smarter, not harder
  • Understanding/improving my strengths and weaknesses

Packs

2) Packs

  • Learn from the experience of my running and cycling groups
  • Join another running group that pushes my running comfort boundaries
  • Enjoy the camaraderie, unified suffering

Diversity

3) Diversity

  • Find new challenges
  • Discover new places to train and compete
  • Break through the monotony by trying new activities to strengthen my body and sharpen my mind

Specificity

4) Specificity

  • Not overtraining for the sake of training
  • Not only focus more on speed and volume alone, also focus on the specific race day course
  • Work on my reflexes and my mental stamina – intensity factor for each planned race course

Womens 4x100m Free Relay Finals

5) Older but Faster

  • Work on speed workouts (patiently building up anaerobic threshold)
  • Strength my swim, bike, runs by doing intervals
  • Enjoy – Recovery, mentally and physically

Motivate

6) Encourage Others

  • Work as a team
  • Encourage my kids and their friends (advantage of S/B/R conditioning on their team sports)
  • Promote the sport

Faster-Bike

7) Fun

  • Continue to have fun doing what I love
  • Challenge myself to find new places to swim, bike, run
  • This doesn’t mean I’m not going to suffer, just means I will enjoy the scenery

Fun

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Posted in Cycling, Fitness, Motivation, Run, Swim, Triathlon

Ring in the New Year with a Run

This year I started the new year with a 5K run – my third one so far!

SRC-2015NewYearsResolution-5K-Race-IMG_1949

SRC Members

It’s a friendly run/race hosted by my running club, the Sparta Runners Club.

But I figure if I’m going I’m going to go for it.

SRC-2015NewYearsResolution-5K-Race-IMG_1958

Ready Set Go!

SRC-2015NewYearsResolution-5K-Race-IMG_1959

Garmin is Set, I’m Ready!

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This year I finished a bit slower than last year (2015 time: 21:24) (2014 time: 21:06), but it was still a fun day.

I love spending the first day of the new year with my running club, who inspire me and motivate me to run throughout the year.

The best part was that my wife and kids made it to the race this year :-)

SRC-2015NewYearsResolution-5K-Race-IMG_1955

Still trying to break 20-minute 5K!

Will this be the year?

Have a happy and successful new year…

SRC-2015NewYearsResolution-5K-Race
Cheers!
Frank

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Proper Pacing Will Make You a Better Runner

runner
Practice Different Paces

“A lot of people understand only two levels of pacing: Running as fast as they can or easy jogging,” North says. To get a sense of what different paces feel like, try this short workout: Warm up easy for 10 to 15 minutes. Then run one mile at marathon pace, four minutes at half-marathon pace, three minutes at 10-K pace, and two one-minute segments at 5-K pace, with 90 seconds of recovery jogging in between each interval.

Runners with a goal race should do workouts at their goal pace, says Boston-based coach Jeff Gaudette, so they’ll know what to expect on race day. For instance, three to four weeks before a half or full marathon, do five to 10 one-mile repeats at goal pace with one minute recovery in between. Three weeks before a 5-K or 10-K, do 12 x 400 at goal pace with 30-second jogs in between. Your body will learn that the pace naturally feels easier early in the workout or race.

Try it….

A half or full marathon race

(5 – 10) x one-mile repeats at goal pace with 1-minute rest

5-K or 10-K race

(12) x 400 at goal pace with 30-second jogs in between.

Read the original article

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