Friday, July 21, 2017

New deadlift max and vasectomy/ hernia pain

     I didn't race last night. I've felt like shit the last 3 days and it peaked yesterday. I think I felt so crappy because I was resting, which happens all the time. A severe change in a schedule tends to do that whether it's doubling your mileage or intensity or cutting it in half. I wasn't bummed though because I knew I'd feel good in the day or two and I would be able to train, which is the fun part anyway right?
     And I did feel good this morning! I went to the gym and finally deadlifted double my body weight. #290.

     Not exactly "proof" but I'm not the guy who asks someone to take a pic while I do the lift, so you'll have to take my word for it. Or not. And the bare bar weighs #60 if you're adding it up.
     I listened to a Tim Ferris podcast recently and his guest was Ryan Flaherty, an elite level strength and speed coach, and he talked a bit about using the trap bar (or hex bar) deadlift in not only determining an athletes speed but also improving it. Here's a good article on this. Strength to body weight ratio, which I feel is my #1 weakness right now. This was just my 4th time doing trap bar deadlifts so I'm over the moon with today and even better is that I didn't feel any tweaks. Well, besides my triceps. After my #290 lift I dropped the weight by #90 and did 2 sets of 16 reps and my triceps cramped.
     Another breakthrough of sorts is that I did #110 on hip ADduction (machine). The reason I've been  focusing on these is that for the past couple of years I've had a Google (self) diagnosed sports hernia. When I slept on my left side I'd have sharp pains in my groin that ran up through my lower abdominals. At first I thought it was lingering vasectomy pain (or PVPS which is a real thing), which I had for ~6 years post procedure. Pain in fact to the point where I felt I'd been punched in the junk. That slowly resolved right at the time when this new pain came about so I just thought it was part of that. But, after looking more into it I thought it may be a sports hernia. One PT exercise for such an issue is hip ADduction work. Like the Thighmaster.
     That's not me BTW, I lent mine to a buddy and he never returned it so I've had to resort to the dreaded adduction machine at the gym. It's the only piece of equipment you use where eye contact becomes awkward. I look more like this and I do scream. People STILL won't make eye contact.
       Anyway, since I've been doing this I've had 100% resolution of pain in my groin and lower abdominals and I can finally sleep facing my wife. I started a few months ago with the lowest weight possible and it HURT. It sent electric shock sensations into my groin and junk. Although that could be a good thing for some, I think it's more associated with acts that are banned by the Geneva Convention. Every week it got better though and today I was able to do #110 for a set of 10 reps with zero discomfort. Good stuff. This is all part of why I feel that weight/ strength training is such a huge deal particularly as we age. Next time you see an elderly person, really check them out as they move. Don't be creepy about it, but look at what they're lacking. It's probably strength more than anything. After the age of 30 we start to lose muscle mass with the most severe losses happening after 50. Bone density also drops off. Both of those can be prevented by exercising and strength training is of course the #1 Rx.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday 3 X 150 meters

     I felt amazing this morning. No niggles whatsoever and my hamstring was just mildly tight and loosened up well during my warm-up. Despite those things I ran pretty poorly. At my top end speed I felt awkward and the watch showed that I was slower than usual.
 3 X 150 on 5:00 rest.
     If you split it evenly that's ~13.x for the first 100 then 6.x for the last 50. I race this Thursday and am hoping to improve from my last 400 which I hit 56.8. If I run like I did today I won't. Based on today I'd run 26.x for 200 which barely slips into the 56.x range for 400. But I was working too hard on these 150's. Much harder than I will in the first 200 this Thursday. We'll see.
    It's possible that yesterday's rest has my muscles feeling lazy or not fully activated and today's run fired them up. The next two days will be more tempo type work and avoiding stressing my CNS increasing fatigue.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

4 X 200, nailed it exhausted

     The minute I stepped out of bed I was doubting that this workout was going to happen as my legs were tight and numb. I had a couple of things going for me though. I slept in and woke up at 3:55 which I haven't done in a while and my energy was great. Then I remembered the results from the 400 meters in my age group at yesterday's Masters National Championships.
     My motivation is high already but seeing the results added a little to it. Allen Woodard is in a league of his own but I'm always motivated seeing guys like that and it definitely makes me want to work harder.
     So the workout was planned as 4 X 200 meters in 28.5 on 5:00 rest. All of my goal workouts are planned around a goal of 53" for the 400. The warm-up started awful and I jogged two laps on completely dead legs but started to loosen as I did my stretching and drill work. My left ankle which has been sore for a few days was 100%. Hamstring was about normal. Shin 100%. I spent probably an hour total aggressively massaging my lower legs and hamstring last night and it made all the difference.
     I told myself if I had to race to get under 29" I'd bag the workout and rest.
#1- 28.8". Not as bad as I expected. I've always had this "game on" attitude anytime the gun goes off or I hit my watch to start a workout and in the flip of a switch I feel better.

#2- 27.7" feeling smooth and relaxed. The effort was there but I wasn't hammering by any means and I felt good.

#3- 27.4 easiest one.

#4- 27.1 and feeling the effort finally. Still not racing but definitely needing to focus a bit. I also ended up taking just 4:00 rest which I felt was correct today. I ran a 200 time trial a couple of weeks ago somewhat rested and split 26.2. I was super happy to get within a second of that with a wasted and tired body. I blame a mental shift in attitude and a definite bump in fitness, which are both improving quickly.
     Super happy. Anytime you step up and do something that either you probably shouldn't be able to do or at least are doubting, it's a significant win that shifts your confidence up. Tomorrow is a full rest day finally.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tempo run

    16 X 100 meters at about 80-85% of max, yes this is a tempo run for sprinters. I ran these on a soccer field as diagonals. Diagonal across a soccer field measures 114 meters but I didn't nit pick on the meters. I just ran. I'm a long time fan of diagonals partly because of the soft surface and also because you don't nit pick or geek out on data, you just run by feel across, then walk the "end zone".
      Today I added various exercises to the recovery like walking lunges which I'm doing mainly to rehab my upper hamstring. Eccentric exercises to help with tendinopathy isn't completely understood but one theory is that it smooths the muscle that is attached to the tendon thereby reducing chronic stress on the tendon. This is another reason I massage and scrape my hamstrings every day and place a lacrosse ball under my upper hamstring when I drive. Another is that collagen (what tendons are made of) production is most stimulated by eccentric loads and can help to repair the tendon. Either way it seems to help me mitigate the issue. I also did push-ups, reverse crunches and ankling. I'm still amazed at out how ankling drills can exhaust my lower legs. I do a variation that is less dynamic and more of a heel to toe walking action that focuses more on the tibialis muscle to help build strength and endurance in dorsiflexion. Dorsiflexion of the ankle throughout the leg cycle is something I've never really considered or developed so I feel I have a weakness in that aspect. Plantaar flexion which is not necessarily incorrect and doesn't factor in as much in slower running, does contribute to hamstring stress and is also a wasted movement in sprinting. I've been working on developing muscle memory to keep my ankles flexed while running, which after 34 years of doing it differently is a bit of a struggle.  
     The suggested rest intervals for tempo vary according to who you talk to ranging from 30" up to 2:00. Today I kept it under a minute with a full recovery after #8. My legs felt healthier than yesterday but definitely fatigued. This session isn't technically a quality run and can be done 2-3 times a week. I personally don't think this should be done that frequently during a race prep phase as it can be a fairly tough session depending on your fatigue and will inhibit recovery needed to ensure quality days are just that. My own outlook with this whole 400 meter race thing has evolved into a 2-3 year plan using this year simply to build and gain experience so I'm not too concerned with trying to peak my potential in my upcoming races. This session though is best done in a general build phases 8+ weeks out from an 'A' race. This is also a complimentary session on a weight training day with the weights after the run. Not exhausting but still stimulating.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


or just learning and figuring things out. I've been training for the 400 meters for about 13 weeks now and I'm feeling my way through it. My most recent background is in endurance sports and I learned the hard way to err on the side of caution with injury and excess fatigue. With injury you usually have immediate feedback or warning of an impending breakdown. A tight achilles or hamstring. Pain in your IT band. But with fatigue it's fairly subtle and also a moving target that varies day to day and unlike injury it is a very necessary aspect of super compensation so you're actually trying to achieve a state of fatigue. Finding the balance point of just enough vs too much can be tricky and is learned through trial and then error. You have to find your breaking point in order to truly know where it is and with endurance training I not only found it but I leapt over the line. Now I am having to find it again but in an arena of intensity not endurance and it's a whole nother animal. And a side note- I don't feel that "trial and error" in this instance is appropriate. It's NOT an error to find your breaking point, in fact it's maybe the best education you can get. Once you step over that line you are immediately a better athlete and more able to avoid it in the future. If there's an error it's because of either an injury or you ignored the fact that you're over it for too long a time. Don't do either of those. Just step over, touch your toe to other side for a second, then step back. You do that enough you'll find that line keeps getting farther and farther away.  
     Running at maximum speed is a violent thing. Nearly every aspect of physical stress is greater and I think the fuse on an impending explosion is far shorter. When you're running easy a tight IT band might mean you can just cut back on normal training volume for a few days and if it happens during a run you most likely can make it home. If it happens while doing 100's on a track though, it might mean you have to take a week or two off. I'm not injured but as it's been for the past 13 weeks I have niggles that make me feel like I'm always on the edge of an injury. This morning it's my ankle, right shin, and (still) left hamstring. When I warm up effectively though they all loosen or resolve for the session so I'm going with it. Trial and then error? We'll see.
     I've always felt that on a certain level injury risk is part of the nature of the beast. If you push your body to it's breaking point you risk injury. And in order to truly maximize your potential you must push to the breaking point. Fatigue though is not so well defined. You can train through fatigue, and should, but you have to know when to alter a session or training cycle in order to prevent a collapse that requires a major sacrifice to a season in order to correct. The aforementioned epiphany I'm having now is that I need to train harder. The niggles aside I think I'm being too delicate or I'm avoiding risk. I'm trying too hard to come into each quality session as rested as possible in order to hit my goal times. But I'm exceeding my goal times on nearly every run so I think I need to increase overall fatigue and expect to hit the appropriate goal speeds with more effort. So I'm trying it.
     Tuesday was a fairly solid effort with 150's. Then I lifted yesterday, not hard but more what's called maintenance. The only thing I loaded was hex bar deadlifts, everything else had reduced loads. Coming the day after a track session though I felt the lift this morning in the form of fatigue. Then today I ran what I feel is the toughest track workout I've experienced. Not only just today was it brutal but also the structure and type of session makes it truly diabolical. I threw up after my last interval, or dry heaved to be more accurate. there was nothing in my stomach to actually come up.
 The workout: 3 X (300m/ rest 1:00/ 100m) rest 5:00 between sets.
 I was aiming for 44" on the 300 (which is about 59" 400 speed) and then the 100's I wanted to at least match the speed, which I just barely achieved.
300    / 100
44.7"/ 14.3"
44.5/ 14.5
44.5/ 14.1      

     If you're curious about what that 100 meters feels like I'd encourage you to try it. The discomfort is amazing. Two weeks ago Tuesday I ran 2 X 350m in 51" and 53"... today I was faster in a much harder workout with more cumulative fatigue. Five weeks ago I ran 2 X 300 in 47", again much faster today. So I'm seeing progress which has to be the foundational goal in any of this. Which begs the question why push harder if I'm making progress? Its equal parts a need to do my best and also to find my limits in a new discipline.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Track Anaerobic Alactic Power

     Or in other words more readily understood, "hard". I'm not much of a science guy so I tend to avoid big words like "anaerobic alactic". Similar to my car, I don't understand even a little bit about the AFR sensor in my Honda but I do know how to press my gas pedal to make the round rubber turny things go and get to my destination in the desired amount of time. Today's workout was 3 X 150 meters which still is not a true "speed" workout. Terminology is important and we tend to use the term "speed work" often and also incorrectly. Anyway, 3 X 150 meters (on 5:00 rest) was on my schedule with the goal of hitting 19"-20" on each. It felt like forever since I've done a track workout so I wasn't positive I could hit those splits. That's roughly 13" at the 100 then 6.5" for the last 50. Not exactly MAF.
#1- 19.4". Not 100% warmed up. Legs felt tight.
#2- 18.9". Better.
#3- 19.2". Felt the strain a bit on this.
 Then I took some liberties and decided to do 2 X 100. 12.85 on the first and then 13.3 on the second which is sort of a sign that I was done. That much of a drop off in speed, and I was pushing to max, was my body letting me know that it was done from a CNS perspective.

      Back to terminology. Technically an anaerobic alactic session would need the recovery to be long enough to recover the creatine phosphate used in the interval which takes roughly eight minutes. Today's workout called for five minutes of recovery which blurs the lines of the definition. Not exactly sure what the implications are in this regard. I personally don't believe that at my own level of ability it matters that much. A truly elite runner however may lose some benefits of the sessions.
     I liken the spectrum of runners to a blade. At the very beginner end you have butter knives, or their fitness is very dull. If you hone the butter knife on anything it will be easy to make it sharper than it was. With the runner they can generally do ANY workout and it will make them better to some degree. Then at the elite level you have razor blades. Even the tiniest stroke against a stone will dull it and in order to get the edge back to 100% you must very carefully and skillfully hone it on precisely the right stone. The elite runner needs to train very precisely and specifically and the tiniest details matter. I'd put myself somewhere in old pocket knife range. It's pretty dull from years of use and abuse but it has potential.

Monday, July 10, 2017


     We spent the last four days camping in South Dakota. We took the kids to Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave, and the Crazy Horse monument. Crazy Horse was by far the highlight. It blew away Rushmore for me.  
     I was up each morning by 6:00 to beat the oppressive heat which topped out in the high 90's every day.
 Friday- 35:00 with 4 X 20" fast.

Saturday- This run was meant to mimic a set of 300/100 on the track which is what I had planned for today. I had no way of measuring the dirt road by the lake so I went with 3 sets of 45" at about 400 meter race effort. Rest 1:00. 15" fast. Rest 5:00. Brutal session. Then on the way back to camp I did 4 X flying ~50 meters. You go into each one already running somewhat fast then punch it to max speed and hold it. True speed work this.

Sunday- 45:00 easy. My longest just easy run since April.  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Hill intervals and resting

     I felt OK this morning, not good enough that I'm not glad I'm not racing tonight though. One of the "rules" for 400 meter training, and sprints in general I suspect, is that when your CNS if fatigued you avoid things that cause further stress to that system. That rule can usually apply to all systems though. Like strength. If you're legs are sore and tired from a hard weight session you don't do another one the next day. Or if your legs are exhausted from a long tempo run you want to shift to another system in subsequent workouts. Fairly basic stuff.
     So today I leaned more towards a moderate --> hard hill workout. 3 X 45" or about 300 meters on 5:00 of walking rest. I wanted to continue to give my brain and psyche a break from strict structure and numbers though, which I feel is a very significant aspect to resting, so I ran the first one timed and the next two at just the same distance I covered in the first one without a watch. With no way to actually measure performance I was forced to just run by feel and allow my energy to dictate the efforts. I focused on starting fast for the first ~5" and then relaxing for the middle portion and then pushing the final meters while holding strict form. My arms go to crap at the end of hard intervals and races so I kept them more in line and tried to use their cadence to guide my legs, in other words when you speed up your arm swing your legs follow. It works quite well actually.
     These felt just OK, my legs are flat. More often than not resting does this because the change is too severe and not exercising causes muscles to tighten up and motor units "get lazy". I say often that in periods of rest and taper you want to stimulate muscles but not break them down, or you want to avoid fatigue and stress associated with training yet keep the muscles activated and fired up. If I run tomorrow I expect to feel better than today and then on Saturday to feel back normal.
     Today was more of an activation session but I also wanted to avoid sprinting or actual speed work so I chose to do more a strength session. The uphill choice was to keep pounding to a minimum and lessen the stress on my CNS.    

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

No race this week

     My fatigue was quite high on Monday and yesterday it was still lingering. I felt on Monday that I might need to pull back a bit to ensure my body holds up through to my 'A' race in August and I've fully committed to that. So I'll be skipping this week's 400 race. I'm not injured, far from it actually, I just have a gut feeling or a whisper in the back of my head that I need to ease off this week. Many years ago I would have ignored that feeling and maybe I could get away with it this week and be fine, but over the years I've learned that not only is it not necessary to push in times like this but it's almost always detrimental to development. Our compulsion to push ourselves is simultaneously our greatest strength and weakness. Balance is critical and when things are going good we lose sight of that.
     Ensuring that I hold up through to the end of next month doesn't only mean physical health, it also implies mental health. I want/ need to be sharp not only in my race but also in every workout over the next seven weeks. Going into each workout rested and physically sharp will ensure each of them is most beneficial. Keeping a high level of motivation and mental edge is also a major component of that. Resting seven weeks out is good timing too. That leaves me with ~16-17 good workouts yet to come.

Monday, July 3, 2017


 Saturday I felt pretty good but rested. Sunday I felt not so good so I rested. We were camping both days so it was an easy call. Today I felt horrible and did warm-up drills, stretches and strides. A 3 day lag in fatigue isn't unusual for me, particularly when cumulative fatigue gets high so hopefully I'll snap back tomorrow.

Friday, June 30, 2017

200 meter time trial/ test

     26.26. I'll admit I'm not ecstatic with that. I definitely did not feel fully recovered from Tuesday and my top end felt limited. During the warm-up I ran 4 X 50 all in high 6 seconds which wasn't a great sign, they felt a bit forced. I decided to give it a go anyway since today was more of a fast focus. There's no way to factor in things like fatigue and this being a solo time trial. Race scenarios you definitely get more stimulated and in a sprint event that has more of an impact than any other race distance. Not much need to get hyped when you need to start easy and relaxed in a marathon! For sprints though, adrenaline and being super hyped is significant. Add into that actually racing other people and I'm confident I can go 54.x next week which would continue my improvement to 2 seconds per race. I figure by August I should be around 46" or so. Ha. Seriously though I'd be very pleased with a 54 next week. The main focus will definitely be unloading some fatigue before then which I'm seeing is really THE #1 factor in all this. I could feel my top end lacking today and there was nothing I could do to go faster. In longer events and workouts we can usually muster a little more or muscle out a little more speed. But when you're at 100% there's nothing for it. And when you're fatigued you're 100% is slower.
     The entire point of this however was to see where I am and to try to define my weakness which will help to steer me in the right direction in the coming weeks. I lack speed but I feel that I also need a little work on endurance. I need the strength to resist form breakdown in the last ~100 meters. Even in this 200 today I felt it go with ~50 meters to go. The 200 is not run all out from the gun, it's paced. There are 4-5 segments of a 200 believe it or not and it's somewhat technical. Actually VERY technical if you consider that the smallest error results in a huge impact. And a small error could be something like running the third 40 meters 0.15 seconds too fast. I'm not at that level, not even close, but I also suck at at this right now so my mistakes will not only be bigger but I'm also weak enough that the impact of that mistake is bigger.
     I rested for ~8:00 or so and then jumped into 2 X 100 (in 13 mid) with an athlete of mine who I had doing a  200/100 workout. Then we finished with 4 X 50 meters on a flying start to max speed. It was interesting that I felt smooth and fast on the first 3 and then on the 4th one I felt my speed leave. It was profound and I could feel the significant loss in my CNS economy. Cool stuff I think!
     And speaking of CNS, today's session is very much what will impact the CNS. I'll be taking 2 full days off, possibly an easy ~2 miles jog Sunday, to make sure I allow recovery.      

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday rambling

      I was hoping I'd feel OK today, yesterday I cut the workout with that in mind. It worked. One concept or method out of the many for training for a 400 meters advocates doing 100's at a fast but relaxed pace on your easy days. Clyde Hart, possibly one of the most successful sprint coaches ever, has his athletes doing something similar but it's in the form of 200's and 300's followed by 4 X 40 meters "quick". You'll see that a lot in his weekly structures. The 100 variation is part of a mixed (sprint and tempo) method which I'm sensing is better for me. It feels better anyway plus (I think) I have a definite speed weakness so I need that. One goal in the coming months will be to do 2-3 of these diagonal sessions a week in the hopes of developing my central nervous system more, or at least undoing some of the aging process from a neuromuscular pov. Which believe it or not can be done. So can "fiber shifting" which is changing slow twitch to fast twitch. Something for another post maybe. Anyway.
     My soccer field, or my kid's school soccer field rather, which is just down the road, is only 60 meters long so I won't be able to do 100's but I can still get the point. Today was 12 X ~40 meter diagonals (running corner to corner) on what is called a rolling start. A rolling start is where you build for ~5-10 meters and then punch it VS coming out of blocks or a 4 or 3 point start. Less violent or explosive and avoiding that aspect is part of the point of this. These aren't supposed stress the CNS (central nervous system) but rather stimulate it. You want motor units (a motor unit is a motor neuron and the muscle fiber attached to it) to fire and activate. Fatigue can cause a short circuit of sorts and motor units will shut down causing a lower percentage of a muscle to be active or coordinated. This session is designed to activate everything and get the muscles coordinating/ firing well again. Some coaches (Canova), myself included believe that a better recovery protocol is to include some type of CNS stimulation, but the crux almost always comes down to durability. If you're a wreck after a hard day then injury risk will sky rocket if you try something like this. You need to be confident that you aren't going to tear something. The main points to consider are hamstrings, glute medius, and achilles (or lower leg in general) as these are the places where the most common injuries occur or at least originate from. The reason being that these points are the most stressed. The hamstrings are violently (you'll see this word often because it perfectly describes the stress) contracted and more importantly extended or stretched. The achilles, which was already stressed the day before and most likely damaged, is going to be subjected to impact force. The glute med. is susceptible because it's been weakened and similar to the hamstring will be stretched and torqued.
     Diagonals, or what the program I'm following terms "moderate tempo", should be run quite comfortable and relaxed with a strong focus on technique and form. You should build as you loosen meaning the first one is very relaxed, the second is slightly faster, the third faster, and so on yet never sprinting. You'll warm up into these and you never force it. The recoveries are walking the end zones which takes about 30"-45". The techniques I focus on are planting my recovering foot well under my center of gravity, almost behind it. This forces your recovery foot to already be driving back (think of it like scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe) upon contact. So rather than land ---> then push off, your foot is already pushing off when it lands. The other aspect which I'm finding tough is to bring your recovering foot up and over your planted knee with your ankle fully dorsiflexed. This feels exaggerated and awkward but I feel the stress in my hamstring disappear when I do it right. Right now I have a touch of high hamstring tendinopathy so I have pain in my upper hamstring when I don't do it. In a messed up way the tendinopathy is a perfect teaching tool. One more concept that I think I already have down is that you never want your femurs to go past 20 degrees of center (meaning you don't allow your femur during the push off phase to go more than 20 degrees behind you.) All of these techniques are focused on simultaneously reducing hamstring stress and increasing economy. One guy who absolutely nailed this technique was Michael Johnson. You can see it plain as day once you know what to watch for. His arm swing was also text book, particularly in the last 100- watch his compared to his competition. I've heard his technique described as a shuffling motion.
     One last thing. If I feel good, I'm considering a time trial on Friday. I have a definite goal for my final, 'A' priority 400 in August and I really want to see where my critical speed is. This will allow me to see where my main weakness is right now and where to steer my training in the coming weeks. If my time trial sucks and shows I can't reach my goal then I need to work on speed. If it's excellent and shows I can reach my goal then I need to work on endurance. The TT will be an all out 200 meter solo race essentially. .  

Wayde Van Niekerk 300 meter world record today

Race starts at 3:20.
 Amazing! Wayde's last 100 is hands down the strongest ever. I think I read he wants to double the  200/400 in Tokyo.
 He's 6'0" and 154 pounds which is fairly light for a 200/ 400 guy.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday track

     I knew going into this I didn't feel great so I chose the lesser of the pointy sessions I have on my schedule for this week. I still didn't quite hit the session as planned but it served it's purpose. The goal was 3 X 350 meters in 51". I completed two and didn't attempt a third. About 4 weeks ago I raced my first 400 in 58" and today these two 350's were right at that same speed. The reason I decided not to try a third was because I didn't want to go too deep today partly because I didn't feel great and partly because I have two more sessions planned this week. I preach to my athletes all the time about not compromising many for the sake of one because consistency is one of the fundamental concepts (laws?) that lead to success.
     The workout: 2 X 350 meters in 51.6 and 52.1 on 5:00 recovery. I hit 28" on each of the 200 splits.

     The basic goals of the workout today were to work on draining creatine phosphate stores, which deplete by ~50% after the first 100 meters. and also shifting to glycolysis or the rapid break down of glucose. The distance of the intervals and the effort I put out were also useful in learning to tolerate high levels of lactate. If I made a mistake, or if I could have done something better today, it would have been taking 8:00 of recovery rather than 5:00. Creatine will fully replenish after about 8:00 which may have allowed me to get a third repeat. Lactate levels however would not have dropped significantly so that aspect would have still been worked. Lactate levels remain fairly unchanged between 3:00 post interval and up to 10:00 post interval. This concept has been one of the most profound for me coming from an ultra background. I think these recovery interval concepts illustrate well what it takes to truly "perform" a workout correctly. If you're doing speed work and taking short recoveries then you may not actually be doing speed work. Even my workout today was not speed work! It could be considered more "tempo" because these were quite a bit slower than goal race speed and goal race speed for a 400 meters still derives ~30% of your metabolic energy from the aerobic system... so NOT speed work. Kind of cool I think.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


     After the track yesterday we drove up into the higher country and camped on the Arkansas River. We hiked for over two hours which was perfect recovery and I woke up today feeling great. I can't sleep at home but on the ground next to a roaring river I sleep like I wish I always could.  
     I've been mulling over where I want to place my energy or focus for the remainder of this summer. My "A" race (and last outdoor race of this year) is in 9 weeks. I'm 100% sure that lifting weights is something that can't be neglected as a masters runner in ANY distance but it definitely detracts from performing quality sessions. So, with 9 weeks I think I'm going to stop lifting and replace it with one hill session per week and keep the plyo sets. Then after August I'll resume the strength focus. The best thing about all of this ruminating is just that, I'm thinking months ahead about my running which means it's going to stick. I am positive that next summer I'll make even more gains. More experience, more strength and fitness, more skill and technique.
     The indoor track season begins in Colorado on December 6th and indoor was easily my favorite in college. It looks like there'll be about 7 indoor meets over the winter.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Track. Nailed it.

The workout:
        3 X (200/ 100) All 4 point starts.
Results:  28.6/ 13.8
               26.7/ 13.8
               26.6/ 14.3

   I rested 60 seconds between the 200 and 100. The loading only peaked in that time and my legs began to tighten up, which is the point of the short recovery. My last 100 in 14.3 felt as hard as finishing a 400 race. Very tough to stay relaxed and keep form. It helps to focus on bringing my knees up and lifting my recovery foot over my opposite knee. Think bicycling type movement or revolutions. Another concept I've been working on is not pointing my toes on the recovery and foot plant and making sure my feet/ ankles are dorsiflexed in those phases. This ensures less braking and lessens the load on my hamstrings.

Friday, June 23, 2017

One of those days

     I woke up feeling much better but still not positive I would be able to hit the goal splits for today's track session. Legs a little heavy and hamstring tight. My left knee has been achy the last couple of days. I'm fairly certain I pissed it off doing plyos.
     I headed down the mountain in maybe the heaviest fog I've seen up here yet. Visibility was no more than a few feet. Half way down it started pouring rain and it was 50 degrees. All that added up to make it easy decision to turn around and bag it. Ultimately it was a good call. I'll give the knee and legs an extra day and hit it tomorrow.
 It's currently 48 degrees and foggy which is my favorite running weather! I wouldn't be surprised if we dipped into the 30s tomorrow morning.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Drills, stretching, supplements and psychology

     My fatigue is much better today but still not resolved. It's pretty wild how such a brief workout of 4 X 100 meters can be so stressful. Intensity is KING when it comes to stimulation. Both hamstrings are tight but not bad. I've had HHT (high hamstring tendinopathy) in my left hamstring for the past month or so but it hasn't hindered my training. I sit on a lacrosse ball in my car and massage every night which has mitigated it well. Every week it seems to fade a little more. I slept in today and woke up at 3:45 in a good head space.
     I jogged down to the soccer field and went through my typical warm-up and stretching routine and by the end my legs were firing well. Still a bit dead but I was moving quick. I extended my stretching routine out to 20:00 which felt great. I haven't been a fan of stretching but as I've done it more and more I'm gradually changing my views on it. Like everything in this sport it isn't for everyone but if it works for you then go with it.
     On the training plan for tomorrow is 3 sets of 200 (rest 1:00) then 100 (rest 8:00). The rest interval after the 200 is the key to this session and deceptively difficult. Once you finish a hard effort your HR continues to rise and your lactate increases as it floods through your body and will peak at about 30" post interval. IMO this is harder than running a 300. The goal on the 200's is 29"/ 28"/27". The goal on the 100's is 14"/ 13"/ 13". Not sure if I'll be recovered enough by tomorrow to do this so I'll wait and see. I'll get through the warm-up and drills and then do 4 X 50 meters before deciding. If I'm rolling the 50's comfortably in 6"-6.5" then I'll probably give it a go.

     Here's a pic of the supplements I'm currently taking.
    B complex which I've taken forever. Helps with CNS recovery, muscle tissue repair, and red blood cell production. Master Amino Pattern (amino acids) which has had the most noticeable impact on my recovery than anything. I started taking this back in ~2011 and it's one thing I budget for every month. I joke that I'll buy my running shoes from a thrift store so I can buy MAP. But it's not a joke. Maltodextrin which falls into that same category as stretching. If it works for you then go with it and maltodextrin works for me. Always has. I take in 60g of carbohydrate before hard sessions and then another 60 immediately post run to start the recovery process. Creatine is a new one for me. I tried it back in ~1998 or so but couldn't really afford to keep with it. I've come back to it because of the type of training I'm doing. There's been enough research on it for me to give it a shot and see how it goes, so far I think it's made a difference. It might be a little placebo effect which is fine and good too.
     I find the whole idea of placebos interesting in that it points out the power of our mind. I believe  that our minds are a very underrated aspect of training and racing and it edges into being more important than our body. Everything starts with our brain and thought processes. Touch a hot stove and a signal is sent to your brain, processed, then returned to your hand where you then feel pain. The will to train begins in your mind and without that will you won't train effectively. Training effectively is how you get fast and training effectively is about discipline, execution and dealing with suffering and fatigue... all that begins in your brain. The psychology of sport is also far more complex than the physiology. What happens to muscle tissue during training is pretty much the same in every person and how to manipulate training to exploit muscle tissue is basic knowledge. But each person has one hundred billion neurons in their brain and each person's development is completely different. How your psyche responds to a workout is utterly unique to that person. The key to excelling in running is figuring out your mind, not your body.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Knackered central nervous system

 I woke up today with fairly heavy CNS (central nervous system) fatigue from the past several days. This has become a familiar feeling but has usually come about after just one to two days of hard training, this time I got in many before it hit me which shows improvement. Before I started training for sprinting, CNS fatigue was never really an issue. It was there for sure but with ultrarunning it isn't as severe an inhibitor to improvement as it is with sprinting. That's because of the expectation of performance in training. With ultrarunning you can wake up exhausted but that's typically OK, your performance for the day is usually just logging more miles or doing more moderate efforts. With sprinting however there are finer expectations and for a noob like myself those come down more to neurological development than muscular or metabolic. I liken it to sprinting down a ~4% grade hill. It's very unlikely that you'll approach Bolt's world record in the 100 even with the downhill because you can't move your legs fast enough. Or spin a bicycle up to 200 revs. That doesn't take superior strength or power or Vo2 max. It simply takes coordination.  
      Refined movement patterns or muscular coordination is not as critical when you're running easy or slow. Not even if you're running tempo. Get into higher intensities or nearer your absolute max though and it becomes more critical to have every motor unit in every muscle group working in coordination to drive you forward. In order to develop this economy you can't be too fatigued to do the very specific and technical work required. Yesterday's workout was aimed at developing that coordination but if I were to attempt the same workout today I wouldn't be able to hit the required speeds and therefore wouldn't be training the appropriate system.
     For the 400 there are other systems or aspects that are just as important as economy of movement. Strength, power, lactate tolerance, endurance (endurance for a 400 looks quite different than what most people think of endurance), these are all important and I could go out today and probably pull off one of these workouts, but looking at the past six days I've done plenty of work and see little benefit to not being patient and resting.
 CNS fatigue is a somewhat general term and like any "fatigue" there is a spectrum of severity. At it's most severe you are essentially over trained but that can take weeks and weeks to achieve and also involves other systems including endocrine. If you're approaching true over training you'd be a complete wreck on every level. A fatigued CNS takes a bit more time to recover than simple muscle tissue. Again, there are varying degrees of fatigue but at even the mild end, where I am, it'll take around 72 hours to freshen up enough to do another speed session. In that recovery period it's important to avoid stressing the CNS with exercise that requires immediate/ fast movement under load. Heavy lifting and of course sprinting are the main ones. More things to avoid are stress and lack of sleep. Unfortunately I have "sleep maintaining insomnia" which means I wake up early. These days it's between 2 and 3 am. Sleep is huge when it comes to healing or resting our CNS for obvious reasons so I'm going suffer a little with this. Stress is a tricky one. Emotional stress is far more detrimental to our health than physical yet it's not an easy fix like just going to bed early. Learning to let go of things you can't control or changing your perspective of a situation is useful and not that tough to do. Be positive rather than negative. Avoiding simple sugars or inflammatory foods like gluten can help and also supplementing vitamin B's. If you're a distance runner then avoiding excess volume is a good idea. Reducing stimulant use, like coffee, will help. You really only need to reduce it, not eliminate it. Unless you smoke meth. Then you should probably just eliminate it.
     Symptoms of CNS fatigue can be tricky to recognize if you don't know what to look for. Start off with recognizing your previous training loads as having the potential to bring it about. If you're jogging 20 miles a week then I'd guess you won't have issues. But if you have high stress in your life, lift heavy and/or have a high volume of intensity then keep an eye out. I would very much liken how I feel today to a hangover. I quit drinking alcohol over 3 years ago and thankfully haven't felt a hangover since, but I remember it. I can feel fatigue in my legs of course but it doesn't feel profoundly different than after most solid workout days so I don't think you want to use that as your gauge. I'm talking about the central nervous system which means brain and spinal cord. One test I've read about is to tap your finger on your leg or desk as fast as possible for ten seconds and count the taps. You of course need to establish a base line number but a drop in that number shows a certain level of CNS fatigue. Measuring grip force is another but how do you do that? The best way really is to look at your log book and watch for changes in mental state.
     One last thing. I wrote that for ultrarunning you can wake up exhausted but that's typically OK. What I'm talking about is performance specifically, not that CNS fatigue isn't an issue or a detriment, I'm more saying you can get away with it and still develop specific fitness like endurance and metabolic economy. With sprinting and even fast intense race distance like 5k and 10k you can't take it nearly as deep and expect to improve. Yesterday I wanted 100's in under 13 seconds yet when I trained for Leadville I wanted to run 12:00 miles for 24 hours. That's a massive disparity in every way. Not even the same sport. The main thing you must do is avoid fatigue levels that limit performance expectations.         

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

4 X 100 meters with a new (unofficial) PR

 Started off the morning with this...

 The workout was 4 X 100 meters out of a four point stance (imaginary starting blocks). Racing 400 meters has an odd aspect to it in that you can go 100% max effort for the first ~5-7 seconds (depending on your fitness type and level) and it won't affect your race. A well trained runner like Jeremy Wariner or Alison Felix can hold this phase longer. The term "go ugly early" is used in describing the start. In a 400 race effort the alactic energy system is going to burn out regardless of how violently you start so it's considered free speed to max out the opening meters. My main problem however is that I'm muscularly weak from an explosive start perspective. Hex bar dead lifts and box jumps with a weight vest have been my main focus for addressing this but my starts are still pathetic and awkward.
     Today's workout though shows that I have probably improved. 3 weeks ago I ran 100m in 12.8 out of blocks. Today I ran 5 X 100m in 12.63, 12.80, 12.63 again, and 12.94. I ran a first one with a flying start in 11.86 but won't count it. All were on 5:00 rest.
      Then I finished with 4 X 50m on the infield turf with flying starts to work on absolute top end. The focus here was central nervous system coordination and hitting absolute maximum speed. It feels awkward and ugly! I was hitting low 5 seconds on each.
      I have to time these myself so I use a handheld stopwatch that allows me to hit the start/ stop button with one hand. Trying to hit the button on my watch while maxing out speed doesn't work even a little and doing a four point start is impossible. Pics below show what I'm talking about. I'm doing my honest best to time these accurately.