Saturday, June 30, 2007

Booze (AKA The Devil)

Booze is the worst possible thing you can put inside of your body when you're training. Booze is bad for your system, it diminishes the quality of your sleep, it makes you feel gross the next day, and the net result is that your workout suffers. Here's my "workout" from last night.

1 White Russian
1 Shot of Johnny Walker Blue Label
1 Sam Summer
1 Mojito
1 Shot of Vodka
1 Amstel Light
1 Shot of Vodka
1 Amstel Light
1 Red Bull and Vodka

A friend is in town from England, which is why I went out like a rockstar last night. Occasionally you just gotta go have a good time with your friends, however this type of drinking is going to derail my training if I keep doing it. Never mind the fact that typing out how much I drank last night makes me feel like a complete boozebag. Event though I feel fine today, I think the lesson is learned.

I am going to go the gym right now and punish myself. I might just hit that damn rowing machine until I puke.

Tomorrow is a long run, maybe 8 miles, so NO BOOZE TONIGHT!!!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sleep... oh sweet sleep...

Apparently I haven't slept enough this week.  You wanna know how I figured that out?

This morning I got up At 6:00 AM and turned off my alarm clock.  I yawned, and then turned my head to look back at my bed.  As soon as I laid eyes on my pillow, I was instantly transported back to the bed, under the covers, with my alarm clock set to 7:45.  Magic.

When you're training for a marathon, you actually NEED to be getting around 8 hours of sleep a night.  That is, without a doubt, the hardest part of training.  Wednesday night I was up until midnight, but I still managed to get up Thursday morning.  However, I was a zombie all day yesterday and this morning I have no workout to show for it.  Lack of sleep during the week just builds up, and by Friday your body begins to protest by acting sluggish and uncoordinated.  

I might try to make up the cross-training tonight after work, but I might also just have 3-4 beers and sleep until noon tomorrow.  Choices, choices.  

Sunday is a long run day... I'm not sure how long it should be yet, but I'm leaning towards 8 miles at around an 8:30 pace.  


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Log #8: Pro... (wheeze).... gress!

What is a tempo run?

I'm sure there are very complex, scientific ways of defining a "tempo" run, but it's basically a run where you're uncomfortable for 20-30 minutes. You're not going all-out or close to all-out like in a speed workout, but you're running way faster than a normal marathon pace. This type of running teaches your body to tolerate the pain caused when lactic acid builds up in your muscles, and also trains your body to accept more oxygen at once.

Today my workout ended up being this:

2 miles @ 8:30
2 miles @ 7:13
.5 miles @ 9:00

It's pretty clear that the tempo portion of the run killed me. I was supposed to run 2 more miles after the tempo, but I was just DYING. I've learned, from dealing with overtraining injuries, that I have to listen to my body when it says "Stop!" or else my training will suffer down the line. When you start training for something like a marathon, it's very easy to fall into the trap of pushing yourself too hard. You think that the harder you push, the better your gains will be. This is only true up to a certain point: You do need to feel uncomfortable in order to make your body adapt and become stronger, however you also need to make sure that you're not utterly destroying your legs to the point where recovery from a workout takes a week. I could have forced myself to finish the last 2 miles, but I would have A) Puked all over the treadmill, and B) Had sore legs for the next 3-4 days.

The limiting factor for me today was my lungs. My legs were burning a little, but I could have kept going if I had the wind in me. I was breathing very hard at the end of mile 4, and knew that 2 more miles would be pushing myself too hard for this early in training. Since i know that I have almost 7 more weeks before I HAVE to be able to run this workout, I have plenty of time to adapt. In the past I've never had the discipline to hold back on training runs, and I've almost always burned out too early in the training. By pacing myself now, I should be able to run this tempo workout in another 2-3 weeks, while losing 3-4 pounds in the process. All I have to do is show a little progress each week, and I'll know that something is working.

Tomorrow is Rowing Machine day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Log #7: Bike = Friend

The bike was my friend today. I did a pretty tough 45 minute workout and it wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as it has been. I like the bike because you can read, listen to music, watch TV, and basically zone out for the whole workout. It's a nice break from running which requires all of your attention.

I'm also trying to get in the habit of eating small meals in between the 3 big ones. Today I had a PB&J around 11:00. When I add in these little meals I tend to eat a lot less for lunch and dinner, and I also have more energy. Eating the 5 smaller meals also keeps your metabolism cranked all day long instead of having huge peaks and valleys like it does when you binge 3 times a day. It feels like I'm eating more, but I suspect I'm eating a little less than I would if I stuck with 3 meals.

Tomorrow is tempo run day. Here's the plan:

2 mile warmup @ 8:30
2 mile tempo @ 7:14
2 mile cooldown @ 8:30

I tried this in Texas last week and it was a disaster. I think I might actually do this workout on the treadmill, just to make my legs do it once so I know how it feels. Running on the treadmill is great to get a sense of what it's like to run at a certain pace, but out in the real world it's much harder to make your legs move when the ground doesn't move for you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Log #6: Progress!!!

This morning was round 2 of my speed workout attempt. Last week I only managed to do one 1600m repeat, and then two 800m repeats. Today I did this:

10 minute warmup
1600m @ 6:41
1600m @ 6:54
800m @ 3:20
10 minute cooldown

Again, the chest felt like it might explode, but overall that's a huge improvement. I definitely felt stronger on the first 1600. I finished it and felt like I could have gone a little farther if I wanted to. The second repeat was MUCH tougher, but I managed to maintain a pretty constant speed until about halfway through my 3rd lap, at which point I hit a wall and had to slow down a tad.

What I've noticed about these speed workouts is that they make my tempo and pace runs feel much slower, which is a good thing. I remember when I got on this marathon kick last year, and at the time I hadn't run very much for about 4 years. I remember running 5 miles @ 8:30 and just about keeling over. I got to the point where an 8:00 mile felt pretty easy, but then I didn't see any more increases in speed. Once I started doing speed workouts at the track, I found that I could hold the 8:00 min/mile pace for longer, and even run in the 7:45 range.

My goal pace for this marathon will be 8:00 min/mile. I have tried to keep this pace in 2 other marathons, and haven't been able to go past about 16 miles. I think it has a lot to do with the way I was training. My old routines involved running almost every day, which never gave my legs time to rest and gain strength. I would also do EVERY run at an 8:00 pace regardless of what type of run it was. My 5 mile tempos were at 8:00, and my long runs were around 8:00. Now I know that my tempos should be in the 7:10-7:30 range, and my long runs should be about 8:30.

Tomorrow is more cross-training. I definitely like that I have days off between running workout, it makes the whole process seem less demanding and time consuming, even though I probably burn more calories overall because I'm not bored so I push myself harder. Tomorrow is bike day.

Let's hope my grundle-callous is a little thicker. I'm not sure my prostate can handle too much more abuse.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Log #5: Life Intrudes


That's all I can say. Life has a way of subverting marathon training. This time the culprit was a trip to Texas. Don't get me wrong... I enjoyed it, but eating massive amounts of Tex-Mex and sleeping until noon do not a marathon runner make. My 6 mile tempo run was derailed when the 95 degree, 100% humidity weather made me and my little brother almost faint. It turned into a 4 mile run that still kicked my ass. I skipped the long run on Sunday because I was flying home. Bah indeed. You sacrifice so much by training for a marathon that occasionally you have to splurge or you go crazy. At leats that's how I work.

Tomorrow is attempt #2 at the speed workout that I have to be able to complete by August 14. Here it is again:

10-20 minute warmup
3 x 1600m @ 6:41 pace
10-15 minute cooldown

Last time I only made it through 1 repeat, and then half of my next 2. Wish me luck tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Marathons and Skinnyfication

First off, I did a cross-training workout this morning on the rowing machine.  I did 5 minutes of easy rowing, then 10 hard, 5 easy, 10 hard, 5 easy.  Just in one week I feel more comfortable on that damn machine.  The worst thing about the rowing machine is that my headphones cord kept getting caught underneath the seat as I would slide backwards on the rails.  

Anyway, the point of this post is to talk about eating and weight loss while training for a marathon.   I have noticed in the past 2 weeks that my appetite has become ridiculous.  I am pretty much hungry all the time.  This will hopefully go away soon as my body becomes more efficient at using the fuel I put into it. Right now I'd guess I'm eating somewhere between 2000 and 2300 calories a day, and burning an average of 500 calories in my weekday workouts. During my long runs I'll burn anywhere from 1000 to 2000 calories. To make things simpler, let's say my "average daily calorie burnage from running" is 570. For reference, someone my height and weight needs around 2000 calories a day just to maintain weight and support normal bodily functions.

If my math is correct, that means I'm definitely in a calorie-deficient mode.

I eat 2300 calories a day
I use 2000 calories just by living
I burn 570 calories by excercising

So I'm down 270 calories a day, about 1900 calories a week. This also doesn't take into account the "Afterburner Effect" which refers to the increased speed your metabolism runs at for a few hours after excercising. Even if this effects gives me only 100 extra burned calories a day, I'm up to 2500 calories for the week that I'm burning off.

Burning off 2500 calories, as a general rule, equals 1 pound of fat. This doesn't strictly apply to me since I've lost a lot of fat already, but I definitely seem to lose around a pound each week as I train. My goal for this marathon is to get close to 155. I weigh 174 right now, and there are 24 weeks until the maratahon. I think my goal is attainable, but it will be VERY hard once I get into the lower 160's.

One trick I use is to only eat garbage on the weekends. I find that most diets fail because there is no "light at the end of the tunnel" as far as when the diet can end. The reality is that diets don't work because they are, by definiton, temporary measures. To ensure that the weight stays off you have to change the way you live your every day life, which is VERY hard to do. I've found that it's easier for me to eat pretty healthy stuff on the weekdays as long as I know that on the weekends I can eat pretty much whatever I want. This works partly because on Sundays I do my long run, which can burn thousands of calories. It also works because by the time the weekend rolls around, I'm not really that interested in pigging out anymore. I'll have a nice dinner or a few beers, but I don't go on binges that would sabotage the results of my discipline during the week. The "Weekend Rule" works for me, so that's what I'm sticking to.

So, if anyone wants a surefire way to lose a lot of weight, just run a marathon and only eat junk food on the weekends. It's that simple.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Random things about marathon training you probably don't know...

1. You have to replace your shoes every 150-200 300-400 miles you run. This is about 6-8 weeks for me, so I'll buy 3 pairs of shoes before I run this marathon. (Note: I tend to wear out shoes faster than 300-400 miles. I'm not sure why, but it could be my form, my weight, who knows? When the shoes lose their "bounce" they're dead so I replace them.

2. Your immune system gets mad at you. You'd think all this running would make you HEALTHIER, but no... I actually get a lot more colds when I train.

3. Overtraining is not what you think it is. Overtraining happens when you train too hard, too fast, without giving your body time to build up the endurance you need. I did this last year when training for this same marathon. I assumed overtraining would feel like my muscles being really sore, and a general "pooped" feeling. Actually, you feel ok but you just can NOT run for more than 5 minutes without getting out of breath. I also had incredible trouble sleeping, to the point where I thought I had insomnia. My mood also sucked. I finally did some research and figured out I was overtraining. I took 2 weeks off and was fine after that.

4. You have to eat all the time. I try to do the 5-6 small meals thing, but generally I'm just eating a million powerbars throughout the week in between meals. I still lost 25 pounds last year.

5. Your nipples can, and will bleed if you're not careful. Just put bandaids over them if you're running over 5 miles and you should be fine. If you don't do this... well then your nipples are gonna bleed. I warned you.

6. After a marathon you get "post-marathon depression." If you think about it, it makes sense. You dedicate months of your life to pursue this enormous goal, and then you do it, feel an amazing sense of accomplishment, and then there's an empty feeling like, "now what?" This is why I'm running another marathon. I think I'm addicted... it's awful.

7. You have to wear spandex... it's that simple. If you choose to go with looser fitting running shorts, I give you my word you will regret it. Two words: Chafed Taint. I won't mince any words here.

8. Red bull is your friend. (or at least my friend)

Log #4: Exploding Chest

My first speed workout was excruciating.  I didn't manage to finish all 3 of the 1600m splits I was supposed to.  Here's what I managed:

20 minute warmup
1600m @ 6:40 (success!)
800m @ 3:20
800m @ 3:20
10 minute cooldown

There's always mental pressure to stop running once it gets uncomfortable, but I was ready for that so I pressed on.  The problem was that I literally felt like my chest was going to pop.  I might have been able to finish the 2nd split, but then I would have been lying on the ground on the verge of passing out and my legs would probably have cramped up very badly.  

My hope is that by doing this workout once a week until the program officially starts will get me in shape to actually run all three 1600m splits in the goal time.  Tomorrow is cross-training... the rowing machine.  My legs need a break.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Log #3: Biking, and its effect on my grundle

I got up this morning at 6:00 am (which sucks btw) and made it over to the gym. Mondays are technically a day off from training, but since I blew off doing any form of exercise this weekend (except for wiffle ball and drinking... at the same time) I figured I should do SOMETHING to burn a few calories. I ended up trying out a cross-training excercise recommended by the book I'm using. It was basically a moderate 45 minute workout on a stationary bike. I have never... I repeat, NEVER ridden a stationary bike for that long. My legs were only a little sore afterwards, but the grundle / taint / chode was very unhappy after the workout. Google the word "grundle" if you're not sure what it means. I wonder if a few more bike workouts will help me develop a thicker / less sensitive taint. Tomorrow will be my first speed workout, which should be interesting. I'm supposed to do this:

10-20 minute warmup
3 x 1600m @ 6:41 pace w/ 1 minute rest
10 minute cooldown

(Just FYI, 1609.3 meters is a mile, so running 1600m at 6:41 pace is about a 6:45 minute/mile.)

So that's, conservatively, a 50 minute workout. In reality it will take me an hour since I will DEFINITELY need more than 1 minute to rest after busting out a 6:41 mile. The odds of me hitting 6:41 three times in a row on my first try are very close to zero.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Log #2:  Derailed... a little...

I just got back from a bachelor party.  I most certainly did not run on Friday, and I will not be doing the long run today.  I don't feel that bad since I still have 8 weeks to train before my program even officially starts.  I'm going to go do a cross-training workout today instead, maybe the ol' bicycle.  As long as I sweat out the massive amounts of vodka I drank last night I'll be fine.  I also won $80 playing craps... YEAH!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Log #1:  Derailing is easy!

Oh lordy.  Well, so far week 1 has been pretty good training-wise, although I haven't started the FIRST program correctly.  Here's what I've accomplished:

Tuesday: 4 miles, 8:15 pace
Wednesday: 6 miles, 8:05 pace
Thursday: Rowing Machine, 30 minutes at a very hard pace

Today is Friday, and I was out until midnight last night, so I didn't get up and run.   The plan is to do another 6 miles tonight, but a friend from Colorado is in town, and on top of that I feel a little sick, and I'm really tired, so maybe it's in my best interest to just take the night off.   Yeah, that makes sense.  I'll just drink instead.

WRONG!!! You see how easy it is to just fall right off the wagon?  I'm definitely doing 6 miles tonight, though I might cop out and do them on a treadmill.

My Training Program

It's absolutely amazing to me the way the human mind works. For instance:

I ran the Boston Marathon a few months ago, and had the most painful marathon experience of my life. The weather was horrible, I had slacked off on my training towards the end, and mentally I just wasn't in the right spot to do well. I had never gotten leg cramps before, and when they hit me around mile 22 I was almost incapacitated. Standing up hurt like hell, and when I squatted down to rest my legs other runners shouted, "Don't do that! You'll freeze up and be stuck like that!" I ended up half-squatting untilt the cramps went away long enough to shuffle towards the finish. It was the most physically excruciating thing I'd ever done. The last 6 miles of the marathon were, in my mind, the last marathon miles I'd ever run. I'd done what I came to do and could call it quits. When I finished, my joy and pride at finishing were matched only by the relief that I was DONE and could just sit on the couch for the rest of my years.

That was April. It's now June and if you asked me what I remember about the Boston Marathon I would tell you that the pain wasn't so bad and it was so worth it and I can't wait to try and qualify at some point and run it again. Why do I do this to myself?

So the training has started, and right now I'm in the "Ramp-Up Phase." This isn't a scientific term, it's just what I'm calling the 9 weeks between now and the official start of my 16 week training program. I'm going to try out this program called the FIRST program. Here's how that works in a nutshell:

The typical marathon program involves 5 or 6 running days a week, with total weekly mileage getting up to around 45 miles at the peak of the program. Some people run less or (alot) more depending on their experience and physique. For me, 45 miles in a week was the absolute most I could tolerate. That would be a 5 mile fartlek on Tuesday, 4 miler on Wednesday, 8 miles on Thursday and Friday, and then a 20 mile Sunday run. That schedule was just killing my legs, I was overtraining and getting sick and burned out, and I had too much other stuff going on in my life to really put in the effort I should have been during my runs.

On a long run, the goal is not to run the distance fast, it's to run it at a consistent pace the entire time. Most programs suggest that you don't run the long runs at your marathon goal pace because it just burns you out, so the purpose of those runs is really to just acclimate your body to moving at a constant speed for hours on end. I was so burned out by all the running that I would try to race through parts of the long run, then take 5 minute water breaks, then jog a little, then run faster, etc... It was a 20 mile fartlek. I was doing it all wrong, and that is why I believe my times have not improved to where I think they should be.

This new program involves on 3 days of running a week, and cross training for 2 days. There's a lot of science to it, and I reccommend buying the book if you really want to learn it:

The basic idea is that running only 3 days a week enables you to run more intensely on those days, and let's you run 3 very specific types of runs that target different areas of improvement. The speed workouts improve your maximal oxygen consumption (How much oxygen your body can utilize.) The 5-10 milers at a fast pace improve lactic threshold (how long you can run fast before your legs burn out.) The long runs improve your aerobic metabolism and train your body to burn fat for energy as well as carbs.

I'm simplifying this a lot, but that's the gist. We'll see how it works. I'm excited.

In the beginning, there was Fartlek...

I imagine that those of you came here based on the name "Wanna Fartlek" will know what Fartlek means, but for the non-running public, allow me to clarify:

Fartlek is a Swedish word which literally means, "Speed Play." It's a term that runners use to refer to a type of workout in which one alternates periods of slow running with periods of fast running. So, for example, if you decide to run 5 miles at an 8:30 minute per mile pace, but every last quarter of each mile you run a 7:30 min/mile pace... congratulations! You have just fartlek'd.

This blog is pretty much a way to hold myself accountable for the marathon training program I'm about to undertake. The plan is to see how fast I can run the Vegas Marathon on December 2 of this year. The goal is 3:30:00.

I've been chasing the 3:30 for a year now, and so far it has eluded me. Here's a little bit of background:

I'm 26, I've been running marathons since I was 20. This Vegas marathon will be my 7th marathon. My PR (personal record) is 3:57 at last year's Vegas marathon.

So that's it! I just wanted to make an online running log in the hopes that having one will force me to KEEP a running log (which I've never done) and to ramble on about life and running and the lunacy of thinking that a 5'6" Jewish kid from Texas has any business running marathons.