Saturday, August 14, 2010

Running 101

For whatever reason, I've always thought of myself as a high-mileage runner.  I recognize that this is a relative term, but I had somehow inflated my mileage in my mind to believe that I eat 100-mile weeks for breakfast.  In fact, I've done exactly 3 weeks of running totaling 100 miles or more, in my life.  My highest weekly mileage came last year leading up to the Twin Cities Marathon where I ran 102 miles.  When I investigated a little further, I found that my first ever 100-mile week was in March of 2009.  I've done maybe twenty, 90-mile weeks.  Regardless, there's a certain mystique that comes with logging that 100th mile in a week that makes you think you've really accomplished something special.

This is a 101-mile week and will be my highest mileage week leading up to Chicago.  It was originally scheduled to be 82 miles in a training plan that topped out at 86.  My coach kept the volume low for this plan to be safe given the fact that I became injured during my last marathon cycle.   I negotiated the mileage upward for the entire training cycle, promising that I would back off if I felt too tired or had concerns about becoming injured.  I reasoned that the last cycle was anomalous and that I had successfully navigated high volume for several other training cycles without getting injured.  I also believe that I'm trying to achieve something big which means I have to be willing to take some calculated risks to achieve my goal.  There's a big psychological aspect to this, of course.  I need to feel like I have trained as hard as I can and that I am indeed fit enough to run 2:45 or better in Chicago.

Since I seem to be on a roll disclosing the daily drivel of my life, I thought I'd show you how 101 looks over the course of the week.  Before I go there, I wanted to share an interesting episode from the movie Effin' J Goes to Visit the Miracle Worker.

For the last few weeks, I've felt soreness in my right butt cheek and tightness in my left foot.  I get these kinds of niggles in my heaviest mileage weeks, so I am unconcerned.  However, I also want to make sure that the niggles don't turn into injury due to lack of attention.  So, I scheduled a visit to see the Miracle Worker on Wednesday.  As I lay on the table, he picked up my feet and twisted them in and out and asked what was wrong.  I told him about my yin and yang right butt/left foot problem.  He said, "Well, of course. Your left side is completely locked up."  My left side is always completely locked up.  He proceeded to yank my left leg nearly out of its socket and manipulated my left, then my right hip.  He asked about my shoes and I mentioned that I had been working on a couple of pairs that had gotten pretty worn out.  He indicated that was a problem too.  I lamented the fact that I now only safely get 200-250 miles out of my shoes.

I then asked him about my car.  When I had my achilles injury, I hated driving my manual transmission car.  It killed me to depress the clutch, and it seemed like I was doing it hundreds of times a day.  That got me wondering about whether this action, which was only being experienced by my left leg, could be the reason my left side is always locked up.  When I asked Lino about this, without even blinking he said, "how far back is your seat.  Can you drape your wrist over the steering wheel without your left shoulder blade losing contact with the seat back?"  Who knows to ask these questions? I told him I press in the clutch with my left toes, and he just shook his head.  He explained that I am using my entire leg, including my left hip to press in the clutch rather than just an easy press of the lower leg.  Now that my seat is properly adjusted, I feel like a granny, but I can see a huge difference in the muscles I use to get the clutch in.

I then wondered how many "reps" I was doing with the left leg and not the right.  I counted the number of clutch depressions I made on a round-trip drive from my house to the Trader Joe's about 4 miles from my house driving all on city streets.  105!  I pressed in the clutch and let it out 105 times in that short drive.  I can safely say that I press in the clutch 1000 or more times per week under normal driving conditions.  The obvious fix is to get an automatic, and I might if I didn't have the best car in the world already.  Well, and I don't want to spend the money to buy a new one.  So, I'll try out the new seat adjustment and see if that helps some.  At least I know the source of at least part of my problems.

Here's what my week's workouts looked (will look) like:

Monday, Aug 9
6:00 PM:  10 mile moderate run (7:50 pace) including 5 strides and 2 x Everest Hill Drills 

Tuesday, Aug 10
5:15 AM: 16 mile total moderate run including 1 mile @ GMP (6:09 pace). Full recovery then 10 x 3 min hills @ 10k feel (5-5.5% grade; 8.7-9 mph) w/3 min jog rests. Finish run w/10 strides
7:30 PM: 5 mile easy run (8:01 pace) including 3 x 150m cutdowns
8:30 PM:  30 min. of rolling using Trigger Point Massageball (TPM)

Wednesday, Aug 11
5:15 AM:  8 mile jog (8:26 pace)
6:30 PM: 45 minutes of weights and strength training
8:00 PM:  Roll with TPM

Thursday, Aug 12
6:00 AM: 6 mile easy (7:53 pace)
7:00 PM: 11 mile moderate run (7:35 pace) including 10 x 45 sec’s @ 3k effort (5:00-5:15 pace) w/45 sec jog rests
9:00 PM: Roll with TPM

Friday, Aug 13
5:30 AM: 10 mile easy run (8:11 pace)

Saturday, Aug 14 (scheduled)
11:00 AM: 3 mile jog (8:04 pace) 
6:30 PM: 22 mile total moderate run (7:07 pace overall incl. hills) with 60 min run up a hill @ LT effort (4.5% grade, 7:03-7:13 pace)
10:00 PM:  Roll with TPM

Sunday, Aug 15
10:30 AM:  10 miles easy (7:42 pace) followed by a soak in an icy river!
PM:  45 min. strength training
PM:  20 minutes Core Workout
PM:  20 minutes Yoga for Runners 

The good news is that I don't recall ever feeling this peppy at this point in my past marathon cycles.  Of course, I haven't run for an hour up a hill yet.  We'll see how I feel tomorrow! 

UPDATE:  It's tomorrow.  I just finished 101 miles, and I'm still feeling peppy!


  1. That is an unbelievable schedule! I am always amazed at the Miracle Worker's questions and knowledge. Can you explain the trigger point massage ball therapy in another post???? I do not know anyone who uses it and would like a little more info. Thanks.

  2. Of course you did all the miles and you're feeling peppy! We never doubted it for a second. KB

  3. That's interesting about the clutch and the onset of an overuse injury - even on a car that I presume would have a light clutch like the Golf.

    Thanks for the details of the 101 week - I'm always interested to see how runners cope with that sort of mileage - good that you handled that one feeling peppy.

  4. Jenner: See my latest to answer your question about TPM

    KB: Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    Ewen: The Golf does have a light clutch. I think the problem is the repetitive motion. It really shows up when I run a bunch of miles. The extra tightness in my left side throws me off just enough, I think, to lead to other, probably compensatory, problems. I'm thinking about spending more time stretching my left side since it's getting more of a workout than the right.

  5. question for you...i've seen you running on the same part of the parkway as i roam. have you found a 3 minute hill in this vicinity or are you doing this up pennsylvania? the only hill i find is up the watt levee on the east side where it's about 25 secs. would love to find a good hill near home.
    thanks -cappp

  6. cappp: I should have noted that the 3-minute hills were done on the treadmill. It's the only way to do them in my hood without geting in a car. Pennsylvania doesn't work for this kind of workout because a) it's not long enough (for 3 minutes at my pace anyway) and b) the rests would have to be a lot longer. If you run fast for 3 minutes up a hill it will take you 1.25-1.5 x longer to jog back down to the bottom. My hill workout called for a 3-minute rest. You have to find a hill, like the one from the Rainbow bridge up to Beals point, where you can slowly inch your way up the hill with each repeat. Then, you have to run downhill after you're done. I try to avoid running downhills because of the extra special damage that does.

    I do 30-75 second hills on the east side of the William Pond Park bridge. It's not ideal, but it works and is close to home.

  7. well that makes sense. i couldn't imagine after running out here for so long that i missed such a hill but i was sure hoping. cappp

  8. How fabulous. That Everest Hill circuit is very nice - I'm a big fan of the much-more-simple Brad Hudson 8-10sec hill sprints.

    But now I'm intrigued....

    Nice work this week.