Sunday, January 23

Limping thru and turning the corner..

So, as much as I didn’t want to, I did get Thursday’s bike intervals in.  My problems were several, first and foremost was my attitude – it sucked.  Fatigue has been building more than I’d like it to during this part of the training where we are “raising the roof” via VO2 max intervals week in, week out.  I was getting to the point where I would do most anything to not go down to the pain cave… I’d put it off till it got so late then realize I couldn’t live with myself if I did the wimpy thing and sat on the couch eating chocolate and channel surfing.

Somewhere along in there my feet started to bother me like I had athletes’ foot.  I got more diligent about washing thoroughly and using Tinactin a lot.  I even went so far as to do the Epsom salt soaks.  Nothing seemed to be helping.  That’s when I started to realize it was more of tissue damage from being crammed into the bike shoes that don’t fit so good for more hours than I would like.  Now, after skipping 1 bike workout and pampering the toes, my feet are feeling better.  Maybe it isn’t fungus or bad fitting shoes, but I definitely need to find something more comfortable before the long rides start – these make my feet numb after about 90 minutes…. That’s a long way short of the 6+ I need for Placid……

The last thing was the calf from last Sunday’s run.  It kind of scared me into getting the blinders off.  Yes, I did the Thursday bike but not the Wednesday run.  I didn’t really feel that great (my calf) so pushing it was not in my best interest.  I also scrapped my Saturday bike – the long one – giving me 4 rest days this week.  Two scheduled ones and 2 sorely needed ones.

Today was my first run since Tuesday.  The plan was to go easy for a few miles on the deadmill and see how the calf felt and take it from there.   Well, I ran…. Wasn’t pretty, but not bad either. Started easy @ 8:49 and felt good…. As I got near the 2 mile mark I was thinking ‘this is good, maybe I can up the speed….’ Then at 2.05 the twinge in my calf came back…..

I kept going…. Kept it at the easy pace…. Then at mile 3…. It got bad enough to make me walk and I’m thinking ‘this is gonna suck!’ so I slowed to a walk…. Not sure if I need to call it or walk it off. Seemed better after a few minutes so I hit the go button and resumed my easy 8:49 pace.

At first it was a mile at a time. By mile 6 I was looking for 8 miles, at 8 I was aiming to 10. Ten miles was probably far enough and I could tell it was getting harder… not the calf, just the distance…. In the end I managed 12 miles. Nothing fancy or fast, but made me happy that get lame in the process.

I think this next week I will drop the Thursday bike, move Saturday to Wednesday and Tuesday to Saturday. Kind of like what the EN Marathon Hack calls for.  I just know I need more run, more consistently and do less bike… at least for now…..Sure glad the VO2 sessions are almost done…

Wednesday, January 19

Fatigue wins...

Fatigue is a funny thing.  It sneaks up when you think you’re doing fine.  sure the VO2 crap is hard… been doing the 120% efforts for 3 weeks now and while they are tough, they are doable.  Even when the sets stack up with the longer 100% FTP sets,  getting them done is fun. … in a sick puppy kind of way….

I should have seen the signs.  The reluctance to go down and begin the workout…. Procrastinating till it is so late I really should just call it a day.  But how can I just quit like that?  The personal shame would be too much, so I drag myself down and get on the bike…..

Feeling flat during the day like I didn’t sleep when in fact I got 7 hours of un-interrupted sleep.  In the AM, when the alarm goes off, I lay there…. Not ready to get up… it goes off again and again.   I hit the snooze button each time.  Finally 30 minutes later I realize if I don’t get up now I will be late to work.  Can’t have that so I get up… grudgingly and start some coffee and head for the shower…..  even there I feel empty of energy…. Eyes closed, feeling the hot water as it lulls me, I feel half asleep again…..

Training had been going well.  My new found speed running has been great.  Knowing my bike motor is building – watching the watts on my Joule….. sweat dripping in puddles around the bike…. I thought I felt strong.  Confident in my ability to with stand the ravages of fatigue.  Heck, it is only about 7 hours a week of training.  How bad can that do me in?  I have 2 full days off every week.  My longest sessions are only 2 hours if I do extra zone 3 stuff or extra miles running.  How can that beat me up so bad?

Well, it happened.  Sunday’s run was supposed to be a 16 mile steady pace run.  Tempo miles were optional on the 8 mile return trip.  Just past the 2 mile mark I felt a funny twinge in my lower left calf, just below the Gastroc.  OK I’m thinking.  I had started easy and wasn’t ready to ramp up to my normal pace yet anyway.  So, I’ll ease up a bit and let it relax, no problem. 

Not happening.  Two hundred yards further – bang! Cramp… Crap!.... stop and walk…. Stretch… walk… stop…. Man this suck!.... This wasn’t just a twinge.  No, it was one of those spasms that wasn’t going to quit.  Better turn around and walk.  Too bad.  The weather was decent.  Sunny, temps in the 20’s, not too much snow on the shoulders.   But I really needed to go back.  I did jog a bit – off and on.  Mostly off.  Compression and ice when I got home.  Roll it some with the Stick, put more ice on it….. Good thing Monday is a rest day.

Tuesday should be a hard bike with a easy brick run.  It was almost 8:30 before I managed to get on the bike….didn’t really want to start but once I did it was OK.  The main set was 5x2.5’s @ 120% then follow that with 25’ @ 85%.  The run was to be a 20’ easy run… didn’t know if I was up for that… the last thing I want to do now is get a season ending injury.  Right now it is more of a nuisance thing and I just as soon keep it that way.  I did run, easy – 30 seconds slower than my normal easy pace.  Mostly discomfort free, no pain, but some twinges of tightness almost got me to stop.  At the 20’ mark I was just over 2 miles and decided to go to 3…. That should be just about 27 minutes… finished without incident, which was encouraging.

Today at work, no problems with the calf but that fatigue thing was there.  Yeah, it has to be the fatigue that cause the calf issue.  Must be the athlete in me – stubborn and stupid about feeling flat and being in denial about it.   So now here I am on Wednesday – run day and no running….. to flat, too sore, too tired….

Coach says “stand down”.  He is right.  I know it.   Skip a few runs, maybe do some light x-c skiing, try a few easier bike sets, but no running….. NO RUNNING… did you hear me?  NO RUNNING until the leg is better!

Friday, January 14

Feel the Burn...

Nearing the end of week 11 of the OS, with only 2 weeks before my next FTP test.  I am actually looking forward to that.  My first FTP test fell short because I have difficulty with AM workouts. Since then I have done all my workouts in the afternoon or evening.  The second test in week 8 went good.  An analysis of the test data indicate my HR was at or near my functional max for most of the test.  A second observation is that I didn’t have any big spikes in power, yet the tail end of the test fatigue is apparent by the slow downward drift in power. 

This portion of the OS is all about VO2 Max.   These are KILLER sets.  After 1 or 2, the second hand on the clock seems to stand still and it is excruciating to hang on till the interval ends.  Despite how hard these efforts are, I like them.  They make the 85% stuff seem easy!

Tuesday, Jan 11: Bike 5x2.5 (2.5) @ 120% on, 65% off; 25’ @ 85%; Run 25’ @ 70%

This one was a blast! It was a tough one but I really enjoyed it..... {{{Sick puppy}}} So, it was after 8PM before I started... put about 8 minutes in to warm-up then pulled the trigger.... target was 246 and hit them all and then some.

1) 120%, 68%   – feeling strong….
2) 120%, 65%   – hanging in there…
3) 123%, 55%   – too hot, suffering begins…
4) 120%, 58%   – struggle to hold on….
5) 123%, 50%   – final push and fry everything…..

then another 25' @ 178w (0.869) for a total bike at 1:01:44 @ 189w (0.922)

Quick change the shoes and onto the deadmill. First 4 miles around 8:30 or so, slowly speeding up. Last mile was 6:58 (5 secs. off my Z5 pace).   

Total run 40:04 @ 8:01, rTSS 47.6 and I feel great! The 15 miler on Sunday didn't set me back... love it!

Wednesday, Jan 12: Run 4x200, 2x800, 4x200, 2x400 all @ Z5 – 120%, 20’ @ Z1 – 65%

Wednesday was a blizzard so I took the easy way out and hit the deadmill in the pain cave. Started with a 2.5 mile warm-up then jumped into the intervals...... except instead of doing all the fancy short-long-short stuff, I decided to make it a set of Yasso 800's - my favorite speed session by doing 5x800 @ 6:53 with 400 recovery @ 8:34. Finished the run with 2 miles at 8:34.   No fade, all good.  Some days it just seems so easy!  

Total run 8.0 miles in 1:07:48 @ 8:28

Thursday, Jan 13: Bike 5x2.5 (2.5) @ 120% on, 65% off; 25’ @ 85%

Last night was another VO2 session on the bike.  Same as Tuesday but without the brick run at the end.  I think there is something wrong with me... I like these... yeah, they are tough but nothing like that week 10 Saturday killer workout with the 2x20 before the intervals... that sucked! These, not so much. Legs a little tender after my Yasso 800’s yesterday.....

That was a good ride, hit them all but definitely showed signs of fatigue:

124.4% 75.1%
   – too hot but cant stop….
123.4% 68.8%
   – feeling the burn but can’t give in…
122.0% 59.5%
   – suffering starts to get big…..
122.0% 63.4%
   – trying to push thru on shear will….
121.5% 66.8%
   – I can do anything for 2.5 minutes……

Ended with 25' @ 180 (0.88) for a total bike 1:02:15 @ 192 (0.937)

Friday, January 14: Rest day – Hard rest, all day……

Tomorrow I’m looking forward to getting out to the University trail system for some cross country skiing with Carole.  Haven’t been out since last year.  Yeah, I know there has been some snow, but I have been a good boy and made sure I got all my training sessions in.  I know it takes a long time to build the kind of bike strength I need for IMLP.  But now with all the snow, how can I not go play?

Sunday, January 9

Transitioning to run focus for Boston....

This has been one mother of a tough week for me……

Tuesday started with 1:05 bike intervals – 4x2.5 @ 120% then 30’ @ 85%.  Ending with 4 mile Z3 off the bike.

Wednesday I went 10 miles on the deadmill, 3 miles of Z5 intervals (red lining) as 400’s and 800’s and 3 miles @ MP (Wow! This feels easy).  The rest was warm-up and recovery.

Yesterday was 2 hours on the bike doing that week 10 masochistic torture-fest they have the audacity to call a workout!  It starts with a 2x20’ (4’) @ 100% then goes immediately into a set of 4x2.5’s @ 120%.  Those little buggers KILL.  You go all out for 2:30 – redlining all the way then get a 2:30 recovery and are supposed to hold 60% till the next set.... I was cooked on the 2x20 FTP stuff and couldn’t even get to 120%.  The first 2 were at 117% the last 2 were at 111% and none of the rest intervals were above 50% I just couldn’t do it and my legs were shaking.  One EN member said he had to get off the bike and lay on the floor before he could get back and finish the workout!  Yes it was THAT BAD!!

Oh, it’s not over…. After that flogging, we needed to get another 2x15’ (2’) at 85% - BRUTAL…  these guys are out to kill us!  About 10 minutes in, I found a comfortable cadence and realized that if I took the 2 minute recovery after 15, I may never get myself to spin it back up…. So, my plan was to just push right thru and do a straight 30 at 85% and call it good…… at the end of that last interval, I just sat on my bike, spinning slowly for almost 5 minutes.  My cadence was like 25 or something.   I didn’t want to get off because I didn’t want to get on the deadmill…. It seemed too much like torture to have to do that.  I could barely get 1 mile on the deadmill before I threw in the towel knowing I had a 15 miler planned for today.  I must say I was a little skeptical about getting all 15 in……

So the plan for today was 10 miles minimum but the goal was 15.  No tempo miles, just steady pace with a negative split.  The weather was nice (by Maine standards) 29* to start.  Wind NW @ 12 and mostly sunny skies.  The only issue was the 4” of snow late yesterday still on the walks and shoulders.

The first 4 miles was almost all mashed potato running – too much traffic to run in the travel lane, so I had no choice.  After that the temp was up to 32 (bank sign) and the sun was doing its part and footing got much better.  I still spent a lot of time in the road avoiding snow/slush patches but it wasn’t as bad.  By mile 6 I knew I would make the 15 and felt good about it.  Pace at the 7.5 turnaround was 8:46 – my comfy, go all day pace. 

Everything was better on the return. The wind was now behind me, sun in my face and the roads were clear where the sun was (still snowy in the shade).  I did have to take a quick pause to clean my sunglasses – I had so much road spray that I couldn’t see well.  Only took a minute and was well worth it.  My last mile I could feel the fatigue creeping up but not enough to slow me down (except on a short 4% hill).  A good reminder that I really need to get some volume in to rebuild the fatigue tolerance I am accustomed to.  Over all pace 8:32 – pretty much what I was looking for along with a strong negative split of -25 seconds per mile (8:46 out, 8:21 back).

I plan to continue to keep up with the VO2 Max on the bike as long as I can.  No immediate plan to drop the Thursday bike either.  For now I will leave the bike as written and do my own thing on the run.  That should get much easier after we switch back to FTP work in a few weeks.

Wednesday, January 5

It's a new day...

Weeks have passed since I last posted here mostly due to the holidays and family.  It was nice to see everyone and I was very happy they could make it.  Then again, it is also nice to get back to a more normal routine.  


Sad to say I failed out of the 100 pushup challenge.  I had been going strong then all of a sudden, I hit the wall.  Between the FTP intervals on the bike, the pushups and then a Holiday Run Challenge coach Patrick threw down, I just couldn’t make it.  I could no longer make any progress with the pushups.  No matter how I tried, I kept hitting a ceiling that would not budge.   I do plan to do more pushups but more of a cross-train thing with other core work.  Right now I am thinking 3 days a week at lunch I could bang out 3 sets of 40 and not interfere with my regular workouts.  I’ll keep you posted as I see how this works.

The Holiday Run Challenge was an 8 day event from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day.  One point for each mile, 1 more for each mile run at or faster than T-pace, another point for each full hour run, and lastly a point for running in sub freezing temperatures.  I saw it as an excuse to go for a run.  My biggest gripe with the EN style of training is that I miss my running.  Everything we do is short and fast, whereas I like longer and not as fast.  So I started a day early running with Sierra and finishing 8 miles.  The thing is those points didn’t count to the Challenge which was fine with me.  In the end I ran 54 miles and accumulated 71 points, running 7 of the 8 days (plus the early run on Christmas Eve).  

A few of the ENers really went big, covering over 100 miles during the week!  Granted they took a break from the regular workouts (no bike intervals). But still, that is an awesome pile of miles!  Even for me, 54 miles is huge.  In the past I have only had a few weeks were I got those kind of miles and they were 12 to 14 weeks into a 20 week marathon training plan.  I was amazed at how well I did with the limited run work the EN OS plan has.  I guess they are right – Work works!

Currently we are in a 6 week block of VO2 Max intervals.  They are the hardest workouts I have ever done!  The main sets are short, just 2:30 on and 2:30 off.  The thing is “on” is at 120% and “off” is at 65%.  The first one is OK, hard but OK.  The second really starts to hurt and by the 3rd interval it becomes almost unbearable.  The 4th interval is all mental – from the very start of the last one, I am looking at the clock watching the second hand … it seems to take for ever, some times it even looks like it is going backwards….. After the main set comes the 30 minutes of 85% work which by then seem almost easy.  Still, the fatigue from these sets lingers for days…… At the end of this block (4.5 weeks) we test again and I hope to see a big bump in my FTP.  Just need to get thru this without any injuries………