Monday, December 10, 2018

Twitter questions

Lars asks- "Do you do any aerobic basework (z2/z3) now to maintain aerobic fitness? Or mainly z5 and up work?"

  Nope. My only focus right now is strength and speed. The development of both are hindered by easy aerobic work. I think eventually I will need (want) to include this into my base training as my years of base erode, but for now I still retain a certain level of aerobic base. I spent decades building that base. During my Ironman days 30 hour weeks weren't uncommon. When I focused on the marathon 100-120 mile weeks weren't uncommon. So for now I don't miss it nor do I feel I need it yet.
  I program my workout intensity based off a percentage off my 200 meter PR of 24.7" (I round it to 25") so my workouts are intervals at 75% up to 100% of 25"depending on the goal for that day. My workouts involve interval durations that are too short to elicit an accurate heart rate that can be used for guidance or measurement. 

Ellie asks- "I am struggling with warming up enough to do speedwork outside. During my last two sessions, my legs just aren’t turning over. You live in an icebox, how do you get your muscles warmed up in single digits? Should I just treadmill it?"

  This one is a bit tricky and I'm not sure that how I go about warming up in freezing weather will work for everyone. I'm adapted to cold for starters. Living at 8000+ft altitude even in the summer I run in temps that edge down into the 40s at times. Here's a list of things that I do:
 First I overdress in multiple layers. Thermal tights under running pants. Base layer t-shirt, then heavy long sleeve, then a heavy thermal running jacket. Good gloves and hat.
On the drive to the track I crank the heater and overheat a bit. I raise my core temps enough that I want to get out in the cold. A large part of performance is heat. Heat dilates vessels and capillaries and increases blood flow. Every degree of increased heat the muscle improves performance by 5%. That's of course a roughed out idea. You also want the muscles supple and cold will inhibit this. So stay overdressed and hot right up to the interval session.
 Coffee and good music.
 Grow a big beard.
 And another factor that speaks to me as an individual is that I easily get super motivated for workouts. I don't dread hard sessions. Ever. If I feel like I am dreading a workout then I don't do it because that's a sign for me personally that I need to rest. It shows a dysfunction in my recovery and neurotransmitters (hormones) that must be addressed. I'm a dopamine and adrenaline driven athlete so I need very little actual warm-up. When I'm relatively rested I'm in a constant state of readiness (which is why I'm an insomniac). If I'm dreading a session then that's a red flag. If I am very slow to warm-up and struggle to achieve readiness then more often than not I'll bag the workout. I tend to ignore muscular fatigue but I won't ignore brain/ neurotransmitter dysfunction.
 Again, my routine probably won't work for most but this is what I did to warm-up for yesterday's track workout:
  Jog 400.
  Stretch for ~10:00. I focus on my hips and hamstring. 7 Way Hips has become a must do for my warm-ups. Static stretching + dynamic. Static stretching gets a bad rap and I feel its perfectly fine and good. There are no links to static stretching and increased injury risk. I also don't think there's a link to increased performance. I do it because it makes me feel better.
Plyometrics. High knee skipping focused on not only the high knee drive but also on increasing jump height as I loosen and my foot plant/ rebound. Ankle stiffness and strength are two of the major factors in performance and I make sure my achilles is ready for some abuse. Butt kicks. Walking lunges with a 3" pause. Dynamic squat jumps. These are all to increase motor unit activation. If you feel sluggish then this is possible a critical part of getting things firing and "waking up" the nervous system.
  My take on plyometrics is that athletes shouldn't launch into a program because someone said to or you see someone else doing them. They're fairly violent and abusive to be honest, which is why they're so effective. Athletes should start with very gentle, short, and less dynamic movements and slowly increase as they adapt. I'm a pretty durable guy but there are some plyos that I will never attempt, like single leg bounding or single leg jumps. The reward will never outweigh the risk and when it comes down to it, injury prevention is perhaps the single most important aspect of all that we do. I think hill bounding is excellent. Jump rope is excellent in preparing the lower leg for the loading of ground forces and rebound (ankle stiffness), just watch your achilles for signs of tissue damage. Dynamic squat jumps not only focusing on how high you jump but also landing in a braced or locked position with your knee bent at ~45 degrees. In terms of motor unit activation that static landing will fire your muscles more than anything.
 I'm not really a fan of drills. I prefer strides for that using internal cueing to drive intent. Or external cueing if you have someone to watch you or if you can video yourself.

Change into spikes and then do ~20 meter to 50 meter strides on the turf until I feel ready to go.   Yesterday it took me 2 X 30 meters.
 Then I'll typically do at least 1 timed 100 meter just to dial in pacing and effort. This is more warm-up but I also use this to determine how I'm feeling/ performing on the day. Yesterday I didn't feel I needed it because I was going to be running more by perceived exertion (PE) rather than strict splits.   Then I strip off the running pants and possibly the jacket and go.

  One final thought on training in the cold. There is of course a physiological need to stay warm, but that's fairly easy to achieve. In my opinion the overriding thing needed is attitude and motivation. If you aren't motivated to run in freezing temps then don't. The reason for doing quality is to achieve a quality workout. If it's too cold for you to achieve that then run on the treadmill. That's what its there for.
  With that said I believe there is a certain level of toughness or grit that adds to the overall qualities of an athlete. You can embrace the cold and change your attitude to one of challenge acceptance. Rather than dread the cold treat it like you would a tough workout and go into it enjoying the challenge.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sunday 10 X 200

Extensive tempo- 10 X 200 meters averaging 30.7".
My only goal was to run 200's strong but relaxed and get them all under 33". Once I started to struggle I'd end the workout. I never struggled but decided to end it at 10. I lifted hard yesterday and my adductors were feeling a little tight and my legs weren't exactly fired up, but for tempo they don't need to be. Which is why I didn't even consider doing a speed session.
 I broke the sets up into twos:
200 meters
Rest 2:00
200 meters
Rest 4:00
 A way to improve or build onto this will be to take less recovery between all.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Insomotivationia. Lift + max acceleration.

  Went to bed at 8pm last night and woke up at 1:30 ready to do something. My calves were slightly sore but it was from the treadmill 2 days ago more than yesterday.
 Nasty weather with 18 degrees and freezing fog/ snow. Clouds probably more than fog. First in the gym at 4:30 and felt great immediately. Lifting is probably my favorite exercise which is ironic because I'm pretty skinny. I've never over eaten enough to gain weight.
 Comprehensive leg lift with upper chest (cable crossovers) as my only upper body. Warmed up a little with leg extensions, 7 Way Hips, then strides. Then did 3 X 20 meter sled sprints + 3 X 30 meter starts/ max accelerations. Then nearly an hour of various heavy leg lifts and core exercises. Then finished with 4 X 20 meter heavy sled (I consider "heavy" to be 100 pounds) then 4 X 30 meter starts/ max accelerations.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Wednesday. Dirt track 5 X 150

 I opted for a dirt track today, one of the very few tracks open to the public and the only one that I know I can access during school hours. Good temps and low wind.
5 X 150 meters hitting mid 20.x" for all. Rest intervals of 3:00. These would be called "speed endurance" for a 200 meter runner and run at 95%-100% effort (speed) with relatively short recoveries (endurance). Earlier this summer I was hitting these in high 18's, low 19's on a rubber track so I'm pretty happy with the session today. Legs were definitely fatigued but firing.
 A few pics. The dirt was really soft which I like. It's slower but I think the added cushion is beneficial for training.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Tuesday 5 X 400 meters.

 Treadmill tempo. I wussed out after my day got away from me and it got dark. Plus it's like 6000 below zero with hurricane force wind. I opted for the treadmill to get the run in. Tempo is ~75% effort so nothing crazy, more an endurance run than intensity. 3 miles with 5 X 400 on 1:00 easy. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Monday lift + max acceleration

    Today was a lift and max accelerations. The gym I go to has a push sled and a gymnasium covered in artificial turf so I was able to complete 5 X 20 meter weighted sled pushes + 5 X 30 meter starts/ accelerations. In the interest of developing explosive speed and acceleration I don't load much at all on the sled. I'm more interested in speed of movement rather than raw power or strength. For that I have a big truck tire and harness that I do hill sprints with. It weighs ~75 pounds with a sandbag in it. With that my strides are super short and choppy. With the lighter sled I can still obtain the correct body position (angles similar to the first 10 steps out of the blocks) yet my stride length and knee drive more closely resembles sprint starts.

 Then I went into various leg lifts. Something like this:
Hex bar deadlift jumps- 85#. My new favorite lift. Similar to a pin squat, sort of. But there's a jump. And it's not a squat.
Loaded Bulgarian split squats in the Smith rack. Final set was 100# X 5 reps. 
Box jumps focusing a little more on the drop/ landing.
Front squat. Final set 150# X 5.
Single leg back extension. Somewhat of a hamstring eccentric.
Heavy cable wood chops- reps of 5. These are brilliant in every way.
Rear deltoid fly.
Isometric hip extension- 10", heavy loaded. This is essentially a back plank spanning between two benches with just your foot and upper back touching. This hits the upper hamstrings/ glutes (hip extension) 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Saturday Track 4 X 100

  Chilly start to the day. It doesn't happen often but it was warmer at my house (at 8000ft) than it was down in town (at 5400ft) but still a beautiful morning. The track was frosted but not slick. GZ came over to keep me company, and it was the best company. I haven't seen George since the summer track series in Boulder so it was great to catch up.
 The workout was 5-6 X 100 meters at 95%-100% speed. I started each with a rolling, 3 step start. No blocks since I did a max acceleration session on Thursday. Today was was about max velocity and short speed endurance (phosphocreatine system) Rest intervals were a little shorter because it was cold.

 I ended it at #4, and could have called it at #3, because I felt and saw on the watch (autoregulation) that I was starting to slow. Neural fatigue for sure because muscularly I felt solid. In a session where a major component is speed you won't benefit from continuing to grind out intervals at slower paces. For a session like I ran yesterday where the goal wasn't neural stimulation but rather more metabolic and strength then it's OK to grind for more. To a point.
 I'm super happy with the 12.6 interval. This time last year I was months away from this speed. If I can keep it rolling up until the first track meets of the Summer I think I'll be in a great spot.
 A couple of pics courtesy of GZ.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Friday 5 X 200 meter hills

 38 degrees and breezy at 8200ft altitude. Great running weather though. Today was extensive tempo or longer duration intervals at ~75% with shorter rests. If I'm on the track then I calculate 75% of my 200 PR and run by time, but since I don't know my race best on this hill I went by feel. Relaxed and pretty light effort for the first few and I hit 47", 44", 45". Rest intervals were jogging easy back to the starts in 1:30-1:45. The short rests caught up to me on the last two and I hit 47", 49". All the prescriptions and programs I've been using never factor an athlete running at 8000+ ft altitude and I tend to ignore that aspect too. I should take longer recoveries but for a tempo run by effort (not time) it was fine. And just for fun I brought my altimeter on the run, 312ft of climbing for the 5 X 200 meters.
   I cut it at 5 reps because I'm on the track tomorrow running a speed endurance session, something specific to the 200 meters. The goal will be 5-6 X 100m at 95-100% efforts. Super fun workout! 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Thursday speed work/ block practice

 I took yesterday off because my hamstrings were sore from a crazy solid lift on Tuesday. Pretty sure it was concentric hamstring curls that did it. I've gotten completely away from concentric hamstrings and have just done eccentric or isometric. I can't recall the last time I did leg curls but it's been at least 2 years. Not sure why I decided to do them.

 Today was speed work on a soccer field. I set my starting blocks up in a corner butted up against a low concrete border. Then I measure (I went full dork and bought a measuring wheel thingy) out distances on the diagonal. I wear spikes and I really like the speed work on the artificial turf mainly because of the reduced pounding on deceleration. Trying to slow down when you're sprinting is pretty violent.
 I ran 3 X (30, 40, 50 meters) on 3:00 recovery. Then finished with 2 X 20 meter flys. Looking back at my summer logs my 30s and 40s were slightly faster today. Hand timing yourself out of blocks though means the times are close at best. They could be several minutes off.
 Then I went to the gym and did shoulders then dry sauna for 30:00.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Saturday 200s

Tempo effort 200s. I don't really have an accurate prediction on my current fitness to gauge intervals since I haven't raced in a couple of months. So today I ran 200s by feel, strong but controlled tempo. 6 X 200 breaking it up into 3 X 2 sets.

Rest 1:00

Rest 4:00

Rest 1:00

Rest 4:00

Rest 1:00

Friday, November 23, 2018

Speed work

 Track. It felt amazing to put on spikes again, it's been a few weeks. The wind was strong today which only makes speed work better. I ran "assisted" (with the wind) 50's and one 100 and practiced my block starts, which are still inconsistent. My 3 point starts feel great and I can hit it perfect every time. Which is fine for a 400 but for a 200 I think I need blocks. Anyway.
 4 X 50 blocks. Even with a solid push from the wind I was slow. I hit ~7" on each and felt awkward.
 1 X 100 in 13.7 which might be slowest 100 I've run since the spring.
 4 X 50 flying (hit the start line at near top speed) 50's in ~6". Better but I'm still lacking the top end neurological coordination to move well. Luckily that comes back super fast.

 Tomorrow will be tempo 200's. Something like 5-7 X 200m in 30"-31" on 1:00 rest.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


Ya, it's been over a year since I posted.
 Some updates. After my last post in October I pretty much lost motivation and by November I was just messing around lifting and not running at all. Then I started running again in January and focused on Ragnar in California. Then in April I started my track focus for the Summer. I decided to just focus on the 200 meter with a goal of running a sub 25. It took the entire Summer and 5 tries but I finally ran 24.7 in August. I then ran the Mid America Masters Championships in September and ran my only 400 of the year in 55.91.
 Since then I haven't lost focus and in fact my motivation has only increased. Since the 400 in September I haven't missed a beat.
 Last Winter I messed around and didn't run much and ran well over the Summer (my 200 and 400 times will rank me top 15 in the US in both in my age group.) This Winter I'm actually training hard and increasing strength. My first indoor meet is in January so I'll be starting 2019 fit and on the track rather than running long easy miles. So that's it.
 I'll give it a go at updating my training logs here again.
 At the gym door at 4:25am. First one in. Ya, my insomnia is still going strong. I was ready to go at 3:00am.
 This is a sprint specific weight session FYI. Very heavily hip and posterior focused exercises.
Warmed up with box jumps and leg extensions.
3 X 20 meter loaded sled max velocity.
3 X 20 meter no load max velocity practicing my starts.
Hex bar deadlift JUMPS. Very much a power thing. I go light on these just because they're violent and I value my knees. I keep the loading mildly stimulating, I don't think this exercise needs to push weight much. Not sure how much the bar weighs and I was using 25's, so I'd guess 85# or so. Over half my body weight but it felt comfy. 
3 X 10 35" box jumps. I love box jumps!
Then I moved into a near maximal loading (near failure) hip routine. AB/ADduction, flexion and extension. I do several extension exercises using 3 sets of 4-5 reps.
Single leg isometric bridges- 3 X 10" each leg. Again an extension exercise.
RDL or straight leg deadlifts. I went light today because of the loaded sled sprints but I typically use 150-160# on my final sets.
Bulgarian split squats in the Smith rack. Final set of 5 at 145#. This is the only concentric quad exercise I do but I'd argue that it is less a quad exercise and more hamstring and hip.
 Then 15:00 in the sauna followed by cold shower.

 That's it for my lift today. If I feel good later today I'll do 30 meter downhill sprints and several 50 meter uphill sprints. Then tomorrow rest, Friday and Saturday are track sessions contrasting between short (80-100m) at 100% and long (300's) at 90%.

Sunday, October 1, 2017


     Warmed up down to the soccer field and went through my routine. Then 6 X ~20 meter flying strides. It felt great to sprint and my upper hamstring was 100%. Jogged home and then did a brief set of Nordic hamstring curls which I firmly believe is why my hamstring feels so good. Nordic hamstring curls are a way to target hamstring in a purely eccentric fashion and eccentric work has been shown to stimulate the rebuilding of collagen in tendons. One of the main recommendations for rehabbing a compromised Achilles tendon is eccentric calf "raises" (it's actually not a raise though, that's a concentric contraction, rather it's a lowering of body weight) for the same reason. Nordic curls are based off the same concept. I've found it tough to really target my upper hamstring with the appropriate load. RDL's (romanian deadlifts) don't seem to hit my upper hamstrings as much but Nordic absolutely does and it's revealed a huge weakness of mine. In the weight room I can do fairly big loads on concentric leg curls. Sets of 10 reps single leg using 100+ pounds. My first try at Nordics however I couldn't do even a single HALF rep. My hamstrings failed just 8 inches into the movement. It's almost certainly why I have the issue with the upper hamstring to begin with.
 Here's one of many articles that talk about the Nordic curl. The blog and podcast  has become my favorite resource for training.

     Then I did 4 X 30 meter tire pulls up a moderate grade. Then I jogged a 1/2 mile easy. Not a very exciting workout but I think I'm doing what I need to improve weaknesses which right now, October, is where I need to be focused.

Friday, September 29, 2017


     Apologies for not keeping up on this! I'm still working hard though. Running everyday and lifting almost everyday. Nothing much to write about as I'm in sort of a general exercise phase. The only intensity I've done running is hill bounding and tire pulls. I'm finding hill bounding to be both fun and incredibly dynamic and it took me a couple of sessions to get it right. I do them on a ~15% grade and find that just 6-7 bounds (per leg) is plenty. The tire pulls I'm not timing or even really measuring, although I know which tree to start at and which tree to stop at. All is well.

Monday, September 18, 2017


     Excellent run and weight session today. I felt amazing on my run which I haven't felt since maybe July. Simple run more to loosen for the weights but it was great. The main set was 7 X 30 meter (just guessing on that measurement) fly hitting about 80% top speed. Nothing crazy.
     Then a strength session in my strength and conditioning facility. Aka shed. I'm doing mostly silly exercises like isometric bulgarian split squats, oscillatory iso squats, tons of jump rope (I'm up to 200 jumps single leg holding my cadence over 100 which is tougher than it sounds), loaded hip thrusters, box jumps with a depth drop, nordic hamstring curls.
     Tomorrow will be a plyometric session followed by 30 meter tire pulls.

Friday, September 15, 2017


Am) 3 miles mostly just jogging but I did hill bounding on two steep hills. The steep hills up here are in the 15%+ range and at 8000+ ft altitude so these were less muscularly tough and more cardiovascularly taxing. Lack of blood O2 prevents full muscle activation.

Mid-day- Squats, hip thrust, sandbag (core), 3 X 20 meter tire pulls, upper chest, calves. I'm doing a split schedule which is why that all seems random.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Quick update

     Not much has been going on in my running realm but I've been getting out every other day doing an easy 1-3 miles. Today I did run 10 X 60 meter strides working more on form than speed. I have been lifting weights and doing plyometrics almost daily though trying to work on a power aspect. I didn't really have time to develop a consistent plyo routine this summer because running took precedent. Plyometrics, if done right, are crazy hard! I've also been experimenting with isometric loading when I lift. For example yesterday during my leg workout I did a superset that looked like this:
  Squat- 20 reps of 65 pounds with a 3 second isometric hold at the bottoms. Then went immediately into 10 box jumps with a focus on the drop. Pretty much a depth drop which activates motor units more effectively than pretty much anything else you can find. Then back to squats. Then one more set of box jumps. My legs are fried today just from that. This is more experimenting and trying to find what's going to work best for me. My plyo routine is pretty standard and I'm incorporating the medicine ball (highly underrated piece of equipment!) and also tire pulls.
    Anyway. I'm feeling great and doing what I love the most which is training! I'll get back to regular posts now that I'm actually doing something interesting.
    And my home gym is nearly done. I won't finish it much more than this, I want to keep it somewhat primitive. You can see my home made medicine ball, a basketball I bought at a thrift store for 99 cents and filled with sand from my driveway. My Bulgarian sandbag, also DIY made from a car tire inner tube. I made a box for jumps out of scrap lumber with 3 choices in height. And my squat rack made out of 4X4's with 3/4 inch bolts set through to hold the bar. I don't lift heavy enough to warrant anything more sturdy.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Rest and restart

    Today is my 10th day of rest and I feel I'm ready to go again. My energy has been creeping back slowly and more importantly my mental state has come back. Once I allowed the idea of ending the season into my thoughts it was immediately clear that it was the right thing to do. My goals for the 400 have evolved into a 3 year thing, which will put me at 49 years old, so I need to be extra patient and let my body adapt at it's own pace. I don't feel I can force it as much as I used to be able to do. I did force it this summer and it ended up melting me. I had a great summer though. Running a 56" 400 just 8 weeks into the training shows potential for much more as long as I learn from my mistakes and am more patient.
     I'm going to start back tomorrow and begin the build towards the indoor track season which starts in December. My focus points will be:
 Speed. I'll be using a 200 meter training methods and concepts.
 Plyometrics, medicine ball, and tire pulls.
 Lifting. Weights are something I enjoy immensely, probably more than running, so I'll be in the weight room more.
     The "base" period for sprinting is a huge departure from the endurance world's idea of base. Tomorrow I'll be running 2 sets of 3 X 300 meters at tempo speed or about 80%. BB who has been commenting on my previous posts (and I appreciate the advice!), suggested I leave my stopwatch at home more and I couldn't agree more. I'll be using splits much less in the coming months and trying to feel the effort and speed. I think this might lessen the pressure I put on myself to perform up to an expected level which will help me to keep my mental state healthier. We'll see.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Quick update

     I was/ am extremely affected by Thursday's 400 race. Not emotionally, I can fail with the best of them and it only motivates me. Physically though I think I'm in a hole. I feel it started with the "Sanya" workout that I crushed a few weeks ago. I have felt blah ever since. Then Thursday's race just wasted me! I jogged easy on Friday for 3 miles and felt pretty good, but Saturday and Sunday I was sore, lethargic, and lacking energy. I feel a little better today, but a little better means I'm now just really tired. I gave myself a mental exercise or test of sorts this morning where I focused my thoughts only on my final 400 race coming up in two weeks including the days leading up it and what I'll need to do. Then I switched it to focusing on ending my year and resting and planning the fall training. Profoundly different emotional response which sort of guides me in the direction I should go.
     I feel it's been a long year and if I count it up, it has been. I got off the couch in January after a four year break and pushed myself back to an acceptable level. And since April I've done a crap ton of intensity! That's roughly 16 weeks or so of just sprint training and I think it might have caught up to me.
     So, I might be done racing until the indoor season starts in December. I probably won't make a definitive decision, rather I'll just wake up each day and see what happens. If time runs out then it runs out. If I get rolling again though then I'll race. It's science.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Track meet #3. 400 in 58".

    Last night was my third 400 meter race. I went 58" in my first, 56" in my second, and last night went 58". I had really thought 55" would have been a bad result so I guess last night was horrible :)
     I have some thoughts kicking around as to what happened that I'll get to in another post but cramping was #1. I cramped a couple of times on Wednesday and could feel the beginnings of cramps several times. Then last night as I was getting set in the blocks I looked up and the muscles in the back of my neck seized. Not a good way to start. I stayed super relaxed through the 200 splitting just 27" which is well within my fitness. I started pushing the third turn and passed the first place guy and was cruising really well! 55" was possible at that point. Then coming off the fourth turn both hamstrings seized, then my glutes, then my hips (TFL specifically) and I almost fell on my face. I completely pulled up and just tried to keep my legs under me. I figure I lost ~3" in the last 60 meters or so.
     After the race my hamstrings stayed locked up and I finally was able to get them to release about 10 minutes later.
     And that's that. Onward.