Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tuesday 18 miles + 1/2 a book review...

AM) 18 miles in 2:01. HR average 143 with a max HR of 152 (I walked to get it back down). It was hot, I drank 2 swallows of Gatorade every mile. Plus 2 liters of water before starting. Legs feel almost zero fatigue. I do have pain in my lateral collateral ligament (LCL). If it stays around then I'll be resting a bit. The LCL connects the femur to the fibula and stabilizes the lateral knee through it's full arc of forward motion. This is (hopefully) just a little inflammation from overuse- Ben and I hit a gazillion golf balls yesterday which I'm sure is contributing. (and getting old;)). The prudent plan of action now is for me to be smart and not let it develop in to a full blown injury and risk future training. Always skip one or two workouts to save many.



If you're interested in gaining insight on one of the greatest endurance athletes ever- the above book will certainly make you think twice about true discipline and hard work. I'm about half way through it right now and I have already learned a ton and have gained much motivation. There's quite a bit of detail in regard to the mental side of Lance's racing and training.. which to me is the most important- and at the same time- the most under trained aspect of most athletes. I knew the guy was a bad-ass but reading some of the finer details about his training shows me that his preparation for the Tour was ten times more diligent than his next competitor. You also start to get a sense (one that I have always had anyway) that Lance didn't NEED to dope to win the Tour. His preparation was meticulous, far and away better than the next competitor- from weighing his food (while Ullrich was getting fat) to pushing his sponsors like Nike and Giro to spend 10's of thousands of dollars to decrease his aerodynamic drag (if even by just 1 gram) to paying his team mates out of his own pocket to keep them motivated and give them incentive to give 100% for the singular purpose of putting Lance in yellow, then keeping him there.
One item of particular interest to me is Lance's unwaivering focus on the task at hand. It's said that even in the most mundane, flat stages of the Tour, Lance would be focused completely on the race while other riders were chatting. Kerrie Wlad competed at IM CDA recently and told me that she was "day dreaming" mid-way through the run and soon realized that she wasn't running as hard as she should have been. The ability to hold focus on the task at hand is not limited to hour X of a race but it encompasses the training periods and the years leading up to you doing your best. If you want to qualify for Kona and you are a couple hours short- you may need to hold focus for a couple of YEARS. If you want to lose weight you need to focus on the task at hand- every time you walk through the grocery store or go to the movies. Lance is certainly "talented" (a term that I believe has little relevance for 99.9% of us- world record holders excluded) but with out this complete focus and fierce drive to do his best he would not be able to exploit this talent (ala Ullrich). If you aren't a gifted athlete then you can still go very far in sport simply by exploiting 100% of the talent that you do have. Dave Scott and Gordo Byrn come to mind on this subject.. if you've ever seen these guys run you would agree (as I am sure they would too) that they are not "gifted" runners. They have below average economy. But if you ever run with these guys (at one my fittest points last year Gordo dropped me easily on a long run) you see that they are incredibly strong. Both of these guys have worked their butts off to exploit the limits of their talent.
I think you'll find that performance output of even a moderately talented athlete- if they have exploited their true limit- is far above the average!

13 comments:

BRFOOT said...

One my favorite responses from an athlete to a journalist is when the guy said to Lance. "what are you on Lance" to which he replied "what am I on? I'm on my bike 6 hours everyday, that's what I'm on". What I find interesting now re: his doping allegations, I just heard Bryant Gumble make a negative suggestion about it. Is how do they explain his recent running performance. Not just anybody can run like that. Not that it's worldclass or anything but for a "non-runner" that's pretty damn good. He obviously has some metabolic gifts and some mental determination. I like the guy

Dave said...

This has definately been on my list of "to read" books and I think you just motivated me to get off my butt and buy it. I too have been struggling with the mental aspect of training and racing of late. Mostly because I seem be made of glass and the injuries just keep piling on. I think it's important to be "mentally tough enough" to realize that you're training enough and that you actually NEED rest! I've been pushing myself too much, too far, and too often for too long. Hopefully this book can teach me different. Thanks Lucho! Great post as always!

Chuckie V said...

Amen.

Matt said...

Big Lance fan. I want to read that. Someone gave me Bowerman and the Men of Oregon and Once A Runner. Any thoughts? Are they all must reads? With the tour upon us, Lance seems the appropriate read.

Did you read Lance Armstrong's War? Found it very compelling to learn how meticulous he was/is. I agree with you that he was miles ahead of the competition, which has attracted some criticism as well -- focusing only on the Tour and not caring really about other races. Certainly that isn't what Merckx and other greats did. But of course Lance re-wrote most everything.

Lucho said...

Matt- There is a giant difference between the competition that Eddie had VS Lance. Not to take anything at all away from Mr. Merckx, they were different times is all. Eddie was one of the very few athletes in that day whose job it was to ride a bike. Often times his nearest competitor had to take vacation time from his real job to race in a Tour! In this day and age- the racers are full time cyclists whose only job is to ride well. Many of Lance's competitors also focused solely on the Tour making the competition much stiffer. The physiology of an event like that does not allow multiple peaks of that duration that fit in to the Grand Tour schedule. It would be impossible for any one athlete to truly peak for 2 large tours. If Merckx were racing today he would surely not win everything he entered. Once again- "The Cannibal" is one of long time icons... I love the guy. I just don't think you can compare racing in the 70's to now.
Dave- Try placing a small red flag on every day (in your log) that you feel either excessively fatigued, sore, or have a twinge or ache.. then watch your log closely and with an open and honest mind. 3 red flags/ 3 days in a row and you need to reexamine your training structure. Your easy days should be embarrassingly slow or not even running. Aquajogging is by far the best recovery exercise that is specific to running... I always say I should do more!
brfoot- Most of the negative comments that I have read in regards to Lance's running comes from other runners. They say he's doping... Huh? That's an ignorant thing to say. Lance has failed the same number of drug tests as Mother Theresa, President Bush and Ryan Hall.. and he's the most tested athlete in the history of ANY sport. In the book you start to get the sense that Lance (literally) did everything better than the next guy. Think about this: If Lance did 10 things better than anyone else- for example, from sleeping, to diet, to equipment, to mental training, to simple training etc... and each of those 10 things yielded a meager 30" advantage over the course of 2000+ miles of racing (which really is a very insignificant amount of advantage and VERY possible). Then the net time gained over the course of the race is ~5:00. A 30" advantage over 2000 miles of cycling is quite possible with out drugs, don't you think?

Brett said...

re: how does a non-runner like Lance run so well...think MAF. MAF is a heart rate non-specific to what you are doing. I should be at 150...doesn't really matter if its through running or biking.

Biking for 7 hours I would imagine is a good MAF regimen on average. So this guy's body has been trained through MAF for several years.

Now obviously there are a lot of things to be gained by running to get better at actually running (which he is doing now)...but he is hopping into a pair of running shoes into a fat burning machine that is used to holding a 130-150 heart rate for several hours.

Just a guess on the subject...

Matt said...

What do you think of those other books (Bowerman and Once a Runner?)

And what about your experience with sore hip flexor/hip flexor tendonitis?

Lucho said...

Matt- I'm not familiar with either of those books.
There is not muscle called a "hip flexor", that is the function that the muscle group has. I use the term too because the muscles that are responsible for hip flexion are made up of 17 muscles! The most common running issue is with the tensor fasciae latae, iliacus, or psoas major. These muscles are mostly responsible for the flexion of the femur in running.
You are probably talking more about friction of the muscle between themselves causing pain or a strained or torn muscle but tendonitis could be responsible. We all have numerous micro tears in our working muscles, this is not anything to be alarmed about but it does cause soreness. You'll hopefully see the pain decrease over time as the muscles adapt or after a rest break. Don't stretch the muscles while you're having issues with them. You should try massage with your thumbs or a massage tool before your runs, ice for 5' afterwards. What is your cadence when you're running? The amount of flexion is decreased with a higher cadence and therefore could cause less strain on the group. Hope that helps.

kerrie said...

catching up on blogs - lots of interesting stuff going on here - and i see that the man crush is continuing strong ;)...
he still doesn't quite do it for me, but i see your point(directed at me...)and perhaps it would be worthy reading to figure out some 'focusing techniques'. does he explicitly talk about that?

Matt said...

T-
When I got injured two years ago the culprit appeared to be my ITB. After much consultation, an x-ray revealed nothing wrong; the note accompanying the x-ray back to my primary dr. said something about hip flexor tendonitis, but the ortho dr. told me nothing was wrong.

I have a pop in my right hip when I raise my leg to the side, a little tightness now and then (a little discomfort/pain RARELY) and in fact things are usually much better when I run. The ortho recommended I don't run 10 miles a day, but he thought I was pretty healthy. I proceeded to pursue ultra running. talk about counter-intuitive.

But back to your feedback, I have been stretching it a lot. I guess I should stop and just massage. I'm not sure what my cadence is. It's certainly getting faster as my HR dictates that cuz I'm running faster than I was. Perhaps the only stretching I'll do is that one you demonstrated on the video?

I just don't want my hip to lock up and I'm done.

Lucho said...

Matt- Hip abduction issues is common in people that sit a lot at work or driving. Pain in your Gluteus Medius which plays a major role in this movement, can often times be confused with IT band pain because they attach close together. The IT band actually crosses over the Gluteus M.. (I think). Your doc probably isn't going to be knowledgeable enough to help with specific running issues and a PT or kinesiologist may be better.
Keep in mind too that there 17 muscle in the pelvis and hip all with tendon attachments. It really could be anything. Stop stretching until the pain is gone! I always liken stretching a sore muscle to having a cold sore on your lip.. when you smile (stretch) it reopens the wound and slows healing.
You'll probably need to just wait it out and try not to let the damage develop further. Running has it's aches and pains.. we all have them. Knowing the fine line between simple tendonitis that isn't serious and tendonitis that will injure you is tough and usually requires either a mistake or an exercise in caution to learn the proper path. That's all you.

Matt said...

If I stay steady at 40-50 miles a week with more cross training but a bulk of the miles coming from longer efforts to maintain endurance, would that be your recommendation? More elliptical, bike, stair master, etc.? I can't imagine those straining my hip much.

And the thing about the hip is there really is no pain. The PT I saw about a year ago seemed puzzled by that too, like why are you here to see me. She straightened out my pelvic and seemed to think that, my arches or lack there of, and my lack of gluteus minimus - she was surprised I had so little ass, I guess you could say, were all responsible; you're right about all that being interrelated and hard to pin-point.

The hip feels tighter than more than anything else.

And there's the no pain no gain cliche, or simply what you said that we all have this or that. I just think by altering my approach (mileage) while increasing weights, strength work might help, yes?

And one massage therapist said it's key to strengthen the hip at the gym, working, for instance, the machine that works the hip abductors.

Lucho said...

Matt- Keep your cross training to running specific movements. Consider hip angles, spine alignment, knee drive and cadence.. all those things. The less specific to running, the less the benefit. Elliptical is my #1 recommendation. Listen to your body on the running volume and listen with out ego. I am hung up on 100 mile weeks simply because I think it's impressive (ego).. and although I am lucky that I respond well to that volume the reason I run 100, isn't a good one. Your body will tell you when it's at the limit.