Friday, December 30, 2011

Thoughts on Advanced Marathoning ...

Last year around this time I was in the middle of Ironman Training and not really enjoying running all that much (all that much = not at all). With the increased training workload I was finding each run to be mentally and physically exhausting. I needed help.

Knowing I had four more months of Ironman training I started to look for answers as to why doing something I once loved had become such a chore? Was it just the accumulated volume that was weighing on me or was it something else?

So I hit the endurance message boards and over and over again people were recommending a book called,  Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger. I downloaded it an begun to dig in!

The opening of the book tells you that you can basically skip over all written chapters and go right to the training plans in the second half of the book.

This is what I did.

The back section included three weekly volume training plans presented in the form of: 55miles per week, 70miles per week, and 70+ miles per week. You could choose a 12 or 18 week version of these three plans.

My first reaction was that the "easy" plan was 55mpw!!!  People do that? I was in the middle of Ironman training and was usually around 30-35mpw and this felt like a lot. Triathlon had been my focus over the last few years and I never realized how much went into stand alone marathon training. Ignorance was bliss, I guess?

Instead of pushing the book aside I decided to do something drastic - read the first half!

I sat down and started in and the book basically explained what the training plans would accomplish. Chapters on nutrition, training, and recovery all presented in a clear and concise manor made me realize something - I knew very little about running, especially for the marathon distance!

It also answered the questions I was having about my lack of desire to strap on the sneakers: I really had no idea what the hell I was doing! This book changed the way I attacked each run and made me think in terms of "why" each run was being done and what it would accomplish. Pfitzinger also made it easier for me to understand what I needed to be eating before and after workouts and how glycogen levels were integral to performance. Even though this book is for marathoners the principles covered really applied to  all forms of endurance sports so it got applied to my Ironman training.

After all this information was absorbed I decided that after Ironman was done a serious attempt at running a Boston Qualifying time was going to happen and one of Pfitzinger's plan was going to be my guide.

Fast-forward to today and I am over half-way through the 18wk/70mpw plan. Over the first 10 weeks of this plan my running performance has increased to levels once never thought possible. Now do not misunderstand, this plan is not easy and definitely not for everyone. I'd recommend you have a solid volume base in endurance sports over a couple of years. Just for a reference of the amount of work required, for the month of December I have ran 252 miles and over 650 miles the last three months.

But if you are serious about getting faster at the marathon distance and the training volume above seems realistic then you should probably check this book out.

Click Here to see my 18wk/70mpw plan on a Google Spreadsheet. I also included my recommended training paces.

Happy Running and Happy New Years!

Thanks for Reading,


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Looking Ahead ...

Over the last few weeks quite a few bloggers have already planned a lot of races for 2012. I had done this as well a couple of months ago but have since changed my mind!

I've decided to do a lot less racing this year and focus on only two "A" races. The main reason for this re-calibrated mindset is that I want to get faster. Over the years when significant speed increases have been realized one factor has always been the same:  Consistent Training with Purpose.

That will be my goal for 2012: Consistent Training with Purpose!

2012 Race Schedule:

- Texas Half Marathon (Jan 1st): This race falls right in the middle of my 18-Wk Marathon Training plan and allows me to gauge fitness. The goal is to go as hard as humanly possible so I can use the results to set the training paces for the remainder of marathon training.

- The Woodlands Marathon"A" Race #1(March 3rd):  This will be my first stand-alone marathon and I am foolishly attempting to Boston Qualify. I am 36 years old and with the new 2012 qualifying standards it means I need to run a sub-3:10. Based on current fitness, training, and my last few races all the pace calculators say I am very close to being able to hit the qualifying standard. BUT it is going to take eight more weeks of consistent, purposeful training to get below the 3:10 mark.  AND if Kevin decides to come race we will be shooting for sub-3:05 since he is a youngster!

- Kemah Olympic Triathlon (April 29th):  This race will occur 8-weeks into Ironman Training and be used to get back into racing Triathlon and, more importantly, assess swim and bike fitness. If my swim and bike are struggling then my plan can be adjusted to account for these deficiencies. I have also learned that Long Course training can really beat on you over time and sometimes it is just good for the soul to go out and race.

- Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon 70.3 (June 24th):  This legendary race on the 70.3 circuit is one I have been wanting to do and it coincidentally falls 8-weeks out from Ironman. This is the perfect amount of time to assess fitness and dial in nutrition. The course is located among canyons and makes for some difficult climbs on the bike and run. This should get me in the right mindset for the mountains in Quebec.

- Ironman Mont-Tremblant, "A" Race #2 (August 19th):  This is the big daddy of the season and I already cannot wait to get to it. The best part is that this race has been planned with blogger buddies Jon, Mandy, and Kevin. We are all going to have such a great time. Last year Ironman Texas training was with the mindset of just wanting to finish. It was a great day and the race went exactly as expected. After I finished it was apparent to me that a lot was left on the course and I have the ability to go faster. This year I am training to race and to see what level my body can be pushed.  This course is going to be one heck of a challenge!

- Memphis Marathon (Dec 1st): Annie and our friends Jenn, Dave, and Deanna all want to run this race. If I was able to BQ at the Woodlands in March then I will be the super-sherpa for everyone. If I missed BQing, then I will try and parlay the Ironman fitness into another BQ attempt. Either way it appears we will be hitting up Beale Street to close out the year!

As of right now this is it! I could potentially add a few running races in during the fall and was also thinking about Rev3 Florida in October.

With the spacing of these races it will allow for focus on training and peaking for each race as opposed to tinkering with reduced training and half-assed tapering.

Has everyone else locked in 2012 races yet? Are you planning on any of the races above?

Thanks for Reading,


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Stuff ...

  • It is very exciting to announce that I will be a member of the Brooks ID Team for 2012. I have been running in Brooks since 2008 and believe they are the best running shoes and best running company in the business. I currently rotate between the Launch and Pure Flows as my trainers and use the T7 Racer Flats for racing. I am very thankful and humbled to be part of the Brooks ID Team!
  • Early last year I attempted to wear another running companies shoes and this poor decision resulted in achilles tendinitis that plagued me for much of 2011. I rarely mentioned it on the blog due to sponsorship obligations but these obligations are now over so I can write more about it. After the injury I went back to wearing Brooks for the rest of the year and I truly believed switching back to Brooks saved my season and potentially saved me from a serious injury. I will never make a rash decision like this again. I learned the hard way how important high quality running shoes with proven technology are to a high mileage endurance athlete. 
  • So lesson of the day: Run in Brooks!
  • Marathon training is going well. I know a lot of you come here to see what kind of ridiculousness I put my body through so here are a couple training numbers:
    • Miles Ran Last Week - 72mi.
    • Miles Ran Last 28 Days - 249mi.
    • These are both all-time highs for me (for now).
    • Miles Ran so far in December - 189mi (with 10 days still to go).
  • Here is the cool thing about all the running: I feel wonderful (knock on wood)! I have been taking extra care of my legs by foam rolling twice a day and icing the achilles after long runs but overall my legs still feel fresh. With less then 10 weeks to go until the Woodlands Marathon I am hopeful the fatigue monster can stay away until taper!
  • I cannot wait to begin Ironman Mont-Tremblant training. Missing the bike and pool big-time but I committed to being strictly a runner and will follow through with that commitment.
  • On Monday Kevin (Ironman by Thirty) and me decided to do P90X again. We have both been through the rigors of P90X in the past so we thought we knew what we were in for. Wrong. It hurt. Bad. Woke up on Tuesday morning and my upper body felt like it had been hit by a truck. Today the soreness was even worse but I was happy to see a text from Kevin that said, "...I think my arms/shoulders hurt more today then yesterday ...". Ditto buddy!
  • On New Years Day Annie and I are running in the Texas Half Marathon. It is a small race (650ppl) on the Greenbelt trails about 4 miles from our house. I train on these trails all the time and am really looking forward to doing the race. Last year the finisher's medal was like 3.5lbs! If I do not drink too much on NYE then I am going to try and hammer as hard as possible. If I DO drink too much then I am still going to hammer but will probably ended up passed out in a bush along Lake Houston! Just hope it is cold enough to keep the gators away.
  • Right now if all stays the same Pittsburgh will be playing at Denver for Wild Card weekend. This is the dilemma of all dilemmas for me. I love the Steelers. My house is decorated in Black and Gold. But they will be going against The Tebow! I am so conflicted.
  • Joe Biden is the biggest idiot to ever hold the title of Vice President of the United States. He makes  us all long for the days of Dan Quayle. 
  • Bye, Bye Kim Jong Il. Feel like we hardly knew you. You should have won Best Actor for this moving performance: (NSFW)

Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Thanks for Reading,


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Week in Review - All Pictures

My wife has been away for the last week in Hawaii where she set a PR at the Honolulu Marathon. This means it has been just me, the pugs, and the iPhone camera:

Lots of this was consumed.
Ernie and me Tebowing in front of Tebow.

Notice the winter hat and long sleeves - cold days running last week!
Storage Room - Before.
Storage Room - Before
Storage Room - After (Yes, that is a 5.5ft Replica Braveheart Sword on the wall - it will be quite the surprise when Annie gets home tomorrow).
Storage Room - After (Now the Bike Trainer Room).
My left calf after getting attacked by a dog during a run - 3 puncture wounds from the bite - lovely, huh?
Big Ernie being a lap dog!
Little motivation for those "trying" to get off the couch!

Thanks for Reading,


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ramblings ...

December is always a crazy time of the year for me at work so the next couple of posts will more than likely be of the bullet point variety as my brain is sort of fried:

- My wife, Annie, is on her way to Hawaii for the Honolulu Marathon. She is staying with a good friend from college, Deanna, who lives in HI and they are both running the race. So this means I am a Bachelor for the next eight days! When I was in my twenties this would have been the opportunity for lots of beer, crappy food, and 72-hour video game marathons. Now being in my mid-thirties it is the opportunity for a couple of extra naps and being a total recluse. How times have changed!


- On Sunday my buddy Dave and I ran in the LaPorte by the Bay Half Marathon. I had my share of Sausage on a Stick (so good) and even got to meet the Maestro behind the BBQ'ing! I'll have a full race report up by the weekend. I ran the race with the goal of holding my Marathon Pace (per my training plan) and accomplished just that. I finished in 1:32:08 (7:02 pace) which was 19/890 overall and 2/47 in my age group. The AG award was a pint glass - best hardware ever!

- Next race is the Texas Half Marathon on New Year's Day. It is in my hometown on the greenbelt trails I run on all the time. My goal for this race is going to be around 1:28:00 - hopefully all the miles I am putting on this month will get me there.  All finishers of this race receive a 3lb pound finishers medal and a small plastic pig with your finishing position painted on the side!

- If you liked/disliked my last post about Barefoot Running then you may enjoy some of the rebuttal posts:

- Over the last couple of years I haven't really talked all that much about my choice of running shoe. Probably because I have tried so many!  But I have settled on a nice rotation and am working on a post about the shoes I am now using for training and racing and how each type is being used. Look for this in the next couple of days as the choices seem to go against conventional wisdom.

- Recently I have received quite a few emails about my current training plan. If you are interested it is linked in the top right hand corner of the blog. If you are interested in monotonous data my training logs are public so feel free to check them out. 

- I have been carefully following all of the GOP candidates running for President. At this point I have not made up my mind as to who will get my vote but the field has narrowed and right now I am leaning towards Tim Tebow. 

- One thing this "vetting" process has reconfirmed with me is that I cannot stand the media, especially cable news programs and left leaning newspapers. It is to the point that whatever they report (using this word loosely) my instincts tell me to believe the exact opposite. 

Thanks for Reading,


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Barefoot Running, an essay ...

I came across this essay by Chas Gillespie on his feelings about Barefoot Running and it's proliferation through the running community and thought my readers would find it as interesting as I did.

Chas is a 1:04:xx Half Marathoner and has Qualified for the 2012 US Olympic Trials being held in Houston this coming January. He is also a Harvard grad.  Gillespie is a talented runner, but, as you will see from this essay, he is also a student of his craft.

A fair warning, this essay is rather long but extremely well written and, IMO, well worth the read. The reason I posted it here is because my views on Barefoot Running mirror Gillespie's and he does such a good job at laying out a clear and concise argument that it would be fruitless to try and duplicate his fine effort.

Enjoy! CLICK HERE to read.

Come back and tell me if you agree or disagree with Chas.  I have a few more thoughts on the subject but will wait to share them in the comments.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Welcome December

Can you guys believe we are already in the last month of 2011?

It seems like just the other day we were all planning our races for this year and now it is almost over!

Time flies when your having fun, right?

November was a solid month here at the Carrot headquarters.

Three running races were completed (click below for race reports):

Rocky Raccoon 50K
San Antonio RnR Half Marathon
The Woodlands 5mi Turkey Trot

Total run volume for November came in at 178mi. This was a little short of what I wanted but with taper and recovery it was necessary to take a few days off from running.  Of the 30 days in November three were spent racing, 11 were taken as off days for recovery or taper, and the remaining 16 were for training.

When I did run the average distance was 9.36mi per run, so that was not too shabby!

After the 50k at the beginning of the month I only ran once in the six days following the race. I actually felt okay but decided the prudent thing to do was to get some solid rest and the San Anton HM was the next weekend so it was a mini-taper.

As for December, this Sunday is the LaPorte Half Marathon (Sausage on a Stick race) which I will be running at a slightly slower Marathon pace (7:14/mi) per my training plan.  This is the only race scheduled for December so it will be a great opportunity to pile on the volume.  According to my plan I should finish December around 270 total miles run - should be a fun month!

Good luck to all the blogger buddies racing Vegas this weekend! And especially to Jason who is attempting to BQ!

Thanks for Reading,