MAF Test (Check-In)

Obviously I am not doing MAF training at the moment, but I wanted to see how things were going. I left off here, with paces in between 15:33-16:02. I was pretty frustrated with those test results.

This check-in won’t be truly comparable to the previous tests because it wasn’t cold when I ran, and because I didn’t have the heart rate alarm app on my watch. I did do this test on heavy legs, since I’d done a lot of climbing the day before, but I don’t consider that off-setting of the weather.

Here’s my heart rate graph for the duration of the run.
I really suck at keeping a consistent heart rate. Why? I see other people with the same tools I have with much more consistent heart rates. This is so jumpy.

Here are my paces and HRs
Warm up: 17:55 (120)
Mile 1: 13:48 (137)
Mile 2: 12:50 (143)
Mile 3: 13:05 (146)
Mile 4: 12:54 (143)
Mile 5: 13:02 (142)
Cool down (1.25 mi):  16:18 (123)

Without the HR monitor beeping at me, I had to keep glancing at my watch to see where my HR was. For the first mile I was obviously going too slowly, and for the 3rd mile I went too fast. My paces are much faster than they were before… or were they?

Since I was constantly looking at watch, I was able to notice something. My more relaxed, laid-back stride had me running a slower pace (duh) but not at a lower heart rate. I was able to run faster at the same heart rate when I “leaned in” to the run and turned my legs over faster with shorter strides. So I learned a little bit about how my mechanics and posture affect my running, and now I wonder if I could have also run faster in the trials I ran in the winter/spring if I’d run with a different stride/mechanics? I kept reminding myself to lean in, as I’d naturally “settle in” if I zoned out and would go back to the longer stride and lazier mechanics. I have some habits to break, it seems.

The jumpiness of my heart rate during the warm-up underscores the importance of warming up before a race. I was trying to get a nice smooth curve there and failed, sorry Dr. Maffetone. My last spike in HR was at about 1.4 miles, so it appears that I need to warm up a little longer for MAF tests, perhaps. I did do a 2-mile warmup for one of my MAF tests, the one that gave results closest to what an ideal MAF test should look like, so I guess that’s the way to go from here on out. It also indicates I would benefit from longer warm-ups before races. Something I say all the time and repeatedly fail to do. I have a 5K in a couple weeks so I will see if I can learn from my mistakes and all this data I’m gathering, and do a proper warmup, it looks like 1.5 miles might be the minimum I need.

Superior 25K Training: Week 1

Right back on the horse.

Monday: 3.5 mi, treadmill (walk), 118 bpm
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 4.5 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk south), 137 bpm
Thursday: 4.7 mi, trail (Bagley), 125 bpm
Friday: 5.5 mi, trail (Bagley), 136 bpm
Saturday: 7.3 mi, trail (Hartley), 140 bpm
Sunday: 9.0 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk north), 138 bpm
Total: 34.5 mi

Since Zumbro was kinda/sorta a training run rather than a goal race, I jumped right back into training and treated last week like a step-back week rather than a true race week, where I’d take longer time off. I intended to take Monday as a rest day as well, but I decided to do some active recovery by walking on the treadmill, and I felt like that was a good choice. Active recovery on Saturday or Sunday would have been better, but I’ll have to remember that for next time.

Tuesday I got a massage. I had a gift certificate from Christmas that I’ve been saving for this occasion, and it was a great decision. My massage therapist is awesome, and I have grown really comfortable with her. My hips and legs felt significantly better afterward, and overall I felt a lot more relaxed. The only issue I had was a little head stuffiness, which was uncomfortable while lying face down. I asked her how long I should wait after a race, and she said that I’d waited a good amount of time; the day after a race, there is often too much inflammation to benefit from a higher-pressure massage.

Wednesday I was back at it, on the Lakewalk, taking it kinda easy kinda not easy. I ended up running aerobically at a 14:56 pace, which was unexpected. The massage, plus slightly warmer weather, plus easier terrain, must have all worked in my favor.

Thursday I ran at Bagley. I was passed early on by the Zumbro 50 mile open winner with ease; he really makes running look easy. I make it look extremely difficult. I was STARVING the whole time. I’m not sure why, but I was so freaking hungry that I had to quit early. I had no energy and my heart rate was unusually low, which was a sign that I needed to stop. It freaked me out a little, but I was fine after I ate something and relaxed.

Friday I ran Bagley again, and I felt normal. It was my first run of the year in shorts and a t-shirt, and it felt like heaven. There was a still a bit of snow on the trails, but it had receded significantly since the day prior.

Saturday I went to Hartley, where it was muddy in parts (so muddy that I felt guilty about being on Root Canal; I will avoid it for awhile and I hope they will close it until the trail can dry up), with a few patches of lingering snow, and some dry stretches. I felt decent, although I ran slower than I would have liked. Slogging through mud took a lot out of my legs and my heart rate was tough to keep under control.

Sunday I wanted to do a long-ish run, but keep it easy, so I did the upper Lakewalk. It was cooler, so I wore a lightweight long-sleeved tee over a tank top, and I was glad that I did. At first I was worried I might get a little too warm, but then the wind kicked up on the way back, and I was cold. I was also extremely frustrated. The wind started gusting after I’d turned around, so the second half of my run was into the wind, and I had been hoping to have a few slightly faster miles because of a couple of slight downhills. It was disheartening, to say the least, to have the wind gusts send my heart rate up just as I was expecting to be able to calm it down and cruise. I kept hearing the “beep beep beep” of the HR alarm on my watch, which was driving me crazy as sometimes my heart rate was only 144 or 145. I ended up ignoring it and letting it beep away for the last couple of miles, although I still tried to keep it down. The run itself was decent, with all my miles in the 16:XX range, but I am tired of being slowed down by external circumstances like wind or cold. I also got a bit of a sunburn, just on my neck and chest.

I plan to get a new pair of shoes and make a few other changes to my training plan in the next few weeks, so I’ll provide some updates once I’ve gotten the shoes and figured out what exactly I’m going to do.

Bad Decisions

Tuesday was a day I really shouldn’t have run. I knew it, and I did it anyway. Nothing bad happened but it was a bit risky.

This sounds ominous but in reality I was just tired. I put up a “big” week last week with 36 miles, including 12 on Sunday, and then ran 4 on Monday. I could have used Tuesday as a rest day, and halfway through my workday when I was feeling sleepy, I was planning on it. But I looked at the forecast and I knew it was going to rain yesterday, so I figured I could leg out another day.

I went to the Lakewalk, starting at Brighton Beach, because it’s just gorgeous. There were people fishing on the lake near the Lester River. We’re all ready for spring in the northland, whenever it decides to show up.

The run was frustrating, because my heart rate would not behave, confirming I would have been better off at home. The Lakewalk is such an easy place to run, I should have been throwing down paces in the 15 minute range (BLISTERING SPEED, dontcha know), but here’s what I ended up running:

Mile 1: 17:28, 131 bpm
Mile 2: 16:18, 140 bpm
Mile 3: 16:23, 139 bpm
Mile 4: 15:46, 140 bpm
Mile 5: 16:27, 134 bpm
Loose change: 0.2 mi, 18:51 pace, 125 bpm
Overall: 5.2 mi, 16:33 pace, 136 bpm

Maybe I’m just that slow, but I doubt it. Yesterday was a rest day, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It rained most of the day, although it cleared up by the time I’d have been running, and was warmer than I thought, so it turned out I could have put off my run another day. Hindsight’s 20/20! I did do a yoga video and 20 pushups, so it wasn’t entirely a rest day, but nothing strenuous. The plan is a run today, rest Friday, and then medium-length runs (thinking 6 and 9 miles) on Saturday and Sunday, before majorly stepping down in volume for race week.

Speaking of bad choices, I’m now registered for a 5K on May 14th, which is a week before the Superior 25K. It’s the Be The Match Walk+Run (that’s a link to my fundraising page, thank you Dad for priming the pump), which I ran last year. I will probably be stupid and try to see what kind of speed I’ve got remaining in my legs. It’s a good thing I’m a timid racer, that should hold me back a little. I hope to PR in both the run (32:30 or less!) and fundraising ($276.67 or more!). And maybe I’ll finally have a 5K where I haven’t eaten a burrito or other Mexican meal the night before.

Zumbro 17 Training: Week 10

I was this close to DNSing the race and heading to Tampa for the Frozen Four.


Source: Michael Dwyer/AP via the St. Cloud Times.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 4.5 mi, treadmill, 136 bpm
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 6 mi, treadmill, 134 bpm
Friday: 7.5 mi, road (MAF test), 137 bpm
Saturday: 6.0 mi, treadmill, 139 bpm
Sunday: 12.1 mi, trails (Hartley), 141 bpm (with large sections of “cheating” over 142 bpm)
Total: 36 mi

If I wake up tomorrow with my cold worse again I am going to explode. And DNS the damned race.

I decided screw it, I was going to run anyway, despite the cold. I stayed inside for my evening runs, to make sure I didn’t get too cold (plus it was dismal outside) and could stop at anytime if my heart rate went crazy.

I already discussed the MAF test. Saturday’s run was unremarkable. It was snowing off and on all day so I had to stay inside, which sucked.

Sunday I needed to get outside and run a challenging run, for confidence’s sake. I don’t know what I was really thinking I would prove from a long-ish run, but I guess I needed time to practice eating and drinking during a reasonably long run. My goal was to run 12 miles in 4 hours aerobically. I am fairly amazed that I managed to get almost exactly 12 miles from a route not planned in advance. I went to Hartley and did Root Canal, 2 loops of Guardrail, Root Canal again, and then some kind of cobbled together route that involved unpacked snow. So the last few miles were in the most difficult terrain, unintentionally. I was getting cranky as heck because I just couldn’t stay below that 20 min pace and stay under 142 bpm. I was hoping to make up time at the end and hit the fluffy snow and couldn’t, so I “cheated” and just listened to my monitor beep away while I ran above my target heart rate. At this point, who cares? My training was interrupted by a cold for almost a freaking month. It undid a heck of a lot of the gains I’d made in fitness, especially aerobic fitness. I’ll be managing, rather than micro-managing, my heart rate at Zumbro, anyway. And I just hope and pray that there’s no snow and it isn’t a muddy slogfest the whole way. Some nice dry dirt trails would be amazing. I’ll be so fast! Ha.

The breakdown:
Mile 1: 19:18, 121 bpm
Mile 2: 19:40, 135 bpm
Mile 3: 20:03, 142 bpm
Mile 4: 21:53, 143 bpm
Mile 5: 19:15, 134 bpm
Mile 6: 21:24, 145 bpm
Mile 7: 21:17, 142 bpm
Mile 8: 19:31, 141 bpm
Mile 9: 19:01, 147 bpm
Mile 10: 20:03, 148 bpm
Mile 11: 20:18, 145 bpm
Mile 12: 16:49, 148 bpm
Loose change: 19:49 pace, 150 bpm (weird)

I ate a protein bar and drank about 10 oz of sports drink and 10 oz of water during the run and didn’t have any major stomach issues. I felt kinda crappy at the beginning but that was because I ate a banana while driving to Hartley and bananas don’t always sit well in my stomach. It seems like a decent strategy although Clif bars are a pain in the butt to open. I might break them into bite-sized pieces beforehand and carry them in a plastic bag for the race. I should also try chowing down at aid stations, since food is always easily accessible there, and then have the bars as a back-up.

The next couple weeks are going to be gentler as I prepare for the race, rest, and get back to healthy. The weather should be a BIT milder, and race day is looking to have a high of over 50 F! I can’t wait, maybe I can even run outside in shorts. I’ve got a lot of logistics to plan and I need to study the race information as I’ll be going in with no inkling about the course. Scary that it’s in less than two weeks, but I’m excited to race again, it’s been over 4 months.

MAF Test #3

I decided to do one last MAF test in this training cycle, despite missing all that training and despite still being sick. I kind of just wanted to see how bad the damage was. Plus the weather today was probably the most pleasant it’ll be in Duluth from now until the race. The extended forecast makes me a sad panda.

It was probably a bad idea to do the MAF test and also to run 7 miles outdoors, because I kinda feel crummy tonight, but I’m hoping a good night’s sleep will correct that. My sinuses are clearing, and I’m hoping my lungs will follow.

For reference: MAF #1, MAF #2.

Warm-up: 1 mile, walking and easy running, 17:45, 123 bpm avg.

My heart rate wasn’t jumping all over the place, which was really nice. I was able to transition to my target heart rate much more smoothly than I have in the past, which is no doubt due to the nicer weather. It was windy and I was walking into the wind at the beginning, so my heart rate was in the 120s to start, but once I turned away from the wind it settled down.

Mile 1: 15:35, 141 bpm
Mile 2: 15:27, 141 bpm
Mile 3: 15:36, 142 bpm
Mile 4: 13:44, 141 bpm
Mile 5: 13:45, 141 bpm

Ok the last 2 miles are crap data. Something was up with my GPS as I was hitting like 8:XX paces while staying aerobic. Nope. I don’t know what happened, it seemed to either give me extra distance during those last few miles, or shorted me miles in the beginning. I know one or both of these things happened because I ran an out-and-back and ended up measuring about 0.3 miles more than expected. Annoying. I know there was some kind of problem because Strava has the difference between my moving time and my elapsed time at 10 minutes, and I didn’t stop at all on the run.

Cooldown: 1.47 miles, easy running and then walking, 16:53, 135 bpm avg.

I didn’t really learn very much from this run, other than that I’m about 30 seconds below my average pace from test #2, which can 100% be blamed on this illness and the accompanying training gaps. I’m really, really hoping I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling better, and not more miserable. I mean, I have to, right? I can’t stay sick forever. It’s getting annoying, and it’s making me annoying.


Now 33.33333% of the way there! With excessive significant figures.

Monday: 5 mi, treadmill, 137 bpm
Tuesday: rest (I went to a hockey game and pigged out on the world’s largest carrot cake serving from Bellisio’s, It’s more like 6-8 servings, and delicious.)
Wednesday: 4.5 mi, treadmill, 134 bpm
Thursday: 6.06 mi, treadmill, 137 bpm
Friday: rest
Saturday: 6.06 mi, treadmill, 139 bpm
Sunday: 11.1 mi, road/paved trail (Minnesota Point & lower Lakewalk), 138 bpm
Total: 32.7 mi

Hooray! Another great training week. I still managed an increase in mileage, despite taking two rest days. My workouts are really boring lately, because it’s been a lot of treadmill work, and they’re all done at MAF threshold, so there’s no variety. It’s warming up again, so that should change.

Thursday and Saturday I ran til the treadmill ran out of time, or as close to it as possible. Saturday’s HR was a little higher for some unknown reason.

Sunday’s long run was the first double-digit run of the year for me. It was ok. It wasn’t as warm as I would have liked, and it was icy in a lot of spots. My heart rate was all over the place due to the cold and wind. A week ago, I did 9.4 miles at 16:07 pace with an average HR of 135 bpm, and that included a very deliberate 2 mile warm-up and 2+ mile cool-down which involved walking. Sunday I did fewer than 2 miles additional distance, with less walking to warm up and basically zero cool-down, but at at 16:51 pace and a HR of 138 bpm. Granted, I did the 11 mile workout a day after a 6 mile workout, rather than after a rest day like the 9 miler, but it just goes to show how much of a factor the weather is when running by heart rate.

I smeared Vaseline (hey, free advertising for them!) all over my face in an attempt to stave off frostbite. I didn’t feel like it did all that much. Not running into the wind did more. My hands were really cold from carrying my water bottle. It’s not insulated, so the cold water was chilling my hands, and I had to keep switching back and forth. I ate an energy bar in increments at Mile 5, 6, and 7, and then I ditched my water bottle at my car at mile 7.5. I had to in order to keep from completely freezing my hands. I need some better gloves/mittens still, because once again they were red and puffy at the end of the run and I had to sit in my car for awhile with the heat going until I regained enough dexterity to drive.

It was a bit risky to toss the water bottle, not because I was thirsty, but because I didn’t bring along the other energy bar I’d stored in my car aid station. I suppose I could have grabbed just the bar, but I didn’t want to risk it falling out of my pocket. I took a big swig of vanilla Coke before I left the car, and that was all the food I had for the next hour. Because I am slow, I have to be really careful about eating on many of my runs. Most people wouldn’t have to worry about a bonk on an 11 mile run, but most people aren’t running as slowly as I am. It ended up being ok but I probably could have used a bite or two to eat. Once I got back to the car I didn’t feel like eating but drank some more pop. It’s not that much worse than sports drinks, right? Whatever, I like pop, IDGAF. I am going to make sure I have a bottle of vanilla Coke in my car for after Zumbro. I will drink it in my hotel sitting in the in-room whirlpool tub, trying to warm up.

I ran 17 miles between Saturday and Sunday. It took 4 hours, 47 minutes. I think that might bode well for me to race under 5 hours at Zumbro. First of all, it’s 16.7 miles, not actually 17. While it won’t be on a treadmill and won’t be on flat road, it will also (I hope) not be 18 degrees and windy, and I won’t be restricting myself to a heart rate of 142 bpm (though I won’t be going wild and letting it skyrocket, either), so I am kind of hoping I’m on the right track here. Plus there’s 8 more weeks of training coming (6 more that really matter, since it takes awhile for fitness to take hold, or so I hear).


25% of the way there! Holy crap.

Monday: 5.3 mi, road, 136 bpm
Tuesday: 4.5 mi, treadmill, UMTR hill challenge, 136 bpm
Wednesday: 6 mi, treadmill, 137 bpm
Thursday: 3 mi, treadmill, 134 bpm
Friday: rest
Saturday: 9.4 mi, road, MAF test, 135 bpm
Sunday: 3.4 mi, paved trail (lower Lakewalk), 134 bpm
Total: 31.5 mi

Another great week. I literally cannot remember anything about Monday’s run, so it must have been boring.

Tuesday I ran the UMTR hill challenge, which I’m not officially registered for, but I’ve already run twice now (first time in week 1). There are two separate treadmill challenges: the first is 15 minutes at 15% incline, which official participants are doing 3 times, so I will also. The second is a “Leadville Hill” challenge, which is 3 miles at 15% incline. That’ll be the final one, I guess. The first time, I did 0.71 miles in 15 minutes, and this past week, I did 0.65 miles in 15 minutes, both while doing my best to stay under my goal heart rate of 142 bpm. I was disappointed to cover a shorter “distance” in my second challenge, but it’s not that big of a deal.

Wednesday and Thursday were general treadmill runs of no consequence. Friday I enjoyed my rest day and went to a men’s hockey game. Saturday was the MAF test as previously discussed.

Sunday was not good. I was planning on doing 4.6 miles, but I felt off the whole time I was running. My heart rate was kinda funky, and I felt strange. I thought I was dizzy or light-headed, but then wasn’t having and vision or equilibrium problems. I also thought maybe I was nauseated, but I wasn’t. I maybe had a little bit of heartburn, I guess, but my stomach wasn’t upset. I felt so strange that I ended up abruptly turning around at 1.71 miles (I was looking down at my watch so I know this for certain) and walking most of the way back. It was cold and windy, and I felt a bit under-dressed even though I was wearing the same stuff I normally wear.

This upcoming week is going to be COLD, so I guess I’ll be hitting the treadmill for most of my workouts. That is so depressing.