PP5M Training: Week 8

Since I counted the weeks wrong and started my 8 week training program a week too soon, this week was kind of… strange.

Monday: 5.2 mi, road
Tuesday: 6.7 mi, trails, Hartley Nature Center
Wednesday: 4.5 mi, tempo, 3.5 @ 12:30 avg pace
Thursday: rest
Friday: 6 mi, road
Saturday: 6.7 mi, training, Superior Hiking Trail
Sunday: 5.2 mi, road
Total: 33.4 mi

That’s my highest mileage week for this training cycle. I realized that on Sunday and decided not to run the 8 miles I’d planned. I want my legs to be fresh on Friday.

My running watch, a Suunto Ambit 2R, is really sucking. I haven’t been able to use the heart rate monitor for a few weeks because it connects but does not display or record a heart rate, no matter how good of a connection I get. I wonder if the battery is dead, or if there’s some other problem. I’ve been too lazy to check.

But now I do need to contact the company because the watch still charges (thank goodness) but the computer doesn’t recognize the device, or if it does, the download fails. This happens in all my USB ports on my home and work computers so it is clearly an issue with either the watch or the cord. I have only had this watch for 6 months, so it’s still under warranty, and there’s no reason it should be failing. It doesn’t charge with a micro USB cord, so I can’t just swap in a different charger.

This week of training was kind of weird, since I was just winging it. I didn’t do a long run, but I did 3 runs of six or so miles, so I don’t think I needed a long run. I got speedwork and trails in, and all the runs felt decent-to-good. I am pumped for the race (except I think it’ll be hot), and plan to take it easy in the days leading up to it.

PP5M Training: Week 7

Another jumbled-up week, spending Thursday-Sunday trying to cobble together some miles to salvage it.

Monday: OFF
Tuesday: OFF
Wednesday: 4.5 mi, trail/run mix
Thursday: 4.6 mi, trail
Friday: 5.1 mi, trail
Saturday: 4 mi, paved trail, including 35 min tempo run @ 12:33 average pace
Sunday: 10.3 mi, road
Total: 28.5 mi

Yes, I did my speed work and my long run back to back. It wasn’t ideal, but it was what best fit my schedule.

Friday was a really frustrating day for me. I jumped on the Superior Hiking Trail at the Kingsbury Creek trailhead, heading towards town. I was moving along at an ok clip, in spite of the heat, but I ended up losing the SHT and was dumped out into a West Duluth neighborhood. I circled back, and sure enough, at the underpass, the SHT split off from the larger, multi-use trail. I was cranky enough about getting off the trail, but even more annoyed when I saw the vegetation had encroached on the trail and I was going to have to run through long grasses and other plant life. I assumed every tick in the northland would be wriggling into my socks. It was a pretty tough section of the trail, I was hot and crabby, and when I got to a steep uphill section, I threw in the towel, turned around, and headed for the car.

Saturday’s tempo run was supposed to be longer, but I kept lollygagging and I had to cut it short, since I was meeting my family for frozen yogurt (which HIT THE SPOT after that run, let me tell you!) I parked at Brighton Beach and ran the Lakewalk path from there, which was flat enough to not impede my tempo progression. Even though it was only in the 60s, it felt really hot for some reason, and I was glad to have the run over with.

Sunday’s long run actually felt fantastic, save for the first mile or so, which is always slow for me, and the 8th mile, which dragged. My overall pace was 15:51, which was similar to my last double-digit run (apparently I haven’t done a double-digit run since April, oops!), and that route was flat (Park Point + Lakewalk) plus I took a break and had sports drink and candy to refuel. For Sunday’s run, I just had a hand-held with water. It was over 80 degrees and muggy for most of the run, but because I waited til after 5, and it was partly cloudy, the heat was bearable. My back’s a bit sore today, which isn’t surprising.

The 10 mile run will be my longest of the training cycle. It’s twice the distance I’m covering in the race, and since it’s only 2 weeks out, I’m not sure I’ll see too much of a benefit from it. It will be helpful towards my base for my fall training cycle, though. This upcoming week, I’ll be scaling back down a bit, and then the week of the race, I’ll back off to just a few easy runs and a little bit of speedwork. I am really excited for the race, to see what I can do with a full 9 weeks of training and planning behind me.

PP5M Training: Week 6

Tune-up race week!

Monday: 4.6 mi, road
Tuesday: 5.9 mi, trail
Wednesday: 6 mi, paved trail, 9×400 intervals
Thursday: rest
Friday: 0.5 + 3.1 mi, warmup + race, paved trail
Saturday: 3.9 mi, trail
Sunday: 5.6 mi, road
Total: 29.5 mi

This week ended up being a bit of a step-back week, which is fine, since I gave a pretty strong effort for the race. I slept pretty horribly after I came back from the race, as I was physically tired but my mind was racing, no pun intended. It was pretty humid all weekend, so it wasn’t good sleeping weather. I don’t have air conditioning, so all I had to combat the stuffiness was a couple of fans.

Because I hadn’t slept well, and because it was fairly warm (for Duluth) on Saturday, I kept the run short and easy. I brought my hand-held even though I was only going to run for an hour. Most other places in the country, it’s been hot long enough for runners to acclimate a bit, but here in Duluth we haven’t strung together many hot days, so I’m still trying to get used to running in heat and humidity. It was kind of a sluggish run, but I didn’t want to push it.

Sunday, I thought it had cooled off. I almost didn’t work out at all on Sunday because I thought we were going to get significantly more rain than we did. It poured while I was out to a late lunch with family, and it seemed like more bad weather loomed, but it held off long enough that I marshaled my spirits enough to get out there. The sun returned and it ended up being a lot warmer than I thought it would be; the coolness brought by the rain had been short-lived. I didn’t have my hand-held with me because I hadn’t put it in the fridge as I’d thought, but I was still able to push the pace a teeny bit and ended up finally doing a medium-long run under a 15 minute pace (14:58! But still!) despite walking the hills at the beginning to prevent getting overheated.

This was a pretty strong week of training, although it lacked a long run. I didn’t have one prescribed in Hal’s training plan, but since my race was on Friday (technically Saturday, but logged as Friday), I had two post-race days to play with and could have stretched Sunday’s run to 7 or 8 if I’d planned better. I am starting to chip away at my race pace, and my training paces are starting to drop, too. I was right that the interval paces I was naturally hitting indicated I could run a faster 5K. I’m pretty pleased with the progress I’ve made in a short time. It won’t always be that way, of course, but I’ll enjoy the rapid progress that comes with the beginner phase of running while it lasts. Eventually I’ll be working my butt off to improve a PR by mere seconds.

PP5M Training: Week 5

Last week’s training was a bit messed up. Here’s the log:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 6.2 mi (trail)
Thursday: 5.5 mi (10×400 intervals)
Friday: 4.4 mi, road
Saturday: 1.6 mi trail + 3.5 road
Sunday: 1.6 mi trail + 7.9 road
Total: 30.7 mi

I started the week with 2 unscheduled rest days in a row. Not the best way to start a week, but necessary. Both Sunday night and Monday night I slept horribly (Sunday because I wasn’t feeling well, Monday I don’t know what the problem was), and I even went home from work early on Tuesday and took a 2 hour nap, which I never do. Generally when I nap I feel really sick and horrible, so I avoid them unless I just can’t function. I did yoga both days (after the nap on Tuesday, which helped me feel better) and I walked a couple of miles on Monday, so I wasn’t a complete deadbeat.

I don’t feel guilty about “unscheduled rest days,” to use the parlance of our time, because if they’re needed, they’re needed. Knowing when to give my body or my mind a break from running is important, and not listening to that impulse is going to be detrimental to my training. I just moved everything up by a day and skipped the rest day, and tried to make up the mileage. I made it to 30!

Wednesday I tried out my handheld on a trail run. Thursday I gave intervals another try and kind of sucked at them. I did that run on Park Point (a stupid idea, because while the flat surface was nice, dodging tourists who don’t look when they cross the street and who ride tandem bikes as if the whole street is theirs was unpleasant, and then I got bridged) and I think I’ll do that for the next set of intervals (fewer tourists). My splits were unknown, 10:50, 10:39, 10:49, unknown, 10:45, 10:46, 10:53, 10:34, 10:20. I forgot to hit the lap button for the two unknowns. While those are fairly consistent (with the last one an outlier), they are too fast. Either that or I’m going to slaughter my race on Friday.

Saturday and Sunday I did “doubles” as I did a short hike each day (a dry run and then the solstice hike) and a run. My long run on Sunday went ok. I brought along my handheld and started at 6 PM, trying to avoid the heat. Instead I got full-on sun in my face for a few miles and ended up salty as hell. I used my fantastic water bottle to douse my head and get the salt off my face. I felt really gross after the run, despite sipping water the whole way and despite feeling strong during the run. It was really stuffy in my house and was making me nauseated. I’m not sure if it was the heat, or if it was because I hadn’t eaten enough before my run. I think it was the latter, because after I laid down for a little while (in the grass outside, because I was feeling a little panicky) and ate a granola bar, I was fine and ate my dinner. I also didn’t show any other signs of dehydration or heat illness. Still, that handheld is coming with on all long runs or runs where I’m exposed to a lot of sun, just to be safe.

This coming week, I’m hoping to get back on the training schedule, with a few minor, but planned tweaks. With the race on Friday/Saturday (it starts at 11:59 PM on Friday) rather than Sunday as the schedule says (why do these stupid plans always have the races on Sundays? Saturday’s probably more common!), I’ll have Sunday as an open day and do a long run, and I probably will still only have one rest day (Thursday) even though the plan calls for two rest days in a row leading up to the race. It’s a 5K, I’ll survive on just one rest day.

Even though the training plan went pear-shaped for the week, I still got the important workouts in (long run and speedwork), got the mileage I wanted, and had some fun along the way. I’ll just be over here self-congratulating for this accomplishment.

PP5M Training: Week 4

I need to add another item to my summer gear wish list: insect repellent. Heat + humidity + sweat + trails = bites. I was making myself dizzy whipping my head around every time I even thought I was being bit by a mosquito. I don’t want to cover myself in the hard-core, eye-searing insect repellents that I use when I’m camping or at a bonfire or something. Those repellents have their place, and I’m certainly not crunchy enough to forgo them entirely, but I don’t want them on my arms/neck/face when I’m running, since I’m always wiping my sweat off my face with my arms and hands.

Here’s this week’s training update. I skipped a week in the Higdon program, as it called for a 5K. I will do that week as Week 6, when my next 5K is scheduled.

Monday: 4.9 mi, road
Tuesday: 6.1 mi, trails (Hartley)
Wednesday: 4.7 mi, road, tempo
Thursday: rest
Friday: 4.7 mi, trails (Bagley)
Saturday: 5 mi, trails (SHT)
Sunday: 7.5 mi, road
Total: 32.8 mi

I changed the planned rest day from Friday to Thursday. It makes more sense. It also ensures that I am not doing my long run right after a rest day, as it sometimes works out better to do my long run on Saturday rather than Sunday, and I always want to make sure it’s done on “tired” legs.

Overall it was a fairly decent week for training, and I finally got above 30 miles, so that was good. I felt kind of sick on Friday night, but I was fine and it didn’t affect Saturday’s workout. Just as I was planning on heading out on Sunday, I got a charlie horse in my calf simply from trying to stand up. So, that set me back a few hours. It ended up being a blessing in disguise as it was still fairly warm when I headed out just before 4, and it was sunny most of the way. I would have liked to have a couple shorter runs in warmer temps to acclimate a little better, but that’s the way it goes. Since my goal race is going to be in warmer temps, I’m going to have to trudge along until I get used to it.

PP5M Training: Week 3

Apparently last week was so boring I didn’t want to write about it.

Monday: 4 mi (road)
Tuesday: 4.9 mi (trail)
Wednesday: 3.5 mi (road, tempo)
Thursday: OFF
Friday: 4.2 mi (road)
Saturday: 7.1 mi (trail)
Sunday: 3.4 mi (trail)
Total: 27.1 mi

I wanted to get up to 30 miles last week, but I didn’t, thanks to Wednesday and Sunday. Wednesday was really misty so I had to cobble together a safer route, as I already discussed.

Both Saturday and Sunday were terrible. Saturday I drove out to Jay Cooke State Park to check out that section of the Superior Hiking Trail. I got a year’s state park pass for $25, which is a bargain! I am sure I’ll get my money’s worth this year. It’s good until July 1st of next year.

People were swarming the swinging bridge, but I was heading out the opposite way, ready for some nice technical trail action. It turned out to be paved the entire 3.5 miles I ran out. It turned back into trail just as I was turning around, which was annoying, but there was no point in going any further. I wasn’t dressed for running (I had shorts on, which are fine for intermittent running, but kept bunching and riding up when I was running, and I hadn’t put on anything to prevent chafing, so I had to run kind of bow-legged at times while trying to adjust them.) and I was wearing my hydration pack (bladder empty, but a full sports drink tucked in). I also just didn’t feel like running. I could not get my feet and legs moving for the first three miles or so. I ended up with a respectable 16:49 average time, I guess… but considering I was running on paved, mostly flat terrain, I should have been about a minute faster. I can probably attribute some of that to the shorts. The pack didn’t bother me much.

Since Saturday was supposed to be my “cross-training” day and ended up being my long run day, I set off on Sunday in search of some real hiking action. My plan was to park at the SHT lot near Ely’s Peak and head south. I drove all the way there and the lot was closed and the temporary lot was overflowing with cars. My car really sucks and isn’t exactly secure, so I didn’t feel comfortable leaving it on the road. I ended up driving back to the Magney-Snively parking lot near Spirit Mountain and decided to try out the Spirit Mountain section of the trail.

It started off nicely.

Then I came across a trail detour. It turned out to be straight uphill, followed by a mile along the road to the Spirit Mountain Chalet. I made it about half a mile up the road, in the direct sun, with the pavement radiating heat, looking like a bedraggled hitchhiker, before I decided to forget about trying to hit any specific mileage goal, turned around, and hoofed it back down the road to the cover of the spur trail.

It was kind of a disappointing week of training. I felt ok, but my motivation was lacking for some reason. I’m chalking it up to a bad week and putting it behind me.

PP5M Training: Week 2

I find it somewhat ironic that I mentioned what a big baby I am about not running places I am not expressly permitted access to, and the very next day got escorted off a golf course for running on it. It was kind of embarrassing. I figured since the golf course went through the backyard of the resort where we were staying, it might be ok. It was not. I should have known.

So, here’s what I did.
Monday: 4 miles (road)
Tuesday: 4.6 miles (trail, Superior Hiking Trail off Martin Rd)

It was nice.
Wednesday: 4.4 miles, 400 repeats (road)
Thursday: 4.5 miles, road
Friday: rest
Saturday: 4.6 miles (paved trail)
Sunday: 5.8 miles (trail, 3 loops around Bagley)
Total: 28 miles (includes warmup and cooldown for most runs)

I used my cross-training day (Saturday) for running yet again (well, last weekend it was more hike than run), as I don’t have any cross-training activity I like. If I had been less lazy, we were only about 10 miles from Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, and I could have done a nice trail run/hike, but I got up late on Saturday and didn’t want to inconvenience anyone while they waited for me to slog through a training run. I ran the 5.8 miles on Sunday after a 2 hour car ride, so I’ll just applaud myself for getting off my butt even though riding in a car for more than half an hour makes me sluggish.

I was a little concerned I was overdoing it this week. Since last week’s rest day was Wednesday, I ran 8 days in a row instead of 6. I wanted to get back on track with the plan, and I knew I wouldn’t have much time on Friday for a run since I had to work, pack for our weekend trip, and clean the kitchen (I had a baking disaster the night before and only cleaned up the bare minimum) before we left. There wasn’t going to be time for running. Sunday and Monday I was still sore from my Saturday hike and was a bit worried I was overdoing it, but come Tuesday I felt fine, and Wednesday my legs felt great and ready for speed.

I ate a lot of sugar this weekend and I don’t think I did a very good job hydrating, but nothing so horrible it will throw me off for this week. I have a tempo run, a 6 mile long run, and I plan on getting out to the trails again for my cross-training on Saturday and for one of my weekday runs. My sore legs early last week are a sign I need more time on trails.