Thursday, January 26, 2012

REST DAY READER: Catching up... and recharging

The last few weeks have been extremely busy -- work and traveling -- so it's time for a quick catch up. This is the first installment of what I like to refer to as a REST DAY READER -- rants and raves during those days of recovery. Enjoy (or don't)...

As far as training goes, many miles have been logged over the last 3 weeks, including a tremendous 31 mile training run -- crossing state boundaries and back -- on one of those rare 60 degree winter days in Manhattan. I must say, recovery time after these long runs, all of which have been followed by a semi-long or even longer run the day after, has been incredible. I should probably attest that to my nutrition and quality of sleep. However, after the last 3 weeks of hard training, I am pretty relieved to take advantage of this recovery week. A common training tactic that has worked for me in the past, these recovery weeks come every 4th week of training after 3 intense weeks of race specific running. I usually despise these 'recovery' weeks because I just love to be out there logging miles (for the long races) or getting speed work in (for those shorter summertime races I like to do in the hotter temps), but this time I am confident the recovery week has come just in time. After a Florida 'vacation' 2 weeks ago, I realized how much of the last few weeks has included at least SOME sacrifice. You see, when I say I love running and training for an upcoming event I do truly mean it. That sentiment is yet to change, however, my recent Florida trip -- which was noted as a "vacation" from work -- seemed like anything but that. Each morning I was up at 4am to get the coffee going, the oatmeal cooking, and the calories in before heated long runs up and down I-95 and 'round and 'round the quiet roads of my grandparents' retirement community (very boring runs for the most part as far as scenery goes and, damn, Florida is FLAT!!) Afterall, I had to fit in the runs before setting out for the days other, non-running activities. In short, I did love it very much. That feeling of getting up in pitch dark, fueling up and then packing my essentials for the long run has always been a great feeling, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to take one extra rest day... That brings us to today: An extra rest day! Why? well first off, this is a recovery week, so I will be tapering a bit on the mileage, tacking off about 15-20 miles from my currernt weekly average of about 70 miles per week. Secondly, Tuesday's 10 mile trail run was slippery in the North Woods after all that snow started to melt and, I being the idiot, decided to wear my road shoes in the trails. I paid the price with a slip that kind of tweaked the right knee a little bit. Definitely felt it during yesterday's usual easy mid-week run (about 5 miles). So instead of hitting the road today, I'm happy to claim that I HAVE LEARNED from past mistakes and I will be taking an ADDITIONAL rest day instead of pulling myself out the door to create a new injury. One extra rest day won't kill you (Friday is a normally planned rest/easy day leading up to the weekend's back to back long runs) but one extra injury very much can AND will. So, as of now the side of the knee seems back to normal, but another night of full sleep and this extra day off the legs should keep things on track for the weekly back-to-back long runs -- which are also shorter this weekend a la said recovery week. Third and also just as important, an extra day off keeps things fresh, mounts more motivation, and recharges the batteries before ramping up the mileage as I head towards peak training volume. So Saturday I'll head out the door for 2 hours, followed by another 2.5 in the trails on Sunday, and then it's back on another hard week of running upwards of 80 miles per week! It feels good to recover. Afterall, the ultimate goal is the race, and in order to push yourself to maximum potential, one's batteries must be charged at the right times. The way I've come to think of it is that there's a difference, in training especially, between pushing yourself (GOOD!) and pulling yourself (NOT SO GOOD!). Pushing promotes progression and fights your personal limits in a positive light, but it's that pulling yourself, which walks a close line to the former, that potentially ignites injury and increases time on the recovery couch instead of on the open roads and trails.

So, to sum it all up: I LOVE YOU, RECOVERY WEEK!
(Two Months 'til Bel Monte!! Check out the race site:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Week Summary 12/26 - 1/1

Mon - Cycling

Took the feet off the ground and onto the pedals today for an easy 10 miles just to shake the legs out after a weekend of solid back-to-backs. Feeling good.

Tue - 1:22 PM

Wed - 1:12 AM

Thurs - OFF (rest day)

Fri - 3:13 PM

Took advantage of the day off from work and made the trip up to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. I’ve been planning to get up there and today’s perfect weather was ideal for a long day in the trails. Great climbs and some decent technical features in the trails. That place kind of feels like upstate NY if you get deep enough into some of the woods. I know VCP is nothing like the Blue Ridges, but it is definitely better/more challenging than the North Woods in Central. After all, you have to be creative when you’re living on island of the concrete! Thanks, VCP... Definitely utilizing you for my modified trail training grounds when time allows for it.

Sat - 1:58 PM (half marathon race run, followed by a few easy miles of cool down)

Despite feeling pretty beat up from yesterday’s afternoon tackling some technical trails, I happened to feel great after a few minutes on the road and made the decision to race hard for 13.1 miles and see if I could grab a personal best on a self made race course. So it was on from the Upper East Side all the way into Astoria Park in Queens and back. and, according to my Garmin, I PRed by almost a full minute! Definitely satisfied with that, considering the out-and-back included a climb over the Queensboro Bridge two times. Slowed up a bit on the slog up the bridge on the way back, but it was great practice for gunning it on the descent to make up the lost time. I couldn’t believe how good I felt racing it hard and all on dead legs. I’d say it was the perfect way to say “goodbye” to 2011 and wrap up a solid year of rave runs and races. I’m pumped to see what next year has in store for the runs -- I’m dubbing 2012 the “Year of the Ultras” (injuries, you are not invited).

Sun - :30 PM (recovery run)

Planned on taking today off after doing my back-to-backs on Friday and Saturday, but figured I just couldn’t start out 2012 with a rest day -- a perfect reason to put on the shoes for a recovery run and kick off the year with some relentless forward motion. Happy New Year!

Week Totals: 8h 15m

Overall, a good week of running with a slight decrease in training volume (pulled back a couple hours for the recovery week after a solid first training quarter of building for Bel Monte). I’m hoping the small bit of rest gives me a big boost for the upcoming weeks of some heavy back-to-backs. The schedule is set to be quite busy for the next 2 weeks, so I’ll have to get creative in fitting in the longer workouts and adequate time in the trails. Bel Monte, I’m coming for you.

NYC's version of a peak -- Standing atop the "summit" during an afternoon in the trails of Van Cortlandt Park.
Friday, Dec. 30, 2011