So this is my first blog since before the NYC Marathon and my New Year’s resolution is to get back to regular posting. The race was very disappointing to me but I have to take the lessons from it and move on. Ultimately I did a few things wrong in the last few weeks of training and I lacked long term fitness. I had cross trained very hard but you still don’t get the same pounding in your legs. (continue reading…)
I was supposed to be lining up in the morning to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Half Marathon, but as often happens, plans change. Shortly after the Great North Run, Alberto said I needed another race. To quote him: “You looked like crap.” The tough part was that the next seven weeks were really the most important part of my training for the ING New York City Marathon. We wanted to find something that was the least invasive to the training as possible. Ultimately, Alberto decided that training was going well; we got a great benefit out the last long tempo we did, so the best thing to do was go back to Nike and do another one. I think this was a good move. I feel good and I really needed one more long race pace workout to refine everything. This is really the last chance to do that now that I am only three weeks out from the race and I begin my taper Tuesday after the workout. The taper will be gradual and there will still be some longer, hard workouts, because it is important for the marathon to keep those in. I know they will be hard because Alberto told me a few weeks ago, “I am going to run you until you are dead in every workout from now on. If we’re going to try and beat Geb we need to do some good shit!” However the volume will start coming down slowly and I am really looking forward to freshening up. Of course, not every workout can be that hard but I have done some brutal ones! After this long tempo I will come back to altitude for 10 more days to put the finishing touches on everything. I never like having to change plans and pull out of races but for once it is nice to make that choice because things are going better than expected!
I feel like I am settling nicely into training here in New Mexico but there is one thing that I can’t do as effectively here: long tempo runs. (continue reading…)
I am sitting here in my Normatec MVP in our rental apartment doing therapy for the last push to the ING NYC Marathon on November 7. We have gone to New Mexico for altitude training and I am very excited for the extra fitness I will gain from being here. (continue reading…)
So after a long hiatus from racing, I have my first half marathon in almost a year coming up on September 19 in Newcastle, UK. (continue reading…)
It has been a while since I have put up a new blog post, but I forgot how chaotic life can be with a new baby. Our son Jude was born on July 23rd and thank God he was healthy. (continue reading…)
I was having a little difficulty figuring out what to write about this week. My good friend Jason Hartmann sent me a text message saying, “Where’s your latest blog? You’re getting lazy!” I guess I have to keep on track a little better. He also gave me a couple things to write about. He suggested I write on what I thought were my hardest workout, hardest race, and greatest accomplishment in running.
Surprisingly, my hardest workouts corresponded with some of my hardest races but not necessarily my greatest accomplishments. Many of my greatest accomplishments happened when everything was clicking. Sometimes your best races and workouts are the ones that feel easy. For some reason you just could not reproduce those times no matter how hard you try. I think that sometimes that is a trap that people fall into. You have to have benchmark workouts that you can use to judge your fitness. For example, I know that mile repeats are a workout that you cannot fake. They are hard and long intervals, and you must have some snap in your legs, but if you do 6-10 of them you need the aerobic training to back it up. Those are the workouts that have given me confidence going into big races.
I think one of my best workouts was probably doing 9 x 1600m with 400m recovery in 4:21 average. I did this workout a week before I did my semi-famous 10-mile tempo run in 45:03 around the Nike campus. Those were both pretty amazing workouts, but they just happened. I think I was able to run these workouts because of something I learned last summer and fall from Alberto: you can’t have an A+ workout every time. Between those workouts were B and C type workouts that allowed me to hit it out of the park. Before, going all the way back to middle school, I use to try and hit it out of the park every time I did a workout. It was not any specific coaching philosophy that held me back the most, but more my thinking that I needed to kill it every time. I think killing it every time was what led me to some of my hardest races.
I’ve learned that if you hit it hard every workout, there is an accumulated fatigue that sets in. You never fully recover from the previous workout. One big problem I had when I trained with Brad Hudson is that I always had to beat the workout. If he gave me a threshold run, and I could run faster than that, I did. But that might not have been the point of the workout and the next workout I would do the the same and by the time I got to the race, I was stale. I can think of doing some amazing workouts that were very hard but then I followed them up with very flat races.
The hardest race I have ever had came not because I was working so hard, but because I completely lacked any base fitness. When I won the 2003 NCAA Cross Country Championship I was destroyed for a couple months after. I had come off a full year of injury, and I did not do nearly the cross-training that I have done in every injury since. If that race had one week earlier, I think it would not have been the hardest race I have ever run. I was more tired by the day leading up to the race, and I had to muster everything I had to beat Ryan Hall. I probably gave Coach Wetmore a good scare in the months after because it took me a long time to get back to my old self.
I can contrast the 2003 NCAA XC Championships, however, with my greatest accomplishment, and that has to be running the American 5000m record in 12:56. I have had some amazing races outside this, but this is the one that changed my perspective on what I am capable of. It brought me to a level I did not think was possible after so many years. I brought that attitude into my training and racing since then, and it is completely different from where I was. Leading up to that race was the exact opposite of what I did for the 2003 NCAA XC Championships. I had a full year of great training with only minor interruptions, and I was finally listening to my coach and my body, hitting some workouts out of the park, and being content to have average workouts in between those super-hard efforts.
As an athlete it can be difficult to bury your pride and listen to what your coach and you body are telling you. If you have an amazing workout your natural inclination is to keep pushing and to do even better the next time. That is the American dream being shoved in your face since you were a little kid. “The harder you work the better you’ll be.” There are times to have your greatest workouts, but you don’t want those workouts to also become your greatest accomplishments. Save them for race day!
Most avid track fans know the four-year cycle of our sport. We have the the Olympics every four years, as well as the World Track and Field Championships the year before and after each Olympic games. That really only leaves one year of every four that is truly a rest year. When I say rest year I really mean experimental year. I was watching the World Indoor Championships on TV this past weekend and I saw so many people in different events. (continue reading…)
Over the past few months I have had a few questions about injuries and what I do to stay fit, so I wanted to dedicate this blog to cross training.
I always seem to come back from injuries better than ever, and I feel I have a pretty good grasp on what it takes to get back to peak form quickly. I think when I am done running I should just coach injured runners and send them back to their coaches ready to go. There is no secret recipe to cross training, and you don’t have to have access to an Alter-G treadmill, even though they are much more readily available and the easiest way to simulate actual outdoor running. However, the type of injury you have will dictate what range of cross training you will be able to do. (continue reading…)
So in the last blog post I had a few requests to look at periodization of training. I thought it would be a good idea to post some sample training weeks, as well as what the different training has been like for me over the years, pulling from high school, college, and the two post collegiate systems I have trained under. First, here are some samples of the best weeks that I have had in each system. This is how a normal week would look during these training periods. (continue reading…)