Monthly Archives: November 2012

Split Process — or Strength vs. Endurance

I’ve got a double life going on. Sat, Sun, Tuesday I run middle-distance workouts in the park with the group. (Monday is generally a rest day). That’s hiking for warm-up, followed by sections of hill sprints, 15 and 30 second sprints on the flats or hills as the course dictates, and a winding descent to end. Often the workout is as short as 2.5 miles — a distance I formerly associated with limited time or recovery from injury. These workouts are all about strength, form, and sometimes speed.

Then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I try to get some miles in. It’s the distance runner’s mentality. Five miles is the minimum and a standard run would be 7. The long one’s got to be 10 or more. These workouts are mostly about endurance and logging miles.

I like my routine, but this batching can’t be good in the long term. I need to move the Tuesday workout to later in the week, so I can sandwich in some distance between the hill work and sprints. Just for variety’s sake.

Here’s how it played out for most of this week:

Sunday: Took cousin out with the group. Up Amir’s steps. Daughter took a spill on the steps and sprained wrist. Some alarm, but wrist is fine. We did some racing. Best pace: 3:43 min/mile. 2.16 miles.

Tuesday: Another trip up Bee Rock, the trail, not the rock proper. Then another quarter mile attempt. Over 62 seconds. Best pace: 3:32 min/mile. 2.86 miles.

Wednesday: Big, big endurance run. Hills and long loping trails and zippy sections. Hiked up Bee Rock, proper. Did not run any part of it. Humidity was high, and the moss on the rock slippery. Potential recipe for ending of life or other unfortunate outcomes. Then ran up what they call “Purple Death” — that’s about 1000 feet. Then veered off into what might be called Beachwood* Canyon — but I’d need to confirm that. And up toward the Hollywood Sign, the road just below it. Really nice, easy pace. Then back and over Hogback Ridge, clear over to the area of the park above Silver Lake, called 5 points. And back down. 1:36      10.08 miles      9:32 min/mile

Thursday: Feeling the last couple of workouts today. Ran 7 easy without the watch, which I forgot. Was thinking I was running about an 8 minute pace, but when I got back to the car I realized it was more like 9 minute pace. Maybe it was the rain? More likely Tuesday and Wednesday just took their toll.

That puts me at 22 miles for the week with two days to go. So probably about 30 miles this week.

*Looks like it’s actually called Bronson Canyon or Brush Canyon on some of the older maps.


Bee Rock: Training Device


Did a few runs with the group this week and consequently my mileage for the week is low, about 20 miles.  And, of course, there was Thanksgiving, etc. I was feeling a bit flat last week, so not a bad thing to ease off a bit. I’m uncertain of the right mix of this strength work that I’ve been doing and the distance that I’ll need to put in for preparing for another half marathon. On Thanksgiving we ran some pushes up one of the steeper ridge trails up to one of the gardens — the name escapes me at the moment. I was feeling better that day. And today was great.

We headed up this impossibly steep rock — it’s not the decomposed granite that’s in most of the park, maybe a basalt? It’s hard and steep, and coach mentioned that it’s especially good for loosening up the hamstrings and lower back when they are tight. I can attest that indeed they were pleasantly loose.

After a few very steep ridges we headed down to the section where we do quarter miles and ran a trial. Again, I had the benefit of a very steady runner to pace me for the first 100 meters or so, and another runner speeding ahead. I managed to do this one in 62 seconds. The watch seemed to concur about the distance this time around, and so I feel less skeptical about it.

Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon and Some Wet 30 30s


That’s the winner of the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon, which conveniently started about a half hour after I finished my rainy run this morning. So had a chance to have a hot shower and pancakes before heading over to the finish line with the girl. The timing could not have been better. Within 5 minutes this guy bolts up, saying to the race directors that he “felt good, but probably broke my wrist.”

Not surprising that someone would have taken a fall, as it was raining steadily for at least a half hour — certainly enough to turn big sections of the course into a muddy mess. They rigged up a cardboard splint for him. He clearly put everything in the race, ran about a 6:00 min/mile pace on a treacherous course, looked like maybe he was in shock. The next runners showed up 10 minutes later.

In terms of running with the group, I learned that, due to conditions on the hills, they do not usually run when it’s raining. Somewhat shocking information to me. Today the sky opened up, conveniently just as we completed the hike up to Vista Del Valle. There we ran 30 second sprints with 30 second recoveries. It was a little messy, but fun.

I thanked the coach for the hill bounding lesson — I feel much more aware of the right foot plant than I had before. He characteristically replied, “You’re running has improved 1000% — but it’s got about 100,000% to go.”

I think that’s 33 mile for the week.

Here’s what they call “30 30s”:

6:49 min/mile   396 ft
6:15 min/mile   430 ft
5:57 min/mile   480 ft
5:35 min/mile   485 ft
6:01 min/mile   450 ft
5:38 min/mile   466 ft
4:51 min/mile   .11 mile
5:47 min/mile   470 ft
5:19 min/mile   523 ft
5:30 min/mile   516 ft
5:10 min/mile   .10 mile
5:26 min/mile   489 ft
4:54 min/mile   .10 mile
5:22 min/mile   519 ft
5:27 min/mile   488 ft
5:50 min/mile   461 ft
6:10 min/mile   446 ft
5:39 min/mile   479 ft



Pondering A Commute, Yoga, Holidays, End of the Rest Day, and 5 Miles


The dark side of all this running, is of course, that I’m woefully underemployed at the moment. Imagine a significant commute — over two hours a day, for instance. How would I incorporate that into my running life? I would have to get ingenious, that’s for sure. Early rising is not an issue for me, but there are uglier phrases and words in the offing. Words like “treadmill” and “gym”. But I’d be happy to shed the stress of underemployment that’s for sure.

But a commute would almost certainly contribute to all kinds of tightness in the hips and hamstrings and lower back, what I’ve found (to my delight) to be called the “posterior chain.” I was in my favorite independent bookstore the other day and snapped this pic of some of their offerings. Not so hard to imagine myself curled up on someone’s sofa on the East Coast somewhere, reading a couple of these over the holidays.

A lot of these piqued my interest, actually, but on the subject of tightness, I have to note The Runner’s Guide to Yoga. It’s not that the book rocked my world, though it looks decent, perhaps even quite good. Through a meditation class I’ve been taking (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, known also as MBSR), I’ve been sort of re-introduced to the whole idea of yoga. When I last did yoga, around 2000, I was very stiff and was occasionally asked if I had an injury. Not much has changed there, but in doing just some simple stretching exercises I realized how great it would be for me to do some yoga.

Not just the posterior, but the anterior chain, too, is hanging together quite differently since I’ve been running. I won’t go on and on about it, but suffice it to say I’m excited to do some yoga.

For my “recovery run” I went back and forth several times today whether to run 5 or 7. In the end, I decided it was more important I didn’t adversely impact my workout tomorrow, with the group, than add 2 extra miles to my weekly mileage number. It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen on the weekend, too, so better to stay on the conservative side. For the week, this represents a week without a day off. As long as the runs are calibrated accordingly, this feels fine so far. We’ll see how it goes.

That said, I ran it a little faster than planned. It was cloudy and cool again today in the park. Perfect.

5.07 miles        41:56        8:16 min/mile

9:09   8:32   8:20   7:49   7:34

Back of The Envelope Redux, More Fauna, Etc.

It was overcast, cool, but not chilly. Just perfect in the park today. The idea was to run 10, with some hills — but it turned into an epic 10 all in hills, big hills, rolling hills, winding hills, downhills, uphills. Since it was epic, I allowed myself a few 2 minute or less recoveries. I ran many sections I have done with the group, but at a much more relaxed pace, given the distance goal. But, in fact, I got a real sense of just how much the group pulls me along, keep me at a much stronger pace than I’d be doing alone, distance or not.

On the way up to the “Colossus” two very relaxed looking coyotes, lying down, front paws crossed. At the water trough, 15 feet from the water fountain, a red-tailed hawk taking a sip. Near the end, up in a section just still sheltered from the freeway, up above the children’s driving range, an unbothered deer, ears silhouetted by the sky.

10.86 miles        about 10:11 min/mile pace        really wish I had the elevation information — pretty sure this was my biggest run in terms of elevation gained, several sizable hills.

Those technical runs with the coach are so informationally rich. Experientially, too. But just 2.5 miles. So that puts me at 7, 2.5 (vibrams), 2.5 (technical), 5 (@ 8:00 min/mile pace), 10 (hill mania) = 27 this week. Take the Friday rest day? Something easy? If I want to stay at 35 miles weekly I’ll probably need to run some easy miles tomorrow. That elusive push into a 40 miles week is yet to come. But it will. No rush.

Having A Moment


Coach had mentioned, two weeks back, that I should come during the week to work on form. So today managed to make it happen. We started with some exercises, pushing the foot into the ground and moving it forward, getting the hips to engage. Did some sprints. Some skipping. Some single leg bounding.

Then I have to admit my heart sank a little when I realized we were headed over to a piney section, where we do sprints up a very steep trail. It just requires so much power (and technique) to get up that hill! After two sprints I was “having a moment” had to take a break. There was just nothing left. I have to give him credit, he knew. He didn’t even ask. And he knows when to say, “That’s ridiculous.” And when to back off.

After recovering we ran a downhill sprint and then some very focussed hill bounding. Marked of a section and counted the number of bounds it took (24 for me to start) to get there, uphill. We did this section several times, quite deliberately. For me, it’s all about planting the right foot squarely, I’m not using the whole foot, and so getting less power.

Then we coasted round a few bends to a relatively flat section, which ends at the spot above, of which I just happen to have a photo. At the flat section I was used as a rabbit while the other runner focussed on form. And I was encouraged to pick up my cadence when the other runner passed me, which he did. And I did. That was a good sprint. He said I got up to 4 steps a second, which is “good for a beginner.”

More and more, I’m convinced this guy knows what he’s doing. He claimed, offhandedly today, that when he was nationally ranked, he was coached by Gordon Pirie. And that Pirie’s nickname for him was “the fuckup.” Says Pirie got things out of him he didn’t know were there. I don’t doubt it.

All in all, it was only 2.5 miles. But I’m sure I’m going to feel it. And I’m going to feel it in my shoulders, ribs. Weird places. During my long run tomorrow, perhaps.

Weekend Runs

C Group and A Group.

On Saturday the meat and potatoes of the workout was sprints up a steep hill. Under 12 seconds. In this workout I’m part of the C group. There are some solid runners, and some very good runners. It’s humbling to run your sprint in 12 seconds and to be followed by others that run it in 7 seconds. That’s what I need to work on, strength. All told about 2.5 miles.

Saturday night we had a party with the running group which involved obscene amounts of food and liberal doses of alcohol. Sandwiching the food in between the drinks allowed for a solid run the next day. No hangover.

Sunday we ran to the Hollywood sign. We hiked up a series of ridges getting us over the main series of hills and then there was a gorgeous, but somewhat treacherous, connector trail over to the sign which was picturesque. Then the long, winding haul back. The longer we ran the nearer I get to those two front guys, though I don’t anticipate catching them this year. That’s my A group moment, and I’ll take it. All told about 7 miles.

I can’t account for the bruise on my left thigh, though. Maybe the party?

Today I ran my Vibrams recovery run. 2.5 miles. Good stuff. I like it in place of the rest day.