Tag Archives: base run

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.

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

Most of the Week



The week, mostly.

Monday. Usually my day off, but was unable to control myself and decided to run a short, recovery run. Over the weekend, the two group runs were each intense in their way, Sunday’s run was full of great hiking (see above image of the “goat trail”) and difficult uphill trail sprints (they call them “pushes”). And Saturday was the “Colossus” intervals. So Monday was 2.5 miles with the Vibram Five Fingers, KSO model. I ran it quite slow as seemed prudent. I’m sure the legs got some extra stress, extra adaptation — which after all is the point of a recovery run. Short and under muscular stress.

Tuesday. The long run. I’m trying to increase the distance of this, but since this week I’m backing off mileage (which I failed to do last week, due to an oversight). So it was 10 miles. I did feel the lack of rest, or imagined I did. To be precise:  10.57 miles, 1:38, 9:17 min/mile.

Wednesday. Intent on taking it easy, given the last few days. It was a minor triumph of slow running: 5.41 miles, 53:43, 9:55 min/mile. I was really happy with the splits, nice and consistent: 10:04, 9:52, 9:53, 9:57, 9:56, 9:44.

Thursday (today). In a similar vein, picking up the pace at mile 3. 5.39 miles, 48:24, 8:59 min/mile. Splits: 9:51, 9:36, 9:11, 8:35, 8:10, 7:51.

Friday. Here I really do rest. On principle. A part of me would love to just run out there as it is rainy and lovely out. But I’ve got 28.7 miles for the week and can expect another 4-5 on Saturday, so that’s a good place to stop. Maybe try for a bump next week.


Photo credit: Thanks to one of my readers. It’s not the route I ran today, but I like the photograph.

Today’s run:

40:39        5.04 miles     8:04 min/mile

Yesterday’s run was identical, except I forgot my watch. It was the same route, 45 minutes, about 9 min/mile pace.

Today I was inspired, though. The body wanted to run where I’d left off yesterday, though I am trying to conserve some energy this week.

I’d just reread a small section of a great* book, Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald, and chanced upon a simple, somewhat obvious, but as of yet (for me) largely untried method of spurring motivation. Just glancing over the epilogue, this: “Know your personal records and try to break them.”

Now I know, or can easily refer to, my running times for all of my races — but it occurred to me that I don’t know, for instance, the fastest time I’ve run 5 miles in a work out. Or at 2.44 miles (the circle around the golf course in Griffith Park that I’ve run many times). So, wouldn’t it be helpful to know,  particularly if I’m going to run a hard workout, what my fastest time was? So simple. But I haven’t done it. I came up with this quick and dirty list, with the help of my data at Garmin connect:

2.51       18:40       7:27 min/mile (7/12/12)

3.10       21:38       6:58 min/mile (4/13/12)
4.96       37:44       7:37 min/mile (4/11/11)
5.00       39:14       7:45 min/mile (3/20/12)
6.45       53:32       7:20 min/mile
7.00       53:46      7:40 min/mile (12/6/11)
10.0    1:20:50     8:05 min/mile

13.1     1:42:33      7:50 min/mile (race)

16.5     2:27           8:56 min/mile

So, next time I head out for a 10-miler, and I’m feeling jaunty. I will know that I’ve never run one faster than 8:05 min/mile pace. Crazy powerful information that I’ll be making use of, with gusto!


*I so misjudged this book when I first read it — I tossed it aside, my takeaway being that it was about “winging it” (Chapter 6), when there is so much more to this book — it really is a further distillation of Brain Training for Runners, his previous book.

Back of the Envelope (Increasing Running Mileage Safely)

A Realization.

Looking forward to getting the Garmin data storage to work at some point — but in the meantime… It recently occurred to me that the last few weeks has netted me not only a new record for weekly mileage (last week’s 37 miles), but a monthly record that includes 5 straight weeks of 30+ miles per week. Throw in the speed work I also did during a few of those weeks and you have a recipe for injury. I semi-knew this regarding the speed work, but had not really thought about the cumulative effects of all the miles…

I sketched out my recovery week (above). It includes two rest days (one of which I’m in the process of phasing out), a 10-mile effort (originally set for today, but will do tomorrow) and the dictum that a couple days must be easy. Maybe all the days. I’m a little unnerved by the fact of running that cumulative mileage and doing speed work — not to mention the maniacal adventures in the hills! Very thankful to not have sustained any kind of serious injury.

(I’ve also sketched out a possible 40-mile week following. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve not ruled out this exploratory week, as long as the pace is E-A-S-Y. My cousin may be in town — en route to the NYC marathon that she probably won’t be able to get to — so the running schedule may be somewhat elastic.)

Browsing some of the following websites helped knock some sense into me.

A Few Links For the Curious On Safely Increasing Running Mileage:

The first one took me by surprise. Put together by some Australian guy, it has some very down-to-earth thinking on the (overly) general nature of the “increase by 10 percent” rule that many of you readers of running publications will be familiar with. His Guide to Increasing Running Safely is worth a look. Another good one? Pete Pfitzinger has a guide to increasing mileage. A real pro that beat Alberto Salazar in the 1984 Olympic time trials, Pfitzinger knows his stuff. He also expresses some skepticism about the 10% rule. And finally, Strength Running has a smartly titled entry, “Forget the 10% Rule: How to Increase Mileage Safely.” Please note, I’m not suggest anyone toss the 10% rule out the window — just examine its limitations.

Today’s Run

Thought I’d just check in with the body — ditch the planned 10 miler for an easy inquiry into the state of affairs. The weekend runs were quite demanding hill intensive adventures, and even with a day off in between, and given the aforementioned miles, a break seemed in order.

43:08     5.02 miles     8:35 min/mile

8:51   8:50   8:47   8:22   8:08

All in order. This was very comfortable. Even forgot to hydrate afterwards, though I do hit the water fountain at 2.35 miles on this route. Hydration. That’s another post.

Five Easy Miles

5.03 miles/21.50 miles      48:52/3:57:30       9:43 min/mile

Had a realization that for my afternoon spousal run would be entirely appropriate to don the Vibram five fingers, KSO model. I clearly recall snorting internally when a running shoe salesman told me the Vibrams are “not really a running shoe, more of a tool.” This afternoon I will use that tool for 2.5 miles of slow running with focus on form. The idea being that running with these minimal shoes helps avoid overstriding and other maladies of running form.

I did manage to nail my goal pace today. I was inspired by a (possibly apocryphal) story about Frank Shorter running some of his slow runs very slowly, in the 10:00 minute mile range — and some of this other runs very fast. In any case, I mainly focused on the hands. Running group cohorts have suggested that my hands are coming across the center line a little too often and my wrist is “breaking”. The former possibly adds all kind of unnecessary torque motion to the upper body, and I have noted all kinds of inefficiency there. The latter hand motion possibly sends disruptive signals to the legs, in terms of stride motion. 

I’m considering these factors and, oddly, focussing on the hands more most of the run. I recently re-read a really nicely done section on form from Matt Fitzgerald’s Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running By FeelHe takes a look at the various methods of improving stride, whether it’s even possible, etc. and concludes that the most important thing to do is simply run a lot, increase mileage. The body will solve its stride problems.

Nevertheless, I’m still putting on the Vibrams this afternoon, even if I have to take a little spousal heat for them!