Tag Archives: running group

Back in the Park

I took an unusual break from my running group last week — no workouts in the park. And I wasn’t out of town. I’ll admit that not growing up with athletics, nor serving in the military, the trash talking had gotten to me. Today reminded my why I love the group so much. It was a full cast of characters. We had our man from Ghana. Our man from West Hollywood. Our peeps from East L.A. The septuagenarians. Three little kids under 4. All told, 14 people, I think. And the Los Angeles “June gloom” is just perfect for training. Griffith Park was just there to be exploited.

Our group, four runners and a fifth to call the times, headed up what they call “Nature Trail” for some steep climbing — a typical heart pounding warm up. Then we ran our sets of 45 second sprints. I know sprints is not the right word, because they were not flat out running. But nor were they strides. Intervals? Repeats? I don’t know the right term. We did 4 sets of 3 x 45 sec repeats, with 45 second passive recoveries, and 90 seconds between sets.

  1. 46 sec @ 5:22 min/mile (that’s 3:19 min/km)
  2. 38 sec @ 5:26 min/mile
  3. 45 sec @ 5:19 min/mile
  4. 47 sec @ 5:08 min/mile
  5. 52 sec @ 5:12 min/mile
  6. 49 sec @ 5:21 min/mile
  7. 45 sec @ 5:10 min/mile
  8. 46 sec @ 5:14 min/mile
  9. 47 sec @ 5:14 min/mile
  10. 45 sec @ 5:06 min/mile
  11. 47 sec @ 5:55 min/mile (reached our mark, stopped)

That’s where we take our water break at, appropriately, the big water tank known simply as 113. Then there’s a winding downhill where we caught up with coach. He had us do a couple of steep uphill sprints at the place we call “Piney Slope.” At that point it was obvious I was having an “on” day, coach noting: “I was wrong Erika, he has some lead in his pencil!” After that we did some downhill sprints. Coach had some proprioceptive cues, had me imagine I was getting ready to ski downhill, actually used the word “manubrium” (I had to look it up — the upper part of the sternum) which cracked me up. I got some good speed there, too. Then we finished up with some shorter sprints. One of them felt really good.

  1. 19 seconds at 4:07 min/mile pace (that’s 2:33 min/km)
  2. 22 seconds at 4:52 min/mile pace

After some walking and full recovery there were a couple of 15 second sprints toward the end of the downhill. Coach was giving me grief about fiddling with my watch, so I didn’t get the last couple. (Truth is, coach is 70, and though very smart, just doesn’t get the Garmin at all. And the Kinvaras, it’s hard for him to even look at them.) I did well on the first one, and just crapped out on the last one, but it was a terrific workout overall. Really good stuff.

So glad I was able to do this, and move away from that crazy molasses-like 10:00 min/mile 10 miler the other day (which did have the benefit of hills). Variety! Consistency!



Grassy Slopes

Sore ribs, the intercostals, I believe. A lazy day, post-workout. Kids downstairs streaming Leave It to Beaver. Been doing some squats with the kettle bells. Possibly too many. A jaunt today into the park with a slowly materializing group. The usual routine. Near vertical hiking followed by sprints, maybe you would call them strides. Unusually, we cut across from one ridge to another, to take a look at a spot called “grassy slopes”. The hillside there is precipitously steep — we were guessing about a 70 percent grade. If you rolled down I don’t think there’d be any way to stop, short of getting impaled by a tree branch. But mostly it’s just grassy, and a nice green since the rains. At some point we’ll be running “traverses” down and across and up, which should be remarkable.

Post-hike we ran 18 x 15 second sprints. In sets of three. I was instructed to keep the arms closer to the body. It’s the arms, now. I would have been happy to stop at 1.34 miles. The whole workout was about 3 miles. The body is achy, but good.

Found some interesting reading lately on the healthy relationship of fatigue and recovery, will post.

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.


Had a really nice run, that’s two in a row, with the Griffith Park group. This one was about 4 miles. We took a pretty much vertical attack to the hills, leading up more feeder trails I’ve never been on, with all kinds of great views. Saw several deer flushed out by some dogs on the facing hills. Just to get it out of the way, no, we did not see the mountain lion that has settled in Griffith Park. (For LA Times piece, “P-22, a mountain lion from further west in the Santa Monica Mountains, navigated across the 405 and 101 freeways and now lives in Griffith Park. Full story“)

We hiked to warm up, then ran sections of the trail until it degraded at one point into a sandy mush that did not allow for running. The views were stunning. In the first half mile we had climbed from 500 ft at the parking lot, to 1000 ft. And by the time we reached the lookout we were at about 1600 ft. Then we headed up to the lookout that overlooks the Griffith Park Observatory, taking an easy run to the it’s base followed by another murderous attack up the slope. It was terrific.

It was great to run back to back runs with the group. While I really suffered at one point yesterday, today was just challenging. I decided these runs were not going to get any easier if I just did them weekly, and shouldn’t let one difficult run get in the way. I got some further pointers about my right leg which is kind of flapping around when the left leg is pushing off. Excellent observations I would never have on my own. So trying to keep that tucked in, mindful that altering stride is a tricky business. And there was idle chatter back in the parking lot, about, among other things, Paul Ryan and P-22, which delights.

[Edit: another detailed story on P-22, and why lions would cross freeways to stake out new territory. Hint: Turns out the leading cause of death for a mountain lion is another mountain lion.]

Observation Biomechanical and Upper Body Stress

Another great run in the park with the running group. Today it was hard work. We ran 15 second strides in the hills, to get to the steps to Amir’s Garden, which we proceeded to run in segments. After which we got to a long dirt road where we ran quite fast from pole to pole, uphill. Then after some brief walking, did another 15 second sprint uphill. Then jogged downhill. I left the Garmin in the car as it had run out of battery, no doubt the result of fiddling with it to see if I could get it to upload.

(No luck as of yet. No word from Garmin. But neither device is working from the wife’s laptop, either, so I’m quite sure it’s a Garmin problem, website specific.)

After a fair amount of hill running (almost all of it uphill), one of the runners pointed out that my right foot is pointing out about 30 degrees and that my stride was less efficient than it could be. She noted that this could also lead to back pain. That there is gold — as I do in fact experience lower back pain on the right side, from time to time. The idea that she nailed the cause of it is a minor revelation. And as I was jogging down the hill, coach’s wife hollers “tuck in that right foot!” Not something I ever would have figured out running on my own.

Did I say it was hard? As my legs were feeling good, I tried to put in a solid effort today, but started to fade around the telephone pole section. I’d guess the run was about 3 miles. I’d love to see the route on a map, especially the elevation. The surprise today was soreness, fairly early on, in the triceps.  Near the elbow. Perhaps this is more tendon than muscle. Upper body stress. Love it. I feel a lovely nap coming on.

Some observations, hearsay about the running group.

  1. Nobody is training for a race.
  2. They accommodate different paces with different routes, including jogging strollers, septuagenarians, and dog walkers.
  3. Coach’s wife, H., 77, hikes up scrabbly trails and is not far behind while we run the intervals.
  4. She is a top 5k runner in her age group.
  5. Coach ran a 2:36 marathon in his day, that’s 5:57 min/mile pace.
  6. At the end of my first run, the woman I was running with just shot off down the hill. When I caught up to her she was dry heaving.
  7. Some grouping of them is there every day, 6:30 a.m. on weekdays, 7:00 a.m. on weekends.
  8. One runner is from Ghana.