Sunday, August 31, 2008

In the news

Amazing robotic bicycle-parking system implemented in Tokyo. (Link courtesy of my father!)


Travels went smoothly today, and I am very happy to be safely home...

Too tired, I think (and without the heart to deprive the cat of my company or myself of his!), to run this evening, but I will do this week's long one (only nine miles, it was a recovery week) tomorrow morning and tweak the rest of the week's schedule accordingly.

Meanwhile, a nice swimming story at the New York Times.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday run

6 treadmill miles

V. tempted to repeat the epithet disgustingly hot and disgracefully slow, only really it was not quite so hot as yesterday (I pulled down the blind over the window whose sun-passage was immediately troubling me; it still was too warm, but I am thinking the heat must build up over the course of the day so that late afternoon is probably the worst time to use the fitness center).

I will instead take a more positive approach and invoke the rubric easy zone 2!

Friday, August 29, 2008


4 (disgustingly hot, disgracefully slow) treadmill miles, but I was very glad to do 'em!

Still slightly feeling the aftereffects of yesterday's travel, which was definitely (in my terminology) frazzledness-inducing (on the order of 14 hours door-to-door, due to a significant delay on the connecting flight in Miami and a further delay in Orlando when lightning prevented ground crew from getting luggage off the plane).


But I am back on track now, I wrote the daily quota of novel pages and I ran, and if I do a treadmill run tomorrow morning and a real-world run on Sunday evening after I get home (but I will be sensible and do it Monday morning instead if my flight is delayed, and retool next week's schedule accordingly), then I have fully acquitted myself of this week's marathon training obligations and self-imposed writing expectations.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday run

1.0hr. treadmill (zone 2)

I am sorry to say that I was thwarted when it came to today's Stroke and Stride race - it was postponed until next week (when I will be back in New York with the semester fully underway), for the very good reason that Hurricane Gustav is headed this way!

The weather is still very pleasant here, but first thing tomorrow morning we will head off-island and indulge in a bit of the rock-star lifestyle....

In the meantime, 5.5 slow, hot and rather uncomfortable treadmill miles at the conveniently located but underventilated resort fitness center next door. I wouldn't have minded doing six, but the treadmill switches to cooldown mode at the one-hour mark and I was also having significant stomach distress - I think it's the heat, your body's just under more stress even when you're going so slowly. So I hopped off, hastily wiped down the machine and made a run for the bathroom....

(In the immortal and laconic words of Jack Daniels, "Be aware that any speed of running on a treadmill is slightly less demanding than it would be on a track or level road, yet because of the greater chance for heat build-up you might get an equal or even higher heart rate.")

And then I had a delicious little dip in the sea, with the assistance of a new pair of shoes that I've been obsessing about ever since I first saw them at Comm's blog. I could not get them out of my head, I coveted them, and last week I took the plunge and ordered a pair.

They are delightful! I did not run in them, other than a few steps to test 'em out, but I wore them into the sea, which is very good, because I have been slightly stymied (given tender New York soles - as a child, though I was not at all outdoorsy in temperament or opportunity, I went barefoot whenever I could, mostly due to an acute dislike of socks that remains with me to this day) by the uncomfortable stuff you need to walk over to get into this bit of sea right here. When we do the Friday sea swims, they're from Sunset House, where you can climb in via a nice ladder. But these shoes are great, you can swim in them and everything, and walk over prickly things!

(I would prefer not to step on fish in general, but particularly I would prefer not to step on them with my bare feet.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday swim

Very good little masters swim just now. Sometimes the slower of the two lanes that's an option for me is impossibly dawdly, but this evening there were several quite fast swimmers at the front and I had a really good time in there, it wasn't too crowded at all...

Warmup: c. 250

4 x 150 as 25 kick, 50 pull, 75 swim

Ladder: 25 right-arm, 50 left-arm, 75 6 kicks per pull, 100 catch-up, 200 swim, 100 c.u., 65 6 kick per pull, 50 l.a., 25 r.a.

3 x 100 breathing every 5

1850 yards total

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Long run #5

12 treadmill miles
5.5mph (1.0% incline)

I always think a 12-mile run is going to be a walk in the park (metaphorically speaking), only then in practice it never is! But I am very pleased with this one.

Note to self: do not ever again wear that pair of socks for a long run, the left sock was so squelchy with sweat by mile 10 that I could think of nothing else!

Noticeable cardiac drift, suggesting fitness shortcomings, but there is nothing to be done about that except keep on training. I would like the 12-mile run to be a year-round component of my training - I did pretty well through the winter but slightly lost the thread of it this spring as I switched to a triathlon focus. In 2009 I will hope to do better - it really is one of my favorite things, even if I'm doing more biking I should figure out how to keep it.

I am two miles short of the notional week's total (should have been 26), and it's all treadmill mileage, but given how poorly the week started off, I will take it...

Weekly total: 24 miles

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday run

1.0hr. treadmill (mostly zone 2)

Quite enjoyable, though the trouble with treadmill running is that the cooling system is taxed disproportionately more highly than the huffing and puffing system! I did mile 4 at 8:49 pace (aka 6.8mph), but mostly I stuck with 10:00 pace - insufficiency of mental fortitude, I think.

6 treadmill miles

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday swim

Utterly delightful 2k sea swim, plus meditative floating.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday run

1.0hr. treadmill (zone 2, bits of zone 3)

A relief to be more or less back on track now with training. If I run on Saturday and Sunday, I've only missed one of this week's scheduled workouts.

I'm definitely still slightly under the weather - the virus is gone, but I'm knackered. I did a couple faster bits (8:40/9:00ish miles), but the stomach component of the sleeve pretty much said no and I was mostly at steady 10:00 pace...

6 treadmill miles

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Short Wednesday swim

Lurking beneath my other thoughts today was a covetous desire for a lovely run outside - the weather was beautiful - but in fact, though I'm feeling much better, my head and my stomach still aren't back at 100%. Common sense, plus a host of other obligations, said I should have just a short swim this evening and wait another day before picking back up on the running thing...

(ARGHHHHH, my poor marathon training, I was doing so well last week! But rationally, I do not think this can be a real hindrance, I should just conceptualize it as giving my legs a much-needed break?!?)

This is one of only a handful of weeks in the school year where I actually could have a lane to myself! It was the last half-hour of lane swim, and school doesn't start for another two weeks, and it was very pleasant to be there quietly swimming up and down - I was in the mood for long-axis strokes, I felt I needed to stretch out my core muscles from the lingering effects of stomach-ache, usually I cannot do backstroke at evening lane swim because of crowding!

2 x (100 free, 100 double-arm back)

100 back, 100 IM (fly drill), 100 back, 100 free

Then: 2 x (3 x 100 as 100 IM, again with fly drill, 100 back, 100 free)

All pretty much at warmup pace, though frankly when one is a relatively inexperienced swimmer there is not really such a thing as zone 1 swimming, just as there is not really such a thing as zone 1 running unless it is a cool day and one is running on a flat surface with a much slower friend! Call it very easy zone 2.

1400 yards total

Monday, August 18, 2008

Triaspirational woes

I have been laid low for the last couple days (startling stomach-ache while watching women's marathon on Saturday night made me realize, with hindsight, that my stomach had been slightly off from Friday night onwards) with some sort of virus, more stomach-based than not though nothing dramatic, that is preventing me from doing anything useful or interesting - I cannot write my wretched novel, I cannot run, I cannot work out, I cannot swim, I cannot even read a book for more than ten minutes without feeling like maladjusted binoculars are squinching up my eyes in a motion-sickness-type and mildly stomach-turning way! I will hope to feel better tomorrow...

On a brighter note, via the Bookforum blog, I learn that Peter Hessler's article on Ryan Hall is now online in its entirety. The whole thing's well worth reading, but it was the personal reminiscences in the middle that really struck me - I'm pasting in a whole string of paragraphs because I thought they were so excellent & will be of interest to readers here:
In 1971, my family moved to Columbia, Missouri, one of the few towns in the Midwest that sponsored a 26.2-mile race. A local boxing trainer had founded the Heart of America Marathon in 1960, as a way of forcing his fighters to get in shape. None of that trainer’s athletes actually finished the inaugural race, but somehow the event survived, and a small community of diehards trained for it every year. My father became fascinated by the challenge, and as a professor of sociology he liked the weirdness. His training partners included Vietnam vets and religious fanatics and oddball academics; the only thing they had in common was a desire to run as fast as possible. They competed in local races, which tended to be poorly organized. Before the start, they’d give the stopwatch to whoever was expected to be the best runner. If he got passed, he handed over the watch to the new leader. They left a clipboard at the finish line, and it was the winner’s responsibility to pick it up and record the times for everybody who followed.

“Nobody knew what the heck we were doing,” my father told me recently. “But after Shorter, that changed everything. It became a whole lot easier, with equipment and everything.” Shorter came out with a line of specialty clothing, building on his experience of Olympic improvisation. Many of the early runners were tinkerers. Ron Hill, a British marathoner who finished sixth at Munich, was a textile chemist who experimented with mesh shirts and reflective materials. Bill Bowerman, the track coach at the University of Oregon, messed around with a waffle iron and created a new type of shoe sole. Soon, the company he co-founded, Nike, was selling models specifically designed for the marathon. Races became better organized, and publications like Runner’s World taught people about élite training methods. In distance running, an athlete with some natural talent can improve quickly if he trains right, and by 1976 my father had come close to qualifying for the Olympic trials in the marathon.

Health had little to do with this initial wave of runners. “I didn’t know anybody who did it for health,” my father said. “You became intensely aware of your body, but it wasn’t like, I want to live a long life. It was more like, What can I get out of this machine? It was very competitive.”

For a marathoner, though, competitiveness tends to be directed inward. In training, the long buildup to a race may be similar to what a boxer goes through, but the focus is completely different. A boxer prepares for a specific opponent; a marathoner prepares to push his body to the limits of endurance. At the élite level, marathoners are well aware of their competition, and tactics are important; but everything begins and ends with individual fitness. The most crucial opponents are found within: the accumulation of lactic acid in muscles, the depletion of glycogen. A marathoner worries about hitting “the wall”—the moment at which glycogen stores are so low that an athlete can become disoriented.

During the seventies, runners became obsessed with learning about such physical limitations. In Dallas, a doctor named Kenneth H. Cooper conducted a test in which he put athletes on treadmills, connected tubes to their mouths, and ran them to the point of exhaustion. By collecting all the expelled air, Cooper calculated the volume of oxygen consumed, in relation to body weight. This figure, known as the VO2 max, quantified cardiovascular fitness. Cooper tested élite athletes like Frank Shorter, and the results became well known in the running community. Even today, in the airport of Eugene, Oregon, a town famous for its track tradition, a small display notes that the Oregon native Steve Prefontaine had the highest VO2 max ever recorded in Cooper’s lab.

Periodically my father participated in such experiments. In those days, serious runners imitated whatever the élites were doing, even in the lab. One of my father’s running buddies had a Ph.D. in cardiac physiology, and at the University of Missouri he and his colleagues conducted tests on top local runners. My father was an ideal subject: he ran a hundred miles a week, and he had an inquisitive streak. He also had an appetite for pain. They tested his VO2 max, and they conducted lactic-acid experiments, which involved running him hard and then drawing large amounts of blood. They did a muscle-fibre test in which they extracted a chunk of my father’s thigh. The moment they snipped the tissue, the muscle contracted so violently that the doctor had to stand on my father’s leg in order to yank out the sample. “And then they said, ‘You’re ninety per cent slow-twitch muscle fibres,’ ” my father recalled. “Well, brilliant—so what?”

One year, physiologists designed an experiment to test whether it was best for a marathoner to wear a mesh shirt, a solid shirt, or no shirt. In order to discover this elusive truth, they put my father and other runners on a treadmill for an hour at a fast pace, in a laboratory with a controlled temperature of ninety degrees Fahrenheit and ninety per cent humidity. They weighed each athlete before and after, to calculate lost sweat. They also tracked body temperature with a rectal thermometer. They didn’t anticipate, however, that a human being running at a pace of ten and a half miles an hour naturally expels a rectal thermometer. Taping it in place didn’t work. Finally, my father had to reach behind him and hold the thermometer while running at full speed. He did this a total of seven times, always for an hour, sometimes with a mesh shirt, sometimes with a solid shirt, sometimes with no shirt. Recently, I asked him why he had agreed to participate in such a study.

“I figured what the hell, I want to know what’s better,” he said. “I wanted to get my time down.” The results indicated that a mesh shirt was best, followed by a solid shirt, then no shirt. (“It’s like a radiator,” my father explained.) Nowadays, at the age of sixty-six, my father runs ten miles a day, six times a week. He still has a scar on his thigh from the muscle-fibre test. He says that if a doctor told him that running would shorten his life he’d keep doing it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Long run #4

It was tough but good - it's turned into a beautiful later morning, but it was super-humid and sunny out there first thing.

I barely slept last night, so I wasn't feeling so great when I started, but now it's good...

I ran over to Central Park and down to the mid-70s, then turned around and ran back up north to meet C. We did pretty much the whole park loop together, only I peeled off partway up Harlem Hill - my HR was fairly solidly in the 160s, I did not see any good reason to escalate!

Then I did a slower last couple miles back over along 110th St. to Riverside Park, down to 96th St. and up through the park home.

Pace data's a bit patchy: I stopped my watch as I was leaving Central Park (a lady asked me the time, and of course with these fancy devices it takes some doing to get that information!), which is why it's split into two, but sometimes the miles get broken up a bit awkwardly. I didn't stop the clock at lights, either.

(I haven't recalibrated the device, but I was poking around and realized that actually for some reason I had set the calibration factor at a 'minus' level, as it were - some fit of overscrupulousness on the part of my past self, I am assuming! I took off the calibration factor altogether and will figure that this at least is a fairer estimate.)

But let us say it was along these lines:

Part 1: 9.3 miles

c. 11:00 (lights)
10:47 (152 HR avg)
10:10 (156)
10:14 (156)
10:06 (157)
9:48 (162)
9:44 (162)
9:12 (162)

Part 2: 2+ miles

11:27 (at least 20 seconds just waiting at one long light, though!)

11+ miles total

Notes to self:

In future, please remember to use Bodyglide to prevent underarm chafing!

New hair elastics needed: nothing more mildly and minorly irksome than the ponytail sliding down the head due to elastic fatigue. (It is my one complaint about triathlon, that the ponytail has to go low on the head due to the constraints of the bike helmet! Otherwise a high-up ponytail seems to me preferable both in terms of comfort and aesthetics.)

Total mileage for week 4: 25+

I am very pleased with this week of marathon training. I really enjoyed it - some pretty challenging running in there. I'm not doing a high-mileage plan, so it's good if I can keep some intensity, even on the long run. It will be great when the weather's not so warm...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Water gluttony

At the intersection of lawns and Lance. This one's for Bigun!

Thursday gym/run

A good workout with M. earlier, plus three treadmill miles. I would say easy, only it is always so hot in there!

There was no doubt in my mind that it was appropriate not to do a speed workout this evening. My legs are still feeling it from Tuesday's run, and my huffing and puffing system got the 1-2 whammy this week: though Wednesday's run wasn't fast (legs got nicely flushed out, in fact, and felt less stiff afterwards), it was hilly and humid. My cardiovascular system was, like, You are not thinking that you are again going to run 5 miles with HR in the upper 160s, are you?!? But I was...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What Phelps eats

The Wall Street Journal links to the New York Post's account of what Michael Phelps has been eating every day:
Phelps lends a new spin to the phrase "Breakfast of Champions" by starting off his day by eating three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise.

He follows that up with two cups of coffee, a five-egg omelet, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar and three chocolate-chip pancakes.

At lunch, Phelps gobbles up a pound of enriched pasta and two large ham and cheese sandwiches slathered with mayo on white bread - capping off the meal by chugging about 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.

For dinner, Phelps really loads up on the carbs - what he needs to give him plenty of energy for his five-hours-a-day, six-days-a-week regimen - with a pound of pasta and an entire pizza.

He washes all that down with another 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.
(Hat tip: GeekPress.) Bonus link: a swim lit post I wrote last summer that includes a scanned page (scroll down) of the food coach Sherm Chavoor asked his young swimmers to consume in the 1960s...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wednesday run

5 miles in Central Park with Triathlete L.

I am laughing at myself now, because I cannot have it both ways: I can do slow running by myself and never get any faster and grumble about it but on the whole enjoy it; or I can seek out training partners who are faster than I am and fight to keep up! Triathlete L. (as distinct from long-time training partner L.) has running times that sort of sound like mine, only I get mine by training ultra-scrupulously and she gets hers by being an incredibly talented all-round athlete with a serious background in cycling and swimming!

It is good, we won't run again till September but I'm thinking I can line her up for a solid mid-week running commitment for the foreseeable future - that is the way to stay on-program with training!

(It is very warm and muggy, we were not actually running very fast, but I was definitely working hard. Harder than I would if I'd been running by myself, for sure, on a hot evening in particular; good.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Two funny links of utter randommness

From a New York Times profile of Neil Diamond (courtesy of Ed Park):
“I want to know what marathon runners do,” Mr. Diamond said in his dressing room, where the few items on his dressing table included a bottle of Gatorade, a tin of gummy lozenges and a glass of red wine. “Because I do the same thing. I run a two-hour marathon every time onstage. So I have my electrolytes kept at a certain level, and I do my carb-loading after the shows for the next night.”
From the Manhattan Island Foundation's newsletter, in a profile of an Australian long-distance swimmer whose first attempt (in 2000) to complete the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim was thwarted when he hit a pier eight hours into the race and had to be taken to hospital, but who completed the race successfully this year and is currently preparing for a second stab at the two-way Channel crossing he wasn't able to complete last year:
Stephen hopes to try again — solo — but he'll need to fatten up for the cold water, and that's proving difficult: "I eat huge amounts of muffins, ice cream, potato chips, Mars bars, and drink gallons of Guinness leading up to swims to gain weight, but to no avail."
Bonus links (I am having swimming deprivation!): wild swimming, including fifty great outdoor swimming locations in the British Isles; summer reading for swimmers (via Wendy).

Tuesday run

A great run just now - I feel like I have finally done a really solid hard effort to be proud of, only I have lost all confidence in data from the Polar device - I was looking forward to providing some more respectable mile splits on-blog (they have been so slow, I have not been giving 'em!), only you will just have to trust me when I say that distance and pace readings are not correct!

(Device says 10:30ish average pace, but I am thinking it was for at least 3/4 of the run more like 8:45-9. Hard work - it's a nice evening, it cooled down a bit while we were out, not humid, but still in upper 70s.)

HR average in top of 160s, right at queasiness-inducing edge of lactate threshold and roughly 15bpm higher than I have mostly been running - because I am very happy to say that training partner C. is back in town, and that guy is just a much faster runner than I am!

His Garmin was saying 8:40 pace, anyway, and I think we were at or under 9:00 miles for much of the time. We ran down to the turnaround point below the 70th St. pier and then up along the Hudson to where the path temporarily ends at 125th St. Walked up the steep hill to upper Riverside Drive, then ran the last bit home.

Will recalibrate distances at earliest convenient opportunity, only I am not quite sure when that will be. I had a calibration factor programmed in, and then I got fed up and unprogrammed it - but now it is definitely giving me numbers that are close to 10% off for distances, that is no good...

c. 6.5 miles, tempo pace

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday gym

A solid workout with M. earlier, only the gym was unprecedentedly crowded - for once I was actually very glad to get out of there...

(A funny side note - first time through on core stuff, somehow we missed the pushups that usually come between the cobra and the quadruped - M. didn't say to do 'em, and I wasn't going to suggest it! But the second time through, we got to that point and he gave me a skeptical look, like: Pushups - what happened to them the first time round?!? I said we would have to make sure I did the missed set at the end, and he jokingly said I should just do thirty now all at once rather than just doing 1 x 15 now and 1 x 15 later. I can never resist a challenge, so I did do 30 in a row, and it was good - I could do more than that, I think, only my lower back was a bit sore from running over the weekend, that was the limiter. I have been feeling mildly guilty at not following through on the Hundred Pushup Challenge - I told my sister-in-law I was up for it, only I feel that I have enough mental challenges right now anyway and it was one too many things to worry about! But pushups are good - I should try and do 'em three times a week, and see if I can get up at least to fifty or something like that. Since I never could do even one real pushup as a child suffering through penitentially awful gym classes, this would give me a great sense of accomplishment.)

ARGHHHHH, it pains me that the pool is closed this week! I don't have the time to go elsewhere, I've got a lot of work stuff on board right now, but I am thinking that if I can finish my index by Thursday that a good reward would be a Riverbank State Park pool swim (50m!) on Friday afternoon. It is only allowable if I have done an adequate amount of novel-writing for the day, though...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday run

5+ miles easy

Very nice, too - it is not an especially pleasant evening, it's overcast and humid - but it's in the sixties, that's amazing...

Total miles for week 3: 19+

Saturday, August 9, 2008

'Long' run #3

To my chagrin, I only had 6 miles on the schedule! It is a beautiful day, and we ran at super-easy pace - I met up with old friend P.'s wife K., who is also training for her first marathon this fall (she's doing Chicago), and joined her for the last 6 of her first sixteen-miler. We thoroughly egged each other on with rousing and inspiring running ambitions - we won't be able to run again together till September because of various travel plans, but it will be great if we have some nice long ones then, I have been in need of good running companions!

I did a short bit of hard effort at the end, but it really was an easy run, so I will have no compunction about using tomorrow to make up the 5-mile run I missed on Wednesday. Next Saturday I get to do 11 miles, this will be a treat, I am slightly starved for long runs; if only it could be nearly as nice weather as it was today...

6 miles easy

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday swim

Utterly blissful. Blissful because I wrote this morning, blissful because I have not swum as much as I'd like this week, blissful just because and blissful because - regrettably - I had the nostalgia-in-advance pain of knowing that this is my last structured workout in that pool till late September.


Next week the gym's completely shut. It opens up again the week after, but only with the regular (lane-rage-inducing) open swim hours - the separate dedicated lane swim program doesn't start up until some weeks into the semester.

There are a couple other places where I can sneak in a swim if I have the time to get myself there, but I'm really under the gun on two significant deadlines this month, and I need to protect my last bit of summer writing time - between that and marathon training, I can't see this next couple weeks being a great time to explore alternate swim workout options that involve travel time (a.k.a. opportunity to give myself minor work-related nervous breakdown while waiting on subway platform for train to come).

In September, though, I think I'd better look - that's when it starts being super-crowded in the evening at the CU pool, and I am counting on swimming for cross-training purposes. Hmmmm, will ponder...

(Fortunately I will be in the land of delightful sea swimming for the last bit of August, so at least I know I will have 3-4 great swims there, barring unforeseen calamity...)

Warmup: 200 free, 4 x 100 choice as 25 kick-50 drill-25 swim (I did strokes in IM order)

200 free on 4:15

2 x 100 free on 2:10

4 x 50 back on ?

8 x 25 fly, odds drill and evens fast, on :45 rest

12 x 75 as follows (it was 16, but I ran out of time - 4th set obviously would be as back-breast-free, also on 1:50):

1-4: 75 free as 50 smooth, 25 hard on 1:35

5-8: 75 fly-back-breast on 1:50

9-12: 75 free as 25 smooth, 50 hard on 1:35

2300 yards total

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thursday gym/run

OK, this is good, I had an excellent workout with M. this evening. Warmed up beforehand with 1+ treadmill mile, then did a good 20-25-minute treadmill interval workout with him pushing the buttons and finished out the rest of the hour with the usual core and upper-body stuff.

I have been having very poor running morale - not poor in terms of the thing itself, in fact I am very pleased and relieved to have switched over from triathlon to marathon training for the rest of the season, and I am always enjoying running both in theory and in practice. (Especially after the run is over!)

But I have been having a very bad mental state of feeling again like the slowest runner in the world (I have already dwelled here on the reasons - lost fast running partner S. - high mental and physical comfort level with exclusively zone 2 training - New York summer weather - etc. etc.), and of course if you feel like that it is very hard to persuade yourself to go out and do harder/faster workouts...

This was a very good mental boost. In fact the intervals were really all too short to be doing anything much physically for marathon training. But the mental benefits seem to me enormous. The last bit we did was 5 x 30 seconds run and 30 seconds rest at 8.5mph (which this handy chart tells me is 7:05 pace), with the last one of the five at 9.0mph (6:40).

I was, like, OH! Really I am not the slowest runner in the world, I could have some fast running goals again - I need to just put in the miles for marathon training, but I can be doing some stuff that will make me be able to run a fast mile also. Like it would not be impossible to say that I have a goal for 2009 of running a (horrible & couldn't possibly run even a hair faster if someone held a gun to my head) sub-7:00 timed mile under race-like conditions... I do not know if I can actually quite get it down that low, but I certainly should be able to run an uncomfortable but tolerable 7:30 mile, this is ridiculous, time for me to start doing some faster workouts! Because doing regular couple-minute intervals at 7:30 pace is what makes 8:20 become a lovely hard but comfortable tempo pace!

3 miles total plus gym stuff

Rest day

I dallied all morning; I wrote all afternoon; I landed up without enough time to fit in my run (but perhaps I was better off without it, I was probably due a day off) because I had to go downtown for a book publicity event. Photographic evidence: the only triaspirational connection is that if you click on the photographs and look closely at the neck area, you will see a red mark that is the result of sports-bra chafing!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Not available online

but Peter Hessler has a great profile of Ryan Hall in this week's issue of the New Yorker (cover date is Aug. 11 and 18). Especially interesting about Hessler's father's experiences as a serious recreational marathoner and sport-science test subject in the 1970s.

Tuesday run

5+ miles

"I never started running till I was 73"

Dara Torres inspires older swimmers. (Link courtesy of Becca.)

Also: 50+ athletes who can kick your ass. (Via Stumptuous.)

Tuesday swim

400 free, 200 as 25 build/25 EZ or drill choice (I did odds back/double-arm back, evens free/catch-up)

6 x 50 back on :05 rest

4 x 100 free descending 2:10 - 2:00 (more or less holding 1:48?)

400 free strong (7:52)

50 double-arm back cooldown

1750 yards total

Psych jobs

Swimmers' mind games.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Monday gym

A very good workout with M. just now. Went from feeling dazed and sleepy at the beginning of the hour to utterly great at the end of it.

I'm going to have two appointments a week rather than just one for the next couple weeks - I need a fitness boost, and the fact of the matter is that if I am going to stress myself out by writing excessive numbers of books, it is within the bounds of acceptable extravagance to use some of the book-writing money to minimize the need for fitness-oriented willpower! In other words, I'll warm up with a couple treadmill miles on Thursday before our appointment and then we'll spend the first 15 or so minutes doing a stringent treadmill hill-type workout before segueing into the usual stuff for the rest of the hour...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday cross-training

1000 yards swim, 45 mins. gym bike

I do not know why it is so strongly in human nature to leave things till the latest possible moment, but as usual I was rushing into the swimming pool area only about 25 minutes before the pool was due to close for the day, having dallied about the place all afternoon and dragged my heels on work also till the latest possible moment...

(200 free, 100 IM kick, 200 free, 100 IM drill, 200 free, 100 IM swim, 100 back, and then time was up.)

It is easy to talk oneself into the notion that it is not worthwhile doing these small cross-training ventures, but in fact I always enjoy a swim, even a short one under annoying open lane swim conditions. Should be doing cross-training at slightly higher intensity, maybe; on the other hand, it is good to get in some easy zone 1/2 time on what is basically a recovery day. I think I will be often having a bit of a swim on Sunday evenings this fall, but that I will also hold Sundays in reserve as a day to make up a missed mid-week run (but nothing more than 3-4 easy miles) or else as a day off if I feel like I need one.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Long run #2

9+ miles (probably at least half a mile longer than the Pod asserts - I turned around at 20th St., right in front of Chelsea Piers, so if you count from 116th St. at 20 blocks/mile it is closer to 9.6), at a pace slower than I am willing to acknowledge in public!

Around 72nd St. I realized that (a) it was almost completely dark and I had better come up out of the park and (b) the fat droplets of rain I had begun to feel were about to turn into a torrential deluge...

The last couple miles home were actually very enjoyable, temperatures dropped a bit, but it was pouring for ten minutes or so - I was picking my way very cautiously through insane puddles and dark streets, I cannot remember when I last had such awful soggy feet!

Once it had mostly stopped raining, I was very tempted to stop and take off shoes and socks and wring out the socks, only I was not quite sure I would really want to put them back on again...

I do not know why I always think beforehand that a 'short' long run of 9 miles or so will be an absolute breeze; I enjoyed it, especially the last few miles, but it was definitely a bit of a slog!

Thus ends week 2 of marathon training. My first two weeks have been fairly half-assed, due to circumstances - well, I will not call them beyond my control, really they were wholly of my own devising, but the combination of Olympic-distance triathlon on the 20th, B-Fit B-day obstinacy on my part on the 21st, and then travel/vacation meant that I did only 3 rather than 4 runs each of these weeks.

The next few weeks should be good, though. Next week's long run is only 6 (I'm doing a somewhat modified version of Higdon's Novice 2 program, but though I've tinkered with the mid-week schedule, I'm going to hew pretty closely to the long run distances, it is my temperamental weakness that I would be tempted to go longer and set myself up for an injury), which is a pity, but I will milk it for every ounce of possible enjoyment!

Friday, August 1, 2008

One further thought

Really I can justify a few good long swims as part of my training this fall for the 5K sea swim. It would be more fun to do a version of that workout with a bunch of lanemates of similar speed, then one is more likely to stay on the clock; and it is too crowded at open lap swim hours to do that sort of workout, so really there is no easy way for me to get the full amount of time I would need for the long version. But even if I had just a 60-minute slot and a lane more or less to myself or split, I could do a nice modified version of that workout, just doing the 800 warmup and then going straight into the 100s and only going up to 3 x instead of 4 x for a total of 3200, that would fit into an hour as long as I started promptly...

Blissful Friday evening workout

During the school year, the gym is way too busy on Friday evenings for me to have such an utterly blissful workout. On the other hand, during the school year it is not usually still eighty degrees at ten o'clock at night, so there you go...

Swim: warmup (all easy) as 25 free - 25 stroke (fly drill) - 50 free - 50 stroke (double-arm back) - 75 free - 75 stroke (breast) - 100 free - 100 stroke (back) - 100 free - 100 stroke (breast) - 75 free - 75 stroke (breast) - 50 free - 50 stroke (back) - 25 free - 25 stroke (fly drill)

2 x 50 fly down, free back with :10 rest, 2 x 50 breast down, free back with :10 rest, 50 back, 50 free

And then it was 8:00 and the pool was closed. 1400 yards total.

Plus 4 treadmill miles. (Too hot to run outside, and the incentive of combining with a swim was irresistible.)


It was the most excellent swim, after just a length or two I felt great, I have not swum for a week and I very much missed it. I did not exercise very much while I was on vacation, but it was an unusually clear example of the need for vacation being much stronger than the need for exercise, it was remarkably beneficial!

The swim warmup was a serendipitous find, one of the few instances where Facebook actually gave me something interesting to read. Tri-blogger IM Able is a Facebook fan of a group whose name immediately caught my eye - Swim Workouts for Triathletes of ALL Levels!

Well, my eyes were as big as SAUCERS when I read this workout, which I am going to paste in for your delectation.

Really a notional future where I am training for an iron-distance triathlon (which I am definitely going to do, barring unforeseen calamity or generally wayward life developments, only the earliest is 2010 and 2011 is more likely!) does not hold such a swim workout as this. I would almost certainly just be doing 2 regular masters swims c. 2500-3000 yards each and one long straight swim of c. 4000 (perhaps broken into 500s). This is described as a 90-minute workout, with total yardage for fastest swimmers of 6200 yards, scaled down to 80% of that for slower lanes; though I am hugely enthusiastic and would definitely do a 6000-yard workout ANY TIME if I could, really it would need to be at least 2 hours, possibly even a bit longer, for me to get through that kind of yardage! It would not be to the point, it would not make sense with my performance goals, it would not be a sensible use of time.

Hmmm, the fact that I am going on about this at such length will probably show how very, very much I would like it if I could do such a workout, though...

Anyway, here it is, courtesy of (non-Facebook link) UCLA-based Bruin Masters Swim:
This workout is strictly aerobic based, designed for those preparing for an Ironman. You’ll need one of these each week if you are serious about doing well in your swim. You’ve made the commitment and paid the money for your race, so you better put in the most effective training.

Nutrition suggestion: Bring your fuel bottle, especially if you have had another workout prior to this one.

Please remember this workout is written for the L1 group, and then scaled down accordingly for the L2 and L3 groups. The post “swim workout guidelines” explains the various groups. Since this workout is specifically designed for an Ironman distance, there is NO scaling down on the main set. All groups do the same distance, just different intervals.

This workout is designed for a short course pool (25 yards or meters, but can be adjusted for a 50 meter pool).


Warm-up: 800 ez (25 free/25 non-free; 50 free/50 non-free; 75 free/75 non-free; 100 free/100 non-free; 75 free/55 non-free; 50 free/50 non-free; 25 free/25 non-free) 1 min break

Warm-up: 4 x 200 pull @ 70% output, 20 sec rest interval, breathing every 3rd stroke on the odd 50s, every 5th stroke on the even 50s.

Warm-up: 8 x 50 swim, 10 sec rest interval. Odd 50s are build-up (slow to fast), the even 50s are build down (fast to slow).

Main set: 40 x 100 (no equipment, i.e. no pull buoys)
I = interval. You’ll need to know the fastest interval you can swim on that gives you about 3-5 sec rest, for four successive 100s @ approximately 80-85% max heart rate. The set intervals are based around your specific individual “fastest” interval. Example: the fastest swimmers should be able to swim 4 x 100 @ 1:05 for yards or 1:10 to 1:15 for long course meters; so their “I” would be 1:05 as in the yards example, or 1:10 as in the meters example.

Set description:
1 x 100 @ I + 15 sec
1 x 100 @ I + 10 sec
1 x 100 @ I + 5 sec
1 x 100 @ I
2 x 100 @ I + 15 sec
2 x 100 @ I + 10 sec
2 x 100 @ I + 5 sec
2 x 100 @ I
3 x 100 @ I + 15 sec
3 x 100 @ I + 10 sec
3 x 100 @ I + 5 sec
3 x 100 @ I
4 x 100 @ I + 15 sec
4 x 100 @ I + 10 sec
4 x 100 @ I + 5 sec
4 x 100 @ I

The super fit should be able to sustain an even pace throughout this set, i.e. swimming 2-5 seconds under their fastest interval on all 40. Others may swim easier on the slower intervals; progressing their output as the rest interval decreases. Example: If your set calls for:

1 x 100 @ 1:30 (you’d swim ez for a 1:25 clock time)
1 x 100 @ 1:25 (you’d pick-up your effort, swimming 1:20 or so)
1 x 100 @ 1:20 (you’d now swim around 1:15-1:16’s)
1 x 100 @ 1:15 (you’d make sure you make the interval, then repeat for the round of 2s, 3s, and 4s).

Warm-down: ez 200.

Distance swam is approximately 6,200 meters/yards for L1. L2 and L3 groups may swim around 80% of that total distance, but you’ll need to do ALL 40 x 100 in the MAIN SET.
All I have to say is...

... !!!!!!!!

(NB I would still have to go on 2:05 rather than 2:00 at current swimming speeds, which is terribly slow for this sort of workout, and I strongly suspect that I could not manage 40 x 100 without falling off that pace a bit.)