2014 Silver Strand Half Marathon Training Update (Weeks 4 through 8 of 11)

It’s been five weeks since I last posted. The reason is due to being very busy at work during the end of September, followed by a two week vacation to Japan. As a result, my training has suffered and I’m also in the process of recovering from a sore left knee (MCL sprain). Needless to say, I’m WAY off track on where I should be. My goal at this point is to just try and get to the starting line healthy and complete the half marathon that is three weeks away.

However, the past 5 weeks have not been a total waste. I read a few books on running, which were really impactful and has changed my mind on how to train and where I want to go with my running in the future.  The three books were 80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster By Training Slower by Matt Fitzgerald, 1:59: The Sub-Two-Hour Marathon Is Within Reach—Here’s How It Will Go Down, and What It Can Teach All Runners about Training and Racing and The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing by Dr. Philip Maffetone. I’ve come to the conclusion, based upon reading these books, that I needed an overhaul of my training plans, eliminate refined carbohydrates from my diet and manage stress better. I’ll discuss theoretical details in future posts, but the bottom line is I need to significantly improve my aerobic base by keeping my heart rate below a certain threshold and drastically cut back on the speed work – although there is much more to it than that.

Not a great week of training when it comes to running. I’ve aggravated the MCL in my left knee again, most likely from not allowing my body to adjust to some new shoes that I recently purchased (Hoka Clifton). Don’t believe it was the fault of the shoes, but doing a long run in them right out of the box wasn’t a smart thing to do. I’ve had this injury before, and basically, I just need rest it for about a week, then monitor it from week to week. This probably means my running will be very limited for the next few weeks and the best I can hope for is to be able to finish the half marathon without any significant pain.

Otherwise, other aspects of my health and fitness are going very well. My weight and fat percentage is at an all time low, which I attribute to eliminating most grains and sugar such as bread, flour, rice and processed foods and adding more protein and healthy fats. I’ve never really been able to get under 140 lbs, but by just eliminating the wheat and rice, the weight just fell off. The funny thing is that I still eat pretty much all I want and feel satiated most of the day. I’ve also been trying to make an effort to hydrate better during the day.

I recently purchased a fitness tracker called the Misfit Shine. It primarily tracks your activity level and sleep. So far, I’m impressed with it’s accuracy and can now track how many steps I take during the day along with how long and well I slept the night before.

I’m still seeing a chiropractor for adjustment almost every week. The jury is still out on whether it’s effective for me, although I do feel better after each session and anticipate over the long term there will be some positive effects.  I did get some adjustments done today to address my MCL injury, so it will be interesting to see if there is any improvement this week.

Since I’ll be resting my knee this week, I’ll primarily be getting my aerobic training on my indoor bike trainer.  Not as good as running, but still get a relatively decent workout. Hopefully, by this time next week I’ll be able to begin running again.

Weekly Assessment

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Training Plan

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2014 Silver Strand Half Marathon Training Update (Week 3 of 11)

Not a great week of training. Been extremely busy and stressed at work, which seems to bleed into every other facet of my overall well being. I notice when I’m stressed, my motivation and focus to train hard is not there. I also tend to eat more unhealthy foods, don’t hydrate enough, and have a more difficult time sleeping. Definitely not a good place to be, but sometimes that’s what life throws at you and you have to adapt, slow down and make some adjustments.

I completed all my planned runs for a total of 26 miles, but had to cut my long run short, just wasn’t feeling it. Weight went up 1.5 lbs, which again I attribute to the stressful week. Morning pulse and blood pressure continue to be relatively consistent from week to week, so don’t see any issues there.

I’ve had another chiropractor adjustment today and really liking it. Not sure how it is helping my running, but my back and neck feel great after I have it done. However, still experiencing some foot pain, which seems to be getting progressively worse. Probably time to look for some new shoes.

Overall, a disappointing week of training.

Weekly Assessment

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Training Plan

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2014 Silver Strand Half Marathon Training Update (Week 2 of 11)

Solid week of training.  Completed all my planned runs for a total of 28 miles, although the my pace and splits have been relatively slow.  I think this is primarily due to taking some time off from running a while back and the warm weather and humidity we’ve been experiencing here in Southern California.  Also, got in all my planned cross-training, including a moderate amount of strength work and stretching.

Weight is down to 140.1 lbs with 7.6% body fat.  Morning pulse averaged the same as last week and my blood pressure was a slightly lower.  However, although I’m as light as I ever been, I don’t really feel it making me run any easier or faster.  Makes me wonder if 140 lbs may not be my ideal running weight.  I’ll give it a couple more weeks, but I’m thinking of adding some weight back on.

I’ve had two chiropractor adjustments within the past two weeks.  It does seem to help me feel more balanced with my running, although it could just be in my head.  Combined with the adjustments and changing my work station where a stand for at least half the day, my back feels great.

Been sleeping better, usually only wake up a couple times a night, but get back to sleep within a few minutes.  Been eating pretty clean as well, mostly plant based. Stress levels have been moderate, although I’ve been putting in a lot of hours at work.

Overall, a good week of training and health.

Weekly Assessment

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Training Plan

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2014 Silver Strand Half Marathon Training Update (Week 1 of 11)

I started running again this week after taking a full two weeks off. The first couple runs earlier in the week felt a little off, but I felt great during this morning’s longer run. Taking the time off from running seems to have been good for me, I seem to be more motivated going into this training cycle.

I am starting this training cycle in relatively good shape. I still experience some aches in my feet when I first wake up in the morning, but disappear after walking around for a few minutes. The foot pain does not bother me when I run.

I’m at an all time low weight and fat percentage and my vital signs seems to be good (see table below). I attribute this to keeping my food portions moderate and increasing the amounts of super foods in my diet. Eating higher quality food rich in nutrients tends to keep my appetite in check. Although I’m not a vegan, I tend to minimize any meat or dairy in my diet and eat mostly plant based and organic when it’s an option.

My sleep and rest has been good, but not great. I have nights where I’ll sleep through most of the night and that’s when I feel really great during the day. There will be other nights where I seem to be waking up every couple hours and then it will take 30 minutes to an hour to get back to sleep. I’m trying to figure out what triggers a restless night of sleep, but haven’t been able to really pinpoint it, although I’m sure it has something to do with stress and my cortisol levels.

I’m doing a few things differently this training cycle than in the past. First, I plan to see a chiropractor every week or two for adjustments. Although I don’t really have any significant spinal or back problems, I know a lot of elite runners use a chiropractor and claim it does wonders. Second, I plan to get a massage every couple weeks to help with recovery after a long run. I got acupuncture massages when I lived in Japan and it seemed to help with my alignment and recovery. Third, I plan to stand at work when on the computer. I sit for the large portion of the day and I know it is not healthy to sit for hours on end at a computer screen.

Overall, it was a good week to start the next training cycle.

Weekly Assessment

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Training Plan

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2014 Silver Strand Half Marathon Training Plan

Took this past week off from running and will take another week off before easing back into my next training cycle in early September. Although I feel fine, I think in the past I didn’t allow sufficient recovery time after a race before starting the next training cycle. This resulted in some odd injuries and lack of motivation. In lieu of running, I’ve be getting on my bike trainer every morning for about 45 minutes, in addition to my normal strength training and stretching.

Below is what I devised for my weekly assessment and training plan for the upcoming Silver Strand Half Marathon (Coronado, CA) in mid-November. The training plan is very similar to the one I used for the AFC Half Marathon, but plan to incorporate a little more strength training and alternate my long runs between 13 to 15 miles each week. In addition, I’m going to monitor my blood pressure and check my pulse every morning this training cycle since it will give me an objective measure of whether or not I may be over-training or overly stressed.

Weekly Assessment Plan

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 Training Plan

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Race Report: 2014 AFC Half Marathon

afc-half-marathon medalTime:  1:32:16

Overall:  125 / 6,164

Division (M 40-44):  10 / 441

Gender (M):  92 / 2,950

Just completed the 2014 AFC half Marathon this morning. It was a lot tougher this year compared to last year due to the warmer weather and humidity. Last year started in the mid 60s and was overcast the entire race. This year started in the low 70s with little to no cloud cover and it seemed to warm up as the race went on. Considering the weather, I’m okay with my time. I was hoping to break 1:30, and I gave it a shot, but around mile 8 I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sustain the sub-7 minute pace, especially knowing there was a long and relatively steep 1.5 mile hill at the end of the course. From mile 8 I started to back off the pace and when the hills arrived, I was pretty fried and just wanted to finish in one piece.

I was 10th in my age group out of 441 finishers. This was actually two spots higher than last year, which was surprising considering I was over 3 minutes slower this year. I guess everyone was hurting. Since my training cycle for this race was rather lackadaisical and I don’t run well in the heat, I was expecting to finish much further down the list.

The race itself is pretty no-nonsense, which is why I like it. It is a runner’s race and they keep the organization and and all the sideshows simple. This year was no exception. They get the basics right – interesting course, plenty of parking, adequate transportation to the start, a good amount of port-a-potties, fair number of water stations and managing the flow of traffic – although I did have to stop once for the trolley to pass. It is a unique course that starts at the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma and finishes downtown at Balboa Park – so you get to experience a good part of the San Diego bayfront.

Although I enjoy running this race, not certain if I will run it again next year. The good part is that it is one of the few summer marathons in San Diego, but I’m thinking of maybe running something different next year.

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AFC Half Marathon Training Update (Weeks 6 to 9)

I executed the 9-week training plan relatively closely, but didn’t really have my heart in it. It has been a bit warm and humid the past few weeks, so my pacing has been noticeably slower.  I’m close to being in the same shape as last year when I ran this race in 1:29, but the weather looks like it will be a little warmer this year compared to last year.  Last year started at 63 degree with cloud cover, but this year has a forecast of 71 degrees.  As a result, I think it will be a challenge to break 1:30.

I don’t have much of a strategy going into the race tomorrow.  I’ll run by feel, but try to maintain a sub-7 minute pace for most of the race.  The course can be fast, with the first two miles on mild rolling hills, miles 2 – 5 downhill, miles 5 – 11.5 flat, miles 11.5 – 12.5 on a steep uphill, then flat to the finish.

I am 3 lbs lighter (145.2 lbs vs 142.2 lbs) with 0.8% less body fat (8.8% vs 8.0%) compared to the same time last year. However, I’m not sure I really feel any lighter when running.  It is also interesting to note that I’m still experiencing the mild plantar fasciitis one year later. It hasn’t really gotten any worse, but doesn’t seem to want to go away.

It should be interesting tomorrow.  Normally I go into these races motivated and with some level of confidence of how I’ll do.  But honestly, I’m not sure what to expect or if I’ll rise to the occasion.


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AFC Half Marathon Training Update (Weeks 3 to 5)

I’ve been averaging about 30 miles a week (Tuesday – Intervals, Thursday – Tempo, and Sunday – Long Run) for the past three weeks .  I’ve been following my training plan pretty closely, but honestly haven’t been putting forth my best effort.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate my intensity at a 7.  I’m giving myself a pass this training cycle since I’m pretty burnt out from all the racing the first half of the year and quite frankly the motivation to keep at peak fitness level just isn’t there.  Also, I have a nagging pain on the ball of my left foot that started after my last marathon that is healing very slowly – I can still run, but it is probably prolonging the healing process.  Personally, and it is probably applicable to most people, keeping in peak running form all year around is close to impossible.  I think it is more practical to always maintain a good sustainable level of fitness, but only scale up to peak performance once our twice a year for a particular race.

I continue to cross-train (bike trainer, stretching, strength training and walking) and have kept a somewhat disciplined diet – mostly plant based whole foods, but not 100%.  I’ve maintained my weight within a consistent and healthy range of 141 to 142 lbs and body fat between 7.9 to 8.0%.  I’ve been sleeping okay, 7 to 8 hours a night, although I could probably use a little more.  The stress level in my life has been moderate, work has been extremely busy and full of tight deadlines.

So with the AFC Half Marathon four weeks away, I’m not sure how it will go on race day. I’m in relatively good shape physically and been going through the motions of my training plan, but I know I’m not at my best.

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AFC Half Marathon Training Update (Weeks 1 & 2)

The first two weeks of training for the AFC Half Marathon has been somewhat difficult. I’m still recovering from the last month’s marathon and still experiencing some minor aches and pain in both feet.  The leg speed is coming back gradually, but mentally I just don’t have the motivation to push too hard.  Eventually, the fog will lift, I’m sure.

As far as my training goes, I’m going through the motions.  I’m averaging about 31 miles a weeks, with intervals on Tuesday, a tempo run on Thursday and a 15 mile long run on Sunday. I’m not going to post the details this training cycle as I have in the past, but if you want to see what I did for my runs the last two weeks, you can find them at the following link:

http://connect.garmin.com/dashboard?cid=24864994

I’m doing three new things this training cycle.  First, I’m incorporating some walking every evening after dinner.  Not a lot, maybe 1 to 2 miles for 20 to 30 minutes.  This also seems to help with the digestion.  Second, I’m trying to eat less.  I normally eat until I’m full, but want to stop a little before I get to that point.  In general, we all just eat too much for no good reason and controlling my appetite is a habit I’d like to master.  And third, take cold showers – not freezing – but cold enough to make it somewhat uncomfortable.  There are supposedly lots of health benefits to cold showers, so I’m giving it a try. I’m not sure if any of this will help my running, but I’m trying to form these habits for health reasons and not necessarily to run faster.

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2014 AFC Half Marathon Training Plan

Ran 28 easy pace miles this week.  Legs are still not 100% recovered from the marathon, but good enough to start my half marathon training cycle next week.  I have 9 weeks to prepare for the AFC Half Marathon.  There is no specific goal in mind other than to put in a quality training cycle, stay in the moment and focus on each specific run and see where that takes me.

The training plan below is pretty straight forward, three running days (intervals on Tuesday, tempo on Thursday, and long run on Sunday) with cross-training (bike trainer, core/strength, and yoga) on my non-running days.  In addition, will make an effort to get 8 hours of sleep per night and eat primarily a plant-based diet.

Although I have a general outline of my running, I purposely did not put in any planned paces.  I find that running by feel on  a particular day seems to work better for me than trying to hit a certain planned pace for a training run.  Certain days I’ll feel great and be able to run hard while I know other days will be a grind, but just going with how the body feels takes away some of the stress of having to hit some arbitrary pace for the day.

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