Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Training Week 2/21-2/27 / Quality over Quantity

The quality is paying off. I feel strong and fast(er) and my foot, which was hurting a little last week, is much better.

It would appear I've come a long way in adjusting to the elevation and climbs here in Colorado. But it's about more than just physical adaptation and the fact that I'm running more than 60% of my miles on dirt roads (far more forgiving for an aging guy like me). I've also made some fundamental changes to my training. If there's one thing I've learned over the past few months, it's that quality trumps quantity. Don't get me wrong; I am a firm believer in high mileage (the term "high mileage" being rather interpretive) and my mileage will be up there going into the Leadville 100, but I think nothing but long, slow distance (also known as LSD) gets you no where! I look back on my training from last April on and that's all I see--LSD (if you count 7:30-7:45/mile as LSD)! However, I think LSD was in order for a guy who just moved out West and was getting used to living way up there.

For me, the greatest benefit of quality is my legs turning over much more efficiently. Every time I commit myself to quality I see results, and yet so often I get off track and go back to LSD. No more! Yes, I'm faster now, but I've noticed much greater efficiency, less effort exerted with every step and definitely more power on the hills. I simply cannot NOT do quality if I want optimal results. I plan to stay with quality for the rest of the year, even when I'm training for Leadville (fast hills will be a big part of that assuming my foot cooperates). To ensure that I'm able to get in the necessary quality, I'm likely going to reduce my peak weekly Leadville 100 mileage just a tad. I think running 90 miles/week with great quality is far better than running 100-110 miles/week with zero quality. More on that later, because for now I'm all about being ready for the Eisenhower Marathon on 4/9.

Bottom line: My running has purpose right now. Every workout has purpose, whether it's intervals, tempo, going long, going easy, etc. With purpose comes direction, and with direction comes success, and with success comes confidence. It's a cycle, and if you lack purpose and direction with each run, well, you're just kind of an aimless ship at sea.

So I think the outlook for my 2011 racing season is getting better by the day.

For the week of 2/21-2/27, I covered 76.2 miles with solid interval, tempo and long efforts. I also had a nice fast finish at marathon goal pace on Sunday. This was a good week.

AM: 6 miles/49:05 on the treadmill at home. Legs pretty tired and flat at first from the previous day's 20-miler in the hills, but I loosened up nicely and felt reasonably strong by the end. Kept the treadmill at an easy pace. Noah came down to play halfway through my run and we had a nice time watching the Sprout Channel while he played with everything in sight.

AM: 9.2 miles/1:07:17 on the HOA treadmill. Was planning to go to the track but it was a tad too cold (19 degrees) and I didn't want to risk injury working so hard in frigid temps. So I headed to the HOA gym to max out one of the three treadmills. Legs still a little tired from Sunday's 20-miler, but I didn't want to delay my intervals and then force a Wednesday/Friday quality workout schedule since Friday needs to be an easy day. After an 18-minute warm-up, I did 3x1 mile at 6:00 each (treadmill max speed), plus an 800 at 3:00, followed by a cooldown--all with the treadmill at a 1% grade. The first mile was rough--I guess I needed to get some oxygen flowing. The second and third miles were pretty solid. I wanted to do a fourth mile repeat but my legs were pretty toasted, and so I did 800 instead.

AM: 9 miles/1:07:42. I ran the Tomahawk loop, which has 2,100 feet of combined climb and descent mostly on dirt roads between 6,100-6,400 feet. My legs felt fantastic and turned over nicely. I had to hold myself back in a few places when I found myself "accidentally" going 6:50 pace when I should have been at easy pace. Excellent run but probably too fast for an easy day.

Thursday - TEMPO RUN
AM: 9.15 miles (5 at tempo pace)/1:06:53. Although my legs were still a little tired from Tuesday's intervals and my left foot was a little sore, I still managed to bang out a pretty solid tempo run. The extremely windy conditions compelled me to opt for the HOA treadmill for my tempo run. After an 18-minute warm-up, I held a tempo pace for 5 miles, progressively getting faster. Splits were: 6:39, 6:35, 6:30, 6:26, and 6:21. Felt very good and seemed to get stronger with every mile. Foot OK during and after run. These are the runs that make you better.

Friday - EASY
AM: 1:11:41/9.25 miles. Ran the Tomahawk loop, which brings about 2,100 feet of climb and descent. Foot much better today than yesterday when I woke up. It loosened up as the run progressed. Legs turned over nicely and I was strong on the hills--sure signs that the quality if paying off.

Saturday - LONG RUN
AM: 2:15:18/17 miles.I ran the Tomahawk loop, and then headed down Tomahawk and turned left/west on E. Parker Road, and then headed up Canterberry and did a few laps around the trail loop bhind my house. Total climb and descent 3,990 feet. This was to be an 18-miler but, as any Denver-area runner who got out on Saturday morning would attest, the wind from the south/southwest was nothing short of horrendous. Gusts of 40-50+ mph, really wearing my ass out, especially in the last 5 miles.
PM: 25:53/3.25 miles on my treadmill. This was just a shake-out. OK, so long as we're being honest, this was about getting to 20 miles for the day!
Total miles for the day: 20.25

AM: 1:41:08/13.15 miles back on the Tomahawk loop. Total climb and descent 3,400 feet. Legs pretty tired at first but I got stronger with time. I was very pleased with my fast finish splits: mile 12 in 6:43 and mile 13 in 6:37. That's right around my marathon goal pace. Not bad considering I ran 20 miles the day prior. I couldn't have done this type of fast finish 10 months ago from an elevation standpoint. Also, I completed this run at 8:00 a.m., meaning I'd run 33.4 miles in the previous 24 hours.

Totals for the week:
  • 76.2 miles running
  • 9 hours, 45 minutes of running
  • 8 total runs
  • Stretching, yoga exercises, core strengthening and push-ups.
For the year: 500.1 miles

This week I have an early morning meeting and then over the weekend my good friend from Cleveland, Ted, will be visiting. He has business in Colorado and on Sunday we're heading to the mountains for a long run/hike. So things will be a bit different this week--a good thing! With that said, my goals this week are:
  • 60-65 miles
  • 10+ hours of running
  • Long run/hike in the mountains with Ted (likely Green Mountain and Bear Peak in Boulder)
  • 5.5 miles at tempo pace
  • Quality interval session
The following week I'm going to make a push for 80 miles.

If you're struggling with your running, I would suggest you work in some quality to shake things up. Try tempo running, a fast finish, intervals, hill repeats or even fartleks and maybe you can get out of your rut.


I am so looking forward to getting into the mountains this summer. I'll have vacation time come April, and so my plans for the summer include some Friday outings to the mountains. I am committed to summiting all of the Front Range 14'ers this summer--with the posssible exception of Longs Peak unless I can get a Longs Peak veteran to accompany me since it can be a dangerous mountain. I might also make summit pushes for both Mount Massive and Mount Elbert and I'm planning to hit the top of Mount Hope (a 13'er) on my of my Leadville training runs. I have this crazy fascination with La Plata Peak, too.


For whatever reason, I listened to "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent a lot this week. It's such an amazing song. I don't like Nugent's obsession with guns, but I do have to say Nuge back in the day could rock it like few others. This song is an all-time rock 'n roll classic from the 1970s and it makes me want to kill long, hard climbs.


  1. 17 miles with 4000 feet of climbing in those winds in 2:15 = Holy crap

  2. Hi George: It's good to be feeling healthy again. I honestly haven't felt this good in 10+ months. Last year was horrendous for me.