Sunday, September 29, 2013

Aha Moment On Independence Pass Road

Today ends my first three weeks of training, sort of geared mostly towards the JFK 50 in November but also just still rebounding from the summer season of racing.  I have been running 100% of the time in my MAF/Aerobic/Zone-2 heart rate range.  Again, to build and maintain fitness as well as beginning to build a solid base for November.

Saturday's run I decided to slog up the Aspen side of Independence Pass for a few hours then have Melissa pick me up at some point.  It was a great way to gain elevation and a chance to run something different.  I will say that I think that road will be better to run once it is closed in the winter and is hopefully packed down by snowmobile tracks.  Anyway... it was a good run but I had to focus very intently on my HR to keep it down below 145 as much as possible.

Of course running uphill below that HR is slow for me.  Not that I have ever been super fast but I am running even slower than my normal plodding pace.  It takes discipline and self control but I think the time invested right now is well worth it.

Now to be honest the other reason I am working to train at MAF exclusively is to really train my body to become a fat burning machine. My weight is pretty much what it is and unless I really diet hard it isn't going down that much but modifying my body fat percentage may still be something that I can control, especially if confine my runs to staying in Zone-2 exclusively.  To be even more clear, burning and reducing fat is about as important to me right now as my overall training so it is way up there on the priority chart.

So running yesterday I got to thinking about how when I was in my 20's and 30's I could run steady 8 minute miles on my training runs while also constantly fighting to keep weight on.  Then I realized that when I got older, in my 40's I tried to run the same intensity thinking it would help me to drop weight but frequently became frustrated when things didn't change.  I also seemed to be developing more and more of a gut and storing fat around my mid-section... yet another curse of middle age.

But yesterday it clicked!  When I was younger I could run at that rate and my HR WAS higher but it was also in my aerobic zone... (for that age.) Then when I was older, trying to run the same intensity, even though I could do it, I was always going too hard and way above my MAF training zone.  In my younger days I probably ran with my HR constantly above 155 and that worked... but I didn't know, or even realize that as I got older that changed.  Now, to obtain the same fat burning benefits of running I have to keep my HR much lower and as a result (for now as it will get faster over time) I am forced to run more slowly.

Before yesterday though I had another epiphany a few weeks ago.  This was centered around my massive weight gain last fall.  Again, the result of thinking errors in terms of fitness and running.  I trained A LOT last fall to run faster.  Lots of track work and lots of runs just going out super hard.  I was always in the sugar burning zone and therefore my body demanded (and who was I to refuse it) lots and lots of sugar to replenish.  That being said, I gained, no kidding, 20 pounds between the Leadville 100 last year and the morning of the Thanksgiving when I weighed in at 167.

It wasn't until Lucho and I started working together that things really started to straighten out both fitness wise and body composition wise.  Part of it was diet of course but I am forced to believe that a lot of it was from backing way the hell off on the intensity for a while.  

After three weeks now of strict HR training I am starting to really see results... or to be more accurate, feel them.  Fat is burning off and I am probably not lighter but I can tell a difference between the way I feel now as opposed to when I feel heavy.  I am still having to run very, very slowly but there are hints that is changing as well which is evident when I am running flats or downhills and have to really get the legs turning over to get the HR up into the zone where I need it.

I am sure I will write more about this the next few months as I am fully committed to this style of training until at least I get an idea of what my race schedule looks like next year.

Speaking of which... here are my plans which are tentative at best.

1.  Salida Half Marathon - March
2.  San Juan Solstice - June
3.  Hardrock 100 - July (I have a better chance of hitting powerball.)
4.  Silver Rush 50 MTB - July (Will probably end up doing this since HR100 is such a long shot.)
5.  Leadville 100 MTB - August (All thing being equal, I wouldn't mind training next summer with this event being my number one focus.  But this is a lottery too so we will see.)

Today's run was a fun ten miler on a newly discovered trail called the Government Trail which runs from Aspen to Snowmass.  Super awesome single track with lots of climbing and descending but nothing too extreme either way.  It would also be a great mountain bike ride when I get the chance.  Great views of Pyramid and the Bells from the trail.

Pyramid Peak as seen from the Government Trail.

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