Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A New Kind Of Limbo - Getting Back Into Running

I pretty much took all of last week off.  Rode for an hour at the ARC on Sunday and that was a challenge to keep the HR up in the MAF zone.  Legs were not too happy either.  Yesterday, Monday, I ran six miles, super slow and today I did eight with a bit more effort.

Structurally things feel about 90% there.  Still some tweaks here and there but overall okay.  Running the past two days was fun though as it was more about running than training.  There was some structure involved but more like framework than actual targets to hit during the run.

But this phase I am in now... recovering from Leadville and staring down Run Rabbit Run in just over two weeks.  I am recovering, resting, tapering, all the while prepping for a race, a long race, just right around the corner.  I've never done back to back 100's a month apart so this is all new territory.

One of my concerns the past few months has always been what would my mental outlook be like between the 100's?  Would I be so beat down from the summer that RRR100 would just be this dark and ominous thing looming on the horizon or would I actually be able to get excited about it?  Thankfully it is the latter.  Actually I started getting excited about the run in Steamboat BEFORE the 100 bike even.  Now I am really looking forward to it.

It is something new and there are other twists.  No pacers, no crew and I doing it totally solo.  That adds a new level of adventure to it all.

More awesome good news!  I have a contract on the house now and it is set to close on the 12th.  So, I am going to have to go to Colorado Springs next week and be there all week getting the rest of the stuff out of the house.  The final pages to the chapters or book of my life of living in Colorado Springs is finally - after all of these years coming to a complete close.  I look forward to no longer being bound energetically to that place and not having any more ties whatsoever.  A complete and total clean break. 

I was digging through my files earlier today looking for a document for a colleague of mine and I ran across this.  A few months ago a college professor in Denver asked me to write something for her and her class about running after a break.  I enjoyed reading it as it spoke to me today in the sense that I need to be careful about everything I do the next two - three weeks, especially in the expectations department.  Enjoy.


Getting back into running after an extended break due to injury, illness, or in some cases, just life, can be both challenging and discouraging.  If you take into consideration the average runner can become 100% detrained in about twelve weeks it is easy to see that it just does not take long until you find yourself at square one and starting over.

As a general rule, it takes about two weeks of running to make up for one week lost to get back to a certain level of fitness.  For example, if I caught a cold and that kept me from running for two weeks solid, I could expect it to take four weeks after starting again to be back to where I left off.

Here are some rules and guidelines to consider when starting running again.

  1. If you had to stop running because of an injury make sure that you are healed and ready to run again.  If you can not walk without pain or the without aggravating the injury keep taking time off.  When you can walk without pain then try to run.
  2. Walking is good if you are injured and can walk pain free but can not run pain free.  A few years ago I was injured in a marathon in mid March and could not run more than three miles at a time without my knee completely giving me fits.  However, I could walk pain free, so that is what I did, every day.  Instead of running the miles for my workouts, I walked and after seven weeks when I could run again I felt pretty good and estimated that through those seven weeks of just walking that I was able to keep at least 80% of my fitness.
  3. Be realistic.  If you dropped a sub 40 10K last summer but have taken a few months off since, don’t expect to automatically be able to do duplicate that effort, speed and pace from the get go.  Set realistic goals for your self.
  4. Be patient.  This goes along with being realistic.  Don’t beat yourself up for being slower or if you are not able to run as far as you previously were.  It takes time to build a base.
  5. Be kind to yourself.  This follows up and includes both being realistic and being patient.  Again, don’t beat yourself up but rather be glad that you can run and for wherever you may fall on the fitness scale.
  6. Do not try to do too much too soon.  Don’t try to log a heaping ton of miles your first week back after an extended break.  That is just inviting an overuse injury.  The same goes for intensity.  Start off slow and warm up slowly and allow yourself to time to cool off too.  This will also prevent burnout and the need for taking more time off.
  7. Focus on staying within your aerobic zone when first starting over.  Dr. Phil Mafetone wrote the book, literally, on heart rate based training and how to use it to stay healthy.  When starting over it is best to stay in zone two to rebuild the aerobic engine and base fitness.  “Nobody ever gets injured in their aerobic zone.”
  8. Observe the rest day and keep it holy.  You only become stronger after stressing the body and allowing it to adapt to that stress and that only happens when you are resting.  Make sure you get lots of sleep.
  9. Be aware of any overtraining symptoms and adjust accordingly.  Look out for maybe a depressed mood, inability to sleep, elevated resting heart rate and loss of appetite.  If you feel like you were making progress and all of the sudden feel as if you are going in the opposite direction, take an unplanned day or two off to unload the accumulated fatigue.  If you keep running the only thing you will end up doing is running yourself into the ground.
  10. Even though we might like to think we could, 99.9% of runners are not paid to run.  It’s not our job which puts food on the table.  Keep this in perspective if you become frustrated.  This is what you do for fun and enjoyment, don’t forget that.  If the fun goes out of running it is a sign that something is amiss.  Pay attention to that.
  11. Running can be a cruel sport in the sense that what we love, running, usually causes our injuries and the only way to get over those injuries is to refrain from doing what we love.  But running should be about health and wellness and not just about medals and PR’s.  Don’t forget; never go to the start line injured.  Being tired is okay, and maybe being a little under trained is okay, but starting a race injured is just asking for problems which could result in more time off.
  12. Assuming there are no injuries or other outstanding issues, consistency is key.  Stick to your training plan and stick to your rest days.  Don’t try to get creative switching runs and days around if you don’t understand the impact it could have. Just try to have one good training day at a time, one good training week at a time and after you string a few good weeks together, that’s when you are doing something.

After more then twenty years of running these are the 12 things that I always consider after a break or even during a breakdown in training.  When working with athletes I can usually narrow a problem down to one of the items above unless there are other issues such as nutrition, hydration or just a lot of life stress.  Follow these guidelines and you should have a fun and healthy experience in running and training be it for a 5K, The Marathon, or any other distances.

Andy Wooten
Life Coach and Author

Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Pass SWAG Run Rabbit Run Pace Chart

Since nothing like this exists that I could find I sat down and sort of doped this out.  I didn't include EVERY single aid station for Run Rabbit Run as there are so many so I chose to just do splits for the larger chunks.

I am in the Tortoise category and supposedly the fastest in that group should come in around 24 hours so I just started from there using the predicted times based on the 2014 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile distance and aid station guide.

My goal is to finish in under 30 hours for this one.  Based on my LT100 finish time, I could come in around 28.5 hours so that is why I have that split.  But I computed the rest in 1.5 hour increments all the way from 24 to 30 hours just to have more information.  I included the 36 hours predicted splits in case things really go sideways.  I did not compute anything between 30 and 36 because after 30 hours the ratios begin to get too wonky for me to want to fiddle with.

Anyway, it's more of a guideline I guess than a hard super detailed split chart but I think it is accurate and usuable and can at least give someone a guide of where they might be if they are on pace for under 30 hours.
Rudimentary, but I think it is at least a good guide to start from.
Still recovering this week.  Lots of walking but nothing else. My left knee (MCL) is the last  thing that seems to really be bugging me but it is getting better.  Seems worse in the mornings than in the afternoon and evenings.  I suspect it will only be angry for another couple of days and will go away.  Headed to the ARC to go spin on the bike for a bit and get the blood flowing again.

Running to Glenwood this evening to run errands and soak at the hot springs.  That will be nice!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Picking Up the Pieces

Two Leadman Trophies.  Two Awesome Summers.
The week after Leadville is always messy.  Lots of gear and stuff to sort, put away, wash, put away, etc.  Even with my minimal amount of stuff it is still a chore that takes time. But it is nice having the apartment look like the apartment rather than a running/cycling shop that puked up all over itself.

No running yet this week and that has been nice.  I log into Training Peaks each day and I really enjoy seeing the sea of nothing on the horizon for the near future.  That won't last long as I have to start gearing up for Run Rabbit Run but between now and then it will only be active recovery and hell, a taper if  you will.

Eating like a fiend this week too.  What else is new. Not sure how much of it is post 100 miler eating or how much of it is I don't care and just want to eat.  Regardless, I am enjoying that too!  :)  

Post Leadman II thoughts... First of all.  I could have never done this without the full support and buy in from Melissa and Annie.  I dragged them through the ringer last summer with the first go around.  And even though I tried to minimize their direct involvement this year I know it was drag on them as well. They endured months, especially since March with me fretting, planning, training, whining, scheming, etc.  No way could I have done my first Leadman without them, doubly so for this one.

Leadman II... it was hard.  A lot harder than I remember last year being.  For starters it was a lot more stressful.  See... to do Leadman once, you have to finish five out of five races.  To pull it off twice, ten out of ten.  In my mind that drove up the risk of something happening during a race to knock me out exponentially.  Especially when it comes to the bike where the risks are even greater when things like wrecks, bad mechanicals, or something like that can just happen.  So a lot of stress there.

The first time I had a certain amount of excitement fueled by the fear of the unknown that I did not have this year.  I believe that had an impact as well. I just never felt as "fired up" as last year.  Other factors play in here as well, as last year we had a really solid core of athletes training together and supporting each other from June until the Finish.  This year, not so much.

This year has has also been a major life change year for me.  Moving, changing careers, going into business for myself, each of those being great things but I know the stress from all of that weighed me down considerably regardless of how much I tried to minimize that truth from myself. I don't think it hampered my races but it was just more on the mind, at least in the back of the mind.

Do I think I could have done better this year?   No.  I gave each race in the series my best and walked away from each one knowing that.  I might not have done as well I wanted but I did my best.  I just want to be clear that I am not making any excuses for anything or sitting here lamenting over what I fucked up, or was fucked up, etc.  I don't have any excuses or reasons for excuses.  I'm not looking back going, "only if..."

As a personal growth journey is concerned, I believe I gained WAY more from the series this year than last.  Many lessons in patience, humility (not humiliation), and being humble, were gained from this summer.  Also a very renewed sense of gratitude just for my life and all of the wonderful things that I am able to do and can do. 

There will not be a third go at Leadman.  At least not anytime soon.  Two years back to back with basically everyday consumed by it was a lot to go through and endure. I want to do other things now and focus on other races.  Run Rabbit Run for instance, as well as hoping to get into Hardrock next summer.  But past that, there are so many cool races over here on the West Slope and just around here in Aspen to keep me plenty busy, both on the mountain bike and running.

I have five LT100 Run finishes now and I am happy with that.  Not saying that I will never go back.  I've learned that lesson.  But I can't see myself going back for a bit.  Like I said I want to do other things.  I love Leadville, I love the races, but it is time for a break after running races up there for seven years.  The 1000 mile buckle has never been in the plan and even though I am halfway there right now it still does not resonate with me.

The newest addition is on the far right.  I think I have enough Leadville Buckles now.  Especially considering I would never wear any of them! 
My second Leadman finish, my second Big Buckle in the run and finishing tenth overall in Leadman seems to me to be the perfect time and way to walk away.  I'm good with that.

Time to eat...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Leadville Trail 100 Run

Hugging Merilee at the LT100 Finish and getting my medal  24:51:25.  JT was still on the Powerlines busy getting chicked by Amanda.
Saturday was the fifth and final race of the 2014 Leadman Series.  The Leadville Trail 100 Run.

In short it started out fine but once I started running down the powerlines, everything just started to feel off.  It was then that I started to suspect that I was feeling the effects from the bike ride the week before.

By the time I hit the Outward Bound Aid Station (Formerly Fish  Hatchery) everything really began to unravel on me.  Pretty much everything from the waist down just felt shattered.  My mood, energy level, general outlook on life, all of that just evaporated.

I have never been in a dark spot like that for so long and so early in a race.  The next 16 miles to Twin Lakes was just pure hell.  I got myself through it but damned if I know how.  When I arrived at Twin Lakes at mile 40 I was just a total wreck.  All I wanted to do was to crawl under some shady spot and cry and wish it all away.  I got to Twin Lakes in about 7:45, about a half hour off of where I wanted to be.

Melissa did a great job "handling me" and getting me to where she was set up.  She was stern yet empathetic as she pretty much just ordered me to keep my shit together.  She asked me if I wanted anything past what I needed to pick up and I said ibuprofen and a Mountain Dew.  I took three of the IB's and slammed the Mountain Dew before leaving the parking lot.  Now to jog across the clearing to start the climb up hope pass.

I was able to start motoring again and by the time I was to the river crossing after going through some other deep water crossings I was starting to feel a lot better.  Actually I was looking forward to the climb up Hope Pass as it doesn't wreck  havoc with me like most.

I had left Twin Lakes in 194th place.  When I got to Winfield I was in 119th.  Things were getting better.

I picked up my pacer Paul D. at Winfield and we did not waste anytime getting out of there.  Annie had taken him there while Melissa had stayed at Twin Lakes.  I told Annie to tell Melissa that I was definitely feeling better.

Paul and I had a great climb and descent off of Hope Pass.  It was bout halfway down to Twin Lakes that I started to do some math in my head.  We would be hitting Twin Lakes about about 15 hours.  I was kicking it around in my mind wondering if we could do a sub 10 hour return the last forty miles back to town.  I was definitely feeling better and was seriously considering this.

So I broached the subject with Paul.  He thought it was doable.  We would just not have any room for error, or time to waste stopping and anything that was runnable would have to be ran. Period.  We started hatching our plan and figuring out what to do.  There would be no real stopping at Twin Lakes on the inbound now.  The tape job on my feet seemed to be holding up so no need to waste time changing shoes, socks, tape, etc.  Of course that introduced some risk as I did not know if the tape job could hold another 40 miles.  But by the time we were at the river crossing we had decided to go all in.  We were out of Twin Lakes at 15:05 and I was in 106th place.

Of course we would have been plenty safe enough to just cruise in and take it easy to finish in the 27 hour range possibly, but with the prospect of actually getting the big buckle out there, even with the ridiculously narrow time margins, made it a race again and not just a run.

Paul and I ran our asses off and by the time we were back at Outward Bound, I was in 82nd place and 18:16 into the race.  This was where I picked up my pacer Jeff M who would take me the rest of the way in.  Melissa had already briefed Jeff that this was going to be an all out effort so when I got him he knew what the game was pretty much.  Except for hiking up the Powerlines, Jeff and I ran pretty damned near the entire rest of the course all the way to town.  We left Mayqueen with about 3:20 left in order to come in under the 25 hour mark.  We knew it wasn't going to be easy but we pushed it.  We made that in 3:13.

And I pulled it off in the end.  86th overall and  24:51:25.  Another big buckle and Leadman #2 done.

But this run... this magical last 40 miles was unlike anything I have ever accomplished. It was a gamble on so many levels.  But it was also a black and white, pass or fail situation.  Binary.  Either we pulled it off or we didn't.  There was no room for close, almost, or maybe.

And it was fun.  Fun in that weird sort of way.  My pacers could have coddled and babysat me for the last forty miles and we could have been relaxed and just goofed off and still got it done.  Little did they know they would be part of much bigger effort.  I am guessing it put a bit of pressure on them but it also made things more interesting I am sure.

I don't think I have ever been more proud of a run and for me putting it all out there than this one. Ever.

I will do another write up about finishing the Leadman Series. It was definitely different doing it a second time.

Here are the aid stations, my placement, and splits for the run.

MQ    114 2:08:26
OB    147 4:27:37
HP     153 5:38:41
TL     194 7:45:04
HP    133 9:53:58
Win   119 11:15:35
HP     93 13:24:11
TL     106 15:05:26
HP     96 17:03:48
OB     82 18:16:30
MQ    82  21:38:36
Pb      86 24:51:25

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


This is starting to look like a problem... I aim to expand the Pb buckle collection by one more come Sunday.  They are actually in order of the year that I raced.  I am particularly fond of the old school LT100 buckle on the far left.  
Still powering up from the weekend.  It is a slow process for me.

Yesterday, Monday, just rode the bike around town running errands and getting some things done.  Took it real easy just to get things moving again as that was the only goal.

Today, sort of the same thing, just a walk with Asia, walking to run some other errands and then I did an easy 20 minute MAF run just in the neighborhood around the blocks around the house.  Kept it flat and simple.   For the most part everything feels fine.  Okay, maybe not fine, my legs are still tired and I am still tired, but nothing hurts in a sinister like fashion to cause me any concern.  I feel like I am really right where I am supposed to be.

I do know that things hurt a lot more last year at this point.  My right knee area especially as I was icing and compressing it like crazy the 48 hours before the run.  This year none of that is going on.  I do wish that I remember what my energy level was like the days before so I could compare it to this year.  If I had to guess I was probably just as tired as I am now.  I just wish I had written some notes to reference.

I am definitely looking forward to getting back up to Leadville in two days.  The bike race is fun and all of that but the crowd, the participants, the mood, and energy of the two events is totally different.  The run is just more authentic in my opinion, the runners more mellow, and the overall experience just a lot more relaxed. 

Now for a twisted POV on the big picture... this week?  Yes it is the LT100 run, and yes it is the last event in the Leadman race series... but it is also my last BIG training week before Run Rabbit Run 100.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

LT 100 MTB And 10K Weekend

Races three and four of the Leadman series are now over and in the books.  I am back home in Aspen and sitting on the couch where I pretty much plan to reside until going back to Leadville next Thursday before the LT 100 Run.

Going into this weekend I had a lot of mixed feelings about the bike race.  I just had no clue how it would go one way or the other and to be honest it wasn't until about five minutes before the race started that my head actually got 100% into the game.

Taking everything this year into consideration I knew that I was definitely strong enough to finish the damned thing. No doubts there, but what that would actually look like I didn't have the foggiest idea.

But something clicked right before the start and I decided to go for it.  Go for sub nine and see how I feel.  I had the splits in my head and knew what I needed to do.  The question then came to execution.  Did I have the balls to pass people on the hard road before getting to the first dirt road section?  Could I sustain that agressive effort around the pasture for another 2.5 miles to the base of St. Kevins and not cook myself?  How about the Powerline?  If I got out front with faster and better riders could I manage that drop and not wreck?

As I said I decided to go for it.  Standing there waiting for the start I realized that I was maybe only 10% as stressed about it all as I was last year at the start.  My courage, optimism, confidence and all of that finally showed up.  The gun went off and so did we.

The ride from the start to the top of St. Kevins was nothing like last year.  I was calm, comfortable, and fast.  Way faster than last year.  We were at the top of that first big climb really before I realized it.  I was shocked.  As for the powerlines, I had my best ride down there ever from the top of Sugarloaf to the bottom road in 15 minutes.  I've never ridden it as smoothly as yesterday, EVER.

I made pipeline right at 2:17 I think.  Perfect.  I kept the pressure on all the way to Twin Lakes and beyond and began my ascent up Columbine.

This was definitely one of those cases where it was definitely going great until it wasn't.  Once we started up the Columbine climb my right quad started cramping.  If I would stand on the pedal or if I was mashing the pedal with too much force it would scream.  It was on the inside of my right quad right above the knee and I have never had that happen before.

But it was manageable.  I could feel it coming on, hop off the bike, push the bike, let it relax, hop back on and keep going.  This is where I started losing time.

But the down trip from Columbine!  It was awesome!  Smooth and fast. Sub 9 was out the window but I was definitely in the Sub 10 range.

Between Twin Lakes and the Pipeline Aid Station I was doing great and making great time.  Still had to be aware of the right leg cramping but it wasn't acting up too bad.  But once we made that left turn out of the trees and started heading straight towards the Pipeline Aid Station was where we got the first blast of wind.

This wasn't your typical Leadville afternoon out of the north headwind that is so common.  No, this was a horrendous force coming from the north and west depending on the moment.  The ride from there to Fish Hatchery where I was back in the trees was worse than dealing with any sort of cramping issue that I might have been having and probably cost me more time.  I could not wait to get to Powerline, get off the bike, push some and be out of that damned wind.  Sub 10 was definitely out the window now.  Still had the cramping thing going up the Powerlines, but I just managed it the best I could.

The rest of the race went well.  I passed and caught up with a ton of people the last 13 miles or so.  I don't think I really backed off any.  My finishing time was 10:13:25.  A full 15 minutes faster than last year.  I am good with that.  But that damned race is hard.  There just is not any other way to describe it.

But I am still learning.  After all this was my fourth bike race ever.  I learned some really important things yesterday.  1.  I can ride fast.  I do actually have that potential. Now I just have to learn  how to sustain it!  2.  My skills and comfort level on the bike are so way beyond where I was last year.  3.  In a long race like yesterday, sometimes just getting out of it alive is a pretty damned good thing.  That might be second only to the confidence and knowledge that you can actually do it as well.

Today was the 10K.  I took it easy and just ran it with my heart rate capped in zone 2, MAF.  It wasn't bad and I ran okay.  There doesn't seem to be any real residual damage from yesterday, just a crap ton of fatigue.  Actually when it was over I felt better.  I think the 10K really isn't that hard, but the thought of having to do it is just worse than actually having to do it.  Since I took it easy I was about five minutes slower than last year.  No biggie.

So now on to the big show!  The Leadman Finale!  Only 100 miles now separate me from my second Leadman Trophy and my fifth LT100 run finisher buckle. 

Bring it on!

After a lot of rest this week of course!