Sunday, December 10, 2017

Canova, Sondre Moen and the lack of marathon progress in the USA

  My training is still very much the same jogging 4 miles once or twice a day so it hardly seems worthwhile to post it here so instead I figured I would talk about something else.

   At Fukuoka last weekend Sondre Moen of Norway ran a European record of 2:05:48.  This followed up a sparkling 59:48 half marathon in October.   Sondre has been a successful runner for a few years having run in the 62 minute range for the half marathons each of the last few years and he had run 2:11 before he started working with Renato Canova last fall.  I want to talk about him because of two factors.  First the jump from 62/2:11 to 59/2:05 is shocking and almost unheard of outside of the rift valley.   When I see a jump like this mid career my first thought is sadly drugs.  In this case it is certainly possible.  Despite my personal admiration for Canova I do not know him well enough to say for sure that he and his athletes are totally clean.  I am also aware that some of the released schedules from his athletes have recovery intervals are shockingly short.   That said my personal experiences of breakthroughs with his methods tell me that huge breaks are possible without chemical enhancement.

  It is also not that I think Canova has a corner on great running training, I don't.  In fact I think an argument could be made that the best training for the 1500 to 10k is currently available from coaches in the US.  When you consider the success that USA athletes have had at the Olympics and world championships in those events over the last couple of years and that many of the coaches in charge of those athletes are working with very small stables of athletes thanks to are inability to find a financially viable way of creating large well funded training groups, in comparison to Ethiopia, Kenya and Japan where literally a thousand or more post collegiate age athletes are able to give professional training a go and training groups of 30 or more are fairly common. 

  What I do think is that as a country we have massively underachieved in the marathon. Rupp and Flanagan's wins this fall notwithstanding.   There are a number of factors that I feel have a play in this.  The first is that most americans run marathons in the US and there are very few fast courses with consistently favorable conditions.  According to ARRS Houston is the fastest marathon in US based on race time bias and it is only the 16th fastest in the world and it is one of only 3 USA races considered faster than the average or break even time point.   So often we have great American marathoners who is not viewed as being as successful and fast as they would be if they were running races like Berlin, Dubai, Tokyo or Fukuoka instead of New York, Boston, Twin Cities or, with the dropping of pace setters, Chicago.  Also when Boston gets a tailwind we are quick to dismiss a fast time by an american, IE Halls 2:04:58, while we don't tend to put non-american times under the same scrutiny.  I actually read an article once that made a point in saying that Hall's real PB was 2:06:17 from London and then went on to refer to Gebre Gebremariam as a 2:04:53 man.  This is funny because that time for Gebre was run at Boston the same year as Hall ran his 2:04.
  This judging of americans by time when they generally run on much slower courses means that often very good americans are judged as being less than they are.  To think that calling Meb a 2:08 guy or  Rupp a 2:09 runner, or Jason Hartmann a 2:11 man is a fair assessment of their success as a marathoner is ridiculous.  These men could easily have PB's 3 to 5 minutes faster if they had focused their energies on the very fast pace set races that the africans dominate.

   That said there is little doubt that we are underachieving in the marathon as compared with the track.  I think that a parallel can be drawn between current american running and the level that the Kenyans were at in the 1990's.  At that time many, many kenyans were running under 27:30 and 13:20.  A good number were under 61, 27 and 13.   Yet almost none were running inside 2:08 for the marathon.  In fact only a fraction of the number of Kenyans were under 2:10 as are today.

   What happened.  Well to listen to many in the sports media tell it the Kenyans stopped fearing the distance and started attacking the marathon.  This is to my mind the stupidest assertion I have ever heard.  The kenyans always attacked.  They had been roaring out at fast paces at marathons from the moment they turned to the roads in the mid 1980s.  The question is why did they stop blowing up?

  My arguement is that Renato Canova, and a couple other coaches, started to do professional development with coaches in kenya.  Traveling the country working with athletes and sharing infomation like this,, with coaches.  This lead to a seed change in how the Kenyans prepared for the marathon.  I think the general fitness that came with this kind of work also lead to greater performance in the half marathon but there the difference was far less.  A 61 man was now becomeing a 60 man.  In the marathon however it was stunning.

  In 1998 the 10th fastest Kenyan marathoner ran 2:08:52, this was a great year for the kenyans in the marathon at that time.  By 2008 the 10th best was 2:07:21.  A solid improvement but the bigger difference at that point was up front as the world lead had gone from high 2:06's to 2:03's.  This meant that big improvements were needed to win and so more and more athletes and coaches adjusted their training accordingly.  In 2015 the 10th fastest Kenyan ran 2:06:19.  A startling time that is under 3:00 per kilometer pace and that no man had ever run faster than prior to 1998.

  My personal experience is what makes me believe so fully in this system.  In the fall of 2005 I had never run under 24:30 for 8k.  I had a 1:07:28 half marathon best.  I began training in the most rudimentary way with Canova workouts and systems and by the end of spring in 2006 I had run 23:26, 1:03:44 and 2:15:28.   Later on after the Olympic trials I was able to get Canova to send me a training schedule.  You should be able to view the schedule here,

  I was already struggling with my coordination issues and as such I never ended up racing off of this training.  I did however find myself in the best shape of my life by far at the end of a month of this training.  I cannot say for sure how fast I would have run I can say I felt confident I would be able to run under 1:03 for the half and in the 2:10 range for a marathon in reasonable conditions, not tailwind, at Boston. 

  So what are the Africans, and a guy like Moen doing that I believe that we Americans are not.  I think the four major things are, one, truly specific marathon workouts in numbers.  So not doing one 16 mile long run at marathon pace and otherwise training like you are getting ready for a half marathon or 10k.   In this type of marathon training the athlete runs a lot of marathon paced work every week, sometimes in multiple workouts per week throughout the training cycle with 15 to 30 miles of marathon paced work run each week during the specific phase.
  Second long hard runs of around marathon distance run at 90 to 95% of marathon pace.  These workouts start much shorter, around 20k, in the base phase but build up to around 40 to 45k during the specific phase.
  Third alternation style workouts where the athlete averages marathon pace for 10 to 15 miles but does so by alternating between running slightly faster than and recovering slightly slower than marathon pace.
  Fourth moderate medium length, 10 to 18 mile, light tempo runs at an effort slower than marathon pace but faster than a reasonable training pace.

  Many top american groups are implementing some of these strategies.  The fourth one is very much like Schumachers' rhythm runs for example.  Meb did a marathon paced tempo run pretty much every week during his marathon build ups.  I think in the marathon the big one most americans tend to fall short on is the specific work.

  Finally I think that one area that the Africans excel at and that much of the rest of the distance running world fails at, myself very much included, is the balance between training very hard generally but not fearing to take complete rest or to half ass workouts. 

  I read an article where a 2:05 Kenyan marathoner was asked why he felt the Japanese could not compete in the marathon with the Kenyans.  He said he thought that if the Japanese trained like the Africans  they would be the best in the world.  When asked what he thought the Japanese were doing wrong he said they were training too hard.

  Similarly when I followed the linked Canova plan, which was the first time I didn't have to figure out my own paces for the workouts, I was shocked how EASY most of the workouts were.  In a two week block there were 6 or 7 "workouts" but 5 of them would be barely harder to do than a basic training run.  Then one or two of them would be savagely hard.

  This is not to say that I think we should make a return to the under training that plagued the 1990's.  I think the tricky key is that the athlete needs to train extraordinarily hard in the macro sense but that they need to be able and willing to reduce the effort in the micro sense.  Doing more workouts, and very high volume, but realizing that those workouts might be quite easy and that is ok.

  I watched a documentary following an athlete who eventually finished 4th at the NYC marathon and the thing I found most different about him compared with myself was that when faced with hardship he opted to half ass his training for a while as a sort of compromise.  He skipped the harder workouts, mixed in days off and then when his body came around he got serious again.  My coordination issue has defied all my attempts to solve it so I doubt that a similar attitude would have saved me from it but I do wonder if I had been a bit more like this if I could have run more consistently well both during my short time of being on the national level and fully healthy, 2006/2007 and in the shorter distances over the years that followed.

  Finally I think that the very top americans are making some changes.  Schumacher's ladies have run better in the marathon this year, though sometimes what is effective training for women in the marathon does not carry over to men because we are less efficient with glycogen, and Salazar has obviously had more success with the marathon of late, seen both in Rupp's very effective running but also in Suguru Osako's 2:07:19.   However I think that there is still an opportunity for one of the second tier groups to stun the US distance world and dominate the top of the USA marathon rankings and perhaps take the majority of the spots on the U.S. Olympic team.

  I think that if you are running more than 5% slower than your half marathon best on similar terrain in the marathon you are under achieving and if you have shown a predilection towards the longer events than that conversion should be closer to 3%.  So for a mid 1:01 half marathon athlete, of which there are now a fair number in the USA that means running in the 2:06 mid to 2:08 mid range.  Obviously in good conditions this would likely fall short of what it would take to beat a guy like Rupp but certainly you could take a spot on the team.  Furthermore a group that was slowing like this would expect mid 1:02 half marathoners to run in the 2:09 to just under 2:11 range.  Think of the impact on american marathoning if one of these groups with 3 to 5 sub 1:03 guys got each of them to run in the 2:09 to 2:10 range in the next year.  I also believe that Moen shows that if they make these changes it is likely that athletes will not only race the marathon closer to the equivalent of their existing pb's in the other events but it is quite likely that they will see a jump in general fitness as well.   In which case perhaps some of our consistent 62 minute half men could find themselves running 59:42 and 2:05:48 in a year or two like Moen has.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Training for last two weeks, November 6 to 19, 2017

   If you are looking for the cliff notes it is basically a whole lot of not much.  I see a specialist on the 27th but that will likely just be a meet and greet and a ticket to an MRI.  I had an X-ray which unsurprisingly didn't show anything.

Monday AM 4 miles, 29:58, with Uta
PM 4 miles, 29:10, with Uta

Tuesday AM 5 miles with Melissa and Uta, 38:13
PM 4 miles, 27:14, 6 strides

Wednesday AM road 4 with Uta in 29:00

Thursday AM 4 miles with Uta in 27:53
PM 1.6 warm up and 3x mile on Phillips fields, the watch may have been a bit wonky on these, 5:18, 5:14, 5:12, 3 mins recovery.  1/2 mile cool down

Friday AM road 5 with Uta and Melissa, 39:13
PM road 4 miles, 25:57

Saturday AM 4.2 miles with Uta, 32:06
PM 2 mile warm up, strides, some drills, some stretching, tried to do a 2 mile tempo in 10:00, felt great aerobically but hip started to hurt so I stopped after 8/10ths of a mile in 3:58 and jogged in.

Sunday 4 miles with Melissa, 27:53

Monday AM 4 miles with Uta, in 29:11

Tuesday AM 4 miles with Uta,  31:00
PM road 4 with Uta, 26:23

Wednesday AM 4 miles with Uta, 29:10
PM  5 miles with Uta, 34:07

Thursday AM 4 miles with Uta, 28:45
PM 4 miles with Uta, in 26:28

Friday PM road 4 with Uta, and first 1.2 with Melissa, 28:05

Saturday AM 4 miles with Uta and Melissa, 29:32
PM road 4.3 with Uta, 27:52

Sunday AM road 4 with Uta, 28:23
PM 4.3 miles, 28:30

Summary I guess it is what it is.  I'm happy to be running a little.  I really haven't lost much fitness.  Obviously the hip doesn't feel that great but it is liveable and hopefully in another 8 weeks or so it will be healed up...
  Hope your well.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Throw back 2007 Olympic Trials

  Just over 10 years ago, on November 3, 2007 I finished 7th at the 2008 Olympic Trials marathon.

   On November 2, 2007 I was very fit.  I had come through a very up and down year.  I started the year in the greatest shape of my life thinking I was ready to breakthrough to the upper echelon of US distance running.  Shortly there after I began experiencing my coordination problem, runners dystonia, and around the same time I came down with Mono.

  After 7 or 8 weeks of no running I started back with my fitness very much reduced.  Over the rest of the build up the dystonia was a problem here or there but not everyday.   By late summer I was again quite fit but had a spasm in my calf/achilles that lead caused me to drop out of the Falmouth road race and miss a week of training.   In October my fiance at the time broke off our relationship.  I was so focused on the trials at this point that my honest to goodness biggest worry was that being upset about that would hurt my race.  As I dealt with that I was also dealing with the dystonia.  I had lost coordination at the end of most of my hard marathon workouts.  I couldn't find a source of the problem or even anyone who had any understanding of what I was dealing with.

   The night before the race I was extremely worked up, like all the competitors I suppose. Around 10pm my roomate, Miguel Nuci, and I shut off the light and tried to sleep.  I actually fell right asleep.  Around 1am I woke up and had to pee.  After that I didn't fall back asleep and I could hear that Migual wasn't sleeping either.  Around 3am I suggest we get up and Miguel agreed.
  A couple hours later we took a bus on the empty streets for less than a mile to Rockefeller center for the start of the race.  I was sitting a couple spots behind Abdi Abdirahmen and it seem Nike had put posters of him in nearly every window along the way and I remember wondering what dealing with that kind of pressure was like.

  We went inside at Rockefeller center and we had plenty of bathrooms and it was warm.  I went out for a warm up. We basically had a 200 meter road that was blocked off and I did about 2 miles back and forth on it. It was actually a pretty neat experience with about a hundred runners who I knew by reputation and looked up to all going back and forth in this little area.  The best part was when a fan leaned over the barrier right into my face and yelled "Good luck beating Brian Sell!".   I went back inside did my stretching and made a bathroom trip.  Thirty minutes before the start they kicked us all out.  This was less than ideal for two reasons.  First it was very windy and the temps were in the 40's.  Second there was only one porto potty outside.

  I went out in just about all the cloths I had with me in hopes of staying warm to the start.  Very quickly we athletes decided that the porto potty was for sitting only and if you needed to pee you had to find an alley or bush, not easy in Rockefeller center but it was still dark out which helped.  I did witness a hilarious little dance where Ryan Hall who had to pee but was being followed by a film crew finally kneeled down and took a quick piss while his wife Sara stood between him and the camera as a physical block. Now Sara is five foot nothing and weighs 90lbs soaking wet so she wasn't exactly a wall which made it all the funnier.   All in all it was an extraordinarily well organized event I have no idea why there was only one porto john out there.

  Soon enough they lined us up.  I was shocked to see some of the B qualifiers or guys with qualifiers slower than mine elbow and push for a front row spot.  Mean while a few of the quite famous big guns took spots in the following rows.  I joined them. It was a marathon afterall.  I remember seeing one guy sort of shove himself in front of Meb and thinking, "dude, unless you push him two miles back he is gonna beat your ass."  In the end an official went by and pulled the big guns up to the front row.  I ended up in the second row next to Jacob Frey, another 2nd tier Saucony guy who I had hung out with a good bit at the Utica Boilermaker back in July.

  When the gun went off it was immediately slow.  Very slow.  It felt like an easy group run.  Mike Wardian jumped out to a lead while I was in the middle of this huge slow pack.   I thought about going out on my own and getting up with him as his pace seemed more reasonable but with it being so windy I thought better of it.  Also I was surrounded by some of the greatest runners in American history and figured we would get after it sooner or later. 

  On the city streets it was unbelievably windy and I remember thinking if it wasn't more broken up in the park we would be in for one hell of a hard day.  We hit the mile in 5:40 something.  Unimaginably slow.  We picked it up only slightly and Mike stayed out in front by a good bit.  About a mile and a half into the race we tucked into the park and I was relieved that the wind was reduced but unhappy to begin the hills.  For anyone who has run central park it isn't really hilly, it just doesn't have any real flat spots.

  As we moved onto the park roads the untenable nature of our slow pace started to become apparent.  With  more than a hundred guys in a 5 or 10 second span surrounded by motorcycle cops and camera men as well as dozens of bike riding course marshals on the tighter and very curvy roads things immediately started to get rough.  At one point I actually banged into one of the motorcycles with a cameraman sitting backwards on it filming.  I was fine but I was shocked the driver was able to keep them from going over.

  At three miles Mike Morgan and Kyle O'Brian of Hansons took the lead and drove the pace down to just under 5:00 pace.  They had both run the world championship that summer and it was pretty obvious they were leading to ensure a quicker pace for Brian Sell who would likely have little chance against some the other favorites in a race that came down to a very fast last 10k.

  Pre-race I had told myself that my speed limit was 5:00 per mile.  It was ok to dip under it here or there but not to stay there as I knew from my workouts I wasn't in shape to run under 2:11 and that things got hard fairly quickly when I was clicking off sub 5:00's on rolling terrain.  Mike and Kyle seemed to lock in at just under 5:00.  I think we maybe ran one 4:55 but really we locked in the 4:56 to 4:58 range.  Initially, though I was a bit stressed that the pace was a shade faster than I wanted, I was mostly just enjoying the whole event.  We had crossed the finish at Tavern on the Green and the crowd in the stands there was already quite large.  On top of that I was just blown away at the group of National champions, NCAA champs and generally amazing distance guys I was rubbing elbows with.  I had done a number of national level races at this point but to see this many super stars in one place and to be running with them was really something special. The reality of the Olympic Trials is that everyone there is amazing.  Generally speaking if you are at a race with 10 or 15 Olympic Trials qualifiers that is a big deal.  Well now the whole field is qualifiers and there were a couple dozen guys who had made at least one Team USA and a few american record holders and a world record holder. On top of that the spectators were over the top.  There were signs and screaming and just a huge number of the Brian Sell face on stick that Brooks must have mass produced for the event.  In additiona Mbarak Hussien was quite popular and as long as he stayed in the pack, which was out past 10 miles you seemed to hear someone yell "Age is just a number! Go Mbarak!
, every few seconds.  At one point Ryan Shay fell back suddenly for some reason I thought he had hurt his hamstring.  I didn't think about it at all.  I have thought about it uncountable hours since.

  Just after 5 miles I passed a blonde woman screaming and cheering her head off and realized just as I went by her it was 3 time Boston marathon champ, Uta Pippig.  This was no normal race.

  At this quicker pace the first real stressful moment was the "bubble" Just before mile 6.  To make the course hit the exact distance we had to take a 90 degree left off the road and onto a sidewalk go less than a 100 yards and take two quick 90 degree rights come back to the road and take another 90 left.  The pack was still 50 strong and we were banging into each other and the barriers.  It was really a remarkable piece of teamwork that no one went down.

  Shortly after that we turned back onto the main loop just past the finish line to do the first of 4 'long' loops. As we went up the first hill back on the main drag I felt a bit of acid in my legs.  It scared the hell out of me.  We had 20 miles to go and we had only been running at a decent clip for 3 miles and I knew damn well I was under my agreed upon speed limit for the those 3 miles.  I had to make a call.  Stay in the pack or back off.  I decided that if I had gone out too fast the damage was done so I had made my bed and now there was nothing to do but lay in it.

  After a couple of uneventful miles Abdi got sick of the 5:00 miling and shot off the front right at the 9 mile mark.  Hall, Meb, Ritz, Bizuneh and I believe Dan Brown went with him.  I hung back with the second pack.  The pace of the lead group seemed crazy fast and given that Sell, Khannouchi and Culpepper were in my pack I felt pretty confident.  Once again we passed Uta Pippig and as we did she shouted "stay with them cutie!" and I could have sworn she was looking at me. As we approached the 10 mile mark I was worried because I was starting to hurt a bit.  When I saw the split, 4:47, I knew why I was hurting.  We settled down but almost immediately I got a pretty bad side stitch.  I buried myself back in my head and put all of my focus on just trying to breath and staying with Culpepper.   As I stared at his back and rode out the stitch Khannouchi and then Sell with Lehmkuhle went off the front after the lead back.  Bizuneh, who I considered a threat to make the team because he had joined the Kimbia team, came back to us and we went right by him.

 All the while the side stitch was really all I could think about.  Running low 5:00 miles over rolling hills was actually pretty easy at this point but not so easy I could do it without breathing.   Finally just as we were coming up to the Tavern on the Green finish area marking two laps to go the stitch quickly faded out of existence.  Right about that moment Culpepper dropped out.  I was stunned.   Honestly I thought he was the single most likely guy to make the team.  Meb was better but had some calf problems in his tune up and I thought he might be hurt.

  As I absorbed the shock that I had outlasted Culpepper I also became aware that my huge pack was now quite small.  Only a small handful of us were left and they were all guys I knew.  Or more correctly knew of. Peter Gilmore who was on a string of really top notch marathons took control of the group with myself, Matt Downin, a two time National Cross Country Champion, and Josh Rohatinsky a sub 28:00 10k guy who had won an NCAA cross country champion who many thought would be a dark horse to make the team in his debut, following behind.   I was both excited and in awe that I was in this place and frankly feeling really good.   Over the front side of the course the hills were a little tougher and things seem to happen fast.

  Peter Gilmore who was leading our crew suddenly seemed to lose all steam and come to a crawl.  Downin took over and surged a bit but in less than a mile he seemed to pick up a limp and it was just me and Rohat.  At this point the adrenaline was really kicking.  First these were big names falling by the waste side.  Second we were running decent splits on a very tough course and third I felt GREAT!

  Shortly after Downin dropped back I decided to push.  I had read that Rohat had done some great workouts in the build up including a very fast 20 or 22 miler so I didn't think I could get away from him only 17 or 18 miles in but I was thinking we were in the top 10 now and others had been more aggressive and there would be bodies on the road so perhaps I could jump start our pace and we could work together to go after the lead.

  It is important to note I had no idea that Ryan hall was dropping 4:30 miles out front!  I was basing a lot of my expectations on the previous trials, where a 2:11 on a very flat fast course was good enough for the win, and the results of the top americans over the previous couple of years, which were significantly better than the past but still left me thinking if you ran in the 2:12's on this course you would make the team, particularly with Culpepper already gone.  I also was feeling like 2:12 was still on the table for me.

  I pushed the pace back down under 5:00 pace.  I think miles 18 and 19 were 4:57 and 4:54 respectively.  It felt like Rohatinsky didn't even try to stay with.   At about 18 miles I could see a guy walking on the course in front of me and as I closed up on him it was apparent that it was Abdi.  This played right into my thoughts that the super fast middle miles would tear apart the lead group and a guy like me could do some damage picking off the pieces.  On top of that I wasn't just soldiering to the line I was flying.  I couldn't have been more pumped.

  Then, in what could be a microcosm of my whole career, it all came crashing down around me with a funny sensation in my hip and hamstring and then the loss of control of my right leg right at the 19 mile mark.  My mind raced.  I had only one recourse.  I needed to stop and stretch.  Sometimes stretching would bring the coordination back for the rest of a hard workout, sometimes for only a few miles and sometimes not at all.  Just past a water stop I stopped suddenly and stretched for 10 or 15 seconds until Rohatinsky caught me.  I jumped in behind him as he went by and almost held my breath.

  My darkest nightmare was visiting me on the road.  The coordination was still gone.  I had little control of my right leg.  Running even this reduced pace was suddenly impossibly difficult.   I  locked on to Rohatinsky back.  It was all coming apart.  Very quickly my motivation went from having the race of my life to promising myself that if I was going to fade back through the field I was going to make everyone who was going by me bleed to do it.

  I had Rohatinsky to control pace and I was going to limp, peg leg and fight with everything I had to stay right on his back.  It was a bit of a dark moment.  Then we went by Uta Pippig again.

  There was no doubt this time, she was talking to me in her german accent "Stay with him cutie!  Race of your life, cutie!!"

The race might be going to shit but it was sure one hell of an experience and a day I would never forget already.

  As we came by Tavern on the Green to enter the last lap I got final confirmation that I wasn't going to make the Olympic team.  The jumbo tron at the finish showed Brian Sell who was flying and it said 4th place.  If Rohatinsky and I were going to limp up through the field at our speed they would have to be completely cracked.

  Entering the last lap the task seemed completely overwhelming.  I was limping.  I had little control over my right leg and felt like I could fall with every right foot landing.  I was doing everything I could do just to hang on Rohatinsky's shoulder.  I was taking some confidence from having stayed with Rohatinsky for a couple miles but the task in front of me, 5 more miles like this with every stride awkward agony, seemed impossible.

  I just kept taking it literally one stride at time.  Then on an uphill just after the 22 mile mark Rohatinsky began to slow noticeably.  I almost didn't know what to do.  I was so convinced the most I could hope for with the peg leg was to stick to his back but I could still taste the blood in the water so I pushed by and he had no response.

  The after the elation of that moment the stress of the hobble and the pain it was now causing and the reality of how far I had to go settled in.  My left calf started to spasm and I had to start forcing myself to land on my heel, as if my stride wasn't awkward enough already.  I also was worried by the pain in the front of my hip from pulling my leg through, as I was almost doing that with my abs, because at least I had control of them. 

  As I crossed over and began the journey on the back side of the course coming up to 24 miles I saw a diminutive man coming back to me.  With Abdi out it had to be Meb.  I was sure he had hurt his calf, as that was his recurring injury to that point in his career.  I had no idea his hip was far worse than mine.  Inch by inch I closed the gap but it was so far and I was limping so badly.  It seemed time would run out but it gave me a target and a job to do and when you are trying to convince your body to do something beyond its limits that is something you very badly need.

  Again I went by Uta Pippig, she was jumping up and down screaming "You are doing it cutie!! Go get Meb, cutie!!"  Shortly after that I passed Glenn Stewart on the side of the road.  Glenn was president of the Greater Lowell Road Runners who I had run for after college and who I did some coaching for.  He was a friend.  I was hurting in bad way knew I looked bad.  I wanted to give Glenn some sign that I would finish.  So I did all I was capable of, a weak thumbs up.  Glenn went wild!  I didn't understand.

  He thought I was trying to tell him I would catch Meb.

  Though that was not my intention it was reality.  Just as we hit the sign that said 800m to go I caught and passed Meb.  The man who had just four years before won Olympic Silver.  He was in a bad way and I was going to hobble by.  I had a moment of elation.

 A few yards later Meb went back by me.  I was crushed.  This man was too damn strong.  I didn't know then just how strong, but I had a moment where I wanted to quit and let him beat me in.  Then I realized here I was on the home stretch of the Olympic Trials Marathon fighting with the reigning Olympic Silver medalist.   I had no doubt Meb would beat me but I was going to go back and forth with him as many times as I could and make the most of the moment and so I lifted myself for another peg-legged push.

  Back by Meb I went, I was shocked he didn't go back by and now I was climbing up the final bit of the course.

  I don't remember finishing.  I do remember Meb a bit after he finished.  I thanked him for returning Americans to the world stage.  I did an interview or two over the barrier.  Then I began to shuffle to the gear collection area.  I couldn't believe I wasn't being drug tested.  I mean I was the 20th qualifier and basically a complete nobody and I finished in the thick of the big guns and yet no one thought, hey lets get that guy to piss in a cup?

  I got to the area where our cloths were and began to get dressed.  As I did I saw a young guy on the other side of the barrier almost shaking and he seemed painfully familiar.  It took more than a few moments to figure out he was my brother.  I was so destroyed that I didn't instantly recognize my only brother.
With the Moulton twins in the recovery zone

  That seems like as good a point as any to stop.  It was a great day though tinged with regret because it should have been more.  Again a microcosm of my career as a whole.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Training Blog October 30 to November 5, 2017

Monday AM road 4, 26:58
PM road 4, 26:13, dead lifts

Tuesday AM road 4.1, 26:46
PM 4.7 miles on road, 30:15

Wednesday PM 28:04

Thursday AM 4 miles, 28:50
PM 4 miles 25:50, massage with Anna after this run

Friday AM road 5 with Melissa and Uta, 41:09
PM road 4, 27:02

Saturday AM 4 miles on road in 26:21, squats
PM road 5 with Uta, 31:47

Sunday AM road 4 with last mile at tempo effort (4:58), 25:22

Summary  Happily took a small step in the right direction this weekend  and am now able to run 5 miles at a normal pace without the hip area locking up.  I was also able to do the tempo mile and have that feel fine too.  I didn't run in the afternoon today just because I had a ton of crap to do and basically never got around to it.  I had so much to do because after my run this morning I spent close to 3 hours screaming at the TV screen for obvious reasons.  It was amazing to see a girl I remember from HS win at NYC and to see an amazing run by Abdi and Meb's last go.  Where exactly Meb and Abdi belong on the USA all time marathon great lists may be up for debate but they have to be 1 and 2 for American Masters marathoners without any question. 
  As an odd extension with Shalane's win Melissa and I may be the only married couple who have both scalped NYC champions of their respective genders.  I'm not sure if Abdi and Diane Nukuri are married yet, I would assume that they have done it.  Maybe Ryan and Sara Hall?  Anyway I keep loose tabs on my odd life accomplishments and this one sure fits that category.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Training Blog October 23 to 29, 2017

Monday AM road 4 with Uta, in 30:22

Tuesday AM road 4 with Uta, in 28:00
PM 4 miles with Uta in 25mins then strides

Wednesday PM 4 miles in 27:27, attempted a fartlek but after the first effort the hip didn't feel so hot so I just took it easy the rest of the way

Thursday PM 4 miles with Uta in 25:27

Friday AM 5 miles with Melissa and Uta in 39:04
PM road 4 with Uta, 25:20

Saturday AM 3.5 miles with Melissa and Uta, 28:23
PM 4 miles solo 26:03

Sunday PM 4 miles with Uta, 27:33

Summary so last Sunday turned out to be really stupid and set me back a good bit.  I'm hopeful to be back to sneaking in some quality this week but not certain at all.  If it is a stress fracture I basically set myself back to start by being stubborn when it started barking last Sunday.  So we'll see how this week goes.  It got a bit better towards the end of last week. I also have a doctors appointment coming up and can get some more info then.   Other than that just doing a lot of body work and some lifting and trying to stay the course.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Training blog October 16 to 22

Monday AM hurting couldn't drag my ass out of bed...
PM road 6 with Uta who was in the mood to hammer, had to stop around 5 miles to stretch hip. 37:16.

Tuesday AM 4 miles with Uta, 29:14
PM 5 miles with Melissa and Uta, in around 40mins then 8? strides with jog back recoveries.

Wednesday AM 4 miles, 28:07
PM 6 miles light fartlek, 38:18, light jogging first mile then light fartlek efforts, not even sub 5 min mile pace mixed in for rest of the run.

Thursday AM road 4, 28:33
PM 1.5 mile warm up with a couple of strides, then 3 x mile in cemetery with 3 mins jogging rest, 5:08, 5:05, 5:06, these are a light effort kinda tempo repeats.
Anna for some light xt'ing and massage

Friday AM 4 miles, 27:48
PM 6 miles 38:07

Saturday AM 5.4 miles with Uta and Melissa, 39:57
PM 2 warm up, bunch of drills, 5k threshold tempo run on part of Phillips' fields,  15:57.

Sunday AM on Chelmsford rail trail, 5 mile light progression run after a bunch of drills for warm up, 5:35, 5:33, 5:24, 5:15(with a few seconds lost to a stop to stretch the hip/glute), 4:59

Summary- this is basically how I would like to approach my running until the hip heals up.  The progression run didn't work and because I ran while the hip was locked up pretty good the last half mile or so it left me feeling I had done a bit of damage instead of really feeling fine like I did after all the other runs so I likely won't do this next week.  I may try a couple of 5 mile runs with a 5:00 last mile instead.   We'll see though...

Monday, October 16, 2017

Training Blog October 9 to 15, 2017

Monday AM 6 miles 41:39
               PM massage for hip.

Tuesday AM 5 with Melissa and Uta, 42:24
PM 6 in 40:20

Wednesday AM 4 with Uta in 30:16

Thursday AM 4 with Uta, 29:18

Friday PM at Phillips with Melissa and Uta, 41:21

Saturday AM 4.3 with Melissa, 34:20

Sunday PM 4.5 miles pacing Melissa through the last bit of her longest run ever, 19 miles, 34:58

Summary Hip is about the same which is to say not so great.  Feels fine for 4 or 5 miles then gets tight and locks up.  I don't really know what is going on.  I did get a basic hip eval and it seems to be totally ok.  So I shouldn't have a labral tear.  I still may end up getting an MRI down the line to be sure.  My money is a stress fracture in something not weight bearing but regardless my plan is light running until it improves.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Training Blog October 2 to 8, 2017

Monday AM 4 miles with Uta in 30:38
PM road 10, 1:09:12.  After 5 miles the hip kept locking up and I would stop and stretch and go about a mile and repeat the lock up/stretch thing.  So this is a bit worse then it was last week...

Tuesday AM 5 miles with Melissa and Uta, 39:18
PM 3 miles in Lowell, all I had time for
After the 3 miles I got a massage from Anna, very painful.

Wednesday PM 6 miles solo, 45:20, this seems to be about as far as I can go without the hip locking up

Thursday AM 4 with Uta, 29:25
PM 6 solo, 40:19

Friday AM 5.7 with Melissa and Uta, 45:23
PM 6 miles solo, 40:23

Saturday AM 5.1 with Melissa and Uta, 40:23
PM 6.2 solo, 42:23

Sunday AM 5k warm up with dj, light light drills, light strides, Race Wayland xc 5k 4th place 16:03, made a move with a bit under a mile to go and felt real strong but couldn't really find another gear only maybe went from 5:0's pace to high 4:50's pace so the field came back by me in the last 400m or so.  Better than last week when I didn't even make the push.  Also not bad considering the hip which wasn't an issue in the race physically but I was worried about it.  5k cool down with DJ.
Shot from the race bit before the mile.  This pic and the next two are all by Tom Derderian.

Summary Not really sure what is up with the hip.  I know how I hurt it obviously but it just won't let go.  I have been doing a ton of mobility and mashing and it loosens up but then the results on the run seem to be exactly the same.  I have also been doing a bunch of feldenkrais to touch up the form which also hasn't helped.   I can't seem to pin down the source of the problem which is concerning.  Hopefully it will come around this week.  Of course where there is pain both front and back it could be a stress fracture of the pelvis like I had on the other side 18 months back.  In case that is the case I am going to do the minimum in terms of running fast and I'm not going to push the distance past when it locks up.  I also will avoid taking any days off because when I have done that with stress fractures in the past it seems the muscles let go a bit and it becomes crazy painful to run on them and I don't want that either.  I'll also start drinking bone broth daily.  Hopefully it is just muscular and the continued daily body work and feldenkrais will get me right sooner rather than later.  If not I can sneak in 10 to 12 miles a day and try to stay reasonably fit that way until it comes around....

Form looks pretty decent so I'm not sure what is going wrong but something isn't right...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Training Blog September 25 to October 1, 2017

Monday AM road 4 with Uta, 30:38
PM road 10 solo, very tight hip, made holding coordination very hard, 1:09:12

Tuesday AM road 4 with Uta, 30:33
PM 3 warm up, drills and a tempo 400 in 76, 30x100m avg. 15.6 with 100 jog recovery, stupid hot made this unpleasant hip better but not great, 3 cool down

Wednesday AM 15.2, 1:46:22, very hot even though I was running in the dark from after 7pm until about 9.  Hip sore coordination not great.

Thursday AM road 4 with Uta, 30:21
PM 10 miles around Phillips fields, first 6 with Melissa and Uta, 1:12:00

Friday AM road 4 with Uta, 29:12
4PM 3 warm up, drills, strides, 200 in 32, 600 jog, 6x800 with 2min recoveries.  Ran the 800's at about 5k pace but I pushed the first 200 in 31 then settled into 5k/10k pace, 2:23, 2:21, 2:20, 2:21, 2:21, 2:20, 3 mile cool down

7PM 6 miles with Uta and Melissa in 47:47

Saturday Off, spent the day from 7am to 9pm helping my Mom move.
Mom and me after the race.

Sunday AM 6k warm up with DJ, drills, strides, 30 second hard effort, extra jogging, 6k xc race, 5th place 19:09.  Not a great race but I am starting to feel stronger.  Ran a bit better last weekend but this wasn't that far off. 6k cool down
PM road 10k with Uta, 42:30, hip very sore, really fighting to hold coordination.

Summary 97 miles, 2 decent workouts and a decent race. Hip started with fighting the coordination last Sunday on the long cool down.  I did a lot of mobility work for it over the week and it helped but Sunday made it worse.  So just do more work and see Anna this week.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Training Blog September 18 to 24, 2017

Monday AM 4 miles with Uta, 30:57
PM road 5, 33:52, this was all I had time for before seeing Anna for some circuits and massage

Tuesday AM 4 miles with Uta, 30:37
PM 3 warm up, drills and strides, Mona Fartlek,, on my normal loop.  Covered 3.76 miles which isn't good but isn't awful 2.6 cool down, forgot that I needed to do a loop of side neighborhood to make the cool down 3 and wasn't going to add on once I got home.

Wednesday PM 15.3 miles in 1:47.  I have class after school on Wendnesdays so this run goes pretty late.  Nothing like finishing a run around 9pm knowing you'll be up before 5am for the next one...

Thursday AM 4 miles with Uta in 29:50
PM 3 mile warm up, drills, strides, 15x200 avg. 31.0 with 200 jogs, in around 65 for recovery. 3 mile cool down.  I have rarely felt as shitty for a workout.  Not very fun.  I also had a flat tire waiting for me at my car so that added to my enjoyment of this session.

Friday AM 4 with Uta, 30:08, crazy tired.
PM 10.6 at Phillips, first 6 with Melissa and Uta, took it very easy, 1:23.

Saturday AM road 8.1 with Uta, 55mins
PM 8 miles, first 5 with Melissa, 59:06.

Sunday AM 3 plus warm up, drills, strides, 30 second hard effort.  Race Lone Gull 10k, USATF-NE championship, very strong field including at least 5 guys other than myself who have sub 65 half marathon pb's. It was also hot, around 80.  finished 11th in 31:13, very nice step in the right direction. Pack went out slow so I hung onto the back of the lead group of around 25 in 4:56, stayed on the back of the pack as it steadily got smaller and ran 5:01 for the second mile, the third mile was much the same but I was a bit worried because I was starting to feel ragged at the end of it but we had actually picked it up and I ran a 4:48 so that got me pretty pumped up.  I fell off the pack as they drove on and I ran a 5:08.  I passed two more guys though.  I tried to go after three more guys who had come off the lead pack and managed a 5:00 but I wasn't able to run them down.  I ran another 5:08 for the 6th mile which finishes at the crest of a decent sized hill and I was finished.  The last quarter was a struggle!
  8 mile cool down with Ruben after.

Summary 103 miles for the week, two moderate workouts, one decent race.  For those not reading between the lines.  I had been a bit anemic at the end of summer.  I don't take feosol any more because my stomach can't handle it.  I take a food based supplement Melissa found that works and doesn't bother my stomach called ferrofood by standard process.  I starting taking the iron and it helped right away but I thought I had two bottles.  Well at the start of last week I ran out of bottle one only to realize I was mistaken.  Standard process sends out all orders on Monday so basically we ordered it but it didn't come in until Friday of this week.  In the intervening time I have been getting a bit more run down each day.  My resting hr was up about 10 bpm and my heart rate on runs has been through the roof. I took as much of the ferrofood as I dared on Saturday and just hoped that it would help a bit.  I was honestly afraid after how I ran on Friday and Saturday and I was going to struggle to run 33 at Lone Gull.   The heat in the morning did nothing to assuage those fears.  However the difference in how easy the first mile in 4:56 felt compared with the much more downhill 4:51 last weekend told me right off the iron had kicked in at least a little.  I was very surprised I didn't blow up in the second half but obviously in a good way.

 Hope you are running well.  Oh and for those who want to order some rabbit gear 10% off link below.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Training blog September 11 to 17, 2017

Monday AM 4 miles with Uta in 31:31
PM road 10, 1:06:32

Tuesday AM road 5 with Melissa and Uta, 40:53
PM 3+ warm up, drills and a tempo 400 in 78, 30x100m on track in around 16.0 with 100 jog recoveries, then 3 plus cool down.

Wednesday didn't run in the AM because I needed some sleep.
7PM easy medium long run of 14.5 in 1:38:34.  I have a class immediately after schools on Wednesdays this fall for 2 and 1/2 hours.  It is going to suck.

Thursday AM 4 miles with Uta in 30:39
PM 3+ warm up, drills, strides, 200m in 30.7. Felt good on the strides but it was hot and it had been very hot all day in my classroom so I was tired overall.  I did a very easy tempo on the track covering 5k in 16:29.  I was going to do 10k but I lost coordination. It was that kind of a day, 3+ cool down

Friday  planned day off.  I wanted the good night sleep and I left from school to drive to northport and pretty much went straight to be after arriving around 9pm

Saturday AM 3 plus warm up, drills, strides 30 second hard effort. Race Cow Harbor 10k, 18th place 32:03, split 16:01 at 5k.   I actually ran pretty perfectly.  I'm just not fit.  I'm incredibly frustrated to be running 32's but there isn't much to do but keep plugging away and trying to rebuild.  This was a nice step forward from the last 10k as it was a few seconds faster and on a much tougher course and I found the conditions tougher as the humidity, 97%, was very rough. 3 mile cool down

Sunday AM drive home
PM easy long run, did first two miles at a shuffle pace with Melissa who was being careful to recover after running a half marathon yesterday and Uta who hates the heat, It was 85 and humid.  just about 20 and a half miles in 2:24:39

Summary 92 miles, 1 race, two medium effort workouts.  Hot week and with the AC not working at school I was pretty dehydrated all week.  Just can't keep up with the amount of sweating I do in a shirt and tie when it is solidly in the mid to high 80's in my classroom all day.   Also still struggling to get back in the swing of getting up before 5 in the morning for the morning runs.
  I race the smart sit back and work my way through the field race I wanted to but I was about 10 seconds per mile slower than I wanted. Still the base has just ended so now I have a starting point.  It isn't the one I wanted but I'll work from it.
  Hope you are well.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Training Blog September 4 to 10, 2017

Monday AM 2.1 mile warm up then some strides and drills.  14 mile fundamental tempo run around the Phillips fields 1:19:36, 5:41 mile pace.  Legs were wiped out the last couple of miles even though breathing was still comfortable.  It was humid but not really that bad.  Basically I think I just need some long runs.  I have done very few long runs over the last few years because of the coordination issues but I'll just have to make them work one way or another.
PM 5 miles in 35:02

Tuesday AM road 4 miles with Melissa and Uta, 33:42
PM road 10, 1:05:28

Wednesday PM road 10k  with Uta in 43:13, then half mile jogging with strides mixed then 6x quarter mile hill repeats with jog down recovery. 1:31, 1:34, 1:34, 1:35, 1:34, 1:33. mile cool down

Thursday AM road 4 miles with Uta in 31:05
PM road 10, 1:05:37

Friday AM road 4 miles with Melissa and Uta, 32:19
PM road 10, 1:05:26

Saturday AM 5k warm up on GBTC XC course with DJ Raboin, 23:22, drills, strides, 30 second hard effort, more strides.  Race GBTC XC festival 5k, 1st place, 15:40. took the lead between 400 and 600 meters in and ran alone pretty much from that point on.  A couple years ago I ran 15:39 here but in a very competitive losing effort so this probably shows better fitness.  Not a great effort for the race but about what can be expected based on how little racing I have done and running from the front. 5k on the course for a cool down with DJ, 23:22.
PM 8.2 miles on road solo, 57:55

Sunday AM road 20.6, 2:31:22, first 10 miles in 81mins with Melissa and Uta, pleasantly surprised that with the slow start the coordination held the whole way.
PM road 10k, 42:45

Summary ~119 miles, two middle of the road workouts and a middle of the road race.  All in all a solid week.  I have cow harbor this weekend and I really would love to get back in the top 10.  The last time I ran there I was 12th in 31:12 and I tuned up for that with a 15:39 in the same race I ran this week but as I mentioned with much more competition so I'm very hopeful that I'm coming around and I can produce a sub 31 at Cow Harbor which is usually enough to slip into the top 10.  The race effort this week left something to be desired but I have a feeling having some competition will take care of that.  I would love to have a few more weeks and a few more races to tune up for Cow Harbor but at least I'm in a place where if I run well I won't embarrass myself too badly.
  Hope your week went well.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Weekly Training Blog August 28 to September 3, 2017

Monday AM road 5 with Uta, 37:22, back to work this week so this was at 5am.
PM road 10, 1:08:43

Tuesday PM it was the first day with the kids and we had an Open house so I tried to sneak in a workout after school before that.  It was a screw up from jump street.  First I should have known I would be hurting after the first day with the kids, then I didn't drink any water all day as I was running around and that got missed. Anyway 3 mile warm up, drills, strides and a 200 in 32.8 which didn't feel good, then attempted Aussie quarters, aiming for 45 recoveries and 68 efforts ran two 43/68.0/46/68.8 and I was already hurting and called it rather than put myself in a hole.  Ran back to school and went out to dinner with the other teachers...  Not my proudest day

Wednesday PM road 10, 1:07:25, felt perhaps even shittier than yesterday.  Felt like I wanted to stop and take a nap from the gun

Thursday AM road 4 with Uta, 29:10
PM road 10, 1:04:06

Friday -No school- AM at Phillips, 3+ warm up, drills, strides, 200m in 31 and a 600 jog. felt good, a couple of the strides were in the 14.1 range, now there was a strong tailwind but my fastest 100 ever is a 13.9 or so and that was during an actual hurricane so you can imagine that tailwind.  5x2k running each rep as alternations running the just under 70 and then about 80 for the laps.  4mins recovery with a 400 meter jog.  6:08, 6:07, 6:08, 6:08, 6:07 for the 2ks.  Very windy.  Honestly I'm happy with the workout as run but given the wind it was actually much better than it looks. 3.5 cool down.
late AM Anna for massage
PM 3.5 miles with Uta and Melissa, her first run back as she recovers from Lyme.

Saturday AM road 8.2, 54:21, not as sore as I expected after yesterday.
PM road 8.1 with Uta, 54:41

Sunday AM road 6, 40:35
PM road 10, 1:03:12

Summary around 97 miles for the week. only one decent workout but the first week of school is always a shit show so I'll take it.   I have another short week next week with only 4 days and then it will be full weeks for a while.  Starting to race back into shape this coming week with the GBTC xc meet.  Then Cow harbor the following week.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Training blog August 21 to 27, 2017 moving forward

Monday Off- drove back from Cincinnati.  Left about 4am actually made great time and could have snuck in a run on the home end in the late evening but I had made the decision to  take an off day already and just went for a 2 mile walk to try and uncurl the body.

Tuesday AM road 10+ with Pat Rich around Topsfield, nice loop, hot day,1:07:28, did some light strides after.

Wednesday AM At Phillips, 3 mile warm up, drills, strides, 200m in 31, 600 jog.  Then 4x800 meters run HARD and stupid, ie out very fast and rig up and die.  This is to drive the latic acid as high as possible with each rep rather than run them as fast as you can.  Basically I ran each of them like I would have in high school.  Out in 30/31 for 200, there was a decent wind in the 2nd 200 so I'd be 64/65 at the 400 and then just a war from there to the finish.  After each 800 I would take 2 minutes recovery and then do 4x10 hill sprints.  My hill was at best 30m so I added on a bit of flat at the bottom and top, jog down recoveries after each hill repeat.  After the last rep I would take 2 minutes before the next 800.  This obviously included the jog back down the hill and over to the start on the track.  I ran the 800's in 2:13.6, 2:14.0, 2:14.7, 2:15.0.  After the last 2minute recovery I did 4x500m where I would run the first 200m in 33 then go straight into bounding the next 100m then I would TRY to run the last 200 meters in 33- I think the closest I came was low 34 on the last one.  The bounding 100 took me about 25 seconds each time. I would take 4 minutes recovery with about 200 meters of walking after each. I did them in 1:34, 1:31, 1:29, 1:28.  I was then completely running late so I did a 1k cool down.  This is a base phase mas lass workout from Canova's stuff for 3k to 10k running.  This is the first time I have done it and it was VERY intense.  I was almost afraid to start the last 800 because it was getting so painful...
PM road 5 with Uta, too hot for her so we were slow, 36:47

Thursday AM road 10, 1:08:16, very sore and tired
PM road 5 with Uta, very sore still, 36:15

Friday AM road 10, 1:06:40, tired but not sore.
PM road 5 with Uta, 34:46, tired.

Saturday AM road 5 with Uta, 34:39
PM At Chelmsford rail trail, 3 warm up, drills, strides, 5x2miles- with 3 minutes of drills for recovery.  The rail trail is very flat but it is sort of false flat uphill one way and false flat down hill on the other.  Not enough so most people would notice but if you put a tennis ball down it would roll.  Reps 1,3,5 were 'down'.  Reps 2 and 4 were 'up'.   I ran 10:11, 10:19, 10:04, 10:18, 10:00.   This actually felt really good. 4.5 mile cool down- was doing 2 miles but toward the end I ran into Kara Haas and really wanted to see how she was progressing on a recent injury and so I ran with her.  Now I had breakfast after the first run but because this was an early PM workout I hadn't had lunch.  By the end of the extended cool down I was pretty well tuckered out as the whole thing was over 18 miles and drills burn a lot more energy than their mileage indicates.  Plus that was 10 miles of work in 50:52.

Sunday AM road 10.1, 1:07:57.
PM road 5 with Uta, 35:13

Summary   95 or so miles for the week.  Two very good workouts.  After Rye harbor I couldn't help but be worried.  I didn't have very high expectations but I thought my training had been moving in the right direction and I was very disappointed to run that poorly.  As I have pointed out a number of times base work should improve your workouts much more than your racing but to be over 32 minutes was still pretty crushing.  That starts to look like a poor tempo run rather than a race.  If I had gone out hard and died I would have paid little or no mind to that as when you go out too hard it is impossible to gauge what you could have accomplished with smarter running other than to know you are not fit enough to go out at the pace you went out in.  However I had run quite sensibly and still really struggled.  I mentioned in last weeks blog that it sort of hit me on my tired warm up for the hill repeats that I felt anemic and that anemia could be a real good explanation for why a 32 minute 10k hurt that bad.  I don't want to disparage a 32 minute 10k too much it is just that after college I have only run that slow a handful of times. Once in 2008 on super tough course with Anemia.  Maybe once in '05 or '06 on the same very tough course with very tough heat as well.  After that I ran like 40 minutes for a trail/mountain race in Vermont during mud season and I ran 32 mid at Lone Gull last fall off of some light jogging and yoga coming back from that stress fracture.  All this is to say that since about 2004 even when I have run bad over 10k I have generally been able to salvage a 31.  Anyway warming up for Saturday's workout I felt quite tired and it seemed like either I hadn't eaten enough or I was feeling anemic.  I have been taking iron since Monday and been eating a good bit of red meat as well. As soon as I hit the first split on the rail trail at 1/5 of a mile in 5:00 pace and feeling good I knew I had been right about the iron being low.  I felt great.  In fact in the last quarter mile of the first 2 mile rep I was feeling so good I couldn't resist checking my heart rate, 118.  Now I'm assuming it was up higher than that for much of the rep but even to settle down like that late in a rep I must have been pretty relaxed.  I was still worried about the full workout.  Often with longer aerobic workouts when my iron has been low and is just starting to come back I'll start the session feeling normal again and then somewhere midway the wheels just come off but today was great all the way through.  I never really pushed, though I will admit my legs were tired on the last rep.   This is really good news as I really want to slip under 31 at Cow Harbor in a 3 or 4 weeks and 32, even though it was solo, did not make that look to likely.  This weeks workouts and the 15:10 solo a couple weeks ago line up with being ready to do that by the middle of next month so I'm happy that the poor time at Rye seems to have been a blip.
  This week school starts up again so I have a weird schedule.  I think I have an open house Tuesday night and I'm not going to be ready to workout again until Tuesday so I'm going to have to try and sneak in workout from school and try and track down a shower there before parents start arriving. I have also become quite inefficient with my time as summer went on and with the start of the school year I won't have anytime to waste if I'm going to get everything done so the first week is always a rough transition.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Weekly Training Blog August 14 to 20, 2017

  I had a lot going on this week with the end of summer and the start of the school year approaching.  This included driving to Cincinnati, OH on Friday to help my Father in Law who works down there and splits his time between Mass and Ohio, move into a house he bought. I drove back on Monday, yesterday, which is why this blog is late.

  Monday AM 2.5 mile warm up with some drills and light strides, 14 mile fundamental tempo run around Phillips fields drifting from around 5:50 pace at the start down to 5:24 for the last mile, felt real good.  It helped that temps were down around 80 and the humidity was under 50%. Ran 1:19:17 for the 14 miles, about 5:40 pace.
Early PM drills, lifting and a circuit with Anna, then a bit of massage.  The massage hurt a lot more than the circuit.
PM 4 miles with Uta and Melissa around  Phillips fields in 32:31.

Tuesday early PM road 10 solo in 1:06:31
later in PM 4.5 miles around Phillips fields with Melissa and Uta in 36:25

Wednesday AM road 5 with Uta in 35:07, bit hot for her
PM road 10 in 1:07:31, trying to take it easy

Thursday no run in the AM but I did a few miles of walking with Uta, then loaded a Uhaul with furniture for the Father in Law, then cut down a dying tree in my yard that was dangerously close to the power lines.  This got a bit squirrely but a neighbor had a wedge with saved my butt- I owe him an edible arrangement or something!
PM 3.5 easy warm up with fellow UML alum Jason Dedonato, aka Dedo, we missed a turn.  Then some strides and a 30 second hard effort, few drills mixed in.  Race Saunders at Rye harbor 10k, goal was to run the first half at 5:10 pace and then open up.  Course is pretty flat, sorta false flat uphill for two miles after a flat opener, then false flat down hill for two miles before a flat last 2k.  I was in second until a water stop at about 2k then steadily pulled away.  Hit 3 miles in 15:29 but didn't feel nearly as good as I had hoped. I ran 5:07 then 5:03 and then had to fight like hell for a 5:15 and a long slow finish in 32:07, meaning that 6 mark may have been a bit short.   Not very happy with this but tried to remind myself that during the base you need to judge yourself based on your workouts not your races but I felt like I should be able to almost tempo a 32 at this point and really expected to be more in the 31:20 to 31:40 range at this point based on the 5k a couple weeks ago. 3+ cool down with Dedo.

Friday 5AM  8 miles easy in 58 minutes then about 15 hours in a Uhaul. Importantly I learned that Arby's makes a mean chocolate shake...

Saturday AM road 12 pretty hilly, 1:21:14, felt ok at best spent rest of day mostly moving furniture and eating junk food.

Sunday AM 3 mile warm up, light drills, 4x very steep .27 mile hill repeats with slow jog down- so steep I didn't have much choice about this.  ran 2:10, 2:11, 2:11, 2:07.  According to strava the grade on this bad larry was 19% and I believe it. Very much like Mount Washington in terms of steapness.  I was very happy that my calves and glutes were burning and hurting on this as well as my quads.  That is not normal for me, in fact it is the first time my glutes have really burned on hills in my life and I'm hoping that is sign of better form. 2.5 mile cool down

Summary low 90's for mileage, three good efforts. I was really feeling like shit most of the week and it could be the heat and the travel but as I was warming up on Sunday I sort of recognized that I felt like my iron was getting a bit low.  After it got too high a long while back I stopped taking iron supplements and recently I have not been eating nearly as much red meat.  Also in the summer is when I generally had trouble with this.  I am taking some dietary steps to address this and may get blood work, though it is unlikely I'll have time this week, if I do I'll post it.  However if this is the case I expect that an increased intake of iron and some cooler weather will make a world of difference.  I was super anemic in the summer of 2008 and after running a couple of 32 minute plus 10k type efforts in late June/early August and some abysmal workouts I got after the red meat and a few other things and the weather cooled off and I ran two of my best 10k's ever at The Classic 10k in Atlanta, 30:33 for a savagely hilly course getting some great scalps  I finished one place ahead of a 2:08 guy and once place behind a guy who had run mid 28's at Peachtree that year.   Then a 29:44 at Cow Harbor which is still my best time on that course and the only time I beat Jason Lehmkuhle.   It would be really nice if this is the case again this year as I really want to be sub 31 at cow harbor this year and just a little sharpening work alone isn't likely to pull me from 32:07 to that in 5 weeks.

Hope you are running well and looking forward to cross country!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Planning a Training Schedule Basics; how to periodize your training to run your best

  The most important part of planning a full training cycle is to understand that training can be mostly dropped into three categories.  Training to improve your general physical qualities which may or may not make you race faster on its own but increases your ability to do more specific training.  Two, training to improve your ability to run fast generally, but not necessarily over a specific distance.  Three, workouts that directly increase your ability to run faster over a specific distance but may or may not improve your actual fitness. Put another way you do workouts to build the ability to do workouts that build the ability to run fast finally you do workouts to shape your fitness to perform your best at a specific distance.

  How you go about accomplishing this with your workouts is very much up to interpretation.  You may choose to do basically the same workouts year round and to change how they are executed in order to accomplish the goals of your season.  You may choose to do very different workouts for each phase to a such a degree that a sample week from each phase would seem completely unrelated. As long as you have embraced the general idea of progressing workouts to build to a peak set of races and a new plane of fitness you are ready to lay out your schedule.

  Step one in setting your schedule has to be time.  When is your goal race?  How many weeks do you have between now and then.  If the answer to that question is much less than twelve and you are not already about as good as you think you can be long term then I would suggest that you pick another goal race.  It is certainly possible to get ready to race in 10 weeks, or even less time, but you are not going to make any step forward in your general fitness.  Basically you can only run up to your stored potential not change your baseline.  So for example Nick Willis was hurt this spring and only started running 10 weeks before worlds.  His first workout was only 7 weeks before worlds.  The result?  He finished 8th.  So frankly the results were awesome.  The thing to remember is Nick's baseline after all these years is incredibly high, there are no major breakthroughs left to make. He is within spitting distance of the limits of the human body as we understand them today.  I have little doubt that if this was 15 years ago and Nick was in college and running just under 4:00 for the mile he and his coach would have approached things differently targeted fall cross country, trained through worlds, got knocked out in the heats at worlds, and made another step towards becoming the sub 3:50 miler and two time Olympic Medalist that he is.

  This raises the question is there a block of time that is too long?  Arthur Lydiard would say no, he liked to do year long cycles.  Personally I find that though I can make a cycle longer than 6 months work I don't seem to improve as much as if I break that period of time into two cycles.   So if you are looking at something in the 8 to 12 month range I would find another target race about half way between now and your big goal race to target as an interim goal.  In the long run I think you will find you will run better in the big goal race doing it that way.

  Once you know how much time you have you can create your cycles.  If your goal race is a marathon then you are going to taper for 1 to 3 weeks before the race and the rest of your season you will be training pretty hard.  If your goal race is shorter you may want to create a racing season of 4 to 8 weeks around it where your mileage is low, 50 to 60% of your normal volume, with lower volume, high intensity workouts and a lot of racing, at least one per week.   I would put the main goal race 2 to 4 weeks into this race phase, the first couple of weeks of lighter volume will serve as the taper and realizing that after 4 to 8 weeks of training at this lower volume your fitness will start to erode.

  For your specific phase you want to plan 5 to 7 weeks.  You can squeak by with 4 weeks particularly if you are doing a shorter distance racing season like described above.  You can stretch this to 8 weeks, particularly if you are focused on a marathon or half marathon and have a half marathon or two slipped into the specific phase as tune up races.  Keep in mind that there are limited returns on the specific phase. Meaning that if you go too long you will not get faster.  This is the training that shapes your fitness not the phase that builds it.  You polish the diamond but you aren't making it bigger or harder.

  Some people do a very clear middle phase, a pre-competition or special phase.  For me it is always the transition period from the end of the base and the beginning of the specific phase.  So in my case it isn't well defined.  I may be doing a workout that is really a special phase workout for one system while my other workout the same week is really still firmly in the base phase.  Either way this phase should really be three or four weeks.  Five at the absolute most.  You are starting to do some very hard, and in the case of the 10k down, very anaerobic workouts here. On top of that your volume is still very high.  If you push this phase too long you are just going to end up sick or hurt.

  The rest of your time is the base phase.  For me this is a period that naturally progresses into the special phase and I adjust the progression of my workouts based on how much time I have.  You have a lot of flexibility in the length of this cycle.  The work you are doing may be hard but it isn't as tough on your system as some of the other phases so you can,in a jam, easily train like this for 3 months or even more. Ideally I suggest 6 to 8 weeks but longer is ok.

  You can get away with less but this is the phase where the work is done for big improvements so you are selling yourself short if you are cutting this cycle short.  However in a situation like high school or college where you are running three seasons this can be tough.  My advice in those situations is to follow a program that has less variation from cycle to cycle so that you can always be in acceptable racing shape but utilize subtle adjustments so that you are actually targeting long term improvement.  Also during the early part of the indoor and outdoor seasons try to hit a couple of very good base phase workouts. For example a strong fundamental tempo or two or a really good hill circuit workout.  These are good because you need them but also if you have been doing a lot of race specific work you are really starting to get limited returns by the end of the season and doing these sort of workouts for a couple weeks gives your body a chance to target other systems and your mind a chance to focus on different tasks.  This will not only be better for your physical development but also for your mental motivation and sanity.  Then of course you can get in an extended base phase during the summer.

  To set up your general outline go through this process:
  1. When is my goal race? count back your taper from that day.
2. Allow 4 to 6 weeks for specific training.
3. Allow 3 to 4 weeks for special training.
4. How much time does that leave?  If it is less than 4 weeks strongly consider changing your goal race. This time is your base phase.

  A word on racing through the phases.  It is ok to race in all of these phases but races that are run during the non- specific phase should not be tapered for, it is always ok to reduce training after to recover if needed.  Also it is important to understand that improvements in the early and even middle phase may not translate directly to results in racing.  This is more and more likely the case the shorter the race you run.  It is key that you focus on the progression of your workouts during this time instead of any race or time trial to measure your fitness gains, as these can be misleading.  For example lets say you ran 10:00 for two miles last spring and you are spending your summer doing base work after a couple weeks recovery back in June.  Over the last couple months you have taken your fundamental tempo from 6 miles at 6 minute pace to 12 miles at 6 minute pace.  You have also found that in your hill circuit you can now do 5 sets instead of the 3 you started with and your able to accomplish each set 5 to 10 seconds faster.  You have made a huge jump in fitness!  But if you go and run a two mile time trial with your teammates to kick off cross country season.  You will likely run in the 10:20 range.  This can seem like a failure.  I mean you were so much faster in the spring.  The key is that you have not been training to improve your race specifically.  You have created in your body a fitness that will enable you to do the workouts needed to run a much faster 2 mile but you're not there right now. That is totally ok because your state championship is still almost three months away and you will be ready to split sub 10 on your way to 5k by the time it rolls around.  You need to focus on the improvements in your workouts as a measure of your increased fitness.

  That said don't panic if you do run 9:50 in our hypothetical time trial.  As long as your base workouts have shown improvement it just means that your base fitness was so poor that you have been able to move past your sharpened up race fitness by improving it.  Your in for some great improvements. However if you did improve greatly in the time trial but you hadn't seen improvement in your base workouts you may want to re-evaluate your training as you may be doing too much specific work and not enough general fitness work.

 Next up you need to progress our workouts through the phases. All of your workouts should have a logical progression and a specific end goal.  They may get longer, they may get faster, the recovery may get shorter, but each should have an end goal and a clear step by step progression there.  That goal should be directly related to your race goal.  If you are having trouble figuring this part out it can be helpful to think of it this way.
What are the workouts needed to run X time for my goal race.?
 Those are your final goal workouts.  
Now what type of workouts would set someone up to do those workouts?  
Those are your special and early specific workouts. 
What type of workouts need to done to build the general fitness to do those workouts?
Those are your end of base phase workouts
What am I capable of doing right now for the type of workouts I want to run at the end of my base phase?
Those are your starting workouts

  Let's look at how a couple of workouts might progress through the seasons.   First let's stick with our 10:00 two miler heading into cross country.  Looking at his specific pace work it is reasonable for this athlete to have a goal of 15:30 for a fast 5k, or a 5k goal pace of 5:00 mile pace.  In the base phase I would have this athlete start with 10 to 20  200 meter reps at goal pace with 200 meters jogging or 1 minute standing recovery.  The idea would be run the pace as even and as relaxed as possible.  You don't want this to be a hard session.   The second session would be 20 to 25 x 200 with the same rest, the same pace, and the same goal.  We have simply extended the volume of the session.  The third session would be 12x400 meters at goal pace with 2mins recovery,  once again you have the same goal of relaxation.  We have kept the global volume the same but increased the duration of each rep, moving us one step closer to our end goal of holding this pace for 5k with no breaks.

  Keep in mind these sessions would be among the easiest of the base phase, as specific work is the least targeted during this phase.  Moving into the special phase I would do the 12x400 again but now with only a 100 meter jog recovery, same pace but now the goal shifts a little.  You still want to be as relaxed as possible but if the workout gets hard then you need to run as hard as needed to still hit the pace.   At the end of the special phase I would extend this workout to something like 8 to 10x600m at goal pace with 200m rest.  As you come into the special phase the frequency and the intensity of the specific workouts should increase.  Also your max lass workouts should now involve a lot of specific pace running, and your alternations/threshold work could now involve a lot of specific pace running as well.  The specific workout we have been tracking would be repeated a few more times during the specific phase, each time increasing the distance of the rep while not changing the pace or increasing the recovery.

  Let's look at another type of workout and how it might be progressed.  Mile repeats.  Using our same athlete and assuming a mile PR in the 4:30 to 4:40 range I would have him start with a session like 6xmile at one minute slower than mile PB, so 5:30 to 5:40 with a full 3 minutes recovery.  The goal of the session in this phase is to build muscular endurance and aerobic fitness.  The reps should feel very relaxed and the recovery should seem to long.  I would not progress this workout much through the base phase but I would repeat it a few times.  Measuring improvement by how much more relaxed the athlete can feel.  Moving into the special phase I would keep the number of reps, 6, and the rest, 3 minutes, the same but I would increase the pace.  Trying to run 5 to 10 seconds faster, per mile, each time the workout is repeated.  I would carry this type of increase into the specific phase.  As the pace approaches 5:00 per mile this workout will get very hard and it may be necessary to decrease the volume to 4 or 5 repeats in order for the athlete to complete the session at 5:00 pace but in young or fast improving athletes you will often see them able to run the goal pace for 6 reps by the end of the specific phase.  So in this case we have adjusted a workout to change it's focus rather than adjust the intensity of a workout to match the phase. As a side not if I was prepping the athlete for the 10k I would likely not drop the pace all the way to 5k pace instead stopping at 10k pace, say 5:10? for this athlete, but I would reduce the recovery to 1 or 2 mins or a 200 to 400 meter jog.

  To sum up.  Find your timeline.  Plan for a taper or racing season, plan 4 to 6 weeks of specific training, 3 to 4 weeks of special training and the time you have remaining is for base work.  Make sure that your workouts address all areas of fitness with particular focus on the four pillars of successful racing,  Make sure that your workouts all have a purpose, which often is to build the ability to do the next similar workout, and an end goal which should be to race a specific distance at a specific pace or competitive level.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Four Pillars of Training for Fast Running

   Over the last twenty years of training I have found in my own training and in looking at the training of others with much better success than I've had that there seem to be four types of workouts you should focus on to build a balanced fitness and run up to the maximum of your potential.  These are not the only running you should do but they are sessions that are used regularly in pretty much every program I have looked at that produced unusually good results.

  These sessions are not an exhaustive list of all the types of workouts you should do but they are the four main pillars that hold up all of the other training.  If you are doing these you will do well.  If you aren't you will likely not get the most out of yourself.

  Pillar 1- Fundamental tempos- These have many names, I've used Renato Canova's name for them.  Jerry Schumacher calls them rythm runs, Joe Vigil calls them, fast endurance runs or 30km tests, George Malley or Bob Hodge would probably call it running a bit faster than normal sometimes.  Call them what you want, just make sure you do them. These are longer runs at pace that is faster than training pace but not as fast as tempo pace.  For a beginning, low mileage runner this might only be five or six miles long.  For a competitive marathoner they might get as long as thirty miles.   The key to this session is relaxation at a pace that is not exactly fast but is faster than you do or really could do day in day out for your training runs.   A good starting place for these is a minute per mile slower than your 5k race pace.  These should be done throughout the training year but you would do them much more often during the early phases and much less as you get into the thick of your racing season.  Similarly these are important for all runners but even more so for the developing runner.

  Pillar 2- Specific work/max lass workouts- I combine these because if your event is 1500 to 10k then the specific version of the max lass workouts is your key specific workouts but in the marathon the key is much more just specific paced running and max lass becomes much more secondary.   For me specific workouts mean running within about 1% of race pace.  So if your training to run a ten minute two mile specific pace would be 4:57 to 5:03 per mile.  I would hesitate a guess that more effort is wasted on running, supposedly, specific workouts that are too fast than in any other area of training.  If your goal is a 10 minute two mile and the quarter repeats you are doing feel too easy at 75 you should NOT run them faster.  You should either run them with shorter rest or you should run longer repeats at the same pace.  If it is early in the training cycle then you should focus on embracing the efforts feeling easy and try to make them feel as easy as you possibly can.

  Max lass workouts are workouts that try to create an ability to hold the amount of lacate, ie acid, in your blood at an essentially steady level while running your specific race pace.  For a long time it was thought that you could only really do this at 10 mile to half marathon race pace but it has been found that athletes can produce a defacto max lass at much faster paces, ie 3k to 10k race pace, where they hold lactate levels basically steady for 5 to 25 minutes.  Workouts for max lass in the base phase focus on doing explosive work, like short hill sprints, bounding, sprinting etc., while your body has a ton of latic acid in it.  This can be accomplished through hill circuits or doing hard track repeats with circuits or hill sprints mixed into the rests between the intervals.  As you move to the specific phase these workouts morph to involve repetitions at race pace mixed with explosive sprint reps.

  These workouts, both specific marathon workouts and max lass workouts, are only a small change from traditional or "normal" workouts. Do not fool yourself into thinking that you are fine just doing your regular sessions and working hard.  These sessions are probably the biggest difference in the performances we see today verses the 1980's.   For a long period of time it seemed that the best in the world were sort of pinned into the 13 teens, 27 lows and 2:07 to 2:08 range.  Now I'm not trying to say that EPO wasn't involved in the sudden proliferation of sub 13 men in the 1990's.  I'm not that naive.  That said there were many highly dedicated very hard working and talented men in the 1970's and 80's and only a few slipped under 13:10, notably Henry Rono and David Moorecroft.  Even if you discount some of the best in the world today there are many athletes who I feel very secure in saying are clean who are running well under 13:10.  Ben True, Hassan Mead, Chris Solinsky, Matt Tegankamp, Sam Chelanga come to mind very quickly.  I simply don't believe they are more talented then say Matt Centrowitz Sr., 13:12 or Lasse Viren, 13:16.  When you look at this improved standard and then consider that the vast majority of the training is unchanged in the last fourty years it becomes clear that something subtle but important has happened.  Both generations did high mileage.  Both generations did tempo runs, intervals, long runs.  Both generations ran on mondo tracks and even had pace setters, though admittedly Viren never ran well in a race that was paced.  This leaves the question, what is different?  The answer, to my mind, is in the two types of workouts I have highlighted above.  So if you are asking do I think that if the runners of the past were doing more of these sessions they would have been faster my simple answer is yes.  I do not believe it is likely or even possible that someone like Craig Virgin could have worked harder than he did and he ran 8:40.9 for two miles in high school so it is also unlikely that any number of athletes are significantly more talented than he was.   Yet we have a number of guys running much faster.  Some of this could be chalked up to faster races.  I have no doubt that at times in his career Craig could have run in the 13:10 range if the race had been going at that pace but I find it hard to believe simple pacing would drop him 20 seconds.  So what are the likes of Ben True, 13:02, Matt Tegenkamp, 12:58 and Chris Solinsky, 12:55 doing differently?  I believe the answer is fundamental tempos and max lass workouts.  Though I' imagine that none of them call them by those names.

Pillar 3- Threshold workouts.  Traditionally this would be your half marathon paced tempo run.  I would include those but I personally focus much more on alternation style intervals.  I believe these are far more effective in improving threshold as well as overall fitness.  Your threshold or steady state pace is the single most important fitness maker in deciding your success in races from 3k to marathon.  If you have a high threshold you will race well.  If you have also do some decent specific workouts with that high threshold you will race very well.   Raising your threshold is how you make a pace that is hard to run for longer than a few hundred meters into something you can run easily for a few miles.
  Alternation workouts for threshold included things like Aussie Quarters,, Moneghetti Fartleks,, or Renato Canova style alternations,  Basically any workout where you mix in intervals of faster than half marathon paced running with quick, faster than regular training paced, recoveries.
 Threshold workouts are closely related to the fundamental tempos in terms of the changes that they create in your body.  Improvements in one of these workouts will lead to improvements in the other.  If you find yourself plateaued in either of these work types very often the answer is to focus on the other.  For more than a year early in my career I could not find a way to run a threshold run under 5:10 per mile or so.  If I did one mile at 5:00 pace it felt painfully easy but somewhere between 3 and 5 miles it became incredibly hard. Then I found fundamental tempo's and within a few months I could do 5 mile tempo runs at 4:50 per mile.  In the more then a decade that has past since I have seen this connection in my training again and again.

Pillar 4- Speed work.  This is NOT anaerobic work.  This is work focused on teaching the body to run fast while remaining relaxed.  This can be as simple as strides.  It can be done in great volume or in very low volume with great regularity.  I try to never let a week go by where I don't do at least some session for speed.  Joe Vigil, who is a much better coach then me, tries to never let a day go by where it doesn't get touched on.
   Nearly everyone runs fast in their training but too often we fall into the trap of thinking fast and hard are the same thing.  Much like the workouts in pillar one speed sessions should not be hard. They are more than an easy day but not nearly a hard day.  You can address the need for this type of work in a ton of different ways.  You can do sets of strides, 4 to 15, as often as daily or you can do short hill sprints, under 15 seconds.  I often do longer sessions like 30x100m or mix 10 to 20 second high speed bursts into a regular run with full recovery between efforts.  The two keys to this type of work are a focus on good, relaxed, powerful running form and taking full recovery between efforts.  It is easy to slip into not taking enough rest between these sessions, it is all but impossible to take too much recovery.

  There you have it.  As I stated above I don't expect this to be the only training you do but I do expect that this is what your training schedule should be designed around. If you are regularly working on all of these systems you will do well.  If you then start to put them into a well designed progression of increased volume and periodized adjustments you will be truly training and not just running and you will see some impressive results.