Building up Slowly

Yesterday I took a night off from training and did some finishing work in our guest bathroom upstairs in the house. This is one of the four rooms that we remodeled in the shed that is attached to our house. Most of the remodeling is done, but there are dozens of little projects left to do, but these jobs can be spread out over the year, so I should be able to spend more time on my training.

From June to October I ran an average of 3 times a week, in November I increased this to four times a week, and started running my long runs again (i.e. over 12 miles). As my conditioning has been improving I have slowly added some faster mileage, using mixed in with my midweek run(s). I have to be very careful with speed workouts, I’ve noticed my pinched nerve in the back is easy aggravated when I do too much too soon. I have been slack on doing any core and upper body training, so want to slowly mix in some Crossfit/weight training and swimming.

For now I am going to try to continue to run about 50 miles a week for a while, slowly building up my training speed and endurance. On January 26 is my first race, a 50K race in Rodgau, Germany near Frankfurt. I finished the race last year in about 5 ½ hours, but was in slightly better condition, so this year it will be a good test of my fortitude.

Running and Cycling, Lots of Cycling

Wow, already a week since my last marathon, how did I get so busy. I ran a few times last week, nothing long, between 5-9 miles per run. I also supplemented this by riding my bicycle to work three days, for a total of about 43 km/26 mi. per day.
Speaking of cycling, I went on the longest bicycle ride of my life on Sunday. I met RB and a few other friends from my running club and we rode the street car to Forchheim, Germany – near where I work. The Forchheim Cycling Club (Concordia) sponsored a Cycling day, offering 50-154 km routes through the Black Forest. My little group chose the 75 km (47 miles) route, and only a few mountains.
The route took us south over some gentle bike paths, then turned up into the Black Forest to Gaggenau and Gernsbach. From here we battled our way up to Schaufenberg near Baden-Baden, then rolled back down towards Rastatt, finally heading back to Forchheim. After fuelling up we pedalled the 25+ kilometers back home, getting in somewhere around 105 km (65 miles) for the day, a new distance record for this beginner.
It was a great day, perfect weather, good people and a challenging route. Next weekend we are heading out again, this time in the Kraichgal area, northeast of where we live. The Kraichgal area has lots of rolling hills to contend with, I’ve run parts of it – I hope the summer weather holds.

Running, Cycling, Tapering

Life is busy, somehow my posting is becoming sporadic at best. Let me try to catch up on the events from the weekend.
On Friday after work I suited up and headed out for a long run, the last prior to my 100 km event on June 12th. In preparation for the long run I ran intervals on Wednesday night, and a two hour run on Thursday night, this left my legs a bit tired for the long run…which provided a good training effect. I completed 31 km (19 mi.) over a good mix of mostly flat forest and asphalt paths/roads, which is similar to the surfaces for the 100 km. I took 2-3 minute walk breaks every 20-25 minutes but tried to keep the running pace a bit faster than my planned race pace. I ended up averaging around 6:15/km (10:00/mi.) for the 31 km. My legs were pretty worn out towards the end, but I was still in good enough shape to pick strawberries for an hour afterward.
On Saturday I spend 2-3 hours in the garden, then ran a loop with my running club at 5:00 p.m., at roughly 9:00/mi pace.
On Sunday I went on an 85 km (53 miles) cycling trip with six friends from my running club, including RB. The sky was a bit dark when we left, but cleared up and the sun accompanied us the rest of the way. We stopped several times along the way to admire various landmarks, for a late lunch and finally cake and coffee just before we completed our tour. It was a great day with good friends!
On Monday was a German holiday, but my wife had school, so I took a spontaneous 37 km (23 mi.) cycling trip – I wanted to go a bit further, but the storm clouds gathered and I pedalled home!
This week I am reducing my running mileage to about half of last week, to around 50 km (31 mi.). With the 100 km event just 10 days away, it is time to rest and recover before the big event.

My First Cycling Tour of the Year

The sun was shining this morning and I was finished a little early with my household chores. I decided to take a short bike tour, so measured out a 30 km (18.6 mi.) long run route for tomorrow. I accomplished this and took an extra loop around the area. I ended up with about 40 km (25 mi.) not bad for the first ride of the season and considering it was only 10°C/50°F outside!
In a couple hours I am meeting friends for a two hour run, I hope my legs won’t hate me…

It’s Cold, People!

Last night I did some light Crossfit exercises, mostly upper body stuff, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, kettlebell swings, clean and some squats. I also did a couple 4 minute workouts on the exercise bike. My shed where the exercise equipment is located is not heated, so I am having a hard time getting started. I tried to interest my running buddy in some crosstraining, but she (wisely?) did not answer me when I enquired about it (she knows my shed is not heated 😉
When I woke up this morning at 7:00 a.m. it was a cold -14°C (7°F) outside, arctic conditions for our typically warm region of Germany. Luckily my car started and I was able to get some shopping done. I hope it warms up some before my long run this afternoon, I have 25 km (15.5 mi.) on the training plan. I am running with Uli and Birgit, so we can keep each other motivated 🙂
As I lay in bed trying to sleep last night I was thinking about lots of things. I have had an incredible amount of nervous energy lately, mostly due to the long two week holiday vacation, i.e. too much time on my hands. I stayed busy physically, but mentally I was couch potato status. This unfortunately resulted in wanting to “do something” every chance I could get, as opposed to relaxing and trying to regenerate. I think I wore out at least a couple friends nerves by trying to motivate them to do something, this is what I was referring to in my post yesterday. I need to learn to channel my energy in a positive direction, there are surely enough people around that could use a helping hand, right!
Have a great weekend!

Cycling Plans

A few days ago I noticed an ad in our local paper that the bicycle shop around the corner is having a sale on all of this year’s models. I bought an inexpensive mountain bike a couple years ago and find it a bit impractical for most of the cycling that I do. I have also been listening intently to a small group in my running club that take regular 80-120 kilometer cycling tours in the warmer months of the year. I’ve decided that I would like do that too, but not with my heavy mountain bike.
At first I thought about a racing bike, not top of the line mind you, but something that I could also use if I get the urge to do a triathlon sometime. But after talking with my cycling friends, most said that a touring bike would be more appropriate unless I planned on doing an Ironman anytime soon. So touring bike it is, I’ll be picking up my new baby this weekend!

On a row

I spent some time last night catching up with work on my PC at home. After an hour or two I started getting really stiff from all the sitting, so decided to take a break. I contemplated going for a short run, but decided against it as my wife seems to think I have been running a lot lately (four times a week isn’t a lot, or?). Then I remembered my long neglected rowing machine up in the shed…so upstairs I went and for the next 10 minutes I did some very active rowing that rid the body of any sign of stiffness. I added a dozen kettlebell swings and some pull-ups for good measure and was ready for another hour or two at the computer! I need to suggest to my boss that we set up a gym at the office, we could significantly reduce coffee consumption…
We received word that my brother and family that live in New Orleans were out of state during the hurricane, so no cause to worry. We also received word that the son of a good friend of ours is on his way to the Middle East with the military – we’ll be praying for him Kim!
I find myself a bit stressed out about the Baden Marathon coming up on the 21st. I was going to (leisurely) run the marathon with a coworker from Switzerland who was running her first marathon, but life interfered and she won’t be running the race. Like every year a large number of my running club will be running the half-marathon and a few the full marathon. For most this is the big race of the year and they have been training hard so they can do well. Somehow my languid “end of the season” attitude isn’t compatible and in my feeble mind I now feel obligated to run a fast marathon as well.
I am pretty sure, based on my last marathon, that I really could run a PR race if conditions are right. The trouble is that my mindset is more in line with a slow 50-mile race, rather than a fast marathon, it’s only too bad there isn’t any 50 mile races around. Well, I still have 2-1/2 weeks to get focused, we’ll see.

Hot, Humid and Still Running

Where did the weekend go, I thought we were supposed to have more time during tapering? Let me try to catch up…
On Friday night my wife had a company dinner, so I went for a two hour run on my hilly course in Weingarten. It was a humid 26C/79F and sunny as I set out. I warmed up with a relatively flat kilometer, than started up the first hill. I hadn’t run any real hills for a couple week and felt this as I rounded the top and started down again. I ran halfway down than started up again on a portion of the 50-mile race course – the steepest portion! With the high humidity I was drenched by the time I got to the top – I hope it’s cooler during the race.
I continued over the race route for about 30 minutes, eventually running down a long steep hill in the full sun into the town of Johlingen. To the amazement of a couple dog walkers I then turned around and ran back up again. I heard a remark from one of them about being crazy to run in this heat…
I paused at the top of the hill long enough to drink some water, then headed back towards the cooler woods. I ran another half hour or so over the rolling hills, then headed back to the car, finishing in just over two hours. I ran at a slightly faster pace then most of my hilly long runs, that with the high humidity left me comfortably tired by the end of the run.
On Saturday it was again warm, sunny and humid, around 31C/88F. My wife got home late from her company dinner, so I tried to be quiet to let her sleep in. I picked up around the house and did the dishes. It was a nice day so I decided to grill lunch, steak, bratwurst, peppers and potatoes. Later in the afternoon I decided I needed to work off some calories, so went for a bike ride, around 28K/17.5 miles.
When I got home my wife wanted to look at camcorders, so off we went to the electronics store. We ended up buying a Sony DCR-SR 35E, which had good reviews and seems like a decent mid-price camcorder with a harddrive.
On Sunday the temperatures again shot through the ceiling (33C/92F), and the humidity was worse than Friday. With it becoming even more likely that race day will be more of the same, I decided some heat training should be on the agenda, so I implemented my patented (not really) technique:
1. Sit for 3 hours in the sun and bake.
2. When the humidity is at its worse, e.g. when the thunderstorm clouds start gathering in the distance, go for at least an hour run on a sunny asphalt bike path.
I made it back just as the first raindrops began to fall…and I was pooped…it was hot! A couple of neighbors were eyeing me strangely from their shady lawn chairs as I ran up to the house – my clothes were soaked and I was dripping streams of sweat…anybody want a hug 😉
This morning is again super humid and the storm clouds are moving in. The initial weather report for this coming Saturday’s 50-mile race is 24C/75F and cloudy, I can only hope. If not then I know that I can handle the heat, I only need to keep the pace down and drink like a fish.
Have a great week!

Running and biking throught the weekend

Saturday at 5:00 p.m. I met members of my running club at our trailhead for a run. Normally I don’t run on Saturday’s with the club as I do my long run on Saturday morning, but I did my long run on Friday night in preparation for the upcoming 50-mile race. My legs were a bit tired, so I showed up early and warmed up with a 7-8 minute run before heading out with the group over the 11K loop.
I fell in with the mid-pack group, several who were recovering from races, including the Mannheim marathon that I also ran. We started out at an easy pace, around 6:12/K (10:00/mile). I was in no hurry, my legs were still recovering from the almost 3-hour hilly run the night before (and the marathon the week before). After about 5K those recovering took the shorter route back to the trailhead and I continued on with a couple of the guys who wanted to run the entire loop.
We seemed to immediately pick up the pace, which kind of worried me, but my legs held up as we cruised around. We did a faster 2-3 kilometers, whereas I fell several paces behind, than backed off again, whereas I caught them again. I didn’t watch the time for each individual kilometer, but we ended up averaging about 5:25/K (9:00/mile) for the last 6K.
I ended up with 80K (almost 50 miles) for the week, not bad for a “recovery week” after a marathon. I attribute this to running the marathon at about 45 seconds/mile under my normal marathon pace, which allowed me to recover much faster. I should mention that my legs are not fully recovered, but enough to continue my training anyway.
On Sunday my legs felt good enough to do some cross-training. I decided to do some cycling, whereas I cycled around 40K (25 miles). This gave my leg muscles a good workout, but without stressing my running muscles. When I got back I also did about 10 minutes of rowing, whereas I used the upper body as much as possible.
This evening (Monday) I want to run around 20K at marathon pace, we’ll see how the legs hold up. Have a great Monday!

A 12K Walk

This afternoon was bright, sunny and in the upper 80’s. My knee was feeling good, so I decided to try an extended walk. I walked part of my normal running route covering around 12K/7.5M at about a 11:00/K (17:34/M) pace, which I consider to be okay considering I still have my stitches in the knee.
I’m heading to the doctor on Monday before work, I hope he share my feeling that it is time to take the stitches out.
If all goes well I want to try to run a few miles at least by Tuesday night, but I’ll see what the doctor says and how my knee feels – I’d rather be a bit overcautious than to do too much, too soon.
Have a nice weekend!