Monday, May 6, 2013

Re-inventing a runner

I just thought I'd write a quick post to talk about some things as I get ready to wake this thing up with the Quad Rock 50 coming up next weekend.

I am aging, as we all are....but i'm a runner, have been since 1975 when I saw Bill Rodgers cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Nothing in running has inspired me like that afternoon at 2:09PM on April 21st in a new American Record of 2:09.55. I was 24 years old that day and a bunch of us had walked across the bridge over the Charles River to watch the finish.

Bill Rodgers finishing the 1975 Boston Marathon
I was watching from on his left side

Like many do after watching Boston, I started running the next day and 4 years later ran a 2:49:06 at the Cape Cod Marathon to qualify for my first Boston in April of 1980.

Now 38 years later, I'm still running....and not for years have I had to rethink my training and racing, now I am. Basically, except for 1981 when I ran an average of 100 mpw over the 80/81 winter as an experiment, have I run much more than 50 mpw on average...and that was usually spread over 6-7 days per week. Even earlier this year, I had several 60+ mile weeks, but it was all slow/low HR training, more to build my aerobic base over the winter.

Me back in the day as a much faster runner
1999 Savoy 20 miler, MA.

Then near the end of the winter, I did feel old for the first time....I will be 62 in November. A senior citizen!

These images show how I've been feeling lately...

Something had to change!

I do all of my running from Mon thru Thursday in Albuquerque at 5300' altitude on a flat, paved bike path. Daily out and backs of 5-6 miles at a real easy pace, keeping my HR well under my lactate threshold. I sleep at 8200', so shouldn't be affected at this altitude in ABQ, but my legs felt dead almost all the time! Going out on my daily, noontime run was becoming a chore instead of the joy it had always been. I found myself needing to walk more to keep the HR down in the aerobic zone and started enjoying the walking sections and dreading when I had to start running.

I would love to be able to run like this Road Runner, which I see a lot of in ABQ

So I did lots of reading and came upon some great articles on the need for more recovery as we age. Part of this reading was Scott Jurek's book "Eat and Run", where he proclaims the incredible recovery value of a Vegan diet. Deb's been a vegan for many years and had a great year last year. I ate a 90% vegetarian diet in 2010 with no issue until I moved to NM at altitude and started having the recovery issues. At the time I thought it was a need for more protein  but now don't believe that's the issue, I think I just need more rest/recovery time.

Some of the worlds largest animals live on leaves

Something else I started doing this year is standing at my computer at work. I was having some back issues from my 14+ hours in a sitting position. I drive 1.5 hours to and from work and work 10 hour days with an hour lunch, so 14 hours...then I go home and sit for a couple more hours before going to bed and starting another day of the same. 16 hours a day sitting! My Chiropractor recommended standing some at work and me being part German, I tend to do all or I started to stand for 10 hours a day. This may be the key to needing more recovery, but I'm not changing that because my back pain has all but disappeared.

So anyway, what to do? One great article I read was about how a runner who started slowing down in his 40's took charge and was successful re-inventing himself and getting back to where he had been running when he was younger. I also had some discussion with other runners who switched to 3-4 days per week of running with much success. Even though this went against my grain as a runner, I decided to give it a I'm now taking off Mon and Fridays for sure and also Wednesday if the legs feel tired that day. On those days off, I do go for a walk for 30-40 minutes to keep the legs from getting too stiff from standing all day.

How I "want" to feel when I run

So far my legs are beginning to feel better and the first test will be at the Quad Rock 50 this weekend, with the true test at the Hardrock 100 in July. As you can see, I'm also racing less this year to see if it helps me at Hardrock. I always in the past ran one race a month leading up to my "A" race using them as stepping stones to fitness...this year I'm only running Quad Rock, which is 2 months from Hardrock, rather than the past couple of years where I ran the San Juan Solstice 50 just three weeks before and most likely going into Hardrock with tired legs. I'll give some feedback here in the form of race reports as to how it all might go kaboom in the form of racing slower, but I think not.

That's about it, I'll be writing my first report next week after Quad Rock. I have no real goals there, other than my usual "have no one older than me ahead of me". There are only two people in my age group, me and Deb's brother Drew. Drew is coming up from Fort Worth, TX. and I expect that he may have some issue with the altitude in the 2nd loop....we'll see. I respect Drew as a runner and brother-in-law. He's a much stronger runner than I am and on equal turf, I don't have a chance, even though he's 3 years older than I am.

Drew while running the Grand Slam in 2010

I'm also planning on running a road marathon later in the year to try to again qualify for the Boston Marathon. I've run Boston 12-13 times (forget how many) back in the 80's and early 90's and realize that I'm slow. Slow from training for ultras with the exclusion of any speedwork. So will get back on that horse and hope to run the Pocatello marathon on August 31st in order to have a qualifier before reg opens. My qualifying time is 3:55, but I'd love a 3:35 to enter early :-) All depends on how much speed I can get back without getting injured in the process...

One of my running idols, Ed Whitlock
Ed ran a 3:15 marathon in his 80's and holds many age group world records

On another note, a few weeks ago we did a Grand Canyon double crossing (R2R2R) as a super long training run for Quad Rock and Hardrock. Our goal was to run it about the same as before, when we did it in 14 hours. It took us 15 hours, but we returned on the 3 mile longer Bright Angel trail, so the pace per mile was actually quicker. I think Deb and I would have done it even quicker, but a couple in our group had some problems that slowed us down a bit. We both finished strong and felt great the next day, even though this was the longest we had gone since Hardrock last year for me and Wasatch for Deb. Here is a link to the photos I took along the way.

As for Hardrock, the plan is to spend the next two months hiking up high at least every other weekend. We will arrive in Silverton on June 28th, will hike/run a MTNRNR series event called the Silverton Silver on Saturday, the 29th. Do a fastpack with some friends on Monday, then start course marking on Tuesday.

On some other news, Deb banged her knee up pretty bad on a downhill rocky trail and has been unable to run for 3 weeks. She decided, after running/hiking 10 miles with me yesterday, to go to Quad Rock and do at least one loop as a training run for the Jemez 50K on the 25th. She'll see how the rest of the week goes before her final decision, but my prediction is she does go, feels good at 25 miles and continues on and has a good 50 mile run. Nothing like a forced rest to make for rested legs!

So until next week, Happy Trails to you all!


Tucker Goodrich said...

Cool post.

Are you using Maffetone's protocol for your low-HR runs?

If so, are you following his 180 formula with the step-ups for age, or just the regular formula?

BTW, gorillas aren't vegans...
"New insights in insect prey choice by chimpanzees and gorillas in southeast Cameroon..."

Steve Pero said...

Tucker, thanks for the comment...
Yes, I have been an avid Maffetone follower since the winter of 2003/04 with mucho success. My top number from him using the 180-age is 120, I add to that 10 beats....5 for being a regular runner and 5 for being over 60. I find this number to be perfect for me and plan on using it to keep me from going out too quickly at Hardrock.

I guess Deb and I aren't vegans, either....we occasionally inhale a bug while running on the trail ;-) Maybe I can find a cool photo of a Rhino, Elephant or Brontosaurus ;-)

Shelby said...

Looking forward to seeing you all this weekend and having a better day on the trails! Slow & easy the first half...

Steve Pero said...

You got it, Shelby...and it'll make for more even splits. I'm hoping for 5.5 and 6 hour splits :-)
Seeya Friday at the Roost!

Jeff List said...

Your plan makes sense. I also believe that running every single day can be counter-productive. I will think of you while running the Wapack 50 this weekend, trying very hard to keep it reigned in as a Hardrock training run. Will employ the tried and true Pero pacing trick of walking off the starting line at the back of the pack to be sure the pace is purely one's own.

Jeff List said...

Agree with the approach. Running every single day can just be counter-productive. Hey, so does running Boston next year mean that you hope to be back east by then?
Will miss you guys at Wapack 50 this Saturday, but maybe next year!

Steve Pero said...

Jeff, not sure I'll be able to do it, but I'm going to try. What's always worked for me is an hour a day easy, with several hours on Sat and Sun.
While you're running Wapack, we're running Quad Rock 50....I'd rather be at Wapack, love that tough run. Good luck and be sure to do the whole 50, don't stop at 42!

Michelle Roy said...

steve I am taking this post to heart...

Steve Pero said...

Michelle, I have pretty much stuck to this training plan and things are looking up. I run Hill sprints after an hour of running on Tuesday, a 5 mile tempo run on Thursday, long run on Saturday and a hike/run with Deb on Sunday. That's it! The legs are doing well and I am getting faster, although slowly ;-) Road marathon on Feb 23rd...