Monday, May 28, 2012

Back in Action

I've continued to ramp up the mountain running which has been good for the soul and, so far, good for the foot as well.  Some nice adventures over this past week, including a trip to Zion.  I was able to hold back and refrain from doing the Trans-Zion route with Bethany but did get out for some nice 2 hour runs of my own.  Still need to be cautious for a couple weeks.

Butler Fork

Butler Fork

Mt. Raymond

On Gobblers

East Rim

Trans-Zion, at Lava Point.  Helfer, Zach, Kate, Meredith, Bethany.  Me doing support.

Angel's Landing

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Some Pool Running Tips

I've been trying to get Bethany to write a race report on the Miwok 100k but dammit, she's just not narcissistic enough to comply.  It should be noted that she was 2nd woman overall in the Miwok 100k in 10:49.  Apart from some grotesque poison oak on her legs she looked fresh upon returning home the next day.  Even though I can't give you a gripping race report from the true athlete of the household I can offer you something nearly as captivating: some pool running tips.  

As I now consider myself an elite pool runner, here is some accumulated wisdom in the off-chance that another injured trail runner might be deranged enough to benefit from it:

1) Use a flotation belt and go to the deep end of the pool.  It becomes too difficult to maintain a semblance of a running stride without the belt.  Even so, your legs make more of a piston-ing action then a true running stride.  With the resistance of the water you definitely feel some cumulative fatigue in the hamstrings and hip flexors towards the end of the workout.

2) Intervals are your friend.  Pretty much every workout I've done has been interval based.  This is for several reasons: to break up the monotony as well as to ensure an adequate aerobic stimulus.  You have to work pretty hard to get your heart rate up.  Any given heart rate is 10% lower than an equivalent effort running on land.  For my intervals I would try to be in the 155-165bpm range depending on the length of the interval (max hr on land of 185, lactate threshold heart rate on land around 172).  I've done more high intensity work in the last 5 weeks than I've done since college.  It's because of this ability to maintain the intensity in a relatively specific fashion that studies have shown that runners can maintain VO2 max, lactate threshold, and running economy for 4-6 weeks with just pool running alone.

3) Limit the workout duration.  I initially had big goals of 2-3 hour pool sessions but the monotony is pretty hard to bear and it is tough to keep up the intensity.  I did a couple sessions of 90 minutes but eventually just focused on 1 hour workouts.  An hour of intervals can tucker you out just fine.

4)  Keep the recovery intervals short.  Your heart rate quickly drops after each work effort.  Recovery intervals shouldn't be longer than 1 minute.

5) If you are in it for the long haul (i.e. at least 6 weeks) it is helpful to have a waterproof ipod or some such device to listen to some tunes. 

6) Avoid the aqua-aerobics ladies.  Trust me on this one.  Get a pool schedule and figure out a way to get there in the hours they aren't there.  

Here are some sample workouts.  Some of these are taken from or adapted from Pete Pfitzinger's pool running schedule

1. 8-10 x 5 min intervals with 1 min recovery.

2. 10-16 x 2:30 intervals with :30 recovery.  Can do in sets of 5-6.

3. "The Kevin Sullivan Workout".  This is a workout that Kevin Sullivan- Canadian mile record holder- incorporated into his routine regularly in coming back from a sacral stress fracture in 2002: 
1 x 5 min / 1 min rec. / 2x4 min with 1 min rec. / 3 x 3 min with 30sec recovery / 4 x 2 min with 30 sec recovery / 5 x 1 min with 15 sec- 30 sec recovery / 6 x 30 sec with 15 sec recoveries

4. Ladders: 5/4/3/2/1/2/3/4/5 x 2 with 30 sec to 1 min recoveries

5. Pool lengths: repeats of 25 meters (takes approx. 1 min) all out with 30 sec recoveries.

6. Long Intervals: 2-3 x 15 minute intervals with 2-3 min recoveries.  

7.  Steady run: 1:30-2:00 steady.  Only did this a couple times.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Homo Erectus and the Alter-G

Injury rehab in the modern era is a very different thing than it was in the Pleistocene.  I would guess that 12,000 years ago I would be dead by now: my lame foot and I hapless victims of a cave lion, a woolly rhinoceros, a glyptodon; or less dramatically, fallen prey to starvation or exposure.  In contrast, in the 21st century if I chose to I could live my entire life hardly moving my limbs at all, these very real fears of our evolutionary past completely foreign and abstract.  While this state of affairs wreaks havoc on the coronary arteries, abdominal circumferences, and general existential authenticity of our species one nice side benefit is the availability of Alter-G treadmills.

These $75,000 NASA-designed treadmills use air pressure to allow one to select the percentage of body weight you want to run at.  If you want to feel what it's like running 10 lbs lighter you adjust the machine and let fly.  Or you can do what I've been doing over the past week and dial it down to an airy 25% of body weight to unload a fractured foot.  

Entering the contraption is no small feat.  You first slip on a skirt that looks like a white-water kayak skirt with leggings and then zip yourself into an airtight inflatable chamber, calibrating the machine then adjusting the relative air pressure to your liking.  I imagine running at 80% of body weight would be a relatively comfortable affair.  At 25% however, the vectors of force suspending you concentrate directly on your neoprene-encased groin.  I must have been a funny sight for the other gimpy patrons of the University of Utah Orthopedics Center Physical Therapy Dept: legs spinning wildly underneath me as my face vacillated between expressions of blissed-out gratification and wincing discomfort.

Today I ran for 30 minutes at 6min/mile pace. My heart rate hardly cracked 140.  Add to this an interval workout in the pool, a bike ride up Emigration and Big Mountain, some time with Ada, and an IPA and it was a pretty good day for this modern hominid.  

What does any of this have to do, you ask, with the specific aerobic, muscular, and metabolic demands of moving slowly and consistently over vast amounts of technical vertical terrain with cumulative eccentric muscle damage?  Probably very little.   But it's likely better than doing nothing.

In other news, Bethany races the Miwok 100k tomorrow.  Amazingly, in what must be a first, she actually read up on the course and her competition before the start.  I'll try and convince her to write a race report on this site when she gets home but I can't make any promises.

-Current maximum pullups: 20 (improvement of 4 in a month, weak sauce).
-Estimated total miles 'run' in the pool: 24