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Back to Basics

Post  GregC on Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:07 pm

I don't know if I can do this. Blog again. I used to love to write about my running and was pretty religious about keeping it up to date. But something changed over the past few years. Maybe it was my protecting my ego, but the need, or maybe more the desire, to write about my running just went away. Maybe getting older had something to do with it. When I first started blogging, it was so much fun because pretty much every day or week I was doing something new and exciting. I was breaking down barriers and soaring to new heights. As those barriers became more and more difficult to break down, writing about it became more and more difficult. I remember a point, about 2 years ago, when I was in the middle of a good training cycle for Chicago, that this very well could be my swan song. I had gone all in on training, nailed my workouts, averaged over 100 miles for the summer. As a father of four with a full time job, there wasn't much more I could do. I did PR that fall with a 2:35:05, but I haven't approached that time since. I haven't approached that training since then either.

Which brings me to this year. I just finished up a good, not great, training cycle for Bayshore this spring and ran a 2:40:33 on a pretty ideal day for running. However, instead of being discouraged, for some reason I'm taking comfort in that 2:40 time. If I'm completely honest with my training over the past 4 months, it wasn't PR training. There were some skipped runs, some failed workouts, and some truly horrible tune-up races. However even with all that negative stuff, I still was on PR pace through 20 miles and then just faded a bit. The convenient excuse there would be to blame that fade on age. At 38 years old, my prime years are past me. However, I don't think this particular race had anything to do with age. It was just not enough training. When the going got tough, I shrunk and wasn't able to get through it. With better training this time around, I think I still have a shot at one more Marathon PR. However, it's not going to be easy, and I need to train better than I have before. It will be the equivalent of a 15 year MLB veteran having a career year in the twilight of his career. It happens, but the stats don't exactly back it up.

About 5 years ago, when I was in a similar funk in my training, I completely bought into the high mileage philosophy and it was something of a rebirth for my running career. While there will be nothing that radical this time around, I am going to recommit myself to that philosophy. The magic number is 100 this time around. I need to be above that number consistently on a weekly basis if I want to accomplish anything. The past two years I haven't been consistent enough with my mileage. Part of that is that I wasn't accountable to anyone for my mileage. I hope by keeping this blog it will help with that accountability.

As for accounting, I'm going back to the Pod system for my training. The Pod system is a way of organizing my week into three 2 day mini segments and then 1 day for my long run. It started as kind of a joke, but it actually does help me keep everything organized in my head. I'll explain it more as I go, but for my first post, I think I've said enough. I'm excited and something feels different about this cycle. I'm energized and really looking forward to get going in training. I haven't felt that way in a while. I'm taking it as a good sign.


Last edited by GregC on Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Matt W on Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:16 pm


I'm glad to see you blogging again. I share a lot of your thoughts about writing down what you are doing, and how the desire to do so wanes at times. I'm sure you still have a few bullets left in the gun and I hope the stars align for a great marathon this fall. Good luck with your training this summer.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Dave-O on Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:19 pm

Glad to see a return to the Blogosphere, but more importantly, a rekindling of the belief that 2:35 isn't your last PR. And since we're acting like its 2009 all over again, we need to start getting together for more long runs. Perhaps July 9th?
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Bob on Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:38 pm

Looking forward to hearing how you credited Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred program with your success at Bayshore.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Kenny B. on Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:40 pm

Heavens of a start to a blog by someone who is unsure of blogging. You certainly seem to have good purpose now and wish you the best on hitting your goals!
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Schuey on Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:01 pm

Greg glad to see you have found the fire again for this training cycle. I really hope that you knock out that marathon PR and set a new one this fall. Ha maybe this training cycle and Chicago Marathon will be like the story of the movie "For The Love Of The Game"!

Hope to see you out on the lakefront path a few time this summer like I have in the past!
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  fostever on Mon Jun 27, 2011 1:33 pm

It will be good to follow your progress this year and hopefully meet you at the race. I could see how blogging can get kind of redundant after peaking in your prime running years. Good luck this time around!
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Diego on Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:43 pm

Greg,
You, Dave-O and the Bumbler always inspired me with your mileage. Thanks to those two a days, I reached heights that I never thought possible and may never reach again. That you have accomplished so much with a family of 4 in tow, speaks volumes. I have two little ones and know what it's like.

I look forward to checking out your blog and your next Chicago Marathon PR.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Dave-O on Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:12 pm

After our 2009 PRs...

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Seth Harrison on Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:18 pm

Greg, you new blog is off to a good start with a great introductory post. I hope blogging about your training proves motivational.
At 38 with four kids, I'm guessing you've got a full plate at home, so I know those 100 mile weeks are going to take quite a commitment. Good luck finding the time, and I really hope that you do have at least one more PR to bust out.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  GregC on Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:56 pm

Dave-O wrote:Perhaps July 9th?

Let's plan on it.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Natalie on Mon Jun 27, 2011 4:34 pm

Youngster!

I'm glad to hear you are feeling that "excitement" again. I can completely relate to the lack of desire to blog. Like running, the hardest part is to just do it.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  GregC on Tue Jun 28, 2011 5:45 pm

So for this first week of training, each of my two day totals will equal 25 miles (give or take a mile). So Monday and Tuesday consisted of 8 untimed miles, 10 miles this morning at a 6:47 pace, and then a 6 mile recovery this afternoon.

I was planning on running last night, but Bobby recruited me to play on a softball team (they were desperate). I haven't played softball in probably 3 years so I was excited to play, but kinda nervous that I'd suck. But, knowing Bob would be there, I was pretty much assured of not being the worst on the field so I had that comfort. I did fine, but I came out of the game with some extremely sore feet, which leads me to probably the biggest challenge I'll face this training cycle. My feet. They are pretty bad. I had surgery on my right foot a few years ago to try and fix a problem called Hallux Rigidus. Basically, that is an overuse injury that affects the big toe. It's very similar to arthritis and even after surgery, I'm basically left with no cartilage in that toe and it is pretty immobile. At this point, I'm used to it, but at times it does get painful. Last night, being in spikes and doing a lot of quick stopping and turning, was one of those nights that it hurt.

Then there's my left foot. Up until last year, it was fine. No problems whatsoever. Then all of the sudden, it wasn't. There was numbness and tingly feeling up near the toes and into the sole of my foot. I tried to ignore it, but it really started hurting when I ran a lot. SO I finally got it checked out and got diagnosed with Morton's Nueroma, which is actually just an inflamed nerve in the toe. Unfortunately, once inflamed, there really isn't a great way to get it to go away outside of surgery or a bunch of injects. So, for now, I'm dealing with it.

On the bright side, since both feet are always in some level of discomfort, there is no risk of favoring one side over the other. They both suck in their own unique way. However, I will say that I was encouraged because after our 2 games last night, I was visibily limping and was in a lot of pain (both feet). However, after taking some Aleve before bed and getting some sleep, the left foot settled down to the point that it was back to "normal" (whatever that is) and the right foot at least was good enough that I could run 10 miles into work. So hopefully this was just an isolated thing and after tomorrow's two easy runs, everything will continue to settle down.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:40 pm

Greg, glad to have yet another nutcase experienced marathoner to glean training information from. The pod system looks really interesting. Hope your training pans out the way you want it to.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Schuey on Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:59 pm

Well Greg I hope your feet start to feel better. I remember when you had the right foot issue, sucks about the left foot.

So are you looking to avg. 100 for the training cycle? With that will your step back weeks go below 100? As for your long runs what distance are you going to max at? 22, 23, 24?

I'm looking forward to reading more about you POD system.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:22 am

Cool more fun Halstead runs? Glad to see you back Greg. I came back to marathoning at 38, and I ran some of my best races that year. You've never really dropped it, just need a re-commitment - this should be easy and will be here reading and egging you on.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  GregC on Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:25 am

Not a bad first week back at it. While there were no real workouts to speak of in there this week, this week was really all about getting back into the routine and getting the legs used to the pounding.

Monday: 8 miles untimed. Had an unexpected softball game in the evening, which derailed my second run, but that's the beauty of the Pod system. Instead of just a single day to fit in your runs, you have two days. With a Pod target of 24 miles this week, that means I'll need to hit 16 miles tomorrow in total mileage to still be on track.
Tuesday: 10 miles in the morning at a 6:47 pace and 6 untimed miles at lunch. See...back on track. While it's kinda easy to make up for missed runs when the Pod target is 24 miles, it becomes much more difficult as that total gets closer to 30. But, hey...I'll enjoy it while it lasts.
Wednesday: Wednesday's are typically my one true recovery day during the week. Even though I don't have a lot to recover from this week, I'm still trying to set-up a routine, so today was recovery. Today that meant two untimed runs (probably around 7:30 pace) of 8 miles and 4 miles.
Thursday: Normally, I would have a workout scheduled on Thursday, but to be honest, my legs are hurting this week. It's partly from playing softball on Monday, it's partly from the shock and awe that always accompanies the first week back into a training regimen. Regardless, I wasn't doing a workout today. Instead I opted for a repeat of yesterday's 8 and 4. That made another perfect Pod total of 24 miles for the Wednesday/Thursday combo.
Friday: Long run day! I used to really hate doing long runs. I mean hate them! Like I would dread them all week, then put them off for as long as I could on Saturday and then fight with myself to get out the door, etc. This wasn't even that long ago either...like maybe 3 years ago. Then one day I decided I would do my long run before work on Friday by driving downtown early and doing it on the lakefront. It mean waking up at 4:30-5AM, which I don't love, but it changed everything about my long run attitude. It went from being my least favorite to probably one of my favorite. There is only one thing better than being out on the lakefront path on a summer morning (running-wise anyway) and that is being done with your long run by 8:30AM on a Friday. Since we're still getting going here, this weeks long run was only 17 miles and again the legs took a long to come around. I didn't log my first sub 7 mile until mile 4 and my overall pace didn't get under 7 min/mile until mile 6. Eventually the legs worked themselves out and by the end I had completed the 17 miles at a 6:49 pace, which is fine for this week.
Saturday & Sunday: Nothing too exciting here so I'll just combine the two days. Both days were recovery days (as the normally are with me) with two runs on each day consisting of 8 and 4 miles. Saturday was ridiculously hot & humid, even at 6AM, but I survived. Sunday was ridiculously hung-over, and I blame Tom. He's a bad influence on me.

Overall, not a bad week back at it. 89 miles in 12 runs, with all of my two day run totals right at the target of 24 miles. This week I hope to introduce some workouts into the mix, increase the Pod target to 27 miles and do a real long run of 20 miles. In other words, this week was nice, but now the real work starts.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Dave-O on Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:45 pm

Aaaaand the Pod System is back! Its been awhile, but I think your blog in which the Pod System was invented was what got me hooked on high mileage.

Banging out 17 at a 6:49 pace is a very strong start to the program. I bet you were looking at "average overall pace" for that last 2 miles, weren't you?
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Penelope on Tue Jul 05, 2011 2:39 pm

I'm glad you're blogging again. Besides the benefit it gives you for staying accountable, it's also inspirational and educational for some of us slower, lower-mileage types. It sounds like you've had a pretty solid week of running and are getting back into the high-mileage groove again. I like the idea of doing the long run Friday morning and not having it weighing down on you for the rest of the weekend.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  GregC on Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:09 am

Sure he's younger, better looking, more athletic, and richer than me, but at least there's one thing Evan Longoria and I have in common!


Last edited by GregC on Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Chris M on Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:20 pm

I was (obviously) running out of things to think about on a run today and so I was puzzling out what the pod system is.

There's the 1 long run day so explain the other 6.

Doubles each of those days automatically or if a pod total is 25, you could do a 14 and then 5&6? You had one day last week where you only did 1 run in a day but is the goal to do doubles or it doesn't matter how you get to the pod total (0 & 25 the next day could be fine in theory)?

What about workouts? Does each pod have some amount of mileage that should be done at speed or as part of some kind of specific workout?

I like the concept because I think in overall mileage for the week and then specific workouts (long run and usually 2 other) to be put in anywhere in there. The rest is somewhat flexible. But I like the 2 days at a time total. Cut a mile or two short one day and you just make it up the next day. Reverse being true too. But explain how workouts like a tempo or pace run get planned in there.

Man, I need to come up with some better things to think about on runs...
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Jim Lentz on Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:47 pm

Nice looking first week, Greg.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  GregC on Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:02 pm

Chris M wrote:Man, I need to come up with some better things to think about on runs...

Yes, you certainly do. The beauty of the POD system is that I make it up as I go along. There are no rules, just general guidelines that I constantly tweak if I don't feel like following the old way of doing it.

I kid...sort of. So basically it doesn't matter how you get to the Pod target, you just gotta get to it. Generally speaking, it usually takes a me a minimum of 3 runs and I don't think I would ever do more than 4 in a 2 day period. That's kind of defeating the purpose. So one might say that the big assumption of the Pod system is that it doesn't matter how long a single run, but what's more important is the cumulative effect of the big weekly mileage. That point is debatable, and anyway, in reality, the freedom to make up lost mileage over a two day period is really just a concession that someone who has a busy life outside of running has to make sometimes. It's really just a loose structure that helps me keep thing balanced in my week. Also, each Pod usually has some sort of focus or workout associated with it. So Pod 1 contains my speed workout, Pod 2 is tempo, my long run is next, and then Pod 3 is my recovery pod.

It's all silliness really, but for whatever reason my brain works better when there is a short-term goal. Without having a 2 day total that I'm supposed to hit, I too often slack early in the week with the thought that I can make it up later.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Natalie on Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:31 pm

I agree. The best part about the long run is being done with it.

You are lucky you don't get to wear high heels...
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Dave-O on Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:03 pm

GregC wrote:Sure he's younger, better looking, more athletic, and richer than me, but at least there's one thing Evan Longoria and I have in common!

If comparing yourself to Evan results in 3-6, 1 hr, 4 rbi days, fire away. Maybe I'll even buy a matching Greg bobblehead for my desk.

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