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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Kenny B. on Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:51 pm

What is this POD system you speak of? Sounds like a storage facility. Are you storing mileage somewhere?

Please lead me to somewhere I can see this craziness or maybe it is just pure sanity!

THanks!
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  GregC on Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:32 am

So...Kenny's post got me thinking about the first time I ever wrote about the POD system. It was 5 years ago (!) and I was just trying to figure out a way to wrap my brain around the possibility of me ever trying to consistently run 100 mile weeks. At the time I had a 2:45 PR and was running somewhere around 50-60 miles per week with the occasional monster week mixed in. At that point, set an aggressive goal of getting down to 2:36 by the next Chicago Marathon. The blog that documents that year is here, but to make a long story short, I ran a 2:38 and pretty much redefined my running that year. I pasted the relevant posting below to kind of show you my thinking in coming up with the POD system. I've changed some of the rules (such as the 3 runs to hit the Pod goal mileage...I usually do 4 runs now), but kept most of the concepts the same.

Anyway, when I found that blog, I started reading some of it (OK...I read the whole thing), and one thing stuck out at me. The guy writing that blog was so much more confident in his abilities than this current version of me. I don't know why, but over the past 5 years, I've lost some of my swagger. Maybe it was just naivety, but that kid in that old blog set a really aggressive goal (a 9 minute PR) and then went after it....hard. I don't know that I've set such a solid goal since then and while I've put in some good training, I kind of always felt like the goal of my training was to not lose ground instead of to break new barriers. I'm going to try hard to change that way of thinking going forward. There is no reason that with some great training this summer, I can't get down in the low 2:30s at Chicago. Although something tells me the version of me from 5 years ago would have been thinking sub 2:30, I'm just not there yet. Baby steps.


The Ghost of Greg Past wrote:
OK, I think I have my plan for getting from point
C (or whatever point I'm at now), to point D. This is totally
proprietary stuff here, and have never seen human eyes on until now.
The general philosophy is this:



Each week is made up of 1 long run day, and three 2-day pods. Each of
the 3 pods should be of equal mileage and consist of 3 runs over the 2
days for a total of 10 weekly runs over the 7 days. These runs can be
done at any time during the two day pod time period, but just due to
simple math, this will require one out of every two days to consist of a
double. I am going to break down my training into 4 distinct phases:



Phase 1: Pre-work. Each pod
will be 20-25 miles in total and this mileage will be spread out over 3
runs. The longrun should be somewhere between 10 - 15 miles. All of
these runs will be done somewhere around 75% of full effort. Weekly
mileage should be 70+ miles. January-February

Phase 2: Base-Building: Each Pod
will be 25-30 miles in total and this mileage will be spread out over 3
runs. Long run should be extended to the 15-20 mile range. All of
these runs will be done somewhere around 75-80% of full effort. Weekly
mileage should be 85+ miles. March

Phase 3: Pre-Race Preparation:
Each Pod will be 30+ miles in total and this mileage will be spread out
over 3 runs. The weekly long run should be in the 15-23 mile range. All
of these runs will be done somewhere around 75-80% of full effort.
Weekly mileage should be 100+ miles. April-May

Phase 4: Race Preparation: Each
Pod will be 30+ miles in total and this mileage will be spread out over 3
runs. Within each pod, there will be one key workout and the other two
runs will be of the recovery variety. The 3 main workouts will be mile
repeats, Tempo Run, Steady State Run. The long-run will aternate
between a 23 mile LSD run and a 17 mile run with the middle 7 at race
pace. Weekly mileage should be 100+ miles. June-October



A typical week for Phase 1 is included below:



Monday: 7 Miles

Tuesday: 9 Miles morning, 6 miles afternoon

Wednesday: 7 Miles

Thursday: 9 Miles morning, 6 Miles afternoon

Friday: 15 Miles

Saturday: 7 Miles

Sunday: 9 Miles morning, 6 miles afternoon



Total Mileage: 81 Miles



For Phase 2 + 3, I would simply add some mileage to each of the runs. Phase 4 would look like this:



Monday: 10 Miles

Tuesday: 12 mile Tempo Run, 8 miles afternoon

Wednesday: 10 Miles

Thursday: 5 X mile Intervals (10 miles total), 10 Mile afternoon

Friday: 23 Miles

Saturday: 10 miles

Sunday: 10 Miles with 7 at race pace, 6 miles in afternoon



Total Mileage: 109 Miles



There is really nothing ground-breaking about this schedule when you
look at it closely. It is just a high-mileage plan that incorporates
most of the standard stuff. However, the reason I like it is because of
the short-term 2 day goals that each pod. Normally when I train, I
have a weekly goal, and if I miss a run or two during the week, there is
no way to make it up. With the pod system, my focus isn't on a weekly
goal, it's on hitting the 2 day "pod goal." It makes it a little more
short-term and a little more attainable. The other thing I like about
it, is that it will allow me to train like a crazy person, but for the
most part, it doesn't get in the way of my life either. Most of my runs
will take place either very early in the morning, or during lunch at
work...basically times when I would be nothing. No family time missed
and that is the most important thing to me right now. Now I realize in
the end it's all in the execution, but this is what I'm going with.



Last edited by GregC on Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:40 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Mike MacLellan on Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:37 am

Whew, that plan definitely appeals to the OCD side of me, but looking at your Phase 4 example week makes me tired. Thanks for posting the full explanation for all of us newer runners who might want to copy some of the ideas in it Smile
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Alex Kubacki on Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:59 am

Greg,
I was curious as to phase four when you were alternating between a 23LSD and 17 with 7 pace miles, did you have a need for a stepback week doing maybe the 17 without the pace miles or you didn't need it? I'm not sure how long the phase lasted. Thanks.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Jim Lentz on Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:03 pm

Looks like a good/challenging training plan, Greg.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Diego on Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:17 pm

Wow, I really like the simple elegance of the pod system. I can't believe I have only heard about it now. The two day system would fit my work week and home life better than what I had been doing. I came pretty close to that during the summer of 2009: 12/6, 12/6, easy hour, 12/6, 10-12, long run, easy hour.

The two day system really helps with consistency. cheers

Good luck Greg.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Jerry on Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:50 pm

POD, sounds like what I am doing now except the goal is just 50/week. bounce
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  GregC on Mon Jul 11, 2011 2:26 pm

This was sort of my baseline week. The goal for this week was to get the miles in, get the workouts in, but not worry too much about pace on any of it. Of course with the holiday on Monday, it kind of threw my week off a little, but in the end everything worked fine.

Monday: Was really pressed for time on the morning run as there was a 4th of July parade that started at noon by my house that I was going to watch with the kids. I left the house a few ticks after 11 and went as hard as I could. I would up doing nine miles at a 6:40 pace and after a quick jump in the pool, was at the parade on time. Not exactly the easy run this was supposed to be, but it got done. I also did 6 easy miles later in the day that were untimed.

Tuesday: Today was a workout called the Mono Fartlek. It's a nice little workout that is 20 minutes long and consists of the following:

2x 90 seconds with 90 seconds recovery
4 x 60 seconds with 60 seconds recovery
4 x 30 seconds with 30 seconds recovery
4 x 15 seconds with 15 seconds recovery
Looks easy, but the key is that the hard portion is done at 5k pace and the "recovery" portion for each segment is supposed to be done at marathon pace or faster. By the time I get to those 15 second bursts, it's just survival mode. I've done this workout probably 6 or 7 times in my life and I know when I'm in shape, my overall pace for the workout should be sub 5:30. However, when I'm out of shape, the pace can get downright ugly. Why? Because it's very hard to keep the recovery at marathon pace or faster when you're not in great shape. The natural reaction is to recover at a comfortable pace and that is usually something a lot slower than MP. That kills overall pace in a workout like this.

So today's average for the 20 minutes was a 5:48 pace, which sucks, but it wasn't unexpected and I completed the workout. The baseline has been set. Mission accomplished. I also did 4 miles later in the day to complete the POD at 27 miles.

Wednesday: 10 miles in the morning and 6 at lunch. My morning runs are so ridiculous. It takes me forever to wake up on these runs. My first mile was almost an 8 minute mile and from there the pace slowly came down until I finished at a 6:49 pace.

Thursday: Double recovery today with the only real goal is to complete the POD. Since I did 16 miles yesterday, I did two easy runs of 6 & 5 miles. The 6 miler was actually done a little too quick at a 6:57 pace, but it was short enough where I guess that's OK.

Friday: Friday is usually my long run day, but this week is kind of jazzed up due to no work on Monday and plus Dave-O and I had planned on doing a longrun together on Saturday, so today turned into my first tempo run of the new training cycle. I tried to keep my long run routine in place where I drive down to work early on Friday morning and do the run on the lakefront. I think the drive in, where I can have my 44oz of Diet Coke, help me wake up and minimized the sluggishness that I usually feel on my morning runs (see above). So by the time I started the run, I felt OK and again the goal wasn't to set speed records today. It was to just set a baseline. With that in mind, I took the first half of the tempo very easy coming in with miles of 6:02, 6:00, 5:59, & 5:56. Once I got to the halfway point, I kind of pushed the pace a little more, while still focusing on staying relaxed, and was able to comfortably log splits of 5:48, 5:47, 5:46, & 5:42 for an overall pace of 5:53. Again, nothing to write home about, but a baseline has been set. I did 6 more miles at lunch to finish off an 18 mile day.

Saturday: 20 miles with Dave-O. Pretty good long run today with an average pace of 6:44. Considering the heat and humidity that were there it was a pretty good run. Actually, all 20 milers are pretty good runs, regardless of pace.

Sunday: Since my long run was on Saturday, I had to finish up my split pod from Friday. Since I did 18 on Friday, I only had to do 9 today and I did it all in one run as it seemed silly to break it up into two smaller runs. It was a very easy run and even at 7AM it was disgustingly hot and humid. I survived, which was kind of the theme for this week. Next week, we'll work on doing a little more than surviving.

Weekly Total: 101 Miles.


Last edited by GregC on Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Joel H on Mon Jul 11, 2011 2:41 pm

That Mono Fartlek sounds rough...I guess I will have to try it sometime.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Kenny B. on Mon Jul 11, 2011 4:04 pm

Thanks for the info on the POD I have to take time to read it as just saw it.

Actually had time to read it and seems like a good program if you are concerned about getting in the mileage. Like it says nothing unusual just the way it is perceived. Thanks! Will print this out for future. Never know when I become a POD HEAD.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Dave-O on Mon Jul 11, 2011 4:28 pm

@GregC wrote:
Saturday: 20 miles with Dave-O. Pretty good long run today with an average pace of 6:44. Considering the heat and humidity that were there it was a pretty good run. Actually, all 20 milers are pretty good runs, regardless of pace.


Thanks for not throwing me under the bus, but to put this in its proper prospective, everyone should know I had to stop after 16 because my ears were ringing and I thought I was about to pass out from the heat. So you're being humble in calling it a "pretty good" run.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Penelope on Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:13 pm

Great job on surviving the 101 miles this week in the heat. I enjoyed reading about the pod system. It makes perfect sense to do it that way when you're trying to run high mileage but doing another full-time job and balancing family, too. When I start getting into higher miles and balancing it all becomes difficult, I definitely will adopt your system.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  John Kilpatrick on Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:36 pm

Solid week - Mono Fartlek doesn't look easy at all - looks downright brutal. I usually only do morning runs on Sunday and I'm the same way - I run crusty-eyed for the first 2-3 miles before the cobwebs start to break up.

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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:50 pm

Mono Fartlek, officially noted as something to do. Nice week.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Bob on Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:58 pm

I was out about 3 weeks of my junior year of college while suffering from Mono Fartlek. It takes a long time to fully recover. I'm guessing it was the girl that lived downstairs.

Nicely done. And where in the "south suburbs" did you and Dave get 20 in?
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  GregC on Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:39 am

With last weeks "baseline" week in the books, this was the week where I wanted to start putting it all together to see how the legs and body reacted to the full workload.

Monday: I really like to have back to back recovery days on Saturday & Sunday so that I can come fresh into a new week. This week however, with my long run pushed to Saturday, I only had Sunday to recover. Not a big deal right? Well, for this old body it is. I was worried about this run as I was going to do the mono-fartlek again. It was hot and humid in the morning and my legs felt dead. However, on the way into work, we got hit with a massive rain storm that dropped the temps probably 15 degrees and took a lot of the humidity out of the air. I still didn't feel like running, but I figured I'd give it a shot as it really is key for my week to get a workout in on Monday as the rest of the week is pretty hectic.

I felt a lot stronger doing this run this week as opposed to last week. The recovery just felt better and I was actually gaining strength as the run went on. I wouldn't say I nailed the run, but with a 5:43 overall pace for the 20 minutes of running, it was 5 seconds faster than last week, and more importantly, I felt much more in control of this run. I did 6 untimed slow miles later in the day to bring the total for the day up to 14 miles.

Tuesday: This is supposed to be my midweek long run day, which should be in the 14-16 mile range, but for now, I'm giving myself a break and doing 12....hopefully I'll continue to build this one up. This was pretty much a repeat of last weeks run as it took me 5 miles to wake up and get the pace under 7 minute/mile. In the end, I averaged 6:48 for the 12 miles and once the cobwebs got shaken out, I felt good. I did 6 untimed miles at lunch to bring the total for the day to 18 miles and the 2 day Pod total to 32 miles.

Wednesday: Today I was hurting. The legs were tight and the body was exhausted. I'm hoping it is just early season exhaustion and that as my body adapts I'll be able to handle the volume a little better. Luckily today was a recovery day with a 9 & 6 mile run on the schedule. Both runs felt fine with the 9 miler being done at a 7:15 pace and the 6 miler was again untimed. I don't like to time my second run as it allows me to run them as slow as needed without the pressure of the watch. If I had to guess these are usually done around a 7:30 pace.

Thursday: The reason I had to "nail" my recovery run yesterday is because the Thursday/Friday combo is the toughest 2 days running for my week. It's my long tempo run on Thursday and my long run on Friday. I really wasn't looking forward to the tempo as I was just dragging coming into the day. However, right now, the most important thing is to just get out there and do it, so I wasn't going to bail on the run. While the legs were heavy the entire run, cardiovascularly I felt fine. I wound up averaging 5:52 for 8 miles which was just about the same time as last week. While I can't say I felt great during this run, I take some comfort in the fact that I felt like crap the whole time and still ran decently. I did 5 untimed miles later in the day to bring me up to the 32 mile Pod total.

Friday: 20 mile long run. After yesterday's run, my quads were absolutely killing me. That very rarely happens in training, but for whatever reason, this week they've been sore. I also spent last night playing kickball (yes I'm in a kickball league) and then eating pizza and drinking beer afterwards...so I was a bit apprehensive about this long run. I told myself if I needed to, I could cut this one short if I just wasn't feeling it. And I wasn't feeling it early. It took me 10 miles before I got the pace under 7 minute miles, but once I did, something clicked and the last 10 miles cruised by and I was able to finish up the entire run with an average pace of 6:48. I really need to do something about these slow starts to my longer runs. I'm not sure if it's mental or what, but I put myself in a huge hole that I spend the entire digging myself out of. Maybe beer and pizza isn't the best pre-long run meal.

Saturday: Ah...my double recovery days. Today was another challenge as we had a pool party we had to go to at 1PM and my wife was going to be gone the entire morning at a wedding shower. So I got up early and did 10 miles at a 7:30 pace (dead-on), but then I wasn't sure what I was going to do for the second run. With 4 kids from ages 3-8, it wasn't going to be easy to sneak in the second run. Oh I guess I had the option of doing it on the treadmill in the basement, but I REALLY, REALLY hate the treadmill in the summer time. Just the though of it makes me ill. So I gave the kids an early lunch, put the two youngest down for naps (3 & 4 year old)and set the older two up with a tv show and some computer games (7 & 8 year old). I then slapped the Garmin on and ran around .20 circles in the parking lot across the street from my house until I hit my 5 mile mark. My wife came home from the shower when I was at mile 4 and said, well if the neighbors didn't already think you're weird, they certainly will now. Yeah. Probably. 15 recovery miles in total today.

Sunday: Ugh. Hot and Humid today. I thought a second recovery day today would really help the legs, but they still felt dead. I did 9 miles in the morning at a 7:31 pace and was just done by the time I got home. I was so tired I just jumped in the pool and sat on the steps for about 15 minutes. I wasn't capable of moving. Luckily, everyone was still sleeping when I got back in the house so I was able to take a little nap and felt better when I woke up again. I did my second run around 2, which was perfectly timed to coincide with the hottest time of the day. But with only 6 miles between me and the end of the week, I wasn't going to not get it in, so it was just a matter of doing it. I was absolutely soaked when I was done, but I was tired and happy when I finished. The final recovery Pod only had 30 miles in it, but that's fine. The key was to try and get some recovery during this Pod. I'll find out today how that worked out.

The total for the week was 114 miles, which I think is my 3rd highest total ever and most I've run in a week in more than 2 years (Boston training, 2009). I've done plenty of 100-103 mile weeks, but it's those extra 10-14 miles in volume that are the difference between running another marathon in the upper 2:30s as opposed to the lower the 2:30s. It may not seem much on the final tally, but for me, I think it makes a big difference.

Total for the week: 114
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Kenny B. on Mon Jul 18, 2011 10:44 am

Crazy week of running with some ups and down and what seems you came up ahead. You seem to be doing a lot of xtra curricular activity and maybe not eating the best pre-long run meals. Saturday night is not time for me to party or be on my feet walking around much to prepare for Sunday's long runs.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  GregC on Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:26 pm

@Kenny B. wrote:and maybe not eating the best pre-long run meals. Saturday night is not time for me to party or be on my feet walking around much to prepare for Sunday's long runs.

I definitely agree with you. There is only a couple weeks left in the season, so I'll just deal with it for a few weeks and then really focus on preparation as we roll into late August and September. These early long runs are really just to get the legs under me.

Thanks for the feedback.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:38 pm

First of all, I guess call yourself "old" is a relative term - right? Anyway, I do love seeing you back with so much enthusiasm, G$. it makes me quite excited and well, your wife (Kelly?) is correct in believing that if your neighbors didn't think you were nuts before, they sure do now. Of course, I know we have all had those days - I remember running the 0.8 miles around my neighbor hood circle and checking in to see if my daughter was ok after each lap.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Kenny B. on Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:53 pm

I run a 4-6 mile loop around my development must pass the same house 2-4x and I know they think there is the NUT running again. Enjoy it!
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Chris M on Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:17 pm

25 laps of 0.2 miles in a parking lot. Classic! But, in all seriousness, those are the types of nutty runs and monster weeks you WILL draw on late in the race on October 9 when a fade is threatening to happen. Its all too easy to look at the overall importance of a simple 5 mile recovery run in the whole cycle and skip it because of family stuff going on. But that leads to a 20 becoming a 14 because its hot and 114 week becoming 100 becoming 80.....way to get it done, even if you have to do things in a sometimes crazy way. Keep it up!
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Matt W on Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:20 pm


That's a pretty strong week Greg. Putting in several 10+ mile runs and surpassing 110 miles is great prep for a marathon.

Your parking lot run gives me an idea for my recovery days to avoid the hills I have around here. As long as softball games aren't going on, I shouldn't have to deal with many cars and the loop would be about a mile or so. I saw a sign for a kickball league here in town and thought of you. Good luck as you finish your season.

You are well on your way to a strong performance in October. Keep up the good work.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  GregC on Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:09 pm

Kind of fell off the wagon last week as I was done in by insanely hot weather early in the week and a family vacation late in the week. I kind of figured it would be a stepback week going in, but I didn't quite expect a leap back.

Monday: 8 Miles in the afternoon with a mono-fartlek in there. My pace was 5:40 but I really struggled with this run. It was hot and humid and my breathing was all over the place. I was a mess after this run, but I survived. Somehow. Later in the day, I did 6 slooow miles. They were equally as miserable.
Tuesday: 10 miles in the morning at 7:04 pace and 6 miles later in the day. The 10 miles was supposed to be 12, but I was absolutely dragging and as I saw my pace slip badly around mile 8, I figured I should just take the easy way out and bail on the run. The heat and accumulated mileage of the first 3 weeks of this cycle are really getting to me.
Wednesday:
With a vacation scheduled for tomorrow through the rest of the week, if I was going to do a long run, today was the day. I got downtown early, and started with the thought that I would go 15 and then probably bail. However, despite a slow start, I got into a groove somewhere around mile 10 and wound up doing the whole 20 at a 6:48 pace. It was by far the best I felt all week, although when the wind was at my back, I was absolutely baking in the heat. Glad to get this one in though, because the drop off is coming.
Thursday: Did 10 miles in the morning and then took off for a Lake Michigan vacation with all my brothers, sisters, and families.
Friday: Nothing.
Saturday: 6 miles around 7:15 pace.
Sunday: Nothing.

Yeah, I wasn't expecting to run that little, but I just kind of went with the flow of the vacation and running just didn't fit in. That's OK. As you can tell from reading the runs from earlier in the week, I think I needed the break and based on my runs early this week, the break seemed to have helped. Actually, this was a good little experiment. I've never been a big fan of stepback weeks, but I think I might need to take one every once in a while. If a week of reduced mileage means better workouts for the following weeks, I guess it's worth it.

Weekly Mileage: 66 Miles...ugh. that looks worse now that I type it.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Schuey on Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:18 pm

Well the step back might have bigger then what you wanted Greg but at least you got some running in and it wasn't like taking half the week off. I'm glad to hear that you feel that last week has helped you with your runs this week. I'm sure you will bounce back just fine!

Oh as for the baking in the sun with the wind at your back, yep I hate that. I have made a bigger effort this summer to run with the wind in at my face on the way back in to help make me feel cooler.
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Re: Back to Basics

Post  Jim Lentz on Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:31 pm

Greg, good to hear the break was helpful.
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