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Going Downhill, Fast

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Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Matt W on Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:03 pm


I've been meaning to start a blog again for a while, but I haven't really had a whole lot going on with my training that was exciting enough to write about. I've been keeping it simple and logging a medium amount of miles at a medium pace. While I've had some good race performances, I still don't feel that I'm in that great of shape so maybe having a blog will keep me more motivated to get after it.

I've had a bad history of flaming out when training for a fall marathon, due to injury or mental meltdowns. I really want to get that monkey off my back, but decided I wanted to run something more local so that I'd have less logistics to worry about when it came to getting to the race. I also wanted a race that wasn't a huge race in terms of number of runners, but still had a good reputation and offered a chance at a fast time. The race that fit all of the criteria was the St. George Marathon. It's only a 2 hour drive from my house, has a reputation for being well-run, and it's net downhill course leads to fast times. That last fact is the inspiration for this blog's title. Hopefully, I can survive the summer heat and make it to the starting line feeling good and ready to get a PR. If all goes well, I think I can make a run at sub-2:30, but I need to do the training first.

Speaking of training, I want to continue the K.I.S.S. strategy that worked for me in Boston, but with a higher volume. I don't know how many long, long runs I can do here in the summer, when we have lows in the 80s (and sometimes 90s), but if I can do a collection of medium-long runs and doubles, that may do the trick. I was thinking of doing a loosely structured program that looks something like this:

Mon: Medium run @ GA to easy pace
Tues: a.m. recovery, p.m. speedwork
Wed: double recovery or medium long run at easy pace
Thurs: Longer LT/tempo/MP type run
Fri: Recovery
Sat: Long Run (and softball at night)
Sun: Recovery

Of course, I might change that depending on what I feel I need. Every program needs some tweaking along the way and I don't want to lock myself into a certain number of miles or paces (although I would like to average in the mid 70s and peak over 90 miles). I'm just going to take it one day at a time and try to enjoy building up for StG as much as I can.

Hopefully, I'll have a few interesting things to write about (or be inspired to write about them in an interesting way). Saying I ran X amount of miles at Y pace isn't really enjoyable summer reading.

Thanks in advance for your support along the way.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Kenny B. on Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:40 pm

Sub 2:30 incredible looking forward to your progress on nailing it! Looks like you have a well thought out plan. Wishing you the best on this training cycle injury free and mentally prepared!
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Jun 28, 2011 3:17 pm

Poking my head in, as I'm sure I will be quite often. Hope the summer treats you well.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Julie on Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:03 pm

I hope training goes great! I can't imagine running in the heat all the time, I get enough of it a few days at a time.

When is St George?
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Natalie on Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:11 pm

Matt, I've seen your photos of St. George. Have you never actually run it yourself? Have fun with that downhill run!
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Matt W on Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:32 pm

@Kenny B. wrote:Sub 2:30 incredible looking forward to your progress on nailing it! Looks like you have a well thought out plan. Wishing you the best on this training cycle injury free and mentally prepared!

Thanks Kenny. I think I'll be okay as long as the desert heat doesn't melt my brain. I've learned to be more mellow about my training as I've aged, so that helps to just take things in stride and enjoy the running.

@Mike MacLellan wrote:Poking my head in, as I'm sure I will be quite often. Hope the summer treats you well.

Thanks, Mike. I hope I can have some interesting posts to make your stops in here worthwhile. I hope I can enjoy my summer as much as you seem to be enjoying yours.

@Julie wrote:I hope training goes great! I can't imagine running in the heat all the time, I get enough of it a few days at a time.

When is St George?

I know I enjoyed my break from summer when I was running in Nebraska last week while visiting my parents. Running in the rain isn't something that I get to do much here.

StG is Oct 1, a few weeks after my birthday, so it will be my first race in a new age group. Hopefully, my old legs will have some life in them. Smile

Natalie Wolf wrote:Matt, I've seen your photos of St. George. Have you never actually run it yourself? Have fun with that downhill run!

I've never actually run StG, but I went up to see the race the last two years. The only time I've run in StG was as part of a relay last March. Come to think of it, I'm not sure if my legs were actually in St. George. Still, it's a nice town with a noticeable running vibe to it. Hopefully, the weather cooperates and is cooler than last year.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Dave-O on Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:50 pm

I think the new website will bring us good luck in getting under 2:30. Deal? Deal.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Jerry on Tue Jun 28, 2011 5:16 pm

Matt, you really enjoy racing downhill now. Ha.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Tom H on Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:34 pm

Matt, sub 2:30 rates a WOW! I am curious, however, how you do your mid-summer training in the desert there. Midnight runs? I ran the ET Midnight Half Marathon there last year and it was comfortable then, but could not have imagined doing it at any point when the sun was up.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Matt W on Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:38 pm

@Tom H wrote:Matt, sub 2:30 rates a WOW! I am curious, however, how you do your mid-summer training in the desert there. Midnight runs? I ran the ET Midnight Half Marathon there last year and it was comfortable then, but could not have imagined doing it at any point when the sun was up.

I still have to do the sub 2:30, and it's going to take some work. I'm not counting my chickens by any stretch of the imagination, but you have to believe you are capable of doing something in order to do it.


As for my summer running, I wish I was better about getting up early to run. A lot of times I start around 7 or 8 a.m., when the temps are in the 80s or 90s. I really need to go to bed earlier and not hit the snooze in the morning. I know I have to tone down my paces some days and just log the miles. At least it's a dry heat. What a Face
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  John Kilpatrick on Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:04 pm

@Matt W wrote:
@Tom H wrote:Matt, sub 2:30 rates a WOW! I am curious, however, how you do your mid-summer training in the desert there. Midnight runs? I ran the ET Midnight Half Marathon there last year and it was comfortable then, but could not have imagined doing it at any point when the sun was up.

I still have to do the sub 2:30, and it's going to take some work. I'm not counting my chickens by any stretch of the imagination, but you have to believe you are capable of doing something in order to do it.


As for my summer running, I wish I was better about getting up early to run. A lot of times I start around 7 or 8 a.m., when the temps are in the 80s or 90s. I really need to go to bed earlier and not hit the snooze in the morning. I know I have to tone down my paces some days and just log the miles. At least it's a dry heat. What a Face

I look forward to following your training and I'm sure I'll learn a few things along the way. Heres to the you breaking down the 2:30 door

I once brought up the Badlands ultra to a coworker and how amazing it is that those athletes can make it through that. When another coworker heard mention of 120+ weather, he said "yeah, but it's a dry heat". I think when it is 90 degrees, it is just hot! I am with you on the morning thing - I hate running early AM and avoid it unless I have to...

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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Diego on Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:40 pm

@Matt W wrote:
@Tom H wrote:Matt, sub 2:30 rates a WOW! I am curious, however, how you do your mid-summer training in the desert there. Midnight runs? I ran the ET Midnight Half Marathon there last year and it was comfortable then, but could not have imagined doing it at any point when the sun was up.

I still have to do the sub 2:30, and it's going to take some work. I'm not counting my chickens by any stretch of the imagination, but you have to believe you are capable of doing something in order to do it.


As for my summer running, I wish I was better about getting up early to run. A lot of times I start around 7 or 8 a.m., when the temps are in the 80s or 90s. I really need to go to bed earlier and not hit the snooze in the morning. I know I have to tone down my paces some days and just log the miles. At least it's a dry heat. What a Face

That heat is a mental pressure cooker. I really found it hard to do 3:1 long runs there. Make sure you take a few days off each month. I tried to stash my gatorade at points around the valley but had them stolen too often. I finally decided to take my credit card with me and stopped in at various places to grab a gatorade when I needed one. I think a brief membership at 24 Hour Fitness may help with some of those medium long runs and the mental fatigue associated with the heat.

Good luck Matt.

I'm sure you will mix it up with a few runs around Mt. Charleston where it's cooler.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Mark B on Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:59 pm

Good luck on your 2:30 goal, Matt. It seems very doable.

I used to life in a part of Northern California that got quite hot in the summer, and I had good luck going out shortly before sunset. It'd still be hot (90s to 100), but I wouldn't have the sun beating down on me.

I was going to suggest that to you, but I don't know how safe roads are in Vegas late in the evening. I'd hate to see you taken out by some drunk who just went broke at Circus Circus and wants to drive back to SoCal right away. affraid

Early morning is better. Vegas is a ghost town then.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  ChasMcG on Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:41 pm

@Dave-O wrote:I think the new website will bring us good luck in getting under 2:30. Deal? Deal.

I'm cheering you guys on from Denver!!
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Schuey on Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:45 pm

Sub 2:30 yeah I can see you hitting that goal Matt. After spending time with you before Boston and seeing your energy and excitement to race is something great to see, wish I would be at St. George to see that again. Good luck Matt and if I was you I would stick with the KISS training since it has worked very well for you.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Matt W on Wed Jun 29, 2011 12:48 am



Tonight was track workout Tuesday. When I checked the weather right before I left, it said 101 degrees and winds of 22 mph with gusts in the 40s. Lovely. There was even a warning about falling tree limbs causing power outages. Lovelier.

Fortunately, when I got to the track, it wasn't that bad. It was hot, and it was windy, but not 40 mph windy. It was just bad enough to make me work hard when I was going into it, but not so bad that it was standing me up when I hit a headwind. I planned on doing 5 x (5 x 200) with 100m recovery between repeats and 400m between sets, progressing down from around 10K pace to about 400 pace. I was pretty much right on my splits, running sets of 39-37-35 for the first part of the workout. When I got to my penultimate set, I intended to run 33s, and hit that for my first couple, but the last three I was straining to run 34s. I knew I wasn't going to be able to hit 31s on the final set, so I altered the workout a bit. I still wanted to have a total of 5K for the workout, so I ran 2 x 400 at around 5K pace (76, 74) and then ran a 31 second 200 to finish off the speed work.

I could tell my legs weren't used to that intensity, but it was nice to do some shorter repeats for once as I'm going to try some track races this summer, as well as a 5K or two. After the run, I went to check on some dogs I am puppy sitting. One of them practically demands that I take him for a walk (which he turns into a run). My tired legs weren't too excited about that, but he was happy to stretch out his legs.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Alex Kubacki on Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:29 am

Impressive workout in those conditions. Nice job adjusting the workout at the end.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Seth Harrison on Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:45 am

@Matt W wrote:

I've had a bad history of flaming out when training for a fall marathon, due to injury or mental meltdowns.

You could have fooled me with that little run you turned in back in April!
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Matt W on Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:08 am

@Dave-O wrote:I think the new website will bring us good luck in getting under 2:30. Deal? Deal.

Deal. Since my race is first, I guess the pressure's on me to come through.

@Jerry wrote:Matt, you really enjoy racing downhill now. Ha.

It's a lot more fun than racing uphill.

@John Kilpatrick wrote:

I look forward to following your training and I'm sure I'll learn a few things along the way. Heres to the you breaking down the 2:30 door

I once brought up the Badlands ultra to a coworker and how amazing it is that those athletes can make it through that. When another coworker heard mention of 120+ weather, he said "yeah, but it's a dry heat". I think when it is 90 degrees, it is just hot! I am with you on the morning thing - I hate running early AM and avoid it unless I have to...

Thanks, John. There's a race out here called Running with the Devil, that is kind of a tune up race for Badwater (it was in this month's RT). A guy I know was running the 50 mile one year, and had someone crew him in the last 12 miles or so. The guy who was supposed to be pacing him in quit after too miles because it was too hot.

jimd wrote:
That heat is a mental pressure cooker. I really found it hard to do 3:1 long runs there. Make sure you take a few days off each month. I tried to stash my gatorade at points around the valley but had them stolen too often. I finally decided to take my credit card with me and stopped in at various places to grab a gatorade when I needed one. I think a brief membership at 24 Hour Fitness may help with some of those medium long runs and the mental fatigue associated with the heat.

Good luck Matt.

I'm sure you will mix it up with a few runs around Mt. Charleston where it's cooler.

I do want to do some work around Mt. Charleston to work on long stretches of downhill, and I may go up to St. George and run parts of the course since I have some friends who have a house there. I've thought about getting a membership at a little fitness center about a mile from where I live. I need to check on their treadmill policy though. I know what you mean about the heat being a mental pressure cooker. It's pretty relentless. Living up on the rim of Vegas, it's really hard to do 3:1 runs with the heat and finishing uphill. I guess I'll just have to go on effort.

@Mark B wrote:Good luck on your 2:30 goal, Matt. It seems very doable.

I used to life in a part of Northern California that got quite hot in the summer, and I had good luck going out shortly before sunset. It'd still be hot (90s to 100), but I wouldn't have the sun beating down on me.

I was going to suggest that to you, but I don't know how safe roads are in Vegas late in the evening. I'd hate to see you taken out by some drunk who just went broke at Circus Circus and wants to drive back to SoCal right away. affraid

Early morning is better. Vegas is a ghost town then.

If someone from Circus Circus hit me on their way to SoCal, they got waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off course. I'm probably around 25 miles from the Strip. I've run in the early evening before, I will do that some, but it's nice to get the run out of the way so it's not hanging over your head all day.

@ChasMcG wrote:
@Dave-O wrote:I think the new website will bring us good luck in getting under 2:30. Deal? Deal.

I'm cheering you guys on from Denver!!

Yell loud and remember to face West on Oct. 1 and East on Oct. 9.

@Schuey wrote:Sub 2:30 yeah I can see you hitting that goal Matt. After spending time with you before Boston and seeing your energy and excitement to race is something great to see, wish I would be at St. George to see that again. Good luck Matt and if I was you I would stick with the KISS training since it has worked very well for you.

Thanks buddy! Hopefully I'm locked and loaded in October. I just try to take my cue from you when it comes to stepping up on race day.

@Alex Kubacki wrote:Impressive workout in those conditions. Nice job adjusting the workout at the end.

Thanks Alex. I knew it wasn't going to end well if I kept at it because my legs just aren't there right now. Maybe it was done to save my ego a bit, but I still think it was the right choice.
@Seth Harrison wrote:
@Matt W wrote:

I've had a bad history of flaming out when training for a fall marathon, due to injury or mental meltdowns.

You could have fooled me with that little run you turned in back in April!

I have a good history of Spring/Winter racing. It's those October marathons that have led to disaster for me. Hopefully I can keep my momentum (and health) all summer.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Julie on Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:09 am

Great work out even in the heat and wind. I'm sure the dogs enjoyed the walk. I only dog sat once in my friend's house for a week. It was interesting to be woken up at 4 a.m. and trying to reason with the dogs to let me sleep another 30 minutes.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Chris M on Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:59 pm

This blog used the word "penultimate". Cool!
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Natalie on Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:33 pm

Those were crazy conditions for Track Tuesday. I swear... sometimes childbirth is wasted on us women -- you'd be a great candidate for a natural childbirth.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Matt W on Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:40 pm

@Julie wrote:Great work out even in the heat and wind. I'm sure the dogs enjoyed the walk. I only dog sat once in my friend's house for a week. It was interesting to be woken up at 4 a.m. and trying to reason with the dogs to let me sleep another 30 minutes.

Yes, the dogs love their walks. They practically beg me to take them outside. I just can't handle all of them at once, so I would end up doing 2 separate walks. My dog is like an alarm clock too, but luckily she has no desire to wake up at 4 a.m.

@Chris M wrote:This blog used the word "penultimate". Cool!

After spending about 10 months a year with 8-9 year olds, I like to use grown up words occasionally.

Natalie Wolf wrote:Those were crazy conditions for Track Tuesday. I swear... sometimes childbirth is wasted on us women -- you'd be a great candidate for a natural childbirth.

I don't know about that Natalie. Maybe you've been watching Junior lately or something. Smile Don't you know how men are great at over-stating adversity to make ourselves look tougher?
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Matt W on Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:44 pm



I will post a little bit about running, even though it's nothing spectacular. I've hit a bit of a too much time by myself malaise which saps some of my motivation and makes me wonder what the point of all this training is. I've been putting in some miles, although not at the intensity that I would like, but it's better than nothing. The heat hasn't been too bad here, but it's been a lot muggier than usual. I did end up running a 5K on the 4th and won it, but after running the first mile right as I planned, I found myself alone and cruised it in at 1/2 marathon pace. Whoops. Hopefully, I'll start feeling better soon and have some things worth writing about.
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Re: Going Downhill, Fast

Post  Schuey on Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:15 pm

Hey Matt it is good to see you posting again. I know how running can feel sometimes and it doesn't always feel like it is going well or fun. Just remember those are the times that you just have to step back and fine some fun enjoyment in doing it and don't worry about it as training for a race. I find when I do that it helps me stay consistent with my training and when I get out of my little rut, I don't feel as bad because I have lost any fitness in my training.

Beside that buddy I just want you to know that even if running isn't going well for you or you don't want to post about please come around and post. It is always a pleasure having you around and sharing in good banter with you even when it is not about running. You crack me up and put a smile on my face so don't be a stranger!
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