Training, January 21 - 27

Monday: 5 PM - 10 miles easy.
-5º wind chill made things a bit miserable.

Tuesday: 11 AM - (on the treadmill) 2 mile warmup, 5 x (1 mile @12% grade, 1 mile moderate), 1 mile cooldown - 13 miles total.
Negative wind chill pushed me inside, though I wanted to get some hill work in anyway (I had missed it the last two weeks).  The 5 x mile reps were done at 6.5, 6.5, 6.7, 6.8, 7.0 mph with the moderate recoveries mostly at 6:30 pace, but dipping down to closer to 6:00 pace on the last couple reps.  This is a workout I'll progress over the coming months, probably to 6 or 7 mile reps, then I'll start shortening the recoveries to a half mile, then maybe lengthening the reps to 2 miles, doing something like 3 x 2 mile at 12% w/ 1/2 mile moderate recovery.  Speed will progress as well as I get fitter.  This is generally all aimed at just allowing me to climb well in the mountain and ultra races I do, but the grade and aggregate length of the reps are geared specifically for Mt. Washington's 7.6 miles at 12% grade.  Finally, each mile is ~634 feet of climbing (rise/run --> 633.6/5280 = .12).  So 3168 feet of climbing today, not too bad for a Chicagoan.
5 PM - Dynamic Strength Routine (DSR).
I decided to start calling it dynamic strength as opposed to general strength, just because the dynamic and balancing nature of the work is really important—strengthening the muscles that we use to stabilize our bodies during running (and the term is more apt).  Being able to stay strong through your core late into a race is part of what allows you to stay biomechanically efficient.  Take a look at Galen Rupp, who can now close a fast 10,000m race in 52 or 53 seconds.  Flotrack came out with a great video this week showing some of his dynamic strength work.  Crazy intense, high level stuff.  Check it out.

Wednesday: 11 AM - 12 miles moderate with drills and 16 x 100m.
I added springing and bounding to the drills for the first time (they had previously been left out for fear of how they would affect my Achilles), and it went quite well—no pain.  So my drills are now: heel-to-butts, ankle springing, A skips, B skips, side-to-sides, runner karaokes, springing, bounding.  The 100m reps are an alactic muscular endurance session.  I run them at ~15s per, or approximately my 800m PR pace.  Building up to 30 reps total, 2 reps at a time for now.
6 PM - 7 miles easy (on grass).

Thursday: 11 AM - 13 miles moderate.
Wanted to get more like 17 or 18 miles, but I was feeling pretty tired.  Just cumulative fatigue from racing, the hill workout, drills/100s, etc.
6 PM - 7 miles easy (on grass).

Friday: 5 PM - DSR.
No run today.  I was pretty tired and ended up getting busy after work and didn't have much time or energy, so I just did the dynamic strength work.  I needed to get that in.  And probably not all bad to give the legs a rest day.  I've ramped up the mileage pretty quickly and I'm just still catching up muscularly.

Saturday: 2 PM - 10 miles easy (with some breaks).
Ran to the East Bank Club after work to meet with Dr. Settergren (my awesome chiropractor) and Nancy Fudacz, who were putting on a running clinic.  So I spoke to the group about my running and some tips and the like, then we did a short run on the indoor track there, then I ran home.

Sunday: 2 PM - 20 miles moderate.
Worst run of my life in 16 years of running.  Hard to describe how awful things got out there.  I was of course aware of the mass of snow, ice, and rain sweeping across the Midwest on Sunday.  But I took a look at the radar map and the hourly forecast before I went out, and it suggested that things would be clearing up as my run went on.  Basically, that the current "wintry mix" (which was quite mild, sort of icy snow) would go from 50%, to 30%, to 10% chance over the next two hours.  Things remained fine for the first hour of my run going north.  But the last few miles before I turned around, it started turning into straight up rain.  When I turned around, I was 12 miles from home, pretty thoroughly soaked, and running into a 20-30 mph headwind in ~32º F temps.  It isn't really possible for conditions to get worse than this.  I struggled my way through 7 miserable miles down to my old roommate Dan's condo, where I incessantly buzzed looking for refuge.  But they weren't home.  So back into the fray for another mile to my friend Robine's (I was still 4 miles from my own home).  Fortunately, she was home, so I made it inside, took a long hot shower, then ate a lot of pizza.  Sweet relief.  The run was meant to be 24 miles, but I cut it short for obvious reasons.  (The previous title for worst run had been in late 2009, in Brugge—basically the exact same weather, with it getting way worse mid-run and coming back into a headwind, except that run was only 10 miles.  Much more manageable.)

Summary: 92 miles, 2x DS

Solid week of training, moving in the right direction.  Still not quite getting in everything I want, just taking some time to condition my body to a high level of work again.  

On the racing plans front, I had thought about running the U.S. 100k Championships up at Mad City in April, but a conflict had me rethinking.  In the end, I've ended up signing up for American River 50 Mile out in California in early April instead.  It's the same race organization that does Way Too Cool 50k (which I'm racing in March)—and they seem like great folks based on my interactions with them.  AR50 is a pretty historic race, and one which I had planned on racing last year before my Achilles injury.  I'm excited to go check it out this year instead!


  1. As a former Chicagoan and now Sacramentan (Sacramentonian?), I'm excited to hear you're healthy and heading out for the AR 50. I'll be out there too but a few steps behind you.

    For what it's worth, I have run in shorts EVERY day that I've been here.

  2. Lucus— Thanks, appreciate the support. I'm excited I'm back too. I am quite jealous of your weather; I'm still thinking about where to move next (I will be leaving Chicago sooner or later). See you out at AR, be sure to say hi!

  3. Hey Matt, when I click on that link for the dynamic strength it brings me to a blank page. Any ideas?

  4. Sorry, had the link messed up. I believe it's working now!

  5. Have you made up your own DSR or were you able to have someone assist you in compiling some sort of routine? If you have a structured routine I would be interested in viewing what you have compiled...willing to share?

  6. It's a combination of things I've learned over many years... probably starting in college, then things I'm gleaned from Running Times articles and the like (Jay Johnson had a great series of routines up a few years ago, link here: ), then I worked with some physical therapists at ATI here in Chicago last year for a while because of my Achilles (but the approach was general, and I started focusing more on balance as a result). Then there are additional exercises I have looked up online if I want to address a specific area better (like adductors or abductors, or deep hip rotators).

    I hope to give the blog a bit of an overhaul soon, tab the thing... one of the tabs will be my current dynamic strength routines (I've actually got a second one underway starting this week), eventually with video links to what the exercises look like (someone else's demo if I can find it, or my own if I can't), the whole shebang. Make this thing a better resource than it is right now.